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Kathy Marshack News

How Can You Guarantee that a Copreneurship will Work for You and Your Spouse?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


The social exchange theory describes the essential features of exchanges of married copreneurs, and predicts relationship satisfaction, progress or decay.You can’t. There are no guarantees in life. But you CAN hedge your bets and set up a good framework that supports your entire work/family life.

I did in-depth research on the dynamics of copreneurs for my book, Entrepreneurial Couples: Making It Work at Work and at Home. I learned there are a number of human behavior theories, one of them being a dialectical theory known as social exchange theory, which sheds light on what makes some couples succeed where others don’t.


Social psychologists, Kelley and Thibaut defined the basic propositions of social exchange theory in this way:

(I) costs being equal, individuals choose alternatives from which they expect the greatest rewards;
(2) rewards being equal, individuals choose alternatives from which they anticipate the fewest costs;
(3) immediate outcomes being equal, individuals choose alternatives that promise better long-term outcomes;
(4) long-term outcomes being equal, individuals choose alternatives providing better immediate outcomes.

These basic propositions of social exchange theory can be used to describe the  essential features of exchanges in married couples. They can also be used to predict relationship satisfaction, relationship progress, and relationship decay.

For all married couples, the exchange context includes trading with one's partner for love, sex, status, and life support. However, entrepreneurial couples—especially copreneurs because they work together—makes this trade with their spouses for self-esteem, mastery, and achievement. Whereas other couples have a wider variety of resources from which to negotiate exchanges (i.e., colleagues, employers, fellow workers, as well as their spouse), copreneurs must negotiate their love and work needs only from one another. Therefore, the potential for stress is heightened.

In other words, a trap that many entrepreneurial couples fall into is getting locked into deriving all of their rewards from work and spending money (i.e., immediate rewards). Since they work together and live together, they spend all of their time together. They only have themselves to compare to, so there’s no way of knowing when they’re heading into a major problem. As long as the rewards (i.e., work and money) outweighed the costs, the couple won’t notice the other rewards or benefits of marriage and family life may be slipping away.

It takes something catastrophic like a liquor bottle being thrown in the heat of an argument to alert them that the immediate costs to their quality of life no longer outweighed the long-term gain of business wealth.

On the other hand, when a couple has a well-developed system for maintaining a healthy balance in their lives, they won’t get blindsided. What are three must have rules of conduct in this system?

  • Keep business discussions at the office and family/relationship discussions at home.
  • Be sure you are equal business partners, giving each other full credit and respect for your separate contributions.
  • Insist on developing individual private lives.

With outside contacts, you’ll have other people in your lives with whom you can trade for feelings of self-esteem, mastery, and achievement. And this can make all the difference in the world.

You don’t have to be one of those couples that waits for something to go very wrong before waking up to problems and doing something about them. If you’re already experiencing problems in your work/life balance and need help getting back on track, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

If you live elsewhere, we can also discuss best communication practices for business and/or family relationships via a secure video Q & A session. This would come under the heading of Entrepreneurial Couples Remote Education.

Stress Can Be a Friend or an Enemy

Monday, May 23, 2016


Stress is your friend because it’s telling you that something isn’t right in your life and you need to do something; it’s how you react to stress that’s good or bad.“What?! Everyone says stress is bad, Dr. Marshack. How can you say stress is your friend?”

It’s true that we hear everyday about how stress is killing us. It’s often associated with problems such as:


Increased appetite for sugar and fats
Abdominal obesity
No energy
Poor concentration
High cholesterol levels
Heart disease and hypertension
Risk for strokes
Diabetes
Alzheimer’s disease
Osteoporosis
Anxiety
Depression
Compromised immune system

But without stress you wouldn’t be motivated to do anything. You wouldn’t get out of bed. You wouldn’t leave your home. You wouldn’t work to solve problems. You wouldn’t strive for excellence. You wouldn’t work at patching up relationships. You wouldn’t get out of the way of a speeding car.

Stress is simply a red flag that you NEED TO DO SOMETHING. It’s telling you that something is not right in your life. How you react to that red flag is the good or bad part of stress. Often you know what you should do, but you don’t follow through, so you add fighting against yourself to the original stressor, which launches the dangerous threat to your health.

