If you’ve been in a steady relationship or a long marriage, you realize the value of having some “girl time” or “guy time:”
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On a recent Sunday afternoon I was having my favorite salad (spinach salad – hold the dressing) at one of my favorite restaurants, when I couldn’t help noticing two well-coiffed and dressed women having lunch (salads and pizza) at the table directly to my right side.
I was not intentionally trying to listen to what they were saying – I promise you! – it’s just that every now and then, the noise lulled and I could hear one of them say, “Yes, she is so nice/smart/talented, etc.”. I don’t believe they were talking about the same woman each time, but I was so impressed that two women “gossiping” over lunch were – brace yourself – saying nice things about another woman or women!
When we got ready to leave, I went over to the table and admitted that I could hear some of what they were saying – although I wasn’t really trying to – and that I was immensely impressed that having had the opportunity to be critical or catty, that they were both speaking so nicely about others. I further said, “You two must be really nice people!”
They smiled at me – with distinct surprise – and one of them immediately said, “You must be a nice person too to stop and say this to us.”
Wow- a real “karma” moment.
Why don’t you look carefully around you and take the opportunity to compliment folks you see who are doing the “right thing.”
I was at first stunned – then not – to read that research from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health points toward white, middle aged women as being particularly prone to depression leading to suicides. I’m a middle aged, white, female baby-boomer, so this caught my attention, especially since the researchers seemed clueless as to what would be behind this spike.
Having talked to women for over thirty years on the radio, I think I know. We middle-aged, white females from the sixties were sold a bill of goods by the originally well-meaning women’s movement. The bits about equal pay for equal experience and competence were kind of a no-brainer. The bits about men, marriage, sex, babies, and home-making being negatives in our lives – because, of course, they were oppressive and demeaning – also seemed obvious at the time. So, with the introduction of consciousness raising (that is, learning to mistrust, not need, and even loathe men) and women’s studies programs (which conceived of elevating women by making them perpetually angry victims), we were on our way to a collision course to today: depression and suicide.
Women who dared to buck the feminista trend and actually marry and make babies, kept close to the sisterhood by not being very sexual, loving, or sensitive to their husbands – or just kept them as shack-up studs – and put their babies in day-care. They did all of that so they could work at their careers full-time and have financial power. The thinking was, what if “he” took off with some bimbo or died on them? Money is power and safety! They also did all of that so they could feel like “somebody.” I still have women tell me today that they only allow themselves to feel good when they have a successful career; the loving appreciation of a husband and children are swept aside like so much emotional dandruff.
These white, middle-aged, female baby-boomers starved themselves of the fulfilling emotional meal of actually being a hands-on mom in addition to being their husband’s girlfriend. Many of them are now divorced, and their adult children hardly spend time any time with them. The kids learned how to spend time without Mom because she was so “busy, busy, busy” while they were growing up.
I’m not surprised that so many of these women are depressed and suicidal. Feministas lied to them that they could and would “have it all:” they only had to sacrifice the loveliest parts of their womanhood.
I’m not among them, because I caught myself entering that depressive state. I’ve been there…done that. Saved by a marriage and a child!
Philosophers throughout the ages have contemplated and agonized over what causes people to fall in love. Sociologists and psychologists have done the same over what causes people to stay in love. Now neuroscientists are trying to solve both their problems by taking brain scans of folks in love looking for the “cause” of love.
The report of their work prepared by the Wall Street Journal (2/8/08) seems to miss the main point. Looking for brain sites of increased activity in people who after many years of marriage still feel fabulously in love, is not likely due to some abnormal hyperactivity in centers associated with affection or pleasure. It is the opposite way around. People who behave consistently in a loving manner constantly stoke the fires of affectionate and passionate love – all which will show up in their brain scans.
The couple they “analyzed,” the Turners, are described up front:
“Ann Tucker is pushing a shopping cart through the produce section of a supermarket in Plainview, N.Y., when she turns to kiss her husband. The supermarket kiss is a regular ritual for the Tuckers. So are the restaurant kiss and the traffic-light kiss. ‘I guess we do kiss a lot,’ says Mrs. Tucker…Mrs. Tucker is living happily ever after, and scientists are curious why.”
Why? That’s easy: she and her husband constantly behave like people in love. Feelings follow behavior and both feed into brain pathways that become “well-worn” through constant activation.
So, stop looking for supplements, hormone injections, or implanted brain stimulators, miracles or moonspots. Instead, behave like a man/woman in love and you’ll create what you wish for.
I sometimes hear from people who think I’m too harsh on my callers. There are many reasons for the way I deal with someone who calls my program, but my particular approach is always in direct response to what I intuit from the callers themselves. Here’s an email I got from Morgan, who titled her correspondence “Thanks For Your Advice and for TEARING Into Me!”
I called you the other day, and was shocked to hear you for real in my ear! My question was about why I was complaining about my fiancé a lot lately. My complaints were about his extra weight, being quiet on road trips, an, lately, his constant wearing of a baseball hat! You listened PATIENTLY to what I was nagging about, and then you truly laid into me…and well, I really needed it!
You told me that I wasn’t marrying myself, and if I wanted to be with someone exactly like me, well, marry myself (ha!), but not stay and complain. You also stated that I was comparing him to me, and that wasn’t helpful. He is his own man – a quiet, baseball hat-wearing man. Then you said that I should thank him for putting up with me for so long.
It is really interesting to me that I have always prided myself on treating others the way I wish to be treated– my students, my colleagues, my friend–but that I had been treating my own fiancé in a negative, terrible and condescending manner, instead of thanking him every day for coming into my life. He is the most gentle, generous and loyal person I know, and the truth is I have been feeling crappy about myself and projecting that onto him.
Well, I went home and re-read “Ten Stupid Things Women Do To Mess Up Their Lives,” and got to the part that asks the reader to think about whether they would want their future daughter to be dating their partner. It really sunk in.
I’d love it if my future daughter would be dating someone like my fiancé, but I don’t think I’d want my future son dating someone like I have been lately!
Good wake-up call for me, Dr. Laura. I’ve listened to you for eight years. You are a true voice of reason, morality, and plain common sense in my head!