Why makes love last?

Only people who are interested in marriage and in what makes marriage last should read this book. As a marriage and family therapist, I have seen many couples with relationships in trouble. Some couples are able to build on their strengths and maintain their marriage. But too many others have sought a divorce.

Why do some marriages last a lifetime and others end in divorce? In North America today, divorce has become commonplace. Surveys indicate that the average length of most marriages ia about twelve years. So what is the glue that keeps a couple together? Researchers state that similar values, interests, ethnic backgrounds, intellectual capacities, and religious beliefs are the important components of a lasting marriage. Therapists state that caring, commitment, communication, conflict, compromise and cooperation make marriages workable. Lawyers state that marriages fail because of unreal expectations, unmet needs, addiction, physical, sexual or emotional abuse, and lack of communication and conflict resolution skills.

In my personal quest to discover the “ingredients” of a lasting marriage, I decided to invite couples in their first marriage who have been married thirty years of longer to tell their stories. It seemed like a simple plan: to document these stories and glean information from people who managed life’s stresses and transitions and to learn from the experience of an enduring relationship. What you will read in the following chapters is the outcome of this work. the contributors are couples who have shared their personal stories with me by writing them or by telling them to me. I feel honoured to be allowed inside the marriages of these couples and to be trusted to tell their stories.

Each story is a wonderful biography of a marriage, highlighting significant events that placed stress on the relationship. The couples took this opportunity to look at their process of coping, resolving difficulties, and maintaining commitment. All of these couples related a richness of lived experience that I found rewarding and gratifying.

What Makes Love Last?
Being close to another person is the most basic of our psychological needs. Intimacy facilitates confidence and resilience if it includes honesty, self-disclosure, listening, and sharing. Feelings of love and passion may wax and wane during the course of the relationship, but successful couples work each day at renewing and rejuvenating their “good feelings” for each other.

Researcher John Gottman, in Why Marriages Succeed of Fail, states there is trouble when:

Partners do not think fond thoughts about each other when apart
Partners are critical, complain, and blame
Partners store up resentment and contempt
A lasting marriage results from a couple’s ability to deal with stressors and resolve differences. The relationship develops as the partners relate and grow. Each partner learns to give as well as take.

Each person needs to develop skills to “soothe” their partner and themselves. Ask yourself these questions:

What do you want out of this relationship?
What are you willing to put into the relationship?
Can you postpone personal gratification in order to enhance the well being of your partner?

Each of us wants our marriage to last. But marriage is a complex and complicated arrangement. As two people bond in a relationship, they perform a delicate dance of attachment and autonomy. This delicate dance means being close and present while maintaining your individual sense of self.

Therapist Wayne Muller writes: “What we love galvanizes our attention. It forms our life. It forms the soil in which we grow; it is the seed in the ground. We give our hearts to what we love. Our love teaches us what to look for, where to aim, when to walk. With every action, word, relationship, and commitment, we slowly and inevitably become what we love.”

Marriage is a profoundly life shaping state of being. Intimacy nurtures the relationship giving it “heat”. Each partner experiences the other up close, skin close, over a long period of time.

The comedian Sam Levenson says, “love at first sight is easy to understand. It’s when two people have been looking at each other for years that it becomes a miracle.” This is a miracle that grows out of dreams, hopes, and expectations of partners who work at maintaining their love year after year.

Commitment is a necessary ingredient to hold the relationship together while emotional repairs are being made. Disagreement, conflict, and disillusionment evolve from personal differences and these feelings can threaten a marriage. Commitment means that partners are prepared to “stay with it” and honour the obligations and promises made to the marriage.

