Thursday, November 22, 2007

How Lying, Flirting (with Someone Else!) & Fighting Can Make You Closer

Raise your hand if you've ever gotten into a stupid fight with your guy and stormed off in a huff. Or if you get a secret rush from flirting with a cute waiter, even though you adore your husband. Or if you occasionally tell your guy blatantly untrue things, like, "Sure, I think your bald spot is sexy!"

Sound familiar? Fighting, flirting, fibbing — these are all habits that conventional wisdom says are big, fat no-no's in a relationship. But guess what: Everyone does this stuff sometimes — yes, even that couple you know who looks so perfect from the outside. And here's the really good news: A lot of supposedly bad love habits not only aren't bad for you, they just might do your long-term bond a whole lot of good. Read on to learn how these five love fouls can actually make your relationship stronger, closer, and better than ever.

t's dangerous, it's wrong — it's the gateway act to cheating. In fact, to some, it is cheating. But the truth is, a little innocent flirting with someone other than your steady can have serious relationship benefits.

First of all, the ego boost you get from flirting with someone new can make you feel as sexy as you did when you and your guy first got together. "Over time, couples get so used to each other, they become complacent," says Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., a psychologist in Los Angeles. "Flirting with other people brings out the 'Wow!' factor again. It reignites your sexiness and boosts your confidence." The key is that you share the benefits: "You can take that sexy energy home to your husband and use it in the bedroom," says Thomas.

What's more, if your guy bears witness to another man showing some flirtatious interest in you now and then, that's not always a bad thing. "A little jealousy is like a wake-up call," says Ted Huston, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Texas and author of When the Honeymoon Is Over: Why Some Marriages Succeed and Others Fail. "It reminds you of how lucky you are to have what you have."

IBut when does innocent flirting cross the line? Thomas's rule: If you wouldn't do it with your partner present — whether because you think it would embarrass him or because it would cross trust boundaries — don't do it when he's not. And when you do flirt, be honest with yourself about what's behind it: If you find yourself constantly looking forward to flirting with the handsome neighbor you see on your evening jog, you could be sprinting toward trouble.

"Flirting is just part of my DNA and my husband knows it," says Heather, 31, a mother of one in Georgia. "For me, what makes it okay is the intention behind it and what is in my heart. I know my husband is the greatest man and father in the world, and I feel infinitely blessed to have him in my life. Knowing this, I don't feel ashamed to let the flirt in me out every now and then."

Being Selfish
Compromise doesn't mean finding the exact middle ground in every single situation.

If there's one piece of relationship wisdom we hear over and over, it's compromise, compromise, compromise. So how can being selfish possibly be good? Here's the key: Compromise doesn't mean finding the exact middle ground in every situation. "Compromise can also mean that this time, you do it 100 percent your way, and next time, you do it 100 percent his way," says Thomas. And it's the doing it your way you should stop feeling bad about.

"Couples think that both partners should give the same amount," says relationship coach Susan Page, author of Why Talking Is Not Enough: 8 Loving Actions That Will Transform Your Marriage. "The problem is, you have no control over what your partner gives." Yes, in an ideal world, you're each giving the other just what's needed: You cede the remote on Monday nights; he hands over the arts pages on Sunday mornings. But many of the big and small needs we have aren't always obvious, and your man can't read your mind. That's why pinning your happiness on whether or not he gives you what you need when you need it — be it a compliment, time alone, affection that doesn't have to lead to sex, or even a sink that doesn't drip anymore — well, that's a recipe for frustration and resentment, no matter how much love and how many good intentions you both have.

So instead of waiting for him to give you what you need every time, get a little grabby now and then. "Doing some taking as well as giving," says Page, "is a way for you to keep your relationship perfectly balanced." No, we're not talking about blowing the kids' college funds on a trip to Vegas. We're talking about small gestures that make a big difference to you. If he's stuck at the office when you want to go to your friend's birthday dinner, don't wait for him — just go. If you haven't been getting to watch your own shows lately, TiVo his and tell him he's going to have to wait an hour tonight. If he still hasn't fixed the sink, just hire a plumber already. Don't feel guilty about choosing to put yourself first at moments like these. Taking things for yourself will make you feel satisfied with what you've got, instead of leaving you brewing and stewing over what you're not getting from him. And that'll make you a happier, more loving partner in the long run.

