3 Tips on How to Keep Equality in Relationships Strong

3 tips to keep equality in relationships One of my favorite books is The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. His unique take on how we function, what we like, and don’t like is a real treasure and something easy to read. What I like about the book most is the message underneath that is so important, and it’s the real universal love language, which is equality in relationships. When I tell a couple that it is important to keep equality in relationships, they agree with me, but so many couples have fallen for the three most common inequality patterns that I see. They’re such easy traps to fall into because we are exposed to these traps growing up. Often, our parents use these types of patterns in a parenting-child relationship, which makes a little more sense than when we use them in a partner relationship. Three traps that ruin equality in relationships: Right and Wrong So many couples are in trouble because they get so hung up on who’s right and who’s wrong. There are times I have to stop couples in my office when they’re in a heated discussion and ask what are they trying to accomplish? Both partners respond by thinking they’re right. Which leads me to ask, “Then what?” Which leaves them stumped. There is no right or wrong as adults. Even if you do get someone to say, “Okay, I’m wrong and you’re right,” then what? You’re just on different pages; you’re not partners. You’re not working on something together.  The should’s The shoulds are like the right and wrongs, except you’re bringing in this idea of “should” from somewhere else. Where is this list of shoulds? It doesn’t exist, right? There are societal norms, but there are no real shoulds in adulthood. By having “shoulds,” you’re bringing somebody else in and saying, “this is what everybody else does. This is what you should do according to…” You’re bringing that should in between you two, and creating a wedge. Fantasies A lot of people don’t realize that they go into relationships with these ideas, but they’re fantasies, and they’re not based in reality. Such as people who hang on the periphery and roll their eyes and sigh and hope that their partner figures out what they want. Or the people who work themselves to the bone in front of their partner with a lot of …

How to Cope with Toxic Family Members and Have a Happy Family Life

  How to Cope with Toxic Family Members and Have a Happy Family Life Did you know you can enjoy a happy family life, even if there is a toxic family member in the mix? Maybe you have a supercritical mother-in-law or a sibling who won’t let old things die. Perhaps you have a cousin who blows in and out of town and causes huge tumult in their wake. These toxic family members can be dealt with.  Toxic Mother-in-Law Example I had a male patient who accomplished quite a bit with his toxic mother-in-law. His mother in law wasn’t the stereotypical toxic mother-in-law, but that didn’t make her any less toxic. She was very much the victim; and played the role of not being able to do anything for herself, even though she was a very capable woman who had accomplished quite a bit in her life. His mother-in-law suddenly started playing the role of “I can’t do anything for myself, I can’t speak the language, I can’t make a phone call, I don’t know how to use a computer…” She had all of these excuses that were actually not true, which then elicited her daughter to feel very compelled to help her. My patient’s wife was spending a lot of time with her mother at the expense of my patient. The patient felt very guilty because he liked his mother-in-law and he felt that they had a good relationship. He felt guilty because he was frustrated with the amount of time she was consuming from his wife. Recognizing the Toxicity First, I helped him see that it was his wife deciding to spend all of that time with her mother. The discussion actually needed to be with his wife. His initial idea was he needed to criticize his wife for doing this, but instead, he was open with her and said, A. He was envious of her relationship with her mother because he did not have a good relationship with his mother. B. He opened up about how he missed her, and he missed their social life growing because of the time she was spending with her mother. How to Curb the Toxicity Much to his surprise (which happens a lot), his wife understood him. She was surprised and glad to hear it because she didn’t know he felt that way. She ended up making a lot of the …

Toxic Family Members, Now What?

    We’ve previously discussed how to tell toxic behavior from annoying behavior or mistakes.   Let’s say you do one of the tests previously discussed, and you find that the person IS toxic. The pink flag is indeed a red flag. Maybe, they weren’t able to apologize for their behavior, or they continued to engage in annoying or upsetting behavior despite you telling them or letting them know otherwise. This is red flag behavior, now what? Keep in mind; someone can only be toxic to you if you allow it. What are the ways you can not allow this? Boundaries Verbal Boundaries A verbal boundary would be saying something along the lines of, “No, as I said that topic is off-limits,” or “This doesn’t work for me.” Something quick and simple, I always recommend putting up a hand and keeping it personal.  Physical Boundaries A physical boundary would be spending less time with the person. This one may seem obvious, but so many people feel guilty about it. It is socially acceptable not to accept all invitations from toxic people, do not invite them to your home or events, especially if they’re long. Keep the visits short and sweet. The Setting What is the setting where you are seeing these people? A lot of toxic people do better in public settings because they know on some level that their behavior is toxic, and if other people are watching, they’re going to behave themselves better.  The third way of keeping the toxicity at bay is to choose a public setting. Maybe that’s the only place you’ll see them, such as at restaurants, parks, other people’s homes, large parties and gatherings where other people (especially non-family members) are. Communicate Beforehand Remember, have the discussion with your significant other about limits and what kind of boundaries you are going to set with the toxic family member’s beforehand. It helps if you have someone on board previously. A lot of people will set boundaries and be furious that the significant other didn’t know what was going on. When the significant other could not know whats going on, it doesn’t mean they don’t approve of whats going on. If you need a way out or need to say no to the toxic family members, and you’ve had the discussion and an agreed-upon saying on how to stop the toxic behavior with your significant other, …