Consider these commitment promises:

“I want to love you without clutching
Appreciate you without judging
Join you without invading
Invite you without demanding
Have space from you without insulting”

Maintaining obligations and commitment enriches a couple’s relationship. The couples in this book are there for each other “for better or worse.” As you read their stories, reflect on the issues the couples cope with and how you and your partner deal with similar situations and sustain your marriage. In Section I, the Couple Care section, we all address the marital issues people try to avoid discussing: sex, money, and religion. Dixie and Claude relate difficulties they encountered in making their commitment. Dennis and I provide information from our individual areas of specialization; Dennis writes as a financial consultant, while I write as a sex therapist. Delphine and Lloyd share their spiritual beliefs. Section II deals with differences between the partners. Joyce and Graham relate the difficulties of making a mixed racial marriage work. Sonia and George write about how opposites attract and the fascination that follows.

All relationships have stress. In Section III, Betty and John deal with extended family. Anne and Tom describe their busy, dual-career, married life. Myra and Peter share their grief and loss when their daughter is killed in a car accident. Dennis and I relate our sadness and struggle in coping with our son’s diagnosis of schizophrenia. And Mary and Laurie share their acceptance of homosexuality in their family.

Parenting brings both joys and sorrows to a marriage. Section IV features three very different aspects of parenting. Shirley and Paul are unable to conceive and are happy to adopt. After too few years as a family they must prepare to let their children go. Myrna and Bernie conceive out of wedlock and adopt out. After too many years they are reunited with their daughter. Lili and Jack describe their struggle in becoming grandparents and finding a balance in their lives.

The last two chapters bring us to longevity in marriage–past fifty to seventy-five years! For newlyweds, these numbers are hard to fathom. Helen and Frank relate how their marriage is for them in their golden years. I write about the lifelong journey in the marriage of Maria and John. I had the privilege of attending the celebrations for their seventy-fifth anniversary. It was a wonderful milestone for them and their story is truly remarkable.

We all want our love to last forever. The feeling of love is different for each one of us. Some people have high expectations about what a loving relationship can provide. In lasting relationships, each person needs to know their “self” and needs to develop the capacity to love another person.

I realize that lasting relationships are not the exclusive domain of married couples. The focus in this book is on married heterosexual couples, but the ingredients for lasting relationships are relevant for homosexual, bisexual, and common law partners. Everything in life seems to change, but the really important things remain, like love. Love keeps partners together with the caring, understanding, and trust that create a lasting relationship.

5 Beneficial Home Workout Devices

The convenience of working out at home can have many benefits. You can save time and money by utilizing devices within your home to get a great workout. For some, the convenience and versatility of at-home workouts offset any extra costs involved. Avoiding traffic, inclement weather, and the added privacy of your own home can encourage at-home fitness building. See below to begin brainstorming your next fitness project, within walking distance of your next room.

Here are 5 products that can help with your in-home fitness goals:

Treadmills:Your basic standing aerobic machine. Get a high-quality cardio workout without stepping foot outside.
Consider the NordicTrack C1650:This treadmill provides a technologically advanced workout, for a price of $1184. This folding machine maximizes in-home space, while providing a high-intensity, low-impact workout. Stream your favorite shows with the built-in tablet holder, and listen with 2-inch speakers. Personalize your program with built-in workout apps, touchscreen display, and lifetime motor warranty.
https://www.nordictrack.com/treadmills/nordictrack-c1650-treadmill

Rowing Machine:Train your strength and endurance with an indoor rowing machine. Simulating outdoor rowing exercises, this machine will test your cardiovascular, upper body, and lower body strength in one motion. Consider one in your home for a full-body workout.
Sole Fitness SR500 Rowing Machine: see rowing machine doctor

Sixteen level resistance settings. LCD display, fold-away design, and a quiet integrated resistance motion. Wireless adjustment settings. Feel like you are in the middle of an extreme sport in the setting of your own home.
Dumb Bells:
The versatility of free weights can add variety to your workout routine. With free range of motion, you can target different muscle groups for a personalized approach.
Consider this economical option: Fitness Republic Neoprene Dumbell PairsStackable setComfort-grip NeopreneCast Iron interior
https://www.amazon.com/Fitness-Republic-Neoprene-Dumbbell-Pairs/dp/B015OJ4ZF2

