10 Date Night Ideas to Improve Your Communication Skills

Date nights aren’t just about romantic candlelit dinners or catching the latest movie. They’re opportunities to connect, understand, and grow with your partner. Enhancing your communication skills can bring you closer, helping both of you express feelings, desires, and dreams more effectively. Here are ten date night ideas that can elevate your communication prowess.

  1. Couples Therapy or Workshop: Contrary to popular belief, couples therapy isn’t only for those in turmoil. Many therapists offer sessions or workshops focusing on improving communication. Participate together to gain tools and insights that can benefit your relationship.
  2. Board Games Night: Games like ‘Scrabble,’ ‘Pictionary,’ or ‘Charades’ not only entertain but also require verbal and non-verbal communication. It’s a fun way to understand each other’s thought processes and learn how to communicate more clearly.
  3. Art or Pottery Class: Creating art together requires collaboration. Whether you’re molding clay or painting on canvas, discussing your artistic choices and collaborating on a joint piece can be a beautiful way to convey emotions and ideas.
  4. Book Club for Two: Pick a book, read it separately, and then set a date night to discuss it. Dive deep into the characters, plot, and themes. Sharing interpretations can reveal a lot about individual perceptions and viewpoints.
  5. Role Reversal Evening: Spend an evening role-playing the other person. This requires deep observation and understanding. By the end of the evening, you’ll gain insights into how your partner views the world and how they feel in specific scenarios.
  6. Cooking Together: Choose a new recipe and make it together. This involves teamwork, delegation, and discussing preferences. Navigating the kitchen chaos can teach patience and the art of compromise.
  7. Take a Dance Class: Whether it’s ballroom, salsa, or contemporary dance, dancing requires synchronicity and understanding your partner’s moves. It’s a physical form of communication where you’re compelled to be in tune with each other.
  8. Travel to a New Place: Even if it’s just a day trip to a nearby town, navigating a new place together can enhance your communication. You’ll need to discuss plans, share opinions, and often solve unexpected problems on the go.
  9. Play the “Questions Game”: Create a list of deep, meaningful questions that you’ve never asked each other. Spend the evening taking turns asking and answering. This will not only improve communication but deepen your understanding of one another.
  10. Attend a Workshop or Lecture: Choose a topic both are unfamiliar with. After the session, share what you’ve learned, ask each other questions, and discuss your takeaways. This encourages active listening and articulation of thoughts.


Keep Your Relationship Strong and Healthy

Improving communication skills is an ongoing process. By integrating activities that challenge and engage both partners, you’ll find opportunities to not only speak and listen more effectively but also to bond and understand each other on a deeper level. Remember, it’s not about perfection, but progression. Happy dating!

Contact Our Marriage Therapist

Have questions? Considering couples therapy? Contact Dr. Crow today to take the first steps toward strengthening and improving your marriage.

How Porn Addiction Affects Individuals and Their Relationships, and How Counseling Can Bring Healing

In a digital age where explicit content is only a click away, a growing number of individuals find themselves grappling with porn addiction. This issue impacts not just individuals but also reaches into their relationships, creating a ripple effect that unsettles community harmony. Understanding porn addiction and its repercussions is the first step towards fostering healthier relationships with oneself and others. In this blog, we delve deep into the intricacies of porn addiction, the toll it takes on individuals and their relationships, and how counseling can be a beacon of hope.

Understanding Porn Addiction

Before we explore the negative effects of porn addiction, we need to understand just what it is. Porn addiction is characterized by compulsive consumption of pornographic material, often at the expense of other vital aspects of life, including personal relationships and work. The dopamine rush that accompanies viewing pornography can develop into a dependency, creating a cycle that is hard to break without professional help.

How Pornography Addiction Affects the Individual

Porn addiction can significantly affect an individual’s mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Here are some potential negative effects:

Mental Health Issues

  • Depression: Chronic porn use can lead to feelings of emptiness and depression over time.
  • Anxiety: The addiction can foster increased anxiety, particularly related to performance and self-worth.


  • Distorted Self-View: Regular consumption of porn can foster unrealistic expectations about one’s body and sexual performance, leading to a distorted self-view.
  • Low Self-Esteem: The individual might suffer from low self-esteem, stemming from an inability to meet the unrealistic standards portrayed in porn.

