3. MARRIAGE

3. Marriage
A. Married (Happily) With Issues
B. Happy Couples Kiss and Tell
C. Hearts Actually Can Break
D. Get The Secrets Of A Jewish Mom
E. Honey, I Want A Divorce
F. On Marriage: Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off
G. Couple Goes From Divorce To ‘I Do Again’
H. Making Marriage Thrive
I. 10 Minutes Talking Called Marriage Saver
J. Friendly Fight: A Smarter Way to Say ‘I’m Angry’
K. The Divorce’s Guide to Marriage
L.  Secrets of Being a Happy Wife

3. MARRIAGE

A. Married (Happily) With Issues
By Elizabeth Weil, New York Times
Published December 1, 2009

I have a pretty good marriage. It could be better. There are things about my husband that drive me crazy. Last spring he cut apart a frozen pigs head with his compound miter saw in our basement. He needed the head to fit into a pot so that he could make pork stock. I’m no saint of a spouse, either. I hate French kissing, compulsively disagree and fake sleep when Dan vomits in the middle of the night. Dan also once threatened to punch my brother at a family reunion at a lodge in Maine. But in general we do O.K.

The idea of trying to improve our union came to me one night in bed. I’ve never really believed that you just marry one day at the altar or before a justice of the peace. I believe that you become married, truly married; slowly, over time, through all the road-rage incidents and precolonoscopy enemas, all the small and large moments that you never expected to happen and certainly didn’t plan to endure. But then you do: you endure. And as I lay there, I started wondering why I wasn’t applying myself to the project of being a spouse. My marriage was good, utterly central to my existence, yet in no other important aspect of my life was I so laissez-faire. Like most of my peers, I applied myself to school, friendship, work, health and, ad nauseam, raising my children. But in this critical area, marriage, we had all turned away. I wanted to understand why. I wanted not to accept this. Dan, too, had worked tirelessly some might say obsessively at skill acquisition. Over the nine years of our marriage, he taught himself to be a master carpenter and a master chef. He was now reading Soviet-era weight-training manuals in order to transform his 41-year-old body into that of a Marine. Yet he shared the seemingly widespread aversion to the very idea of marriage improvement. Why such passivity? What did we all fear?That night, the image that came to mind, which I shared with Dan, was that I had been viewing our marriage like the waves on the ocean, a fact of life, determined by the sandbars below, shaped by fate and the universe, not by me. And this, suddenly, seemed ridiculous. I am not a fatalistic person. In my 20s I even believed that people made their own luck. Part of the luck I believed I made arrived in the form of Dan himself, a charming, handsome surfer and writer I met three days after I moved to San Francisco. Eleven years later we had two kids, two jobs, a house, a tenant, a huge extended family what Nikos Kazantzakis described in “Zorba the Greek asthe full catastrophe.” We were going to be careless about how our union worked out?So I decided to apply myself to my marriage, to work at improving ours now, while it felt strong. Our children, two girls who are now 4 and 7, were no longer desperately needy; our careers had stabilized; we had survived gutting our own house. Viewed darkly, you could say that I feared stasis; more positively, that I had energy for Dan once again. From the myriad psychology books that quickly stacked up on my desk, I learned that my concept was sound, if a bit unusual. The average couple is unhappy six years before first attending therapy, at which point, according to The Science of Clinical Psychology, the marital therapists job is less like an emergency-room physician who is called upon to set a fracture that happened a few hours ago and more like a general practitioner who is asked to treat a patient who broke his or her leg several months ago and then continued to hobble around on it; we have to attend not only to the broken bone but also to the swelling and bruising, the sore hip and foot and the infection that ensued.Still, Dan was not 100 percent enthusiastic, at least at first. He feared, not mistakenly, it turns out, that marriage is not great terrain for overachievers. He met my ocean analogy with the veiled threat of California ranch-hand wisdom: if you’re going to poke around the bushes, you’d best …….

