Here’s my latest for eHarmony: Fell In Love!
“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.
Here’s my latest for eHarmony – Rounding the Corner!
“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?
Here’s my latest for eHarmony: Great Date!
“There is no such thing as a worthless conversation, provided you know what to listen for. And questions are the breath of life for a conversation.” ~ James Nathan Miller
I was fired up last Friday evening. My husband and I were sitting down together, enjoying a glass of wine, and sharing our days with each other. “I had the best day ever,” I exclaimed. When he asked why, and I started recounting my day filled with various meetings, I had a realization. It was a very full day starting with a breakfast meeting, a lunch meeting, an afternoon coffee meeting with several business calls in between (and no, I certainly wasn’t hungry after all of that!). I had driven all over town, and multitasked to get things done and keep focused. But, here it was, Friday evening after a long week, and I was totally energized.
My realization is that my day has been so energizing because it was filled with really great conversations. While none of my meetings were with any of my BFF’s, but rather all with colleagues and/or acquaintances, in every one of them we were able to get beyond talking about the weather, or how fast the year was passing, and instead get into really good conversations about life, our plans, our goals, our troubles, our fears. Instead of simply talking what we wanted to accomplish this year, we talked about our grandest dreams for our lives. Instead of just talking about what our kids were doing, we talked about what our kids are becoming. Instead of answering “fine” to the “how are you” question, we allowed our protective walls to come down and our vulnerability to surface. The conversations were honest. They made us connect. And, I left each one of those conversations energized, as opposed to sapped and drained.
Do you ever leave conversations, either with a good friend, a first date, or a casual colleague, and feel as if the conversation was pained and difficult? Do you feel like it never “clicked” and the two of you never connected? It’s draining, isn’t it? I did have a couple of these experiences lately (one with a good friend, and another with a professional colleague), and I couldn’t wait to escape.
Yes, escape is the best word I can come up with to describe that feeling of “I just need to get out of here right now as this isn’t going anywhere … I’m wasting my time … this surface conversation is going to drive me crazy!” I do (usually) try to rescue conversations when I feel them going this way, but sometimes they are unsalvageable. That’s when I start looking at my watch and tapping my toes. I begin to fidget and I know it’s time to leave.
My single friends who are in the dating world right now roll their eyes and laugh! They tell me they are, unfortunately, very familiar with feeling that need to “escape” from dull conversations. They know the “energy” that a great date with great conversation can bring. They know that feeling of dread that comes just a few minutes into a date when they realize that “it’s going to be a L-O-N-G dinner!”
What are you bringing to your dates? Are you bringing real conversation and dialogue? Or, can you be accused of sticking to mundane and safe topics, and not letting that wall of vulnerability and honesty come down? Do your dates leave feeling energized? Do they leave feeling like they just had a great conversation, or are they dull?
Here’s the Great Date Experiment: Next time you are out with someone on a date, instead of talking about the weather, or what he or she did that day, or what he or she has planned for tomorrow, or what sports his or her kids are playing this season, or how the Patriots won the Superbowl, try asking broader and deeper questions. Sure, get that basic Q&A out of the way, but then jump right in.
Ask things like:
“Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” ~ Oscar Wilde
Finally, be interested and be sincere. You may find you have absolutely nothing in common with this person. You may decide there is no need for you to have additional dates, and that’s OK. But, I can promise you that the date will be that much more interesting and energizing because you are sure to have learned something more than how your date hated the rain that day because it messed up his golf game!
What about you? What other questions do you ask to start a great conversation?
My latest for eHarmony … Mistake or Decision?
Mistakes are not a problem. Not learning from them is.
I wrote a post recently about Dating Deal Breakers where I suggested it is good to know before you start dating what your ‘dating deal breakers’ are – you know, those things which are non-negotiable to you in a potential date/mate/spouse.
