Book Review: Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough

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How funny to be reviewing Lori Gottlieb’s book: Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough the day after posting this article on avoiding affairs.  I’m sure there is some deep-seated psychological meaning behind that.  Instead of focusing on my psyche, however, I will turn my attention to Ms. Gottlieb’s book.  Here goes:

I want to start by saying that I consider Ms. Gottlieb a colleague after working with her on this article in the New York Times about therapists and marketing.  In addition to being a fine author and journalist, she is also a therapist herself.  She recently told me that she particularly enjoys working with couples.  Check out her site here.

As for the book, apparently it made a splash when it was released a couple of years ago.  And it isn’t hard to tell why: the title is quite an attention grabber.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure the title is consistent with the book, as it isn’t actually about “settling” – as in marrying someone you don’t like, find irritating, or aren’t attracted to.  Instead, it’s a fun-to-read description on Ms. Gottlieb’s own journey in the dating world.

In the book, Ms. Gottlieb is candid about what it’s like to date in all ages and stages of life (with kids and without, never married and divorced, as a 20-something, and as a 40-something).  As someone who married young, it was a real eye-opener for me to read about the realities of the dating pool past college.  I particularly enjoyed the commentary made by some of the older women she interviewed.  Reading their perspectives on what women experience, put up with, and expect now – versus when they were dating – is one of the highlights of the book.

I did find myself feeling frustrated by the entitled attitude of some of the younger women included in the book.  These are women who expect perfection, devotion, loyalty, and passion from the men they are interested in – yet seem to have no appreciation for what they should, do, or can bring to the relationship.  Fairness, equality and compromise don’t seem to be concepts these women understand.  No wonder their relationships don’t ever seem to work out.

For added perspective, I had my mom read the book.  Here are some of her comments:

In regards to having an attitude of entitlement in romantic partners:

I devoured the book even though I didn’t personally relate to it at all.  I am always shocked at how entitled some people think they are – it must be a difficult way to live life because it seems it would be challenging to maintain friendships, jobs, and relationships when all you can focus on is “what’s in it for me”.

In regards to making a list of desirable qualities in a mate (something Ms. Gottlieb does in the beginning of the book):

I can’t imagine making a list of “wants” in a husband and actually sticking to it.  It’s a good idea to list life goals, vacations you want to go on, clothes you need, etc. – putting those constraints on a human being is beyond my comprehension.  Besides, when you meet a person as a potential husband – that person will likely be quite different after several years of marriage.  The book was fascinating reading.

After finishing the book, I was left with a desire to make a list of my own.  Not of the qualities I would want in a mate, but the qualities that might make me a good mate myself.  I wonder which would be longer?

Thanks, Lori Gottlieb, for introducing me to your book! Click here to buy Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough.


Party with Produce for Kids

I am so lucky to be involved with Produce for Kids – a wonderful organization that promotes healthy eating for kids and families. If you haven’t seen their site, check it out! There are lots of easy, healthy recipes and other information that is super useful for busy families.

This month they will be holding a Twitter Party on March 14th.  The party will be hosted by blogger, mom and registered dietician Estela Schnelle – author of The Weekly Bite and fellow Parents on Produce Board Member.  The party is sponsored by Earthbound Farm.  Check it out!

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Why the Holidays Are Tough

I hate to be bah-humbug about it, but the holidays suck are tough.  Every year around this time my mood fluctuates like crazy, and I can tell the people around me are feeling the same way.  I’ve written about holiday stress many times before, but this year I really tried to stop and think about WHY the holidays are so hard for so many of us.  Beyond offering tips for coping with holiday turmoil, here’s my best guess as to why this season can stink (to put it mildly):


Perhaps in the “good old days” the holiday season meant spending time with loved ones and enjoying the meaning of the season (whatever the meaning might have been).  But these days, it feels like it has become the season of measuring up:

  • Do you have enough money to by your sweetie the diamonds, luxury cars, and furs shown on TV ads?
  • Have you decorated your house with hand-dyed partridge feathers and spiced citrus?
  • Do have a perpetually-smiling brood of 4 or 5 who love to play Parcheesi and giggle while sipping on homemade cider?


Well, guess what? Me neither.  And I am here to tell you that no one measures up to those kinds of standards.  Not even Ms. Martha Stewart herself would come out on top with the above as goals.  So, let’s put an end to this measuring-up, and deal with ourselves, our family, our friends, and our finances for who and what they are: imperfect.  I propose that we simply do our best to get through this month with our mental health intact.  Happy Holidays!

Post-Election Stress Disorder

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a couple posts on Pre-Election Stress Disorder.  What started out as a sort of tongue-in-cheek post ended up as one of my most popular, and even led to a radio interview on WHYY FM in Philadelphia.  When I was contacted yesterday by a reporter for comments about POST-Election Stress, I figured I should write something about that, too!  Here goes:

There can be several reasons for feeling stressed, sad, or just plain overwhelmed after the election.  Some would argue that the protracted election brought out some of the worst of our country (nasty ads, downright lies, unproductive and sometimes ugly debates).  This alone can be reason to feel disappointment and anger at the process and the players involved.