Arguing is actually one of the healthiest things you and your guy can do for your relationship.

It's true that nonstop battling isn't great for your love. (See the movie The War of the Roses.) And some couples are so worried about the possible negative effects of arguing — Are we tearing apart our bond? Does it mean we're not meant to be? — that they pride themselves on never arguing. But here's a surprise: Never fighting can be just as bad as constant conflict. In fact, arguing is one of the healthiest things you and your guy can do.

Think of fighting as relationship Drano: Once in a while you have to clean out the pipes. Sure, it gets ugly, but afterward, things flow more smoothly. If, on the other hand, you stuff your anger, it eventually builds up so much that it can sabotage your entire relationship. "We are not clones of one another," says Sam R. Hamburg, Ph.D., a Chicago marital therapist and author of Will Our Love Last?: A Couple's Road Map. "It is inevitable that we will disagree from time to time. So either you verbalize your disagreement, or you don't verbalize it and you harbor resentment, which eventually tears you apart."

Executed correctly, a fight can even be a tool to advance your cause as a couple. "Arguing doesn't always lead to a consensus," says Huston, "but it's useful to your relationship because it can lead to a clarification of your differences and a solution on how to move past them together." Just remember the "right" way to fight: "The key to a good argument is that you can disagree all you want, but you still show respect to your partner," says Huston. Stacks and stacks of research have shown that partners who use arguments as an opportunity to criticize each other or show contempt (by, say, rolling their eyes) are far more likely to separate or divorce.

"Here's the golden rule I tell my clients about fighting," says REDBOOK Love Network expert Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., author of How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free. "You should only talk about the problem long enough that you both understand what the problem is. Then start working on the solution."


Okay, so you're having a "healthy" argument with your guy, and things have gotten superheated. You're getting angrier, your voice is getting louder, and you're saying the same things over and over in an attempt to hammer home your point. Stop and walk away, now. When the fight reaches that fevered pitch, you experience an increased heart rate and a surge in stress hormones, a phenomenon REDBOOK Love Network expert John Gottman, Ph.D., has dubbed "flooding." "Flooding is a physiological response to the stress of an argument that sends your body into fight-or-flight mode," explains Tessina. "The emotional side of your brain is so aroused that it overtakes your logical side, and you're no longer capable of being productive in the fight."

When either of you is flooded, the fight can stray onto ground that isn't just off-topic, but destructive. "Once couples open the floodgates, they start bringing up things that happened years ago, tapping into old feelings of pain and hurt," says Thomas. "It's in these moments of fury that you blurt out hurtful things you would never say in a calm, clear state of mind."

To avoid saying or doing something you might regret, recognize when you're getting flooded and take a time-out. And since flooding is more typical in men, according to Gottman's research, if you sense that your guy is losing it first, you might use your less-flooded female mind to suggest the time-out yourself.

"My husband is so bullheaded that we'll get to a point in an argument where nothing is being accomplished, and we're getting madder and madder," says Jennifer, 33, a mother of one from New Jersey. "I finally started telling him I needed a break, and I leave the house for an hour. When I come back, he's always much calmer and he actually listens to my side."

If your fights often escalate quickly, try establishing a cease-fire code. "Make a rule that if one of you makes the time-out hand signal, you'll just stop fighting, no questions asked, and step back until you've both calmed down," suggests Tessina. If it's late at night and you think you're better off sleeping, do that. Yep, you heard us right: Sometimes you should just go to bed angry.

One caveat: When you walk away from a fight, don't walk away for good. "The problem for most couples isn't that their fights are too long, but that they're too short," explains Hamburg. "They walk away from the fight because they're worked up, but then abort the fight altogether because it makes them uncomfortable to restart." Make a commitment that you will discuss the issue again when you both have clearer heads.


