Danger Zone!

The Cost of Complacency

November 12th, 2017 → 4:41 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

My latest from eHarmony! The Cost of Complacency

complacency

Complacency is a continuous struggle that we all have to fight. ~ Jack Nicklaus

You know how you sometimes (perhaps frequently) have that experience of something bumping up against you repeatedly and you feel the nudge to listen. It’s like the universe is trying to tell you something, or to teach you a lesson, or remind you of something. Some things just seem to come up enough that you finally just have to pay attention …

Complacency.

That’s the word that has been bumping up against me repeatedly over the last month. So much so that I felt compelled to write about it.

I have a friend who has been married for 28 years. Her husband came home last week and told her he was leaving. No warning. No build-up to it. No kidding. He literally walked out. As she is reflecting on what happened, she admits that neither of them have been actively working on their marriage for several years. She assumed that they would be together forever (a normal assumption, for sure). He obviously decided otherwise. She says they stopped putting forth the effort into their marriage, their ‘dating,’ their sex life, their romantic gestures. As her kids pointed out, “you and Dad haven’t done anything together in years.” They were right. #RelationshipComplacency

I have a friend who has worked for the same company for 21 years. She has progressed through the ranks, worked her way up, earned a great salary, and was even able to work from home frequently. She has done very well for herself. As she has built her career internally, she has become insulated. She hasn’t kept up a professional network outside of this company. She hasn’t stayed networked and connected with others in her industry or in her function. She lost her job last week. She hasn’t put a resume together in over 20 years. She is totally unprepared for this. #CareerComplacency

I have a friend whose teenage daughter appear to have it all going on. She has never been in trouble at school or at home. She is outgoing, kind and respectful. She is a good student. The parents have never felt the need to ask too many questions. Over a few months, she started to act differently. The grades went down. The friend group changed. The attitude changed. Yet, they brushed it off as “normal teenage stuff” and didn’t take any action to try to find out what was going on. #ParentingComplacency

Familiarity breeds complacency. ~ Rick Warren

Why is it risky to become complacent?

Complacency happens! It happens when we get really comfortable with the situations in which we find ourselves. It’s easier to let things continue on as they are than to have to expend energy. Of course my marriage is fine; I don’t need to invest time or energy in it when there are so many other things I have to get done. Of course my job is secure; I don’t need to invest time or energy on my career when I am so busy in my career. Of course my kid is good; I don’t need to invest time or energy creating a problem where none exists. Complacency is risky because it creeps in when we let our guard down and we quit focusing on what’s truly important. Complacency happens when we get too comfortable with the status quo.

What can we do to avoid becoming complacent?

From a relationship perspective, I saw a great example of this on Facebook today. A colleague posted a photo of he and his wife of 27 years at the airport about to head out for a long weekend. He commented that the trip was “marriage maintenance.” How fun is that? He and his wife recognize that they can’t become complacent, but rather need to intentionally work on staying connected within their busy lives.

From a career perspective, there are countless ways to stay connected and intentional about your development. Attend continuous development conferences to stay current on the latest trends in your business. This also allows you to meet others in your industry. Get involved in the community to meet others who might be able to help you should you ever find yourself unemployed. The worst time to try to build your network is when you need their help. Build it first, make deposit and investments in these relationships, so that if and when you ever need them, they are willing to help out because the relationship has been established.

From a family perspective, stay connected and involved. For example, I was never a big user of texting as a form of communication. I realized many years ago that if I wanted to stay connected with my own teenagers, I needed to start texting and quit leaving voice mails or emails (which are never listened to or looked at). Complacent behavior would just say, “it’s too much trouble to learn a new form of communication … my kids just need to listen to my voice mails.” But, if they aren’t listening then all those voice mails are just wasted air. You can avoid becoming complacent by adapting as the world evolves around you.

He who is content with what has been done is an obstacle in the path of progress.~ Helen Keller

The bottom line is that while it’s nice to be comfortable in our lives (our relationships, our careers, our friendships) the reality is that we need to always be intentional about staying focused on what is most important to us so that we never get surprised when something derails and takes a path that smacks us in the face and surprises us.

 

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Blogtalk &Danger Zone!

Danger Zone!

Appreciation!

