Couples and Marriage

Couples and Marriage

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Depression – A Long Winter: Types, Effects, and Impact on Relationships

Anti-depressants are the number 1 prescribed medication in the United States. There are various forms of this mood disorder: Major Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Dysthmia.  Within the clinical world of mental health, depression is as common as a cold. Most people with depression do are unaware of it at first although their significant others clearly are aware they are not their usual selves and are worried. They often try to persuade the other to get help with little success until the depression has gone from mild to moderate OR severe.

The first thing to know is that depression comes with various intensities: MILD, MODERATE, SEVERE, and EXTREME. When individuals think of depression, they often think of the most severe or extreme kind. Reality is the vast majority reside in the mild to moderate range and can be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both.. A common response is “I don’t think I am depressed” but after a careful evaluation of symptoms and linking these symptoms to behavior does one come to understand the manifestation of depression.

Major Depression:

Depression is a disorder that impacts  the mind, body, and spirit.   Major Depression is also known as major depressive disorder and clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave.

More than just feeling sad or blue (those go away and don’t often have very brief behavioral, emotional, and mental effects), depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain that may come on as a result of genetic, environment, or both. It is more that just adjusting to a stressful situation. It isn’t  weakness or is it something that you can simply “snap out” of. It requires treatment and most do recover from depression in a fairly short amount of time.

Signs and symptoms of clinical depression may include:

  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Persistent sadness or feeling of emptiness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Increase or decrease in sexual desire
  • Excessive guilt
  • Anxious thoughts (be described as an unquiet mind)
  • Loss of concentration
  • Fatigue or Lethargy
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Onset is in fall and winter and is SADS is caused by less daylight during the fall and winter.

Melatonin is a hormone that our brains produce during the hours of darkness. It is involved with regulation of sleep, body temperature and release of hormones. As with any hormone, the amount produced is important.

People with SAD overly produce melatonin. This disrupts body’s ability to regulate itself and  leads to depressive symptoms. If you have had episodes of depression that clearly have an onset in fall or winter followed by feeling better and asymptomatic  in the spring or summer, you may have SAD. Many comment on feeling more tired and often try to self-medicate (unknowingly) through the use of increased caffeine use.

Symptoms of winter-onset seasonal affective disorder include:

  • Depressed mood
  • Irritability
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of energy
  • Social withdrawal
  • Oversleeping (feeling like you want to hibernate)
  • Loss of interest in activities you normally enjoy
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates such as pastas, rice, bread and cereal
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating and processing information

Dysthmia (dis-THI-me-uh)

Dysthymia is a mild, chronic, form of depression. Dysthymia symptoms usually have been present for the  last  two years, but clients report it has been present for much longer than that – sometimes beginning in adolescence.

While the symptoms are more mild than other forms of depression, given the chronicity of it the consequences and impact are more severe. Individuals with dysthymia  often feel hopeless (“What’s the point?), have difficulty beginning and completing tasks (“I just don’t feel like it”) and have a low self-esteem (“My spouse, coworkers, etc..don’t care about me……Why should I care?”). People with dysthymia are viewed by others of as being overly critical, negativistic, constantly complaining and unable to losen up – only, they are unaware others view them this way and when it is brought to their attention, the person with dysthmia will say “that’s just the way I am” OR become defensive OR become critical. The glass is always half empty for a person with dysthmia and they believe someone must have stolen the milk!

Depression and Couples

Depression of any type can create what are known as “cognitive distortions” in a relationship/marriage.  Distortions are a set of internal beliefs that an individual takes as FACT when it is what they tell themselves about the facts. For example, a dumped coffee on the ground “I can’t believe someone dumped out their coffee here. They should have dumped it in the garbage can” or “Too bad, someone accidentally spilled their coffee” are beliefs and a story based on the coffee on the ground. We don’t know which is the real story because we were not there, but as human beings, we make inferences based on what is observable.

Depression strongly impacts a persons beliefs about marriage, their spouse, and themselves in a way that contributes to a negative cycle of interaction. It impacts a marriage at all levels; friendship; fondness and admiration, intimacy, positivity, resolving conflict, repairing the relationship, how issues are raised, being open to the others’ thoughts and opinions, de-escalating and calming down, compromising, and creating lifelong dreams and meaning (Gottman, 2002).

After a thorough assessment of each persons view of relationships in the above areas, a therapist can determine the issues a client brings to therapy that make marital interventions ineffective and develop solutions couple specific to reduce the impact of depression on treatment resistance to mariage therapy.

Infidelity: Crisis and Call for Change

Research (Gottman, 2009) shows men ages 55-65 are most likely to have affairs and women ages 40 – 45. Other risk factors (not cause) include making more than $30,000 annually, higher status, moderate to low marital satisfaction,  and travel for occupation.  Religion is NOT a protective factor in marriages with low marital satisfaction. Typically, 25 – 30% of marriages in counseling have been marked by an affair.