Sometimes telling a little white lie is easier than telling the truth. But watch out for lies that keep things smooth now but lay minefields that could explode later.

"No, of course your haircut doesn't make you look like Pee-wee Herman." "I love your mother's tuna casserole." "My ex? Oh, he was terrible in bed." Yes, sometimes telling a little white lie is just easier than telling the truth. And you shouldn't feel too guilty over the occasional fib — when it comes to love, honesty really isn't always the best policy.

Let's say your husband meets your new six foot-tall, blue-eyed, former-model coworker Brian at a company party. "Do you find that guy attractive?" he asks on the way home. What should you say? "Sometimes the subtext of a question is more important than the question itself," says Huston. In this case, what your guy may really be asking is, "Do you still love me and do I need to be worried about our relationship?" That's an easy one, right?

Next, ask yourself, Who am I protecting? If a lie would mean protecting yourself and your attraction to Brian, it's unhealthy. If, on the other hand, you're protecting your husband's feelings and want him to feel assured of your love, it's not only understandable to say, "Brian? Ugh, he's boring," it may actually be more truthful than if you said, "Sure, I think he's gorgeous — who wouldn't?" "A white lie is beneficial if it is preserving honorable feelings within your relationship — in this case, that you love your husband and would never betray him," says Thomas. "You're lying to uphold a greater truth for a greater good."

Just watch out for lies that keep things smooth now but lay minefields that could explode later. For example, "It's not okay if you're lying to avoid a confrontation that needs to happen," says Tessina, or if not knowing the truth will harm your partner — like if you lie about your personal spending when you and your husband are on a tight budget and saving to buy a house. "Sooner or later the truth will come out," says Tessina. "Not only will the problem be exposed, but the deception will be too, and the deception is the worst part. That's what makes your partner wonder, How can I ever trust you again?" Think about what your partner deserves to hear and "do right by him," says Thomas. If that means saying his beer gut has never looked better, then smile and fib away!

Source @ RedBook

Monday, November 12, 2007

Smoking Boosts Blood Pressure in Women

Women who smoke two packs of cigarettes a day have a 21 percent greater risk of developing high blood pressure, increasing their risk for heart disease, a new study found.

Women who smoke less have less of a risk, but even those who smoke a pack a day significantly increase their risk for high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, the study said.

The findings are published in the Nov. 20 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"Women who smoke a pack a day are at increased risk of developing hypertension," said lead researcher Dr. Thomas S. Bowman, who's with the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. "Women who smoke two packs a day are at even greater risk," he said.

For the study, Bowman's team collected data on 28,236 women who took part in the Women's Health Study. During a follow-up of 9.8 years, 30.4 percent of the women developed high blood pressure.

The researchers found that women who smoked 15 or more cigarettes a day had a 11 percent greater risk of developing high blood pressure, compared with women who never smoked. Women who smoked 25 or more cigarettes a day had a 21 percent greater risk.

For women who smoked fewer than 15 cigarettes a day, the risk for high blood pressure was a relatively insignificant 4 percent, the researchers found.

Whether quitting smoking reduces the risk of high blood pressure isn't known, Bowman said, but he suspects that the longer a person smokes, the greater the risk.

Bowman noted the high blood pressure can lead to heart disease and stroke. "Hypertension may be the pathway to strokes and cardiovascular death and heart attacks," he said.

Dr. Harlan M. Krumholz, a professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, said the study findings are yet another reason not to smoke.

"We really don't need another reason for people not to smoke," he said. "This study adds to the information about another potential mechanism by which smoking contributes to adverse outcomes."

Aside from the 5,000 chemical and known carcinogens in cigarettes, high blood pressure is another threat that comes with the habit of smoking, Krumholz said.

Krumholz said the new finding should have meaning for girls thinking about taking up smoking. "They know about the risk for cancer and heart disease, but this is something more for them to consider as a reason to stay away from cigarettes," he said.

