CONTACT MY OFFICE:
(503) 222-6678 - Portland, Oregon
(360) 256-0448 Vancouver, Washington
   info@kmarshack.com

Therapy

ADD & ADHD
ADOPTIVE FAMILIES
ASPERGER & MARRIAGE
COUPLES IN BUSINESS
DEPRESSION & STRESS
ENTREPRENEURIAL LIFE
EXPAT ONLINE THERAPY
HIGH CONFLICT DIVORCE
MARRIAGE COUNSELING
MIND & BODY HEALTH
PARENTING
PERSONAL GROWTH
RECOMMENDED LINKS
NEWS CENTER
ONLINE STORE
Overview
ADD in Adults
Parenting a Child with ADD
Overview
Articles
Overview
Coping with Anxiety Disorders
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Overcoming Depression
Managing Stress
Conquering Fears & Phobias
Overcoming Social Phobia
Overview
Couples at Work & Home
Dual Career Couples
Families in Business
Overview
Recognizing High Conflict Divorce
Overview
Conflict & Communication
Infidelity
Couples at Work & Home
Love, Sex & Intimacy
Maintaining Strong Marriage
Dual Career Couples
Codependence
Advice for Singles Only
Overview
Alcoholism Recovery
Stop Smoking
Weight Control
Headache Relief
Holistic Health
Managing Blood Pressure
Releasing Unresolved Stress
Overview
Am I a Good Parent
Blended Families
Gifted Child
Coping with ADD/ADHD
Adoptive Families
Overview
Gifted Adults
When to Seek Help
Psychotherapy Options
Laid-Off from Work
Overview
Calendar of Events
Media Coverage
Newsletter
Press Center
Seminars
Related New Stories
Subscribe
Sample
Enriching Your Live Archive
Entrepreneurial Couples Archive

Enriching Your Life!

Sign up for my FREE newsletter! Get practical tips for you and your family.

Kathy Marshack News

How Do You Deal with Conflict - Capitulate, Compromise or Detach?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


When dealing with conflict do you compromise, capitulate or detachIt’s inevitable in any relationship that there will be conflict. No two people are going to always see eye-to-eye on everything. That’s why communication is called the lifeblood of a relationship. The sooner you talk out the problem, the better.

But what if you’re married to someone with Asperger’s Syndrome? It’s not their fault that they have trouble communicating their thoughts and feelings and can’t understand yours. They try their best within the framework that we built with them.

But to build a framework that supports you and your Aspie partner takes work and a special understanding of your own needs and that of your partner. At times, the lack of empathy demonstrated by Aspie loved ones may lead you to lose sight of your own reality so that you collapse into agonizing despair. This type of mental and emotional confusion needs powerful therapy to break through the faulty reasoning that is a result of using NT logic to make sense of the Asperger world.

Oftentimes, it just feels easier to capitulate, compromise or detach. Yet, none of these options sound good do they? I mean when you just want to be heard and understood and maybe even get your way once in awhile. . . why does it have to be soooo hard? But Asperger/NT relationships are very hard. That’s why we need to support one another and share our success and challenges.

If you’re a member of the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, please join our next Free TELECONFERENCE: Capitulate, Compromise or Detach Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 2:00 PM. We’ll explore the options to navigating a conversation with our Aspies. Yes, we still have to use a lot of capitulating, compromising and detaching to get anything accomplished, but there might be a few other tricks to move the conversation along toward a mutually satisfying agreement. Come prepared with questions and solutions. I don't have all of the answers either. I do know, however, that when the mood is right, and I am very centered, it does go better.

Please note: This call is for NT members only. Do not invite your Aspies. Please find a private place to listen away from others, so everyone's privacy is respected.

If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and would like some in-person help with your NT/AS relationship issues, please contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can find the strategies that help you and your family thrive.

Read more on my website: Asperger and Marriage.

Entrepreneurial Couples – What Should You Change in 2016 If Your Lifestyle Just Isn’t Working?

