Advice for Couples: How to Ruin Your Sex Life

1) Never go out on dates.
2) When you do go out on dates, talk about all of the problems that exist in your partner or your relationship.
3) Criticize your partner’s body. Men, you’ll find this especially effective if you’d like a bad sex life with your wife or girlfriend.
4) Bring up a conflict shortly before bed.
5) Bring up your sexual requests or complaints during fights.

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Survivor Guilt: Common reason for self-sabotage

Many people wonder why they sometimes do the exact behavior that is the most hurtful to them:  sabotage relationships, not going after what they want, staying confused about where they are with their money. A common reason is feeling guilty about having a better life than the people that you grew up with. If you had parents or siblings who were depressed, addicted, unfulfilled or dysfunctional, you might be tempted to hold yourself back as a way not to feel guilty. Survivor guilt is counter-intuitive to most people. One way to think about it is to imagine yourself at a dinner where you have a nice full plate of  food in front of you and the rest of your family is sitting there in chains.  You might feel selfish either eating the meal or enjoying it. Survivor guilt works the same way. Having a good life might cause you to feel like you’re leaving behind the people you love.

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Advice for Couples: Self-Soothing

One of the most important behaviors that you have to learn to be in a couple is the ability to soothe yourself when you get hurt or provoked.  If you grew up in a family that was chaotic or where there was ongoing neglect or abuse, this will likely require more effort on your part than if your parents were loving and supportive. This is because the ability to self-soothe is typically something that we internalize from our caregivers.

Here are a few recommendations when you start to get upset:

* Breathe slowly and deeply.

* Pay attention to your self-talk. Don’t catastrophize or generalize. Assume that your spouse or partner has their own valid reasons for their feelings or behaviors, however inexpertly expressed.

* Use a soothing tone when you talk to yourself, much as you would when trying to calm a distressed child.

* Take a time-out so you can collect your thoughts and give your physiology time to settle. Studies show that once your heart rate goes even 10 beats per minute faster than usual your ability to think begins to decrease.

If you have a very difficult time regulating your emotions in relationships, find a therapist and work on it. Expecting a partner to always be able to soothe you can unfairly burden your relationship.

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Girls’ Sports Matter

Some parents wonder about whether high school athletics serve any long-term purpose. Apparently, for high school girls they do. According to a recent study cited in the NYT’s by columnist Tara Parker-Pope, women who competed in high school sports, did better later in life in terms of health, education, and economics than girls who didn’t compete.

“Just six years after the enactment of Title IX (the law mandating that schools that receive federal money are required to have athletic programs for girls), the percentage of girls playing team sports had jumped sixfold, to 25 percent from about 4 percent.” One of the researchers, economist Betsey Stevenson “found that the changes set in motion by Title IX explained about 20 percent of the increase in women’s education and about 40 percent of the rise in employment for 25-to-34-year-old women.”

Why would this be the case?

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“I Can’t Stand The Man My Learning Disabled Daughter Will Marry! What Should I Do?”

Dear Dr. Coleman,

Our 21 yr old just announced she is getting married in 5 months (not pregnant) to her 2 yr companion and addict boyfriend.  We dislike him and his family-there is nothing positive to say about him. We have always had a good relationship with her (so I thought) until this guy came into the picture. Should we participate in the wedding? Should we try to pay for it? (we’ve been unemployed for 3 years now & husband is on disability). Should we ‘bless’ this union even though I get sick thinking about it?  I’d rather her continue to live with him than marry him – he is so low & has threatened us. She totally supports his actions – not ours.  Her perception has always been “off” and with her multiple disabilities, she will never see clearly.  We’ve been accused of being controlling, but we have her best interests in our hearts & she needs protecting b/c of her learning disabilities.  Please help!

Dear Reader,

It is very tough on parents when they a) don’t like their future daughter- or son-in-law and b) believe that their child is making a very serious mistake in marrying that person. From my perspective, it’s rarely productive to come out and say, “I don’t like your fiancé.”

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Your Difficult Child May Be Your Most Successful Child

Every parent with more than one child knows that similar parenting does not always produce similar children. Children come into the world genetically blessed or cursed with traits that may either serve them or put them into harm’s way. Recent research has helped identify the genes that cause some children to be more resilient regardless of how they are treated by their parents. Researchers refer to them as “dandelion children” referencing the notion that they can bloom in almost any environment. Common-sense would predict that these kids would be the most successful. And often they are. They are only surpassed in adulthood by a group of children that are being labelled “orchid children.” These children require far more careful parental intervention and nurturance, but when they do, can bloom spectacularly. Read More »

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What Do Kids Really Think About Their Working Parents?

On Feb 10th,  I was on Fem2.0 Blog Radio with host Ellen Galinsky and guest Lisa Belkin.  Ellen Galinsky is President and Co-Founder of the Families and Work Institute and author of the forthcoming book, MINDS IN THE MAKING: The Seven Essential Skills Every Child Must Learn (HarperStudio). Lisa Belkin is a New York Times Magazine writer and author of the popular Motherlode blog at the New York Times. She is also the author of three books, including “Life’s Work: Confessions of an Unbalanced Mom.” It was a really stimulating discussion and I highly recommend it.

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Fighting in Front of the Children

Many parents worry about whether they’re hurting their kids by fighting in front of them. Join Dr. Coleman on View from the Bay as he discusses the Do’s and Don’ts!

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Diane Rehm Show: Estranged Parents

Join Dr. Coleman for an hour-long interview with Diane Rehm about parental estrangement. Why it seems to be on the rise, what parents can do about it, and what are some common causes.

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Talking with Kids About Infidelity

What do you tell your kids when they find out that one of their parents has had an affair? How does the discover of an affair affect a child? Can families ever recover?

Listen to the recording of Dr. Coleman and psychotherapist Susan Berger, MFT on Childhood Matters Radio with host Rona Renner KISS 98.1FM San Francisco

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