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Author Topic: MLC Monster Resources: About MLC

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MLC Monster Re: Resources: About MLC
#100: September 24, 2011, 12:55:21 PM
I think this article is useful in understanding something of what is going on underneath. It's interesting that each of us sees different aspects that are useful, or even recognising their own childhood patterns.

I don't think grown up resilient children need to be introvert or extrovert; the point is that the have survived by substituting parental love with success. In the case of my H, he actually dislikes praise. His idea of perfection is beyond the gratitude and praise of parents and peers; it's completely internalised. He has always been extremely successful, academically, professionally, and in sports too, but this exhausts him. When he comes home, he needs to be by himself.

I'm not sure, even now, what else I could have done. I thought I gave him space, I certainly bent over backwards to take care of him, and love him, yet he felt lonely and unloved. He now recognises that he has problems with himself.

If we learn anything from this, it is about how some of our partners have deep problems that we did not cause and cannot solve. But we can understand, and love, and do whatever we need; to be responsible for ourselves, to stand, to stop pursuing.
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Re: Resources: About MLC
#101: September 24, 2011, 04:47:02 PM
WGH - Alexithymia, Anhedonia and depersonalisation - my H is suffering from them all.

Very interesting article, thanks, although some of the advised changes in behaviours will be bandaids - divorce, new partner etc. But we all know that here on this forum ......
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Re: Resources: About MLC
#102: September 24, 2011, 05:39:37 PM
Dear Mermaid,

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this article. It is a great source of comfort for me to read that these men have a need for affirmation that is impossible for the spouse to provide. I am 9 mos into this and still struggle with thinking his crises is somehow my fault. This article describes my H to a T.

My H is the youngest of 3. His father emotionally and physically abandoned the family (frequent affairs). My H was in Jr. high when his father left for good (and then financially abandoned them). My H had to be the "man" of the house and care for his mother, who was raised by an alcoholic foster parent. H's mother was depressed at her abandonment (of course).  H had to get a job to help out. He was the "perfect" child. Hyper-responsible, straight-A student. Never got into trouble, never had a "normal" adolescence (parties, friends, dates, etc). Always putting the mother first. Driven and very successful at work.

I always supported and encouraged my H. I see a beauty and goodness in him that he cannot see in himself. But no matter. I could not convince him of his worth. My love was not enough to heal his pain.

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Re: Resources: About MLC
#103: September 24, 2011, 06:00:34 PM
I think it should be all us LBSers who should be having a mlc we put all the work into our marriages did more that  a lot of mlcers ever did for the marriage yet they get to experience another life and reconcile with us if they want to later on.come on what do we have to lose lol :o :o :o :o :P :P :P ;D ;Dmaybe my h may hook with me if im in MLC we good be drink buddies and maybe something else at least we could to relate each other mmmmmmmmmmmm consider nah not a good idea lol theres got to be one sensible person standing lol and looking after the family xxxxxxxxxxxxx
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Re: Resources: About MLC
#104: September 25, 2011, 01:41:14 AM
nah not a good idea lol theres got to be one sensible person standing lol and looking after the family xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Someone's got to be the  rock, or we'd all float away...

I always supported and encouraged my H. I see a beauty and goodness in him that he cannot see in himself. But no matter. I could not convince him of his worth. My love was not enough to heal his pain.

Birdhouse, your H does sound typical of the type described in this article, and similar to my H.

 My H has now realised that the pain and the solutions are in him. I think the quality he most appreciates in me is kindness. When I react (as I have, sometimes), he disappears; he can't take it. He was always Mr Perfect in everything, and only admitted this inner worthlessness at MLC. I always told him I believed in him, and loved him, and could see his qualities. After three years of overt MLC (there were years of depression and withdrawal before that), something seems to be changing.

I hope this
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Re: Resources: About MLC
#105: September 28, 2011, 08:28:57 AM
An interesting read on optimism, memories, happiness, and the brain.

The Optimism Bias

We like to think of ourselves as rational creatures. We watch our backs, weigh the odds, pack an umbrella. But both neuroscience and social science suggest that we are more optimistic than realistic. On average, we expect things to turn out better than they wind up being. People hugely underestimate their chances of getting divorced, losing their job or being diagnosed with cancer; expect their children to be extraordinarily gifted; envision themselves achieving more than their peers; and overestimate their likely life span (sometimes by 20 years or more).

The belief that the future will be much better than the past and present is known as the optimism bias. It abides in every race, region and socioeconomic bracket. Schoolchildren playing when-I-grow-up are rampant optimists, but so are grownups: a 2005 study found that adults over 60 are just as likely to see the glass half full as young adults.

You might expect optimism to erode under the tide of news about violent conflicts, high unemployment, tornadoes and floods and all the threats and failures that shape human life. Collectively we can grow pessimistic — about the direction of our country or the ability of our leaders to improve education and reduce crime. But private optimism, about our personal future, remains incredibly resilient. A survey conducted in 2007 found that while 70% thought families in general were less successful than in their parents' day, 76% of respondents were optimistic about the future of their own family.
(See the case for optimism in TIME's special "10 Ideas That Will Change the World.")

Overly positive assumptions can lead to disastrous miscalculations — make us less likely to get health checkups, apply sunscreen or open a savings account, and more likely to bet the farm on a bad investment. But the bias also protects and inspires us: it keeps us moving forward rather than to the nearest high-rise ledge. Without optimism, our ancestors might never have ventured far from their tribes and we might all be cave dwellers, still huddled together and dreaming of light and heat.