Behavioral Changes

  • Isolation: Individuals may isolate themselves from friends and family, preferring to engage with porn.
  • Impaired Focus: Excessive porn use can affect one’s ability to focus on daily tasks, impeding personal and professional growth.

Relationship Issues

  • Decreased Intimacy: Over time, porn use can decrease sexual satisfaction and intimacy in personal relationships. Spouses and girlfriends regularly report that their partner is detached and not really present.
  • Unrealistic Expectations: Consuming porn can set unrealistic expectations in relationships, leading to disappointment and strained relationships.

Physical Health

  • Sexual Dysfunction: Chronic porn use is associated with sexual dysfunctions, including erectile dysfunction and delayed ejaculation.
  • Neglect of Personal Health: Individuals might neglect their physical health, including neglecting hygiene, exercise, and proper nutrition.

Addiction Cycle:

  • Escalating Needs: Over time, individuals might find they need to consume more porn or more extreme types of porn to achieve the same level of satisfaction, leading to a dangerous escalation.
  • Dependency: Individuals can develop a dependency on porn, finding it difficult to go without it for any significant period.

Understanding these adverse effects is the first step in fostering a conversation about recovery and seeking the necessary help through counseling and support groups.

How Porn Addiction Impacts Relationships

Porn addiction can harbor a variety of negative impacts on relationships, engendering a cycle of issues that can gradually erode the foundation of trust and intimacy. Here are some ways in which a person’s porn addiction can damage their relationships:

Erosion of Trust:

  • Secrecy and Dishonesty: The secretive nature of porn addiction often leads to dishonesty, which can erode trust over time.
  • Betrayal and Hurt: Discovering a partner’s porn addiction can lead to feelings of betrayal and hurt, further denting the trust in the relationship.
  • Gaslighting: Porn addicts may use gaslighting by manipulating their partners into questioning their own perceptions or memories, often by denying their addiction or downplaying its impact. This tactic serves to divert attention from the addiction and helps them maintain control over the narrative.

Decreased Intimacy:

  • Physical Detachment: Overreliance on pornography can lead to a decrease in physical intimacy between partners, as one may prefer the virtual over the real.
  • Emotional Disconnection: Along with physical detachment, there can be an emotional disconnection, with the addicted individual becoming more withdrawn.

Unrealistic Expectations:

  • Distorted Perception of Sex: Regular porn consumption can foster unrealistic expectations about sex, leading to dissatisfaction in the bedroom.
  • Body Image Issues: It can also engender body image issues, as individuals may expect their partners to conform to the often unrealistic standards portrayed in pornography.

Communication Breakdown:

  • Avoidance of Difficult Conversations: Porn addiction can lead to the avoidance of necessary conversations about sexual desires and boundaries.
  • Increased Conflicts: The underlying issues surrounding porn addiction can result in increased conflicts and arguments in the relationship.

Impaired Personal Growth:

  • Neglect of Partner’s Needs: Addiction can lead to a scenario where an individual becomes more focused on their needs, neglecting their partner’s emotional and physical needs.
  • Failure to Foster Mutual Growth: The addiction can hamper the mutual growth journey that a relationship should foster, as one partner becomes increasingly engrossed in fulfilling their desires through pornography.

Negative Impact on Family Dynamics:

  • Strain on Family Relations: If the couple has children, the addiction can strain family dynamics, creating a tense atmosphere at home.
  • Modeling Unhealthy Behavior: Children may inadvertently learn unhealthy behaviors and perspectives on relationships and sex, which can affect their future relationships.

Increased Risk of Separation or Divorce:

  • Relationship Dissatisfaction: Over time, the dissatisfaction stemming from trust issues, decreased intimacy, and unrealistic expectations can lead to the dissolution of the relationship.
  • Breakdown of Marriage: In marriages, the strain induced by porn addiction increases the risk of separation or divorce.

Understanding these negative repercussions on relationships is essential to fostering a supportive environment where individuals battling with porn addiction can seek help, and relationships can embark on a path of recovery and healing.

How Porn Addiction Counseling Leads to Freedom

Recovering from porn addiction is a nuanced process and what works can vary from individual to individual. Counseling plays a pivotal role in many people’s recovery journeys, though it may not be essential for every individual. There are different types of therapy that help individuals understand the depths of their addiction and work towards recovery. Individual Therapy addresses the personal experiences and triggers of the individual, helping them understand and manage their addiction. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps in identifying and changing negative thought patterns associated with pornography use. In Group Counseling, clients can share their experiences with others who have similar struggles, fostering a sense of community and understanding.