(SKIP FM PAGE 3 TO THE FINAL PAGE…PAGE 10; full story @http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/magazine/06marriage-t.html?pagewanted=1&sq=marriage counseling&st=cse&scp=10 )

The following weekend: jealousy again (or was it an attempt to fuel our eroticism with tension?). I said yes a bit too forcefully when Dan asked if I’d noticed a well-muscled young man at the pool. Dan was allowing for my sexual free agency, granting me my full humanity. We lived, raised children, worked and slept together. Now we needed to gouge out a gap to bridge, an erotic synapse to cross. It was exhausting. That guy did the epitome of bad-values hypertrophy training, vanity weight lifting, in Dan’s estimation, just to get buff. You’re like a guy admitting he likes fake boobs. And he had chicken legs. Did you notice that, too?

VI. What is a good marriage? How good is good enough? Ultimately each philosophy of what makes a good marriage felt like a four-fingered glove. The passion apologists placed no stock in the pleasures of home. The communication gurus ignored life history. I came to view the project as a giant attempt to throw everything out of the messy closet that was our life and put it back in a way that resembled an ad for the Container Store. Not everything fit. It never would. We could tidy up any given area and more quickly and easily than we anticipated. But despite ongoing sessions with endless professionals, we couldn’t keep the entirety of our marriage shipshape at once.

Still, night after night, I’d slide into bed next to Dan. He often slept in a white T-shirt and white boxer briefs, a white-cased pillow wrapped over his head to block out my reading light, his toppled stacks of cookbooks and workout manuals strewn on the floor. He looked like a baby, fresh and full of promise. In psychiatry, the term “good-enough mother” describes the parent who loves her child well enough for him to grow into an emotionally healthy adult. The goal is mental health, defined as the fortitude and flexibility to live one’s own life — not happiness. This is a crucial distinction. Similarly the “good-enough marriage” is characterized by its capacity to allow spouses to keep growing, to afford them the strength and bravery required to face the world.

In the end, I settled on this vision of marriage, felt the logic of applying myself to it. Maybe the perversity we all feel in the idea of striving at marriage the reason so few of us do it — stems from a misapprehension of the proper goal. In the early years, we take our marriages to be vehicles for wish fulfillment: we get the mate, maybe even a house, an end to loneliness, some kids. But to keep expecting our marriages to fulfill our desires — to bring us the unending happiness or passion or intimacy or stability we crave — and to measure our unions by their capacity to satisfy those longings, is naïve, even demeaning. Of course we strain against marriage; it’s a bound canvas, a yoke. Over the months Dan and I applied ourselves to our marriage, we struggled, we bridled, we jockeyed for position. Dan grew enraged at me; I pulled away from him. I learned things about myself and my relationship with Dan I had worked hard not to know. But as I watched Dan sleep — his beef-heart recipe earmarked, his power lift planned — I felt more committed than ever. I also felt our project could begin in earnest: we could demand of ourselves, and each other, the courage and patience to grow.

B. HAPPY COUPLES KISS AND TELL
by Elizabeth Bernstein, Wall Steet Journal, Feb 9, 2010

For Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, it’s perseverance. For Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, it’s maintaining separate work lives. For Doyle and Louise Brunson, having separate bank accounts helps.

A former first lady, a rock star who’s been in and out of rehab, and a professional poker player can all offer considerable insight into the mysterious workings of marriage. After all, their wisdom is gleaned from decades of conjugal bliss.

OK, maybe it wasn’t always bliss. But each of them has stayed married—to the same person—for a very long time. And each considers his or her marriage to be happy, strong and mutually supportive.

In other words, they beat the odds.

It is often possible to understand why a marriage fails, as so many do. It is much more difficult, though, to elucidate why one succeeds. Why do some couples thrive, while others fizzle or flame out, despite their best intentions?

When I recently met former first lady Rosalynn Carter, who has been married to former president Jimmy Carter for 63 years, I couldn’t resist asking how they made such a perfect union.

Mrs. Carter replied that she and her husband had gone through two periods in their marriage that were tough. “First, well, let me just say: Don’t ever write a book with your husband,” she said.

