Danger Zone!Taking Care of Yourself

Rule #6: Know That You Won’t Always be Happy

May 21st, 2015 → 8:51 am @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

My latest for eH! – Rule #6

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rules of marriage

“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” ~ Helen Keller

I recently read an article with a great headline that said something to the effect of, “Follow these 7 marriage rules from divorce attorneys … and never end up in their offices!”  What married person wouldn’t continue to read that article? Who wants to end up in the office of a divorce attorney? Been there; done that. No more, thank you very much!

As I read through their list of the 7 “rules,” I found myself nodding my head up and down. I agreed with the list. I decided that the 7 “rules” would make 7 really great articles and here we are already at #6. If you missed the rest you can find them here: Rule 1, Rule 2,  Rule 3, Rule 4, and Rule #5.

Rule #6 – Know that you won’t always be happy. Anyone who enters into a serious relationship thinking that everything will always be sunshine and roses is going to be very disappointed. Life happens. There are highs and there are lows, peaks and valleys, ups and downs! To falsely believe that you will always be happy is to set yourself up for tremendous disappointment, and frankly, an inability to handle the downs of a relationship when they do happen.

Sometimes the happiness disappears in a relationship because of relationship issues themselves. Other times, the happiness can disappear because of issues not in the relationship per se, but because of issues that impact the dynamic of the relationship and the intrinsic happiness of the individuals in the relationship. This could be one person losing his or her job. It could be one person dealing with a serious injury. It could be the stress of dealing with a child who is ill.

Regardless of the source of the stress or the unhappiness, how it is dealt with is of utmost importance. Recognizing and accepting that things will happen in our relationships that bring us sadness, or at least reduce our happiness, means that when these things happen, we are better prepared to skate through that season until we find contentment again.

When unhappiness finds you, do you retreat inside of yourselves and try to survive on your own, or do you lean on each other for support? Do you shut down, or do you open up? Do you batten down the hatches in your own survival mode, or do you recognize that two can be stronger than one?

Many people think that having to deal with unhappiness isn’t good. Most of us try to avoid being unhappy. The reality is that dealing with stressors in our lives, and dealing with periods of unhappiness, can actually serve to bring us closer to those who are important to us. When we are unhappy, we tend to be more vulnerable. That makes us more “human” and people respond to being needed and want to be helpful. When we are unhappy, we rely more on others. No longer are we invincible by ourselves, but rather we find we need to rely on others for support. This can actually serve to make our relationships stronger.

Think about it! Two parents dealing with a troubled teen. They can choose to shut down and fold into their own angst, or they can become partners and talk about how they are going to handle it together. Two lovers dealing with an unexpected bump in their road. They can choose to ignore each other and feign independence, or they can decide together how best to deal with this “issue” as a duo. Two spouses dealing with an unexpected financial crisis. They can process their stress and grief independently, or they can turn to each other for emotional support.

Most people don’t want to be operating in a cloud of unhappiness for extended periods of time. Those couples who recognize that stress is part of the natural cycle of life are going to be the stronger couples who survive that stress, and not the ones who are crushed under it’s weight. Those are the couples who choose to incorporate those moments as part of their story. They focus on what happened, and how they got through it together. Maybe it’s not about the happy ending. Maybe it’s about the story in between!

“The happiest people do not have the best of everything. They make the best of everything they have.”

What do you do think? When unhappiness comes along, how do you react? Turn in, or reflect out?

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Danger Zone! &Taking Care of Yourself

Rule #5: Don’t Expect Perfection

May 13th, 2015 → 4:43 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s my latest for eHarmony – Rule #5

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illusion of perfection

“Life is better when you stop criticizing the faults, instead look for the beauty in the flaws.”

I recently read an article with a great headline that said something to the effect of, “Follow these 7 marriage rules from divorce attorneys … and never end up in their offices!”  What married person wouldn’t continue to read that article? Who wants to end up in the office of a divorce attorney? Been there; done that. No more, thank you very much!

I decided to write an article about each of the 7 rules. We are coming into the home stretch and today we are on Rule #5. If you have missed any of the others, you can catch up here: Rule 1, Rule 2,  Rule 3 and Rule 4.

Don’t expect perfection. Remember what our parents used to tell us? Nobody is perfect. They were right. We aren’t perfect. Our parents aren’t perfect. And, our partner isn’t perfect. We have to learn to accept them for who they are.