Of course one can also feel stressed and angered about the outcome of the election.  And let’s not forget that the position of the President wasn’t the only one for which we were voting.  Representatives at all levels were chosen last night, as were local ballot measures affecting how our communities operate.  It can be easy to forget – with all of Obama and Romney’s hoopla – that folks might be struggling with the outcomes of these “smaller” ballot questions too.  (I for one have very strong feelings about the legalization of a certain fringy-leafed plant in my state – but the reasons for that are for another post).

So how can we cope with our disappointment, stress, anger, or fear?

Keep on Keeping on.  Most of us have some pretty good stress management strategies on board already.  Whether it’s walking, talking to a trusted friend, playing cribbage, doing yoga, reading, or praying – most of us can cite at least one thing that we are already doing that helps manage stress.  Trouble is, when stress hits, we sometimes abandon these good coping tools – just when we need them most!  Today is the perfect day to carve out a few minutes to practice the stress management skills you already have.

Take a Step Back.  The cool thing about this country is that it keeps on ticking no matter who is in charge.  You may be able to point to great presidents and not so great ones, but the fact is: times marches on.  Instead of focusing on today, try taking a longer view of both our history and our future.  Putting things in perspective can be a highly effective way to manage stress in the here and now.

Do Something.  As I mentioned in my post about Pre-Election Stress Disorder, there are lots of things we can do to affect political change in our country (and what an awesome thing that is!).  These include things like: volunteering for a political campaign, donating money to a candidate or cause, or running for office yourself.  Doing something productive and worthwhile (this does NOT include posting nasty messages on Facebook, etc) can again be a super antidote to feelings of stress, anger, and anxiety.

Turn it Off.  The election is over, we know the results, they are not going to change.  The media continues to talk about it, analyze it, and second guess it because they have to – they have lots of airtime to fill.  The good news is, you don’t have to watch it!  Re-hashing the nitty gritty of the election isn’t good for anyone – especially if you are unhappy with the outcome.  So turn off your TV, radio, and political websites and get out and do something fun!

*Disclaimer: I made up Post-Election Stress Disorder – it is not a real psychiatric diagnosis.  However, the stress, worry, and anxiety that folks feel around this time every 4 years is very real.  If worry and anxiety about this (or other) issues are negatively affecting you, please contact your health care provider.



Depression, Pregnancy, and Psychotherapy

A  study in the journal Human Reproduction recently concluded the following:

Antidepressant use during pregnancy is associated with increased risks of miscarriage, birth defects, preterm birth, newborn behavioral syndrome, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn and possible longer term neurobehavioral effects. There is no evidence of improved pregnancy outcomes with antidepressant use.

This is an important study for several reasons:

  • Pregnant moms who are depressed can be at risk for not taking care of themselves or their unborn baby (not eating well, not taking prenatal vitamins, not going to OB visits).
  • Moms whose depression is not well managed during pregnancy are at a greater risk of developing postpartum depression
  • Moms who are depressed risk other physical and mental health problems
  • As most families know, mom’s mental health and mood has an impact on everyone else in the family

So what do the results of this study really tell us?  Antidepressant use during pregnancy needs to be evaluated carefully.  But to me (as a psychologist, of course) the more important conclusion of this study is this statement right here:

There is some evidence that psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy as well as physical exercise, is associated with significant decreases in depressive symptoms in the general population; research indicates that some forms of counseling are effective in treating depressive symptoms in infertile women.

In fact, psychotherapy can be highly effective for many mood disorders, including for depression before, during, after pregnancy.  This is great news because, unlike medication, psychotherapy has few (some would say zero) side effects.  An effective and safe treatment option for moms and their families – now that is an important conclusion.

Fore more information about finding and visiting a psychologist, go here.



Maintaining Mental Health in a Natural Disaster

Photo: Getty Images

By now we’ve all seen the amazing, horrifying images of the damage Hurricane Sandy inflicted on the East Coast.  And I would imagine the suffering, struggle, and emotional fallout will continue long after the media moves on to more “interesting” things in the days and weeks ahead.  My colleague, Dr. Elaine Ducharme wrote a great article about how to cope with the hurricane on the American Psychological Association’s blog, Your Mind. Your Body.  Her tips – especially the ones about getting the facts and talking to your kids – are especially helpful. Check it out here.

I also really liked the post by CNN’s The Chart about some of the nuts and bolts about living through a storm and subsequent flooding.  I didn’t realize how dangerous floods can be after the water recedes.  Check it out here.

This article on ABC about how to help hurricane victims was excellent.  I love how they reviewed several organizations, how to contact them, and how the money donated actually helps people.  Did you know over one hundred blood drives were cancelled because of the storm? Wow.  Check it out here.

For more information about managing stress and trauma after this hurricane or other natural disasters, check out the resources over at the American Psychological Association.

Pre-Election Stress Disorder: Do You Have It?

Who us? Causing you stress?

Dr. Stephanie is now on Facebook – check it out!