Massage chair:
You may not need much encouragement to invest in a massage chair. Arguably the most enjoyable device on this list, there are benefits to regular massage therapy. Post workout massage can help speed recovery time, and increase range of motion. (healthfitnessmag.com)
Human Touch Whole Body® massage chairs:From $999.99: http://www.humantouch.com/wholebody.html
Enjoy the reclining massage of a Human Touch Whole Body® massage chair, while relaxing, watching tv, or spending time with family. The Human Touch chairs blend in with luxury furniture, while providing advanced features of a therapeutic massage. For  selecting the best massage chair visit the massage adviser

Inversion Table:

Inversion tables have been shown to provide benefits to many users. This table elongates the spine, while taking pressure off of the lower back. This can help relieve lower back pain, and improve circulation. See a further list of benefits at: http://sunflower-press.com/benefits-inversion-table-therapy/
Check out:IronMan Gravity 4000Extra-wide steel frame3 Adjustable anglesMemory Foam vinyl$199 walmart.com
Inversion tables are not recommended for those with high blood pressure, or heart disease due to the increased blood pressure when inverted. Though some effects are temporary, evidence shows that with increased use in addition to other treatment plans can potentially lead to lasting benefits. (mayoclinic.org)
This is a summary of the 5 versatile, at-home workout devices. Include your own, and expand your at-home gym. Enjoy the customization, freedom, and added flexibility of working out in your space, and on your schedule.Add these 5 devices to your home-workout repertoire, and you are all set to look and feel your best without stepping foot outside.

Top Tips for Staying on the Bandwagon

Over my many years of attempting to eat well and then being dissuaded by too many carbs, sugars, and junk food, I have learned a few tips and tricks that work for me personally to stick to the good eating patterns.  Nowadays I refer to caveman template eating as the bomb diggity, therefore these tips are geared more so in that direction, though whatever your dietary style of choice these will likely still apply:

1. Start off right…. with MEAT

The number one mistake one can make is to eat something bad right off the bat.  Hello, my father has worked for Hershey’s for 15 years, I know how to eat chocolate for breakfast, and I tell you it doesn’t end well.  The entire day becomes a blood sugar roller coaster.  Don’t do it folks, just don’t do it.  Plan to have an awesome breakfast each and every morning that falls in line with your principles.  Whether it’s a fruit platter, an omelette, some nuts and seeds, or even jerk chicken (one of my favourite breakfasts for some sick reason).  Beef stew is another good one on winter mornings.  Starting the day with protein of the animal variety is your best bet.  Nix the carbs if you can, even the whole-grain cereals.  They still beat cap’n crunch no doubt, but I preach caveman eating whenever possible and even whole grain carbs are still awkward on the system.

2. Make yourself eat all your veggies (and fruits) FIRST

So you want to eat a big chunk of cake?  Save it for day’s end after you’ve ensured getting in your ten servings of fruits and veggies, and preferably after eating a hunk of meat.  You’ll feel far more balanced and thus less likely to over-indulge.  When you meet all your micronutrient requirements from the fruits and veg and go in with balanced blood sugar thanks to the meat, it’s a recipe for success, and the cake can be your prize.  Though you can also see #4 and make that cake paleo-friendly.

3. Plan

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  Story of my Life.  Plan out your meals for the week and have everything you need on hand.  Or else you might end up in the Tim Horton’s line up at the hospital for lunch.  Again.

4. Make a paleo-friendly dessert

Once a week I try to make a grain-free, delicious dessert to have on hand where I just don’t care about the sugar content and ensure it comes from honey, agave, or fruits / dates.  Yes agave nectar is now the devil in some circles but it’s still better than any boxed atrocity in the baked goods aisle.