May 11th, 2016 → 10:30 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

My latest for eHarmony … Appreciation!

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appreciation

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

There are an overwhelming number of women who feel unappreciated by their husbands. I often hear the following: “I just want to feel appreciated. For years I have been the cook, the cleaner, the chauffeur… I don’t feel like we are a partnership… I’ve asked, demanded, and pleaded that we go to counseling… I can’t do this anymore. I don’t want to live the second half of my life feeling like this. I’m done.”

I know this is nothing new. I am sure my mother felt unappreciated by my dad at times during their marriage. I think that’s probably natural in the cycle of marriage and relationships. Life gets busy. We forget to thank those closest to us. But times are changing. I have spoken with more women than I can count over the past couple of years who aren’t just complaining about feeling unappreciated by their husbands. Instead, they are doing something about it.

These women, most of whom are in their mid-40’s, have decided they want out of their marriages. Sure, they are scared for what this means for them. Sure, they are nervous about the new unknowns divorce will bring. Sure, they recognize the impact this will have on their lives. For most of the women I spoke with, leaving their husbands means having to secure full-time employment for the first time in years. It mean moving out of the big brick colonial in the suburbs and moving into something more affordable. It means being alone. And you know what each and every woman I spoke with said? “I am absolutely OK with this.” I heard, “I’m OK being alone and starting over on my own… I feel as if I have been alone for years anyway. I don’t need my big house or my fancy car. I don’t mind having to work. I just know that I don’t want to spend the next half of my life living this way. Why should I?”

Wow! To give it all up and start over at 45? It’s surprising, particularly because to the outside world, these women appear to have it all. Their husbands aren’t “bad” people. We aren’t talking about men who are abusive or alcoholics. We aren’t talking about men who are dragging the family into bankruptcy. We aren’t talking about men who have lived a double life full of affairs.

What these women are expressing is a deep personal sadness at feeling disconnected and unappreciated by their husbands. They tell me they have fought for years to feel more connected and appreciated. This isn’t a whim, they assure me. They have thought long and hard about their decision to get divorced. They aren’t simply giving up. They have tried and fought a long battle. But the thing they each have in common is that they have reached their breaking point. They say, “I’m tired of not feeling appreciated, not feeling like I am part of a partnership. I feel like I am the roommate … not someone who is valued. I’m tired of asking to be appreciated — begging to be valued — pleading to feel as if I am important and not constantly playing second-fiddle to everything else going on in his life. I’m done.”

Divorce has become commonplace. Many women thrive after divorce. They live independent, happy lives. Any taboo or stigma that may have existed during my mother’s generation doesn’t exist any more. I think this gives many women the courage to say, “I can do this.” And, they are.

What do we do about this? Many husbands are left with their jaws hanging open in disbelief when their wives file for divorce. “Why didn’t we talk about this? Why didn’t we go to counseling? Why didn’t you tell me you were feeling this way?” The wives smile sadly and say, “We have, we did, I have… and it’s too late now… I’m done.”

I don’t like these conversations. I believe in the institution of marriage. I don’t like to see people quit. What can we do? I know the following advice is oversimplifying the issue — I really do — but it’s a start:

Men, please take the time to appreciate your wife regularly. Thank her for what she does for you and your family. Validate her. Cover her with words of affirmation. Wrap your appreciation of her deep within her heart. This is a marathon, not a sprint. The women I spoke with are not giving up because they weren’t thanked for emptying the dishwasher once. It’s the net result of decades of feeling taken for granted. When I suggest that perhaps having an open dialogue with their husbands alerting them to just how serious this really is and perhaps giving a final chance to make some changes, they tell me it would be too little, too late. “I’m done,” they say.

Clearly, women, this isn’t a one-way street. Appreciation goes both ways. Are you checking to see just how much appreciation you are showing to your husband as well? Do you thank him for all he does, or do you take him for granted? Really think about it. Perhaps you perceive that you are being more appreciative than you really are. What would he say?

I’m not saying that showing more appreciation will lower the divorce rate in our country, but I do believe that showing more appreciation will improve marital relationships.

Philosopher William James (1842-1910), said, “The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.”

The women I speak with are craving appreciation.

What do you think?

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Danger Zone!