I used an example of one of my own ‘dating deal breakers.’ When I re-entered the dating scene several years ago, I told myself I would never date a man who had cheated in a prior relationship. You may have the same deal breaker, or you may have something different. I’ve heard some people say they will never date a person who smokes, or will never date a person with a criminal record, or will never date a person who is divorced, or will never date a person who doesn’t have a college degree. You get the picture. We all have our own biases, our own chips on our shoulders, and our own standards and expectations.
A good guy friend of mine asked me if I was being too judgmental when I told him I wouldn’t date anyone who had cheated in a prior relationship. He said that people make mistakes (yes, we all do!), and if we have learned from them, then we shouldn’t be punished moving forward. Interesting point. And, even more interesting coming from him. I respect this guy a lot. He’s a good guy. But, I knew where his perspective was coming from. You see, he cheated on his wife years ago. It was a mistake. He confessed. She forgave him. They worked through it. Years later, they are still married and very happy together. In his words, “I made a huge mistake, but I learned from it, and I won’t do it again.”
He thought that people who say no to dating anyone who has cheated in a prior relationship are potentially closing the door on some really great people who could turn out to be great partners. I agree – to a certain extent.
Lots of famous people have really great things to say about mistakes.
Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. – Albert Einstein
There are no mistakes. The events we bring upon ourselves, no matter how unpleasant, are necessary in order to learn what we need to learn; whatever steps we take, they’re necessary to reach the places we’ve chosen to go. – Richard Bach
The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything. - Theodore Roosevelt
I’m all about making mistakes. If you are going to try anything new in life, you are bound to make mistakes. But I guess that’s where I diverge in my thinking. Deciding to try cheating while in a relationship is not the kind of “trying something new” that I think is supposed to apply to this notion of “mistakes.”
I’d rather not date a guy who has crossed that guard-rail or that boundary, which has resulted in him making a “mistake.” Cheating on someone isn’t a mistake; it’s a conscious “decision.” To me a “mistake” means you can practice at it and get better so as not to make the same “mistake” again. In this scenario, that makes no sense. Although I have met people who have learned from their “mistakes” and are careful not to be caught next time. They aren’t changing their behavior, but rather they are just more careful in how they cover their tracks.
A very good friend shared this thought with me recently. Her insight is spectacularly amazing. “We all make mistakes. It is what we do afterwards that counts. We can change our behavior or continue our behavior. If we continue our behavior, it is no longer a mistake, but a choice.”
What about you? Any “mistakes” you are willing to overlook? Any “decisions” that are dating deal breakers?
My latest for eHarmony: Dating Deal-Breakers!
f your date has more issues than a magazine, it’s time to cancel the subscription!
On my first date with the guy who is now my husband, I recall asking him if he had ever cheated while in a relationship before. That was important to me. Really important. “Deal breaker” important. If he had said “Yes,” there wouldn’t have been a second date. Fortunately, his answer was a resounding, “No, never.” There was indeed a second date, and a third, and a fourth … and a wedding!
I had coffee with a friend recently who is back in the dating scene. I asked her what her “deal breakers” were. She wasn’t sure what I meant. “You know,” I said, “those things that are absolutely non-negotiable on your part … things about which you aren’t willing to compromise.” I suggested that you have to be clear on these things before you start to date or you might be willing to compromise on things that are really important to you as you find other characteristics really attractive. Ultimately, that means you may lower your standards.
She asked some great questions.
“Can’t people make mistakes,” she asked? “You are all about the power of forgiveness … don’t you believe that some people make mistakes and shouldn’t be penalized for them going forward?” She’s right. I am a huge proponent of the power of forgiveness, but there is a difference between forgiving someone for something they have done in the past, and compromising on your own values and deciding that it isn’t important to you moving forward. I believe in forgiveness, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences or accountability for actions. In my example, I could absolutely see forgiving someone who made a mistake and cheated in a prior relationship, but to me the consequence would have meant no second date with me. Maybe I would have lost out. On the other hand, maybe I would have saved myself some potential heartache. It’s truly a personal decision and one that each person needs to make independently. We each have to set our own standards. My deal breakers may be different than your deal breakers, and vice versa.