Let’s explore why counseling or therapy is often seen as a crucial part of recovery:

  • Expert Guidance: Therapy offers individuals access to expert guidance from trained professionals who understand the complexities of addiction and can offer proven strategies for recovery.
  • Safe Space to Explore Underlying Issues: Counseling provides a confidential and non-judgmental space where individuals can explore the underlying issues that may contribute to their addiction.
  • Structured Recovery Path: Counselors can help to create a structured recovery plan, which can be incredibly beneficial in helping individuals to stay on track and work through their issues methodically. Counseling aids in setting achievable goals, fostering a sense of accomplishment as individuals make progress.
  • Coping Strategies: Counseling can help individuals to develop healthy coping strategies, identifying triggers and replacing the harmful cycle of addiction with positive behaviors and thought patterns.
  • Relationship Healing: In the context of relationships, therapy can facilitate communication and understanding between partners, helping to rebuild trust and intimacy.
  • Community and Support: Group counseling offers a sense of community and understanding, providing individuals with support from others who are going through similar experiences.
  • Address Co-occurring Issues: Quite often, porn addiction co-occurs with other issues such as anxiety, depression, or substance abuse. Therapy can help address these co-occurring issues, treating the person holistically rather than focusing solely on the addiction.
  • Personalized Approach: Therapy allows for a tailored approach to recovery, meeting individuals where they are and helping them to work through their unique challenges and circumstances.
  • Learning New Skills: Through counseling, individuals can learn new skills to help manage their addiction, including mindfulness techniques and stress management strategies.

While self-help strategies and community support can also be beneficial, the structured support and expert guidance offered by porn addiction counseling often prove to be invaluable resources in the recovery process. Therapy has helped many individuals to rebuild their lives and overcome their addiction. It is generally recommended as a primary avenue for those seeking help with porn addiction, even if it is supplemented with other strategies.

Overcoming Porn Addiction With Counseling From Dr. Crow

Have questions? Interested in getting started? Take the first step towards recovery — fill out the form to the right, or contact us today!


How Intensive Individual Therapy Reduces Couples Toxicity and Assists in Couples Recovery


Intensive Individual Therapy (IIT) may appear, at first glance, to be a journey of personal introspection and self-discovery. While it certainly is, its positive ramifications often radiate outwards, influencing not just the individual but their relationships as well. With couples facing an increasing array of challenges in today’s fast-paced world, IIT is emerging as a beacon of hope, even when the therapy is taken up by just one partner. And when joined with insights from Couples Therapy, the outcomes can be profoundly transformative.

Benefits of Intensive Therapy for the Individual

At the heart of many relationship issues are personal challenges, unresolved traumas, and deep-seated patterns. Addressing these at an individual level can lead to healthier relational dynamics. Here’s how:

  • Self-awareness and Personal Growth: Intensive therapy encourages profound introspection, allowing individuals to become more attuned to their emotions, needs, and boundaries.
  • Emotion Management: By equipping individuals with the tools to better understand, process, and navigate emotions, conflicts arising from emotional misunderstandings are reduced.
  • Behavioral Insights: Intensive therapy helps uncover deep-seated behavioral and communication patterns.  The client can then unravel these patterns, gaining clarity on triggers and reactions.
  • Coping Mechanisms: By identifying and replacing maladaptive coping strategies, individuals can approach challenges in a more balanced manner. They can develop healthier alternatives that are both effective and sustainable.
  • Addressing Negative Traits: Shedding light on behaviors or beliefs contributing to relationship toxicity, intensive therapy allows individuals to modify these aspects, paving the way for healthier relationships.

Intensive Individual Therapy acts as a powerful catalyst for personal transformation. By helping individuals understand themselves better, manage emotions more effectively, and address deep-rooted issues, it not only enhances their personal well-being but also elevates the quality of their relationships.

Intensive Therapy’s Radiant Effects on Couples

Though designed primarily for the individual, Intensive Therapy indirectly exerts a significant positive influence on couples. By focusing on personal transformation and self-awareness, intensive therapy facilitates the creation of healthier interpersonal dynamics, fostering stronger and more resilient relationships.