Wednesday, December 02, 2015


Entrepreneurial Couples – What Should You Change in 2016 If Your Lifestyle Just Isn’t Working?Most entrepreneurial couples just wing it when it comes to business or marriage. They trust their drive, intelligence, and savvy to get them through life's roadblocks. But as life becomes more complicated by marriage, children, and an expanding business, the weaknesses in this style begin to emerge. Without a plan for the evolution of your marriage, family, or business, you may be very unprepared for the consequences. It is no surprise that most family-owned businesses never make it to the second generation.

Composing a life may be a better euphemism than life planning because it implies that life is art. The artist understands that the picture is more than the sum of its parts. The artist knows that when all of the elements are woven together, the tapestry takes on a life of its own. When you think about the business you have chosen to run with your spouse or partner, is it a representation of both of you or of some family history? How did you choose the name for your business? Does the name reflect a value or interest of yours? The answers to these questions reveal that it is not by chance that you are precisely at this point in your life.

It would be a lot easier to compose a life if you had a clean slate to start with. Unfortunately, you have probably been wandering around in life for a few decades already. You made decisions years ago that are still affecting you today. Some of these decisions can be changed; others are more permanent. Still others are perfectly good choices and are the foundation of the life you will begin composing today.

The first consideration in composing a life is to be brave. You may have to do radical surgery on yourself. You will probably find that your basic values as a human being are sound, but that their expression in the real world will have to change. When you were a young adult in your early twenties, developing a relationship with your new spouse was based on the needs and goals of youth. Your marriage today, as an older, wiser couple, may require revamping to keep up with individual, family, and business development. Even the business in which you chose to involve yourself may have been suited to you at thirty, but at forty-five has lost its appeal.

When people face a crisis or even just an ordinary problem, they are tempted to try a simple change. They change jobs, change spouses, build a new house, and so on. These simple changes are supposed to make them feel better—and sometimes they do, for a while. But in the long run the new job fizzles, the new spouse presents problems remarkably similar to those the previous spouse presented, and the new house is still not quite big enough.

Rather than waste your time with pointless changes, compose a life, and plan for meaningful change. Change your map of reality to include the possibilities that you (your spouse and your family) are capable of, even if this involves painful and difficult work. In other words, composing a life that works this time probably means changing your concept of the interdependence of love and work.

Are you ready to compose a new life plan as an entrepreneurial couple? You can order a copy of my book, Entrepreneurial Couples: Making It Work at Work and at Home, to get my more advice on how to do it successfully, including my 7 Ground Rules for Successful Life Planning. Do you have a question for me? Sign-up for a Remote Education session with me to get some answers.

Don’t Make the Mistake of Hiding Family Problems From Your Children

Monday, November 30, 2015


Don't shield children from family problemsIt’s hard to keep secrets in family businesses yet I see so many parents try. I have had too many parents tell me that their children aren’t aware of the hardship the parent or the business is facing.

The reality is that the child knows something. Just like an animal can smell danger, your child can feel the tension in the house, even if he or she can’t describe in words what’s wrong. If your child doesn’t get your help in understanding the family problem, he or she can only imagine what's going on — and usually imagines the worst.

I have had four-year-olds tell me of their parents' pending divorce, when not even the respective spouses knew, but it eventually proved to be true. I have had ten-year-olds tell me the extent of Dad's alcohol problem, down to where he hides his bottles, when Mom was still in denial about her husband's alcoholism. I have had teenagers tell me of a parent's extramarital affair because they were afraid to tell this "secret" to anyone else.

Some children handle these psychological traumas poorly. Some coast on by without a scratch. Others have problems at home but not at school. The bottom line is that "it all depends”. What it depends on is how the trauma is handled by the child and his or her parents and significant others. As the child's primary role model, you can reframe the trauma into a learning experience. Your child will experience many difficult times while growing up, and adult life is certainly not problem-free either.