5. Have paleo-friendly snacks on hand

Trail mix, nuts and seeds, hand fruits, and even hand veggies (carrots, bell peppers, baby cukes) all make for great grab n go snacks.  I also like saurkraut, junk-free pickles, salsa and organic tortilla chips (no GMO corn!), and treats by Elana.

6. Fast….

You won’t hear me say this often but sometimes I need a good reset.  If I fast for up to a day on just water, my body stops wanting crappy carbs and I can sit down to a satisfying meal of veggies and meat and be just fine with that.

7. Have a cheat meal or day

If you subscribe to a 100% approach to anything, it no doubt at some point becomes near impossible.  It’s not often worth it to me to skip out on dessert at a friend’s birthday or the like, and so I give myself an allowance of how often I can have something that strays from my principles.  80/20 living, we like to call it.

Good Day and Good Luck!

Maple Butter

Maple butter is quite possibly my version of crack. It is highly addictive and highly delicious. My Great Aunt Irene makes the stuff each year for us at Christmas and I was also lucky enough to snag a jar from her more recent visit about a month ago.

As a super simple gift to others or truly for yourself, maple butter is easy to make. The only issue is that it’s costly, because it’s only two ingredients – butter and real maple syrup – are themselves quite expesnive. If you want to up the paleo ante, or the healthy ante in general, go for organic maple syrup and grass-fed butter, which will have a higher amount of CLA in it – this helps you burn body fat.

No matter which way you cut it this is still just sugar and fat so don’t go overboard. I know it’s hard not to! One of our fave ways to eat it on Christmas morning is spreading it over bread or a baguette and toasting it in the toaster oven for a minute or two, until the maple butter becomes ONE with the bread and exudes its awesomeness!

Make Maple Butter taken from here:

1/2C softened butter
1/4 C maple syrup
Mix with an electric mixer until blended. My Aunt Irene’s version is done over the stove top, melting the butter and then adding the maple syrup. Both will work!

Event City

This is a taste of what I’ve been getting into the past few weeks:

Where Do I Go From Here? NMSA Alumni Event

This was the first time I came to CCNM that week – on a Wednesday night for a 1.5 hour presentation with several NDs including research intern Chris Habib, Carol Morley, Daniel Lander, and Kavita Sharma. Afterwards was a delightful wine and cheese (iced tea for me) where we could mingle with the Alumni, of whom I got to speak with Carol Morley of Mississauga’s Zawada health clinic in the Square One area. I initially didn’t want to go but was glad that I did. All of these doctors offered unique viewpoints that I appreciated hearing. I have to say, though, that I was overall disappointed with the lack of a very strong business sense. Carol Morley showed a great example, but I know from her talk that she set out and did it all on her own. Respectable, however we now have the HEROs/HBBH series across North America – taught by a businness coach AND an ND, which helps to prepare us before graduation. The one message I kept hearing from this event was to focus on being a student during school, and only worry about the business after you graduate. This is quite possibly the worst piece of advice I’d ever follow or recommend. Please, don’t do it. If you talk the HEROs series, you will – you NEED – to be making $100K in your first year and $300K by your 3rd. You’ll be hard-pressed to find many NDs that make this much, because hardly any of them have business training. With a business background, you have no choice but to make this much. Or Andy will kill you. (Most NDs are making 30-50K even 5-years into practice. Mark my words I will be making $500,000 by my fifth year by myself alone and my clinic will be generating $1 Million thereafter from the other practitioners. If you want financial success, PLAN FOR IT! Don’t just dream it or think it, TAKE THE STEPS TO MAKE IT HAPPEN!)

The Body Monologues

As part of women’s health week at CCNM, the event The Body Monologues was put on again this year in which women discussed their experience of their bodies. The overwhelming theme that kept surfacing was a self-hate towards the body that would be, fortunately, eventually overcome. It makes me wonder if this is a North American theme or does it apply world wide? Do you think our paleolithic ancestors hated their bodies? It’s sad what our relationship with our body has come to, but yet important to highlight body image issues as we all have them.

