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YouTube: A new way for our doc to help troubled couples

Updated: May 19, 2012 8:04AM



L ike most people over the age of 40, I still watch my favorite television shows on TV. That all changed when I was approached to host a new web TV show called “Couples in Crisis with Dr. Laura Berman.”

Suddenly I discovered a whole new world of television on the Internet. From Hulu to YouTube, I realized that all of my favorite programs were available with just the click of a mouse.

Once I began exploring the medium, I realized it was exciting and fun, and best of all, it would allow me to reach millions of couples. With YouTube, I found a tool that could help me offer therapy in digestible doses. Couples can work on improving their relationship while I can see them interact in their natural setting, allowing me to better read their body language and discover hidden cues behind their arguments.

In just 10 minutes or less, I can get a sense of a couple’s relationship, figure out their key issues, and then give them my prescription in less time then it takes to make dinner.

My first session of “Couples in Crisis with Dr. Laura Berman” featured a couple named Mark and Linda. Like many couples, Mark and Linda were considering taking the next step and moving in together. However, Linda was hesitant due to her reservations regarding Mark’s temper.

While Mark is never physically or verbally abusive toward Linda, being around his outbursts still negatively affects her mood, spirit and their relationship. Mark readily admits that his temper can be volatile, yet he pinpoints the cause back to his childhood experiences and highlighted his mother’s even hotter temper. Linda, meanwhile, grew up in a much calmer, quieter home, which makes Mark’s outbursts even more upsetting to her.

However, in talking to Mark and Linda, I realized that there might be something other than his temper at play. She began to well up in tears when I asked her questions about how Mark’s anger affects her and what it might trigger within her. As she took the time to think, she went back to her childhood and the bullying she endured from classmates due to her race. Mark’s outbursts might take her back to that time period when she felt vulnerable.

We all have triggers that can be sparked during a fight. Figuring out the trauma behind the trigger is an important step, and in cases such as Linda’s with hidden trauma that is just coming to light, individual therapy also can be a good idea.

Here are some other tips that can improve your communication style during an argument:

Don’t be afraid to “pause” a fight. When people are caught in the middle of a fight, they desperately want to find resolution. Yet some couples try to achieve this by escalating the fight further and further, or by pressing the situation ahead even when no resolution is immediately obvious. There is nothing wrong with pressing pause on a fight and going into another room to calm down. Do some deep breathing, punch a pillow, or scream into a sink full of water to release stress. When you come back to the argument, you will have a clear head and a better chance of expressing yourself openly and calmly.

Don’t hold it in. People often wrongly assume that it’s best to avoid an argument at all costs, so when they are angry, they try to keep it in rather then telling their partner. Resentment and festering anger can be fatal to a marriage. By expressing your frustration rather than holding it in, you are able to move it through your body and let it go.

Remember, anger isn’t a “bad” emotion. It’s OK to be angry. People often view certain emotions such as anger or sadness as negative, but the truth is that these emotions are a natural part of life. Emotions only become negative when they aren’t properly expressed or when you become “stuck” in a certain emotion. If you express anger instead of judging or repressing it, you can clear it out of the way and get back to a happier frame of mind.

To see if Mark and Linda were able to rescue their relationship or to learn tips that can help you to improve your relationship and your sex life, visit www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4A5D123C5D445690&feature=view.

Dr. Berman is the star of “In The Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman” on OWN and director of www.drlauraberman.com.



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