Entries in Couples (9)


Couples Therapy Cuts PTSD Symptoms, Improves Relationships

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- According to statistics, veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, are twice as likely to separate from a spouse or divorce.  But a new study suggests couples therapy can cut PTSD symptoms and keep families together.

"The best way to think of it is as a PTSD treatment that happens to be delivered to couples," said study author Candice Monson, professor of psychology at Ryerson University in Toronto.  "We tried to take what we know about trauma recovery -- that social support and interpersonal relationships are some of the most important factors for overcoming traumatic events -- and incorporate that into PTSD treatment."

The study of 40 couples plagued by PTSD found that those who participated in 15 therapy sessions reported relief from PTSD symptoms and improvements in relationship satisfaction -- even three months after the sessions stopped.  The findings, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggest spousal support can boost the response to PTSD treatment.

"We would never say to a cancer patient, 'You're going through this treatment alone,'" said Monson, describing the double standard for psychological illness.  "We would encourage loved ones to be there for the treatment, and understand its course and how they can help."

Dr. Carol Bernstein, associate professor of psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York and past president of the American Psychiatric Association, called couples therapy for PTSD "a superb idea."

"The symptoms of psychiatric illness have a tremendous impact on those who love the person suffering.  And to the extent that partners can be engaged in the treatment and educated about the condition and how they can help, the better the outcome for everyone," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Couple’s Cosmetic Surgery: Husband and Wife Go Under the Knife

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Heather and David Robertson have done everything together for 18 years, so when she decided to go under the knife, he didn’t think twice about doing it, too.

“You know what, hey, whatever, I am game for it so let’s see what happens.  It’s got to be a bonus.  It can’t hurt right?” David told ABC News.

Time has been great to their marriage, but it has taken a toll on their bodies.

“Well, Heather has had four children, we have had four children together and you know it takes quite a toll on our bodies,” he added.  “So if anybody deserves to get a tummy tuck, I think she deserves to get one done.”

David has gained 50 pounds over the years and has a double-chin.  He opted for a chin lift.

“Well, if you’ve seen me when we first met and I think that is the image she has of me in her head, I was about 135 pounds and was all muscle and now I am about 185 pounds and there is not as much muscle,” he said.

This will be a new chapter in their lives, Heather said.

“I know we are still young but we are getting older, and just another new chapter, another new adventure,” she said.

Dr. Anthony Youn, a board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in cosmetic surgery, said he is seeing more and more couples like his patients Heather and David Robertson getting cosmetic surgery.

“A lot of couples want to play together, they vacation together, they want to raise kids together.  Now they are having surgery together, too,” said Youn, director of the Youn Plastic Surgery clinic in Troy, Mich., and affiliated with the city’s William Beaumont Hospital.

On the day of their surgeries, David had his procedure first, then Heather. Six weeks of healing later, and the extra skin on David’s chin is gone.  Heather’s baby fat after her four children is non-existent.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Couples Who Head in Same Direction Have Better Relationships

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(HONG KONG) -- Two hearts will beat as one if they’re headed in the same direction, according to studies of married couples in the U.S. and Hong Kong.

A research team led by Irene Huang of the Chinese University of Hong Kong found that romantic relationships seem to work better when couples took approximately the same daily commuting path to work.

Researchers checked the commuting patterns of a few hundred married American and Chinese couples who took the subway to work, learning that people who took parallel routes seemed more content with each other.

The reason, Huang and her team theorized, is because going in the same direction indicates shared goals and this common result “increases interpersonal attraction.”

As a follow-up, an experiment conducted in Hong Kong found that randomly-paired men and women who walked into an exercise room from the same direction were more drawn toward each other.

Borrowing a line from a French author, Huang wrote in the study, “Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but looking in the same direction together.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'7 Days of Sex': Can It Save a Marriage?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Can the cure for the common marriage simply be to have more sex? Some couples whose marriages have grown stale, whether it's from the kids, money woes or a laundry list of other reasons, are trying a new and radical approach to saving their relationship: Have sex every day for a week and see if it rekindles the flame -- a form of extreme couples' therapy, if you will.

Once upon a time, Anna and Anthony Sinopoli said they were madly in love. Now, when they have heated arguments, Anna will threaten her husband with the "d word," as in divorce. They have been in and out of couples therapy.

For Chantal and Derek James, it's been a decade since they first laid eyes on each other -- and it was love at first sight. Now, Chantal James takes care of their three little ones at home, while Derek, an IT specialist, goes to work.

Both couples say they used to be hot and heavy, but now they go long stretches of time without sex.

Some psychologists estimate that 15 to 20 percent of couples describe their union as "sexless" these days, which several therapists believe contributes to America's high divorce rate, which hovers around 50 percent.

Family therapist Terry Real, who has counseled couples for 30 years, said he isn't sure if sex could save a marriage but it can "certainly help out a lot."

