Love Doc

Plumbing the depths of the psychology and neurobiology of love.

He's Just Too Neurotic

Getting needs met is near impossible.

Allison had been seeing me for the last seven months as she has been feeling blue and lifeless. The mother of four young children, she feels drained.

Sinking into the couch, Allison sighs, “I don’t mean to complain but I’m tired.”

“Is it the kids?”

Allison says, “No, they’re terrific.”

I inquire again, “Is it about Bryan? 

She agrees, “Yeah, he’s driving me crazy.”

“How’s that?” I ask.

Allison explains “He comes home yesterday and tells me we have to sell the house. He says he can’t afford the kids going to private schools.”

I wonder, “Is money a problem?”

She lets me know. “No. It’s not money; it’s his head. He tells me he won’t be working too long. So I say to him, ‘you’re only 42. You won’t be retiring for many years.’”

“Uh huh...” I sound.

She goes on, “He’s been obsessing about the shaking in his hand. The doctor diagnosed him with Parkinson’s disease and he thinks he’s a cripple.”  

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I say, “I guess you know that while Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease, the process is slow and we now have some effective medicines.”

Allison says, “I tried to tell him that but he thinks his life is over. He went to eight doctors for second opinions, and he had a bunch of CAT scans, PET scans. He insists that I go everywhere with him. He’s afraid he’ll have an attack and die.”

I ask, “What have the doctors told him?”

Allison responds, “That he won’t have attacks or die and that he has to take his life in his hands.  Like, go to the gym and to therapy to deal with his anxiety and pessimism.”

“Does he cooperate?” I ask.

Looking exasperated, she says, “No, he won’t go to therapy. I have to schedule his personal trainer at the gym and I have to go with him. He clings to me and wants me to go all over with him. If I go out to lunch with a friend or shopping he wants to know where I’m going.”

 I inquire “How do you feel?”

She says, “I feel suffocated.”

I wonder, “Do you make time away from him and the kids?”

“Looking down at the floor, she said softly, “Sort of…”

“What’s sort of?” I ask.

Eyes down cast, Allison says, “I’m ashamed to tell you.”

Maybe you’ll feel better if you do tell me.

It just happened. It’s not as though I went looking.

So what happened?

I was planning a surprise birthday party for Brian. I wanted to decorate the house with some beautiful flowers and I went into the local florist. That’s where I met this florist.

Uh huh…

We got to talking. Oh yeah, his name is Chad. He’s sweet, sensitive, caring, and he listens to me.

That’s nice.

It sure is. Chad’s just the opposite of Brian who doesn’t give two hoots about me. It’s all about him. I had a bad cough and went to the doctor who said I had pneumonia. Brian didn’t even ask me what the doctor said. Chad cares about me.

I see.

Well, one thing led to another with Chris and I landed up in bed with him.

And how was that?

Awesome, Chris is intent on pleasing me and he knows just how to do it. He’s sexy, and he takes care of me before himself.

How do you feel about this affair?

It’s awesome and on the other hand, it’s terrible.

How terrible?

I feel ashamed of myself. I really am a good girl and Inever imagined in my wildest dreams that I’d be having an affair. It’s so wrong. I wasn’t raised to be a cheat.

You’ve told me about your family, that they were religious and your mother was subservient to your father. Sound familiar?

I guess so, I feel that way with Brian. He works and I don’t so I try to do everything he wants. I wait on him hand and foot.

And what does he do for you?

Nothing; just brings in the money. He stifles me. I want my freedom.

Do you want to end the marriage?

I couldn’t do that. I have four young children, and I don’t have my own money. My family would disown me. I can’t do it.

So, you’re stuck.

Do you love Chad?

I think so, but we can’t be together. He’s married and he won’t leave his wife.

Perhaps Chad is a catalyst for change.

I wish I could change things.

Do you love Brian?

I don’t know.  I respect him; he’s a good business man, a good provider, and a good father. But he’s so helpless. He’s just so neurotic.

You mentioned you wished you could change things. Perhaps there is a way to achieve that goal. Let me explain that a couple is a system where you interact with your partner. That means his behavior affects you and your reaction affects him.

I don’t quite get it.

You told me you cater to his every demand. In doing so, you have lost all of your power.

Yeah, I sure feel powerless with Brian, but not with Chad.

Actually the affair was an act of empowerment. With Chad you are the actor and not the reactor. With Brian the scales are tipped and he is the actor with the power.

I feel alive with Chad. He doesn’t squelch me. He texts often, checks on me, and asks me when it is convenient for me to see him.

So the ball is in your court. I’ll bet you don’t wait on Chad.

No, he waits on me.  He’s so attentive and kind.

We have a lot of work to do. Do you want to repair the marriage?

Yes but it seems impossible. I guess I want to try..

If we want to work on repairing your marriage to Brian, you will have to end the affair with Chad.

I know, but it’s so hard to end it.  He lights up my life. I have to really think about it.

It took some time for Allison to end the relationship with Chad, but finally she did and we began working on the relationship.

She realized that her role in this one-way relationship was that she was too selfless and Brian became too selfish. Well intending, Allison made sure Brian got his needs met but she did not know how to get hers met.