To make progress, we need to be able to imagine alternative realities — better ones — and we need to believe that we can achieve them. Such faith helps motivate us to pursue our goals. Optimists in general work longer hours and tend to earn more. Economists at Duke University found that optimists even save more. And although they are not less likely to divorce, they are more likely to remarry — an act that is, as Samuel Johnson wrote, the triumph of hope over experience.
(See if the global "happiness" index will ever beat out the GDP.)

Even if that better future is often an illusion, optimism has clear benefits in the present. Hope keeps our minds at ease, lowers stress and improves physical health. Researchers studying heart-disease patients found that optimists were more likely than nonoptimistic patients to take vitamins, eat low-fat diets and exercise, thereby reducing their overall coronary risk. A study of cancer patients revealed that pessimistic patients under the age of 60 were more likely to die within eight months than nonpessimistic patients of the same initial health, status and age.

In fact, a growing body of scientific evidence points to the conclusion that optimism may be hardwired by evolution into the human brain. The science of optimism, once scorned as an intellectually suspect province of pep rallies and smiley faces, is opening a new window on the workings of human consciousness. What it shows could fuel a revolution in psychology, as the field comes to grips with accumulating evidence that our brains aren't just stamped by the past. They are constantly being shaped by the future.

Hardwired for Hope?
I would have liked to tell you that my work on optimism grew out of a keen interest in the positive side of human nature. The reality is that I stumbled onto the brain's innate optimism by accident. After living through Sept. 11, 2001, in New York City, I had set out to investigate people's memories of the terrorist attacks. I was intrigued by the fact that people felt their memories were as accurate as a videotape, while often they were filled with errors. A survey conducted around the country showed that 11 months after the attacks, individuals' recollections of their experience that day were consistent with their initial accounts (given in September 2011) only 63% of the time. They were also poor at remembering details of the event, such as the names of the airline carriers. Where did these mistakes in memory come from?

Scientists who study memory proposed an intriguing answer: memories are susceptible to inaccuracies partly because the neural system responsible for remembering episodes from our past might not have evolved for memory alone. Rather, the core function of the memory system could in fact be to imagine the future — to enable us to prepare for what has yet to come. The system is not designed to perfectly replay past events, the researchers claimed. It is designed to flexibly construct future scenarios in our minds. As a result, memory also ends up being a reconstructive process, and occasionally, details are deleted and others inserted.
(See why happiness isn't always good.)

To test this, I decided to record the brain activity of volunteers while they imagined future events — not events on the scale of 9/11, but events in their everyday lives — and compare those results with the pattern I observed when the same individuals recalled past events. But something unexpected occurred. Once people started imagining the future, even the most banal life events seemed to take a dramatic turn for the better. Mundane scenes brightened with upbeat details as if polished by a Hollywood script doctor. You might think that imagining a future haircut would be pretty dull. Not at all. Here is what one of my participants pictured: "I was getting my hair cut to donate to Locks of Love [a charity that fashions wigs for young cancer patients]. It had taken me years to grow it out, and my friends were all there to help celebrate. We went to my favorite hair place in Brooklyn and then went to lunch at our favorite restaurant."

I asked another participant to imagine a plane ride. "I imagined the takeoff — my favorite! — and then the eight-hour-long nap in between and then finally landing in Krakow and clapping for the pilot for providing the safe voyage," she responded. No tarmac delays, no screaming babies. The world, only a year or two into the future, was a wonderful place to live in.

If all our participants insisted on thinking positively when it came to what lay in store for them personally, what does that tell us about how our brains are wired? Is the human tendency for optimism a consequence of the architecture of our brains?
(See the new science of happiness.)

The Human Time Machine
To think positively about our prospects, we must first be able to imagine ourselves in the future. Optimism starts with what may be the most extraordinary of human talents: mental time travel, the ability to move back and forth through time and space in one's mind. Although most of us take this ability for granted, our capacity to envision a different time and place is in fact critical to our survival.

It is easy to see why cognitive time travel was naturally selected for over the course of evolution. It allows us to plan ahead, to save food and resources for times of scarcity and to endure hard work in anticipation of a future reward. It also lets us forecast how our current behavior may influence future generations. If we were not able to picture the world in a hundred years or more, would we be concerned with global warming? Would we attempt to live healthily? Would we have children?

While mental time travel has clear survival advantages, conscious foresight came to humans at an enormous price — the understanding that somewhere in the future, death awaits. Ajit Varki, a biologist at the University of California, San Diego, argues that the awareness of mortality on its own would have led evolution to a dead end. The despair would have interfered with our daily function, bringing the activities needed for survival to a stop. The only way conscious mental time travel could have arisen over the course of evolution is if it emerged together with irrational optimism. Knowledge of death had to emerge side by side with the persistent ability to picture a bright future.

The capacity to envision the future relies partly on the hippocampus, a brain structure that is crucial to memory. Patients with damage to their hippocampus are unable to recollect the past, but they are also unable to construct detailed images of future scenarios. They appear to be stuck in time. The rest of us constantly move back and forth in time; we might think of a conversation we had with our spouse yesterday and then immediately of our dinner plans for later tonight.