It’s interesting. We are usually willing to overlook “flaws” or things that bother us early in relationships. Some things are cute, and we find we can overlook them easily. They aren’t a big deal, and we ignore them. Or, we are so in love that we are willing to overlook them because all the great traits overshadow these few “annoying habits.” Or, we lie to ourselves and tell ourselves that these “flaws” – these cracks in perfection – aren’t a big deal and we will get used to them. Or, and this is a dangerous one, we believe we will be able to “change” them and “fix” them once we have some time to work on them. These are all reasons why we are willing to overlook perceived “flaws” and move forward with a relationship.

Most of the time, as these relationships progress, all the reasons and excuses we gave ourselves about the “flaws” we find in our spouses suddenly dim in their importance, and the “flaw” itself seems to become magnified. Sure, we told ourselves that it was a cute “flaw,” or that that we would get used to it, or that we could change them, but the reality is that “flaw” isn’t going anywhere.

You will also go crazy trying to change someone to make them perfect. Too often I’ve spoken with divorced people who tell me, “I thought I could change him (or her) … and when I realized I couldn’t, things got really bad.”

So now what? I’ve seen “flaws” that have gone on to create giant wedges between couples who could no longer see all of the great qualities that attracted them to each other in the first place. Suddenly all of those wonderful traits that you fell in love with – his wacky sense of humor, the way she wants to adopt every stray pet she sees, his special way with your kids – take a back seat to the fact that he leaves the toilet seat up or that she throws clothes on the floor in the closet.

We need to accept “flaws” for what they are: inevitable parts of every one of us.

Remember, nobody is perfect. And, if you married someone to begin with, it’s likely that their list of wonderful attributes far outweighed their list of “flaws.” It might be time to revisit what it was that you initially fell in love with, and then decide how important those “flaws” really are in the grand scheme of things. I’m guessing those “flaws” will turn out to rank pretty low on the totem pole in comparison with other wonderful qualities.

“Vulnerability is the essence of romance. It’s the art of being uncalculated, the willingness to look foolish, the courage to say, ‘This is me, and I’m interested in you enough to show you my flaws with the hope that you may embrace me for all that I am but, more important, all that I am not.’ ” ~ Ashton Kutcher

What do you think? Have you let “flaws” become more important than they deserve to be? Are you aware of your own “flaws?”

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Blogtalk

Danger Zone!

Rule #4: Be a Good Conversation Partner

May 2nd, 2015 → 8:14 am @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Have you been following the rules? Here’s my latest for eHarmony! Rule #4

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communication and couples

“Communication is the fuel that keeps the fire of your relationship burning; without it, your relationship goes cold.”  – William Paisley

I recently read an article with a great headline that said something to the effect of, “Follow these 7 marriage rules from divorce attorneys … and never end up in their offices!”  What married person wouldn’t continue to read that article? Who wants to end up in the office of a divorce attorney? Been there; done that. No more, thank you very much!

Welcome to this series. I decided to write an article on each of the 7 rules, what each one means, and how we can apply it! If you are just joining in, we are at the mid-point! You can catch up on the prior 3 rules here: Rule 1, Rule 2, and Rule 3.

Today we are on Rule #4. Be a good conversation partner. Many a couple has blamed “communication breakdowns” on the failure of their marriages. What does that even mean? I don’t think it is communication breakdowns that are the issue. If there are breakdowns, it means you are still communicating in some way, shape or form. Rather, I think the problems start when communication stops altogether.

Think back to the early days of your past relationships. You talked on the phone multiples times a day. You texted quick little updates or quirky little messages that had no real meaning. You couldn’t wait to share every mundane detail of your day. You could talk for hours and hours about your history, your stories, and those moments that made you who you are.

If you had so much to talk about then, how come you have so little to talk about now? The multiple phones calls a day started to dwindle. The little text messages dissipated. Over time you became too tired, or too busy doing other things to share those mundane details of your day. You feel your partner has heard all the stories that have shaped and molded who you are. Suddenly, there is no breakdown in communication; there is simply no communication.

One place for us to start being communicative again is to stop what we are doing and focus on our partners and really talk with them. Engage in a two-way dialogue. Be interested in what he or she is saying. Respond. React. Reply. In other words, turn off the TV and put down your smart phone. Replying to the emails that are chiming in, keeping up with the latest game stats, playing Candy Crush, and checking on the weather can all wait.