By working with your child to resolve his or her feelings of fear, anger, and grief, and by also working through your own, you’re helping your child learn how to handle the stresses and strains of human life. As parents we may feel that our children should never have to suffer. However, another way to look at suffering is that it’s an opportunity to grow, to become stronger, more resilient.

As parents, don’t deprive your children of experiencing the hardships that face the family or the business. For example, don’t hide dissension between you and your spouse. A fair fight between Mom and Dad that results in a fair and appropriate resolution gives your child a chance to see how conflicts get resolved. If you shelter your children from the hard times, they may not know that hard times exist ahead for them, and they may not learn how to cope when they do come.

Obviously, you don’t want to expose your child to harm, nor use the sink-or-swim method of parenting. Yet as you act in your role as family leader, you can assist him or her in discovering every aspect of life, the good as well as the bad. You can encourage your child to use his or her resources to resolve new problems, thus building your child's confidence that he or she can handle tough things. You can demonstrate that even though life is no cakewalk, you are open to learning new things. You can resolve most of the dilemmas that life dishes out.

Read more on my website: Am I a Good Parent? If you could use help resolving a problem in your marriage, your relationship with your children or both and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

What To Do When Your Husband’s Asperger-Type Love Is Not Enough

Monday, November 23, 2015


aspergers loveStatistically five times more males are diagnosed with Asperger’s, yet there are women who have Asperger’s Syndrome, too. So, while in this post we discuss husbands, it can apply equally if your wife has Asperger’s. Either way, you have a tough road ahead when it comes to romance and love.

As Neuro-typicals (those not on the autism spectrum), we tend to see our lives as a function of a network of interconnected relationships. During the day we’re busy doing things, but behind it all we’re constantly thinking about our loved ones. Let me give you two examples:

1. As you look at the computer screen, you keep your mind and eye on the clock in the corner because it reminds you that soon the kids will be home and you’ll need to stop to make dinner for your family.

2. In the garden you may want to plant Roma tomatoes, but you also plant cherry tomatoes for your husband because they’re his favorite.

Can you see how everything we think and do revolves around our loved ones, family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers? But this is not true for our Aspie loved ones. It’s true we’re on their list somewhere. But not as part of the context of their lives. We’re just one of many things they hold dear. Instead of being the glue that holds their world together, we’re a love object. We may be a very important love object, but it’s not the same is it?

So many times I hear that our Asperger Syndrome Meetup members struggle with how to resolve their relationship problems with their Aspies. They love them, even though nothing else seems to work in the relationship. That love feeling is so strong and so binding for NTs that it’s unimaginable that the other problems in the relationship can’t be resolved by sheer willpower. However, we soon learn with Aspies that love is not enough.

During the December paid Video Conference, we’ll explore the emotion and concept of love with regard to these trying relationships. This topic, Love Is Not Enough, is scheduled for Thursday, December 3rd at 9:00 AM PT. There’s only room for 10 attendees, so register right away. One of my past attendees put this Video Call on her calendar as “Lifesaving Video Conference”. It’s that powerful to connect with others who understand.

Update: The December 3rd call is full. There are still a few openings to discuss the same topic on Thursday, December 10th at 2:00 PM PT.

Learn more on my website: Asperger & Marriage and Frequently Asked Questions About Asperger’s Syndrome.

How to Use Good Communication Skills to Revive Stale Relationships

Monday, November 16, 2015


You need good communication skills to revive a stale relationshipRelationships are ever evolving. Because we as individuals change over time, we can’t expect our relationships to stay the same. Nor would we want them to since they would become boring and stale. We want our close friendships to mature and grow with us.

Do you find yourself in a stale relationship? How can you refresh it? Without good communication skills and quality time dedicated to communicating, relationships soon flounder and fail. We all need to learn that relationships are not a thing, but a process.

Recently I wrote an article for PsychCentral discussing this topic and shared an example of how one couple, Steven and Danielle, assumed they knew how the other felt and started taking each other for granted. I’d encourage you to click here to read the entire PsychCentral article. (And while you’re there, will you share this information from your favorite social media platform, too?)

