The Vow

The Vow

Spoiler Alert!  If you have not yet seen the movie, "The Vow," please watch the movie
before reading this.
I am on my third time through reading a book called, “Questions and Answers About
Head and Brain Injuries”, as I commonly deal with them for my job.  I honestly felt guilty after
renting the movie as I waste way too much time watching movies when I could be or should be
doing something productive but don’t feel like it.  Something's missing there and I’m not sure
I was, however, pleasantly surprised by what I saw with the movie.  I kept waiting for it
to be a romantic comedy with a little dread, as according to research cited in a TED talk, couples
usually feel worse about their own relationships after watching a romantic comedy.  It turned out
not to be but rather my favorite of favorite things, a based-on- reality medical story with deep
meaning about the human condition on which we can use its story for improvement.
I was frustrated with the characters several times in the deal when they made mistakes,
such as the doctor not educating the patient well enough or giving her a low-stimulation
environment.  Then of course, I was upset with the husband also for not giving her a low-
stimulation environment especially with knowing what I know about how slowly you have to
reintroduce things so as not to overwhelm.
In the book, I had just re-read about retrograde amnesia, which is the kind of amnesia that
really occurs in the world.  Other kinds as depicted in movies aren’t really that common, but
retrograde is seen when a person can remember everything up until a point.   The series of events
that unfold were so telling of how the mechanics of the brain work.  A lot of who we become is
like a video game in that as long as we are still healthy and our social support systems that we
have always had are not largely damaged, we can reset the hardware/software to previous
settings.  Some things are truly not needed and only get in the way.
I was thinking about my gay aunt who I think became gay for being married after her
dad, via Cooley’s Looking Glass Self-Theory, in which we become what society sees us as and
as we perceive it, **(after her father, what????***.   What if we could knock out a lot of these
things?  What if we could just freaking forget about the mistakes we’ve made?  If our situation
was handled as carefully and ethically as she handled hers, it might not work out that bad.  As

the husband said, it was like re-reading a book that you really liked and you wished you could re-
read for the first time.
I mean, we really aren’t optimizing the use of what we have when you think about it this
way.  We could, and maybe at some point, should be customizing the way things are in the
interest of society and our goals.  I was watching a PBS special on a guy who really could target
and destroy memories, he was afraid of unforeseen consequences, and I do agree that we never
really do see them all.
Then again, I suppose largely because of how ethically the husband handled things, it was
nice to watch him in action.  It became one of the most romantic evenings I have ever had in my
life.  It was a Friday night.  I was spending the evening with my first, hopefully for always wife,
looking into her eyes, and seeing the potential for pure innocence as for a moment we were
imagining in the movie.  I told her she should administer retrograde amnesia to me and put things
together better this time. The way you can do it in a video game, the second time through after
learning a few things.
She went so far as to bring in a wooden bat and I realized the probability of getting it
right was way low, but she was kidding anyways.  I still flinched although I tried my best to take
it as she pretended to hit my brain stem.  Hell, hitting the brain stem would probably kill you
anyways.  You’d probably want to recreate the wreck as closely as possible with a blow to the
frontal lobe towards the top.  Personally, I’m not excited about experiencing it and all that could
go horribly wrong.
Deep down though, this is the most important thing I want to think about.  As we went
through our weekend, I kept thinking back to my time chanting in the Buddhist style.   Shaping
the way my brain saw and reacted to the world and I missed it and realized how much I have let
my social constructs take me away from it.  Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Devotion to the mystic law
of cause and effect.  I love it!  For more info check out Soka Gakkai International (SGI) and
Buddhism.  We must choose carefully the words and things we let shape our minds, because the
mind works powerfully with love.

