therapy

Can This Marriage Be Saved? I’m a Churchgoing Mom … But I Almost Cheated

January 13, 2012 at 10:10 am , by

Oh, love in the time of Facebook. Such innovation. Such connectivity. Such possibility … that your high school flame will friend you and want to reconnect in a more-than-friendly way. (We’re onto what that “poke” button is for, Mark Zuckerberg. How sly of you.)  That’s what happened to Jenny, 38, wife of Tom, 36. Her old sweetheart Grant came-a-clicking and before she new it, she was in a hotel room with him. Read on to find out what transpired, or check out the full story in our February issue, on newsstands now.

Jenny’s turn: Jenny was feeling trapped—Tom is a workaholic, and all the couple ever talks about these days is how to homeschool their kids. All the parents at their church do it, and the couple was supposed to take it on together, but now Jenny basically does all of the work, and occasionally Tom makes a bossy suggestion. With all of this on her plate—and all of the housework—Jenny doesn’t have time for the gym, Bible class or coffee with friends, so she started spending hours on Facebook to feel less lonely. That’s when Grant sent her a message. They started talking and texting, and Grant made Jenny feel like herself again, which she really missed. Eventually, they decided to meet up and spend the day together. Jenny lied to Tom and had dinner with Grant. Every step of the way, she knew it was wrong, but couldn’t help it—until her kissed her in their room at an inn. Jenny immediately felt awful and told him to leave, and she went home the next morning and told Tom everything, sobbing. Will she be able to convince him that he’s the only one she truly loves?

Tom’s turn: First of all, there’s no way he believes that Grant didn’t spend the night with Jenny. Does she take him for an idiot? He was shocked when Jenny confessed, but looking back on everything he can’t believe he missed the warning signs. Their cell phone log shows 300 pages of calls between Jenny and Grant, and Tom always thought she was just excited to reconnect with her friends on Facebook—not her ex-boyfriend! He knew the homeschooling was hard on her, but he didn’t think it had gotten this bad. If he ever cut Jenny off when they were talking about the kids, it was only because he hates arguing. He can’t believe she’s done this to him—and he’s not sure he can move past it.

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Can This Marriage Be Saved? I Wasn’t Excited About My New Baby

December 8, 2011 at 3:51 pm , by

Do you remember that classic Ferris Bueller line? “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once and a while, you could miss it.” It’s truly a great rule to live by, and one that Amy, 27, and Sean, 29, forgot after they had kids. As Sean himself puts it, “Everything happened quickly. We got married, had a baby, moved halfway across the country, had another baby.” Now, with two kids (Jake, 3, and Ian, 4 months),  the couple’s connection is waning, they’re constantly fighting, and they’re dealing with other major issues they can’ t ignore any longer. Read the full story here.

Amy’s turn: This stay-at-home mom just had a new baby and has a lot of the typical gripes that come with the job: her husband doesn’t understand how hard she works, doesn’t help out around the house, and forgets the things she asks him to do (“Just when will Sean look up those flights to Seattle so we can see my family?” Amy laments). But there’s also a larger problem at play—Amy’s suffering from postpartum depression. She cries at the drop of a hat, doesn’t feel a connection to her newborn, and no one seems to get what she’s going through. Sean took a temporary leave of absence from work, and her mom stayed with her for a while, but now that she’s without them again, her anxiety is at an all time high. She misses feeling like herself, misses the satisfaction of working as a nursery school teacher, and misses her husband’s friendship. All they do now is fight, not to mention Sean’s mother meddles and makes back-handed comments about how Amy runs her household. Everything feels wrong, and she’s not sure her marriage is going to make it.

Sean’s turn: Sean just can’t figure Amy out. It seems that in her eyes he can do no right—she’s always screaming at him for something. He knows he could work harder at controlling his temper and could do more around the house, but he just doesn’t feel like he and Amy share the same special bond they did before. He knows his mother can be difficult, but Sean grew up with a physically abusive father, and is glad to have fostered a decent relationship with his mother later on in their lives, though she still denies the abuse. Amy calls Sean at work hysterical, and he just never thought it would get this bad. His secretary mentioned that counseling helped her when she had a newborn daughter, so Sean decided he and Amy should give therapy a try.

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Depression and Holiday Stress: Are You Overwhelmed?

