|Urocortin-3: A signaling molecule for making friends
||Meeting new people can be both stressful and rewarding. New research suggests that a molecule involved in regulating stress in the brain may also help determine how willing we are to leave the safety of our social group and strike up new relationships.
|Higher-income students have an edge when it comes to working memory
||Researchers have discovered important differences between lower and higher-income children in their ability to use working memory, a key brain function responsible for everything from remembering a phone number to doing math in your head. Using functional MRI to measure and map the brain activity of a group of middle-schoolers, the researchers physically documented that the lower-income students tested had less working memory capacity than their higher-income peers.
|Neurons form synapse clusters
||The contact points of cells in the cerebral cortex form functional groups.
|Does Depression Physically Hurt?
||Over the past couple months, I’ve been suffering from depression. I’m managing, but it takes a mental toll. People aren’t surprised to learn about the mental effects of depression. After … ...
|Effectiveness of treatment for individuals with brain injury or stroke
||New articles explore the effectiveness of several neurorehabilitation treatments for individuals with brain injury or stroke. A number of published articles have covered the issue of efficacy of neurorehabilitation, but only a few have discussed the issue of effectiveness to date.
|People estimate their own abilities based on others' performance
||Ratings of our own abilities are strongly influenced by the performance of others, according to a new study. Interacting with high performers makes us feel more capable in cooperative team settings, but less competent in competitive situations. Moreover, the degree of 'self-other-mergence' is associated with activity in a brain region previously implicated in theory of mind -- the ability to understand the mental states of oneself and others.
|People Who Keep It Real on Facebook Are Less Stressed
||One thing psychologists have been interested in for a long time is the extent to which people put their “true selves” forward vs. projecting “false selves.” With the rise of social media, this question has taken an interesting digital twist. On Facebook, for example, it’s possible to use your account...
|Changes in brain activity after mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in adolescents
||Researchers are studying how cognitive therapy that uses mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, quiet reflection and facilitator-led discussion, may serve as an adjunct to pharmacological treatments for youth with anxiety disorders.
|Don’t Be Afraid, Your Life Has Meaning
||Many years ago I began to first explore the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. At once I experienced powerful feelings of déjà-vu. On the one hand, I felt like I was … ...
|How Couples Misunderstand Each Other
||A heart-breaking experience of counseling couples is seeing good people suffer due to the entirely avoidable illusion of sameness.
|Does Posting Selfies Make You a Narcissist?
||I’ve previously written how posting selfies is not a disorder (no, sorry, selfitis doesn’t exist). Others have even suggested that posting selfies is simple a sign of healthy self-expression. But last year, a few studies were published that linked taking selfies and posting them to … ...
|FDA approves scalpel-free brain surgery for tremor
||The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first focused ultrasound device to treat essential tremor, the most common movement disorder, in patients who do not respond to medication. The scalpel-free approach has been demonstrated to show the safety and effectiveness of the device.
|Thinking inside the box: How our brain puts the world in order
||The world around is complex and changing constantly. To put it in order, we devise categories into which we sort new concepts. To do this we apply different strategies. A team of researchers wanted to find our which areas of the brain regulate these strategies.
|Today I Love Life Renewed
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|10 Signs You Are Married to Someone with a...
||It is hard to remember a time when the marriage was tranquil. Rather, each year brings more drama, intensity, frustration, distance, and hostility. Efforts to improve the situation are temporary and shallow at best. There is something else happening other than poor communication skills. It … ...
|Time Alone Saps the Willpower of People Who Are Neurotic
||For some people, time alone is rejuvenating. New research shows that for neurotic people, just thinking about spending time by themselves can instead undermine their motivation.
|Reading Heals: The Power of Immersion
||Think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive … ...
|The Inner Stan: What Depression Tells Us
||The following is a guest post written by author Tellis K. Coolong: THE INNER STAN There’s a voice in the back of my head. I think it belongs to the … ...
|How to Save Your Marriage from Parenthood
||I became a parent a year and a half ago, and my life changed forever.