A single individual undergoing intensive therapy can influence the relationship in significant ways:

  • Empathy and Understanding: Enhanced self-awareness often leads to greater empathy towards the partner, reducing misunderstandings and cultivating mutual respect.
  • Improved Communication: Effective communication is the bedrock of any healthy relationship. Tools from Intensive Therapy help in expressing needs and emotions clearly, reducing potential conflicts.
  • Correlation with Relationship Health: An emotionally balanced individual often brings harmony into the relationship, leading to reduced conflicts and improved relationship satisfaction.
  • Evidence-backed Outcomes: Multiple studies have underlined the positive impact of individual therapy on relationship dynamics. Couples, where one or both partners have undergone Intensive Therapy, often report reduced toxicity, better conflict resolution, and improved overall relationship satisfaction.

While couple’s therapy or relationship counseling specifically targets relational issues, IIT addresses the root causes of many relational problems: individual patterns, traumas, and behaviors. Some couples find that a combination of both individual and couple’s therapy offers the most comprehensive approach. However, many therapeutic professionals have observed that the deep, intensive work of IIT often yields faster and more lasting results in terms of reducing toxicity and promoting recovery within relationships, especially when compared to more superficial interventions.

The Role of the Couples Therapist in Intensive Therapy

While IIT focuses on the individual, the expertise of a Couples Therapist can enhance the therapeutic journey:

  • Relational Dynamics: Their nuanced understanding can provide clarity on how individual challenges impact relationships.
  • Feedback on Patterns: A Couple’s Therapist can pinpoint patterns affecting relationships, aiding in behavioral modification.
  • Preparation for Couple’s Therapy: If joint sessions are on the horizon, the individual can be better prepared for them, ensuring constructive outcomes.
  • Addressing Co-dependency: Insights on establishing healthier boundaries can lead to balanced and fulfilling relationships.

In essence, Intensive Individual Therapy is more than a journey of self-discovery; it’s a pathway to healthier, more fulfilling relationships. Whether undertaken by one or both partners, the positive influence of IIT on relationships is undeniable. When complemented by insights from Couples Therapy, it becomes a comprehensive tool for couples seeking to reduce toxicity and journey towards recovery together.

Intensive Individual Therapy With Dr. Crow

If you’re seeking transformative change for yourself and your relationships, then Dr. Gregory M. Crow, PhD, is the expert to guide you. With over 40 years of experience, Dr. Crow specializes in fidelity and purity issues, premarital and couples therapy, and the treatment of trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, panic, and grief. Don’t let life’s challenges hold you back. Take the first step towards a brighter, healthier future. Contact Dr. Gregory M. Crow today and embark on a journey of true self-discovery and healing.

Rebuilding Trust and Understanding with Couples Counseling

Common Relationship Challenges

  • What are the common reasons why trust and understanding may break down in a relationship?

Breakdown of trust and understanding in a relationship often stems from persistent communication gaps, infidelity, dishonesty, conflicts that aren’t resolved effectively, and a lack of shared experiences or values. These issues can result in feelings of disconnect, leading to a cycle of mistrust and misunderstanding.

The Role of Rebuilding Trust in Relationships

  • How does rebuilding trust contribute to the overall health and stability of a relationship?

Rebuilding trust is pivotal in maintaining a healthy relationship, as it promotes safety, intimacy, and satisfaction. Trust allows partners to rely on each other, fostering a secure attachment that contributes to emotional and relational stability.

Understanding Couples Counseling

  • What is couples counseling, and how does it help couples in rebuilding trust and understanding?
  • How does couples counseling facilitate open and effective communication between partners?

Couples counseling is a type of therapy that helps partners enhance their relationship by improving communication, resolving conflicts, and deepening understanding. It can be instrumental in rebuilding trust, as the counselor provides a safe and neutral space for partners to openly express their feelings, fears, and needs.

Effective Strategies in Couples Counseling

  • What are some effective strategies or techniques used in couples counseling to rebuild trust?
  • Can couples counseling help couples address underlying issues and emotional wounds that may be impacting trust and understanding?
  • What role does empathy play in the process of rebuilding trust and understanding in couples counseling?
  • Are there specific exercises or activities that couples can expect to engage in during couples counseling to aid in rebuilding trust?

