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Friday, June 12, 2009

Philosophy Friday - Treating Depression

We believe that depression is curable and when treated properly can improve an ailing marriage relationship. We know this first hand. Both of have suffered from severe depression at different stages of our relationship. At our worst point in our relationship, we were both dealing with it at the same time. Neither of us wish to go back to those dark days.

The best proven treatment of severe depression is a combination of medication and therapy. We will talk briefly about both. The most widely used class of medication used effectively for depression is Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac, Zoloft, or Paxil. These medications do not alter brain chemistry or change a person's personality. The best way to explain how they work is plugging up a hole in a bucket. In major depression naturally produced serotonin which is responsible for the sensation of happiness, drains too quickly. SSRIs stop this draining from occurring too quickly. It takes anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks for the medications to take effect. If they don't make a difference after that time, then it wasn't really depression. While this class of medications is newer, they are relatively safe when administered by a doctor. In fact more deaths are attributed to aspirin each year than with all SSRI medications combined.

The most commonly used therapy for depression is cognitive therapy. The basis of cognitive therapy is that thoughts lead to emotions. Discovery reoccurring patterns of thoughtsthat lead to depression and reframing them in a positive but true format is the goal of cognitive therapy. It is both paradoxically as simple and as difficult as thinking your way to wholeness again. However, those suffering from depression need a kind outside perspective to guide them on this journey. For those suffering from mild depression may be able to turn things around on their own maybe with some self help books. However, severe depression rarely gets better on their own and it isn't unheard of to suffer from it for years or even decades when untreated.

Therefore, our message today is that sometimes, the most effective way to help a suffering marriage is to first treat a suffering soul. If you are one of those suffering in such a way, please consider seeking treatment.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Philosphy Friday - What Did Your Spouse Mean?

We believe it is important to not assume that you understand what your spouse is thinking. You have spent a lot of intimate time with your wife or husband. It is really easy to make assumptions that you already know why your spouse did or said something. However, life is never so simple as we try to make it in our minds. It is important to take the time to check in and make sure your perception of a situation is correct. The following cartoon helps illustrate this point.
In this comic strip we see a woman trying to help Bernie. But what exactly is she trying to help him do? Is she trying to help him to get eaten by the shark? Straightening out his leg will put his leg closer to the shark's mouth. Those that tend to ascribe the evil motivations to others will likely assume that she really wants to see Bernie get hurt and possibly killed in this situation. Then again this woman may genuinely be trying to help Bernie swim quicker to shore. She may have absolutely no comprehension that by straightening his legs, Bernie is in greater danger. In fact just the opposite, she may think that she is really helping him get safely back to shore.

So what assumptions have you been making with your spouse? Is it possible that some of the problems that you are experiencing in your marriage are based on false assumptions? Maybe not, but if there is any doubt, take the time to check in with your spouse. Ask them. Make sure you understand their perspective and be willing to admit to yourself that you might be wrong. Your marriage may benefit greatly from being willing to do this regularly.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tuesday Tip - 02-03-2009

Have you ever heard of secondary and primary emotions? A secondary emotion occurs because another emotion caused it. Anger is almost always a secondary emotion. Primary emotions that typically cause anger are fear, embarrassment, or depression. Lets look at a real life example to illustrate this further.

A wife is angry that her husband and children messed up the house while she was out. All she sees and thinks about is being angry. She has no clue what has really caused the anger, unless she takes some time to think about it. (Which reminds me of this phrase: You can't be angry when you are thinking and you can't be thinking when you are angry). She may be embarrassed to have a messy house. Or she may feel threatened because she knows that it will cost her time and energy to clean up. Or it may overwhelm her as she sees cleaning up as one more thing on her to do list.

Normally when someone expresses anger, usually others shut down and don't listen. Anger separates people. However talking about primary emotions brings people together. If she would say "I am overwhelmed when I see that I have more work to do" instead of letting off an angry tirade, the chances are greater that her husband and children will connect with her and work to solve the issue instead of shutting down.

So take some time and try to identify your primary emotion and not just react.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Our Story - Part Four

Mark - The Young Single Adult program really sustained me during the really early days of my membership in the church. It is where I really poured out all my time and energy outside of school. I went to Institute every week. Then I went to the Stake's Young Single adult dance each month. I loved every second of it.

I remember talking to one woman in my ward about Young Single Adults and how important it was to me. She was genuinely happy for me. However, she had wished that her own daughter had found as much excitement in Young Single Adults. Unfortunately, her daughter had fallen away from activity in the Church. It was hard for me as a new convert to understand why anyone would walk away from something as great as the Church and the Gospel. I had a new mission; to try to get the inactive Young Single Adults back into activity.

I began to become well known among the stake's Young Single Adults as a real go-getter and motivator type of person. I wanted the Young Single Adults who were active to stay active and to try to invite those that had fallen away to come back. And remember all of this came from a very shy, introvert kind of guy. Why did I put myself out there so much? Well first of all, I did believe that it was important to help fellow Young Single Adults but more than that, I really, really wanted to find my wife. She was out there somewhere and I never knew when or how I might run across her.

Julie - Von and I had been dating for awhile. However, nothing seemed to be progressing in our relationship. He really seemed like he was indecisive. And for a guy who was older than me, he seemed immature.