But the brain doesn't travel in time in a random fashion. It tends to engage in specific types of thoughts. We consider how well our kids will do in life, how we will obtain that sought-after job, afford that house on the hill and find perfect love. We imagine our team winning the crucial game, look forward to an enjoyable night on the town or picture a winning streak at the blackjack table. We also worry about losing loved ones, failing at our job or dying in a terrible plane crash — but research shows that most of us spend less time mulling over negative outcomes than we do over positive ones. When we do contemplate defeat and heartache, we tend to focus on how these can be avoided.
(See 20 ways to get and stay happy.)

Findings from a study I conducted a few years ago with prominent neuroscientist Elizabeth Phelps suggest that directing our thoughts of the future toward the positive is a result of our frontal cortex's communicating with subcortical regions deep in our brain. The frontal cortex, a large area behind the forehead, is the most recently evolved part of the brain. It is larger in humans than in other primates and is critical for many complex human functions such as language and goal setting.

Using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner, we recorded brain activity in volunteers as they imagined specific events that might occur to them in the future. Some of the events that I asked them to imagine were desirable (a great date or winning a large sum of money), and some were undesirable (losing a wallet, ending a romantic relationship). The volunteers reported that their images of sought-after events were richer and more vivid than those of unwanted events.

This matched the enhanced activity we observed in two critical regions of the brain: the amygdala, a small structure deep in the brain that is central to the processing of emotion, and the rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC), an area of the frontal cortex that modulates emotion and motivation. The rACC acts like a traffic conductor, enhancing the flow of positive emotions and associations. The more optimistic a person was, the higher the activity in these regions was while imagining positive future events (relative to negative ones) and the stronger the connectivity between the two structures.
(See "Do We Need $75,000 a Year to Be Happy?")

The findings were particularly fascinating because these precise regions — the amygdala and the rACC — show abnormal activity in depressed individuals. While healthy people expect the future to be slightly better than it ends up being, people with severe depression tend to be pessimistically biased: they expect things to be worse than they end up being. People with mild depression are relatively accurate when predicting future events. They see the world as it is. In other words, in the absence of a neural mechanism that generates unrealistic optimism, it is possible all humans would be mildly depressed.

Can Optimism Change Reality?
The problem with pessimistic expectations, such as those of the clinically depressed, is that they have the power to alter the future; negative expectations shape outcomes in a negative way. How do expectations change reality?

See how negative thinking affects your health.

To answer this question, my colleague, cognitive neuroscientist Sara Bengtsson, devised an experiment in which she manipulated positive and negative expectations of students while their brains were scanned and tested their performance on cognitive tasks. To induce expectations of success, she primed college students with words such as smart, intelligent and clever just before asking them to perform a test. To induce expectations of failure, she primed them with words like stupid and ignorant. The students performed better after being primed with an affirmative message.

Examining the brain-imaging data, Bengtsson found that the students' brains responded differently to the mistakes they made depending on whether they were primed with the word clever or the word stupid. When the mistake followed positive words, she observed enhanced activity in the anterior medial part of the prefrontal cortex (a region that is involved in self-reflection and recollection). However, when the participants were primed with the word stupid, there was no heightened activity after a wrong answer. It appears that after being primed with the word stupid, the brain expected to do poorly and did not show signs of surprise or conflict when it made an error.
(See how playing the part of an optimist can help your health.)

A brain that doesn't expect good results lacks a signal telling it, "Take notice — wrong answer!" These brains will fail to learn from their mistakes and are less likely to improve over time. Expectations become self-fulfilling by altering our performance and actions, which ultimately affects what happens in the future. Often, however, expectations simply transform the way we perceive the world without altering reality itself. Let me give you an example. While writing these lines, my friend calls. He is at Heathrow Airport waiting to get on a plane to Austria for a skiing holiday. His plane has been delayed for three hours already, because of snowstorms at his destination. "I guess this is both a good and bad thing," he says. Waiting at the airport is not pleasant, but he quickly concludes that snow today means better skiing conditions tomorrow. His brain works to match the unexpected misfortune of being stuck at the airport to its eager anticipation of a fun getaway.

A canceled flight is hardly tragic, but even when the incidents that befall us are the type of horrific events we never expected to encounter, we automatically seek evidence confirming that our misfortune is a blessing in disguise. No, we did not anticipate losing our job, being ill or getting a divorce, but when these incidents occur, we search for the upside. These experiences mature us, we think. They may lead to more fulfilling jobs and stable relationships in the future. Interpreting a misfortune in this way allows us to conclude that our sunny expectations were correct after all — things did work out for the best.

Silver Linings
How do we find the silver lining in storm clouds? To answer that, my colleagues — renowned neuroscientist Ray Dolan and neurologist Tamara Shiner — and I instructed volunteers in the fMRI scanner to visualize a range of medical conditions, from broken bones to Alzheimer's, and rate how bad they imagined these conditions to be. Then we asked them: If you had to endure one of the following, which would you rather have — a broken leg or a broken arm? Heartburn or asthma? Finally, they rated all the conditions again. Minutes after choosing one particular illness out of many, the volunteers suddenly found that the chosen illness was less intimidating. A broken leg, for example, may have been thought of as "terrible" before choosing it over some other malady. However, after choosing it, the subject would find a silver lining: "With a broken leg, I will be able to lie in bed watching TV, guilt-free."
(See how self-help can stop negative thoughts.)