My husband and I have a couple of sets of cards called “Table Topics” that we keep around the house. We have a “couples” edition and a “family” edition. Every now and then we’ll get them out and pull a card and all have to answer the question. It’s a great way to get dialogue going. It was fun when we first started dating to ask each other questions that we might not think about and to hear the answers. We usually couldn’t get past more than a few questions at a time because they led to such great conversations. With two teenagers in the house now, we love the “family” edition. We recently had a great conversation amongst the four of us in response to the question, “Would you rather be the best player on a mediocre team, or a mediocre player on a great team?” The dialogue that ensues is always interesting, and I hope we are raising our “wired” kids to become good conversationalists!

The point is this: Talk. Share. Listen. Don’t let communication disappear from your relationships. It’s far too important. We are all going to have those days where we are just too tired to talk, and that’s OK. When I have those days, I simply tell my husband that I need some quiet time, and that I’m “talked out” from my day. I just don’t have it in me to talk more. He knows to give me time and I’ll recharge. The important thing is that I can’t have too many of those days in a row.

One closing thought. As this rule states, it is important to be a good conversation partner. And, it’s appropriate to recognize that being a good conversationalist means you are just as good at listening as you are at talking. It means actively listening and acknowledging appropriately. It means showing empathy and compassion. It means providing advice (if it is wanted), or just listening and soaking it in (when advice isn’t needed or wanted). It’s not a very healthy or productive conversation if one person is doing all of the talking. That’s not a conversation; it’s a speech!

“Communication to a relationship is like Oxygen to life. Without it … it dies.”  – Tony Gaskins

What do you think? Are communication breakdowns the problem, or is it when communication stops altogether?

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Danger Zone!

Dating, Romance, Sex

Rule #3: Enjoy More Intimacy

April 28th, 2015 → 7:14 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s Rule #3 in the series for eHarmony – enjoy! Rule #3

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have more sex

 

“Kids. They’re not easy. But there has to be some penalty for sex” — Bill Maher

I recently read an article with a great headline that said something to the effect of, “Follow these 7 marriage rules from divorce attorneys … and never end up in their offices!”  What married person wouldn’t continue to read that article? Who wants to end up in the office of a divorce attorney? Been that; done that. No more, thank you very much!

I am writing an article about each of the 7 rules and really trying to expand upon what each one means and how we can apply it. If you want to catch up, Rule #1 was Realize You Can Lose Your Partner, and Rule #2 was Bring Back the Little Things. Today, we are on Rule #3 … and it’s a fun one!

3. Have more sex! If only I had a dollar for every person with whom I have spoken who has lamented to me that they are “roommates” with their partner. Think back to the roommates you have had in your life. Perhaps you roomed with a sibling growing up. Perhaps you roomed with dorm-mates in college. Presumably you weren’t having sex with them. To say you are living as a roommate in your marriage means you are not living as lovers and that you aren’t having sex. In the context of a happy, healthy, and committed marriage, not having sex is a real bummer.

Sex (when done right!) is intimate. It creates a connection. It’s an emotional experience. It brings two people closer together. To have those things lacking in a marriage is really sad.  Yet, as we celebrate more and more wedding anniversaries, and we have kids, and we get tired, and we get really, really tired, well, sometimes – often times – it’s the sex that starts to dissipate, then disappear. That’s tragic. I don’t care how old you are, or what physical state you are in, there is an emotional connection that happens when you make love to your spouse.

And, while sex is fun and important, let’s not focus just on the ultimate physical act. Many of the same couples who tell me that they are roommates with their partner, are the same ones who tell me that they aren’t just lacking sex, but rather all physical touch with their partner.

There is so much to be said for just touching one another. Holding each other’s hands. Giving each other a really huge bear hug. Giving a gentle kiss on the forehead. Participating in an all-out kiss that reminds you of when you first met!

Any kind of physical touch conveys love. When we were infants, we wanted to be held and touched. That was how we recognized love. Now that we are older, it’s no different. Most of us really like touch, and it’s the primary love language for many of us, and that tank can be filled in so many ways …be it sitting intertwined on the couch while watching a movie, spooning in bed, or holding each other’s hand while walking through the mall.

If you are one of those people who has LOST physical touch in your relationship, it’s not too late to get it back. If you are one of those people who has LOTS of physical touch in your relationship, good for you for keeping it a priority.