"One of the things that research tells us is that particularly happy couples report that they have more than usual amounts of sex," Real said. "Sex is good for relationships."

If this all sounds like a good plot for a reality show, well, it is. Lifetime's new reality TV series, "7 Days of Sex," follows 18 couples, all who agreed to put cameras in their bedrooms. The Sinopolis and the Jameses are two couples featured on the show and gained new insight into their relationship, such as wooing a wife is not as easy as wooing a new girlfriend.

"It's too late for flowers and it's way too late for chocolate, so, come on, sweetheart, what can I do for you?" Anthony Sinopoli asked his wife in one episode on the show. "You could start by giving me a 10-minute break," Anna Sinopoli replied.

Chantal James complained of being exhausted from taking care of the kids full time. "I don't think sometimes he understands how serious that is for me," she said of her husband. So Derek James volunteered to become Mr. Mom for a day to give his wife a break. "It is a challenge, because everybody had different needs at the same time," he said.

So the big question is: What do women really want? Respect, it seems. Real said Derek James taking over handling the kids for the day by himself was important because he could then understand what his wife's world was all about.

As for the Sinopolis, Real said they are having a hard time re-kindling their marriage because Anthony Sinopoli feels like his wife, who loves going to the spa, is overspending on luxuries.

"There's no shortage of women out there who get mad at their husbands and go shopping," Real said. "It's a kind of resentment shopping. And it does the job. It sort of gets them."

On the show, Anthony Sinopoli did try to win back his wife's affection with a little vacation -- a camping trip -- but it nearly backfired. He surprised her with a luxurious tent, but there's no spa. At first, his wife was disappointed, but she grew to appreciate the gesture.

Something else the couples on "7 Days of Sex" learned about each other: While the men wanted foreplay, the women fantasize about "chore-play" -- husbands picking up after themselves and the children.

"Don't treat me like a maid," Chantal James said.

But she did give her husband the spice he was looking for too, and hired a lap dancing coach.

It seemed as if these couples were really trying, and love might have been there all along. It was just about finding it again.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Materialism Increases Likelihood of Marital Discord, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PROVO, Utah) -- Focusing too heavily on the "for richer" part of the nuptial vows could spell disaster for a marriage, according to research published Thursday by Brigham Young University.

In a survey of 1,700 married couples, researchers found that couples in which one or both partners placed a high priority on getting or spending money were much less likely to have satisfying and stable marriages.

"Our study found that materialism was associated with spouses having lower levels of responsiveness and less emotional maturity.  Materialism was also linked to less effective communication, higher levels of negative conflict, lower relationship satisfaction, and less marriage stability," said Jason Carroll, a BYU professor of family life in Provo, Utah, and lead author of the study.

Researchers gauged materialism using self-report surveys that asked questions such as to what extent do you agree with these statements?  "I like to own things to impress people" or "money can buy happiness."  Spouses were then surveyed on aspects of their marriage.

For one out of every five couples in the study, both partners admitted a strong love of money.  These couples were worse off in terms of marriage stability, marriage satisfaction, communications skills and other metrics of healthy matrimony that researchers studied.

The one out of seven couples that reported low-levels of materialism in both partners scored 10 to 15 percent higher in all metrics of marital quality and satisfaction.  Interestingly, the correlation between materialism and marital difficulties remained stable regardless of the actual wealth of the couple.

Study authors and marriage experts noted that the findings probably have to do with the personality traits that go along with materialism.  They will be published Thursday in the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Prostate Cancer Counseling Helps Couples' Sex Lives, Says Study

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- Despite improved therapies for men diagnosed with prostate cancer, most men face erection dysfunction because of nerve damage or blood flow problems.  Many also lose their desire for sex and have difficulties reaching an orgasm.

Now, a new study published online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, suggests that counseling can enhance the effectiveness of erectile dysfunction medications to help improve couples' sex lives.

Both Internet-based counseling and face-to-face therapy sessions improved the sex lives of prostate cancer survivors and their spouses, according to the study led by Leslie Schover, a psychologist and professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

"When men get these problems, they see their sexual function as how hard is my erection, and women get ignored and turned off," she said.  "And so men get distressed emotionally and feel like they are a failure."

In the study, Internet-based and face-to-face counseling focused on both partners' enjoyment when they "encountered more intimacy and less performance," said Schover.

The University of Texas study involved 115 couples. In each case, the man's prostate cancer treatment had taken place no more than two years prior to the study.  Half of the couples sought no help for three months.  The other half had three face-to-face counseling sessions or worked with an online counselor who gave feedback on the Internet.

A third group of 71 couples who lived too far to participate in face-to-face counseling was part of the Internet group.

Couples were also educated about treatment options for impotence: drugs like Viagra that increase blood flow, shots in the penis, vacuum pumps and surgical penile implants.