It is devastating and undeniably painful given that trust is broken, love and admiration are crushed, and it feels impossible to sort out. Possiblly worst of all, the faithful partner now desires to flee the person who hurt them, however; needs comfort AND while the faithful person may desire to seek comfort from the unfaithful partner; they cannot.  This may create a sense of disorganization, especially if the faithful partner has a trauma history from early caregiving they received or other betrayals from intimate partners.

Treatment can help. Initially, the person who had the affair must be willing to disclose all the details in answering the faithful partners’ questions, cut off all contact with the other person, and be willing to rebuild a different marriage. For the faithful partner, it means understanding this is a trauma and as such, Post Trauma Stress Disorder Symptoms are common such as intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares, numbing, hyper-arousal, anxiety, panicky feelings, and an inability to think about anything else.  The faithful partner needs the freedom to express feelings, freedom to ask any questions and have them answered directly and honestly, and be wiling to rebuild a different marriage. The straying partner needs to be willing to be honest, open, and accepting.

And that is just the beginning. While not all marriages can survive the aftermath of infidelity, many survive and thrive;  having a renewed friendship, increased awareness and ability to comfort each other, and deeper emotional intimacy. Click here to make an appointment request or call 608-785-7000 x221 for an appointment with a marriage expert.

The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate (Paperback)

Unhappiness in marriage often has a simple root cause: we speak different love languages, believes Dr. Gary Chapman. While working as a marriage counselor for more than 30 years, he identified five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. In a friendly, often humorous style, he unpacks each one. Some husbands or wives may crave focused attention; another needs regular praise. Gifts are highly important to one spouse, while another sees fixing a leaky faucet, ironing a shirt, or cooking a meal as filling their “love tank.” Some partners might find physical touch makes them feel valued: holding hands, giving back rubs, and sexual contact. Chapman illustrates each love language with real-life examples from his counseling practice.

How do you discover your spouse’s – and your own – love language? Chapman’s short questionnaires are one of several ways to find out. Throughout the book, he also includes application questions that can be answered more extensively in the beautifully detailed companion leather journal (an exclusive Amazon.com set). Each section of the journal corresponds with a chapter from the book, offering opportunities for deeper reflection on your marriage.

Although some readers may find choosing to love a spouse that they no longer even like –hoping the feelings of affection will follow later– a difficult concept to swallow, Chapman promises that the results will be worth the effort. “Love is a choice,” says Chapman. “And either partner can start the process today.” —Cindy Crosby. This text refers to the Amazon.com Exclusive Journal & Paperback Book Set.

The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships

”John Gottman is our leading explorer of the inner world of relationships. In The Relationship Cure, he has found gold once again. This book shows how the simplest, nearly invisible gestures of care and attention hold the key to successful relationships with those we love and work with.”
— William J. Doherty, Ph.D., author of Take Back Your Marriage: Sticking Together in a World That Pulls Us Apart

“This is the best book on relationships I have ever read — a truly impressive tour-de-force. John Gottman has discovered the Rosetta Stone of relationships. He has decoded the subtle secrets contained in our moment-to-moment communications. By introducing the simple yet amazingly powerful concept of the “bid,” he provides a remarkable set of tools for relationship repair. By the middle of the second chapter you’re likely to say to yourself, “Oh, so that’s what’s happening in my relationship with my partner (or colleague, boss, or sister), and now I know what to do about it.”
— Daniel B. Wile, Ph.D.,author of After the Fight: Using Your Disagreements to Build a Stronger Relationship

The Relationship Cure is another in John Gottman’s superb series of books on improving intimate relationships. What distinguishes Gottman’s writing from that of other self-help books is that it is based on research findings from his extensive studies. When he says his five steps will help you build better connections with the people you care about, you know that they have been demonstrated to work.”
— E. Mavis Hetherington, Ph.D., professor of psychology, University of Virginia

The Relationship Cure is both profound and practical, based on decades of research and clinical experience. The rich array of self-exploration exercises and guidelines offers a life-changing program for creating more rewarding emotional connections with friends, colleagues, and life partners.”
— Shirley P. Glass, ABPP, author of Treating the Trauma of Infidelity

The Relationship Cure is engaging and imaginative. The deceptively simple but powerful concept of the ’emotional bid’ reveals ways in which we can connect with significant others in our lives.”
— Andrew Christensen, Ph.D., coauthor of Reconcilable Differences

“I always expect to learn something from John Gottman, and I have never been disappointed. The Relationship Cure is original, insightful, and immensely helpful. I love the concept of emotional bids. Gottman not only helps the reader recognize how he or she may be short circuiting connection and communication, he gives them very good practical advice, as well as examples of wrong and right ways to deal with even the most aggressive or passive partner interaction.”
— Pepper Schwartz, Profesor of Sociology, the University of Washington, Seattle and author of Everything You Know About Love and Sex is Wrong