In our study, we also found that people perceived adverse events more positively if they had experienced them in the past. Recording brain activity while these reappraisals took place revealed that highlighting the positive within the negative involves, once again, a tête-à-tête between the frontal cortex and subcortical regions processing emotional value. While contemplating a mishap, like a broken leg, activity in the rACC modulated signals in a region called the striatum that conveyed the good and bad of the event in question — biasing activity in a positive direction.

It seems that our brain possesses the philosopher's stone that enables us to turn lead into gold and helps us bounce back to normal levels of well-being. It is wired to place high value on the events we encounter and put faith in its own decisions. This is true not only when forced to choose between two adverse options (such as selecting between two courses of medical treatment) but also when we are selecting between desirable alternatives. Imagine you need to pick between two equally attractive job offers. Making a decision may be a tiring, difficult ordeal, but once you make up your mind, something miraculous happens. Suddenly — if you are like most people — you view the chosen offer as better than you did before and conclude that the other option was not that great after all. According to social psychologist Leon Festinger, we re-evaluate the options postchoice to reduce the tension that arises from making a difficult decision between equally desirable options.

In a brain-imaging study I conducted with Ray Dolan and Benedetto De Martino in 2009, we asked subjects to imagine going on vacation to 80 different destinations and rate how happy they thought they would be in each place. We then asked them to select one destination from two choices that they had rated exactly the same. Would you choose Paris over Brazil? Finally, we asked them to imagine and rate all the destinations again. Seconds after picking between two destinations, people rated their selected destination higher than before and rated the discarded choice lower than before.

The brain-imaging data revealed that these changes were happening in the caudate nucleus, a cluster of nerve cells that is part of the striatum. The caudate has been shown to process rewards and signal their expectation. If we believe we are about to be given a paycheck or eat a scrumptious chocolate cake, the caudate acts as an announcer broadcasting to other parts of the brain, "Be ready for something good." After we receive the reward, the value is quickly updated. If there is a bonus in the paycheck, this higher value will be reflected in striatal activity. If the cake is disappointing, the decreased value will be tracked so that next time our expectations will be lower.

In our experiment, after a decision was made between two destinations, the caudate nucleus rapidly updated its signal. Before choosing, it might signal "thinking of something great" while imagining both Greece and Thailand. But after choosing Greece, it now broadcast "thinking of something remarkable!" for Greece and merely "thinking of something good" for Thailand.
(See pictures of couples in love.)

True, sometimes we regret our decisions; our choices can turn out to be disappointing. But on balance, when you make a decision — even if it is a hypothetical choice — you will value it more and expect it to bring you pleasure.

This affirmation of our decisions helps us derive heightened pleasure from choices that might actually be neutral. Without this, our lives might well be filled with second-guessing. Have we done the right thing? Should we change our mind? We would find ourselves stuck, overcome by indecision and unable to move forward.

The Puzzle of Optimism
While the past few years have seen important advances in the neuroscience of optimism, one enduring puzzle remained. How is it that people maintain this rosy bias even when information challenging our upbeat forecasts is so readily available? Only recently have we been able to decipher this mystery, by scanning the brains of people as they process both positive and negative information about the future. The findings are striking: when people learn, their neurons faithfully encode desirable information that can enhance optimism but fail at incorporating unexpectedly undesirable information. When we hear a success story like Mark Zuckerberg's, our brains take note of the possibility that we too may become immensely rich one day. But hearing that the odds of divorce are almost 1 in 2 tends not to make us think that our own marriages may be destined to fail.
(See "A Primer for Pessimists.")

Why would our brains be wired in this way? It is tempting to speculate that optimism was selected by evolution precisely because, on balance, positive expectations enhance the odds of survival. Research findings that optimists live longer and are healthier, plus the fact that most humans display optimistic biases — and emerging data that optimism is linked to specific genes — all strongly support this hypothesis. Yet optimism is also irrational and can lead to unwanted outcomes. The question then is, How can we remain hopeful — benefiting from the fruits of optimism — while at the same time guarding ourselves from its pitfalls?

I believe knowledge is key. We are not born with an innate understanding of our biases. The brain's illusions have to be identified by careful scientific observation and controlled experiments and then communicated to the rest of us. Once we are made aware of our optimistic illusions, we can act to protect ourselves. The good news is that awareness rarely shatters the illusion. The glass remains half full. It is possible, then, to strike a balance, to believe we will stay healthy, but get medical insurance anyway; to be certain the sun will shine, but grab an umbrella on our way out — just in case.

Adapted from The Optimism Bias, by Tali Sharot. Copyright © 2011 Tali Sharot. Reprinted with permission of Pantheon Books, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.

Sharot is a research fellow at University College London's Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging.
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Re: Resources: About MLC
#106: September 28, 2011, 09:49:14 AM
During the Midlife Affair

The truth is sometimes the midlife affair has to happen. Too much tension exists or the need for freedom is so strong that a person finds themselves in a relationship with another person. Part of this attraction comes out from that fact all new relationships are relatively judgement free still. New relationships are fresh, this opens up new experiences and kick starts the exploration of life again. The pull to live again is very irresistible. The pull to be with a person that doesn’t limit one down with judgements or measurement is intoxicating.

The only problem is this: having started a new relationship by breaking trust, this also sows the seeds of hidden judgements, judgements that will grow and circle back around to slowly eat away at your choices. A person can run only so far before having to start dealing with the very issues that created the previous set of relationship problems eating away at the earlier relationship.