She went on to explain that the period after she and Mr. Carter left the White House and returned to their hometown of Plains, Ga., also put a strain on their relationship. Her husband felt adrift after failing to win re-election, she said. He would often interrupt her while she was at work in her home office, asking her to have a cup of coffee with him and chat.

“We learned that it was important to our marriage for each of us to always have our own work, our own projects,” said Mrs. Carter, 82.

I asked my parents, who just celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary, why their marriage lasted so long. My dad said he had no idea. “Your mother did all the hard work,” he admitted. Mom agreed, and divulged her marital secret: “forgiveness.”
Happily married people believe they married their soul mates, and for good reason. Even marrying the right person gets you only part way. Ask the couples themselves, and they’ll likely credit some combination of hard work and sheer blind luck.

James Cordova, a psychologist at Clark University, advises couples not to leave it to chance. You should assess your marriage at least once a year, he says. “Imagine going to the dentist only if your tooth actually hurt. At that point something has gone terribly wrong, and the odds of saving it go way down,” says Dr. Cordova, author of “The Marriage Checkup.” “Marriage is the same.”

Of course, no one ever said that every day, or even every year, was going to be rosy. And there are plenty of long marriages that are unhappy. But there are some strategies that happily married couples say work:

• Find the middle ground. “It’s all give and take,” says Marlene Critch, a retired hospital director in Tucson. She met her husband Bill on a blind date in 1959. He took her on a picnic with a thermos of gin and tonics; they married two months later.

Flash ahead 50 years. The Critches have raised two daughters in Seattle and weathered his severe heart condition. They swim together each morning, and he reads her children’s books when she has trouble falling asleep at night.

Compromise, they say, got them through the good and bad times. Mr. Critch, 75, says he compromised by quitting the Air Force early in their marriage, because it bothered her that he was away from home so much. (Press him for more concessions, and he says, “Miso soup.”)

Ms. Critch, 74, says she made her own compromise by agreeing to retire to Arizona, where her husband preferred the climate. (She wanted to stay in Seattle to be close to their daughters.)

“If each person can give 75 percent, you’ve got 150 percent,” says Ms. Critch. Her husband agrees. “Many men would call that wussy,” he says. “But I don’t because I value her more than anything else in the world.”

Similarly, Jan and Len Konkel, who have been married for 62 years, long ago made a pact to never argue over anything that wasn’t very important, saving their battles for things like how to raise their three children. “Everything else is minor and can be settled in a discussion,” says Ms. Konkel, 84.

Her husband agrees. “I say ‘Yes ma’am’ and ‘No ma’am’ a lot,” says Mr. Konkel, 88.

• Be funny. On the night in 1967 that Jackie and Ken Egan met at a dance club in Boston, he asked her for a kiss. She declined: “I don’t know you,” she told him. “And my kisses are like Lay’s potato chips—you wouldn’t be happy with just one.”

The Egans, who live in Marshfield, Mass., and have four children, just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary on Monday. Ms. Egan says laughter helps them deal with issues that would otherwise drive them nuts—such as Mr. Egan’s fussy eating habits and forgetfulness about putting the toilet seat down. Or Ms. Egan’s inability to let her husband finish a story without interrupting him, or her many knickknacks.

“You need to learn to find the humor in each other’s annoying habits. It helps you keep the affection,” says Ms. Egan, 69.

• Keep (some) secrets. When poker legend Doyle Brunson met his wife Louise at a country-and-western club in Texas in 1961, he told her he gambled for a living. And she accepted him for who he is. “Love is the most important thing,” says Louise Brunson, 78. “You have to love your spouse more than life itself.”

The Brunsons, who live in Las Vegas, have stood by each other through some serious trials in their 47 years of marriage, including the death of a daughter and an armed robbery of their home, during which they were tied up at gunpoint.