Danger Zone!Dating, Romance, Sex

The Important Role of Doubt

April 2nd, 2016 → 11:03 am @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

My latest for eHarmony … Doubt!

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thoughtful or asking us to shut up and make some silence this blonde woman has big beautiful eyes and an intense look

“Doubt is the pinprick in the life raft.”

Library of Souls, Ransom Riggs

When doubt enters into a relationship, it’s like the pinprick in the life raft, and if left unattended, it slowly sucks the air out completely leaving nothing but a saggy, soggy remnant of what once was.

Doubt! I’ve spoken with many people lately who have let doubt creep into their relationships. It’s like smoke. You don’t really see it. You get a sense that it’s there, but it’s hard to capture or define, and then voila, before you know it, it seeps into everything. I had a minor fire in an apartment I lived in while in grad school. Thankfully there wasn’t any significant burn damage, but there was tremendous smoke damage. Everything in my closet, and all of my bedding, had to be repeatedly dry-cleaned or replaced because of the lingering smell from the smoke that had crept in. The damage was done. So it is with doubt.

Recently, I’ve spoken with a woman who is doubting whether her fiancé truly is the man for her, and with a man who has doubts about a new job he just accepted. Two different scenarios to be sure, but in both, that doubt creates little lingering questions that don’t go away. Doubt creates questions that require answers which are hard to find. That doubt creates a nagging sensation that propels you to ‘keep looking’ as opposed to being completely satisfied and fully invested with what you have and where you are. The sad thing is that I know several people who have been married for decades who are, to this day, doubting whether they married the right person. That kind of doubt is dangerous.

Angie, who is doubting her choice in a fiancé, should be celebrating her engagement and planning her future with her husband-to-be. Instead, she is second-guessing herself. Joe, who is doubting whether his new job is the right one for him, should be immersing himself in getting to know his team, and learning the new organization. Instead, he is second-guessing the jobs he turned down and wondering whether he made the right choice. Neither is 100% invested in the decisions they made.

Doubt, like smoke, plays an important role. Often times we don’t see the fire, but we do smell the smoke (or hear the smoke alarms go off) to alert us to a fire, and that propels us to take action. Perhaps the doubt that Angie is feeling is warranted and she should take a second look at whether marriage to her fiancé is the right decision for her right now. Better to realize now that it’s not her best choice rather than after a large wedding celebration, several years of marriage and/or the arrival of kids. Perhaps Joe should take heed of the doubt that he is feeling. Perhaps he is seeing early signs that this new company really is not a culture fit with his style and that he is better off cutting his losses sooner rather than later.

I argue that doubt does play an important role when it enters our thoughts and stimulates us to check, learn, and reaffirm. When doubt enters, it can cause us to question or validate what we believe. It’s like searching for and finding that pinprick in the life raft. We have choices. We can find the pinprick, seal it, and stop the slow-escape of air, or we can decide it’s not worth it and scrap the $.99 life raft! We are able to be decisive and take action.

However, it’s when doubt lingers that it becomes a problem. By the time Angie walks down the aisle in her wedding dress, all doubt should be gone and she should be fully committed to the man she is going to marry. It’s only fair to him and to her. By the time Joe has been in his role for a few weeks (maybe months), all doubt should be over and he should be committed to building, leading, and developing his new team.  It’s only fair to him and to his employer.

The bottom line is that doubt can play a very important role in getting us to think realistically about certain situations. Doubt is that inner voice that frequently guides us so well. There is a role for doubt that causes us to reaffirm (or realign) our choices. Ongoing doubt, however, that cannot be extinguished can be dangerous as it creates a sense of unease and dissatisfaction with the choices we have made.

What are you doubting? Are you using your doubt to find, and potentially seal, the leak? Or, is your doubt acting as the pinprick that is slowly sucking the air out of your relationship?

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Danger Zone! &Dating, Romance, Sex

Danger Zone!Dating, Romance, SexTaking Care of Yourself

Microwave or Crock Pot?

September 22nd, 2015 → 9:25 am @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Microwave!

My latest for eHarmony! Bon appetit!

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relationship tips

“Don’t you hate it when you are hoping for microwave timing and God seems to have your situation in the crock pot?”

