Cast Blog: #LASHRINKS

Dr. Eris: No Sex, No Baby

Dr. Greg: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Dr. Eris: How Can I Change My Spouse?

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Power Struggles

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Dr. Eris: How to Heal Your Broken Heart

The V Spot: The "Nice Guy"

5 Ways To Improve Body Image Without Breast Impants

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Dr. Greg: Accepting My Father

Dr. Greg: Yes -- Therapists Go to Therapy!

Dr. Greg: Why Hate Fat People?

Dr. Eris: "Sharing My Story Out Loud Scared The S--- Out Of Me"

Dr. Greg: The Trap of "Good" vs. "Bad"

Dr. Greg: My Father's Courage

Dr. Greg: What Being "Monogamish" Really Means

Dr. Eris: No Sex, No Baby

Eris is frank about her and her husband's desire to have a baby before it might be too late.

 

Hi there! Hopefully you’re reading this because you just met me through the lens of Bravo’s LA Shrinks. Thank you for your love and support. I am so grateful for your kind words and emails. Stick around online and on Monday nights, and we’ll get to know each other better. 

A lot has happened in the past week since the first episode aired. It’s been a whirlwind not only with friends, family, and viewers asking about different aspects of the show, but also with my clients that I see every week. They all got a peek into our lives, and one thing you realize fast is when you share your life with the world, they’re going to want to share back. In my profession, that’s a good thing.   

A little bit about my professional life is that I am a licensed marriage and family therapist in the state of California. I have a Doctorate Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology. I work with people, from all walks of life, toward making positive and lasting life changes.

Not only do I love what I do, but I take my profession of therapy very seriously. Some viewers ask why I would open myself up in this way and do this show. That’s an easy answer: because I want to help people. I want people to see that it’s OK to seek help if you hit a roadblock. Even I do too. Helping others through difficult times is what is most important and personal to me. 

Ah, those personal issues. Therapists needing their own therapists! Of course we do. There are misconceptions that those in my profession don’t need to be helped themselves. Or, that we have to be fully whole, with all of the answers, and not working on ourselves. This is not the case in our profession. Did you know that to become a California licensed therapist we need to spend 3,000 hours in therapy, and it’s suggested that part of those hours are spent with ourselves being in therapy? We want to dispel the myth that therapy is only for those with “serious” issues. It would be like a dentist never going to the dentist, or a doctor never getting yearly checkups.This first week I also learned why actors don’t like to watch their movies or see their reviews. That was a difficult one. Clayton said to me, “I come off like I don’t want a baby,” and I replied, “It looks like you and I jumped into the marriage without talking about the baby issue ever!”  

The question that some of you are asking is, “Can you do the same for yourself as you do for your clients?” Of course I can! I experience struggles just like you do. I experience shame and fear. In fact, the story that you are seeing about the disconnection my husband, the most important person to me, and I are experiencing makes me feel embarrassed. I hope you can see that we are confronted with an issue and that we are working on it. 

Likewise, I am trusting viewers understand what I am going through, and many other women too. There has been a lot of talk out there about me wanting a child and my husband not wanting the same. Clayton and I asked each other, “Are viewers misunderstanding and thinking we never had ‘the talk’ about children before we got married?” Of course we did! We’ve always talked about having two kids. If that’s the plan, then why the sudden baby fever and biological clock pounding in my head? 

Like many couples, in the eight years we’ve been together, I’ve spent evenings getting my doctorate and days with my practice -- Clayton runs his own company which is not a 40 or even 60-hour-a-week job as many small business owners know. Time and schedules got away from us. It’s like we finally came up for air and then oops... baby issue….

So here we are a few years older, and it’s simply a matter of let’s connect, just ourselves, for a few months and get that going strong again before we bring on the stress (and the fun) of making a baby. Sure, friends that are parents offer up to us that the “timing is never right,” and while the time is definitely soon, Clayton was reasonable in saying let’s let that decision breathe for a second. Welcome to Episode 1… with me the panicked wife saying, “I want a baby now,” and a husband saying, “Yikes, no way.” Oh, my.  The problem is that I am 38 (at the time of filming.) Tick tock tick tock. I am experiencing the baby gap -- a void, chasm and space where there’s something missing. There is an internal panic that I am running out of time. In clinical terms: anxiety.  

When I see myself on the show and hear my words of wanting a baby, I am pushed to tears. These feelings are very real. I become afraid when I think of my girlfriend who has had five miscarriages in a row after 40, and at 42, she still doesn’t have a baby. Or my other friend who froze her eggs and now at the age of 45, still single, is not taking to the IVF treatments. Right now I am holding onto the positive fact that two other of my closest girlfriends got pregnant at the age of 39 and 42 and have beautiful and healthy babies.

I look back at the last 20 years of my life and see that I have chosen freedom to follow my dreams and come this far in my career. I’ve gone through life with the mindset that so many women in my generation have started their families later due to the result of a combination of increased economic power, later marriage, the two-income family, the high cost of childcare, longevity, and a culture that rewards female independence, individualism and a strong career identity. 

But, then a darker, extremely painful side in waiting to conceive sets in. This is where the panic takes over and any logical “smart” thinking, that my husband has, goes out the window. I stop believing that I need to be financially stable, have the perfect house, work less, and that I don’t want my child to be raised by a nanny. Instead, I start listening to what my mother is telling me: don’t wait any longer. You’ll regret it. 

Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock…

While Clayton looks at the external factors that come into play with having a child, I consider that Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate. All of us women have heard the bleak statistics—that women over 40 have only a five percent chance of conceiving every month; as opposed to a 20 percent chance each month for women 30 years of age--the risks of chromosomal abnormalities and pregnancy ending in miscarriage increasing. And the only guarantee with IVF treatments is that they cost tens of thousands of dollars. I have no control over biology. And these facts freak me out.My current situation feels like its nature's cruel joke on women, and the last thing I want is for it to get in the way of my marriage -- a marriage that we both cherish based on being each other’s best friends. So let’s see what the future holds. Will the miracle of science even out the playing field? (After all, men can impregnate a woman at a ripe old age of 80 just as long as his swimmers are still active.) Will we get some important alone time to connect in the midst of a reality show? (You can bet on that.)  And if I don’t get to have a baby (though the truth is that right now I can’t bear the thought of thinking that I might never have a baby), how will I settle that reality with the dreams I’ve long held? 

I am not without hope. Years of my practice have shown me that a new day always dawns. After eight years of being together, we still feel that our relationship is young and healthy. And I sense that my body, inside, is pretty young and healthy too. 

I hope you tune in and see what happens next. I hope in some way what we go through ourselves and with our clients helps you to feel that whatever you may be facing, there’s always a solution and someone to help you through it, be they friends, family or even an LA Shrink!

 

Power Struggles

Dr. Greg explains why he saw Tamara individually during couple therapy.

Couple therapy is very different than individual therapy in that you are treating the relationship primarily rather than just two individuals. That is why it was such a problem that in the second "couple therapy" session, Steven did not come to the second session with Tamara. At this point, I had two choices: see Tamara alone or send her away.

I did see her, but before I did, I informed her the research literature has shown that one-partner “couple therapy” may result in a negative outcome for the couple (Wilcoxon & Fenell, 1983). Understanding the possible impact, she agreed to stay and to focus on her specifically and tried to leave Steven out of it as much as possible. 

As a result we uncovered her issues with desire for respect and being liked. I explained the often inverse relationship with the two -- that someone who is highly respected is not always liked, and someone is well-liked is not always respected. Sometimes what gets you liked by others can also diminish their respect for you, and vise-versa.

What also became apparent was the use of the animals in the relationship to cut the tension between the two. Couples often do this with animals, but also use other means such as television, alcohol, or even their own children to help them avoid any tension. A little is OK, but too much can drive a wedge in the relationship. In the third session, Tamara brings her cat to the session -- an act I labeled as "passive-aggressive." 

A passive-aggressive act is typically an aggressive act done in some non-assertive manner. Here the aggressive act is that Tamara brings her cat (Kozy Mel) to the third session even though I asked her to come "without Jimmy Chew [the dog], without any animals." Then she claims she thought it only applied to Jimmy Chew. Passive-aggressive acts are typical when people feel powerless in a relationship; yet wish to express their power and/or anger in a situation. As it turns out, this passive-aggressive assertion of power with me turned out to be typical in her relationship with Steven. Because of the cultural expectations of women, her own upbringing, and the dynamic in their relationship, Tamara had learned to put her own power aside so that she can be liked and not ruffle feathers. But also because also wants respect for her intelligence and capability, she is in conflict.  So, she uses indirect or passive-aggressive means to assert her power that can end up being destructive to the relationship.

Talking about this seemed to make Steven uncomfortable. He even mocked the quote by Rosanne Barr that I paraphrased but actually reads, “The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it.” This is going to clearly upset the dynamic in the relationship, but speaking up for what she wants is something Tamara needs to be doing more. And, Steven needs to do his part by taking her seriously, listening to her, and accepting her influence. Once this happens the relationship will thrive.

A post-script: what you may not have seen was the clear love and respect that Tamara and Steven did have for each other. Though we did uncover issues that were getting in the way of the relationship moving forward, they also had far more strengths that we could use to support their bond. And, I am happy to report that Tamara and Steven are getting married!