“Intimacy is not purely physical. It’s the act of connecting with someone so deeply you feel like you can see into their soul.”

What do you think? Once physical touch starts to disappear completely is the relationship doomed?

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Dating, Romance, Sex

Dating, Romance, Sex

Rule #2: Bring Back the Little Things

April 22nd, 2015 → 2:31 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s my latest for eHarmony! Rule #2!

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lovenotes

It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” – Arthur Conan Doyle

I recently read an article with a great headline that said something to the effect of, “Follow these 7 marriage rules from divorce attorneys … and never end up in their offices!”  What married person wouldn’t continue to read that article? Who wants to end up in the office of a divorce attorney? Been that; done that. No more, thank you very much!

I wrote an article about Rule #1 recently – Realize You Can Lose Your Partner  - and here is Rule #2. Stay tuned for Rules #3-7!

Rule #2 – Bring back the little things.  

To me, Rule #2 is a continuation of Rule #1. Rule #1 said, “Realize you can lose your partner.” I compared the attention that we give to a meaningful piece of jewelry or the care that we give to an important key as we try not to lose either item, and suggested that this is how we should be treating our partners. In an effort not to lose them, we should be showing them the same care and attention that we are giving to our meaningful watch and important key. After all, isn’t your partner just as meaningful and important?

Rule #2 is all about how we show our partner that we find him or her meaningful and important. Time and time again, people tell me how frustrated they are in their relationships because they feel they are no longer appreciated. Those “little things” that are so wonderful and prevalent in the beginning of relationships often begin to disappear. It happens slowly, and then one day, one person realizes, “Hmmm … my husband used to bring me coffee in bed every Sunday morning when we were first married … and now he can’t wait to get out the door to get to the golf course.” Or, he thinks, “My wife used to stay up late when I came in late from work so that we could talk about our day together … and now she’s fast asleep in her sweatpants.”

We are talking about little things … that are really huge, enormous, tremendous things that have the power to change relationships. Think about it. What “little thing” has someone done for you lately? Did it make a big impact on you? Clearly it did because you still remember it. Little things don’t have to be expensive; they don’t have to take a lot of time; they don’t even have to take up a lot of your energy.

Little things are just that – little things, and bringing back little things will do huge things towards bringing back love, energy, and connection in your relationships (and let’s be clear, we are not just talking about your romantic relationships, but rather all of your relationships). When was the last time you…

Did a little thing like send a friend a card to let her know you were thinking about her, or put a little love note in your partner’s suitcase before he left on a business trip?

Did a little thing like buy the person behind you in the drive-thru line at Starbucks a coffee even though you didn’t know them, or brought your partner a coffee (or diet coke or glass of OJ) in bed on a Saturday morning?

Did a little thing like give a fellow mom a huge smile of encouragement and a word of support when you could tell she was having a day where she just lost her bid for “mom of the year,” or gave your partner an unexpected foot massage after she had a long day on her feet (in those favorite heels you bought her)?

Did a little thing like offer to bring your friend’s kids home after soccer practice so that she and her husband could have a quiet dinner alone, or lined up a babysitter (all by yourself) so you could take your wife out for a romantic dinner?

Oh yes, we call those “little things.” A friend will thank us for the card, and we’ll say, “Oh no big deal … it was just a little thing.” Or we’ll thank our partner for the coffee, and she’ll say, “no big deal … only took an extra minute.” They are right. In and of themselves, these little things aren’t a big deal and don’t take a lot of time, money or energy, but the end-result is a tremendous … and a really BIG deal!

“Little things, little things, are much more important than big things. Big things hit you in the face with their bigness and obscure the little, more important things that really define a life and provide it with delicacy.” — Layren Roedy Vaughn

What about you? What “little thing” have you done for someone else lately?

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Dating, Romance, Sex

Danger Zone!

Rule #1 – Realize You Can Lose Your Partner

April 14th, 2015 → 2:51 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

My latest for eHarmony:

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relationship tips

Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years. ” ~ Simone Signoret

I recently read an article with a great headline that said something to the effect of, “Follow these 7 marriage rules from divorce attorneys … and never end up in their offices!”  What married person wouldn’t continue to read that article? Who wants to end up in the office of a divorce attorney? Been there; done that. No more, thank you very much!