“What if you ultimately decide that your deal breaker isn’t really a deal breaker after all?” She said that initially she thought one of her deal breakers would be if a guy was a smoker. She was just starting to date a guy and discovered that while he wasn’t a chain smoker, he did smoke cigars occasionally – usually when he was out with the guys playing cards. She said she would never have considered dating a smoker, but that this didn’t seem like such a big deal. I think we have to be really clear on the parameters of our deal breakers ahead of time so that when we are confronted with them we know where we stand. In this case, her deal breaker of never dating a smoker should have been articulated more clearly. What she really meant was never getting involved with a chain-smoking, cigarette-puffing, nicotine addict. Sure, we can adjust our deal breakers as we go along, but it might be more effective to have them more clearly identified in the beginning!
“What if I fall for a guy even if he has one of my no-doubt-about-it deal breakers?” Well, we are all human, and you have to live with the consequences of your change of heart. If you decide that a deal breaker really isn’t one after all, then fine; just be confident that it honestly and truly isn’t going to resurface as an issue in the future. I’ve seen too many people decide that they are going to “ignore” an issue in the short-term because they are sure they can “change him” in the future. A word to the wise … that doesn’t always work! I haven’t seen too many people succeed when they held out hope in “changing” someone for the better.
If we know in advance what things are our dating deal makers, and which things are our dating deal breakers, it can make the dating process that much more simple. Goodness knows there are too many other things to think about when dating!
What about you? Do you know your dating deal breakers? What are they?
My latest for Huffington Post … How Dare You!
“Never lie to someone who trusts you. Never trust someone who lies to you.”
I ran into an acquaintance the other day. Last time I saw her, nearly 10 months ago, she was bursting at the seams with joy. After surviving an ugly divorce, and slugging through the ups and down of the dating pool, she had finally met “Mr. Wonderful.” She took it slowly, careful to protect her heart as so many of us do after going through a divorce. She was cautious, but she was also falling in love, and soon she let her heart take over.
Mr. Wonderful had been divorced for two years. His ex-wife and their three kids lived in another state. He had relocated after the divorce for his job. He frequently had my friend over to his condo in town. It was nicely decorated and filled with photos of his children. He spoke about his ex-wife and about his love for his kids. He talked about how difficult the divorce had been on his teen girls. He talked about watching expenses as he now paid child support and alimony. He flew back to his home state once a month to see his kids. He seemed like a good guy who cared for his kids and who worried about the effects of the divorce on them. Seems pretty natural to me. Nothing seemed amiss.
He wouldn’t accept her friend request on Facebook as he said his teenagers were watching his account carefully and would be freaked out if they knew their dad was dating. I can buy this. He took her away for the weekend to the wedding of one of his best friends from high school and she met all of his friends and their wives. Seems like a big step if you ask me!
My friend went from testing the water with her big toe to jumping in head first! After several months of quietly dating and getting to know Mr. Wonderful, she made the assessment that she could trust him. She let her guard down and introduced him to her two kids. The four of them began to hang out regularly.
He came over and they cooked dinner together in her kitchen. He joined she and her kids on hikes at the state park. They went to the movies together. Her son really took to Mr. Wonderful. His own dad hadn’t been a really strong role model and had made some poor decisions, and my friend was pleased to see her son connecting so well.
My friend’s daughter, however, was a bit more suspicious. Perhaps she had been impacted more than she realized by the circumstances surrounding her mom and dad’s divorce. It had left her a bit angry and suspicious. Without anything other than an intuition that something was “off,” she began to do some research. These young people today are quite quick and clever at Internet research and finding puzzle pieces from site to site to develop the full picture.
It nearly broke her heart when she had to go tell her mom that this guy, “Mr . Wonderful,” was a fraud. He wasn’t divorced at all. In fact, he was still married. He still lived in his home out of state with his wife and three kids, and only happened to be living in the condo because he was on a long-term project with his company.