Like Allison, many women do not know how to get your needs met. Instead of asserting herself before the fact, Allison passively looked the other way and attacked after the fact. How she did it was to have an affair. That is only one of many ways to avert getting your needs met.

Here then are some tips on how to get your needs met.

1) Always use “I” statements, so that you express your needs without complaining about your spouse. In this way you enlist your spouse’s cooperation. Instead of, “You never have time for me. I come last on the totem pole” try “I feel lonely and need a hug.” 

2) Stay focused on the issues. Don’t digress and drag in the old dirty laundry. “I need your help, darling” is a better way to get your needs met then” you never helped me in the past and it’s about time you did. ”

3) Suggest a time for alone-talk that is mutually convenient. Again, this brings your spouse into the mix and shows respect.

3) Remember timing is everything. If you’re feeling angry, take a breather, and strike when the iron’s cool.

4). Do not try to prove you’re right. What’s more important, being right or getting along? That’s a no brainer, but even brainy people are out to prove themselves right.

5) Take responsibility for your role in problems instead of blaming your spouse.  Blaming your partner may feel powerful, but it’s not so. When you blame your spouse, you are trying to change him or her. Then you are at your spouse’s mercy and are rendered powerless. You can’t change anyone; the only one you can change is you.

 6). A wish to control the other, often, underlies marital problems. Not only is the partner who dominates responsible, but the one who submits is too. Martyrs are bad for marriage. So if you feel your spouse is the domineering actor and you are the submissive passive reactor, you can change the dynamic. A good fight for equality is an active choice, and not a passive more-of-the-same position.

7) Become a role model for your spouse. It is up to you to lead the way, to act rather than react. Listen to your spouse’s side of things, and try to understand where he or she is coming from. When your spouse feels empathy from you, he or she may reciprocate with empathy for you. It is a case of good communication skills.

Allison is working on these seven steps with me. Much to her surprise, Brian has come into therapy with her. Together they are working on rekindling the relationship. Falling in love with each other again is on the horizon.

To learn more about rekindling your relationship, read my book, The New Science of Love: How Understanding the Brain’s Wiring Can Help Rekindle Your Relationship (Sourcebooks, Casablanca, 2011.

You have just read Allison’s story who is one of many people who fear intimacy. To read another story, listen to Sarah’s story on my podcast 3, Tales from the Couch on my website;

Website :  www.drfranpraver.com

You can also access my podcast at ITunes at

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/dr.-frances-cohen-praver-podcast/id840880263?mt=2

Email: drpraver@cs.com

Social Network: www.facebook.com

Professional Network: www.linkedin.com

 

,

 

 

 

Allison had been seeing me for the last seven months as she has been feeling blue and lifeless. The mother of four young children, she feels drained.

Sinking into the couch, Allison sighs, “I don’t mean to complain but I’m tired.”

“Is it the kids?”

Allison says, “No, they’re terrific.”

I inquire again, “Is it about Bryan?

She agrees, “Yeah, he’s driving me crazy.”

“How’s that?” I ask.

Allison explains “He comes home yesterday and tells me we have to sell the house. He says he can’t afford the kids going to private schools.”

I wonder, “Is money a problem?”

She lets me know. “No. It’s not money; it’s his head. He tells me he won’t be working too long. So I say to him, ‘you’re only forty-two. You won’t be retiring for many years.’”

“Uh huh...” I sound.

She goes on, “He’s been obsessing about the shaking in his hand. The doctor diagnosed him with Parkinson’s disease and he thinks he’s a cripple.”

I say, “I guess you know that while Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease, the process is slow and we now have some effective medicines.”

Allison says, “I tried to tell him that but he thinks his life is over. He went to eight doctors for second opinions, and he had a bunch of CAT scans, PET scans. He insists that I go everywhere with him. He’s afraid he’ll have an attack and die.”

I ask, “What have the doctors told him?”

Allison responds, “That he won’t have attacks or die and that he has to take his life in his hands. Like, go to the gym and to therapy to deal with his anxiety and pessimism.”

“Does he cooperate?” I ask.

Looking exasperated, she says, “No, he won’t go to therapy. I have to schedule his personal trainer at the gym and I have to go with him. He clings to me and wants me to go all over with him. If I go out to lunch with a friend or shopping he wants to know where I’m going.”

I inquire “How do you feel?”

She says, “I feel suffocated.”

I wonder, “Do you make time away from him and the kids?”

“Looking down at the floor, she said softly, “Sort of…”

“What’s sort of?” I ask.

Eyes down cast, Allison says, “I’m ashamed to tell you.”

Maybe you’ll feel better if you do tell me.

It just happened. It’s not as though I went looking.

So what happened?

I was planning a surprise birthday party for Brian. I wanted to decorate the house with some beautiful flowers and I went into the local florist. That’s where I met this florist.

Uh huh…

We got to talking. Oh yeah, his name is Chad. He’s sweet, sensitive, caring, and he listens to me.

That’s nice.

It sure is. Chad’s just the opposite of Brian who doesn’t give two hoots about me. It’s all about him. I had a bad cough and went to the doctor who said I had pneumonia. Brian didn’t even ask me what the doctor said. Chad cares about me.