As I read through their list of the 7 “rules,” I found myself nodding my head up and down. Yes! These are great things to do to keep your marriage strong – and presumably are things that if you sustain in your marriage will ultimately keep your union strong and keep you from stepping foot in a divorce attorney’s office.

I decided that the 7 “rules” would make 7 really great articles. I start here with Rule #1 … and will continue with articles on rules #2-7 in the coming weeks. Ready? Here we go!

Rule #1 – Realize you can lose your partner. Marriage is a commitment. When you exchanged your wedding vows you made a commitment to stay married “until death do you part.” However, as I highlighted in a prior article called Dateable, “when you are accountable for something that you aren’t capable of, you are miserable.” Realize that you can lose your partner. In fact, if we listen to the statistics, in roughly 50% of first marriages we are discovering that you can in fact lose your partner.

Just as we tend to take extra care with and give special attention to other things that we don’t want to risk losing, so must we do the same with our spouses. Think about it. Perhaps you have a favorite piece of jewelry. Maybe it’s a fancy watch that your grandfather left for you. When you wear it, you are constantly checking to be sure the clasp is secure. When you take it off at the end of the day, you are careful to place it in a safe and secure location. You are cognizant of it, and attentive to it. You give that watch some special attention because it is meaningful to you.

Or, maybe you are a frequent traveler who leaves your car in the airport parking lot regularly. If you are like me, you are careful to zip your car key into a compartment in your briefcase or luggage so it won’t fall out as you go through security and your bags get tossed around. You give that key some special attention because it is important to you.

Similarly, this is the way we should treat our partners. We should be careful and attentive with him or her. We should be checking in to see if we are still “clasped” tightly. We should remain in a safe and secure place together. We should show extra care and attention to our partners because they are meaningful and important to us.

As we get caught up in our hectic lives, however, our jobs, our children, our hobbies, and our volunteer work can all place enormous demands on our time. Unfortunately, it is often our partners who pay the price. We tend to think that they will be the most understanding and forgiving and they are for a time, but after a while nobody wants to feel like they are consistently coming in second, third or fourth place. After a while, every partner wants to feel like they are that meaningful watch and that important key.

Relationships are vulnerable. While our partners certainly aren’t like a watch or a key, they too can get “lost” in the shuffle. This can ultimately lead to losing your partner completely and finding yourself making that visit to the divorce attorney.

The bottom line is this: marriage is hard work and it takes an ongoing commitment. Just because you said, “I do” doesn’t mean you are home free and that all the hard work is done. Turning your “I do” into forever means making your partner a constant priority in your life, and having your partner feel valued as a priority. Think about it. Are you treating your partner as a meaningful watch or an important key?

Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate.” ~ Barnett R. Brickner

What do you think? Do you operate on the premise that your relationship is something to be cherished, and are you cautious not to lose it?

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Danger Zone!

Dating, Romance, SexKids' Issues

Introducing the Kids!

March 25th, 2015 → 5:58 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

My latest for eHarmony … Introducing the Kids!

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when to introduce kids

“The uncertainty of parenting can bring up feelings in us that range from frustration to terror.” — Brene Brown

I had a great conversation with a friend last week. I’m not sure we ever landed on an answer, but it was a worthwhile discussion that I want to share here. I would love to get your feedback and suggestions.

It’s a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” scenario! There may not be an answer, and you can circle yourself around and around the question, and still not know the “right” thing to do. Here’s the deal: my friend (never married, no kids) is dating a guy (divorced, two school aged kids). They get along really well … “opposites attract” would be a great way to describe them. By way of background, they have been dating for nearly a year and have a ton of fun together on his “free” weekends (from his kids).

Here’s the thing. He is hesitant to let her get too close to his children until he “knows this is going to work out for the long-term.” She says, “I have a hard time figuring out if this is going to work out for the long term if I don’t have a chance to get to know his kids and see what it’s like to be their stepmom.” She has met his kids, but he has kept her at an arms length. She wants to do more with his kids and really get to know them.

Do you see the conundrum? He doesn’t want her to become a part of his kids’ lives until he knows she is the one, and how can she know if she is the one until she gets to know all of him – which includes his kids?

