Life Ain’t For Sissies*


Most posts are observations, derived from my work as a clinical psychologist, teacher, writer, and aging adult.  Please join the dialogue.

*a nod to Bette Davis, who is reported to have said, “Old age ain’t for sissies.”

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What Makes Love Last? part 2

Continued from yesterday…..

What makes love last?  Here are some factors that occur in long lasting marriages.dreamstimefree_59349

1. Partners still feel special, loved and cared for.  Men need affirmation more than women; women need to feel loved.

2. Fight gently; stay kind and speak complaints softly.

3. Learn to communicate

To get started on the right track from the beginning of the marriage, try these….

1. Talk about things other than ‘life maintenance’.

2. Be optimistic; celebrate good things that happen.

3. Be supportive.

4. Grow, take risks, find adventure. When people do exciting things, they enjoy each other more.

5. Pay attention to maintaining the relationship – everything that grows requires care and feeding.

For starters, read the work of John Gottman.



What Makes Love Last? part 1

The divorce rate in the U.S. is still between 40 – 50%. The likelihood that a married couple will celebrate their dreamstimefree_43805820th wedding anniversary is 52% for women and 56% for men – not great odds. But, there are now many studies that have followed marriages over the years so psychologists have some good ideas about what encourages longevity. Some of the factors are in your control, others are not.

Factors that are only partially in your control –

  1. Ethnicity – Asian women and foreign born men have marriages that last 20 years. African American women have the lowest rate of reaching the 20 year mark.
  2. Education – Women with college degrees have longer lasting marriages than women with h.s. diplomas.
  3. Age – Those who marry in their teens are more likely to divorce than older individuals.
  4. Money – People with no assets are more likely to divorce than those people with assets. Money can be a huge source of tension so if there is extra, you reduce the strain and arguments.
  5. Stress – High stress causes problems, especially when there is no chance of relief and time to recharge.
  6. Feelings prior to marriage – Premarital cold feet in women is a bad sign; no predictive value in men’s feet.

Tomorrow, I will post the factors that help make love last. Please come back.

If you want to read a different kind of love/mystery story, check out my novel, Object of Obsession.



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Two Types of Extroverts

      Extroversion is more than being outgoing -a new study says that there are 2 kinds of extroverts – agentic and affiliative. wrench in the works Agentic means incentive driven. These folks are the extroverts who are go-getters and who are persistent and focussed. Think salespeople. Affiliative has the snuggly component. This type of extrovert is social and friendly. This is why people who are extroverts do not appear to have they same characteristics – they may be more one type than the other.
      Dr. Tara White, the second author of the paper to which I refer, says that, in general, extroverts are eager to share with you and tell you about their world. She and her colleagues actually looked at brain scans of 83 people (hopefully through scans) and found that healthy adult brains of extroverts are distinct. Extroverts have more grey matter in the medial orbitofrontal cortex which means that they make decisions based on rewards. Interesting, yes?
source: Cognitive, affective and behavioral neuroscience Grodin and White, 2015.

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Is It Sex or Friendship?

Was that conversation flirty or friend;y? Men and women do seem to read interactions differently.  For example, women complain that men take interactions as sexual when they aren’t.  Men respond that women underestimate the sexual nature of contacts. ATT00010.jpg animal friendsBoth are right!  Men and women see people’s sexual intentions differently- men see more sexual interest and women see less.  Men and women both make assumptions about the person they are talking to and that influences their reactions. These assumptions are often out of awareness, not conscious.

Here is the important bottom line: Without cues, if the situation is unclear, men see sex more often than women.  Translation: If a guy has no information that tells him a woman is uninterested, and the situation in which they are interacting is unclear (party, bar), he is more likely to assume sexual promise.  A woman in the same situation is less likely to see the interaction as sexual. You can see how you reach different conclusions if you begin from different starting points.

This has some serious implications for women if men tend to regularly perceive them in sexual rather than friendly ways.

It changes: As people become more familiar with each other, men get friendlier thoughts.

Researchers from the University of Washington (see the citation at the end of this post) ran a couple of studies that confirm these ideas.  One thing to keep in mind about the study – the subjects were college undergrads.  Perhaps, as people mature, they are more able to see the opposite sex as real people and let the sexual or friendly reactions develop over time.

Source: Kristen P.Lundgren, Yuichi Shoda, and William George published “Sexual or Friendly? Associations about Women, Men, and Self” in Psychology of Women Quarterly, 2007, volume 31 pp.190-201.

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Belgrade Lakes, Mainebelgrade lakes, maine 017

Face It – Avoidance Does Not Work

      How avoidance is ruining your life and what you can do about it.  DSCN1054
      Many, many people in the U.S. consider themselves procrastinators. They avoid doing the tasks in their lives that need to be accomplished. I suspect that others just avoid thinking about whether they procrastinate or not.  When you avoid something that needs doing, you add to your stress because avoidance isn’t effective; you carry the knowledge around like a mosquito buzzing in your brain that chants, “you didn’t….., you didn’t…. when are you going to…..what will you do about….. Like a B horror movie, IT IS WAITING FOR YOU, TODAY AND ALWAYS, WAITING….
      You can stop avoiding. Here are 6 suggestions to help you Face Your Life
1. Write down the problem (a bill to be paid, a paper to be written, a call to be returned, a discussion to be undertaken) AND write down a concrete solution, such as: I will call the credit card company today; I will spend 1 hour on research for the paper this evening, As you can see, these are first steps. When these are done, you can take the next step.
2. Do it first. Not after lunch, not after you grow old; NOW.  It isn’t going away, and it isn’t going to be more fun, so do it first and get it over with.  You will feel smug and happy for hours. It will give you enough of a high to actually accomplish other things. It will also improve your confidence that you can accomplish other things.  This makes room in your mind for the rest of your day’s activities.
3. Don’t delude yourself. It is probably not going away. If anything, it is going to get worse. Even if the problem doesn’t get worse, you will feel worse because now you have thrown away good hours by allowing this bill/paper/conversation to hijack your brain.
4. Reframe the problem.  Here is where a little (or a lot) self talk helps. Remind yourself that whatever the problem is, you can deal with it. Maybe you can solve it, maybe you can make it go away, maybe you will ask for help, but even if you cannot make it disappear, you can deal with it, and you will survive.
5. Experiment. If ‘you’ are not particularly good at getting this done, become someone else for awhile. This can be someone you know, like a friend who does exercise (if that is what you are going after), or an admired mentor, or a superhero.  When I supervised doctoral dissertations, I often used to send signs to students with instructions to hang the sign above the computer. The sign usually read something like “I have no feelings. I am a dissertation machine.”  Be the person who gets it done.
 6. Follow these suggestions over and over. Habits are not formed by one good day; exercise programs are not habitual because you made it to the gym last Sunday; eating habits do not mean skipping one french fry; and savings’ accounts are not built up with one deposit.  Repeat.  You will find that these suggestions go from awkward and difficult to commonplace.  You can reduce the worrying by facing the tasks that belong to you. We all have responsibilities, some big and some small.  It’s okay.  Take the first step.
Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D.

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Happy 4th of July

However you define freedom and independence, I hope you get there………….

Shooting Stars

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