This one hits close to home! And goodness, I can certainly relate. It drives me crazy when I’m ready for something to be “over and done” and it’s still simmering away, taking it’s time before it’s completed. We live in a microwave world. We want things fast. We’re in a hurry. We don’t like waiting. Instant gratification is our desire.

We apply this same microwave thinking to our personal lives and our relationships.

I have a friend going through a tough time with her daughter. She just “wants the whole thing to be over with” so they can “move on.” She wants the healing to be complete, not giving full credit to the healing that takes place only through the passage of time. “Why can’t I just snap my fingers and make all of this go away,” she asks rhetorically. She knows that isn’t possible, but recognizes that it sure would be easier.

Another friend is reeling from the sudden loss of her father. It was totally unexpected. She doesn’t want to endure all the “firsts” that are occurring in this year following his death. She simply wants this year to pass by quickly so that all the firsts are avoided. She wants to “microwave” time so what should take a full 365 days feels like it takes less time. Dealing with each special day is just difficult and emotionally taxing.

Then there is my other friend who is in year three post-divorce. She feels like she has given time to her healing. She believes she’s “done her time.” She’s seen her ex-husband move on. He started dating. Then (gasp!) he remarried. The thing is that she also wants to be in a relationship. She wants to fall in love with the right guy. She doesn’t want to have to date. She’s tired of going on bad first dates. She’s tired of not feeling the chemistry. This dating stuff is hard work and, frankly, can be exhausting. Why does it take so much work to weed through the Mr. Not-Rights in search of Mr. Right? She just wants to have Mr. Right presented to her on a microwave-safe plate.

The thing is that anything worth having usually takes time to develop. Healing takes time. Surviving challenging experiences takes time. Building really strong foundational relationships takes time. Most things in life need to simmer. We need to allow the gift of time to be just that – a gift.

I cautioned my friend who has the situation with her daughter to not “wish her time away.” Yes, it would make the “stressful” things disappear faster, but it also means rushing through another year of her daughter’s life (oh by the way, her last one at home before heading to college). Does she really want to do that?

I try to help my friend who doesn’t want to face the firsts after her dad’s death to welcome those firsts by remembering in intricate detail all of those good times because as the years pass those memories dissipate. I know that my memories of my dad have faded as I now find myself reflecting back on our time together, which unbelievably was over 16 years ago.

I try to find humor with my friend who is in the midst of the dating scene. I tell her she has the best stories to share of her dating debacles, and that she, too, will find Mr. Right when the time is right! She needs to understand and accept that while she would like to microwave the near-instantaneous creation of Mr. Right, it might just be that the crock pot is simmering away and that, when done and ready, the final product will be absolutely perfect.

They say, “Time heals all wounds.” I’m not sure I agree. I don’t know that time can heal all wounds but I do believe that the passage of time serves to make those wounds more manageable and more palatable.

What do you think? Are there situations in your life where you are hoping for microwave-fast results, when you know deep down that this one really requires the long-term simmering of a slow cooking crock pot?

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Danger Zone! &Dating, Romance, Sex &Taking Care of Yourself

Danger Zone!

Don’t Worry … I was Only Looking!

September 16th, 2015 → 6:06 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

My latest for eHarmony! Only Looking!

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cheating issues

“Cheating doesn’t mean you have to kiss, or meet up with someone else … Once you find yourself deleting messages or hiding your internet activity so your partner will not see it, then you are already there.”

I was in bed the other night, surfing the web, and, as is not unusual for me, I ended up looking at yellow labs available on PetFinder.com. I have two dogs. I really don’t need a third. Crazy people have three dogs. Or people who live on farms. Not people in suburbia that live on small parcels of land. Anyway, I clicked on the links and looked at so many beautiful yellow labs looking for friendship, companionship, and love. I read their stories. I looked at their photos. I imagined bringing them home with me. Then, I shut my computer and put it away.

My dog, Cedar, who we thought was a yellow lab (she clearly isn’t … she’s more like dachshund with yellow lab coloring!) when we rescued her as a puppy five years ago was snuggled up next to me the whole time. As soon as I shut my laptop, she climbed right on top of me and starting cuddling and licking my face. I said, “Don’t worry, Cedar, I was ONLY looking … I’m not going to actually follow through with it.”