The first few months of any affair is magical, but at some point judgement and past patterns will creep back into the situation to cause most people to repeat the seeds of crisis they were running away from.

Post Midlife Affair

At some point, events catch up to a person and their relationship. Most people fall back to the common tools taught to them by society to handle the after effects of an affair: anger, judgement, hate, despair, feeling wronged and feeling morally right…

Conflict accomplishes nothing, and in the end judgement results in conflict.

The truth is this:

    The whole midlife affair ends up actually being inconsequential. Most people living fresh from the results of the affair won’t believe this statement. But it is true. What truly matters is this: What did you learn and how did you use the situation to grow from?

If you focus on the affair, you then get stuck in the past and judgements which limit how you can grow from the situation. Learn from the affair but don’t focus upon it either. The affair is a stepping stone towards a better life for everyone, if used as a stepping stone. For most people affairs become swamps of despair. Such a place is not a place worth living within.

Many people waste the experience to hate or regrets. Hate is a very sad limited way to hold an experience. Hate allows no room for growth. In fact, hate dissolves the heart away, it eats a person away until they are left with nothing. Those resorting to hate often will fall prey to depression and slowly pull away from others.

No this whole process means being brave enough to stand up and learn from the experience. To be willing to live life honestly and not hiding away from others.

The Real Truth about Midlife Affairs

This is a very delicate case by case situation that most of the time will not be resolved smoothly without outside assistance. The truth is once the affair happens, the marriage is officially broken. The fundamental value of trust that a marriage is based upon is broken and will never again be the same.

But here is the secret:

    Mid life transformation is all about starting a new life. You and your partner are in mid life transformation. This means it’s possible to start and build a fresh new trust between partners, to create a whole new relationship, since you both are in transformation!

The process runs like this

    Remove judgement. No one is guilty.
    Release the Relationship. (All relationships)
    A new friendship is beginning.
    Work with kindness.
    Help each other grow
    In time, if love reignites then remarry, if not then help each other move on

Is this easy? No it isn’t. The over whelming response of our society is to push guilt, to force relationships and want answers right away. Yet the mid life transformation process takes roughly two years to grow within. It takes time to grow and find one’s nature.

But to those who take the time:

    This is literally becomes a magical process,

    truly the stuff of stories everyone else reads about and wishes would happen to them.

The only trouble is this, reading a story with a happy ending is fast and quick and takes no effort.

To live the happy ending is a slow process requiring patience, it means making mistakes and growing from those mistakes. It’s lots of hard effort which very few people are willing to do in a society where everything is consumed and expected to happen by miracles and pills…

Finally and most importantly:

Be Brave.

Hiding from an midlife affair or truth only diminishes you in this process.

Be Brave: so you can live your life and grow.

Right now, it won’t seem possible that the whole affair issue can ever resolve out gracefully, but having work with many people, all my clients say the same thing, they would go thru the process again: because it allowed them to truly live again, honestly and completely as themselves! In other words, many relationships have become a prison from judgements and that is where the affair comes into the picture. In this process, we free those involved to live to heart, without judgement. The whole affair literally just becomes a past story to be shed as each person transforms into a newer wiser person.


    Shed it or have it shred you.

Many people reading this are probably feeling shredded by the thoughts of an affair…The shredding feeling is your soul eroding away. Stand up and live your life.. or watch it erode away in pain.

It really is a personal choice. Sadly most people in this culture choose the painful path, only because they haven’t been shown another way. This article is to help show, there is a better path that does work.

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Re: Resources: About MLC
#107: October 02, 2011, 11:21:34 AM
This is not about MLC, but I found it interesting in my explorations and Self Focus:

"Hold Me Tight" by Dr. Sue Johnson

June 1st, 2010

Is it natural for human beings to live a monogamous existence? When I ask this question, people look at me with surprise and answer derisively. A colleague from Europe tells me, “Oh, no-one is getting married these days. They are just so discouraged. What is the point? Monogamy is unrealistic, impossible.” My friend mutters, “It’s about time we gave up on that one! It’s a myth.” So when I am asked this very question by a television host, I take a very deep breath before I answer, “YES. I think we are naturally monogamous.” You can hear jaws dropping everywhere. Cynicism wins hands down. And yet we still glory in the ideal of monogamy. We spend fortunes on whiter than white weddings and act much of the time like the 90% of teenagers in a recent study, who affirm that they hope to marry and remain with the same partner till death do them part! Are we deliberately delusional and setting ourselves up for heartbreak and failure?

The easiest rock to sling at the big M word is that the media is awash with news about people having affairs. Brief sexual dalliances do indeed occur in nearly all socially monogamous animals like the grey wolf or great northern loons who nevertheless prefer to mate and bond with one partner at a time. In our species, some surveys have wildly exaggerated the occurrence of affairs. Reliable studies suggest that around 25% of men and 11% of women will end up in bed with someone other than their partner at some point in their lives. The mundane fact that most of us do not have affairs is overshadowed by titillating public stories of intrigue and deception.

A more basic argument against monogamy is the theory that affairs are, in fact, inevitable precisely because sex is the most powerful instinct of all. Men in particular, as this theory goes, are sex addicts at heart. Given any opportunity at all, they are wired by evolution to pass on as many of their genes as possible and so achieve a kind of immortality. Oh please! This is a long way from more mundane motivations whispered in the pick up lines that I can remember. Having worked with and researched distressed couples for 30 years, I am more convinced by the view that most affairs are the result either of unbearable loneliness that happens when we don’t know how to make love work, or of preemptive attempts to grab at a loving monogamous bond when the one we are in seems to be dying and taking us with it.