As Christmas approached, Von told me that he couldn't afford to get me a Christmas present. So instead, he made dinner for me at his place and we went for a drive to look at Christmas lights. It was so sweet and I really appreciated that he did something so personal for me.

Latter that holiday season, my family had a get together to exchange Christmas presents. Von came over to be a part of the festivities. I had bought him several new ties that he had really wanted. My younger sister and her husband had also gotten him a gift. We were all having fun exchanging gifts when Von said that he had a gift for me as well. He brought out a small box wrapped in Christmas paper. I was surprised since he had told me that he couldn't afford a gift.

I took the box. It didn't look like a ring box but maybe it was some other piece of jewelry. I couldn't wait to open it and find out. Imagine my surprise when I opened the box and found a charcoal briquette in tissue. Wait a minute...a charcoal briquette? A lump of coal???? What was this guy thinking? All of my family was a little stunned. Von thought it was a wonderful practical joke and did some awkward laughing. I on the other hand began to really start questioning our relationship.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesday Tip - 01-20-2009

Every marriage needs intimacy. You are responsible for creating half the intimacy within your relationship. The way that you do this is to remember what "in-to-me-see" means. It is nothing more than opening up the door or window to the wall that you have up to protect you from the rest of the world. Your spouse must see and understand what goes on inside your head and heart. You must take the risk of opening up. The reward for taking this risk is finding someone who will accept you (possibly all of you). It can be scary at first if you are not use to doing this but it can be exhilarating once you get through it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Our Story - Part 3

Mark - The missionary discussions went well, however I continued to be an unusual investigator. I had no trouble accepting most parts of the Gospel as it was presented to me. I struggled only on two points. I accepted Joseph Smith as a prophet (who else would have translated such an amazing set of scripture as the Book of Mormon). Yet I didn't accept that there was a modern-day prophet. Why? Well as it was explained to me, it sounded like there was a dictator that was in charge of the Church and everyone blindly followed him. I was assured that I could read and hear what he said and decide for myself if it was true. That sounded good.

Then in what was probably the most comical moment, I told the missionaries that I wasn't sure that I had a testimony. They kind of laughed and shared with me my own words that I had said to them when I first met them. They also reminded me of the prayers I had made to know the truth and the impressions I had had afterwards. There was nothing left for me to do other than to set a date for my baptism.

That day came on November 13, 1993. I was only nineteen years old at the time. I went to my baptism having no doubts or regrets at all. I knew what I was doing. It felt like it was what I had been looking for my entire life. I was so energized with new feelings that immediately after my baptism, I turned to the Elder that had baptized me and asked him it would be alright if I gave my testimony. I got that familiar amazed stare from him as he said "sure, why not?". After my confirmation, I shared with everyone what was in my heart. It was amazing even to me. But the gifts that Heavenly Father would have for me would not end there.

Afterwards, I was standing to the side shaking hands with everyone. One hand shake in particular made an immediate impact on me. It was electric in fact. I stared into the eyes of the young woman who stood before me. Something was strange, very wonderful but strange about those eyes. I never wanted to let go of her hand. I thought to myself, "Don't let go. Please don't let go", over and over. I think she finally pulled her hand away after an awkwardly long time. I tried to make sense of what happened. I thought to myself, "Was she someone I was to date?" I quickly dismissed the thought. After all she had her boyfriend standing right next to her. I felt foolish for having such a thought and dismissed the whole experience as just some strange event.

Julie - Dating Von was wonderful but confusing. It seemed like we were always spending time together and always on the phone with each other. I would go over to his apartment and cook him dinner. And he would help me with writing my college papers on his computer. At the same time though, he would say that we weren't "in a relationship". But for me actions were louder than words and certainly felt like we were in one. Why else would we hold hands and continue to spend so much time together?

One of my callings at Church during this time was to prepare the Sunday Bulletin and also make programs for baptisms if someone asked. The missionaries called to say that there was going to be a baptism and asked if I could put together a program? They also wanted to know if the Young Single Adults would come to the baptism to support the new convert as he was a young adult as well. They said that he would appreciate being welcomed to the ward and being invited to some Young Single Adult activities.

I told the missionaries that I'd be happy to do that and was given all the important information. I talked to Von and the other Young Single Adults and we all agreed to go to the baptism and show our support. We even decided afterwards, to have a little welcome party at one of the other young adult's house to watch videos and hang out.

Von and I went to the baptism together. I had never met Mark before. I was surprised by how young he looked. I thought to myself "This guy couldn't be over twelve years old" (or so he looked to me). You could really feel the Spirit during the baptism. After Mark was confirmed, everyone was a little shocked when he got up and bore his testimony. He sounded like he had been a member of the Church for years. This guy was just a little bit different.

When the baptism was over, I went up to congratulate Mark and let him know about the Young Single Adult activity. When we went to shake hands, it was like someone had hit me with a bolt of electricity. I can't remember what we talked about as I stood there looking into his eyes. I can remember thinking "would you let go of my hand" and hearing a voice in my head saying "don't let go, please don't let go". This was so confusing. What was Heavenly Father trying to tell me? I already had a boyfriend.