The Mind in Love

I apologize for using such low-hanging fruit for my data, but I have found a couple
interesting resources on how our mind is working with love. Despite our ability to understand
complex systems, better solutions only seem to come with new problems. I have to keep
reminding myself about this, as I get excited about new discoveries and understanding. For
example, what I do for a living has to do with getting sedentary and often disconnected,
depressed people back into life.
I am making this point as I was just reading about how we are closer than ever to
understanding the coding of our memories. I get excited when reading and conjecturing about
what could be. A recent study found that when kreb was injected into the amygdala (the
emotional center of the brain) of rats, with a maze that included shocks, they formed emotional
reactions of fear and jumped five times higher. I want to think that we could manipulate our
memories of love to react more in line with our relationship goals (Discover Magazine, April
ABC television recently reported a cool study on the subject. Go to ABC.com and look
at all shows. Select the episode on how the mind works. One case study demonstrated that when
a man was hurt in a car wreck and had no memories of who he or his wife were, she, as is
common in humans, fell more in love with him. It is very touching and yet again demonstrates
another piece of the brain, which could potentially be manipulated to help us achieve our
relationship goals.
One couple took it upon themselves to have an MRI done before and after a six-month
drive down the Pan American Highway from Alaska to Chile, to see if they were still in love.
Three parts of the brain lit up with love. There is an emotional attachment portion, a lust portion,
and a romantic portion, which is what we all want to have lit up. I have to admit I doubt mine
would actually light up that often. What was interesting was that during an MRI, after seeing
pictures of each other right after the wedding, they both had strong romantic brain activity.
After the trip, only the woman had the romantic feelings. However, she did not drive at
all on the trip, which I happen to know kills romantic feelings. They were both concerned and
made a point to try to spice up their romance a bit, and it worked. I want to write a novel in
which scientists are able to manipulate the mind for this effect. I can imagine Robin Cook with a

dark thriller to remind us how we need due process for all these ideas as each new solution
brings with it a new problem. Ultimately, I have had this idea for years, the lustier side of me
wanting to imagine binding the feelings of lust and creating a culture of free love without the
increasing divorce rates. If we could only understand it all better before, to see if it would really
be worth it. This may or may not help us assess how to love our life together.

Couples' Relationship Assessment – Section 7 –
Now and Forever – Loving Your Life Together

As you progress through the final section, you might find yourself wondering how you
can internalize all of the information presented, transfer the knowledge, and practice it in your
daily life.
Many enter marital therapy, coaching, couple’s workshops, or other programs and
seminars with high hopes and good intentions. Too often, they feel frustrated, disillusioned and
betrayed when promises fall by the wayside. They move on without any real awareness, skills, or
techniques they intended to learn.
Following through involves exceedingly more than changing your previous words,
actions and behaviors. Real conviction takes constant practice and repetition until the principles
and techniques become internalized at such a deep level that they are essential to who you are.
If you are in the midst of relationship distress and turmoil, you will be hard-pressed to
uncover the true core of your struggle. Becoming glued to everyday surface issues and problems,
you will identify with superficial content while ignoring the deeper rhythm of your relationship
dance. It is not until you gain the insight and self-awareness to look intensely into your own
mirror that you begin “knowing.”
No two individuals share the same perspective. Recognition and understanding of your
partner’s perspectives are precursors to healthy communication. Such insight is also a
prerequisite for the feelings of mutual safety, trust, respect, and admiration. Once you begin to

understand one another’s views of the current state of the relationship, you are in the right
position to change and co-create the relationship of your dreams.
In Section 7 of the Couples Relationship Assessment, you will score statements that
correspond to the following chapters from The Journey from “I-TO- WE.”
Chapter 21 – Parent Your Children for Success
New parents typically possess pure and genuine intentions to care for their children in
every way possible. They wish to help their kids become happy, successful, loving and confident
adults. Parents worry about doing everything correctly and instilling in their children deeply
cherished family traditions, values, and beliefs. Parents worry about their children from the time
they are born. Care and concern never ends.
The majority of parents aim to satisfy the unique needs of their children at each stage of
their development. Most invest enormous amounts of time, love and resources into their kids’
upbringing. Therefore, they feel annoyed and irritated when their children display defiance,
selfishness or disrespect. Parents become confused and even alarmed when they cannot connect
with or understand their children. Moreover, parents often feel guilty, ashamed and regretful
when they grow frustrated and angry with their children. How can you be different?
Chapter 21 – Parent Your Children for Success
Meanings entail rituals, symbols, and structures for you, your relationship, and your
family. They comprise words, actions, behaviors, and objects that hold personal and spiritual
They act as a lighthouse that reminds you where you have been and where you are
headed. The beacon is the light of hope and promise for the future. It illuminates the beauty of all
you have created together on your journey thus far and presents your chosen path for the future.
Are you ready to begin your journey to gain the awareness, learn the skills, and practice
the techniques to achieve relationship success at home, at work, and within yourself?
Section 7 – Complete Steps 1 through 9.
Step 1 – Your perspective of yourself – Rate your degree of agreement with each statement on a
scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being a definite “yes” and 1 being a definite “no.” Using a black pen,
write your score on the first line to the left of each statement.