“You have to go forward, you can’t go back,” says Mr. Brunson, 76. Even so, the Brunsons don’t share everything. He doesn’t discuss his business with her. “I have won and lost millions of dollars without her knowing,” he says. Ms. Brunson says that’s just fine with her. “I have my own bank account,” she says.

• Never, ever give up. This tip is really important, so pay attention. Sharon Osbourne says it is how she stayed with husband Ozzy for 28 years and counting.
And she’s married to the Prince of Darkness. He bit the head off of a live bat, for God’s sake. (Ditto a dove.)

He also spent years strung out on drugs and alcohol. Never mind the groupies and the near-fatal overdoses. This man set fire to his house, passed out on a freeway median, and once tried to strangle his wife.

Ms. Osbourne, for her part, tried to run him over with a car, smashing his gold records with a hammer and taking out a restraining order. “We became like a soap opera,” says Ms. Osbourne, 57, who is her husband’s manager.

And yet she stuck by her man. Why? Because she felt he was a good person when sober and that he would kick his addictions one day. And she still believes he is her soul mate. (“Twice recently we’ve had the same dream on the same night,” she says.)”
“I went into marriage thinking it was forever. So I was stubborn,” says Ms. Osbourne who has three children with her husband.

Mr. Osbourne, who was married once before, finally did sober up “six or seven years” ago, he says, and is very glad his wife stuck it out. “You don’t throw in the towel at the first sign of trouble,” he says.

And so Mr. Osbourne has made a point of telling his wife he loved her every single day—no matter where he was in the world, no matter how drunk or high. “She sometimes said ‘Drop dead’ or ‘F— off,'” he says. “But at least if you are arguing, you are talking. If you stop talking, it’s time to call it a day.”

• Stay alive. My sister, a doctor, told me about one of her patients, a 92-year-old woman who showed up for her appointment with her husband, who is 94. They said they have been married for almost 70 years.

My sister, highly impressed, asked the couple the secret to their union’s longevity. And they looked at each other for a long moment. Then the wife spoke: “Eh, neither of us died.”

—Follow the column on Facebook at http://on.wsj.com/WSJBonds.

C. HEARTS ACTUALLY CAN BREAK
by Ron Winslow, Wall Street Jornal, Feb 9, 2010

Dorothy Lee and her husband of 40 years were driving home from a Bible study group one wintry night when their car suddenly hit the curb. Mrs. Lee looked at her husband, who was driving, and saw his head bob a couple of times and fall on his chest.

In the ensuing minutes, Mrs. Lee recalls, she managed to avoid a crash while stopping the car, called 911 on her cellphone and tried to revive her husband before an ambulance arrived. But at the hospital, soon after learning her husband had died of a heart attack, Mrs. Lee’s heart appeared to give out as well. She experienced sudden sharp pains in her chest, felt faint and went unconscious.

New research shows that dying of a broken heart isn’t just a metaphor. WSJ’s Ron Winslow talks with Simon Constable about studies that show real, and sometimes fatal, changes can occur in the heart after a traumatic breakup or death of a loved one.
When doctors performed an X-ray angiogram expecting to find and treat a blood clot that had caused Mrs. Lee’s symptoms, they were surprised: There wasn’t any evidence of a heart attack. Her coronary arteries were completely clear.

Doctors eventually determined that Mrs. Lee had suffered from broken-heart syndrome, a name given by doctors who observed that it seemed to especially affect patients who had recently lost a spouse or other family member. The mysterious malady mimics heart attacks, but appears to have little connection with coronary artery disease. Instead, it is typically triggered by acute emotion or physical trauma that releases a surge of adrenaline that overwhelms the heart. The effect is to freeze much of the left ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber, disrupting its ability to contract and effectively pump blood.

The phenomenon is a “concussion” of the heart, says Scott Sharkey, a cardiologist at Minneapolis Heart Institute. “It’s really a heart attack which is triggered by stress rather than by a blocked artery,” he says.

Broken-heart syndrome mimics a heart attack and is brought on by acute emotion or physical trauma. Here are some triggers that doctors say prompted patients to suffer the malady.