All of this begs the question, “When is the right time to introduce your date to your kids?” My belief is that it is somewhere in between. I didn’t introduce my now-husband to my kids until I knew that we had something serious going on. I also knew that we wouldn’t be able to advance to the next level of seriousness until my kids had met him, he had met my kids, and I was comfortable with how they all interacted with each other. I was falling in love with this guy, but I also knew that if he and my kids hated each other that I wasn’t prepared to deal with that drama. That would be a deal-breaker. At the same time, he was falling in love with me. And, he knew that I was a package deal. You get me AND you get two bonus kids. He needed to be able to spend time with my kids to get to know them and confirm that he could be and wanted to be their “bonus” dad in the future.

I was so fortunate that my kids fell in love with him, just as much as he fell in love with them. He has never tried to be their dad. In fact, when he asked me to marry him, he also asked my kids for “permission,” and told them that he knew they had a dad, and he would be thrilled to be their stepdad. But, he wouldn’t have been able to do this if he hadn’t already built a relationship with them, and he wouldn’t have been able to build a relationship with them if I hadn’t given him access to them to start developing a relationship in the first place.

I didn’t grant access right away. I didn’t want my kids to ever just see me dating a revolving door of men every Saturday night (not that I ever did that anyway). I knew that introducing my kids to my now-husband was a big deal. This is why I understand where my friend’s boyfriend is coming from. As parents, we want to protect our kids. We want to protect their innocence and shield them from having to understand the complexities of life — lessons like “mom and dad got divorced, and now mommy (or daddy) is spending time with (and falling in love with) someone else.” These can be tough changes for children to understand, but it’s also real life.

Can you understand my friend’s boyfriend not wanting to introduce his kids to her right away? Can you also understand him wanting to wait until he knows they are in a relationship, and not simply casually dating (remember, they have been dating for a year)? Can you understand my friend’s perspective saying she wants to spend more time with his kids getting to know them better because like it or not, he’s a package deal now? She knows if she continues to fall in love with him, that means loving his kids as well, and she wants to love them. Being a stepmother is a tough job. She wants to get to know them and become a part of their lives – all of their lives.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? When do you introduce your relationship to your kids? When do you introduce your kids to your relationship? At the end of this discussion, here’s what I truly believe: it depends! The answers to those questions are going to completely depend on you, your children, and the person whom you want to introduce or don’t want to introduce quite yet. Everyone is at a different place – in their maturity, in their ability to handle change, and in their emotional readiness. As parents, we must best assess when the timing is right for our kids, and go from there. Sometimes we get it right, and sometimes we don’t!

“I’m not a parenting expert. In fact, I’m not sure that I even believe in the idea of ‘parenting experts.’ I’m an engaged, imperfect parent and a passionate researcher. I’m an experienced mapmaker and a stumbling traveler. Like many of you, parenting is by far my boldest and most daring adventure.” — Brene Brown

What do you think?

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Dating, Romance, Sex &Kids' Issues

Dating, Romance, Sex

Are You Dateable?

March 22nd, 2015 → 5:30 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s my latest for eHarmony! Dateable?

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are you dateable

“Are you the person the person you are looking for is looking for?”  – Andy Stanley

If you are dating right now (or want to be dating someone), keep reading.

If you want some big dating ideas to ponder, keep reading.

If you love to laugh, keep reading, then click on the link at the end.

I live in Atlanta and attend Northpoint Community Church. Our lead pastor, Andy Stanley, delivered a message at one of the singles events recently. Andy is a terrific communicator. He is incredibly successful at delivering really good messages using spot-on humor and thought-provoking questions. Here are a few of the nuggets I captured from his talk on dating.

The “Right Person” Myth

Andy began by talking about the “right person” myth which basically says, “When I meet the right person, everything will turn out right.” Clearly this is a myth! Look at the divorce rate. Obviously many of us (roughly 50% of the population if you believe the statistics) are not marrying the “right person” because everything is not turning out right. It’s more about becoming the right person, rather than finding the right person. Think about that. What if we each tried to truly become the right person? What if we each worked on finding ourselves and really worked on becoming our best selves? Would that make finding the “right person” easier? Intriguing, isn’t it!?

Online Dating is a Great Thing

Andy suggested that the whole idea of being able to meet someone via a profile before you really meet him or her is a powerful thing. Assuming they are being honest – with themselves and with you – you are able to get an idea of who they are, what they stand for, and what they value before you even get to meet them. Talk about a head start. There is a huge advantage to that, because … once you meet someone and perhaps start to fall under his or her “spell,” it becomes easier to begin to slip on your own guardrails and boundaries about what is truly important and critical to you. Suddenly you begin to overlook some things that are really important to you, and potentially lower your standards and expectations.