The second apparent nail in the coffin of monogamy is that we do indeed divorce. About a third or more of us (and yes, the rate is going down in North America) don’t make it to the “death do us part” bit, especially if you marry young. But so called serial monogamy is still monogamy, even if, like everything else, it’s not absolute and for all time. I think the divorce rates simply mean that most of us just don’t know how to get it right – we don’t understand how to create a strong loving bond. We try desperately to dance a love-you-forever tango often without ever having even seen the steps! As a couple therapist, I see how intently invested partners are in this struggle on a daily basis. And when we fail, most often we find another partner and keep right on trying!

There are other arguments against monogamy. One is that polygamy dominates in many cultures. Romantic love, however, seems to exist everywhere and given half the chance, rears up and takes over. When people have a choice and do not have to marry out of fear or just to survive, they marry for love. They choose to bond with a special other. But, some naturalists say, only 7% of mammals are socially monogamous. My response is, “Yes and we are one of those 7%”. It is accepted by scientists that 90% of birds are monogamous, even though birds, like seagulls, have about a 25% divorce rate. The arguments are probably different in seagull couples though. They might go, “That stick you found does not go with the feng shui tone of this nest”. Some animals are actually better at monogamy than us! The pygmy marmoset is faithful, dedicated, and shares symptoms of pregnancy with his lady. The Californian mouse is socially and sexually monogamous and this matters; if the babies aren’t cuddled constantly by Mr. Mouse they don’t make it.

Now we come to the reasons for my belief that monogamy, based on deep bonds of romantic love, is natural for humans. First, monogamy shows up in animals who invest time and work in rearing their kids and dealing with survival challenges. Beavers work as a team to rear young, build dams and gather food. They have to coordinate their movements, synchronize efforts, and read each other’s cues. They depend on each other, and this is an important word, depend.

The second and most potent argument for monogamy is that we are wired for it! A huge part of our brain is designed not just for social group interaction but for the intimate synchrony of emotional connection and bonding. The pacing, the give and take, the tuning in, the adapting to the other’s emotional cues between parents and infants and between adult lovers, are all about bonding. The main message of the new science of adult bonding is that the instinct to reach, connect and rely on loved ones is primary, more fundamental even than sex. Monogamous mammals like us have special cuddle hormones like oxytocin or OT – the so called molecule of monogamy. It turns off stress hormones, turns on reward centers, and fills us with calm contentment and well-being. OT is released at orgasm and even when simply thinking of our partner! When primed with this hormone, our brains find it easier to tune into another person and read intentions. When scientists increase OT in little monogamous prairie voles, they cuddle more and mate less. When they block OT, they mate but don’t cuddle. Our brains are wired for a certain kind of connection with those we depend on. As the Dali Lama suggests, human affection is the one indispensable necessity in life.

We are bonding animals who live best in the shelter offered by another’s love. An attachment bond is persistent. Once made, it is specific to another “irreplaceable” person. Once we are bonded, we seek out closeness with our loved one and we are deeply distressed at emotional or physical separation. We seek comfort and a sense of security with this person. We can have more than one bond of course. But for most of us, there is a hierarchy of one or two loved ones, and our sexual partner is usually at the top of the list. We are emotionally invested in these relationships and they penetrate key aspects of our lives. These bonds have incredible survival value. We are healthier, happier, psychologically stronger, and we live longer when we are close and connected. This deep desire to matter to another, to be able to turn to another as a safe haven, gets lost in our culture of mine, me and myself. We forget to mention that being the best you can be inevitably involves being connected to somebody else! We are not meant for so called self-sufficiency and the emotional isolation that comes with it.

Behind the sappy romantic novels and sentimentality associated with love is a bred-in-the-bone longing. It is wired into our mammalian brain. This is why, even though we might get distracted into a one night sexual adventure, we still fight to connect and to hold onto our love relationships. Our most natural and longed for state is a strong, nurturing monogamous pair bond and on this bond we base our families.

The real issue here is that when we fail the monogamy test it is most often because we have no blueprint, no map for loving connection. Science now offers us such a map. Until very recently, we have not known what the bond of love, the basis of successful monogamy, is all about and how to shape it. Lets see how good monogamy can be now that we know how to love.

Dr. Sue Johnson – Alliant International University, San Diego, USA & University of Ottawa, Canada

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Re: Resources: About MLC
#108: October 04, 2011, 06:02:51 AM
Some interesting articles:

- Couples: Look harder at the reasons for your split
- Divorcing couples open to second chances
Sharon Jayson
Sept 29, 2011

They were a few steps shy of divorce, separated and working out child custody, when Rick DeRosia of Hartford, N.Y., realized he wasn't so sure he really wanted a divorce.

He says his 16-year marriage had been shaky before the separation in 2009, when he told his wife, Tina, he wanted out. Their son and daughter were 13 and 11. And life in the midst of recession was also taking a toll.

"There wasn't any one event," says Rick DeRosia,  42. "It was several things over the years that started a downhill slide that never really came back up."

Divorce "was not really what I wanted," says Tina DeRosia, 38, but she thought he did.  "I felt moving on was what I needed to do, but …  should we try to do more? I thought about the effect it would have on my children."