Needless to say, my friend was absolutely devastated. Yes, her heart was broken, but more devastating than that was the fact that she had become a party to a lie and had allowed her two precious children to become a party to a lie. She is one of these women who would never, ever have an affair with a married man. This is not even conceivable to her. She is one of these moms who would never, ever do anything to hurt her children. To allow a fraud to enter their lives and hurt her children made her blood boil.
That’s what really got her! Forget that she’s been hurt. She is a strong, caring, beautiful woman and will recover. But, don’t mess with her kids! How dare he enter their lives, begin to entwine himself into their lives, while leading a double-life. Her son trusted him. He viewed him as a role model … and now this? How do you explain it?
I’m not naïve enough to think that people aren’t going to lie and that people aren’t going to cheat. That’s been going on since the beginning of mankind. But, is it too much to ask that when you choose to lie and cheat that you think about the ripple effect you are creating — especially with the kids who are involved? This man loved his own biological kids dearly and would do anything to protect them from harm (put aside the fact that he was harming them by cheating on their mom). Yet, he didn’t appear to given any consideration to the implications of his actions on my friend’s children. There is a ripple effect, and it’s a big one.
Why share this story? Frankly, this isn’t the first friend to whom this has happened. These women aren’t stupid. They aren’t blind. They are trusting. We all want to love and be loved. We tend to ignore little signs and our intuition. And, there are some really good liars out there. If I can help one person to just be a bit more aware, not distrusting, but just a bit more cognizant of all the circumstances, then it’s worth it.
I don’t think much of people who cheat. I hold cheaters who knowingly hurt children as part of their web of lies and deceit in even lower regard. People – think about your actions. Get over your ego. Work on your marriage. Don’t hurt others. Get a life.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “A lie cannot live.” Sooner or later, you will be caught, and you will drag down a lot of innocent people with you. MLK, Jr. also said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” In spite of being hurt, I encouraged my friend to stick with love and trust.
I encouraged her to not let this experience make her distrustful of everyone who enters into her life and the lives of her children. Be more diligent? Yes. Ask more questions? Yes. Pause a bit longer before you leap? Yes. But, at the end of the day, life is for living. Learn from your past, but don’t get stuck in the past. Move forward with joy in your heart!
My latest for “Always New You!” … High Road and Being Brave!
I just read a “divorce” book that I have to write about. In fact, I think every single woman should read it. If you are a widow, if you have been through a divorce, if you have friends who are widowed or divorced, then this book is for you. Do I sound cliché if I say, “I laughed, I cried … ?”
Written by Sue Magnum, “Braver Than You Believe: True Stories of Losing Love and Finding Self” is the story of six newly single moms who write about the worst event in their lives. Three of the six women found themselves widowed, and the other three found themselves confronting divorce.
This isn’t just six sad and tragic stories of six different women. The substance of the book comes from a year’s worth of emails that were exchanged amongst the women as they looked to create a safe space in which to grieve. They called themselves, “Single Moms After Loss: Talking Advising Healing Laughing Crying” or SMAL TAHLC (small talk!) for short. Nothing was off limits – which led many of the tears that I shed, and the laughter that I shared – as I related to things with which they were dealing. The stories are crafted together in a brilliant roller-coaster of a ride.
No subject was off limits. These women address the questions that I know went through my mind, and so many other women with whom I speak. Things like: “Will I ever have sex again? (heck, I even have a whole chapter in my first book “The High Road Has Less Traffic: honest advice on the path through love and divorce” about this one!), “I thought I was religious, but is there really a God?,” “When should I tell my children that I’m dating?,” and “Wow…I’m happy…is that allowed?”
You know my mantra is “taking the high road” and doing what is right by your kids in the face of whatever life brings you. Going through a divorce is certainly one of those things that can rock your world, and it’s often difficult to stay on that high road! If you are looking for a quick read, and an inspiring story, then this book is for you. I bonded with the women in the pages of this book, and loved it when each ultimately accepted her new reality, and in several cases, discovered what Life 2.0 had in store for her. Yes, happiness is allowed, and you will find it again!
