What to do when you hit a wall in your marriage


by Nathan Chua

“It seems like it was only yesterday that we were madly in love in each other’s arms.”  These are the words I can hear in my mind when faced with couples who are locked in endless disagreements.  I often ask myself, “How did they ever get married?” “Did they get married fighting like this?”  They seem to have never gotten along in the first place.  The relationship is in perpetual gridlock.  I don’t see how these two can stay a minute longer in the system.

I must confess, I had been confounded by these marital problems for years.  I have seen some couples come out doing very well after therapy, and some who just can’t get over the hump.  It almost became de rigueur for me to just say that some couples have it, and some simply don’t.  Those that don’t, are trapped in circular arguments in just about anything they start to discuss inside the counseling room.

But is there really a way to unlock the chains that bind them when they land on an issue they will never fully agree on?  I think the answer lies in the metaphor of traffic.  As we live in a metropolis where the threat of being trapped in a monstrous standstill of a sea of poison gas-emitting four-wheeled engine-propelled boxes, we have learned to navigate out of and through them.  What do you do when you stare at the tail end of a traffic jam on a rainy night?  Well, we would normally turn around and seek other roads to take.  If you have an app that tells you where to go, you would likely have avoided such routes.  The app would take you through clear streets that are not prone to sink under black and icky flood waters.

I realized the same is true with marriages. The only way out of the gridlocks, is to circumvent them. Look for other routes that have more manageable traffic conditions. Go back to your early relationship stages where everything was just flowers and chocolates. What I saw in marriages locked in endless cycles of arguments and fighting is that the more couples strive to find compromises in them, the darker and more hopeless the relationship becomes. 

The only way out is to find alternative routes. Are they hard to find? They can be, but it’s not impossible.

Three Steps to Better Anger Management


by Nathan Chua

It could get uncomfortable and uncontrollable. It feels like a tsunami of thoughts that come in and get you amped up to the point of no return. The world feels like it is falling apart and no one is listening. If you are like me, I know you struggle every day when you are confronted with stuff not happening your way. We who have anger management problems, often come from a history of anger outbursts and violence experienced in our early years. Something in the circuitry of our brains, just keeps us from letting our more complex brain functioning, hold us from blurting out the first epithet that comes to mind.

I am quite sure we are all interested in how it is that psychology can help us, or stop us from that next angry episode that we soon regret. Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) has produced certain techniques that could alleviate some of that struggle.

Here are three steps from Dr. Janet Wolfe, who uses REBT to treat clients with anger problems:

Take one long deep breath. If we do a quick search, we will find that relaxation is started with some breathing exercises. Doing this when there is a stimulus that makes us mad, can help slow the flush of emotions.

We have a choice. This is right out of the existentialist playbook. Much of our thoughts can become automatic. When we find ourselves on the verge of exploding in anger, we need to remind ourselves that we may not have a choice on what other people or the environment is doing to us, but we do have a choice on how we react.

Learn to say TS. Third but definitely not the easiest task, is to admit our own impotence. There are certainly more situations that we cannot avoid than those we can. TS stands for “tough s@#%.” We should understand that our humanity limits our capacity to do everything perfectly all the time. Recognizing this about ourselves and others will give us a more forgiving heart. TS anyone?

To end this post, just remember that there is a difference between a lapse and a relapse. Having anger management problems is a lifelong struggle. Count your blessings if you find yourself losing control less often than you have before. Consider that as an improvement and continue to love yourself, warts and all.

Sex Education and One Night Stands