medicating problems

The Problem with Medicating our Problems

Medicating Problems Psychiatric drugs have, for decades, benefitted the severely mentally ill and eased the suffering of millions. And psychopharmacology, the study of these drugs’ effects on the brain, has enabled numerous life-changing treatment options. Despite these advances in the field of psychiatry as a whole, the idea of medicating our problems has been proven ineffective. Psychiatric medications come in several forms, though among the most commonly prescribed are antidepressants, stimulants, and mood stabilizers. They are so regularly prescribed; in fact, that one of the questions most often asked of me by new patients is how long I need to talk to them before writing a prescription. They expect the same experience in my office that so many have had with other doctors in the past—they feel unsettled, they seek help, they get pills. And while prescriptions may offer temporary relief of symptoms, patients are not always aware that they also come with severe risks.   Patients need to know that psychiatric medications may cause: Alarming side effects, including sexual dysfunction Other medications to malfunction Dangerous health problems, such as difficulty breathing and diabetes Disturbing withdrawal symptoms, including seizers Decreasing efficacy As a medical doctor and therapist, I have seen first-hand the harmful effects of our dependence on medications for resolving emotional issues. Counter to current treatment trends, the use of medication alone increases the duration, and sometimes the intensity, of common emotional problems. Often, medication masks the symptoms, a course of treatment that would be deemed unacceptable in any other field of medicine. For example, few people would be satisfied to treat the headaches caused by a brain tumor with ibuprofen alone. Instead, we would seek to eradicate the problem at its source. The same should be no less accurate for our emotional health issues because, unlike acute mental health conditions such as schizophrenia and some bipolar disorders, common complaints such as anxiety and depression are often not based on biology. And yet, most patients seeking help for these conditions are being treated with biology-altering pharmaceuticals. The condition clearly does not warrant the intervention.   Effective Treatment The most effective course of treatment is what I have used with patients in my practice for nearly twenty years: psychodynamic therapy. To treat the real source of emotional problems, we must discover its source, a process to which therapy is expertly suited. With the right guide, a patient can be led …

dating advice for men, how to choose the right woman

Precision Dating Advice for Men

Dr. Dabney’s Guide to Precision Dating Advice for Men Choose the right woman from the start and what to do when you don’t. Men, hear me on this: Quit cheating yourselves of a great relationship before you even get started. I’ve seen hundreds of men make the same mistakes—choosing the wrong women and staying with them for too long and through too much. So trust me when I tell you that a small change in your approach today can save you thousands in divorce and therapy fees down the road. I call it, Precision Dating. Let me provide you with dating advice for men. Precision Dating comes down to making crucial and informed decisions at three points in your relationship. Skip any of these decisions, and you may find yourself deep in the muck with a woman who drains you of your time, your energy, and your money. The truth is that every troubled relationship has its warning signals from the very beginning—but men, being conditioned to be problem solvers and fixers—tend to ignore the warnings. And when you ignore the warnings, you do so at your peril. Phase one: Casual dating The first key to precision dating is to cast a wide net when dating. Contrary to the popular belief that men love to “play the field,” a significant portion of men settle down as quickly as possible. They find a woman, commit quickly, and spend the next few years of their life trying to make the relationship work. Men with this tendency pride themselves on being loyal. But what they’ve really done is invested everything in an untested and unproven concept— a decision they’d likely never make with business or financial investments. Instead, think of dating like shopping for a new car. Not only do you have to like the way it looks, but you have to trust its reliability (you wouldn’t ignore the rattle under the hood during a test drive), it has to fit your needs (you wouldn’t rely on a sports car for weekend ski trips), and it has to fit you, both physically and emotionally (tall men don’t buy Ford Fiestas and successful salesmen with large territories don’t buy gas-guzzling Hummers, no matter how much they like the other features). Dating is about experience. While I am in no way comparing a woman to purchase, the expectations you take with you while dating should …