There is No Win in Jumping in!

We have all been in those opening days, weeks, and months of a new relationship where the chemistry is so powerful that you think, “This just has to be right.” The feelings are so powerful that you know you are meant to be together. He has to be “the one.” She has to be a “gift from God.” Romance is a fog, and that’s a great thing. But, as Andy says, the longer you can postpone the physical, the better off you will be. He made a great point: the physical part of relationships is the easy part; it’s the relational side that is so much more difficult. Most of us are ultimately looking for real intimacy with another person. Genuine intimacy requires both a strong physical and a strong relational component. Andy says, “To be fully known – and to know someone else fully – fearlessly. That is intimacy, and it is so powerful.”

Accountable vs. Capable

Andy closes with this: “Wedding vows make you accountable, not capable. When you are accountable for something you aren’t capable of, you are miserable.”  I had to think about that for a few minutes. He’s right. When you pledge your wedding vows to another person, they simply make you accountable (theoretically) to that person and to the promises you are making (you know, that part where you might say something like “in sickness and in health, in good times and bad, for richer or poorer”). But, and it’s a big but, those same vows that make you accountable don’t necessarily make you capable. And, if you aren’t capable of being accountable, then you become miserable … and being miserable in a marriage (or a relationship) is never a good thing.

Those are just a few of the nuggets which stuck with me from this conversation with Andy. Trust me – you should take the time (it’s less than an hour!) and watch the video. It’s comedy with a really good message! Here’s the link.

What about you? Are you the person the person you are looking for is looking for?

 

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Dating, Romance, Sex

Dating, Romance, Sex

I Fell in Love at the Wedding!

March 3rd, 2015 → 5:25 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s my latest for eHarmony: Fell In Love!

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love at weddings

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”  ~Mignon McLaughlin

A dear friend got engaged several months ago. We were all so excited for her. She came over one night and we talked about her plans for the wedding. You know, all the normal stuff – where they were going to get married, what her dress looked like, who was going to be the ring bearer. And then, she popped the question – to me!

“Would you and J consider marrying us,” she asked? “YES! Absolutely yes!” I’m not sure I’ve ever been asked to take on such an important role in someone’s life. What an honor! That thought was followed by, “Yikes – are we even equipped to officiate a wedding?!!”

It turns out my husband and I could be equipped to officiate a wedding – in fact, we were ordained quite easily.  It was almost frightening how easy it was. In less than 10 seconds online (seriously), we were ordained to officiate a wedding. We weren’t asked anything about our religious beliefs or our views on the sanctity of marriage. We weren’t even asked to pay anything. Nevertheless, we are now able to perform weddings.

My friend and her fiancé were having a small wedding with just family and a few close friends. They wanted a small, intimate, and personal wedding. The four of us sat down and created a beautiful wedding ceremony. It was steeped in the traditional Christian service of marriage. We built in readings of certain Bible passages by two of his children, and his other daughter played her guitar and sang a beautiful song.  It was meaningful and personal.

Looking back on this beautiful experience, there are three things I learned from officiating their wedding.

It’s intense! I was more nervous performing someone else’s wedding than I was when I got married myself a few years ago. There’s something about wanting to make it absolutely perfect for the bride and groom that makes you pray that you don’t mess up the words! At our wedding (at our home) a few years ago, I wasn’t worried about messing up, and in fact, I loved the little things that weren’t a part of our “plan” like when our yellow lab came over and laid down right next to us during the ceremony. That’s become one of my favorite photos … us standing on our back porch, with my children in front of us, minister and our family and friends surrounding us, and sweet Willow laying at our feet.

It’s inspiring! Having someone repeat after you as you read the wedding vows and the declaration of intent allows you to relive your own vows all over again. We stood in front of our friends, and we asked them, “ … Do you take this man to be your husband, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?” As I asked those questions of them, I answered them for myself again some six years after I last said them when we got married. I relived the enormity of those words, the true impact of their meaning, and standing next to my husband, I was able to silently answer, “I will – absolutely” to the declaration of intent. I fell in love with my husband (all over again) at the wedding

It’s intimate! I’m a big fan of sharing special moments, occasions, and activities with your spouse as a way to build intimacy and emotional connection. There is something about jumping out of an airplane together (OK, full disclosure, we’ve never done that) or fixing dinner together that builds that forged connection. It says, “We conquered this – together!” We found co-leading a wedding to be that kind of experience. We had to plan it together, write it together, and execute it together. It was a shared experience that we will treasure forever.