My latest for the Divorce Support Center! Other Side of Me
“In nearly every religion I am aware of, there is a variation of the golden rule. And even for the non-religious, it is a tenet of people who believe in humanistic principles.” ~ Hillary Clinton
I was on a flight last week that was delayed due to weather. This led to our circling over Atlanta for more than an hour. Of course, we started to run low on fuel (typical summer afternoon flying into Atlanta.) We were diverted to Birmingham, Alabama to refuel then flew back to Atlanta, ultimately arriving 4 ½ hours late. To add insult to injury, once we landed, we had to sit on the runway for 30 minutes before we were able to get a gate to deplane.
As you can imagine, tension began to run high and some of the passengers got a bit rude and inconsiderate (to put it mildly.) Had these passengers asked themselves, “What is it like to be on the other side of me right now?,” I’m not sure they would have liked the answer.
The following day, I had a meeting scheduled with someone of whom I had never met before. He had reached out to me asking if I would spend some time with him to share ideas on career next steps. I agreed to meet with him and fit him into an already tight schedule. I hustled to get things done that morning (remember, I hadn’t even gotten home until 1:30AM due to my travel delays), drove the 43 minutes to where we had agreed to meet and, you guessed it, he didn’t show up. I checked my email and he had sent me a message 11 minutes prior to when we were supposed to meet saying he couldn’t make it. Seriously? No more advance notice than that? Had he asked himself, “What is it like to be on the other side of me right now?,” I’m not sure he would have liked the answer.
Later that afternoon, I was speaking with a woman in Denver. She is divorced and has been dating a guy for the past 15 months. Interestingly, she and her ex (who also has a steady girlfriend) are beginning to think they still have feelings for each other and they are starting to “date” again. Both are now dating each other (again) and their new partners (who, of course, don’t know about this) simultaneously. If they ask themselves, “What is it like to be on the other side of me right now?,” I’m not sure they would really like the answer.
Late last year, one of the ministers at our church presented a message entitled, ”What it’s like to be on the other side of me?” It was a great message, and it really made you think about your behavior and actions. Have you ever asked yourself, “What is it like to be on the other side of me?” Have you ever taken the time to really think about how others see you, perceive you, and experience you? Would you want to be waiting on you in a restaurant?
Would you want to be ringing up your sale at a store?
Would you want to be your friend?
Would you want to be the flight attendant or gate agent assisting you?
Would you want to be your own customer?
Would you want to be dating you?
Would you want to be married to you?
Why or why not?
We are frequently able to rationalize our own behavior and come up with really great excuses for why we act certain ways or do certain things. BUT, if we are really (really) honest with ourselves and look at things through the lens of the person across from us, I think we often find those excuses and rationalizations backfire. We know that we wouldn’t want to be treated that way. This isn’t a new concept at all! While world religions tend to differ greatly in their beliefs and practices, they all tend to share a common idea around “doing unto others what you would like them to do to you.” This “Golden Rule” can be found in Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, to name but a few. It’s a staple amongst the world’s greatest philosophical minds. It’s a basic tenet of human behavior.
What about you? Who are you putting out there? What have you learned about yourself throughout the process of divorce? Do you like the road you have taken, or are you unhappy with who you have become? Do you get a different answer if you ask yourself, “What is it like to be on the other side of me?” If your answer isn’t one that makes you feel good or makes you proud, you may want to rethink how you are coming across, how you are presenting yourself, and how you are treating others. At the end of the day, our goal should be to be able to look in the mirror at that person on the other side of me and like who you see! Smile!
Here’s my latest for eHarmony … Fairy Tale
Love isn’t perfect. It isn’t a fairy tale or a storybook, and it doesn’t always come easy. Love is overcoming obstacles, facing challenges, fighting to be together, holding on and never letting go. Love is work, but most of all, love is realizing that every hour, every minute, every second of it was worth it because you did it together.