The DeRosias, like so many couples, were teetering on the brink of divorce. The angst of such a major decision is very real. But little is known about how people actually decide — or why, like the DeRosias, they sometimes change their minds. New research offers the first inklings of understanding — and shows that there's uncertainty even among couples who have already filed for divorce.

Adding to the confusion is the financial reality that a split is expensive. Census data released last week  suggest that the economy has indeed caused a dip in divorce. Some experts predict a divorce explosion when the economy improves, but others say the recession may keep some together long enough to work it out.

"There's a whole lot more ambivalence out there than any of us ever thought," says psychologist William Doherty, a marriage and family therapist and professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota. He'll present results of his survey in Washington next month, expanding on his research published last spring.

Frank and Julie LaBoda of Cross Plains, Wis., were just weeks from a divorce decree that would have ended the marriage that began Aug. 7, 1992. "All that fun stuff was gone," says Frank LaBoda, 46, a transportation operations manager, who says his wife was so busy with the kids that he started spending more time with the guys. Then he had an affair and moved out for six months. That was in 1996.

"We tried to put it back together after the affair, but it was ugly," says Julie LaBoda, 44, a dental assistant.

Two years later, she filed for divorce, and they separated for another six months. But they opted for a last-ditch marriage weekend that they say saved their relationship.

'Forgiveness and hope'

"We found out that forgiveness and hope was possible and that people can and do change. We saw real-life examples of people who shared stories with us. Frank changed his behavior drastically, and I'm quite sure I changed my attitude," she says. "But it was a process to get through it — a good, solid two to five years." In 2000, they had a third child; their fourth daughter was born in 2002.

Doherty's survey of 2,484 parents who filed for divorce in Minnesota offers new insight into how people decide whether to call it quits or try again. About a quarter of those surveyed thought there was still hope for the marriage; in 12% of a subset of 329 couples, both partners independently indicated interest in reconciliation.

Additional surveys in 2009-10 of 886 Minnesotans who filed for divorce dug deeper into contributing factors. "Growing apart" was the top reason, cited by 55%, followed by "not able to talk together" (53%). Infidelity was cited by 34%, the same percentage who cited "not enough attention."

Doherty says lack of attention from one's spouse and in-law problems were among reasons associated with partners thinking the marriage could be saved. Also, infidelity wasn't a factor in whether  someone was open to reconciliation, he says. . . . .

Doherty says marriage today involves expectations of more gender equality than in the past.  "We expect so much out of marriage, but we haven't prepared people for the skills that are necessary for the kind of marriages that we want now.". . .

They went to classes to bolster communication and conflict resolution, which she says helped when their home went into foreclosure. . . . 

Every Other Weekend, a Reba McEntire and Kenny Chesney  song about the kid trade-off, brought them back together, he says. "I had the song on the radio and asked her if she would take me back," he says. "I don't know if that time apart was necessary for me to realize it, but I had more fun with her that week than I had in years. I realized I wanted to try again."

USA Today Sidebar:
- Couples: Look harder at the reasons for your split
William Doherty, a psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota, says there are “hard reasons” and “soft reasons” couples split up.

“Is this an intolerable situation? Chronic affairs, chemical dependency, gambling — those are the kinds of hard reasons,” he says. “The person is not willing to change. They have a drinking problem and won’t get it fixed. They’re gambling the family money away and won’t get help. If somebody won’t work with you on that, then you have to go. Nobody should have to live this way.”

“Soft reasons,” Doherty says, include “general unhappiness and dissatisfaction, such as growing apart and not communicating.”

If your reasons are in this category, he says, “you probably have a lot to gain from slowing down and seeing if you can get those things fixed. The majority of people get divorced for the soft reasons that they’ll turn into hard reasons.”

Marriage is a “very high-skilled activity,” says Susan Heitler, a clinical psychologist in Denver. “If your marriage is failing, make the assumption your skill set is insufficient.”

She advises couples to take a fresh look at themselves and get creative about new ways to be a better marriage partner. “Let go of their preoccupation with what the other person did that was so terrible and switch to ‘What could I do that might make this marriage work better for me?’” she says.

If you’ve been issuing complaint after complaint, “flip to only giving compliments, so you have to focus on what you like about the other person instead of constantly shooting the other person down.”

If both parties “will each take personal responsibility and focus on their own skills upgrade, the whole picture turns around. Even one person can turn the marriage around,” she says.

Doherty says people shouldn’t divorce unless “they have sought good help” for their marriage, which might include getting a second opinion. “If you don’t feel after a few sessions that you’re getting help, look elsewhere,” he says.

“As a culture, we should consider it irresponsible to end a marriage, particularly one with children, unless that couple has gone all out to get help,” Doherty says.

The full article:

- Divorcing couples open to second chances
Jeremy Olson                         
September 29, 2011                                                                   
"Marriage-friendly" therapist William Doherty of the University of Minnesota has published new survey results suggesting that a surprising number of divorcing couples are interested in reconciliation.
In collaboration with Hennepin County District Court Judge Bruce Peterson, Doherty surveyed 2,500 couples with children whose divorces were pending but not finalized. After taking court-ordered parenting classes, one in four said they believed their marriages could be saved through hard work. For one in 10 couples, both divorcing spouses expressed interest in reconciliation counseling. For one in three couples, only one spouse expressed interest, according to Doherty's study, which was published in the journal Family Court Review.
A  U of M press release called this "the first time data has been gathered on divorcing parents' interest in reconciliation." Doherty's research and advocacy generally tilts in favor of preserving marriages. His last mention in this blog  <> was regarding a study that suggested cohabitation, in leiu of marriage, presented risks to children because it increased the likelihood of parents splitting up. Doherty concluded:

"In the 1960s, many family court professionals viewed themselves as having a responsibility to help couples reconcile if that was possible, or have a constructive divorce if reconciliation was not possible. This reconciliation-first approach did not survive the cultural changes of the 1970s. Instead divorce practitioners generally assume the inevitability of divorce once people begin the legal process ... While many who enter the divorce process may have made a final decision to end their marriages, those who are uncertain or are open to reconciliation deserve more attention from professionals than they receive currently."

