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Marriage Equality

Marriage Equality (Photo credit: charlesfettinger)

Dr. Barry Lubetkin offers us some sound advice and a very good tip on how to keep the “caring for each other” in our marriage. 

Mental health for marriage.

Marriage is in trouble. Not only has the divorce rate of 45 to 50% not abated but the rate of cheating amongst both men and women continues to increase. And what of the future ,where couples texting and not talking has become the standard way of courting and communicating.
 
Many of my married couple patients report that “lack of appreciation and compassion ” for the other is a major potential destroyer of relationships. While I believe that EVERY couple should enter couples therapy for regular tune ups throughout their time together, that is an ideal that most won’t follow. So here’s a tip to help strengthen your relationship:
 
Each person creates a CARING LIST, where you list the 5 specific ways that your partner can make you feel cared about and cherished……….ex. “Kiss me each morning when you leave for work”……”prepare dinner once a week for the kids”…….”tell me about your day and ask me about mine”……..give me a brief massage every Monday evening to unstress me after work”.  Make the requests specific and behavioral, not vague like “make me happy”
 
Exchange the lists, post them somewhere in the apartment or house, and each person is to fulfill at least three of the others requests each week. Make new lists when needed. Don’t play tit for tat by waiting for your partner to do your requests first. Note and discuss at the end of the week how each of you did in fulfilling the caring needs of the other.  It works! Try it!
Barry Lubetkin, Phd, ABBP is co-director of the Institute for Behavior Therapy in Manhattan.  Dr. Lubetkin has written two widely acclaimed books. Bailing Out (Simon and Schuster and Prentice Hall Press) and Why Do I Need You To Love Me In Order To Like Myself (Longmeadow and Borders Press). In addition, his 3-disc audio series on treating insomnia Dr. Barry’s Sound Asleep has recently been published. 
 
 
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As you who have been reading faithfully know, my daughter Chiara, (apple of my eye and direct fall from the tree) threw NOT ONE BUT TWO fabulous parties in ONE day and night.  She outdid herself and of course along the way exhausted herself.  The previous blogs talk about the extensive planning, listing, ordering, directing, setting up, picking up, and overall GC . In case you’re wondering what a GC is, that’s the person in charge of the whole development project.  She’s the one who imagines, plans, orders, directs and sub-contracts EVERYTHING.   I give you this prologue because amongst the party-giving, entertaining and cooking women I know, we all have the same complaint:  Our husbands are guests at their own parties!!

My husband, Peter is not only a guest at our parties, he’s practically a guest in our home as well.  Brought up as the first-born in dare I say a Jewish family although it is exactly the same for those first-born males in an Italian family (believe I know!), Peter sees every task in the household as someone else’s,  not sure who he thinks the someone else is….   Well apparently Tom, Chiara’s husband falls into the same category.  What happened on P-Day (Saturday) pretty much exemplifies what I’m saying;  Chiara is up with the baby early and trying to get out to get a last-minute manicure BEFORE more of the delivery people show up with ice, cakes, cupcakes, balloons and MORE… Tom, on the other hand says,”Can’t your Mom (that’s Gigi/me) watch Finley so I can go out for a run”?  I’m not going to retell the rest of what verbally transpired because I’m trying to keep my PG rating and it was tough enough to do so given the Latex,Leather and Lace blog!  Well you get the picture and I’m sure many of you have similar tales (and by the way, you can send them to me to be printed here)!!  This article appeared in the New York Times in 1996 – I cut it out then because, well you know why and since that was over 14 years ago, things haven’t really changed much.  Enjoy!

When a Husband Is a Guest At His Own Dinner Party

By LINDA MATHEWS
Published: April 3, 1996

I HAVE always admired those masterly men who know how to be the host of a dinner party. They stock the bar, fix the drinks, pass the hors d’oeuvres, advise their wives on the entree, perhaps even drift into the kitchen to casually assemble a trademark salad or to flambe a dessert.

My husband, Jay, isn’t anything like that.

He has come a long way since the night, early in our courtship, when he cooked dinner for me by spearing two frankfurters with a fork and singeing them over an open gas flame in his sublet kitchen. Now, he can make pancakes and birthday cakes and a few family specialties.

But when we have guests, Jay’s specialty is acting like a guest at his own party. He exclaims over the hors d’oeuvres, because he had nothing to do with their preparation and hasn’t seen them before. Ditto for the main course. He is usually so deep in conversation that I commandeer a male guest to open and pour the wine. Jay keeps his end of the table enthralled during dinner so that I feel guilty about interrupting him to ask for help in clearing the table and so do it myself. By the end of the party, after we have said good night to our guests, I’m exhausted and Jay is still sparkling.

“I had a great time,” he declares with genuine satisfaction. “Why don’t we give more parties?”

Even at moments like that, I am more amused than angry. He’s not really a shirker, I tell myself. This tendency to be a guest at his own parties is a minor flaw, like his inexplicable cravings for cherry Jello or his passion for “Star Trek” and other science fiction.

For a long time, I thought I had the only husband who was a guest at his own parties. Then a couple of years ago, an older couple invited us to a summer party on the patio, a farewell for a mutual friend to be transferred overseas. The nominal host sat on his hands for four hours, regaling guests with his own experiences abroad, most of them either instructive or amusing, while his wife kept the party going. She prepared the coals, scurried back and forth to the kitchen to freshen drinks, grilled the butterflied leg of lamb and fetched the ratatouille.

A telling moment came, I thought, as the salad course appeared and the host discovered there was something crucial missing.

“Dear, you forgot the dressing,” he called to his wife, who somewhat sullenly returned to the kitchen.

By dessert, she was steaming. The other women and I were taking turns helping her clear each course, and as I walked into the kitchen with a tray full of coffee cups, she was loading the dishwasher for the second time. And she was muttering curses I hadn’t heard since I worked in a print shop.

A month later, we heard that our host and hostess had separated, and that she was filing for divorce. I asked my husband, “Do you suppose being a guest at your own parties is grounds for divorce?”

“That’s not funny,” Jay said.

It’s not that serious for us, not yet anyway. Maybe that’s because we can sometimes afford to invite guests to restaurants, maybe because our daughter Kate loves parties and willingly lends a hand, maybe because, after almost 29 years of marriage, I have learned to accept Jay as he is, a nice guy who will never tend bar or assemble hors d’oeuvres.

I no longer consult him on party menus. His suggestions are — how shall I say this? — predictable. As I pore over cookbooks, looking for an alternative to the spinach soup and chicken marbella I have prepared at least a hundred times, he always says to me: “Why don’t we just have your lasagna? Everybody loves your lasagna.” I do make lasagna for the kids, but I haven’t fixed it for guests since graduate school, when we often invited 50 people to our one-bedroom apartment and never kept track of how many showed up.

And I don’t discuss dessert with him, either. “You can’t beat really good vanilla ice cream,” he says. “Doll it up with berries or sauce if you have to.” I maintain my Zen-like silence.

Of course, I don’t want him to feel left out entirely. So, at our last party, where as usual I cooked, set the table and cleared every course for 10 adults and four children, I made it clear that I wanted him to clean up.

Two guests, both old friends of mine, stayed and chatted with me as I propped my feet on a chair and leisurely ate a leftover dessert.Meanwhile, Jay stacked plates in the dishwasher, tackled a mountain of dirty pots and pans and emptied ashtrays. He washed the silver by hand. He spotcleaned the tablecloth with Spray ‘n’ Wash. By 1:30 A.M., when the last guests finally headed for the door, Jay looked uncharacteristically cranky.

“I had a great time!” I exclaimed. “Why don’t we give more parties?

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