How can you nurture a floundering relationship back to health?

Firstly, recognize that people are relationships. We know ourselves (our similarities and differences) only in relationship to others. When we aren’t able to communicate with others, we become confused and begin to doubt ourselves or we build impenetrable defenses against change.

Secondly, pay attention to how you listen. Listening means that, instead of planning your next comment, you just listen and try to understand where your partner is coming from; don’t comment; don’t judge. And it also requires that you make sure you’re on the same page to begin with and that you then stay on the subject.

Thirdly, disagreement is good if handled respectfully and honestly. It gives everyone the opportunity to examine their own views, challenges them and allows them to grow as they consider something new.

As you develop the art of listening and conversing, you’ll have more meaningful conversations and develop deeper relationships. Without these skills you will never achieve the intimacy you crave. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, and you our struggling to adapt and communicate in your relationship with your partner please contact my office and schedule an appointment. It really does help to talk with someone.

Minimize Asperger-Induced Stress by Creating New Holiday Traditions

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Lessen Asperger-Induced Holiday StressHolidays should be a fun time to connect with friends and family, but when your husband, wife or child has Asperger’s Syndrome it can be anything but joyful. The increased number of social occasions makes it tough on your Aspie loved one because they have difficulty with socializing. This makes it hard on you, because you always feel like you need to be on guard to field their social faux pas.

To help you cope, let’s focus on how you can minimize the stresses of the coming holidays. This will help you be more prepared to manage the meltdowns and your own dashed hopes for the upcoming seasonal events.

Of course you can plan better self-care, like a massage or an extra session with your psychologist. You can reduce the number of parties you attend or you could even skip taking the kids to see Santa. However, instead of thinking about what to avoid, why not think about the positive things you can do?

You can introduce these new traditions that actually are fun and soothing…

1. Have the holiday meal catered or ordered from your deli. If you don't have the stress of planning and cooking a big meal, you’ll be in better shape to handle the other stresses. Plus you can stay home where your Aspies feel safer.

2. Drive separately to the event so your Aspies can go home early or one of you can take home a overtired child. This leaves you and more stable family members to still have fun.

3. Skip all of the extended family invitations and leave town for a quiet weekend at the beach or the mountains or even at a downtown hotel. You can still enjoy the holiday spirit if you phone ahead and request that your children are allowed to decorate the tree in the hotel lobby.

Your Aspie may be appalled that you want to do these things, but you can tell them "This is a new tradition that I want to start. Let's try it to see if it works." They might buy it. In any case you need a break.

Sometimes you’re too close to the situation to see the best solution to your problem. Often others can think outside the box and provide you with some great ideas. That’s what we’re going to focus on in our next, free, International Teleconference entitled, Creating New Holiday Traditions. It’s scheduled for Thursday, November 19th at 2:30PM PDT. Come and share your best Asperger holiday tips.

Learn more about the science of Asperger Syndrome and how it can help your family be happier in my book, Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD), click on the image below to download a free chapter.

A Caution to Persuasive Spouses – Is Your Partner Agreeing or Just Acquiescing?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


acquiesence is not the same as agreeing. Communicate don't give in if you don't agreeThe art of persuasion is an interesting phenomenon. The skills of persuasion are neither good nor bad in and of themselves. However, the skills can be used in an honest and fair way or can be misused in an unethical and harmful way. It all depends on the intentions of the user and receiver in the communication.

In seeking to avoid conflict and confrontation, a persuasive person may push his or her partner to acquiesce or give in to a certain point of view, but this doesn’t mean that the partner agrees. It may mean only that the partner actually doesn’t want to fight and so appears to agree.

It’s a mistake to push to win at all costs or to acquiesce to the persuader. In either case, whether you are the persuader or the one giving in, the conflict has not been resolved and, what's worse may have been driven underground.

Take for example, a couple named Steven and Danielle. Steven is a driven businessman. He’s succeeded by sheer willpower and guts. He hasn’t let anything or anyone get in his way, not even his wife and children.