When I was pregnant, lots of parents gave me advice (Enjoy going to the grocery store by yourself while you still can! Go out on dates! Clean your house!). One even warned me that becoming a parent would “rock my world.” I thought I understood. I thought I was prepared for the huge change coming. And while I wasn’t unprepared, I really had no idea exactly how life-changing becoming a parent would be.
Now I try to explain to my friends who don’t have children what exactly getting swept into parenthood felt like, and the best I have come up with is this—I had my daughter and she was more wonderful than I could have imagined, and the rest of my life fell into chaos. One of those pieces of my life was my relationship with my husband.
We look at each other and marvel that we used to sit around on the weekend and lament that we did not know what to do with ourselves. Now we would give anything to learn the secret to freezing time. Now we try to hold on as life rushes by. Now I tell my husband we need more time and he agrees but asks, “what time?”
In just a little over a year and a half, our life before baby is becoming a distant memory. Nights cuddled up on the couch together, lazy weekend mornings, and all-day hikes are a thing of the past. I know they’ll be back someday, but I fear in the meantime we might get used to the “new normal” of having very little time together. I worry that the stress of jobs, long commutes, lack of sleep, and the realities of taking care of a sweet little girl who can’t take care of herself yet will do a number on our relationship, and it might have bent into an unrecognizable shape by the time we again find ourselves able to cuddle up on the couch to watch a movie.
I worry about what parenthood might be doing to our relationship because I have spent the past 12 years studying the psychology of relationships and there are countless articles examining “the decline in marital satisfaction during the transition to parenthood.”
There are disagreements about how bad that decline really is, whether it is worse for men or women, and what helps prevent it. And because researchers can’t randomly assign people to have children or not, we can never have the necessary experimental evidence to definitely say that parenthood is bad for marriage. But studies of couples who were followed from before they had children until years after their first child was born (and compared to couples who did not have children) seem to consistently show that for a sizeable portion of couples, having a child is hard on the relationship.
But these studies also show that this hit to your relationship is not an inevitability. There is always variability and some couples in these studies aren’t in a downward trajectory after having their first child. Of course, we all want to know how to be one of these couples. Some of it is not easy to change—having more financial resources, having a planned pregnancy, and having parents who didn’t divorce have all been suggested as protective factors. And of course, prioritizing your relationship and finding time together as a couple is important. But that is easier said than done.
So regardless of your income level or whether you planned your pregnancy, even for those of you who can’t or don’t want to hire a babysitter for regular date nights, here are a few suggestions for how to maintain (or reignite) the spark in your relationship.
1. Prioritize sleep
Easier said than done. But researchers think that one of the reasons the transition to parenthood might be hard on relationships is because that adorable bundle of joy wreaks havoc on your sleep. When you’re low on sleep, you might find yourself feeling more irritable and hostile and reacting more strongly when something bad happens. And my colleague and I found that couples fought more, and were worse at resolving conflict, if either partner had slept poorly the previous night. Even if you are no longer dealing with nighttime wakings, you might still be suffering from a massive sleep debt. After several days of sleep loss, people report not feeling as tired, but they still perform poorly on mental tasks.
I, of course, am bad at prioritizing sleep—it’s hard to leave the dishes unwashed and the living room strewn with toys and sometimes you just want a little bit of me (or we) time at the end of a long day. But even if you are still waking up at night to care for your little one, there are things you can do to prioritize sleep. For example, try giving yourself a bedtime, don’t take your phone or tablet to bed with you, engage in good sleep hygiene so you’re not tossing and turning all night long, and even consider sleeping in a separate bed from your partner at times if you wake each other up. Think about whether there are ways to divide up the night so that you can both get a bit of consolidated sleep.
The bottom line: Everything is easier and better if you’re facing the day fully rested. You’ll be more efficient, get your work done faster, make fewer mistakes, and have more control over your emotions. So rather than stay up to deal with some household, work, or personal problem, get some sleep and see if that problem isn’t easier to solve in the morning. Oh, and forget the old adage “never go to bed angry.” Instead, try “if you’re angry, say I love you and goodnight, and see if it’s still a problem in the morning.”
2. Give each other the benefit of the doubt
Sleepless nights, a crying baby, and all the other demands of parenthood are added on top of everything you were doing before baby came along. Although a joyous time in so many ways, the transition to parenthood can also be incredibly stressful. Stress makes it difficult to be a loving and present partner.
