Here’s Rule #3 in the series for eHarmony – enjoy! Rule #3
“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?
Here’s my latest for eHarmony! Rule #2!
“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?
My latest for eHarmony … Introducing the 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?
Here’s my latest for eHarmony! 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?
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!