Some effective strategies used in couples counseling to rebuild trust include clear communication training, Emotionally Focused Therapy (developed by psychologist Sue Johnson, PhD), and principles of the Gottman’s method. These approaches allow couples to explore and address underlying emotional wounds that impact their relationship. Empathy plays a significant role in this process, as it helps each partner understand and respect the other’s experiences and feelings. Typically, couples might engage in exercises like role-play, writing letters to each other, or using ‘I’ statements to express feelings.

Time to Heal

  • How long does it typically take for couples to rebuild trust and understanding through counseling?

Rebuilding trust through counseling is a unique process that varies with each couple, depending largely on the extent of the breach, the willingness of both parties to work on the relationship, and how effectively they can apply the strategies learned in counseling. It could take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

Heal and Strengthen Your Relationship:
Rebuilding Trust with Dr. Gregory M. Crow

All these questions are the start of a journey that will take time and effort to heal. Are you seeking guidance to rebuild trust and understanding in your relationship? Consider how counseling with Dr. Gregory M. Crow could improve your life. With over 40 years of experience, Dr. Crow specializes in fidelity and purity issues, premarital and couples therapy, and the treatment of trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, panic, and grief.

Contact Dr. Crow today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards healing and strengthening your relationship. Whether you’re facing a crisis or simply want to address issues rapidly, Dr. Crow offers intensive therapy programs designed to provide relief and support in a shorter time frame.



Once a cheater always a cheater?

This question often comes up in counseling. When fidelity has been breached, well-meaning friends often say this to the one who has been cheated on, along with the statement that they would never and could never stay with someone who did this to them.

All of this seems so right-until it happens to you. Now it’s your marriage, your family and your life on the bubble.

Amazingly, most women (I work primarily with the men) stay and work things out with their spouses. After having done this for 34 years, I can attest to the fact that the vast majority of men who participate in a program of recovery specific to this problem do become safe husbands and fathers!

This is because they needed help and, now receiving it, are much more likely to be able to be that integrous man they have desperately wanted to be.

The intensive individual therapy clears the forest of material that fuels the fire in the mans life, so that the group therapy can successfully suppress and control the embers of addiction- which are the habits wired into the brain (see Biology of Desire, Marc Lewis, PhD).

While I agree with the science of addiction, I can state with confidence that when a man or woman stops trying to recover alone, amazing things can and do happen because, you see, we are not defined only by our bad habits, but by the many good things God has built into us. The desire to be a man of integrity is one of those things and it can be supported and achieved if the choice is made to get help.

Spiritual journey

The following Caring Bridge entry is submitted in the hopes that it may encourage someone going through very hard times. For me, that has been cancer treatment and the loss of a child:

Further recent reflection leads to this attempt to document what seems to me to be significant learning about my life journey and my evolving relationship with our Heavenly Father.
I find that I’ve been attempting to reconcile His Love (which I do experience) with the journey our family has been on. I have never before felt the need to do this. I believe that the events of the last two years eventually forced me to face really hard questions.

One thing for sure: this is personal. This is no longer the kind of experience that can be neatly compartmentalized in some far away place. I can see the good in that because it forces a more personal, vital faith to match.

I am aware of some critical stages in the development of my faith:
I recall feeling at loose ends as a young adult. Jesus came to save the “lost.” That, in more ways than one, was me.
After finding anchorage in Him I could continue to grow as a person.
Probably the next big step was years ago when it ceased to be enough to call on God when help was needed. It became clear that everything needed to be turned over to Him daily and that there would no longer be a singular I or me- only a we; and he is the senior partner. (real Lordship I believe).
More recently, as I have journaled here before, the many challenges of the last two years (starting right around Nov., 2015) have led to a much closer relationship with Him. The time spent in meditation and prayer combined with the intense felt sense of need led to intimacy that has been special. I have experienced a greater trust and rest. Even though I’m weaker physically, I am stronger emotionally and spiritually. As my health has improved, I have endeavored to sustain the sweet closeness that was so hard-earned.