Step 2 – Your perspective of your partner – Rate your partner according to how you feel the
statement applies to him or her from your perspective. Using a black pen, write your score on the
second line to the left of each statement.
Example: 10–8–1 – I am committed to our relationship.
If you feel you are 100% committed, place a 10 as shown above. If you feel your partner is only
80% committed, place an 8 on the second space.
Step 3 – When you have completed each of the topics, total all of the scores within each topic,
and write the number in the space marked Topic Score. When you and your partner have
finished scoring your Assessments, let each other know.
Step 4 – No matter what number your partner writes down, refrain from reacting negatively to
your partner’s scores. Be supportive; do not get defensive, resentful, or angry. Begin to create
safety in the relationship by thanking your partner for having the courage to trust you by sharing
his or her true thoughts and feelings.
Step 5 – At the top of the “Our Relationship Assessment” page, is a space to record the date and
your names. Record your perspective of your own score beneath your name. Next, when your
partner shares the total topic score from his or her workbook, record it beneath his or her name.
Step 6 – Total both of your scores for each topic and divide by 200 to get the percentage score.
Place this under the Topic Percentage Score heading to the right of your individual scores.
Step 7 – Total your individual scores for each topic; divide by 21. Place both of the average sums
in the appropriate Total Relationship Score line at the end of the “Our Relationship
Assessment.” Add your two percentages, divide by two, and place the number to the right of
your individual Total Relationship Scores. This is the percentage score for your assessment.
Step 8 – In the “Our Relationship Assessment” section, using a black pen, place a checkmark to
the left of each topic heading that has a Total Percentage Score of 80 or above. Celebrate these
and focus on the positives they bring to your relationship.
Step 9 – Place a red X to the left of each topic heading that has a percentage score below 80. Be
mindful of the topics that score between 60 and 79. Here, you have room to improve, but such
areas are less dire than any topics with scores below 60. They are the areas that need the
immediate attention.

Chapter 21 – Parent Your Children for Success
_______ _______ – 1 – I know how to coach my children to be Emotionally Intelligent.
_______ _______ – 2 – I take the time to be mentally present and emotionally available when

my children need me.

_______ _______ – 3 – I listen to my children when they are afraid, sad, angry, confused, or


_______ _______ – 4 – I put myself in my children’s shoes, and understand and empathize with

their experience.

_______ _______ – 5 – I do not rush my children when they are trying to communicate a

thought or feeling to me.

_______ _______ – 6 – I help them understand their emotions and let them know emotions are


_______ _______ – 7 – I help them self-soothe and calm themselves during these discussions.
_______ _______ – 8 – I help them see new perspectives of the situation.
_______ _______ – 9 – I assist them in finding solutions to their issues and problems.
_______ _______ – 10 – I am an Emotionally Intelligent parent.
_______ _______ – Topic Score

Chapter 22 – Create Lasting Meaning for Your Relationship
_______ _______ – 1 – We know the importance of rituals, symbols, and structures in creating

meaning in our relationship.

_______ _______ – 2 – We have created rituals, symbols, and structures to have safe, honest,

peaceful, respectful, and loving discussions.

_______ _______ – 3 – We have created rituals, symbols, and structures to make each other feel

safe, loved, and cared for.

_______ _______ – 4 – We have created rituals, symbols, and structures to build trust, respect

and admiration.

_______ _______ – 5 – We have created rituals, symbols, and structures to satisfy each other’s

required, important and desired needs.

_______ _______ – 6 – We have created rituals, symbols, and structures for romance, intimacy,

and sexuality in our relationship.

_______ _______ – 7 – We have created rituals, symbols, and structures to manage and live with

our problems peacefully.

_______ _______ – 8 – We have created rituals, symbols, and structures of friendship and


_______ _______ – 9 – We have created rituals, symbols, and structures to honor our values,

vision, and spirituality.

_______ _______ – 10 – We have created rituals, symbols, and structures to remind us to
continue learning, stretching, growing, maturing and changing.

_______ _______ – Topic Score

Our Relationship Assessment
_______ – 1 – Commitment _________ _________ _________
_______ – 2 – Discussion _________ _________ _________
_______ – 3 – Awareness _________ _________ _________
_______ – 4 – Wounds _________ _________ _________
_______ – 5 – Conflict _________ _________ _________
_______ – 6 – Communication _________ _________ _________
_______ – 7 – Change _________ _________ _________
_______ – 8 – Avoidance _________ _________ _________
_______ – 9 – Behaviors _________ _________ _________
_______ – 10 – Needs _________ _________ _________
_______ – 11 – Problems _________ _________ _________
_______ – 12 – Compromise _________ _________ _________
_______ – 13 – Friendship _________ _________ _________
_______ – 14 – Connection _________ _________ _________
_______ – 15 – Values _________ _________ _________
_______ – 16 – Vision _________ _________ _________
_______ – 17 – Romance _________ _________ _________
_______ – 18 – Intimacy _________ _________ _________
_______ – 19 – Sexuality _________ _________ _________
_______ – 20 – Parenting _________ _________ _________
_______ – 21 – Meaning _________ _________ _________
Total Relationship Score _________ _________ _________