Emotional stressors:

  • Death of a spouse
  • Patient’s dog caught in a raccoon trap
  • Losing large amount of money in a casino
  • Getting lost while driving in an unsafe neighborhood at night
  • Feeling overwhelmed by new computer software

Physical stressors:

  • Migraine headache
  • Knee surgery
  • Low blood sugar
  • Adverse drug reaction
  • Respiratory distress

For reasons that aren’t fully understood, the problem, formally known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy, afflicts mostly women after menopause. The syndrome is relatively uncommon, accounting for an estimated 1% to 2% of people—and about 6% of women—who are diagnosed with a heart attack. In addition to such common emotions as grief and anger, doctors say broken-heart syndrome has been triggered by a person’s anxiety over making a speech, a migraine headache or the emotional response to a surprise party. It can be fatal on occasion, but for the most part patients recover quickly, with no lasting damage to their hearts.

In a conventional heart attack, an obstructed artery starves the heart muscle of oxygenated blood, quickly resulting in the death of tissue and potentially permanently compromising heart function. In contrast, the heart muscle in broken-heart-syndrome patients is stunned in the adrenaline surge and appears to go into hibernation. Little tissue is lost. “The cells are alive, but mechanically or electrically disabled,” Dr. Sharkey says.

Mrs. Lee’s heart was so weakened by her episode in 2005 that she nearly died. The 63-year-old required a special balloon pump to support her left ventricle during the first couple of days in the hospital. But Mrs. Lee, who runs her own clothing repair business in a Minneapolis suburb, was discharged within five days. Despite cautions by her doctors, she attended her husband’s funeral a few days later. “I was able to work through my grief both positively and spiritually,” she says. “I have no effects of [the heart episode] today.”

Weak Pumping

When patients are hospitalized with broken-heart syndrome, their hearts might be pumping at as little as 20% efficiency, a mark of serious heart failure, says Chet Rihal, a cardiologist and director of the catheterization clinic at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. But within 48 to 72 hours, many recover to the 60% level that is considered healthy. “It’s remarkable how quickly this will occur and how quickly they will recover,” he says.
The phenomenon was first identified in the early 1990s by Japanese researchers, who named the condition “tako-tsubo” cardiomyopathy, because in X-ray images, the left ventricle affected by broken-heart syndrome takes the shape of a vase-like pot used in Japan to trap octopuses.

The first major studies in the U.S.—one from Dr. Sharkey and his colleagues and another by Ilan S. Wittstein and other researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore—appeared within 10 days of each other in 2005.

The researchers say that more than 90% of those affected by broken-heart syndrome are post-menopausal women—possibly because lower levels of the hormone estrogen make heart cells in some women more vulnerable to an adrenaline rush. But some men and younger women have also been diagnosed with the syndrome, complicating the estrogen argument. And just last month German researchers reported an episode in a 2-year-old girl who was undergoing surgery. (Her heart recovered fully.)

In any event, experience at the medical centers in Minnesota and Baltimore suggests that the problem afflicts a small portion of the people who arrive at the emergency room with heart-attack symptoms.

“It’s a small number, but it’s really important to learn how to recognize them,” says Dr. Rihal. “The treatment for these patients is really different” than that prescribed for patients with a conventional heart attack. For one thing, it’s risky to give a clot-buster drug to a patient without an arterial blockage, due to the potential to cause a stroke.
Doctors don’t yet understand the mechanism that causes broken-heart syndrome. Nor are there any established ways to identify people who might be susceptible to the condition or known strategies patients might adopt to reduce their risk.

While doctors use blood-pressure pills such as beta-blockers and ACE-inhibitors to help treat the condition, Dr. Sharkey says that about 20% of patients who suffer an attack of broken-heart syndrome are already on such medications.

“This is so powerful that with currently used doses, we haven’t found a way to block it,” he says. The problem recurs in about 10% of cases.