More information
For more on smoking and heart disease, visit the American Heart Association.

Source @ Forbes

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Successful Breast-Feeding

SATURDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- More American women are choosing to breast-feed. That's the good news.

breastfeedThe discouraging news is that the percentage of women breast-feeding still falls short of national objectives, often because they experience problems or difficulties that are easily overcome, according to lactation experts.

Seventy-four percent of women who gave birth in 2004 initiated breast-feeding, up from 70.9 percent of women who delivered babies in 2000, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But that was still a bit short of the objectives set by the federal government's Healthy People 2010 initiative, which had hoped to have 75 percent of new mothers breast-feeding in 2004.

The number of women who were breast-feeding exclusively was even smaller. Just 30.5 percent of the women who delivered babies in 2004 breast-fed exclusively through age 3 months of age, although the national objective was 60 percent.

So, why aren't more women breast-feeding and for longer periods? Experts say that even new mothers who know all about the benefits of breast-feeding for their baby -- including protection from lower respiratory and middle-ear infections as well as a reduction in the risk of childhood obesity -- can get discouraged and give up.

Some of the most common reasons cited for stopping breast-feeding include sore or cracked nipples, not producing enough milk, a baby having difficulty feeding, or the perception that the baby wasn't satisfied by breast milk.

But breast-feeding also provides the mother with benefits. It helps speed the recovery of her body after birth, and recent studies have suggested that breast-feeding may lower a woman's risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

Here are some experts' best tips on succeeding with breast-feeding -- even if you're a beginner:

* Don't assume breast-feeding is "innate."

"Breast-feeding is not instinctive," said Katy Lebbing, a board certified lactation consultant in Villa Park, Ill., and a leader for La Leche League International, which promotes breast-feeding. "That's a myth. It's kind of like thinking all men can fix all cars."

Mothers who choose to breast-feed need education and support, agreed Karen Bonuck, associate professor of family and social medicine at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, who has published studies on breast-feeding practices.

* Get help -- early.

Ask your health-care provider for information about breast-feeding early in your pregnancy, Bonuck advised women. Don't wait until you're six months or more along, she said. Too many other activities -- baby showers, getting the nursery ready, thinking about names -- take your attention during those final months of pregnancy.

* Take a breast-feeding class.

breastfeedAsk your doctor if your hospital has one. Or see a lactation consultant -- you can ask your doctor or the La Leche League for a referral. You should make these preparations before you'll be ready to breast-feed, Lebbing and Bonuck advised.

Just a few sessions with a lactation consultant can pay off, Bonuck said. "You will understand the normal physiology of how the milk is produced," she said. The consultant, working with a doll, can help women practice the best positions to breast-feed and get comfortable with the concept.

* Be sure the hospital personnel know you want to breast-feed.

"Make your wishes known," Bonuck said. "Some [hospitals] have cards that say, 'Breast-feed only.' " That reduces the risk of confusion and your baby mistakenly getting a bottle of formula, Bonuck said. She also advises mothers-to-be to tell the hospital staff about other preferences, such as no pacifiers.

* Breast-feed as soon as your baby is born.

Breast-feeding immediately after birth -- even before the baby is cleaned up -- is preferable, Bonuck said. "Bring an advocate with you," she suggested. This person will help to make sure your wishes are carried out.

* Keep the baby with you as much as possible while in the hospital.

"Make your wishes known," Bonuck advised. She prefers keeping the baby in the mother's room, not in the nursery, because it gives mother and baby a chance to practice breast-feeding. "It's not a spa," she said of the hospital stay.

* Get help once you return home.

Enlist the support of family members or friends once you are back home, Lebbing advised. "You need someone to cook and help around the house, especially in the first month," she said. If you have other children, get some child-care help. Relieving some of the stress of a newborn can help new moms focus on the important task of breast-feeding, Bonuck and Lebbing said.

To learn more about breast-feeding, visit La Leche League International

Source @ Forbes