November 30, 2011 at 2:56 pm , by

Got the blues? You’re not the only one. Every month our friends at Yahoo! send us a snapshot of the top-spiking health searches, and this month the term “antidepressants” came in at number three (behind the more surprising “listeria” and “ear-wax removal”—go figure). In fact, in the past few months depression-related terms have been consistently at the top.

Then there’s this: a new report from Medco Health Solutions, Inc. found that 21 percent of American women took antidepressants in 2010, a 29 percent increase from 2001. When you look at drugs for mental health conditions on the whole, including anti-anxiety, antipsychotics and ADHD meds, roughly a quarter of adult women are taking them, compared with 15 percent of men.

We’re not surprised that depression is on women’s minds these days, considering the state of the world. Plus, the holiday season always adds stress along with the joys. Are you feeling more like Charlie Brown’s sad little tree this year? We asked Jennifer Yashari, M.D., a psychiatrist in Los Angeles and a member of the LHJ Medical Advisory Board, to shed some light on why depression seems to affect women more than men, and how to know if you need help.

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Can This Marriage Be Saved? I’m Sick, But He Thinks It’s All In My Head

November 17, 2011 at 12:11 pm , by

Do you ever wish you could switch brains with your husband just for an hour and really see what each other is thinking? Even a simple mind-reading gadget might make all marital woes a bit easier to overcome (do you hear us Apple? We could call it the iMarriageMender. Too wordy? Eh, it’s a working title.). But alas, we are mere mortals, and sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and say what you feel.  Laurel, 29, and Ryan, 28, quickly discovered this less than a year into their marriage. Read the full story here.

Laurel’s turn: When Laurel suddenly gained 20 pounds right before the wedding, she thought that stress and too much fast food were the culprits. She lost the weight to fit into her white dress, but soon after gained 60 more pounds, and felt too sluggish to get to the gym (or go fishing with her new husband, or eat dinner anywhere but in front of the TV, or have sex … you see where this is going). Eventually she was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder—Hashimoto’s disease—which affects her thyroid and hormones. She was devastated, and feels like Ryan thinks she can just snap out of it. Lacking sympathy from her husband, she turned to her girlfriends to take her out for the night, but when Ryan found out, he flipped. Since she had enough energy to go out with her friends, he accused her of exaggerated her lethargic symptoms, even though she really needed the support they were providing. Laurel misses being “the golden couple” that always went out dinner or movie dates—and what happened to their vow to stick together in sickness or in health?

Ryan’s turn: He doesn’t understand why Laurel is giving into her disease. With some extra exercise and a healthier diet, she could manage it much better—he knows because he’s done the research! But whenever he suggests a plan of action to Laurel, she just cries. He knows her condition is real, but can’t stand that she won’t do anything to help herself, so yeah, he thinks she’s being lazy. He works hard all week and would love to take his wife to the lake on weekends to unwind, but Laurel just sleeps in. He didn’t picture married life to include no together-time (and no sex!). He always thought they had similar values, even though he grew up on a farm and she in the city, and he was really looking forward to married life together. But could they be the first in their families headed for divorce?

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Can This Marriage Be Saved? My Husband Has Asperger’s

November 11, 2011 at 12:08 pm , by

For many of the squabbles the counselors help couples solve in our CTMBS series, their advice often includes working on communicating. But what if a couple’s communication roadblocks are … genetic? This is the trouble Susan, 47, and Neil, 50, finally needed to face after years of marriage when Neil was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Read on to find out how they coped and check out the full story here.

Susan’s turn: She fell in love with her husband’s charm, wit, and smarts but has always been annoyed by his absentmindedness, selfishness and awkward social tendencies. While their kids were growing up, Neil could hardly handle the chaos children bring to married life—he’d go crazy if plans changed unexpectedly, and was often too honest with his kids (telling your daughter point-black that her drawings don’t look quite right? Not so great for her self-esteem). Neil seems incapable of handling anything, from paying bills to keeping a job to acting normally on social outings with friends. When Susan read an article about Asperger’s syndrome, she was shocked how much it reminded her of her husband—a bright guy who has tons of trouble interacting and communicating. But where do they go from here? She loves him too much to lose him, but will he be able to make some lifestyle changes before they both go insane?