Reiki Level 1

I am now a Level-1 Reiki practitioner thanks to the Energy Medicine Club at school and my friend Jorge who taught us all. I’m interested to learn more, try it more, and get a little deeper. If nothing else, simply lying on a table for 20 minutes is immensely relaxing. I want to get deeper into the energetics of it, but I’m not sure how this will stream into the future patients I work with. Some things I do for my future patients; some things I do for me.

Administration/Accounting Weekend

My second time taking this course from the HEROs/HBBH series with Andy and this time my Mom. I found it made a lot more sense the second time around and I was actually getting excited about running my own business from the number-crunching perspective. Excited!! Numbers nerd, that is me. I will wear many hats: doctor, clinic director, number cruncher, you name it. I want it ALL baby.

Body Lovin’ on a Sunday

My mom and I skipped the second day of the weekend course (frankly, I was fried anyways) and went to Body Blitz for a good soak followed by Fresh. I then spent a few hours perusing Queen West before heading home to work on a terribly long Physical Clinical Diagnosis assignment and rip my hair out!

Sexuality and Spirituality Seminar

This event was put on by Erin Bentley who holds a Masters and future PhD in sociology. The topic of the talk was, can we be both spiritual and sexual? The message came down to this: sexuality is a part of being human, and if we – especially health care practitioners – want to sit here and claim we’re ‘wholistic’ then sexuality undoubtedly has to be taken into consideration with that, and that because it is part of our wholeness it does indeed feed into our spirituality. This tiny paragraph can barely do it justice so if the topic piques your curiosity I highly recommend getting out to see this talk in the future. It spurred some interesting discussion and went entirely against the Vipassana principle to avoid sex (while on the retreat, at least). It feels more in line with my own thoughts, though. Repression of sexuality in pursuit of spirituality just doesn’t make sense to me or for me.

Breast Exam

We’re finally finishing up our physical exams class, and we got to do the breast exam on standardized patients. Let me tell you how much more thorough this version is than the wham-bam-thank-you-m’am approach of my MD. I don’t know how on earth she’d ever pick up a lump in the 10 second exams she gives me. See an ND!! Self exams catch lumps at 1cm, exams by your doctor catch them at 2cm if you see them every 6 – 12 months. If you do neither, a mammogram might be the one to catch it and how big will it be then? 3cm? More? I’d rather not risk it.

Gynecological Exam

While we don’t get to do the full gyne exam this year (I’ve already performed one as part of my gyne model training, though) we did do the run-through, and it’s quite the language-sensitive exam. There’s a lot more going on and a lot more to do with this 3-part exam, versus the upcoming male genitalia and digitial rectal exam we do over the next few weeks.

The Paper Monster

Yet another HEROs/HBBH module with Andy and my mum, this course really teaches you how to organize all of your files and paperwork in your clinic so that your audit trail is right on. If you do get audited, it should only take one hour, because you will be so darned organized (and legal in how you do your taxes! – Take the Admin/Accounting weekend) that you’ll be set. Don’t mess around folks, it isn’t worth it. If you take no other course take the Admin/Accounting and Paper Monster course. Anybody who is a doctor needs this course, whether you work alone or as an associate. You will NOT be someone’s employee unless you work for a nutraceutical company. Even as an associate you need to do your own taxes. Word.

Paleo Stock-Up

Read about my epic grocery trip here. $200 later (that’s 4 weeks of normal grocery money) I am prepared for paleo. Booyah!

Dinner with Dom

My friend Dom, he’s quite the dude. I call him the modern-day renaissance man because he somehow does it all and he’s also a crazy jet-setter, who found himself in the GTA for a day and texting me to see if I was game for dinner. Heck yes I was – and we headed to Live Organic Foodbar where I ate so much raw deliciousness.