Dr. Gail Saltz
This thanksgiving an abundance of families are going to be thinking, “What exactly do I have to be thankful for?” Thankful I still have my home, though it’s worth less than ever? Thankful I have the holiday off from my job, though I may not have a job shortly? Thankful I planned and saved for my future, though I am watching those savings dwindle on a daily basis? It certainly can seem difficult to mount a feeling of appreciation in the midst of evolving disaster.
Interestingly though, gratitude is exactly the antidote to feeling stressed and angry. In fact, it is the people who manage to count their blessings in the smaller pleasures of life that fare the best in times such as these. If noticing how lovely the trees are, or enjoying how lucky you are to think your spouse is funny is not the kind of thing that would come naturally to you…fear not, it simply means you have to make more effort to stop and notice such parts of life and then consciously register your gratitude for them. You have to “work out” your gratitude muscle. For many people what works best is making a daily list of three to five things (any things at all) that you appreciate. Writing them down in a journal is even more effective, allowing you to review the long list from time to time.
Should you stand by your man? Opinions often differ between men and women and they also differ based on your own individual past stories.
Someone who has been burned tends to feel "NO WAY!" and those that have either been the betrayer or know something about having made a mistake and hurt someone, think it's pretty reasonable to stay with your man.
The answer to what you should do is really quite complicated because infidelity can be the symptom of a very sick marriage that once repaired could thrive well. It's also complicated because despite feelings of betrayal, humiliation, anger and sadness a woman may very well still love this man that she has built a family and a life with. Divorce has tragic consequences both emotional and financial for both partners as well as for the children.
Eliot Spitzer seems to be the latest in the long list of politicians who appear to be champions of morality publicly, while privately struggle with some very amoral urges.
Every person has secret fantasies. Many of these fantasies are quite normal and even healthy. There is a big difference between having fantasies or thoughts and acting on them. This means that it is normal too to have fantasies that you would never dream of acting on because the behavior would be morally reprehensible to you.
What happens then when you feel your thoughts are wrong? What happens when the urge to act on a morally bad thought is strong and it makes you anxious and guilty? Can this lead to a career of fighting the very urges you struggle with?
A tremendously conflicted thought or fantasy which is unexamined and suppressed has a lot of power. Power to make you behave in ways you normally would not act.
In addition, the mind tries extremely hard to deny such thoughts exist. This is the set up for creating a man who seems to be leading a secret life. Craig, Foley, Baker and McGreevy... all pillars of society who seemed to be the champions of a highly moral cause and all using their positions to conceal urges to break the very rules they espouse.
– Dr. Gail Saltz, Psychiatrist
Program note: Dr. Saltz is the author of "Anatomy of a Secret Life." She is a guest on Monday's 360° at 10p ET.
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