The Divorce Remedy: The Proven 7-Step Program for Saving Your Marriage

In the United States, half of all marriages do not end in divorce–despite the interference of hell-bent lawyers, biased therapists, the media, and even well-meaning friends. The Divorce Remedy aims to increase this percentage by offering seven clear steps that couples–or even one hopeful spouse–can implement privately. A therapist herself, relationship expert Michele Weiner Davis accurately (and often humorously) shows how typical counseling and communications tactics backfire. Her method for saving a marriage involves an effective blend of subtle and obvious action steps, each taken in specific order. After a myth-busting lecture on the realities of divorce, Weiner Davis thoroughly outlines her simple plan. Intimidating discussion topics and emotional letter writing are not required; as she succinctly puts it, “happiness is a do-it-yourself job.” Poignant questions help readers define their own needs, set specific marriage goals, and monitor results. Weiner Davis pays special attention to issues of infidelity, depression, midlife crises, and “passion meltdowns,” showing how basic relationship skills (like understanding and patience) can reverse even the most dire marital scenarios. Clients’ stories and letters provide ample testimony for the program’s success, and despite her own zealous back-patting, Weiner Davis’s sensible approach to revitalizing one’s marriage seems truly worthy of praise and practice. –Liane Thomas –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs

Discover the Single Greatest Secret to a Successful Marriage

Psychological studies affirm it, and the Bible has been saying it for ages. Cracking the communication code between husband and wife involves understanding one thing: that unconditional respect is as powerful for him as unconditional love is for her. It’s the secret to marriage that every couple seeks, and yet few couples ever find.

Today, you and your mate can start fresh with the ground-breaking guidance that Dr. Emerson Eggerichs provides in this book. His revolutionary message, featured on Focus on the Family, is for anyone: in marital crisis…wanting to stay happily married…who’s feeling lonely. It’s for engaged couples…victims of affairs…pastors and counselors seeking material that can save a marriage.

Using Dr. Eggerich’s breakthrough techniques, couples nationwide are achieving a brand-new level of intimacy and learning how to: – stop the Crazy Cycle of conflict – initiate the Energizing Cycle of change – enjoy the Rewarded Cycle of new passion

And if you’ll take this biblically based counsel to heart, your marriage could be next!

After the Affair:Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful

For married or cohabiting couples who want to rebuild their relationship after one partner had had an affair, this tough-minded, insightful manual will be eminently practical. Clinical psychologist Spring, writing with her husband, draws on 20 years of experience treating distressed couples as she explains how both the unfaithful partner and the betrayed one can confront their doubts and fears about recommitting, constructively communicate pain and anger, restore trust, renew sexual intimacy and forgive. In jargon-free prose, she urges both partners to probe the deeper meaning of the affair, to explore why it happened and to accept responsibility for it. Recognizing unstated assumptions held by oneself or one’s mate is an integral part of this process, and the authors include exercises, concise case studies and checklists of suggestions to guide readers through the difficult task of healing. This wise book fills a gap on the self-help shelf. First serial to Cosmopolitan; available on audiocassette.

False Intimacy


We all long for true intimacy. Many people seek to fill that void by seeking sexual relationships-whether real or fantasized-that promise to provide the relief, acceptance, and fulfillment for which they long. But it is false intimacy. And as Dr. Harry Schaumburg points out, “Sexual intimacy can’t relieve their deep, unmet longings.”

False Intimacy goes beyond behavioral symptoms and willpower-based solutions to provide biblical guideposts for the journey to restoration. With frank honesty, False Intimacy examines the roots behind these kinds of behaviors and offers realistic direction to those whose lives or ministries have been impacted by sexual addiction.

“The finest work available for all who struggle with their sexuality or want to understand and help those who do.”-Dr. Dan B. Allender, author of The Wounded Heart

“More people than we know battle against compelling sexual desires. Dr. Schaumburg thinks through the realities of the battle and offers a biblical perspective with wisdom, clarity, and compassion.”-Dr. Larry Crabb, teacher, counselor, author of Inside Out

“This is the best Christian book on sexual addiction I’ve ever read. Schaumburg goes far deeper than the surface symptoms to expose core issues of this common problem.”-Bob Davies, executive director, Exodus International TABLE OF CONTENTS: Chapter 1: What Is Sexual Addiction? Chapter 2: Sexually Addictive Behaviors Chapter 3: What Causes Sexual Addiction? Chapter 4: Hope for Those Who Are Sexually Addicted Chapter 5: Responding to Your Sexually Addicted Spouse Chapter 6: The Recovering Marriage Chapter 7: Women and False Intimacy Chapter 8: Preventing Sexual Addiction in Your Children Chapter 9: Sexual Addiction in the Church Chapter 10: The Church as a Healing Community Chapter 11: Healing for Christian Leaders Appendix A: Indicators of Childhood Sexual Abuse Appendix B: Ministry Resources

Faithful and True

Dr. Laaser offers help and hope for regaining and maintaining sexual integrity, self-control, and wholesome, biblical sexuality.

Changing Your Man Without Him Knowing It!!

“I want my wife to read this” said one male client.  This is a great book for wives on learning the secrets to changing even the most stubborn of men. A must read for wives!

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