When my two colleagues and I developed the idea behind 3VIEW -- an innovative team approach to therapy -- we envisioned how much women would love it. Women would have three times the support, validation, and insight in just one session. Didn't women envy Carrie Bradshaw for her entourage of support?
And then we put our team approach into action -- the three of us working with one client at the same time. We honed our model with a series of pro-bono clients. One was male and the rest were women. Quickly we realized this was not only a therapy for women who wear designer shoes and drink cosmopolitans. This was the real deal. Serious therapy with team support and a change-driven focus.
Even with this understanding we didn't expect that our typical client would end up being... male. Not just male in category, but 'male' male. Type A-male. Corporate-suit-wearing male. Men-who-would-normally-never-come-to-therapy male. Couples aside, and on average, we see three men for every one female client. And these men are all ages, from late-20s to early-70s.
At first we were surprised. But over time, and based on broad generalizations, we've come to understand why men seem to prefer this team approach to therapy. One, it makes sense from a cost-value perspective. Men are highly rational and like knowing they're making the most of their money. Two, it's more efficient. Men want to solve their problems as soon as possible. Three, it's less intense that one-on-one. Men like to feel they're in a business meeting -- with a team -- rather than being analyzed by a doctor.
The biggest reason though, we believe, is that three female therapists can best help men with their relationship issues. Who better to talk to about problems with their girlfriends, partners, wives? Not only can we help navigate rough emotional terrain, and get to the root cause, but we can help translate and teach them the emotional language of their spouse.
Our goal in these cases is to help our male client learn to open up, to feel comfortable even talking about these issues (that they don't sit around discussing with their friends like women do). We start with where they're comfortable -- speaking about thoughts and logical analyses -- and we integrate emotions and relational analyses. We then take their idea of the problem and frame it in this new language.
Client: My wife and I don't have time to talk because our schedules are too busy. Well, she thinks I work too much. Not that she said that directly, but I can tell.
Therapist #1: It sounds like you feel some guilt, which must be hard.
Therapist #2: But you are still communicating by not talking -- that silence is actually saying something.
Therapist #3: I agree, and it makes me wonder what you might be avoiding by keeping so busy? It's not really work that's come between you, but something else. Work can be a way of avoiding it.
Sometimes our focus is to help our client better understand what his girlfriend is trying to tell him. We think of it as building empathy, but it's like translation work.
Client: I don't understand. Everything was going so well until I told her she didn't have to go to my office party with me. I don't even want to go. It's hours of painful small-talk with a bunch of number-crunchers, which is totally not her scene. But then she went all cold and quiet and cancelled our date. I figured she wanted space so I gave it to her. Two days ago -- out of the blue -- she texts that maybe we need to break up.
Therapist #1: I can see why you're confused. You thought you were doing something good.
Therapist #2: Although your girlfriend saw it differently.
Client: I guess she did.
Therapist #2: Maybe she felt left out, or hoped you'd want to introduce her to your colleagues?
Therapist #3: Whatever she thought, it's clear she felt hurt, which is why she cancelled the date.
Therapist #2: If you'd have known she was hurt, would you have still given her space?
Client: Seems I got that wrong.
Therapist: #1: But you thought you were doing something good. She could have just told you what she was thinking.
Therapist #3: That's true, although responding differently could have avoided her getting angry.
Therapist #2: I think the lesson here is that 'space' didn't make her feel better. And actually, often we don't want 'space' when we're hurt, even if we get upset and pull away. It can seem confusing, but sometimes women withdraw as a way to protect themselves when what they really want -- and need -- is reassurance.
My colleagues nod. And that's another benefit, the one of consensus. There is something about three professionals -- a team -- agreeing on a perspective, or approach, or strategy, that is reassuring and obviously appeals to the male mind as much as the female one, and maybe even more.
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Your husband works a half hour north, and you travel a half hour south. Your home is precisely midway. Fair, right? Yep, but maritally inauspicious -- that’s what Irene Huang and her colleagues at the Chinese University of Hong Kong found when they studied American couples that commute every day
If, like many couples in the study, you and your partner commute in opposite directions, your marriage may be unhappier than you’d be if you were going in the same direction every day -- even if you don’t leave for work together
. What happens in your subconscious, Huang and her colleagues wrote in the study, is that the commute takes on more general goal-related associations. Travel in the same direction, and you feel as if you’re sharing the same goals in life; travel in different directions, and you feel like you’re not.