Congratulations on completing the “I-TO- WE” Couples Relationship Assessment. I hope
you gained awareness about the positive and negative areas of your relationship – the first step
toward creating a peaceful, joyous, passionate, and loving relationship.
My hope is that this assessment series is the beginning of your guide to a wonderful
journey together as you begin to cross the bridge into your field of sunflowers. Remember to live
each day honoring the 12 Principles of Emotionally Intelligent Relationships. Also, remember
to love the simple things in life!
From now until eternity,
May you always remain each other’s…
Best friend during the day,
Lover at night, and
Partner for Life

I Love the Simple Things in Life, However I
Don’t Want My Wife to Be One of Them

This afternoon I was looking for some fun joke material for a moral booster as I have
great friends who will occasionally brighten my day with some happy jokes.  I found the title of
this blog while on a site for the top 50 jokes ever and was inspired to share.  As far as my wife
goes, I have to say that for all the Oklahomans who have raised an eyebrow at my choosing to go
out with and even marrying an Asian, she is not that dogmatic and therefore not that simple.  On
many occasions I have wondered how it would be to just date and marry one of my white
classmates like everyone else and maybe it comes down to that line about simplicity.  When I
think of who it would have been, both of them were named Amy, but in both cases I was
basically too shy and simple myself when it was time to date.
It has been a torturous subject for me as I have felt like had I asked out anyone I would
have been turned down or would not have known what to do once out.  At least with women
from other countries there is always the interesting cultural differences to introduce each other
to.  Honestly, I don’t know exactly why I have so often dated international girls and then marry
one, except for those reasons.  I have been asked several times and know that many more times
than that I have left people wondering, who never had the guts to ask.  From a genetic
standpoint, it makes a lot of sense, as it is healthier to mix DNA as much as possible as the more
similar DNA is the more likely health problems are.
I do have to say that it has been really challenging in other ways such as cultural
expectations as I want to be able to smoothly go where I want and do what I want when I need
to.  When your wife does not have a great vocabulary or even has to ask for help to rent a movie
because she is afraid of the language barrier frustrations, it is insanely frustrating.  Also difficult
in ways I probably don’t even know is when I am trying to relate with a limited vocabulary.  I
remember when I was in my early twenties wondering how much longer the seemingly eternal
wait to enjoy being with a woman in a healthy way would last, if ever I would get to enjoy that.
Once I felt sure that I would be the happiest man in the world if I had a gorgeous female body
even if we did not speak the same language at all. Hell, I can take care of money as long as she
can be there physically, I thought.  I was sort of right but as I have realized, talking while

snuggling and watching a horror movie is a heck of a lot more satisfying than just snuggling to a
horror movie.
On the other hand, I think it is pretty simple and dogmatic to think that because I was
born a Southern Baptist and because it is all I know as far as religion and culture, that it is the
best.  I was sort of ranting to the people that I met at Choices Seminars for relationship and self-
improvement skills, that I thought some of the stuff I learned was utter bullshit.  I do think some
of the stuff has been really useful, but it seems like in the South you can’t escape God as the
higher power, hell, in most of the world.  My wife on the other hand has a degree in philosophy,
and we both agree that social support and tricking the mind into thinking there is an end game
beyond living and dying is healthier than not having such a thing.  That is the kind of simplicity
we have escaped, the dogma kind.
With all that bullshit rambling said, I guess I have my problems caused by depression that
have led to too many choices made out of sort of compulsiveness from being depressed rather
than by thinking things through.  I think that as I have learned in physical therapy classes that
depression and isolation caused by confusion and differences have lead to simple apathetic lives
in lonely apartments.  Sometimes I think that this is the reason I broke down and went for what
seemed to be the least threatening option, not thinking enough about what it would be like or all
the complications being from other cultures would bring.
I think the truth is that we are all humans and humans placed on an island without culture,
as infants will, after hundreds of years, invent a religion they are willing to die for.  In the end, if
we are able to think complicatedly enough to realize that in reality we are just another animal
capable of overpopulating and dying a hellish death with our planet, then we are not able to come
up with proportionally complex solutions.  Religion is a modality to increase our ability to bond
and tolerate life’s hardships.  It can make us too simple though when it says go forth and
multiply and we take the words literally and without the flexibility to see when we are over-
doing it.   Are we going to end up as one big city of poverty and hardship and no wilderness or

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