It’s your choice to get angry at something someone says or let it go. It’s your choice to suffer in silence or to stand up for yourself. You can decide to sit on the couch watching TV eating bags of chips or go outside and walk in the sunshine. You can choose to tell yourself, “You’re so stupid and you can’t do it.” Or instead say, “I am capable. What I do is good enough.”

However, if stress is prolonged and has already caused serious health problems or is the result of trauma, a chemical imbalance or a nutritional imbalance, you’ll need more than positive thinking and meditation to get you back on track to optimal health. Maybe it’s been going on so long you don’t even know where your stress is coming from.

A psychologist experienced in a holistic health, NET and varying forms of psychotherapy can provide you with a mental and physical health program tailored to your specific biochemical, emotional and mental needs. If you’re experiencing unrelieved stress, please consult with a professional as soon as possible. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more: Mind and Body Health.

Asperger Logic vs. Intelligence – Take Back Your Right to be Intelligent in Your Unique Way

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


People with Aspergers are highly intelligent and logical, yet they don’t understand different types of intelligence like emotional intelligence and empathy.Our first Video Conference on the topic of "High Functioning Autism" was “eye opening”, “excellent” and “validating” according to those who joined us. One participant mentioned that these discussions are “giving her a voice and a real perspective”.

I am so thrilled that I’m able to support so many of you in your quest for greater understanding and ways of coping with the crazy making world of Asperger’s Syndrome. I heartily thank all who have the courage to reach out and connect in the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup group.

It’s easy to confuse logic with intelligence. High Functioning doesn’t mean that your Aspie is somehow superior. They’re just as autistic as any other autistic when it comes to empathy, meaning that they have zero degrees of empathy. But they often have an abundance of logic to convince us that empathy is overrated.

First, remember that even though our Aspies may be logical, they may also be irrational. For example, they may logically deduce that your argument or position lacks merit because you cannot prove your point. Or they may deduce that since women earn less than men, they should pay all women less for their services. It’s not rational to conclude that you are "wrong" just because you don’t present sufficient evidence to convince them. Likewise, it’s irrational to argue that women should earn less because over the decades they have.

Second, remember that intelligence comes in all shapes and sizes. You may be emotionally intelligent or artistically intelligent or socially intelligent or intuitively intelligent, etc. You need not possess mathematical/logical intelligence to be intelligent, though this is the type of intelligence that many of our Aspies value.

Third, it's time to take back our right to be intelligent in our own unique way.
Empathy is an incredible gift to possess. We use it in myriad ways to navigate the social world. When you learn to love and appreciate yourself fully (including your capacity for empathy), then interacting with our Aspie loved one becomes more stress free.

The next video conference takes up where we’re leaving off in the discussion of High Functioning Autism. If you’re a member of Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, you’re invited to the next free TeleConference where we’ll be discussion: Logic v. Intelligence. It will be held on Thursday, June 2nd at 2:30 PM PDT and again on Thursday, June 28th at 4:00 PM PDT.

Are you a neurotypical (one who doesn’t have Asperger’s) and you’re living in an Asperger home and haven’t joined Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD yet? It’s a free worldwide Meetup where you find support and understanding. Why not join us today?

Another option: If you would like more one-on-one counseling and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Neuro-Emotional Technique Helps Our Aspies Connect the Dots

Monday, May 16, 2016


Since those with Aspergers struggle to explain what’s going on in their hearts and minds, use Neuro-Emotional Technique to remove the emotional road blocks.Sometimes talk therapy isn’t enough to help people remove emotional blocks. This is especially true for those challenged with Asperger’s Syndrome. But there are ways to help. Like hypnosis and other more holistic therapeutic approaches, NET allows people to bypass talk analysis and get to the heart of their problems without having to come up with a good explanation for the change. I’ve found this to be a less stressful treatment for people with Asperger’s Syndrome, since they struggle to explain what’s going on in their hearts and minds.

Recently I wrote an article for PsychCentral discussing this topic and shared an example of how NET helped one teenager, Austen, find the missing element he needed in order to do what his mother wanted him to do.

To summarize the story: His mother thought that withholding his precious laptop would force him to clean his bathroom. Austen admitted that the bathroom needed to be cleaned, but he could see no connection between getting his laptop back and cleaning his room. This confusion caused them to be at a stalemate. I 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?)


