Archive for April 26th, 2012
This week’s Chicagoan: Aaron Karmin, anger-management therapist By Anne Ford
‘A lot of people think that in an anger-management session, we’re gonna pass the drum around and have a men’s retreat thing. Or that it’ll be like driver’s ed, where they can sit there watching videos. That’s not what I’m about. I get people to take some ownership over the consequences of their choices. To understand that there is a basic thing called ‘It’s not fair.’
“Respect is the foundation of my approach. If somebody’s being disrespectful toward me, I can still maintain my composure. It’s impossible to argue with somebody when you agree with them. That’s my Jedi mind trick.
“I work with people who are homeless, people who are coming out of the Department of Corrections. I have judges, I have attorneys, people who are living very high-profile lifestyles. I’ve worked with people who are elderly. “Oh, he’s a nice old man.” No, he’s bitter and angry.
Depression, you can kind of hide. Anger—you hear it, you see it. Everybody knows when somebody’s angry. ‘Oh God, this guy hit his wife, or he was throwing things at his kids.’ You can’t help but say, ‘You need to do something about that.’
“I’m in an office downtown, and the doorman knows I do anger management. One time a client’s coming up, and I get a call from the doorman, which is unusual, and he’s like, ‘Aaron, there’s a client coming up.’ I say, ‘You never call me—is there something I should know?’ And he says, ‘He’s coming up with a baseball bat.’
“So my client walks in. He’s swinging the bat over his shoulder. I say, ‘What’s up with the bat?’ He says, ‘Oh, there was a Ron Santos signing at Borders, and look! Ron Santos signed my baseball bat.’
“If you have a rush of emotional energy, write. I wouldn’t pound a pillow. I had one client who was literally a Hells Angel. He was like, ‘I’m not going to write. I don’t have a pad or a pen.’ I said, ‘Fine, here’s a pad, here’s a pen.’
“He came in next week, and on every single page of the pad, both sides of the paper, he had written, ‘You stupid motherfucker shithead. You stupid motherfucker shithead.’ I said, ‘How did you feel?’ He said, ‘Well, I didn’t want to punch anybody this week.’ I said, ‘Here’s another pad. Here’s another pen.’”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
31% of moms say their husbands don’t help with the chores — in fact, they generate more.
Lucy King is a former executive turned stay-at-home mom in Franklin, TN. Her much-loved husband leaves his dirty dishes in the sink, even though the dishwasher is empty, and can walk right by a basket of laundry without thinking to take it to the washing machine.
“It’s like being pecked to death by a chicken,” she says. “I call these silly little things the pecks that are nothing, but when they keep happening, they drive you crazy. I think, ‘I shouldn’t have to tell you I need this.’ “
Malbrough, who also stays home with her daughter, says her husband leaves all the housework to her — even though he works two weeks on and two weeks off as a cementer’s assistant. “He said that’s my job,” she says. “Since we’ve been married, he has cooked twice that I can remember. He doesn’t know how to operate the dishwasher. He’s never vacuumed.”
Many moms complain they do more family work outside the house, too. One in five moms says her husband finds time for his own errands, like taking his shirts to the dry cleaner, but doesn’t manage to fit in such family ones as going to the supermarket.
Traci Magee of Oak Ridge, TN, has a 6-year-old daughter and a job as a school librarian. Her husband assumes that because her workday ends earlier, she can do all the errands — even though he has no idea of the sort of maneuvering that takes, especially with a kid in tow.
“Right now, his car needs to go into the shop,” she says. “Somehow, I’m supposed to be the person who figures out how to get that done. I don’t think he understands the logistics of getting a child somewhere, taking her to daycare, planning ahead for all the things that come up.” Often, she says, she isn’t home until 6 P.M. — and he’s already there. “A woman’s expected to be able to wear fifteen hats,” she says. “And it’s very time-consuming and tiring.”
33% of moms say their husbands aren’t shouldering equal responsibility and are less concerned than they are about their children’s basic needs, like nutrition and clothing — a number that rises to 41 percent for those with three or more kids. What these moms wish: that their husbands acted more like partners — especially when it comes to the nitty-gritty.
Andrea, a mom of three who lives on Long Island, NY, comes home from work to find her husband has let the kids snack at 5 P.M. instead of giving them a real dinner, though she’s repeatedly asked him to just go ahead and feed them. Or he has tried to feed them but has served something they won’t eat, like a “bloody wedge of meat on a plate” with no side dishes. Then, after the kids have brushed their teeth for bedtime, they complain of hunger (“Of course they’re hungry!”), so he gives them more snacks. “And then who has to oversee the rebrushing of teeth while my husband is off watching TV? I do.”
Terry’s husband, she says, never thinks about what the kids should be eating when he does the grocery shopping. “I cannot remember once — not once — that my husband bought fresh fruit or vegetables, let alone prepared them, for our three children. Now that I think of it, I don’t think he’s ever spontaneously bought any frozen vegetables, either.”