I did it again last week. We were out of town and stopped for a cold drink after walking around for a few hours. The only open seats were at a table for 4 that had a couple seated at it. They motioned us over to join them (which was so nice!). After a quick moment to assess them, my gut told me they were dating so I dove right in! My husband rolled his eyes and smiled as if to say, “Here she goes again!”
“Can I ask you both a few questions …” I began, and the conversation rolled from there.
This couple was clearly dating. They were cute together. Laughing! Talking! Engaged (meaning engaged in conversation, not engaged to be married). They clearly had life experience. In other words, they weren’t 20-somethings, but rather more like 40-somethings! I wanted to know more about how they met, how long they had been dating, etc.
I love watching and listening to people talk about how they met. It’s always fun to see how they bounce the story back and forth between them, and present the “he said/she said” sides of their relationship. They were finishing each other’s sentences, laughing and smiling as they remembered different points in the story, and feeling good about reliving the start of their relationship.
As their story unfolded, Lisa mentioned a prior relationship in which she was involved, and how different it was to what she found when she met Dave. I asked her what she meant. Her answer was profound. I immediately grabbed a napkin off the table and wrote it down. Lisa said, “I want and need a real relationship, not a fairy tale. He wanted a fairy tale, and that won’t last.”
Lisa went on to say that many people would have considered her last relationship to be “perfect.” That was the problem. It was “too perfect.” He insisted on sending her hand-written cards and fresh flowers weekly. He bought her presents. He liked her to dress and look a certain way. He took her to the best restaurants where it was good to be seen.
What starts off as amazing, romantic, and loving can quickly become overwhelming, controlling and suffocating. When you can’t be as comfortable with each other hanging out in your old pajama bottoms watching a movie as you are getting all gussied up and eating at the best table in the best restaurant, there’s a problem! At least Lisa thought so, and so she called off the relationship. She said, “That kind of fairy tale – wanting things to be perfect all of the time – can’t be maintained forever. At some point, you have to do life with all of its imperfections, and people who want to control perfection can’t deal with that.”
Her comment reminded me of a song I love by John Legend,. The chorus starts like this: Cause all of me, loves all of you; Love your curves and all your edges, All your perfect imperfections.
Isn’t that a great mental image? When we are truly in harmony with someone, we do love their perfect imperfections. Things which might bother or annoy us in others become tolerable. We are willing to forgive or overlook these “imperfections” because their “perfections,” the good they bring to us, and the good they bring out in us, are so much more powerful.
Some people might have been surprised when Lisa ended the relationship. Others knew she absolutely made the right decision. People want real. They don’t want perfect. There is a difference.
What about you? Are you looking for perfect, or striving for real?
My latest for Huffington Post … May 2014 … Lose a Woman!
How do you lose a woman in 90 minutes?
When I was dating my husband, I recall telling him (and this was before he met my children), “I am falling in love with you, but if my kids don’t like you, we’re going to have a problem.” Harsh? Yes. But true!
As much as I was falling for this amazing man, my first allegiance was to my children who had already survived the divorce between their dad and me. Since my kids were still in elementary school, I didn’t want any issues between anyone I was dating and my kids, and certainly not with anyone I was going to marry.
Dating someone who has children (especially if you don’t!) can be very tough. I can only speak from the mom angle. Don’t mess with Mama Bear! We can be very protective of our children. Dating a single mom means you may sometimes feel that you are taking second seat, as opposed to being her first priority. You have to be OK with that. Dating a single mom means you may sometimes feel that she is choosing them, over choosing you. You have to be okay with that. Dating a single mom may mean that your wishes, interests or needs are sometimes put in the back of the line behind the wishes, interests or needs of her kids. And, you have to be okay with that! It’s not that single moms want to put their kids on a pedestal and idolize them, but rather that most moms are going to be protective of their kids and attentive to their needs. That’s just a fact of life! That’s Mama Bear 101. Speaking as a single mom who was dating, and is now married, I can honestly say I still sometimes feel as if I am being pulled between my kids and my husband. It’s the normal push and pull of all relationships. Am I doing enough here? Should I be giving more there?