Does anyone else feel completely overwhelmed by the election?  I don’t care what your party affiliation, presidential elections (and their accompanying nastiness) can be a huge source of stress for many people.  Even if you aren’t involved in a campaign, it’s tough to get a break from the candidates’ ads on TV, postcards in the mail, talk on the radio, and posts in the blogosphere.  Commentators’ rhetoric and opinions are often enough to push me right over the edge.  Does the same thing happen to you?  Do you have PESD?

What is Pre-Election Stress Disorder*?

  • Underlying or overt feelings of worry or anxiety when exposed to campaign coverage
  • Preoccupation with the political campaign and coverage/inability or difficulty turning off coverage of the election
  • Feelings of fatigue surrounding political talk/un-heathy lack of interest in the election (i.e., becoming so frustrated you no longer want to vote)
  • Disappointment, disgust, or depression surrounding either: 1) The state of our country 2) The integrity of our people 3) Your own future
  • Desire to spend the next two weeks in a foreign country with earplugs and a sleeping mask on

Any of these things sounds like you?  Well, you might have PESD! Tune in tomorrow and I will give you some tips for coping.

*Disclaimer: I made up Pre-Election Stress Disorder – it is not a real psychiatric diagnosis.  However, the stress, worry, and anxiety that folks feel around this time every 4 years is very real.  If worry and anxiety about this (or other) issues are negatively affecting you, please contact your health care provider.


Can Casseroles = Happiness?

I attended a potluck dinner a few weeks ago.  After looking around at the many and varied casseroles in attendance, a friend of mine said: “I don’t eat them very much, but it’s true: Casseroles = Happiness.”

I laughed and thought this was cute.  Then I thought about it more, and decided that perhaps a good casserole CAN really contribute to mental health.  How, you ask?

  • While not good for the waistline, the cheesy, goopy goodness just feels good in the mouth and the belly. Yum.
  • They can provide a complete, easy meal for a family or group with minimal muss or fuss.  They are the perfect food for a busy family, couple, or single person. Ease, organization, and tastiness surely contribute to mental health in a positive way.


  • Kids like cream of mushroom soup.  While a little strange and unhealthy, this popular casserole ingredient insures that even the pickiest of picky eaters enjoy the meal.
  •  Perhaps the way casseroles can make the most impact is when they are shared.  A new baby, an illness, a move, a job loss – all are occasions for casserole-giving.  Who knew such a small gesture could create such comfort and joy?

Looking for some good casserole recipes?  Check out some of my favorite food sites:

Produce for Kids

Six Sisters’ Stuff

Weekly Bite


Book Review: Slouching Toward Adulthood

I recently read Slouching Toward Adulthood, by Sally Koslow after hearing an interview with the author on the radio.  It seemed like an interesting topic – Generation Y’s reluctance to embrace adulthood and their effect on the culture, job market, and their Baby Boomer parents.  While I am neither a Boomer nor a Gen Y’er, I certainly know lots of people in those demographics, and am aware of the massive influence these groups have on our society at large.

Here’s the thing: I couldn’t make it though the book because it was so darn depressing! Maybe not everyone would find it so, but I sure did.  The mentality of entitlement in Gen Y of which the author writes is tough to take, and the self-important attitude she describes in Boomers became nauseating.  Obviously not every person in these generations falls within these stereotypes, but the thought that even a few might was too much for me to read about after a while.

We all know that the Baby Boomers have changed the world with every step in their development (hippies to yuppies to active retirees).  So it makes sense that their kids would follow a novel path, too.  Besides, what adultescent (as Koslow calls them) would want to leave parents who have supported them emotionally, financially, and otherwise everyday of their lives?  Not only that, but these Boomer parents laid out a life path so smooth for their children that it was devoid of any real challenge, heartbreak, or disappointment.  And through it all truly believed that their children hung the moon?  With a childhood like that, I wouldn’t want to leave the nest either.  Who would?

The dynamics between Gen Y and Baby Boomers are probably important for us to be aware of, as we all have to live in the world they have (or will) create.  But for me, a stereotypically independent and skeptical Gen X’er, this book was just too much.

Consequently, in researching this post, I did come across this article on How Generation X Got the Shaft But Can Still Keep Everything From Sucking.  Now that sounds like my cup of tea.



The Debate, DU, and School Pride

I am going to tell you something I don’t normally divulge – who I was rooting for in last night’s presidential debate.  The University of Denver! I am bursting with pride this morning at the coverage given to, and the job done by my graduate school alma mater.  DU has been prepping for this event for a long time and they did a super job!

When I attended DU, it seemed like few people had heard of it – apart from their awesome Men’s Ice Hockey Team.  My, how things have changed.  Condoleeza Rice is a grad which brought DU’s International Studies program recognition; and Colorado is now center-stage as a “swing state” in this election.  It feels pretty good to be getting noticed for something other than our mountains and snow for once (even though they are pretty great, too).  And while the political rhetoric can be stressful and anxiety-provoking, I feel glad that at least for last night’s election I could focus on something purely positive – pride in my state and my school.  Go Pioneers!

Those were the days…