So when your partner snaps at you, forgets to do something you asked them to do, or just isn’t as loving and affectionate as you’d like, rather than getting angry, trying chalking it up to the fact that, like you, he or she is probably sleep-deprived and stressed. Blaming minor relationship issues on external causes like lack of sleep or baby-induced memory loss can help you keep things in perspective, possibly preventing something small from turning into a big, sleep-deprived fight.
Of course, it’s hard to remember to give the benefit of the doubt, especially if you are running low on sleep, so you could try creating a rule for yourself (called an implementation intention). For example, every time you start to feel annoyed at your partner, you could repeat to yourself, “It’s not him, it’s the lack of sleep,” or something along those lines. You could also try to remember the last time you did something similar and remind yourself that you are both going to make a lot of mistakes during this time.
Of course, if you find yourself facing real relationship issues, it’s not healthy to just shrug them aside; there are things you can do to reduce conflict in your relationship. But it is still important to keep a good perspective.
3. Be appreciative
Little time and lots to do may mean you find yourselves taking each other for granted. Who has time to say thank for making dinner when you’re rushing to get the baby ready for bed? Plus, again, that whole not getting enough sleep thing—I have found in my own research that people tend to be less grateful when they aren’t getting enough sleep. But a little gratitude could go a long way.
Research shows that more grateful people are more satisfied with their relationships, and this might be particularly true during transitional times like having a baby. So little things, like recognizing your partner’s efforts, taking a few moments to feel lucky you get to share this chaotic journey together, or reflecting back on how you felt when you met and then expressing those feelings to your partner, might help keep the spark alive.
And if you start expressing your gratitude, you’ll likely find that your partner is more likely to express his or her gratitude as well. And how good would it feel to receive a heartfelt thanks for all those dinners you’ve made or those diapers changes that you thought went unnoticed?
4. Start a new (not time-intensive) hobby together
Research shows that engaging in novel activities together is good for couples, and this might be particularly true during the transition to parenthood when so much of your time is spent focused on things other than your relationships—especially if you find that your old hobbies don’t work well in your new lifestyle.
Sure, we go on walks pushing our daughter in the stroller, but it’s no longer reasonable for us to take day-long hikes up the mountains each weekend or make pancakes and watch a Psych marathon on Saturday morning. Nights out at the movies or late-night dinners are also a thing of the past.
Even if you are able to engage in some of your old hobbies together thanks to a babysitter, it still might be worth finding a new hobby the two of you can start together. A new hobby could bring you together, give you something new to talk about, and provide you with a little bit of fun during a time when the majority of your interactions sans children might feel like business meetings.
Of course, I’m not encouraging you to pick up skydiving (maybe after the last kid leaves for college?). Choose something not too time-intensive that you can easily fit into your new lives. If you both like reading, start a book club with just the two of you or take turns reading a chapter to each other before bed at night. Pick up a new game—I played boggle for the first time in years this summer and thought how easy and fun it would be to play 10 minutes of boggle together a few nights a week. Into food? Find a top-10 list for restaurants in your area and commit to trying one every few weeks and work together to plan out what you’ll eat before you go.
5. Commiserate with each other
When things are at their worst, don’t stew in silence. Remember you are in it together. Even if you’re not sleeping, are snappish, and have no time for appreciation or new hobbies, it might help you feel better about your relationship if you take the time to gripe together.
If you know that your partner is also tired and wishes more than anything he or she could run away to a deserted tropical island with you, you might not feel so alone and frustrated. It’s not that your partner doesn’t care, it’s that she is also struggling with getting through her day and forgets to tell you that she cares.
You could even schedule a weekly gripe session—just five minutes on Friday night to sit down and take turns complaining and commiserating with the other person’s woes could help you stay a “we” rather than turn into a “you” and “me.”
Did you have a hard time in your relationship when you became a parent? Did you find any strategies that worked? How old were your kids when you had time together again?
This article was originally published on Psych Your Mind. Read the original article.
|APA appoints Task Force on Human Rights
||Charged with recommending strategic direction to association