As a NET Practitioner, I was able to help Austen with Neuro-Emotional Technique. NET incorporates the concept of Applied Kinesiology, and the meridian system of Chinese medicine. Using acupressure points on the wrist and testing for congruence between mind and body, he was able to release his emotional blocks. It allows Austen to communicate with his unconscious through NET. Without empathy, Austen was stymied about how to accomplish something he was powerfully motivated to do. Once Austen and I had identified the missing piece, we could use the NET approach to integrate the elements he needed to clean the bathroom. I’m happy to report that Austen got his laptop back the next day.

Not only does NET help those with Asperger’s, it’s also a fabulous tool for helping people release unresolved emotional stress. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and want to discuss how NET may be able to help you, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

What does Very High Functioning Autism Mean?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Learn what Very High Functioning Autism means, and if you see this telltale sign, it may be Asperger’s Syndrome, so don’t delay getting a proper diagnosis.How do you know if someone has Asperger’s Syndrome? Nine times out of ten the members of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group report that their adult Aspies are "very high functioning Asperger's." Or they worry that "my partner has only traits of ASD" so may not be diagnosable. Or they ask for help determining "where" on the Spectrum their Aspie may be.

First, in order to be diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, the autistic person has to be identified as "high functioning" already. There is no such thing as "high functioning Asperger's."

Second, now that we have dropped the diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome from the definition of autism, it has been replaced by "high functioning autism" on the Autism Spectrum Disorder spectrum.

If you suspect your partner has ASD, even if you think they can fool everyone but you, they still may have autism. The high functioning part merely refers to the ability of many autistic people to manage life well enough, such as marriage and career accomplishments. It doesn't mean they have empathy.

Empathy is the clincher. Without a theory of mind, and with context blindness, even the most talented Aspie is no more high functioning than an autistic further left on the Spectrum.

The reason to clear up this mystery is to help NTs break free of the manipulative hold your Aspie has on you. When you get that they view the world differently because they have no empathy, it makes it easier to plan around their disability.

If you’re a member of Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group and you’d like to join 9 other NT members as we discuss this topic, please sign up for the next low cost Video Conference. We’ll be discussing: What Does Very High Functioning Mean? It will be held on Thursday, May 26th at 4:00 PM PDT. There are still a few spots left, but sign up soon to ensure you get your spot.

If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and need a diagnosis for ASD or Asperger’s Syndrome, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Neuroscience Proves Gratitude Is Good for You!

Monday, May 09, 2016


It’s good manners to say “Thank You”, plus gratitude actually changes your brain chemistry, acts as an antidepressant, and helps you think positive thoughtsWhen you learned polite manners as a child, you probably first learned to say, “please” and “thank you”, didn’t you? It turns out that not only do these pleasantries make people like you better; it’s actually good for your brain health.

A 2014 article in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience identified a variation in a gene (CD38) associated with gratitude. While people with this gene have a heightened tendency toward experiencing gratitude, we can all work at increasing gratitude’s calming effects that lead to feelings of contentment and satisfaction.

Another scientific study found that even if you can’t think of anything to be grateful for, simply saying the words, “What am I grateful for?” changes your brain chemistry. Neural circuits are activated, stimulating the production of dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters travel to the “feel good” part of the brain. Gratitude is a natural antidepressant!

And the more you stimulate these neural pathways through practicing gratitude, the stronger and more automatic they become. It’s like walking in deep snow. At first, it’s difficult. But each time you walk on the path, it becomes easier. Your brain works the same way. The more you make your gratitude neurons fire, the easier it is for your brain to think positively, so you feel content and grateful.

This means that what you choose to remember and focus on become the pathway the brain will automatically take. If you’re constantly looking at the negative, your thoughts and feelings become dark and worrisome automatically. You’ve worn that pathway in your brain. But pathways can be shifted. Just as a fresh layer of snow covers older trails, choosing to practice gratitude, shifts your attention to seeing constructive, positive themes in your life instead of destructive ones.

It’s easy to make a practice of gratitude by keeping a gratitude journal or consciously looking for ways to say “thank you” every day, even if it’s as simple as saying it when you wake up every morning.