Now what? We had so much fun watching our friends fall in love, and so much fun being such a special part of their wedding day, that we half-jokingly tell other friends that we are happy to marry them, or even to help them renew their vows … and we’re especially fond of destination weddings to warm locales during the winter months!

What about you? Have you fallen in love at someone else’s wedding?  Were you single and did you meet someone and fall in love? Or perhaps, you fell in love with your spouse all over again as you silently renewed your own vows. 

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Dating, Romance, Sex

Dating, Romance, SexTaking Care of Yourself

Rounding the Corner!

February 27th, 2015 → 11:05 am @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s my latest for eHarmony – Rounding the Corner!

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moving on

“It will always be okay in the end; if it’s not okay yet, then it’s not the end.”

I had coffee with a friend last week. She told me about her niece who is going through a nasty divorce. Her niece is angry. She’s hurt. She feels as if her life is over and that she will never be happy again. I know that in the moment it definitely does feel that way. It’s easy to think that life is over. It’s easy to wonder if you will ever be happy again. I encouraged my friend to tell her niece that she will “round the corner” and find happiness again in her future. I’ve seen it happen to practically everyone I know who has been through some sort of tumultuous situation. They ultimately “round the corner” and find peace and happiness again.

I love that term. I get a really great visual when I say it. I see someone coming around a very dangerous and scary curve, and then once they round the corner, it’s a straight-away along a beautiful flat paved road heading towards a perfect blue sky. Not sure why, but that’s the visual I see.

I had lunch with two colleagues the other night. As it frequently does when a group of women get together, our conversation turned from simply professional dialogue and friendly niceties, and transitioned to more vulnerable and connecting conversations. One shared how her ex-husband had cheated on her, and now three years later, she was just beginning to re-enter the dating world. She shared how she had been so blind-sided and hurt by his unfaithfulness that it had taken her a while to recover. Then she uttered the words I love to hear. She said, “But … I’ve rounded the corner and I’m so thankful that he did that to me. I am so much happier now than I ever was before.”

The other colleague began to share her story. She had once been engaged. Shortly before the wedding, her fiancé shared that he had cheated on her. They postponed the wedding, and tried to work through it together, but she discovered that he was still cheating on her with the same woman. What?!?! Needless to say, she was devastated, and called off the wedding for good. It took her a while to get her groove back after being hurt so badly. She is now dating again and in a wonderful relationship with a great guy. She said, “I was so angry and ruined emotionally. I never thought I would trust anyone again, but here I am now, happier than ever.” She, too, had “rounded the corner.”

I spent several hours many years ago with a neighbor who had been through a brutal divorce. I ran into her at the grocery story a few weeks ago. We passed each other in one aisle and it was obvious we were both trying to place each other. I love the irony because by the time we literally rounded the corner in the next aisle we both recalled each other. “How are you?” I asked. You guessed it. She said, “I’ve rounded the corner and I’m doing great. Life is really good and I’m so happy being independent.”

Rounding the corner doesn’t just apply to surviving divorce. It applies to any challenge that life presents to us. For many of us, not getting into the college of our dreams, or surviving the loss of a job, or dealing with the death of a parent or a dear friend may throw us for a loop. We may wonder if we are ever going to get our groove back. I read in my devotion this morning that faith is blind trust that everything will be okay again. That’s a great description. We all need to believe that and have faith that we will eventually round the corner, and when that happens, we will look back on whatever lessons life threw at us, and be able to learn from them, grow from them, and move on from them.

For some people, rounding the corner just comes with the passage of time. For others, it comes from talking with a therapist, a minister, or a good friend. For others, it comes through intense self-reflection, and a desire to look towards a new horizon in the future as opposed to being stuck treading water and being sucked backwards.

There’s a trick to the ‘graceful exit.’ It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, or a relationship is over — and let it go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its validity or its past importance to our lives. It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving up, rather than out.” ~ Ellen Goodman

What about you? What unwanted and unwelcome lesson did life throw at you? Have you rounded the corner yet?

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Dating, Romance, Sex &Taking Care of Yourself