Peterson is in the Fourth Judicial District's criminal and civil division, but previously was a presiding family court judge. The number of divorcing couples who seemed amicable during court proceedings led him to wonder if more reconciliations could be possible, according to the U of M release.
The study comes at an intriguing time. Divorce numbers dipped in recent years, as stressed-out couples tried to weather the recession. Some predicted a resurgence in the American divorce rate as the economy stabilized, but new American Community Survey data from 2010 suggests that didn't happen.
The data from the U.S. Census survey showed a rate of 9.8 divorces per 1,000 women in the U.S. in 2010. The Minnesota rate was 8.1. The rates were actually higher -- at 10.5 and 9.3, respectively -- in 2008 when families supposedly stuck together for financial survival. Minnesota's 2010 divorce rate was sixth lowest in the nation.
Sept 28, 2011
Reuters, Chicago

When Glenn Phillips went through a contentious divorce, his company unwittingly came along for the ride.

Phillips, the founder of software consulting firm Forte Inc, estimates his divorce cost him more than $200,000 - about a quarter of his annual revenues at the time - in lost potential new business and add-on business to existing clients. He was regularly pulled away from work to meet with lawyers, dig up reams of paperwork called for by his wife's attorneys, and work out a settlement, a process that took more than a year.

"It was painful, it was costly. And I wasn't particularly efficient with my team," said Phillips, who divorced in 2003. "I wasn't there to lead and direct."

He ended up settling outside of court and was able to keep complete control of his Birmingham, Alabama-based company. He eventually got the business back on track.

Despite the hardships, Phillips likely got off easy, said experts.

"The economic turmoil of divorce and separation is immense," said George Cloutier, CEO of American Management Services Inc, a consulting firm aimed at turning around struggling private companies.
Full article:

Iris Krasnow, Huffington Post, Sept 24, 2011
Does Separation Make the Heart Grow Fonder
Iris Krasnow, Slate, Sept 23, 2011

Expert help on Emotional Abuse as well as other relationship problems.


I know many of you met Dr Alqashan at mart Marriages Conferences.  He sends news and gratitude.  - diane

Dear Dr. Diana
I am pleased to extend to you on behalf of all Kuwaiti families my greetings and to everyone who presented and attended the  Smart Marriages conferences as well as to those who contributed in your website and the Newsletter, which have had an impact on Kuwaiti Society.
Your direct and indirect help resulted in improving our marriage enrichment programs that effectively increase and improve marital satisfaction and marital communication of Kuwaiti couples. In addition, it helped in awareness-raising campaigns for  the success of marriage and reduced divorce in the State of Kuwait. The good news is that divorce fallen from 30% in 1995 to 8% in 2006 to only 3.4% in 2011 so far according to the official statement yesterday!
Dr. Humoud Alqashan
Dean Assistance for Academic Affairs & Graduate Studies
College of Social Sciences - Kuwait University

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Re: Resources: About MLC
#109: October 09, 2011, 07:33:48 PM
I liked this article about infidelity. It is not expressly about MLC, but it does discuss  that leaving marriage for an affair usually makes personal growth for the WAS impossible.

"I've outgrown you"--sugar-coated as "We've grown apart"--is often the stated reason for the split. They may look like they're standing on their own two feet, or even standing up to their spouse, but when there's an extramarital affair going on, it only seems that way. Such behavior is a charade of independence, integrity and personal growth, not the real thing. The departing spouse isn't just holding onto a "new" partner while they let go of the other; more often, they're leaning on the new partner because they can't or won't stand up--or hold onto--themselves.

Although real efforts towards autonomy may get worked out in the new relationship, that's not often the basis on which the new partner is selected. The spiffy new relationship frequently lacks sufficient resilience and motivation to support the tough struggles of self-development and bonding. But neither spouse appreciates this while they're divvying up the household.

MAKING A HEALTHY BREAK Getting out of your marriage is one thing; how you go about it is another. Using an affair as a support system or transitional process is often like leaning on a rubber crutch. It offers the least benefit to people who have difficulty standing on their own two feet. Yes, some peole find this is the only way they can "make the break." But in that case, what looks like an act of autonomy and growth is really pseudo-maturity--which actually interferes with personal development while masquerading as the real thing. "

Thanks for sharing, Stand. I share this view, it is impossible to really grow if you jumped from marriage to affair. You are not really on your own, you need someone. The LBS will grow much more than the spouse that stayed with the affair partner.

That makes one wonder, if MLC tend to have affairs and even move from OP1 to OP2 or OP3, can they really grow until there are no more OP? I think they can't.

Still, interesting features. Found that one about divorce impacting small business quite relevant.
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Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. (Marilyn Monroe)


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