My husband burst out laughing, saying, “I’m sure those exact words have been uttered all across America this week!” Ah, yes! I’m sure they have too as tens of thousand of husbands and wives have had to explain themselves to their spouses. “Don’t worry honey, I was ONLY looking … I was never actually going to follow through with it.” The hack of the Ashley Madison website for married people looking to have affairs, and the subsequent release of emails of those who perused the site, is going to have ripple effects for years to come.

I don’t buy it. The act of simply looking at a site like Ashley Madison means you are curious and perhaps open to the idea of engaging in an affair. Curiosity, in this case can be dangerous.

I tell myself that I’m not planning to get a third dog. I tell myself that I’m “just looking“ to see what’s out there. I tell myself that there is no harm in taking a look at the photos and reading the bios. But, I KNOW, with all my heart, that when I find that yellow lab who I make that instant connection with (yes, based on a photo over the internet) that I will be scrambling quickly to make arrangements to meet him! There is a certain “look” that I fall for every time. I know that it is just a matter of time before my curiosity and innocent “looking” turns into action.

Temptation is a dangerous thing. We start to make excuses. We go from, “I’m just looking” to “What’s the harm if I just send one text” to “What harm can come from a cup of coffee” to “It was just a kiss” and before you know it, you are in over your head, hurting your loved ones. The ripple effect is tremendous.

Would love to know your thoughts on this one! Innocent “looking” or a dangerous level of “curiosity?”

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Danger Zone!

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

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!

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!

Danger Zone!

iCaught on iCloud

February 10th, 2015 → 6:00 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

iCaught on iCloud — my latest for the Huffington Post …

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“In the South, there was a gentle tradition of ‘it’s only a crime if you get caught doing it.’ Sometimes it was known as the Eleventh Commandment. Thou shall not get caught.” ~ C.L. Bevill, Bubba and the Dead Woman

My, we love our technology. It makes life so much easier. I’ve got my phone, my calendar, my alarm clock, my watch, my camera, my video-recorder, my TV, my games, my books, my newspaper, my fitness trackers, my new year’s resolutions, my social networks, and on and on and on … all on my smartphone. It’s incredible. Seriously. I used to dream about this stuff when I was a kid! When the PalmPilot came along, I thought I had hit the jackpot! What did I know! Compared to what we have now, that seems like etching on a tablet. That technology is so dated! As technology improved, I was thrilled to be able to plug a few cords in and instantly transfer things like my photos, or my scheduled appointments from one device to another. It was all so convenient.

And now, oh good heavens! We don’t even have to worry about plugging in cords anymore to transfer data. With the advent of the cloud, stuff just magically appears. If I take a picture on my iPhone, it appears on my MacBook and my iPad. If I send a text, it appears on all 3 devices. I can download a book through the cloud that my husband purchased on his iTunes account (seems like a waste now that we each paid $20 for the eBook biography on Steve Jobs) and simple share it instead of having to buy multiple copies.

BUSTED! Three times in recent weeks I have heard from people who discovered their spouse’s infidelity because things showed up on their devices after flowing across and floating through the Cloud!

iCaught on iCloud: One woman suddenly found photos that she didn’t have any interest in seeing of her husband with another woman show up in her iPhoto account. So much for having to connect and download to have photos save to your laptop!

I love Photostream. According to Apple, when you use Photostream and have iCloud, “when you take a photo on one device, it automatically appears on all your other devices. No syncing. No sending. Your photos are just there.” As long as your devices are configurd with the same iCloud account, you’re good … or not so good, depending on your perspective.

Consider this: You might take a selfie on your iPhone with your “secretary” on your work trip out West … perhaps a casual stroll hand-in-hand at sunset on the beach … and that photo may near instantly appear on your wife’s iPhone back on the East Coast as she’s texting you to let you know that she hopes your long meetings are going well and to give you and update that both kids have the flu and just threw up in your bed … again.

iCaught on iCloud: One man found text messages that his wife was sending to another man. Gone are the days where text messages only showed up on phones. We can now sync with our phone numbers and our emails and “text” from any device. Suddenly, her private texts sent from her phone, were showing up in iMessage on their home desktop computer.

iCaught on iCloud: Another woman started to receive calendar updates with flight information for a business trip her husband was taking … with his secretary (how cliché!). That family calendar option was a great idea … in theory … but when your reservation confirmation information automatically downloads and populates the calendar, it can prove to be dangerous.

