Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

February: The Month of Love or Divorce?

posted by Linda Mintle

 

I was surprised to read that divorce attorneys report that January and February (just before Valentine’s Day) are the busiest time of year for divorce.

Think about it. Couples try to make it work over the holidays and hope that all the hoopla and family time will reignite an ember burning marriage. Apparently, not so much!

Connecticut therapist, Donna Ferber, reported in a Psychology Today article that she believes this is because January represents a new start to the year and parents who are thinking divorce do not want to drop that bomb on their children during the holidays. Possibly. Or maybe parents do not want to upset summer vacations, holidays and events. Maybe because kids are in school in Jan/Feb, day care isn’t such an issue. Maybe all that family time over the holidays leads to disappointment and a reality check of the work that needs to be on the relationship. Furthermore, January seems like a long month to endure given the winter and the one day holiday. So maybe unhappy couples feel the exhaustion of the holidays and have trouble gearing up for the new year. Whatever the case, the month of love is also the month of love lost. And that is sad.

Remember that lost love can be found. That the path to divorce is known and can be fixed.

It is my hope that you will use your energy in January and February to get into marital therapy and stay out of the divorce lawyer’s office.

P.S. Today is my parents’ anniversary. My mom died last year but mom and dad were married for 67 years.

Thinking divorce? First read my book on divorce proofing your marriage.

Demi Moore Hospitalized: Could It Be A MidLife Eating Disorder?

posted by Linda Mintle

When Demi Moore was hospitalized yesterday, my first therapeutic instinct was to wonder about an eating disorder. I have treated people with eating disorders for over 25 years.

While Moore has not confirmed or denied an eating disorder, a growing number of women in their 40s and 50s are seeking help for midlife eating disorders. In part, this age group struggles with aging in a culture obsessed with youth and fitness. The fears of a changing physical body, launching children into the world, and marital breakups can trigger an obsession with food, weight and exercise. If a person copes with life changes and losses though food and overexercising, an eating disorder can develop.  Furthermore, if a woman had eating issues in her youth and was never completely treated for them or failed treatment, they can re-emerge at mid life.

Eating disorders in mid life create health problems–some serious enough to lead to death. Osteoporosis, cardiac concerns, thinning hair, skin bruising, tooth decay, and gastrointestinal complaints are just a few dangers associated with self-starvation and/or binging and purging.

Moore’s comments in an interviews with Harper’s Bazaar reveal a woman who has struggled with body image for years. She appears to have lost weight and doesn’t look well. The stress of the breakup could have been a tipping point.

When asked about her deepest fear, she replied,

“If I were to answer it just kind of bold-faced, I would say what scares me is that I’m going to ultimately find out at the end of my life that I’m really not lovable, that I’m not worthy of being loved. That there’s something fundamentally wrong with me. …

People with eating disorders feel they are not worthy of love; that if people really knew them, they would be unlovable.

She goes on to say,

“What scares me the most is not knowing and accepting that just about everything is not in my control. That makes me feel unsafe.”

Control is a central issue for someone with an eating disorder. A woman who can’t control what is happening in her life resorts to over control of the body (anorexia) or losing control and trying to regain it (bulimia).

Moore’s representative also reported symptoms of exhaustion, also common to someone with an eating disorder.

And there is talk that she is being treated for substance abuse as well (People Magazine reported she battled this in 1996)–another common co-factor in bulimia.

So while we don’t know the real reason for her collapse, this incident may bring awareness to the growing number of middle age women who are developing eating disorders in mid life.

I am glad Ms. Moore is hospitalized. She needs to get rest and be treated for whatever is at the root of her collapse. If it is an eating disorder, then  professional treatment is needed.

 

For more help and understanding about eating disorders and treatment:

 

 

 

Want to Be Smarter? 5 Ways to Boost Your IQ

posted by Linda Mintle

Want to be smarter? IQ is not a fixed number that can’t be influenced. You can actually boost your IQ with these 5 practical steps:

1) Take on a new task. new and novel stimulate the brain in a good way.

2) Work in a setting that involves complex relationships, dealing with people, difficult problems or establishing systems. An 1999 study in Psychology of Aging showed that simple jobs that demand little thought result in declining test scores. The more you can challenge the brain in complex ways, the better.

3) Stay in school. School makes you think in creative ways. Math classes, abstract reasoning and other complex skills are used in school and push the brain towards working smarter.

4) Practice switching mental tasks quickly.  Your IQ scores could elevate.

5) Take music lessons and continue to play. Amazingly, music lessons are associated with higher IQ through life. So don’t be upset if your mom forced you to take piano lessons! And if you keep up the music practice at least a decade or more, your IQ tends to go higher!

Heidi Klum and Seal Separating: Why the Timing Isn’t Surprising

posted by Linda Mintle

Another celebrity couple decides to split.

If you haven’t heard, Heidi Klum and Seal announced their decision to separate for “irreconcilable differences” after seven years of marriage involving four young children. Heidi Klum told reporters that she and Seal had grown apart. Honestly, I was sad to hear this but not surprised given the timing of the breakup. We can predict these type of divorces from long term research data on couples.

What was not a surprise was the timing of the divorce. According to martial researchers, Gottman and Levenson, the most critical periods for divorce to occur are at the seven year mark and when the oldest child in the family reaches age 14 (may be related to a low point in martial satisfaction in terms of life course).

Heidi and Seal are at that 7 year mark where more than half of all divorces occur.

When we pick apart the data that came from these longitudinal studies, we find some interesting factors that predict divorce and may be operating in the Heidi -Seal marriage.

1) Couples who are negative during conflict during those first seven years, are more likely to divorce.

2) Couples who are disengaged and lack positive emotions in conflict discussions and day to day connecting, are more likely to divorce in later years.

These two findings help us understand why some marriages grow apart. Usually these couples have experienced problems for six years and finally cannot contend with the negativity and emotional distance. In fact, failed relationships are very influenced by the way  partners dialogue over conflict. Here are 5 points to keep in mind:

1) 96% of the time, the way a discussion begins, predicts how it will end. And interestingly the research shows that when the wife starts the conflict in a harsh way, it doesn’t go well.

2) The path to divorce is clearly documented–criticism, defensiveness, contempt and then stonewalling. This is the road to growing apart.

3) If one partner cannot repair the damage with conflict, the other feels flooded and pulls away.

4) Divorce becomes a path when partners recall the past in a negative way.

5) Partners who cannot calm down during conflict and soothe themselves have relationship problems that often lead to emotional distance–a predictor of divorce.

So maybe what we learn from this recent celebrity separation is that the seven year itch is real; That couples must attend to the way they dialogue around conflict; That staying positive in your relationship is critical; That repairing damage is necessary: And that growing apart can be prevented with couple counseling when partners are willing to work on issues.

 

For marital help, check out my book I Married You, Not Your Family (and nine other myths)

 

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