They separated when the children were little because Danielle discovered that Steven was having yet another affair. The affair went on for years and even resulted in the birth of a child. Then Steven decided to return to Danielle and their children, and Danielle acquiesced. She really wanted a divorce but couldn’t bring herself to confront Steven. Instead she hoped that he had changed, even though he continued to bully his wife and children.

Unfortunately, Steven confuses acquiescence with agreement. Danielle confuses acquiescence with cooperation. She timidly agrees to every idea that Steven suggests. Behind his back, though, she tells a different story to her children and friends. Rather than confront Steven directly, Danielle tries to cajole him into considering her opinion.

Steven has built a successful business, if you measure success in financial terms. However, there’s no trust in his marriage. And he’s destroyed the self-esteem of his children. Making money and needing to win have been Steven's ways of proving that he’s a worthy person. Unfortunately, this style has only deepened his insecurities because no one wants to spend quality time with him. They’re too afraid to open up to a man who will use against them any information he uncovers.

If you’re a natural at persuasion, be careful to consider the context in which you’re using this skill, and consider carefully what your motive or intention is. If you’re clarifying difficult points or reframing your partner’s position to help move both of you toward a mutually agreeable solution, then by all means use persuasion. But if your motives are not well intended for both parties, do not take advantage of a partner who is quick to acquiesce because she or he is afraid of confrontation. There are other, more rewarding ways to win at love than by undermining another person’s self-respect.

Are you struggling to communicate with your spouse? Do you feel like you, or your partner, give in too easily and it’s impacting the quality of your relationship? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment to learn skills that help you to relate with your spouse.

The above is an excerpt from my book, Entrepreneurial Couples – Making it Work at Work and at Home. Want to read more? Get your own hardcopy or Kindle version from Amazon.

Is It Time to Renew Your Marriage Contract?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Renew your wedding contractYour marriage contract is more than a marriage license. It’s a group of assumptions that you made about marriage and your partner and yourself. The assumptions you first made at age 22 may not fit at 42. No doubt the assumptions that guided you through those first years altered as you had children, then altered again as the children entered college or when you started a business or changed your profession and so on. Did you think to sit down and analyze what you wanted or what was best given each new set of circumstances? Did you discuss it together as a couple? Sadly most couples do not, which causes many couples to drift apart.

How can you renew your commitment to each other through a renegotiated marriage contract?

  • Schedule a weekend away so you can relax and discuss this.
  • Each should privately identify what he or she now wants from the marriage - write it down on a piece of paper.
  • Be flexible with yourself and your partner as circumstances change.
  • Let go of old ways that are no longer appropriate.
  • Keep your basic values in tact.
  • Identify goals that are in the best interests of your marriage and individually.
  • Discuss with your partner how to divide family responsibilities equitably.
  • Overcome the inevitable fears.

I often hear people say, "I'm not going to change; you knew who I was when you married me; you better be happy with that!" Things do change and people move on. All of us change daily and it's doubtful that you’re the same person you were twenty years ago. And neither is your spouse. Complaints about change are coming from a place of fear...fear of change and fear of the unknown. Change is inevitable. It will either overtake you or you can plan a little and guide the change process. It's your choice.

Evaluate your situation now. Is it time to talk with your spouse and make some changes before they erupt into irreconcilable differences? Have you lost your sense of identity over time? Have conflicts already eruped? Many couples have found that they can more easily and calmly open this conversation when an impartial family counselor is involved. If you live near Portland, Oregon, please contact my office and set up an appointment. I would be delighted to help you reconnect with your lifelong partner and make the next stage of your life more fulfilling.

If you're in business together make sure to download my free Checklist for Entrepreneurial Couples. Click on the image below...


Why Women with Asperger’s Syndrome Don’t Fit In

Friday, September 18, 2015


women with aspergers don't fit inIt’s a harsh fact that women are valued for who they are, whereas men are valued for what they do. While we may make allowances for the eccentricities of men with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), such as the stereotypical absent-minded professor or geeky software engineer, there are no acceptable and endearing stereotypes for women with AS. This is because women – all women, whether they have careers or work in the home – are val­ued for how well they fit in. Most women sense they need to be pleasant, supportive and caring, or they’re labeled “bossy”, “pushy”, or worse.

 In mapping out the “theory-of-mind network” of the brain, neuroscientists have found that women without Asperger’s score the highest in showing empathy – being able to read a person’s feeling by looking at them. Men without Asperger’s score the next highest. However, studies are showing that women with Asperger’s score a lot worse. In fact they are on the extreme male side of the spectrum. This is called the “extreme male brain” theory of autism. You can read more about this study led by Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the ARC at Cambridge University here.

For the woman with Asperger Syndrome this gender impera­tive can be a nightmare. Fitting in is almost the antithesis of Asperger’s Syndrome. How can you fit in when you don’t have “social radar”?

The most important first step for an AS woman is self-accep­tance, which doesn’t come from trying to fit in. Once you and your family can accept that this is the way it is, you can finally move on to develop a structure that you can live with. Here are some ways to achieve self-acceptance:

  • Stop expecting to fit in, but reach out to others who accept your uniqueness.
  • Laugh at your foibles.
  • Explore the little-known world of Asperger’s Syndrome and teach your daughters to navigate the world from the lessons you’ve learned.
  • Believe you have gifts to offer.
  • Develop housekeeping routines and mothering techniques that work for you.
  • Hire as much help as you can afford.

What matters is preserving your self-esteem so that you have time to enjoy your loved ones and they you. Seek the support and guidance of a psychologist who is well versed in the double whammy of dealing with being a woman and having Asperger Syndrome. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Leaving or Divorcing Your Narcissistic Spouse? Be Prepared

Thursday, September 10, 2015


divorcing or leaving a narcissistCan you imagine going through a high conflict divorce where your spouse successfully convinces friends, neighbors and government officials that you’re dangerous and crazy to the point where you’re arrested multiple times? Not only that, you lose your professional standing in the community and your children are alienated from you? While this may sound like a bad movie, this is actually happening to countless people across the United States.

How can one human being treat another so horribly? In many cases it’s because of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This is a very real brain disorder not just a personality flaw. Narcissists view everyone else as inferior and feel they are entitled to the best. People who have healthy confidence and self-esteem don't value themselves more than they value others.

Leaving a narcissist is dangerous and no one has the right to tell you to leave such an individual. The Well Book Club of the New York Times recently opened up a discussion based on the book “Will I Ever Be Free of You: How to Navigate a High-Conflict Divorce From a Narcissist and Heal Your Family” by Karyl McBride. It has the following advice (although we refer to the narcissist as a he it can apply to women as well):

  • Plan ahead and thoroughly consider the risks to yourself and your children.
  • Have your resources lined up (copies of essential documents, money, an established support system in family/community who won't believe him when he says terrible things).
  • Be prepared to get a restraining order. Even if he hasn’t hit you yet, risk increases when he realizes you’re moving away from his control.
  • Document the abuse – keep a journal in a safe place, take pictures of the bruises, confide in a trusted friend or health care worker.
  • Find out about pet safety.
  • Find a therapist trained in domestic violence.
  • Check bulletin boards in places like health care centers, grocery stores, libraries, or the internet for a complete safety plan before you act.

If you choose to remain in a relationship with someone you suspect is a narcissist, get counseling for yourself immediately. A trained mental health professional can help you navigate this difficult relationship so you don’t sink into a dangerous cycle of codependency.

Those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be helped by psychotherapy if they’re willing. In the short-term psychotherapy would address issues as substance abuse, depression, and relationship issues. In the long-term, it would help them to gradually reshape their personality so they create a healthier self-image.

If you need a diagnosis or counseling related to narcissism in yourself or a loved one and you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington, please contact my office to make an appointment.



Recent Posts RSS


Tags


Archive