If you suffer from severe anxiety or depression, practicing gratitude may not be enough. Consult with a mental health professional who can get you back on the path to mental health. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Living with an Aspie – How to Find Freedom from Blame and Shame

Wednesday, May 04, 2016


We often feel shame when dealing with our Aspies, because they can't put themselves in our shoes, they tend to find fault or blame us for misunderstandings.When you’re living in an Asperger home, you may often end up feeling that it’s all your fault, that you should have better control of your home life and family relationships. We often feel shame when dealing with our Aspies who lack empathy. Because they can't put themselves in our shoes, they tend to find fault or blame us for misunderstandings.

Why do those with Asperger’s Syndrome blame others?

This is a natural byproduct of an empathy disorder, unless the Aspie develops a strong moral code. It’s harder to take responsibility for a misunderstanding (or other interpersonal breakdown) when you don't have empathy to compare yourself to another. As a result Aspies can become quite manipulative, narcissistic and engage in the Blame Game.

Furthermore, we NTs may also be blamed for overreacting to our Aspies. I know I used to be called on the carpet for not "controlling" my Aspie daughter's public meltdowns. I was accused right on the spot of being a "bad" mother.

That's where the shame comes in. If you are blamed long enough, and you have made a mistake or two in the relationship, you might take on responsibility for too much and feel Shame. Shame is also a natural byproduct of living daily with a blaming spouse or partner or acting out Aspie child.

What can you do?

If you’re a member of Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, you’re invited to the next free TeleConference where we’ll be discussion: Freedom from Blame and Shame. It will be held on Thursday, May 12th at 2:30 PM PDT.

Please join us for a rousing discussion on how to free yourself from Shame by breaking up the Blame/Shame Game. It's not enough to understand what's happening to you. You need strategies to take back your life and to know how truly wonderful you are!

Are you a neurotypical (one who doesn’t have Asperger’s) and you’re living in an Asperger home and haven’t joined Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD yet? It’s a free worldwide Meetup where you find support and understanding. Why not join us today?

Another option available to you: If you would like more one-on-one counseling and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Anxiety Is a Real Brain Disorder, Not a Personality Flaw

Monday, May 02, 2016


anxiety is a real brain disorder not a personality flaw“Oh, she’s just a worry wart. She wouldn’t be happy if she didn’t have something to fret about!” It used to be a popularly held view that anxiety was a personality flaw instead of recognizing it for what it really is – a brain disorder. Rather than dismissing anxiety as a personal choice, science is proving that chronic anxiety isn’t something that people choose to experience. Their anxious brains are actually different from healthy brains.

While trying to pinpoint the brain changes caused by anxiety disorders, Offir Laufer, David Israeli and Rony Paz, researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, found that people diagnosed with anxiety are less able to tell the difference between a neutral or safe stimulus and one that was previously associated with a threat.

In their study, these researchers trained people with anxiety to associate three distinct sounds or tones with one of these outcomes – money loss, money gain, or no consequence. Then these participants were presented with one of 15 tones. They had to identify if they’d heard that tone before or not. They were rewarded with money if they were correct. Interestingly, the subjects with anxiety were more likely than the healthy control group to think a new sound was one they’d heard earlier. Why?

Rony Paz explains: “We show that in patients with anxiety, emotional experiences induce plasticity in brain circuits that last after the experience is over. Such plastic changes result in an inability to discriminate between the originally experienced stimulus and a new similar stimulus. Therefore, anxiety patients respond emotionally to new stimuli, resulting in anxiety even in apparently irrelevant new situations.”

What does this mean? People with an anxiety disorder associate a new experience with an old emotional response that lingers in their brain. The previous anxious feelings are now attached to the new and often unrelated experience. So even though there’s no reason for anxiety, their brain tells them that there is. This behavior is known as over-generalization.

Functional magnetic resonance images (fMRIs) of the anxious brain versus healthy brains showed response differences in the amygdale and in the primary sensory regions of the brain. These results support the theory that emotional experiences cause changes in sensory representations in anxious brains. This reaction isn’t something that an anxious person can control, because it’s a fundamental brain difference.

Anxiety can be a completely normal and beneficial emotion when it alerts you to potential danger. However, full-blown anxiety can keep you from leading a full and happy life. Thankfully there are a variety of treatments that can help you cope with your anxiety and drastically minimize its impact on your life. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and would like to learn how to deal with your anxious brain, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Coping with Anxiety Disorders.


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