We all know that creamy-buttery-lardy-cheesy stuff is bad for heart health. But Janice Kiecolt-Glaser and Ronald Glaser, researchers at Ohio State University, think that high-saturated-fat foods may also hurt your relationship
. In an ongoing study, they’re asking married couples to eat meals in the lab -- one of the greasy-burger variety; the other, veggie-heavy. Once finished, the couples are encouraged to discuss vein-popping topics: money, in-laws, housework, and how to raise the kids. Based on their previous research, the researchers have a hunch that the participants’ blood samples will show that fatty foods enhance the body’s stress response to marital spats. Eat unhealthily and your argument may spiral out of control more easily -- and
you may run a higher risk of cardiac disease, inflammation, and diabetes over time. Any way you look at a fatty diet, it’s bad for your heart.
You knew those stiff-faced yearbook photos would come back to haunt you one day. But this finding’s unexpected: Women with “low intensity” smiles in their childhood and college photos are five times likelier to get divorced as adults than those who smiled effusively
, found a 2009 study at DePauw University. A bright, wide smile represents an underlying positive disposition and worldview -- undoubtedly helpful in marriage. Lifelong smilers may be the type to seek and sustain lasting relationships, and because smiling is contagious, their partners may be happier too. The good news about smiling: If you want, you can “fake it ‘til you make it.” As we know from the facial feedback theory of emotion, smiling deliberately can make you feel happier, because facial expressions influence emotions.
Okay, you’d be lying if you said you don’t notice an attractive man when he smiles at you. We all do. And it’s perfectly fine for your married (or boyfriend-ed) self to admit it. But a funny thing happens when you’re truly, deeply committed: you’ll think that guy is less
hot once it's clear he's an admirer. In a study led by John Lydon at McGill University, women (and men) who are deeply committed to their partners found an opposite-sex face significantly less alluring
when told that the person had singled them out as a potential match. It’s a protective mechanism; they might not even be aware of it. Meanwhile, women who aren’t very committed to their partners are just as attracted to a handsome guy when he comes out as a potential suitor. So if you’re in the habit of finding Don Juans equally (or more) gorgeous when they do something flirty, there is an upside: Now you've identified your own early-warning mechanism and can work on building a deeper commitment with your partner.
The housing market crashes, and so does your marriage -- but often only if you rent your home. If you own it, you’re likelier to stick it out. This surprising connection between home ownership and the divorce rate comes
from a group of economists led by Purvi Sevak at Hunter College (CUNY). Why would it be so? In a housing downturn, owners tend to stay in their marriages because it’s harder to sell their property and they don’t want to lose money. They wait for the market to recover, and -- as time passes -- often reconcile. For better or for worse, your decision not to own joint property removes the wait-and-see lock-in -- making it easier to walk out the door.
You thought you found your soulmate when you met a man who knows Louboutins from Manolo Blahniks. And he was smitten when you noticed that his tie was from the new line at Armani. By all expectations, this would be a marriage made in... well, if not heaven, at least Italy. But researchers at Brigham Young University know better. In a recent study, they found that couples who admit to loving money and “stuff” score 10 percent to 15 percent lower on marriage stability
than couples who say money isn’t important to them. They bicker more about finances -- even if they’re financially well off -- and are less responsive to each other. A marriage between two materialists fares worse, in fact, than one with only a single spouse who's a shopaholic.
Your boss did it. Lisa in accounting did it. Your best friend, Lynn, did it. Even your upstairs neighbor did it (and noisily). Everyone’s doing it: getting divorced. Not you, you say. But you’re in a high-risk group, judging by the “divorce cluster” data from a study led by Rose McDermott at Brown University. The people in your social network -- everyone you rub shoulders with habitually -- influence your attitude about relationships. People with divorced friends are 147 percent more likely to become divorced
. Statistically speaking, the more your friends, co-workers, siblings, and acquaintances have done it, the more likely it is that you might one day say to your husband, "Let’s do it. Let’s get divorced, too."
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