I see.

Well, one thing led to another with Chris and I landed up in bed with him.

And how was that?

Awesome, Chris is intent on pleasing me and he knows just how to do it. He’s sexy, and he takes care of me before himself.

How do you feel about this affair?

It’s awesome and on the other hand, it’s terrible.

How terrible?

I feel ashamed of myself. I really am a good girl and I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I’d be having an affair. It’s so wrong. I wasn’t raised to be a cheat.

You’ve told me about your family, that they were religious and your mother was subservient to your father. Sound familiar?

I guess so, I feel that way with Brian. He works and I don’t so I try to do everything he wants. I wait on him hand and foot.

And what does he do for you?

Nothing; just brings in the money. He stifles me. I want my freedom.

Do you want to end the marriage?

I couldn’t do that. I have four young children, and I don’t have my own money. My family would disown me. I can’t do it.

So, you’re stuck.

Do you love Chad?

I think so, but we can’t be together. He’s married and he won’t leave his wife.

Perhaps Chad is a catalyst for change.

I wish I could change things.

Do you love Brian?

I don’t know. I respect him; he’s a good business man, a good provider, and a good father. But he’s so helpless. He’s just so neurotic.

You mentioned you wished you could change things. Perhaps there is a way to achieve that goal. Let me explain that a couple is a system where you interact with your partner. That means his behavior affects you and your reaction affects him.

I don’t quite get it.

You told me you cater to his every demand. In doing so, you have lost all of your power.

Yeah, I sure feel powerless with Brian, but not with Chad.

Actually the affair was an act of empowerment. With Chad you are the actor and not the reactor. With Brian the scales are tipped and he is the actor with the power.

I feel alive with Chad. He doesn’t squelch me. He texts often, checks on me, and asks me when it is convenient for me to see him.

So the ball is in your court. I’ll bet you don’t wait on Chad.

No, he waits on me. He’s so attentive and kind.

We have a lot of work to do. Do you want to repair the marriage?

Yes but it seems impossible. I guess I want to try..

If we want to work on repairing your marriage to Brian, you will have to end the affair with Chad.

I know, but it’s so hard to end it. He lights up my life. I have to really think about it.

It took some time for Allison to end the relationship with Chad, but finally she did and we began working on the relationship.

She realized that her role in this one-way relationship was that she was too selfless and Brian became too selfish. Well intending, Allison made sure Brian got his needs met but she did not know how to get hers met.

Like Allison, many women do not know how to get your needs met. Instead of asserting herself before the fact, Allison passively looked the other way and attacked after the fact. How she did it was to have an affair. That is only one of many ways to avert getting your needs met.

Here then are some tips on how to get your needs met.

1) Always use “I” statements, so that you express your needs without complaining about your spouse. In this way you enlist your spouse’s cooperation. Instead of, “You never have time for me. I come last on the totem pole” try “I feel lonely and need a hug.”

2) Stay focused on the issues. Don’t digress and drag in the old dirty laundry. “I need your help, darling” is a better way to get your needs met then” you never helped me in the past and it’s about time you did. ”

3) Suggest a time for alone-talk that is mutually convenient. Again, this brings your spouse into the mix and shows respect.

3) Remember timing is everything. If you’re feeling angry, take a breather, and strike when the iron’s cool.

4). Do not try to prove you’re right. What’s more important, being right or getting along? That’s a no brainer, but even brainy people are out to prove themselves right.

5) Take responsibility for your role in problems instead of blaming your spouse. Blaming your partner may feel powerful, but it’s not so. When you blame your spouse, you are trying to change him or her. Then you are at your spouse’s mercy and are rendered powerless. You can’t change anyone; the only one you can change is you.

6). A wish to control the other, often, underlies marital problems. Not only is the partner who dominates responsible, but the one who submits is too. Martyrs are bad for marriage. So if you feel your spouse is the domineering actor and you are the submissive passive reactor, you can change the dynamic. A good fight for equality is an active choice, and not a passive more-of-the-same position.

7) Become a role model for your spouse. It is up to you to lead the way, to act rather than react. Listen to your spouse’s side of things, and try to understand where he or she is coming from. When your spouse feels empathy from you, he or she may reciprocate with empathy for you. It is a case of good communication skills.

Allison is working on these seven steps with me. Much to her surprise, Brian has come into therapy with her. Together they are working on rekindling the relationship. Falling in love with each other again is on the horizon.

To learn more about rekindling your relationship, read my book, The New Science of Love: How Understanding the Brain’s Wiring Can Help Rekindle Your Relationship (Sourcebooks, Casablanca, 2011.

You have just read Allison’s story who is one of many people who fear intimacy. To read another story, listen to Sarah’s story on my podcast 3, Tales from the Couch on my website;

Website : www.drfranpraver.com

You can also access my podcast at ITunes at

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/dr.-frances-cohen-praver-podc...

Email: drpraver@cs.com

Social Network: www.facebook.com

Professional Network: www.linkedin.com

Frances Cohen Praver, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and relational psychoanalyst and author.

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