But the quickest way to lose a woman is to have an issue with her kids. Guys, you want a quick way to get out of a relationship with someone you are dating who has kids? Say something rude about her kids. Disrespect her kids. Act jealous of her kids. Don’t show tolerance of her kids. That will get you kicked out of the relationship faster than almost anything else. It’s an easy way out if you are looking for one.
My two dogs have this uncanny ability to be sleeping quietly on the floor at my feet until I get on a phone call for work, and then they immediately become needy and whiny, scratching at my chair, barking, wanting to go outside, etc. One friend shared that her boyfriend acted the same way. He would be as sweet as could be and laid back/low-key, but as soon as her kids needed her for something like help with their homework, or to drive them to an event, he would suddenly become needy and demand her attention. It began to drive her crazy. She didn’t have the time or energy to deal with this kind of jealousy, so she said adios to him.
Here are five tips for dating a woman with kids:
1. Accept that you may come in second place. It’s pretty easy to pick up on this, and only the most confident of men can deal with this successfully. No one wants to feel as if they are being trumped by others, but the reality is that when the babysitter doesn’t show up or the baseball team makes it to the playoffs (on the night of your planned special date), you are just going to have to go with the flow. If your response is positive… and something to the effect of “I can’t wait to watch Junior play outfield in the playoff game,” you will win lots of extra points!
2. Be patient. It may take longer than you are accustomed to before she invites you to her home or to meet her kids. Taking this step will make her feel vulnerable, and it also exposes you to her kids. Chances are she is the kind of mom who doesn’t want her kids to see a revolving door of men so she will be very choosy about who gets to come in. I dated my boyfriend/now husband for several months before finally inviting him to meet my kids.
3. Learn that spontaneity is not always an option! Moms with kids have to plan things out. Not only is she managing her schedule, but also that of her kids. Someone always needs to be somewhere! And, if the kids are young, mom is not going anywhere without someone to watch the kids. You can’t always count on finding a spontaneous babysitter. From personal experience, I can tell you that once my need for a babysitter passed, then my need to be available to play chauffeur increased exponentially!
4. Be comfortable with direct and assertive! Many single moms have taken the time to look in the mirror post divorce and have dissected what worked and didn’t work in their past relationship. They become really good and figuring out what they want “next time around” and become even better at articulating this. They aren’t necessarily going to spend the time “hoping he will change” this time around. They know better. I became very comfortable articulating what I wanted and didn’t want in my relationship.
5. If you think her kids are brats, if you think they lack manners, if you think they are spoiled, if you think they are little terrors who need to be sent to military school, leave now! They very well may be all of those things, but the reality is that they aren’t going anywhere. Your differing opinion on the subject of her children will lead to ongoing frustration and heartache.
So, back to my initial query: How do you lose a woman in 90 minutes? Here’s how. A friend shared that her boyfriend proposed over a romantic walk at the beach one evening, following by a beautiful dinner outside watching the sunset. As you would expect, over dinner they began to talk about the proposal and plans for the wedding. During the course of the conversation, her fiancée gave her a card from each of his four grown children welcoming her to the family (“If you are reading this card, then we know you said yes! Congrats! Welcome!). Very sweet and thoughtful, right? But… she realized that her own three adult children hadn’t provided cards like his did. She asked about that. His response blew her away. Even though he knew her three kids, and saw them regularly, he said, “I never asked what they thought, or told them I was going to ask you. I didn’t think it mattered.” What she heard was, “I didn’t think they mattered.” Within 90 minutes of proposal, she called off the wedding saying, “You obviously don’t get me or know what’s important to me.” That is how you lose a woman in 90 minutes!
What about you? What other tips should be added for dating a woman with kids?