Losing David (6 month anniversary of his passing just recently) gave immediate relief from the day in and day out burden of caring for and worrying about him. As we adjusted to our new normal, some of the anger and disillusionment of the whole of his life condition and his end started to sink in.
As I struggled to understand why these circumstances had to be, I researched what Christian thinkers have come up with. Given the choices mankind has made to turn away from God, I can see how God would want to provide freedom of choice for every person and new generation. The fact that many say “no” to Him leads to problems to be sure, but I can understand that God wants our hearts to be for Him and thus, we must truly have a choice. This is a long and controversial discussion (see Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith). It has been vital to me to see that God entered into our mess through His only son (I had only one son) and that His son was also tortured by the circumstances of being here. Jesus truly suffered as he gave everything He had to us and for us while those who had chosen to say “no” to God were free to choose to persecute Him.

I have long believed and taught my children that Jesus came as a suffering servant to change our hearts, not our circumstances. But our circumstances can be a lot more troublesome than I ever knew possible. “How long, oh Lord (will we have to wait for the ruling reigning king)?”

Again, this is no longer just theology- it is real and personal. I must accept this. As I do, I see that God has elected to be present here primarily through people. He rarely sends floods or fire and brimstone down on planet earth. Instead he sends people- like those who have been there for us through thick and thin (we love you and appreciate you!).
Faith is not just about believing or living obedient lives, although those things are important. He relates to us through our and others’ changed hearts. This appears to be His way. I now understand the importance of aligning our hearts with His. 1 Corinthians 13:13…Faith, Hope and Love remain but the greatest of these is Love (paraphrase).

My heart, too, must change.
I will ask Him to help me be more intentionally present to Him: more of the time, in more ways and more deeply.
What a beautiful world it would be (think Louis Armstrong) if we all actively sought His heart to transform our hearts. “Oh Yeah.”
So, the gift coming from our journey seems to be the felt sense of His love- up close and personal because it is born of up close and personal battles.
Now that I reflect on it, all of the significant growth I just mentioned has come from up close and personal challenges.
I remind myself that, once we enter His presence, all of these “momentary afflictions” won’t matter.
In the meantime, they generate hard-won intimacy with God, amazing encounters with people and real peace inside.
Who wouldn’t want that?

Safe Loved Valued

In my blog on Mindfulness you will find rationale and technique, mostly as it relates to stress and anxiety reduction. Mindfulness is also used to get down to issues so they can be addressed.

We can categorize issues into three areas. Did the person feel safe, loved and valued? Each area is important and they work in order. If a person frequently felt frightened and unsafe growing up, work in that area will be most productive. If a person felt physically safe but not loved, work will be mostly useful in that area. Many people felt physically safe and loved but did not get the message that they brought much of value to the table. In that case, work should focus there.

Mindfulness helps us get down inside where these issues live so that the experiences that were formative can be altered in certain ways and the belief system (who I am) can be changed. In some ways it is quite amazing that this can be done. I once had a woman in her 70s work on a memory from 3 years of age. It needed to be done because the messages (what she had internalized about life and herself) were just as potent as they were 60 some years before-and they were not good for her.

It is never too late to change the narrative. We can’t change what happened or what we did but we can change what we take away from it and we can feel safer, more loved and more valuable, which frees us to live today!

Mindfulness (awareness of ourselves, our bodies) is a fantastic skill anyone can learn. Combine that with inquisitiveness and memories and skills we, our therapists and friends have to speak into our lives and the sky is the limit on the freedom that can be attained when the primary problems are experiential, not biological.


Personal Note

The following is a post I did for Caring Bridge just recently (end of April, 2016). For those who don’t know, I was diagnosed with a treatable form of cancer (GIST) in November of 2015 and was out of the office until April of 2016 due to complications and surgery for a small intestinal blockage. I am grateful to have survived and to be able to work.


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Shades of Grey: Not Cool

Timely and pithy article by a respected Psychiatrist:

A Psychiatrist’s Letter to Young People About 50 Shades of Grey

There’s nothing gray about Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s all black.

I help people who are broken inside. I ask questions, and listen carefully to the answers.

One thing I’ve learned is that young people are utterly confused about love — finding it and keeping it. They make poor choices, and end up in lots of pain.

I don’t want you to suffer like the people I see in my office, so I’m warning you about a new movie called Fifty Shades of Grey. Even if you don’t see the film, its toxic message is seeping into our culture, and could plant dangerous ideas in your head.

Fifty Shades of Grey is being released for Valentine’s Day, so you’ll think it’s a romance, but don’t fall for it. The movie is actually about a sick, dangerous relationship filled with physical and emotional abuse. It seems glamorous, because the actors are gorgeous, have expensive cars and planes, and Beyonce is singing. You might conclude that Christian and Ana are cool, and that their relationship is acceptable.

Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated! The people behind the movie just want your money; they have no concern whatsoever about you and your dreams.

Abuse is not glamorous or cool. It is never OK, under any circumstances.

This is what you need to know about Fifty Shades of Grey: as a child, Christian Grey was terribly neglected. He is confused about love because he never experienced the real thing. In his mind, love is tangled up with bad feelings like pain and embarrassment. Christian enjoys hurting women in bizarre ways. Anastasia is an immature girl who falls for Christian’s looks and wealth, and foolishly goes along with his desires.

In the real world, this story would end badly, with Christian in jail, and Ana in a shelter — or morgue. Or Christian would continue beating Ana, and she’d stay and suffer. Either way, their lives would most definitely not be a fairy tale. Trust me on this one.

As a doctor, I’m urging you: DON’T see Fifty Shades of Grey. Get informed, learn the facts, and explain to your friends why they shouldn’t see it either.

Here are a few of the dangerous ideas promoted by Fifty Shades of Grey:

1. Girls want guys like Christian who order them around and get rough.

No! A psychologically healthy woman avoids pain. She wants to feel safe, respected and cared for by a man she can trust. She dreams about wedding gowns, not handcuffs.

2. Guys want a girl like Anastasia who is meek and insecure.

Wrong. A psychologically healthy man wants a woman who can stand up for herself. If he is out of line, he wants her to set him straight.

3. Anastasia exercises free choice when she consents to being hurt, so no one can judge her decision.

Flawed logic. Sure, Anastasia had free choice — and she chose poorly. A self-destructive decision is a bad decision.

4. Anastasia makes choices about Christian in a thoughtful and detached manner.

Doubtful. Christian constantly supplies Anastasia with alcohol, impairing her judgment. Also, Anastasia becomes sexually active with Christian — her first experience ever — soon after meeting him. Neuroscience suggests their intimacy could jump start her feelings of attachment and trust, before she’s certain he deserved them. Sex is a powerful experience — particularly the first time. Finally, Christian manipulates Anastasia into signing an agreement prohibiting her from telling anyone that he is a long time abuser.

Alcohol, sex, manipulation — hardly the ingredients of a thoughtful, detached decision.

5. Christian’s emotional problems are cured by Anastasia’s love.

Only in a movie. In the real world, Christian wouldn’t change to any significant degree. If Anastasia was fulfilled by helping emotionally disturbed people, she should have become a psychiatrist or social worker.

6. It’s good to experiment with sexuality.

The bottom line: the ideas of Fifty Shades of Grey are dangerous, and can lead to confusion and poor decisions about love.
Maybe for adults in a healthy, long term, committed, monogamous relationship, AKA “marriage”. Otherwise, you’re at high risk for STDs, pregnancy, and sexual assault. It’s wise to be very careful who you allow to get close to you, physically and emotionally, because just one encounter can throw you off track and change your life forever.

The bottom line: the ideas of Fifty Shades of Grey are dangerous, and can lead to confusion and poor decisions about love. There are vast differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships, but the movie blurs those differences, so you begin to wonder: “What’s healthy in a relationship? What’s sick? There are so many shades of grey — I’m not sure.”

Listen, it’s your safety and future we’re talking about here. There’s no room for doubt: An intimate relationship that includes violence, consensual or not, is completely unacceptable.

This is black and white. There are no shades of grey here. Not even one.



New Years’ Resolutions

The Christmas season brings great expectations…and pressures. Whew! While on the phone for technical support a couple of days ago, a woman said she couldn’t wait until Christmas was over for another year. I didn’t want to agree with that sentiment,  but I sure do understand it!

I sincerely hope you and your family had a great couple of weeks-and found some time to rest.

Because we have greater stress, we are more likely to have had some fractious encounters with loved ones!

It may be time to re-up on our conflict management skills!

Here are some tips from the highly regarded Psychologist John Gottman:

1) soft start up to any conflict that arises or that we must address
2) accept influence of others. Hear them and understand them.
3) use positive affect in the service of de-escalation
4) soothe yourself to stay calm
5) use apology and humor
6) create a dialogue. We don’t have to be “right”

How about picking just one of the above and working on it this new year?There’s amazing power in that kind of focussed effort!

Happy New Year!