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Love Bugs

Writer-psychiatrist finds that a relationship is like a computer--both can develop glitches.

February 03, 2001|ANN SHIELDS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Books about relationships take center stage this month, as romantics and retailers celebrate love. Hot off the press is "The 6 Secrets of a Lasting Relationship: How to Fall in Love Again and Stay There" (Putnam & Sons, $23.95) by Dr. Mark Goulston with Philip Goldberg.

Goulston will be at Borders on Wednesday to discuss his book.

During a recent telephone interview, he said the book is meant for anyone who has ever wondered if he or she will always be alone.

A psychiatrist in private practice, he writes a syndicated column called "Relationships 101" for 60 college newspapers. Another column, "Question Mark," appears monthly in the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences' "Emmy" magazine. He has also appeared on radio and television shows, including "Oprah" and "Today," and on the cable network MSNBC.

Goulston compared a relationship to buying a computer with preinstalled software. You can do things right away at the beginning--that is the honeymoon period--but then come the glitches. You get a sinking feeling, especially if you haven't backed up your files, and the honeymoon period starts to slide into panic, he said.

"When we fall in love--it's all preinstalled with these six secrets. You have the chemistry, the respect, the fun, you accept each other, you trust and you feel that these people really understand you--as opposed to your parents," he said. When glitches develop, people often try to ignore them, thinking they are aberrations. But when they keep happening, they can't be ignored.

Goulston said his six secrets are hidden in plain sight. Since we usually don't address them constructively or directly, the love we once felt just washes away. He also highlights what he calls "usable insights." An example: "Marriages don't end when two people stop loving each other but when they can't stop hating each other."

In counseling couples over the past 25 years, he has found that complaints change when children arrive and the responsibility is suddenly overwhelming, mostly for the woman. The husband frequently backs off, complaining of a lack of appreciation. That might be because people who didn't receive many plaudits from their own parents often have difficulty expressing appreciation to others, he said.

He said the book begins with sex because women can give the book to their boyfriends or husbands and tell them it will grab their attention. Another Usable Insight: "Focusing only on lust is the surest way to overlook love."

Although not apparent from the title, Goulston said that one of the reasons he wrote the book was the number of angry teenagers he sees in counseling families. Angry teenagers often feel a combination of resentment toward an overbearing parent and contempt mixed with pity for the other, he said.

"Something inside them really can't stand [deceptions] and injustice, so when they are in a family where the mother or father talks over everyone and orders everyone around--and the other parent is submissive--the teenager becomes infuriated," he said. When Goulston stands up to the overbearing parent, he said, the teenager changes his posture and begins to participate.

Besides private practice and his duties as assistant clinical professor at UCLA's Neuropsychiatric Institute, Goulston has an article coming out in Emmy magazine titled, "6 Secrets of Lasting Friendship in a What Have You Done for Me Lately World."

HAPPENINGS

* Today: 11 a.m. The Junior Music Academy will present a free class for children and their parents. Borders, 125 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 497-8159.

* Monday: 9:30 a.m. Story time with Miss Mona for babies and toddlers. Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 160 S. Westlake Blvd., 446-2820.

* Monday: 7 p.m. New four-week series on "Tantra: The Art of Conscious Loving," by Charles and Caroline Muir. Led by Brian Leahy and Sidney Sims. Borders, 497-8159.

* Tuesday: 4:30 p.m. Story time from Mary Pope Osborne's "Magic Tree House" series. Grades 1-3. Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 446-2820.

* Tuesday: 7 p.m. The First Tuesday Contemporary Book Group will focus on "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver. Borders, 497-8159.

* Wednesday: noon. Marne David Kellogg will discuss "Insatiable." Mysteries to Die For, 2940 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 374-0084.

* Wednesday: 7 p.m. Mark Goulston will discuss and sign "The 6 Secrets of a Lasting Relationship." Borders, 497-8159.

* Thursday: 1:30 p.m. Literary Wanderings, a weekly book group hosted by Roseanne Savo. Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 446-2820.

* Friday: 7 p.m. Don Miguel Ruiz, author of "The Four Agreements," will speak at the Simi Valley Religious Science Center for Positive Living, 1756 Erringer Road, No. 100. Tickets $25, purchased in advance by calling 527-0870.

BE THERE

Plan Ahead: Thomas Tolvi Blatt, survivor of a successful revolt at Sobibor, a Nazi death camp, will speak at the Ventura County Jewish Council--Temple Beth Torah Brotherhood's lox and bagel brunch at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 11. He will discuss his books and show video clips from the award-winning Alan Arkin movie "Escape From Sobibor." Call 647-4181 for information.

Note: Poetry and photographic art are being sought for "rivertalk," the 2001 edition of the anthology produced under the auspices of the Ojai Center for the Arts. Contact Joan Raymund at 646-7801 for more information. Deadline is Feb. 10.

*

Information about book signings, writers groups and publishing events can be e-mailed to anns40@aol.com or faxed to 647-5649.

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