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:
“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?
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?
My latest for eHarmony … Helped Me Grow
“The best lessons are the ones we learned the hard way!”
Yup! My divorce sucked (that’s the best word for it). It was a really, really bad time in my life. If you have ever been through a divorce, or a really bad breakup, you can likely relate. It’s not an experience I would wish on my worst enemy. But, always an optimist, I can say that my divorce helped me grow. Hindsight is 20:20, right?
The period after a divorce, or after a big breakup, can be a time of tremendous personal growth. Some people say, “But I don’t want to grow … I want my relationship back,” but life happens, and many times the breakups and the heartbreaks we endure are handed to us unilaterally. It’s what we do with those lessons that really counts. It’s those lessons that help us to grow, and like it or not, growth is good.
Regardless of whether you wanted (or needed) any more opportunities for personal growth in your life, it pays to reflect on these experiences when they do happen to you (and they will!).
1. What did I learn as a result of that breakup? It’s really tragic when you go through some kind of breakup and fail to learn anything from it. There is always a lesson to be learned. It may be a lesson about what kind of person you dated/married. It may be a lesson about the kind of energy, focus, and priority you expected in the relationship, or the level of energy, focus, and priority you accepted in your relationship. It may be a lesson about what part of your authentic self you were willing to give up in exchange for that relationship.
2. What was my part in the failure of that relationship? If we go through any sort of failure and don’t turn the mirror around and look at what role we played in that failure, we lose out! It’s called personal accountability. It’s recognition that it takes two to tango. I have had people say to me, “I had absolutely no part of my breakup. He cheated on me. He left me.” Yes, I get that, but … don’t you think you can still look in the mirror and come up with some sort of accountability in the failure of that relationship? It may be as simple as “I picked the wrong guy,” and even that is an acceptance of your part of the failure, and taking that as a lesson learned may mean that you avoid picking the wrong guy again and again in the future. We’ve all seen people who date (and break up) with the same clone of a person over and over, right? Ask yourself, and answer yourself honestly, what could I have done differently or better in that relationship? And, will you take that lesson and apply it to your next relationship?
3. What did I rediscover about myself after the breakup? So often we give up a part of ourselves in our relationships … particularly in those relationships that ultimately fail. Don’t you think there may be a correlation between failure in a relationship and those relationships where we aren’t true to ourselves? Can you think of a relationship where you either intentionally or inadvertently gave up things that were important to you? Did you give up on people, or things, or activities that used to be meaningful to you? One way to successfully move forward after a breakup is to rediscover those passions that you may have repressed while in that relationship. It can be very rewarding and fulfilling to rediscover your hobbies, your interests, your talents. Did you stop hanging out with certain friends because your “other” didn’t like them? Did you stop engaging in a certain hobby because it took too much time away from your “other?” Did you give up on fulfilling your own dreams in order to help your “other” pursue his/her dreams? When you are true to yourself, you will naturally become more authentic and more confident. These lessons learned may enable you to not sacrifice yourself in future relationships.
“You cannot erase the past. You must let it go. You cannot change yesterday. You must accept the lessons learned. From lessons learned come better life.”
What about you? How did you grow after your breakup? What lessons did you learn? What did you rediscover about yourself?
Here’s my latest for eHarmony – Real Friends!
“What we’re all striving for is authenticity, a spirit-to-spirit connection.” — Oprah Winfrey
I recently had business meetings in NYC on a Monday. I took advantage of flying up there the weekend prior and scheduled catch-up time with several friends. Two of the friends lived in or near NYC so it was easy for us to get together. Two of the friends also had to come in from out of state. It took more effort to connect.
NYC is a great place, but we could have been anywhere. We talked and talked and talked … and apart from the sounds of NYC outside the cafes and restaurants we met at, we could have been in the middle of nowhere. All that mattered is that we were focused on each other, talking and reconnecting. Just this past week, a woman at my gym asked me what my favorite places were in Atlanta to hang out. Her best friend from middle school was coming to town for a long weekend. They hadn’t seen each other in 12 years and she wanted to show her around. I suggested that it was less about what they were going to see or do, and more about just catching up with each other.
I call my NYC weekend my “weekend of connecting.” Starting on Friday night, my husband and I googled “cozy warm small intimate Italian restaurants in New York City.” After a busy holiday season and a chaotic start to the year, we wanted to spend a quiet evening eating good food, drinking good wine, and connecting. We talked for hours until we realized we were the last couple in the restaurant. The next morning I set out to meet up with a friend who started off as a work acquaintance. We’ve only seen each other in person three times in our lives, but have developed a phone friendship that results in some really great dialogues. Our “quick-catch-up” ended up being a 2 ½ hour lunch.
Later that afternoon, I met another friend for a cup of tea. This friend is someone who I hired as an intern many, many years ago. We’ve always stayed in touch, and while I haven’t seen her in nearly 3 years, we spent 2 hours and several cups of green tea just talking and talking. That night I attended a business dinner with a group of people I didn’t know well or didn’t know at all. I was expecting the normal “surface” conversation, not deep connections, but was so incredibly pleased when our dinner-time conversation turned very real as we talked about our “word for the year” and what it meant to us.
The next day I visited one of my newer friends. I met her 3 years ago, and have only seen her 3 times, but she and I sat together and spoke for 2 hours. What I love is that this friend asks about me, my husband, my kids. She remembers our conversations and follows up on them the next time we talk. She is genuinely interested. She’s twice my age (and that’s pretty advanced!).
I realize I am at my best when I feel as if I am “connecting” with the people who are important in my life. We get so busy and caught up in our day-to-day lives that we forget to press pause and just be, and be with, and be real with one another.
Here’s my list of a few things that are important to me in my friendships:
1. Real friends initiate and reciprocate … they reach out to me just as much as I reach out to them … it’s a balance of deposits and withdrawals.
2. Real friends don’t allow the passage of time or distance to impact our ability to just pick right back up where we left off last time we saw each other … be that last week, last year, or last decade.
3. Real friends are the ones I know I can be totally honest with and have confidence that they will never bring things back and throw them in my face … this allows total vulnerability and honesty in our conversations.
4. Real friends ask about me, my family, my work and take a genuine interest in what is going on in my life … it’s a combination of asking and telling.
5. Real friends will call me out when they think I’m not being honest with myself … they will challenge me to be my best … because they honestly want the best for me.
“Side by side, or miles apart, good friends are always close to the heart.”
What about you? What would you add to the list of things that real friends do?
iCaught on iCloud — my latest for the Huffington Post …
“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?
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?