Triggers for broken-heart syndrome seem as varied as the number of people affected. While death of a spouse or other close family member or friend is a common cause, breakups such as a divorce or separation have also sparked the event, according to a study of 136 patients by Dr. Sharkey and his colleagues published Jan. 26 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

For others, being overwhelmed by new software at work, seeing a poultry barn burn down, or losing money at a casino all have brought the condition on, doctors say.

Nonemotional Triggers

But physical stress can cause a broken heart as well. “The emotional aspects get all the press,” says Dr. Wittstein of Johns Hopkins. “But nonemotional triggers” are at least as common. A sudden drop in blood pressure, an asthma attack, a surgical procedure, an adverse drug reaction and withdrawal from alcohol are among such causes.

Pat Dorn’s trigger, like that of Mrs. Lee, was the health of her husband. She went to awaken him one morning in 2006 and found him in bed lying on his back with his hands crossed over his chest. “I kept slapping his face and calling to him and he didn’t respond,” she recalls. When an ambulance crew arrived, her husband regained consciousness but seemed disoriented; she worried he was having a stroke.

At Mayo Clinic’s St. Mary’s Hospital two hours later, she began suffering chest pains. But she was reluctant to tell anyone because she felt her husband still needed her to help describe his condition to doctors. In addition, the retired college English teacher exercised regularly and doubted she was having a heart attack.

Wrong Diagnosis

When she finally sought help, nurses at the hospital just looked at her and told her she was having a heart attack. An electrocardiogram supported the assessment. But an angiogram didn’t find any blockage and Mayo doctors quickly recognized the tell-tale shape of tako-tsubo shape of her left ventricle that was characteristic of broken-heart syndrome. She spent three days in the hospital and went home the same day as her husband, who recovered from an unusual episode of brain inflammation.

One explanation for broken-heart syndrome may lie in the interaction between adrenaline and heart-muscle cells. Adrenaline causes calcium to rush into heart cells, which is how they contract, Dr. Wittstein explains. Some abnormality in the relationship may result in a calcium overload that stuns the heart.

Researchers are also identifying gene variants that may predispose some people to suffering from the condition, he says.

Another question is why some events with strong emotion affect people while others don’t. One patient in Dr. Wittstein’s research suffered an episode after she entered a dark room and people jumped out to wish her a happy birthday. A year later, her brother died. “You’d think that would be much more stressful, but she didn’t get the syndrome.”

Write to Ron Winslow at the Wall Street Journal

D. Get The Secrets Of A Jewish Mom – NBC Today –http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/36566380/

E. Honey, I Want A Divorce – NBC Today –http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/24761830/ns/today-today_relationships/

F. On Marriage: Let’s Call The Wholel Thing Off – NBC Today –http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/31452178/ns/today-today_relationships/

G. Couple Goes From Divorce To ‘I Do Again’ – NBC Today –http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/28546272/ns/today-today_books/

H. Making Marriage Thrive – LA Times –http://www.latimes.com/theguide/valentines/sc-fam-0429-marriage-longevity-20100429,0,7172113.story

I. 10 Minutes talking Called Marriage Saver – Chicago Tribune – Ms. Nara Schoenberg. http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/tribu/sc-fam-0111-talk-relationship-20110111,0,7502165.story

J. Friendly Fight: A Smarter Way to Say ‘I’m Angry’ – Wall Street Journal – Elizabeth Bernstein –http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704495004576265042570575996.html?KEYWORDS=friendly+fight+a+smarter+way+to+say

K. The Divorce’s Guide to Marriage – Wall Street Journal – Elizabeth Bernstein –http://live.wsj.com/video/strategies-for-a-successful-marriage/52C32419-CCFC-473F-8B4A-944862A82B2E.html?KEYWORDS=elizabeth+Bernstein#!52C32419-CCFC-473F-8B4A-944862A82B2E

 L.  Secrets of Being a Happy Wife – Focus on the Family, written by Fawn Weaver – http://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/strengthening-your-marriage/secrets-of-being-a-happy-wife