Neil’s turn: Neil has always felt like he’s disappointing Susan (she seems to scold him constantly) but has never understood exactly what she wants from him. She’s made him out to be an ogre to their kids, always getting a word in edgewise when he tries teach them something or bond with them, but again, he doesn’t get what he’s doing wrong. Neil realizes he’s always had trouble dealing with other people, especially at work (he was once fired for taking an old typewriter from his office; it was “just sitting there” so it seemed like a logical thing to do), but can’t Susan just accept that social situations cause him anxiety? He’s miserable at parties, and hates when Susan gives him the third degree about how he acts at them. Neil’s always felt different from everyone else, like the rest of world has secret way of communicating. After discovering Asperger’s, he’d love to learn more and start repairing his family life.

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Can This Marriage Be Saved? He’s Old Fashioned and Sexist

September 15, 2011 at 4:42 pm , by

Sure, sometimes we ladies like to be treated with chivalry and a touch of old-fashioned manners: opened car doors, chairs pulled back from dinner tables, a romantic gesture from our hubbies. But we like our modern, independent roles, too. (I can change that flat tire myself, thankyouverymuch.) So what happens when you’re a liberated lady and your spouse is stuck in Leave It to Beaver Land?

Maria, a 41-year-old mom of three, has been married to Jose for 20 years. When they met and fell in love, Jose promised she could go to school and get a job, but she got pregnant on their honeymoon and that was the end of that.

Maria’s turn Yes, Jose is a good husband, but he doesn’t understand that Maria has dreams and goals of her own that don’t involve him or their kids. He thinks that because he supports her financially and doesn’t drink, curse or sleep around, she should be completely happy in their marriage. He holds very traditional Latino ideals: The man’s place is at work, and the woman’s is at home. But Maria hates relying on Jose for every decision and purchase and wants to find fulfillment in working and making her own money; she even won a scholarship to a junior college but Jose wouldn’t let her accept it. Because he works so much to support them, they never spend any time together, and he gets angry when she goes out with friends or chats with strangers. He thinks of her as his property, not as his partner, and she’s tired of being the obedient wife.

Jose’s turn What has gotten into his wife? She didn’t make a peep about being unhappy for 20 years and now she wants a divorce. He gives her everything she could want – new clothes, nice cars, financial security – and yet she’s unhappy. So what if he doesn’t compliment her or call her or hold her hand? That’s how marriage was for his parents, who’ve been married 50 years. He does his job, which is to provide for the family, and he doesn’t understand why his wife still wants more. Why go to school now, since she won’t be done until she’s nearly 50? Besides, they don’t need the money. And he doesn’t like her seeing her friends because they’re the ones planting these ideas in her head. He’s baffled that Maria thinks their marriage is in trouble. Read more


Can This Marriage Be Saved? This One Wasn’t!

September 2, 2011 at 1:21 pm , by

As you may know, in the 50-plus-year history of our Can This Marriage Be Saved? column, there have been just a handful of times the marriages we’ve covered haven’t made it through counseling (see one example here, of a husband and wife who probably should never have married in the first place). Inspired by our Facebook fan Heather Fraser’s question about these doomed unions, here’s another of the marriages that could not be saved.

In our February 1973 issue, with a ravishing Liz Taylor on the cover, is the story of Sandy and Guy, a young married couple who weren’t mature enough to understand that marriage is a serious commitment but tied the knot anyway. From our editor’s notes in the introduction, “Marriage is not a game for children, yet many people behave as if it were.”

Sandy’s turn Her husband has “a total lack of fiscal responsibility”, can’t hold down a job and spends all his time drinking. Sandy had been on a round-the-world cruise, financed by her family, and while away she decided to give the marriage another shot. Guy showed up when her ship docked completely drunk, didn’t say a word about missing her while she was gone and left her “tottering with fatigue” when she arrived home and had to clean the house and put the kids to bed. When she confronted him about his behavior, he told her to bug off (in slightly rougher language) and turned on the TV. Sandy decided then and there to get a divorce and had her father hire a lawyer. Guy objected but eventually moved out, though he still shows up unannounced all the time. Sandy’s first marriage was a disaster arranged by her in-laws, and they divorced because her husband turned out to be gay. She became disillusioned with all men except her father, and when she met Guy she found him spoiled and lazy. She only agreed to marry him after she got pregnant. Before they even wed, he quit his job and invested in a coke-bottling plant that quickly went belly-up. Now all he does is sit around the house all day, sleeping till noon and drinking, and pays the bills with handouts from his mother. Read more


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