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Ask a Therapist: How do I get hubby to turn off his cell phone?

Q: “My big question is how do you tell your spouse to turn off his cell phone?”

I am a stay-at-home mom so as soon as hubby gets home from work, my mouth keeps going
about my day, then the cell phone rings, but he has to take the call
because that is our income. So what do you do? He has to take the call
no matter what time of day because it could mean more money for us,
but wow, I want him to listen to me. What do I do?”

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Marriage Q&A – Is date night too much to ask?

I write regularly for  “Wasatch Woman Magazine” on emotional health and relationships. Here’s yesterdays issue which includes my advice on readers questions.

Q: My husband and I spend most weekend evenings attending our children’s sporting events and never go out on dates. He says it’s because he wants to make sure we’re there to support our kids during this short time window of time before they grow up, but I’m feeling increasingly resentful, hurt, and neglected by him. What should I do?

(read Julie’s advice on pg. 17…)

Can you relate? Do you and your spouse have a regular date night?

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Julie Hanks, LCSW, owner & clinical director of Wasatch Family Therapy, LLC, specializes in women’s emotional and mental health, couples counseling, and family therapy, and has been in the mental health field for 20 years. A popular media contributor, watch Julie on KSL TV’s Studio 5, read her advice in the national media on E! Online, AOL Health, MSN.com, subscribe to her weekly podcast the You and Yours show on The Women’s Information Network.

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Gifts of Self: All he wants for Christmas is you

What are you getting your spouse or loved one for Christmas?

Our Director, Julie Hanks, LCSW was invited to contribute a “Love” article for Winter 2010 issue of Latter-day Woman Magazine…

“Finding the perfect gift for your spouse is an exciting part of the holiday season. But fighting crowds to snag one of the latest must-have items and squeezing money out of a tight budget can make gift-giving stressful. While I wouldn’t mind a new iPad under the tree this year, (listening, Santa?) the best gifts are those that don’t require money, but require thought and time and emotional awareness.”

Read my tips on giving meaningful gifts of self…

Read Article online

Download PDF

What’s been the most meaningful gift you’ve ever received, and why?

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What John Wayne Left Out

Generations of American men have learned from “The Duke” that in order to beat the bad guy and rescue the damsel in distress, you have to be tough, brave and work hard. That’s all fine and dandy. Most men don’t have a problem with those things. We can work hard, act tough and sweep a woman off her feet. What most of us struggle with, however, is what to do next. Unfortunately, this is where John Wayne’s movies end. John Wayne doesn’t show us how to be happily married or provide a stable livelihood. We never saw John Wayne struggle with marital difficulties, much less manage a 30-year fixed mortgage, career changes, fatherhood, church service, etc. I guess those plot lines don’t make for good westerns.

With June being National Men’s Health Month, I want to focus on improving men’s emotional health by filling in one of the gaps left by John Wayne. Specifically, I’d like to address what men want in their marriage and give three suggestions on how we can attain it.

What men want in relationships is to love and be loved. Research shows men are happiest and healthiest when in a loving relationship. In fact, men in loving relationships live longer and are less likely to experience heart disease, stroke, depression, anxiety or chronic pain than men not in loving relationships.

I doubt if there are any surprises here. After all, John Wayne risked arm and leg to win the affection of the woman he loved. What men struggle with is how to maintain a loving relationship once it’s started. This is where manly toughness ceases to help and instead hinders. Listed below are a few suggestions to help men get what they want out of their marriages.

1. It’s Not All about Sex

Our culture teaches men to express emotional needs physically. Boys are often teased when they attempt to say how they feel, especially when they convey a sense of vulnerability (e.g., fear, sadness or distress). On the other hand, boys are praised for acting out their aggression on a football field or holding in their emotions through statements such as, “Way to suck it up!” or “You are tough!”

When married, men are naturally inclined to use sex as a means to feel close and express love. I often hear men say to their spouse, “If you really cared about me, you would want to meet my needs.” My suggestion to men is based on the belief that love and closeness are built upon open and honest expression of emotion, especially those emotions that leave you feeling vulnerable. I know! What if you are not feeling anything? If that’s the case, then say that. Talk about how you want to feel closer to your spouse and the trouble you have expressing your emotions. Try it. On your next free evening, sit down together and open up without an expectation for sex. It may surprise you how good it feels.

2) No More Mind Games

Don’t expect your spouse to read your mind. Did you know your face can produce over 20,000 expressions? These thousands of facial expressions can then coincide or contradict the many subtle messages you send through your body language. How in the world, then, can your spouse know what you are thinking by just looking at you?

To avoid all the confusion, I recommend you share your thoughts and feelings with your spouse. As you do, remember to avoid saying “you”, as it can sound like you are blaming your spouse for how you feel. Instead, say something like, “I feel _____ when _____ because _____.” Saying “I” helps you take responsibility for what you think and feel. Again, you will be surprised by how good it feels to share your internal experiences and not have to wait for others to guess it.

3) Praise Your Spouse

Research finds that most men only have one close friend, their spouse. As a result, most of our emotional needs are placed upon our marriage. Also, men are exposed to countless messages from the media telling them their spouses are supposed to be passionate, sexual and emotionally fulfilling. Taken together, men are sometimes too quick to blame their spouse for any unhappiness.

I recommend making a conscious effort to praise your spouse. Tell her how lovely she is; compliment her hair or outfit; mention how much you appreciate everything she does for you. I suspect that once you start looking for things to compliment, you’ll be surprised by how many things you like about your spouse.

The take home message here is that your spouse isn’t perfect. Trust me, she knows that already. But, neither are you. You both are trying the best you can with what you have. It’s just that you will be a much happier husband if you focus on what you have, rather than what you don’t have. After all, happiness often isn’t found through focusing on your self. It most often comes from the sustained emotional investment in other people.

Focus on becoming a better person and partner and ask your spouse for help with this…

Todd Dunn

Dr. Todd Dunn

Dr. Todd Dunn is a Licensed Psychologist at Wasatch Family Therapy specializing in men’s mental health and relationships. To schedule a session with Dr. Dunn call 801.944.4555 or visit wasatchfamilytherapy.com.

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