In each case, these couples had recently upgraded their technology on their home networks to provide better sharing of data. There’s been a lot of focus on the new “family share” programs and capabilities. Oh yes, they shared all right! They shared a whole helluva lot more than they wanted to.

Perhaps gone are the days of smelling a strange cologne on her shirts, or finding lipstick marks on his collar. In this day and age, technology makes it so much harder for people to get away with things that they shouldn’t be doing in the first place. Hey, I have an idea. Let’s just be good and honest, and not try to get away with things that we shouldn’t be trying to get away with in the first place. Naïve, I know! Technology is supposed to make our lives easier. Guess what? Being honest, and not having to lead a double life and remember our lies also makes our lives much easier (no iCloud needed!).

What do you think?

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Danger Zone!

Danger Zone!Taking Care of Yourself

Do You “Live for Yourself?”

October 2nd, 2014 → 7:45 am @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s my latest for eHarmony – Live for Yourself?

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When someone is rude to you, keep a smile on your face. When you stay on the high road and keep your joy, you take away their power.” ~ Joel Osteen

selfish person 300x203 Do You Live For Yourself?

I love to travel. You get to see people, places, and customs that you would not otherwise see. I had the opportunity to travel to Italy on business this week. My room wasn’t ready when I arrived so I had to check my bags into the luggage check. Not to worry, I welcomed a good walk around town and some fresh air to clear my jet lag after flying all night.

There was all sorts of activity and commotion around the baggage check and it took me a moment to decipher what was going on. I couldn’t imagine why there was so much luggage in the hallway (and I was hoping my bag wasn’t going to be left out in the open, but rather securely placed behind a locked door). Then I noticed a young woman loudly directing the bell-hops all around her, and I realized that all of these bags belonged to her. She had at least six different garment bags and five suitcases – seriously! (And here I was, pretty proud of myself for making it to Italy for a week with just a carry-on roller-board). As I assessed the absurdity of the situation, and tried to figure out if she was someone famous (!), I heard her say to the bell-hop, who was struggling to get all of her bags on the luggage cart, “You need to eat more; you are very weak.” I was appalled. I waited for her to laugh or make a joke, but she was very serious. How rude. I made sure I was extra-polite and gracious to him.

Fast forward 24 hours and I was waiting to board a train. As is so common in Europe, there were a group of passengers enjoying their last smoke right outside the train door. I was navigating my way between these passengers, when someone else came barging through and pushed on board. I noticed a tattoo on her arm as she grabbed the handle in front of me to hoist herself onto the train. It said, “I live for myself.” Yup, apparently you do!

These two incidents were aberrations on what was a wonderful trip full of gracious people. By graciousness, I encountered countless people who forgave me for butchering their beautiful language, who helped me to figure out where I was going, who showed patience with my ineptness at understanding the train schedule, who insisted on taking a “real” photo of me standing in front of the beautiful architecture (so that all of my photos weren’t “selfies”!), and who ensured that I had a wonderful visit to their country.

These incidents made me stop and pause to think about rudeness vs. graciousness. Both take the same amount of time. Frankly, both take about the same amount of effort. But, but both have such a dramatically different effect on those who are the recipients of the rudeness or the graciousness, and on those around them who witness it.

It made me turn the mirror on myself and question how often have I been rude to someone because I’ve been having a bad day or have been in a hurry. I hope the answer isn’t too often, but if we’re being honest, I know I’m guilty. We are all rude at times, but my commitment is to try and limit these times to as few as possible (working towards “none,” of course).

“If you can’t be nice, be quiet!”

My stream of consciousness for today is simple: don’t be rude. Your parents taught you better. Your teachers taught you better. You teach your kids better. You know better. Nobody likes be treated rudely. Nobody likes watching rude people. It creates a visceral reaction and builds negativity.

Here’s my link to dating! Your date is watching. If you are rude, demanding, and ungrateful, your first date may choose to make that your last date as well!

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Danger Zone! &Taking Care of Yourself