Ester Perel’s new book, “The State of Affairs” is a groundbreaking book on infidelity. Most books on the topic either give advice on how to avoid an affair or deal with the difficult task of putting together a relationship in the aftermath of infidelity. Ester, an expert on the intersection between desire and safety, acknowledges what most people would rather not- the reality that affairs can be BOTH transformative and destructive. She uses her years of work as a couple’s therapist and researcher to delve into the fact that affairs are often not about what’s wrong at home but what’s missing internally. Continue reading
In my therapy office, psycho-education was a big part of my job. Clients came in to discuss their feelings, and I taught what I knew about feelings. One of my clients (I’ll call her “Leslie”) felt miserable, reporting that she was in love with her supervisor at work. She saw him every day, dressed in the morning with the goal of impressing him, and imagined that he might be her soulmate. Leslie suffered through fantasies that kept her awake at night—focusing on unrealistic and improbable scenarios in which she would discover that he loved her, too. She had trouble concentrating.
We discussed the fact that a simple crush on her boss had turned into something damaging and unhealthy. She said that she had been in love before, but the prior love had felt healthier somehow—a more positive, mutual experience. The more recent experience had a whole different set of features.
In her book Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love, psychologist Dorothy Tennov describes the typical features of limerence:
Cultural can affect your relationship more than you may think even if you or your partner seems perfectly acclimated to the current culture in which you’ve been raised. In my practice, I’ve seen a number of clients who are in intercultural or bi-racial relationships and, over the years, it’s become clear to me that, in many cases, what the client thought was a negative dynamic due to a personality or attachment issue was really a cultural belief being looked at through the wrong lens (the lens of their own cultural bias.)
A relationship can be considered intercultural even if both partners were born and raised in the environment where they live. The question is really HOW were they raised and with what cultural values? In the case of many people I’ve worked with, we have talked about parents who are from a completely different culture, who coming here as adults, raised their children according to the cultural customs and mores of the country from which they came.
This does not mean that the (now) adult child in question who is my client or the partner of my client is not also acclimated or assimilated into the larger culture in which they find themselves. They often grow-up possessing traits of both cultures.
Going into cross-cultural relationships KNOWING that there are bound to be differences in perspective directly related to cultural differences is half the battle in many cases.
The following article by Fouad Alaa outlines a few of the ways in which culture can cause controversy between couples. However, you can add to the list: level and type of attachment to family members (including extended family), the way in which emotion is expressed (or not) and the way material goods are prized (or not), just to name a few.
THERE’S a beautiful honeymoon phase at the beginning of every relationship where couples fall madly in love with each other regardless of any major differences.
After the honeymoon phase comes the adaptation phase. Personal quirks that used to be cute become annoying. Discomfort, issues and even fights take place; doubly so for interracial couples.
Every culture affects our personal habits and preferences. In interracial relationships, personal habits might cause issues the same way they would when they are acceptable in one country but not tolerated for long in another.
A lot of interracial couples mistake cultural influence for personality flaws. The ability to differentiate between a cultural norm and a personal quirk is very important to prevent any misunderstandings or issues regarding compatibility. Continue reading
Numerous studies have shown that once we become attached to someone, the two of us form one physiological unit. Our partner regulates our blood pressure, our heart rate, our breathing, and the levels of hormones in our blood. We are not longer separate entities. The emphasis on differentiation that is held by most of today’s popular psychology approaches to adult relationships does not hold water from a biological perspective. Dependency is a fact; it is not a choice or a preference. -Amir Levine M.D., and Rachel S.F. Heller, M.A. “Attached: The New Science or Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find-And Keep-Love.”
Adult Children of Alcoholics: “Upon reaching adulthood, the majority of children of alcoholics continue to experience problems related to trust, dependency, control, identification and expression of feelings.” – Claudia Black It Will Never Happen to Me: Children of Alcoholics As Youngsters-Adolescents-Adults
Terry Gross provides an insightful and humanistic look at autism through the story of one man who underwent an experimental treatment for his condition and then goes on to eloquently explain both the gains and losses he experienced as a result. Continue reading
For many years I have been speaking to the increasing shift in traditional gender roles and the ways in which this shift is altering the power differential between the sexes. In my practice, I see these changes manifest in a variety of new and interesting ways, both adaptive and maladaptive. My work is primarily with men and this latest New York Times article gives a comprehensive overview of the very real and immediate need to foster and accept emotional vulnerability in men for the sake of their health and success.
“Last semester, a student in the masculinity course I teach showed a video clip she had found online of a toddler getting what appeared to be his first vaccinations. Off camera, we hear his father’s voice. “I’ll hold your hand, O.K.?” Then, as his son becomes increasingly agitated: “Don’t cry!… Aw, big boy! High five, high five! Say you’re a man: “I’m a man!”
“The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality, and it was vitality that seemed to seep away from me in that moment.” In a talk equal parts eloquent and devastating, writer Andrew Solomon takes you to the darkest corners of his mind during the years he battled depression. Continue reading