Each partner looked over the information on these medical interventions and rated them. The computer generated their top three choices.

Couples compared notes then agreed on a treatment option as a first step.  They were also monitored by counselors to see how well it worked and to "troubleshoot," according to Schover.

After three months, the couples who had received no counseling benefits were assigned one of the two treatment options.

Both partners in the relationship filled out questionnaires assessing their sexual function and satisfaction before counseling, after treatment, and at six months and one year later.

At the end of one year, 54 percent found effective treatments for their sexual dysfunction.  On average, the group "looked like the score of men in a community who don't have erection problems," said Schover.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Advice Guru Liz Pryor: Ending a Dead-End Relationship

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- You're dating someone, you're having doubts, that lovin' feeling has worn off and you feel stuck in the relationship.

The relationship is familiar and easy, and you don't like change. You feel torn and confused, but the signs are all there.

Here's the truth: getting out of a long-term or even in intense, short-term relationship is never fun.

That said, whether we like it or not, knowing that the love has faded and hesitating to address it only avoids the inevitable.

The waiting and pondering we do when a relationship has stalled is simply stall time.

If we're aware of the stall time but decide we need it, we can accept it and pick a date for ending the relationship.

If we're unaware, and we need a slap of reality, take this opportunity to consider the importance of moving on in your life.

Bite the bullet. Get out of your head, and end the relationship, so that you can begin to move forward and find what it is you need to feel complete and fill your heart.

But how do you know if ending the relationship is the right thing to do?

Take a day to go somewhere and be by yourself. Go over everything in your mind. Take yourself from the beginning when there was greatness, all the way to where it has landed.

If there is one thing that never lies, it is our intuition. Questioning your intuition is like playing with fire. Don't do it. Listen to it, and make your move.

The unfortunate news is that there is no easy out of a relationship.

The burden of leaving a relationship is entirely on us. We can reach out and look around and ponder and discuss, but in the end, we have to belly up, say the words and live through the process.

It's seldom easy, but finding what makes us the most happy in life is not known to be easy.

Moving on is simple. What it leaves behind is what is difficult.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Married Couples Happier When Wives Are Thinner, Study Finds

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(KNOXVILLE, Tenn.) -- Marriages are more satisfying for both partners when wives are thinner than their husbands, according to a new study.

The four-year study of 169 newlywed couples found that husbands were more satisfied initially and wives were more satisfied over time when the fairer sex had a lower body mass index -- a common measure of body fat.  The study was published in the July issue of Social Psychological and Personality Science.

"There's a lot of pressure on women in our society to achieve an often unreachably small weight," said Andrea Meltzer, a doctoral candidate at the University of Tennessee and lead author of the study.  "The great take-home message from our study is that women of any size can be happy in their relationships with the right partner.  It's relative weight that matters, not absolute weight.  It's not that they have to be small."

Just how relative weight impacts marital bliss is unclear, but Meltzer has a theory.

"One idea is that attractiveness and weight are more important to men," she said.  "That might be why we see this emerging at the beginning of the marriage for husbands, and their dissatisfaction might be affecting wives' satisfaction over time."

The finding held up even when other marital stressors, such as depression and income level, were ruled out. But relative weight is not the only factor that affects marital satisfaction, Meltzer cautioned.

"Obviously a lot of things play into relationship satisfaction and this is just one of them," she said. "It's not a guarantee to be happy in a relationship."

Men and women tend to be happier in a relationship when the men are "more powerful in a benign way," according to Susan Heitler, a couple's therapist in Denver and author of

"The good news is there are many dimensions that symbolize power for men," she said, adding that height, weight, earning capacity, intelligence, education level, personality, even a big smile are all empowering traits. "Those signs of bigness lead to a subconscious feeling within the woman of more security and, in turn, more marital satisfaction."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


UCAN Program Encourages Couples to Beat Anorexia Together

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- Researchers now suggest that having a significant other accompany anorexia patients to therapy can be effective at helping them beat the disorder, according to Health Day News.

In fact, while traditional anorexia therapy has a 25-40 percent dropout rate, Cynthia M. Bulik and her colleagues observed only a five-percent dropout rate over the six months they followed 13 couples enrolled in therapy for the emotional disorder.

Each couple took part in a program called Uniting Couples (in the treatment of) Anorexia Nervosa (UCAN), an intensive counseling program that incorporated with support and presence of a significant other.  While the couples had been together for an average of nine years, more than half of them were married.  All of the patients were women, yet the researchers note that the disorder can and does occur in both genders.

The researchers found that after just three months participants' body mass index (BMI) also increased more than patients receiving traditional therapy.

UCAN targeted a range of topics relevant to couples dealing with anorexia, rather than the issues of a singular patient. Topics included in the counseling were marital distress, communication, sexual concerns and ways to prevent relapse.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio