Saturday, April 20, 2013


by: Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., Sue George Hallowell, LICSW, with Melissa Orlov

In our fretful, speed-up world, we can’t turn back the clock to the days of Royal typewriters,un-answered telephone calls (no voice-mail), or time spent alone without “electronic devices.”  But we do need to learn how to manage the chaos and opportunities that surround us.

Without knowing it or meaning to, we are training ourselves to be constantly on the alert for interruptions, to seek out messages incessantly, to process data rather than discover, think or feel and in general to lose the capacity to ponder, pause, imagine, or give full focus to anyone or anything for more than a few moments.

Indeed, impatience and worry may be our national mood.  Who can wait?  Waiting is so yesterday.  Today is hurry and rush.  There is so much to do, so much to worry about.  We have reprogrammed our nervous system; now we demand speed. Milan Kundera: “Speed is the form of ecstasy that technology has bestowed on modern man.”  Speed makes focusing difficult.  If you are not careful, you end up paying partial attention to everyone and everything.

When this new physics enters a marriage, you may start to feel lonely and resentful.  You might wonder where the man or woman you married has disappeared to.  You might also wonder where your own life went.
Speed, overload and anxiety have created an elephant in the room. This elephant is the force of distraction.  It can dominate all our lives.  How many times have you said to your mate or heard him or her say to you words similar to these:

“You say you don’t have time to talk now; but do you ever have the time to talk?
“I am sorry, I am completely spaced out on that; what were you saying?”

“We are busy all the time; but are we happy?”
“I am trying to be patient, but I really need some kind of emotional closeness or I am going to lose something important that I don’t want to lose.”

“I love you, I really do, but I hardly see you.”
“Sex, what’s that?”

“You laugh at people going to see a marriage counsellor, but I think they are brave.  We may benefit from seeing a therapist, but where would we find the time?”
 A new pressure has built up in couples. It’s the pressure to make time for each other. The more attention shatters, the more relationships suffer. Couples can start to feel distant and annoyed without understanding why, then they do what we all do: we blame one another.  But the root cause is the new world of distraction that’s grown up around us.
Modern life has turned people ruder than ever, with less sympathy, more self-centeredness, less emotionally available, and less able to relax and in general more difficult to connect with comfortably.

The impact on couples can be catastrophic, but it does not need to be. If you want to preserve love, you must:
-Insist on time with the person you love and make extended time for each other.

- Learn to say no to temptations.
-Have a clear vision of the life you want, what matters to you the most and make time for  that, with iron-fisted determination.