Nearly one third of moms complain that parenthood has changed their lives more than their husbands’. We carry so much of this life-altering responsibility in our heads: the doctors’ appointments, the shoe sizes, the details about the kids’ friends. Many dads wouldn’t even think to buy valentines for the class, for example, or know when it’s time to sign kids up for the pre-camp physical, or that curriculum night is next Thursday at 7:30 and you need to hire a sitter and bring a nut-free vegetarian appetizer that can be eaten without a fork. Even moms who work full-time take it upon themselves to store all this data in our already overstuffed heads. We’re the walking, talking encyclopedias of family life, while dads tend to be more like brochures.
It’s no wonder that more than one in four moms feels like she spends more mental energy on parenting than dads do. Meanwhile, the thing that would help — some time off — seems like it disproportionately goes to dads.
50% of moms tell us their husbands get more time for themselves. Brandi Morgan, a mother of two boys in Bandera, TX, feels her anger spike “when I’ve had sleepless nights staying up nursing the baby, and I’m up early cleaning after last night’s dinner and trying to have a moment to breathe by myself, and my husband, by his own choice, gets up early and spends a lot of time at the gym,” she says.
Jessica, a stay-at-home mom of two who lives in New Jersey, is angry that her husband, a mortgage broker who works 11-hour days, manages to carve out one weekend day for his passion — his work as an independent music producer. The other day is “family day.” If Jessica is lucky, she gets an hour or two off a week. “I sometimes want to get in the car and just drive and not have to worry about the kids,” she says.
The lack of time off is a huge issue for the moms carrying the most anger. Over 60 percent of the moms who get mad weekly — and almost three-quarters of those who are angry every day — feel this way.
One thing that can complicate it is the different ways some moms and dads choose to spend their time. Moms tend not to let themselves slack off when there are chores to be done.
Erin Martin of Seattle remembers the Saturday morning she spent rushing making football-shaped sandwiches for her son’s sixth-birthday party. Her husband, meanwhile, was goofing around on the computer, oblivious that he could be pitching in.
This sort of thing happens all the time — she’s taking care of the kids or the house or something else for the family, and he’s taking care of himself. “I used to think he did it on purpose and it would make me much angrier,” she says. “Now, I think it doesn’t dawn on him. Guys are just better at compartmentalizing.”
Over time, all these feelings — from annoyance to outright rage — can be hard on a marriage.
“Anger is corrosive,” says Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., the mother of two grown children and a University of Washington sociologist who’s studied couples’ dynamics for decades. “It’s like a termite that starts to reproduce more termites. If you never get rid of the termites, one day you’re going to lean on a wall and it’s going to crumble underneath your weight.”
Anger can also erupt in unexpected ways, Schwartz says. A mom might blow her stack because her husband forgot to turn off the light switch. He’ll think she’s crazy because it’s just a light switch. But it means so much more.
Lucy King, the former executive who gave it up to be a full-time mom, was so mad she couldn’t even talk to her husband because of…a coffeepot.
“I said something might be wrong with the coffeepot. He gave me this funny look like, ‘You’re crazy.’ ” What set her off was the look, which felt like a failure of her husband to support her.
“I used to manage 400 employees,” she says. “I have a master’s degree. I was a pretty high-ranking executive. And he questions me about this little stuff! It’s hard.”
Anger is worth paying attention to.
If you’re chronically at the boiling point, it could be damaging to your health.
When you’re mad, your body floods with adrenaline. If you’re often angry, you might lose your ability to produce a hormone that blunts adrenaline’s worst effects. You can also weaken your heart, harden your arteries, raise your cholesterol, damage your kidneys and liver, and put yourself at risk for depression or anxiety. It’s no wonder that some scientists consider chronic anger more likely to kill you prematurely than smoking or obesity.
Redford Williams, M.D., director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Duke University, is blunt about it. “Anger kills,” he says. “It’s not just that it can damage your heart — which it does — but it’s also been found in epidemiological studies to identify people who are more likely to have a heart attack or drop dead from any cause.” Great. We’re not only mad because we’re carrying our family’s weight, it’s going to kill us.
60% of moms don’t tell their friends what they’re going through, or they make light of it.
This is particularly surprising, since our mom friends — who’d understand better than anyone — could be a great source of support. “When we make jokes about it, it’s one way of talking about it without admitting to ourselves that it’s really bad,” Schwartz says.
We should talk to each other — and be more honest about the depth of our feelings. There’s great comfort in knowing you’re not alone, you’re not unreasonable, you’re not crazy. If it’s uncomfortable to do that with a friend face-to-face — whether you’re worried about being judged or feel it’s disloyal to your husband — then, hey, find some online friends to commiserate with.
The ones we also really need to talk to, however, are our husbands. The fact that so many moms are mad, and that so many of the complaints are similar, is significant. And maybe that can give all of us moms — who love our husbands but wish they’d just be…more like us — the push to make some changes, to delegate more and demand more for ourselves. Anger can be debilitating — but it can also be motivating.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )