IMPROVE YOUR MARRIAGE - Don't Overlook The Obvious
(NOTyour typical marriage book)
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It's a 'Downturn'. No, not an economic one. But the one that happens to virtually every marriage at some point in time. It's when 'the bloom is off of the rose'. Routines have overtaken romantic spontaneity. When work, children, home, and other responsibilities wear you both down. When bedtime is really only for much needed sleep. Or, one or both of you find lovemaking more of a chore than a pleasure. When handholding occurs only during a crisis, as a way to garner support from your partner.
This is a time when one or both of you might find your eyes wandering. Daydreaming takes on a sexually-charged format. It's also a time when you might mistake someone's kindness or friendliness for a subtle message that they want you... romantically, sexually.
Think of the co-worker who smiles a lot when she sees you. She seems genuinely happy to be around you. Or perhaps it is the customer whose touch lingers a bit too long when handing you their money for a purchase.
While this is a normal reaction, you need to be careful not to misread their true intentions. Perhaps they do want you. In the way that you would love them to want you. But the odds are that it is your hope which has taken over your better judgement. If you act upon it and you are wrong, then you might faceharassment charges, loss of a job, or even 'simply' pure embarassment. Then there is the basic truth that you would be breaking your vows and deeply hurting your wife or husband. Possibly destroying any semblance of trust and future together.
Either way, don't throw away an otherwise good, even great marriage for what 'might' be a brief, wild ride. Instead, turn your efforts and energy to recreating a new sense of passion with your spouse. Perhaps it will be incredibly stimulating, as when you were first together. But even if it is a new, mellowed version, allow yourself to revel in it!
Again, basically every marriage gets into a slump, eventually. But don't make a fool of yourself or let your marriage 'die on the vine'.
When They Don't Agree With You
How many times have you made what you thought was an 'innocent enough' statement, only to have your spouse disagree with you. And, then you decide that you don't want to get into a debate. You simply made a comment or observation. Why can't your husband or wife, simply agree with you? Like they are supposed to do?
Oops! Did I say that? Did you think that?
The fact of the matter is that we can fall into the trap of wanting... No, scratch that... Of demanding that our spouse agree with us. Why? Because we need someone to do that? Perhaps, our co-workers or parents or siblings or friends far too often disagree with us. Or, put our ideas down. So, we turn to that 'last refuge', our partner, to give us what the others have not. And, if they do not agree with us, then we do not want to hear it! At least, at home, we can turn off the criticism.
What about our wife or husband's feelings? Perhaps they find themselves in a similar situation. So that agreeing with you would only compound their own bad days. Or, perhaps, they truly believe that you are factually wrong. Or, making a poor moral choice. Or do not have all of the facts that you should have before making the type of comment that you did.
So, the reality is that each one of you needs to show the other respect. And not expect them to provide you with what others have not. Now, one of the benefits of a marriage is being able to let your spouse know that you had a tough or miserable day. And, that you simply need a hug. Or, verbal confirmation that you can have some sound thoughts. Doing that will relieve
some of the pressure for both of you.
Try it! You might actually like it! You each might become (even) happier spouses.
Living In The Past
We all have a 'past'.
Is that where you wish to live
Your married life?
"Jeff had so many girlfriends before me... Seems as though we run into one of them, every month! Sometimes that gets me so angry. Was he a male slut? Will he get tired of me, as he did, them? And, why does he have to say 'Hi' to them?"
Sound familiar? Well, especially if you married someone in their mid-20's and older, the odds are that your spouse has a 'history'. Whether it was as a serial-dater, or someone who simply had been engaged previously, your man/ woman probably dated. And, more than likely did not lead a cloistered life.
So, my first and 'obvious' question is: Did you, also?
Now, don't go into the 'That was different' mode, because we both know that's a crock! It isn't different. (Other than that one situation directly involved you and your behavior, while the other did not.)
Look, we all had a past of some sort. But face it! He or she married you, not them. And, yes, you can conjure up a thousand reasons why that should annoy you. And, perhaps, you claim a worry about sexually-transmitted diseases. But, you accepted or made the proposal. No one actually forced you. So, be an adult and deal with it.
Now, you say that you cannot help feeling insecure. So what can you do?
I won't claim that it will be easy for everyone. That said, it's typicaly a matter of changing the subject verbally or in your mind's thoughts, whenever you get on that track.
It's also a matter of accepting the fact (emphasis on the word 'fact') that dwelling too much on this will cause a rift among you, both. And depending upon the quality of your marriage, the toll could become too great.
Now, for the flip side of this coin. - Perhaps, you keep reminiscing about a former lover. Well, how would you feel if your wife or husband was distant with you? Or, frequently compared you with another from their past?
You can choose to live in... Rather, daydream, about the past... Or, focus on making your partner the center of your love and home. - Yes, that's corny. And, yes, that's about as true as you can get.
So, the decision is truly yours to make. And, if you decide to behave as an adult spouse should, then follow the above, basic and effective steps.
Breast and Butt Implants Plus Labia Surgery for Graduation??
Here goes! I'm bound to get some nasty feedback from many feminists who believe that what I am about to say is sexist. When I believe the contrary: That a woman should not feel that she has to go under the knife to please a lover, current or future, real or fantasy.
What gives? The bizarre, increasingly popular graduation gift for teenage girls and young adults who finish high school or college: Breast implants or Labia surgery. - Both for 'cosmetic reasons as opposed to medical necessities.
Moms (and dads) don't attempt to live out your own fantasies and desires through these young women. Women who do not fully comprehend the inherent risks involved in such surgery: Including death. (There was just one reported this past week in Florida.) Or, that breast implants typically have to be re-done multiple times during ones lifetime. Or the risks of anesthesia.
How about wondering why your high schooler wants her labia re-shaped. Is she sexting her body to some boy (or girl)? Someone who will likely discuss it or share the photos with others before or when the relationship ends? Is she having sex, way too early?
We can thank Jennifer Lopez, Kim K., and other celebrities for romanticizing big butts. However, this is one surgery that has had too many issues reported. (Like the above-referenced death.)
By the way, wouldn't the cost of these procedures be better used for their education?
While men (and women) might be attracted to a specific body size, they offer willingly 'compromise' when they find the one they are willing to commit to.
Did you ever find yourself saying, "I'm sounding just like my Dad (or Mom)! They always said 'When you have your health, you have everything.' Or, 'Save for a rainy day.', right"?
Well, 'Marriage is not easy. It can be hard work' is one more way that the advice that they gave you can ring true.
I have seen countless individuals and couples over the years, many of whom struggle to remain together or who eventually give up and get divorced, move on. Many who re-marry find themselves, once again, like Ross Geller on the TV show Friends, sitting across from a divorce attorney. And while reasons for splitting-up are many, it can be the result of life beating them down: Loss of job, health, finances, problems with children, and more, can eventually drain you of energy and emotion. - You can become like a zombie: Functioning without emotion.
Going through the motions of everyday life, day-in-and-day-out can take it's toll. Then, what might normally be pet peeves become huge volcanoes. More and more, you relate less and less with your spouse.
So, how do some couples manage to remain together with that 'spark' still there? A simplistic, yet accurate answer is that they: #1 Believe in their heart in the reality of 'Love'. #2 Actually have been in love with their spouse at some point in time.
#3 Attitude. This might be the most powerful of all the reasons.Yes, it is a cliche. Yes, it is 'Obvious'. (And, here is a shameless plug for the book, Improve Your Marriage - Don't Overlook The Obvious.)
Picture the couples who are as poor as 'church mice', yet still hold hands when walking to the bus stop (because they have no car). Couples, who like those in the O'Henry story, The Gift of the Magi, willingly give up their valued possessions in order to buy that 'special something' for their loved one.
It's not magic! It's not ignorance!Or, an act. These people actually realize that there is always someone worse off than they are. They realize that there is always hope, even if dim. And, they believe in their soul that they have been blessed with a life partner. That specific person! Someone who is not perfect. Someone who forgets to shut offf lights, doesn't clean as you do, drives too fast/slow, and perhaps is no longer the great lover that you once found them to be.
Perhaps you call them 'those who live in a dream world'. Maybe, you are correct! But you would also be simultaneously wrong! They look at the reality that they have been given and do what they can to improve their lot in life, their health, their relationship.
They also know that they have been blessed. They know that their divorced, or never married friends would give anything to experience true love.
So, if I come across 'preachy', it's because this message is accurate. Attitude combined with the 'right person' (notice I did not say 'the ideal person') can give you something, someone to look forward to being with. Someone who for a portion of your day, can make you smile, orgasm, or simply feel loved and secure. Someone whom you desire to please, in an appropriate way.
Regardless of whether it's your daughter or son, there is great pride when they either go to their high school prom or they graduate. Or both!
But before you get carried away with that wonderful sense of watching your child reach an important milestone, I must remind you that 'responsibility' for their well-being kindof, sortof trumps the beaming that you experience right about now.
Prom night and graduation time will certainly test your commitment to being more of a parent than a friend at this point in their life.
No matter how mature your child is, peer pressure and hormones often trump common sense.
Allowing them to spend the night at a hotel/motel after the big event is a HUGE mistake! Whether or not there are chaperones planned for. Chaperones, if they are responsible, are apt to nod off at some point in the evening. Likewise, they cannot be everywhere at once. And it doesn't take long for a lifetime's worth of heartache to be born.
Parties at your home might be safer, but that does not mean that you will have an easy time doing what you should. So, they will be too young for booze. Of course they will beg and plead. They will point out that they will soon go off to college or trade school or work. And, you obviously would not be able to monitor their behavior then. Well, Mom and Dad, this is when you agree with them, but use that old but true line: While
you live in my home and I am paying your bills and legally responsible for you...
Moderate drinking will be suggested. Yet, while you know your child's health issues, you might not know the others'. What if they take certain medications? Or they took some drug beforehand? Or, plan to do so, after you serve them?
Overnight parties at your home pose much of the same risks as the hotel ones do. Except your share of any liability if something goes wrong, increases. A lot! And, you might take the guests' car keys but that doesn't guarantee that they did not hide another set, somewhere. Or that they might simply 'take off' at some point in time.
You also cannot be everywhere at once, so sex, drugs, and even fights can take place without or before you know it.
Bottomline: You need to step up to the plate and be a responsible parent. Your child might yell or scream or throw some other temper tantrum. They might even say, "I hate you!'. But, as someone much wiser than I once said: If your child doesn't say that at least once to you, then you failed as a parent.
I am often amazed by excuses that those who have one-night-stands or longterm affairs give for their breaking of their marriage vows. One that unfortunately relates to a situation considered to be too taboo for discussion, involves sex with a younger person who does work at your home, as in a babysitter, landscaper, tutor...
Now, I'm not focusing, this time, on the adult seeking out the young person (be they a teenager or very young adult). No, I'm thinking of that person coming on to the husband or wife.
Sometimes, the closeness begins with the spouse giving rides home to the babysitter. Other times, the individual stays long after a tutoring session in order to discuss the child's progress. Regardless of the specific situation, they might comment on how successful that you are. How powerful you must be in your company. Perhaps, they speak, admiringly of your home, your car, your electronics, or clothing. Perhaps they ask you for advice, as they see you as someone wise who could help them figure out a solution to a problem in their life. What about asking you for dating/relationship advice? Or, they might simply flatter you on how great/sexy that you look, especially for someone your age.
There are many variations of the 'Flattery Trap'. And, the young person has not always set out to seduce you. A subtle touch or straight-on overture might simply seem to be a natural thing to happen. But, you are the adult! You are married! You need to thank them for the flattery and quickly dis-engage your body part from theirs (even if only hand-on-hand).
Who wouldn't be flattered by an opportunity to re-live a young, if even a taboo romance or sexual liason? But trust me when I tell you that the outcomes are never positive. Think of: Accusations of rape, pregnancy, STDs, divorce, blackmail, and countless other disasters.
Bottom-line: Always remember that in these situations you are the 'Adult'. And that trust (marriage vows) once broken is rarely regained.
Perhaps your marriage is great overall, but you do know that there is always room for what they call in the business world, 'Continuous Improvement'.
But, if your marriage is shaky. If one or both of you abuses the other one. If there is substance abuse, whether ignored or addressed in a wishy-washy fashion. If there are sexual or emotional affairs that damage your relationships. If this is a second marriage that you believe should never have taken place, but is salvageable, and yet you don't want to admit another 'failure'. (At least
in your eyes.) If... if... So many 'if's.
Not only do your children deserve better. You made a vow to them, the minute that they were conceived, and again, the moment when they were born.
Male or female, you owe them.
Because, like it or not, your relationship with your spouse is going to have a dramatic impact on their future lives. And, perhaps those of future grandchildren.
So, grow up. Take responsibilty. And, work on your marriage, so that one day, your child will thank you for showing them what life and happiness and purpose and true love with another, can be.
Marriages can fall apart From too much planning
And too little input and action.
You've undoubtedly heard that old expression that 'Actions speak louder than words'. However, you probably have not taken that concept and carried it out to the next level. The one involving both you and your wife or husband.
Some of you spend inordinate amounts of time with your spouse, planning.
Planning for vacation. Planning future household budgets. Planning to do household chores which never get done, for one reason or another. (Mostly because neither one of you wants to do them. Not that you don't know how.) Planning to change careers. Planning to check out that new church or synagogue or mosque. Planning to check out homes for sale. Planning to investigate the private school for your children. Planning to schedule more time for intimacy. Planning to get babysitters so that you can go out on a romantic date. Planning to...
I know! I was sort of long-winded, there! But, I wanted to prove the point. That there are many, many areas of our life that are the victim of procrastination.
Most times, there is only 1 of you who is overtly responsible for putting things on the back burner. Other times, it is a joint effort.
But, even when both of you play the 'planning game', it is usually not to the same extent. And, 1 of you will eventually tire of it. And become frustrated, then angry by your partner's unwillingness to also quit the game.
You will seek to move the process along by asking your husband or wife. Then, moving on to nagging. Pleading. Then, yelling or being passive-aggressive. (How I hate to use psychobabble, but this time, the word seems so appropriate!)
Occasionally, the obstinate spouse will try to appease you by saying that you have their permission to make the decision, do the work, make the phone calls, visit the 'whatever'... But you are too smart to fall for that.
The crisis takes place when you have reached the point that you are so very angry and bitter toward them, that you believe in your heart of hearts, that there is no turning back! And, you act upon that belief. Perhaps with a separation. Perhpas with a divorce. Perhaps by simply shutting down. And no longer communicationg with them on any type of loving, interpersonal level. They become, at best, your platonic roommate. (The irritating one, at that.)
But, don't believe for an instant that any children that you have will not be paying close attention to what is going on. And, whether or not they misread the cause, they see the result. And, it will impact them and their future relationships. Truly.
So, what do you do? Especially if you are the 1st to quit 'the game'?
you need to be frank with your spouse. In a nice, but firm way. (Because, remmber that you were a major player in this for a long time. You own much of the situation that you both now face.)
Don't rattle off the littany of areas that have not seen more than lip service. Begin with something relatively small, easily done, and, yet, significant enough that they will be able to make a connection between 'planning-action-positive results'. - Don't belabour the matter. And, don't make a big deal if the results are not what you had hoped for!
Uh, oh! - Don't tell me that you actually believe that I would ignore the instance where you are the perpetual planner and not the one who decided to call that loser of a game, quits!
If you finally realize that your spouse has decided that it is time for some action. And, not only in the bedroom. Then act! 'On what', you ask? It doesn't quite matter. Act! She or he will get the point. And, you will reap the rewards. Of which there should be many, along the way.
Finally, you might be curious as to what will happen if neither one of you decides to call it quits. - Well, I could tell you that the kids will ask for a divorce or to move in with their best friend's family. But, the truth is that eventually 1 of you will decide to end the game. And, if by some weird twist of fate, neither of you does this, then your inaction will come to haunt you. Because taking no action is an action. And, the results are rarely anything positive.
Bottom line: It is important to usually plan things instead of jumping in, without looking around first. However, too much planning, like too much of most things, will backfire. And, in a marriage the results can be quite devastating for all concerned.
You have your doubts. You wake up and roll over to look at the face lying next to you. And, you have doubts.
Who wouldn't? You've been married for a while, now. And, the bloom is off the rose, so to speak. There are children, financial pressures, work stress, commitments, housework... Too much on your shoulders. Yes, that is it! Too much falls upon you. They aren't pulling their share! And, to top it all off, they aren't affectionate or loving or sexual, as they used to be. Or, they want too much of you, not realizing how burned out you are. Or, they tune out with sports, Facebook, drinking, time away from home, or any myriad of ways not to spend time with you.
And, you are not only fed up, you have serious doubts as to why you should be there with them. To roll over and to see their face, morning after morning. Night after night. And, you once had such high hopes for this marriage. That it would be fun, a true partnership, and one that would last.
Well, all or some of your complaints are probably valid. At least to some extent. (You know that it is human nature for us to exaggerate things, especially when life is not going as planned.) The fact is that your spouse probably has some concerns and complaints of their own. (Imagine!)
The reality is that the moment you stop believing that your marriage will last. That things can and will improve, the odds that it will be what you hope for, diminish greatly.
Once you focus on a positive outcome, and try convincing yourself that it is in fact what will take place, the easier it will be to deal with some of the problems that you currently dwell on. And, there will be a cascading effect. A small worry will have less power over your mind and day. That in turn will free up energy to find a better method for coping with some other stress.
And, of course, you need to communicate with your spouse. That does not mean to jump down their throat or yell at them. Or, to unload more than 1 issue at a time. Baby steps...
Ask any businessman or homeless person who regained their life and dignity. They will tell you just how powerful a positive belief in a positive future had on their life. It is no different with marriage. - So start believeing in the power of your love and future together.
An article that appeared in the Washington Post addressed a phenomenon whereby singles who wish to become a parent can create a child with someone whom they met through an online site, devoted to that prospect. The idea is that one never knows whether or not they will ever find that wonderful romantic partner with whom to procreate. So, why not become a parent with a good/great friend? Now, this would be a friend who who would wish to remain in the child's life. As opposed to simply choosing a father from a sperm bank.
Okay. So, what does this have to do on a site devoted to improving marriages? Well, there are some couples who are childless and do not wish to use an anonymous sperm or egg donor. But, is this a wise option?
Well, if you follow this article's trail, you would seek out a platonic friend of the opposite sex. You would either eventually have intercourse with them or perhaps your wife or husband would. My belief is that this path offers more dangers than rewards. Essentially, you are not only creating the opportunity for a 'threesome', but one where there is not only a true emotional connection of fondness, at the least, but one, perhaps, of another 'love'. If you are the non-biological parent, you must not only deal with this other person being an active part of your family life, but of you possibly being more like the 'aunt' or 'uncle' than 'mom' or 'dad'.
And, if pregnancy does not begin after the first sexual encounter (which is likely in many instances), then you will have to endure the prospect of your spouse and this other person becoming ever-closer sexually, emotionally, and intimately. This introduces the prospect of a deeper love forming with that other person than they have with you.!
So, what should a couple do if they do not wish to use a surrogate whom they do not know other than by way of a brief summary and some random statistics? Well, why not adopt? Yes, you might not know even as much about that parent as you would a surrogate, but the child who might otherwise grow up without knowing the love, trials, and tribulations of a solid family life would have you, both! Parents by choice! Parents who cared to make a difference in the life of someone who might otherwise never know what you, uniquely have to offer them. Think about it.
WHY SOME SPOUSES DREAD...
ABSOLUTELY DREAD, VALENTINE'S DAY
While many a couple will be happily
enjoying Valentine's Day pleasures, there will certainly be too many
who will not only be dreading the day, but who will suffer through
it, best they can.
Who am I referring to? Simply the
husbands and wives who love their spouse, but find their partner has
transformed the marriage into one without not only sex, but minus
other physical affection.
And, where Valentine's Day is supposed
to be the epitome of expressions of romantic love, this day can bring
some spouses incredible, inner pain.
Where can you find these folks who stay
in the marriage for assorted reasons? You need look no further than
on Internet forums, Facebook, in eavesdropped conversations (spoken
in whispers), at taverns, in locker rooms, or cafes. Basically
Promises made to 'Love and to cherish'
their husband or wife, lasted for a while. And then... Perhaps the
birth of children and a new role... Maybe it's 70+ hour, high stress
work weeks... Health issues... Confessions that they never truly
enjoyed sexual contact and so now they...
me be clear: These frustrated spouses are not typically wives
and husbands who have unusually high sex drives. Or who are 'affection exhibitionists'... These are 'regular' folks. People who
married someone that they believed would devote some amount of
physical and emotional energy toward the highs and satisfaction
derived from spousal contact.
Whether desiring to cuddle. Or kiss
'good morning' and 'good night'. To hold hands. Get and offer a neck
or back rub. To have intercourse or foreplay more than once every six
months or year or never again.
To be fair, women and men experience
all sorts of hormonal changes over time. And men can find themselves
impotent or too used to climaxing far too soon. And neither gender
might wish to consume the 'little blue pill' or risk the effects of
estrogen replacement therapy.
But, there are alternatives, if the
spouses are open to them. Simple and random acts of affection might
be enough to satisfy many 'starving' spouses. There are pills and
creams to assist those who are willing to try them. There are new
ways to express sexual feelings. And, the need to simply be
acknowledged as an attractive partner in life.
Affairs, for some who indulge in these,
are in fact driven by wives and husbands who decide,
single-offhandedly that their marriage should be largely platonic.
Both women and men tend to not marry
their best platonic friend. They instead opt for spending their life
with someone who finds them sexually attractive. And for whom the
feelings are mutual.
I have heard people ask how total
abstinence in a marriage is any less of a breaking of the marital
vows, then having an affair?
Common questions also include: Where is
the compromise to be found? Is physical affection or sex, simply once
ore twice a year, an equitable balance? 1 or 2 nights out of 365? --
Does my happiness not mean anything to my partner? -- Are they
wanting me to go elsewhere for my needs? -- Why am I
considered selfish? -- Don't I do things that I do not want to do? Go
to work, every day... Cook meals and clean the home... Visit
relatives or run errands...
Many of these 'hungry' women and men
remain in the marriage because they wish to be with their children,
daily. Or, for financial reasons. Or, because they decide that their
love for their spouse is strong enough to justify staying.
Reality is that many of these folks
will become bitter and begin to show their frustration and
resentment, at home or at work.
I remember a woman, decades ago, who
worked in human services. Her businessman husband stopped showing her
physical affection. And, she eventually sought outlets in affairs.
But, she hated it.
Interesting is that the one espousing
the platonic relationship can find all sorts of justification for
changing the 'rules' of their marriage. -- They're tired. They find
what happens in the bedroom to be boring. They decide, unilaterally,
that they are no longer attractive, so they don't want to 'expose'
themselves, if you will. They want time alone without being bothered.
Fact is that many of these reasons are
obviously valid on some level. They
also show great selfishness. Again, if their husband or wife
was constantly demanding sex or hugs & kisses, that would be
different. But marriage is supposed to be fulfilling to
So far I haven't mentioned those who
use sex as a bargaining chip to get what they want. Or, as a 'weapon'
to get back at their spouse for a real or imagined situation.
Worse yet are the spouses who proclaim
that their partner is free to seek a divorce if they are so unhappy.
Wow! A dagger to the heart! This essentially says that some major
marital decisions are theirs alone to make, things will never change,
and, most importantly,
they cannot find sufficient joy in pleasing their wife or husband
to... That divorce and breaking-up the family is easier to do, then
to maintain their marital vows and the accompanying, typical
expectations for a married life.
Okay, so I have covered the problem.
But is there a solution? A workable one?
Unfortunately, there will be some
marriages where this problem will not resolve itself, well. Simply
because it requires both parties to not only actually compromise, but
because action might come too late. Too many hurt feelings and
animosity to overcome.
Happily, there are steps to take.
Perhaps a recognition that there are multiple ways to climax. That
subtle 'public' signs of affection are fine. That often once you
begin sexual foreplay, it can be easy to 'get in the mood'. That if
boredom or a strong dislike for how you both make love is the issue,
then verbal communication can be truly helpful.
Did you notice that I have very much
included women as 'sufferers', if you will in this situation? That's
because they are. And, the
media has a responsibility to make something of that, for the benefit
of both genders.
Bottom-line, it is in 'the Obvious'
that many answers to marital problems exist. Please check out the
very different marital guide... Designed for good marriages as well
as rocky ones... Improve Your Marriage - Don't Overlook the
Obvious. And, it's companion website,
How To Celebrate Valentine's Day - Suggestions
It's that time of year! VALENTINE'S DAY!
And, what do you do to celebrate it! What should you avoid doing?
While every couple's expectations are different, allow me to share some advice garnered over decades of marriage (and before that, dating).
#1 DON'T EXPECT TOO MUCH - Why not? Well, 'Life Happens'. Just as with the Holiday Season, it is easy to be disappointed when our fantasy expectations do not materialize. So, plan some, expect some, but don't put too much into what you hope will materialize. If things go wonderfully, then you can be ecstatic.
#2 PUT SOME THOUGHT INTO THE DAY - Winging it shows. And it shows 'badly'.
#3 CARDS ARE GREAT, BUT... - Try writing something personal in the card. You do not have to be a poet. Simply heartfelt.
#4 SHOW APPRECIATION - For whatever your spouse does. At least they did not forget the day, or you! So, while they might not have done whatever you had hoped for, they did something to express their love for you.
#5 STAY HOME OR RENT A ROOM IN A HOTEL - Restaurateurs will hate me for saying this, but far too many folks complain of poor service and even poorer food on Valentine's Day. So, stay home. Perhaps order some takeout. Or, if you do not usually cook meals, then surprise your wife or husband and prepare something special. (But it does not need to be 'gourmet'.) Why not prepare a meal, together? Sometimes you
both need a change of scenery and perhaps time away from your children.
#6 INVOLVE YOUR CHILDREN - Kids love showing their love for their parent of the opposite sex! So let them get a card, perhaps a small gift. Even bake something. Or, set the table for dinner. - Be a positive role model for your children.
#7 BE INTIMATE - Notice that I did not say, 'Have Intercourse'. Why not? Well, pressure to 'perform' can lead to disappointment, if you catch my drift. There are many ways to be physically intimate without intercourse. And 'making out' can be a rush, in and of itself. If one thing does happen to lead to another, then, go with the flow.
#8 FLOWER ALTERNATIVES - While roses are a frequently welcomed Valentine's Day gift, as with eating out, quality can be less than ideal and prices more than expected. Balloons, candy, jewelry, lingerie (for him, as well as her), a movie or cd, coupon valid for date of your spouse's choice, and... are all great alternatives.
#9 LOCK LIPS - Few actions say, 'I Love You', more than a kiss.
#10 LET THEM KNOW THAT YOU LOVE THEM - Don't take that they know, for granted.
Happy Valentine's Day!
In Sickness and in Health
Occasionally, a blog entry is much more difficult to write than others. This, My Friends, is one of those instances. Illness, especialkly when it is of a life-threatening or disabling nature can open up past wounds, expose fears and insecurities, or otherwise leave us feeling and behaving very unlike our 'typical' selves.
So what do you do if you discover that you are facing one of these life-altering conditions?
Well, here are a number of ways that you could deal with it in terms of your relationship with your spouse. Ultimately, you must decide how best you should act, knowing yourself, your spouse, and others who would become intimately involved.
#1 Simply be upfront with your spouse. Trusting that together, you can see yourself through this hardship.
#2 Hide your condition for as long as you can, because you wish to spare them any pain, unless or until it becomes obvious or necessary to become open about it.
#3 The above action, but because you doubt that they can handle it. Perhaps you are correct. But, I have personally seen individuals rise to the occasion during a health crisis, summoning inner strength that even they probably doubted, existed.
#4 Sharing the condition, but informing them that they will cope with it, on their own. Effectively shutting out their spouse. Doing so, because they had been let down by others in their past.
#5 The above action and behaviors, but because they were afraid to possibly learn that their spouse, despite their best efforts, could not handle what was needed of them.
#6 Sometimes, they do not share their condition because they do not wish to hear, 'I told you to diet (or exercise, or stop doing drugs, or drinking excessively, or have sex with strangers, or... )'.
#7 Similar to the above, but you feel the guilt and regrets, yourself. No need to hear your loved one point out your misdeeds to you.
#8 From past experience, you have a good idea that your husband/wife will not stay by your side, helping to see you through the health crisis.
#9 You do not want to have your family deal with the expenses that would result from your spouse wanting to help you get the help that you need.
#10 Fill in the blank: ______________________________________.
Ideally, I would love to say that the #1 option is the best one for you. Yet, that is not a decision for me to make. I only ask you to weigh your decision, careully. And, know that in most instances, you can change your mind.
A NEW YEAR'S TOP 10 LIST OF THINGS TO DO (AND NOT DO)
Another New Year's Eve is upon us!
Which means that we made it to live into another year! And, we can celebrate it with our spouse!
Before you take that plunge into the evening's festivities, though, how about a little bit of 'prep work', if you will. Nothing heavy-duty in terms of labor or even that much in time. And, the pay-off could be quite substantial. So, without further ado...
#1 Decide to forego the restaurant route. - "What?", you say. "It's tradition!" -- Well, I say, think back to past times when you have gone out to dinner on New Year's Eve. How often was the quality of the food mediocre at best? The service was fair to horrendous? Menu options limited? Mandatory 25% tips added to your bill? You ended up waiting an hour or longer for your table, despite
having reservations? You were rushed to finish by management, so that the next couples could take your seat before it even had an opportunity to cool-down? -- Instead, either plan for a quiet dinner at home or at friends'/relatives'.
#2 Drive as little as possible. - We all know that this evening is often a 'rite of passage' for teens and other fairly new drivers. A time for mixing booze with car keys. Add a pinch of black ice on the road or inches of snow and you end up with a formula for crashes and hospital food. (Sometimes, even the typical food served after a funeral.)
#3 Don't drop a large wad on the evening. - Unless you have a large (emphasis on the word 'large') amount of discretionary income.
#4 Share part of the evening with your children. - Let New year's Eve have a 'family' flavor to it. A great tradition.
#5 Watch the amount of booze that is consumed. - If you have guests, be a responsible host/hostess. Don't let someone drive home drunk. Order a cab for them, arrange for a sober friend to take them home, or let them take the couch (instead of your spouse). For yourselves, too much indulgence will dull one's physical, sexual prowess/response.
#6 Cook something or put-it-out, together. - Cooking, food... What great aphrodisiacs in the emotional as well as physical sense of the word.
#7 Set-aside 'adult' time. - When you and wife or hubby re-acquaint one another to the joys of sex and cuddling.
#8 If not interested in #7, do it anyway. - You obviously need it! And, if it's been a while since you both communicated this way, then it might not go exactly as either one of you fantasized that it would. But that's okay. Practice might not make 'perfect', but it can lead to 'fantastic'.
#9 Set expectations, reasonably low, for the evening. - Seldom do these major holidays pan out as we dreamt that they would and should. This way, you reduce the odds of saying, New Year's Day, "I hope that the year is better than the night was!"
#10 Count your blessings instead of making New year's resolutions. - The former is real and 'now'. The latter is far too often simply wishful thinking and fantasy-planning. Live in the here-and-now.
To Serve Or Not To Serve? And, if so, how much?
Jubilation! A sign of this time of year. Inebriation. Something that often goes hand-in-hand this time of year.
House parties. Chanukah or Christmas or Kwanza dinners are commonplace. Along with them is often the discussion or argument regarding whether or not to serve alcohol, and if so, how much.
For some of you, drinking is simply a time-honored tradition. You raise a glass in toast. You and your adult guests sit and relax before, during, or after with a drink in hand. Why not? You are all of the age where it is acceptable.
Quite honestly, this is an area where I know that firm beliefs will 'win out', in most instances. I am not looking to judge anyone. But, allow me to toss out some facts for you and your spouse to consider.
#1 Most states/municipalities have laws that essentially say that if a guest of yours dinks alcohol in your home and then leaves drunk, you bear some level of responsibility for any accident that they might have. Especially if your home was the last place that they had alcohol before that accident. In other words, if I left your home in a drunken state, even if only technically drunk per the area's blood alcohol
level for such a state, then you are in the loop for being sued. Some jurisdictions might even hold you liable for allowing a guest to dive while intoxicated even if there is no mishap on the road, and an officer simply pulls them over and finds them to be less than sober. In many instances, it is less relevant that they had more to drink at their own home or along the way to yours.
#2 The cost. Financial. Booze is not inexpensive. So when budgeting, especially in this still 'recovering economy' of ours, decide whether or not the money that you plan to spend on drinks couldn't be better put to use on food, gifts, or bills.
#3 Shutting someone off who has had too much beer, wine, or hard liquor, is not something most folks feel comfortable doing. Likewise, the response from the person is often less than an agreeable one. Scenes can be had which spoil an otherwise fun and happy party or dinner.
#4 Everyone has a different tolerance for liquor. And a different point at which their reflexes and judgment is impaired to a level that can result in either boorish or dangerous behavior, in and out of your home.
#5 Too much liquor can cause someone to say or behave in ways that everyone might regret. The pass at another's spouse. Mouthing off at someone over something that would normally be overlooked. Even simply using foul language in front of children.
But let's say that you decide to serve alcohol, regardless of the points made above. How much do you get or offer your guests. Well, you might wish to decide beforehand how much that you want to let each person have. 2 or 3 beers? A couple of glasses of wine? Or... ?
Another approach is to set a dollar limit for the cost of the drinks.
Bottom-line, please think carefully about the use of alcohol, how much to provide, when and if you will need to 'shut someone off', and how you will handle the situation, as a whole. Discuss the matter before the party or dinner. Reach a consensus before anyone arrives. Ultimately, you do bear some responsibility for what happens when guests drink too much. (Whatever that is... )
Yes, it probably is
The same thing when you
Do something incorrectly.
I cannot believe that you put the book on those documents! Now, they have 'pressure marks on them! or
You complain to me for leaving on the television when I 'm not in the room. But, you left on the bathroom light! or Didn't I ask you to pay the bill at the Westerly branch? If I wanted you to pay it at the Warwick branch, I would have said so! or Didn't you notice the pot boiling on the stove? You were sitting at the kitchen table, for crying out loud? or You always find a way to ruin every holiday! - But I was simply trying to... - I don't want to hear it! You always do this to us...
Obviously, we know intellectually that no one is perfect. And, yet, we often act as if our spouses should be. At least when it comes to anything involving our needs, requests, expectations, or even 'veiled' demands. We somehow have zero-tolerance when it comes to those who matter most. - But, we want definite slack given to us when we err. And, we rationalize it by saying that we had too much on our mind. Or, that we were multi-tasking. Or, that the 'transgression' was not that important. Or, that we never knew the correct way, to begin with, and should therefore not be held responsible for the actions.
Reality is that we often hate to admit any faults. And, simply wish our spouses to be perfect. At least, in ways that matter to us. And, the worst offenders are the most adept at defending their egregious actions.
Well, stop. And, think carefully before you open your mouth again, in such a manner. Because everyone has a limit to their patience. - And, your mistakes are as glaring to them. So someone needs to be 'the Grownup' and be a role model.
Anger is a natural emotion.
How it is expressed
Should determine the response to it.
We all experience it. Some of us, more than others. Some of us, primarily when around specific people or situations.
Some of us try holding in our anger. perhaps out of fear that we might 'explode'. Others because we were taught that it was 'bad' to do. Still others because we do not know how to properly do it, and we don't want to mess things up, by mistake.
We certainly know folks who lash out, seemingly, at 'anyone and everyone'.
There are 'Yellers', and 'Hitters', and 'Pay-Backers', and 'Verbal Abusers'.
None of the above is the way that you should be dealing with anger toward your spouse or the way that you should be treated by your husband or wife.
If your partner is physically abusive, you should leave. Right away. (And, with your children, if you have any living with you.) Dn't worry about money. Or possessions. There are community-based or government-run programs in every state. You were not born to be a human punching bag. And you do not deserve it, despite whatever your spouse tells you.
If they are verbally abusive, let them know that it isn't acceptable. Help them find other ways to express anger. There are anger management groups run in both private practices and government-backed programs. - Don't get caught-up in the verbal lashing out. That accomplishes nothing except resulting in an eventual 'upping of the ante'. And, any children will get the wrong ideas as
to how conflicts and stress should be handled.
If the anger comes from too much job stress, then help your wife/ husband find a new job or ways to decompress. - If the stress is from too much time being a stay-at-home parent, then help them get some out-of-the-home time doing something that they would find relaxing or fun.
If money is the stressor, find ways to increase the income or cut expenses. Perhaps, both.
If you are afraid of expressing your anger, verbally, be careful. Without a proper release, you will find other ways. And, they can backfire. Don't be a 'bitch' or 'bastard' by purposely doing things to get back at them. - Why not? Because they will either respond back in kind, eventually leave you, or find another way to make your life miserable.
So, what should you do?
Well, first of all, decide whether or not you are angry at them, yourself, or someone else.
If it is truly aimed at your partner, then let them know. But not when your pressure is up.
Use discretion. Depending upon the topic involved, you might not want your children or others to be in listening range.
Don't broadside your spouse, either. Let them know that you want to let them know about something that got you feeling angry.
Stay to the topic at hand. Don't blow off steam about the fifty things that you have wanted to complain about. Otherwise, they will lose your point and probably fire-back at you with their own barrage.
You can get your point across without yelling. But, it is okay to speak loudly. Otherwise, it is difficult for many of us to feel a true relief about the venting.
Let them have an opportunity to respond. - If they move off topic try to get them to focus back on what you were discussing.
If things begin to get out of hand, then excuse yourself with a comment about not wanting to continue the discussion until both of you can be calmer.
Will any of this be easy fo some of us? No. But will it be worth it? Absolutely!
Thanksgiving offers us a great opportunity to let those who are important in our lives to know that. And, for us to give thanks for so many other things that are blessings. Perhaps: Freedom, work, a place to live... We can give thanks to G_d.
And if we do not have some or all of the above in our life, we can be thankful for our very life and the dream that 'Hope' and 'Faith' can provide us.
Finally, think of the homeless, those who face death, those who lost a loved one, are hungry, even those who are addicts. Reach out to them in whatever way that you feel comfortable in doing.
NOTE: The following song offers some priceless insight and advice.
However we neither endorse nor condemn the organization that produced this.
View this video regarding the key decider in Presidential elections.
You probably do not know this!
Share responsibilities or don't complain If you are kept waiting for them To have time or energy For your needs and your desires.
"She never has time for me. You know what I mean? It's always the kids and housework and errands! I didn't get married to be ignored or to hear about her not being in the mood, night after night."
"He is always late coming home from work and errands that he thinks are important. For once, I would love to have him here to eat dinner without it having to be re-warmed and ruined.."
"She thinks that everyone's needs are more important than mine are. Why can't the kids take on some chores around here? And, what's with her long commute time? Is traffic truly that bad?"
It's an age-old problem, although nowadays the gender of the person complaining has changed, in many instances. The problem? It's an imbalance in home responsibilities. And, the frequent result of one spouse feeling 'put upon' and not in the mood for romance.
The first step in resolviong the matter is to determine how imbalanced the situation truly is. Far too often the recipient of the complaints has an inflated sense of their workload. - Likewise, the complainer often overdramatizes the situation.
Next, if there truly is an imbalance, then the workload should be divided among all household members. But, not equally. This is because you need to consider each person's skill level and other commitments.
So that children's chores should be age appropriate. If one spouse puts in a 12 hour workday and an hour commute and their partner has less of a workday or commitments, then their tasks should be different. - But everyone needs to put in their appropriate share! Or, else stop complaining.
And, I have heard so many times that there is no way for one or the other spouse to increase their responsibilities. But if they don't, then the situation will only worsen. And, some of the possible consequences include affairs or a total shutting-out of the other.
Bottom-line, each of you needs to review the situation and to make some compromises. For your sake. The childrens'. And, the marriage's.
might not need
their help with a task.
the fact that they offer,
mean that they need help spending
time with you.
many times have you asked yourself, "Why don't they ever offer
to give me a hand?".
there might be a number of reasons why they don't offer to do so. -
But, today, let's look at what happens when they do offer, at a time
when you might not want or need their assistance.
it, you're organizing one of the children's closets or washing the
car. And, from out of the blue, your spouse offers to lend you a
hand. And, you know in your heart of hearts that you are better at
these tasks than they will ever be. (At least, that's what you
believe.) - So, you decide to turn down their offer. - And, later on,
they appear to be annoyed with you or short-tempered or sullen.
Believing that you haven't done anything to deserve such an attitude,
you 'strike back' with your own attitude. And, what might have been
a relaxing Saturday, together, becomes one of those, 'I can't believe
that I would rather it Monday', days!
back. And think.
they offered to help you out, because they figured that the sooner
you were done with chores, the sooner that you could be doing
something together. Something fun! And, they know that you would
typically jump from one task to another, before even entertaining the
notion of R&R, together. And, that all too often, by the time
that you are done with chores, you are too pooped for anything.
(Emphasis on the word 'anything'!)
possibility is that they are not even contemplating a banking of
energy or time for later activities. They simply enjoy your company!
And, have not had their fill of it, lately, for one reason or
another. That they are willing to join you in mundane or exhausting
tasks, because it affords them the opportunity to chat with you.
Flirt with you, outside of the bedroom. Share a tough day/ week. Or,
simply be in the immediate vicinity of the person whom they love.
All, without a devious, ulterior motive, in mind.
be flattered! And, welcome the offer. And, above all else, don't be
all critical of their work. Act like a team of equals. If guidance is
needed, do it with love, not exasperation or vindictiveness. (You're
their partner and lover. Not their parent or teacher!)
We shut off telephones during business meetings And doctor appointments. Why not, also, during meal time, family time, And one-on-one time?
Who hasn't been in their church, synagogue, or mosque and had their prayers or train of thought derailed by the sound of someone's cell phone going off? Or, been in a business meeting and gotten irritated by the person next to you, whose ring tone is not only annoying but caused you to miss the assignment that your boss was verbally dishing out to you?
And, don't you see the signs in doctors' offices telling you to shut off your cell phone?
So, we realize the importance or necessity of keeping phones off or not answering them, when a part of most situations, involving other people. - Yet, we often do not afford our spouse or children the same courtesy.
So many times people have told me that they get annoyed when the phone rings as they are sitting down to eat... Or, when they are watching a movie together... Playing a board game... Even, making love... And, their spouse decides to take the call.
Now, virtually everyone has an answering system of some type. - And, what happened in the 'olden days' when there were no cell phones or even landline phones throughout a house? Cordless phones?
If you are the one who answers these calls, you are truly the height of ignorance! Yes, you! Your spouse and children deserve your attention. Especially during family/ spousal moments.
Do not... I repeat, do not underestimate the importance of your full attention. This is one of the actions that can quickly ruin a romantic mood, family bonding, and more...
My best suggestion would be to turn off the ringers/ ringtones at these times. And, do not cheat by putting your cell phone on vibrate! - Unless you would rather be pleasing the person on the other end of the phone, instead of your wife or husband.
sticking to them
relieve great stress.
Be honest! In
every marriage, someone is more of a spender while the other person
is more of a saver/ 'wise shopper'.
this is very obvious. The man blows a lot of money on his golf clubs,
or car, or... The woman might buy the equivalent of a shoe store's
inventory... Whatever the case, someone is a consummate buyer. -
Perhaps the overspending comes from eating out every day for lunch,
rather than brown bagging it. Or utilizing one of the those
super-convenient restaurant take-out windows. - It truly doesn't
matter. It boils down to excessive spending.
remember years ago when working with unemployed and underemployed
individuals, a gentleman came over to me desirous of collecting
'partial unemployment', seeing as how his boss cut his hours down to
30 hours per week. Despite the cut, he was still grossing over
$35,000 per year. (And, this was almost 20 years ago, when that was
pretty good money!) Anyway, when I explained that he had earned too
much for the assistance program, he became very agitated, wondering
how he and his wife could ever get by on so little money. - By asking
some logical questions, I learned that his wife earned in the $30,000
range and that they had no children or mortgage. (Although they did
have rent to pay, monthly.) They both had expensive cars (with
equally 'luxurious' monthly payments), ate lunch an dinner out, most
days. And, entertained. - Well, silly me suggested that they either
change their lifestyle by brown bagging lunch, cooking dinners home,
trading in at least one car for a more modest one... Perhaps he could
get a part-time job, at least temporarily... You get the idea. -
Well, you might have thought that I had asked him to earn money
through some illegal means or to eat rice and beans, daily! 'What
right did I have to suggest such outrageous solutions to him!' -
Needless to say, he eventually left, unhappy and angry.
recount this tale, because most of us either live beyond our means or
at the edge of those limits. And, invariably, one of the marriage
partners is guilty of spending the most on non-necessities. And, this
certainly will lead at some point to arguments, general stress,
passive-aggressive behavior, or... - And, it is said by many
professionals that finance are the primary reason behind couples
divorcing. Imagine, even more so than for sexual reasons!
one of the best ways to fend off this 'Marriage-Buster' is to
establish a budget, complete with a set amount that can go toward the
frivolous/ 'excessives'. - But, be certain that each one of you 'buys
in' (pardon the play on words) to it. Now, that does not mean that
you each will walk away from the kitchen table, thrilled with the
budget. In fact, if that happens, you probably need to re-work it.
But, somewhere, there lies a trues 'middle ground', unless your
spouse is an absolute spoiled brat, in grown-up clothing!
these budgets will be like living things. They will have to be
reviewed, at least every 3 months, because things change: taxes go
up, there's a major car or appliance repair bill, an opportunity to
go away somewhere real inexpensively, or there's a great
going-out-of-business sale where you can grab sports gear at
you might find, when doing the budget that you folks are really
stretched way too thin. And, the spouse who doesn't pay the bills and
thought you were flush with cash, each month, might get a reality
check. And, then decide that maybe you need to move to a smaller
place, or stop the gym membership and buy your own equipment, or...
get caught in that trap of creating a super budget and then not
following it because you find that every week there is an excuse to
eat out more often than you should or there are super store savings
every other weekend, which you cannot resist, or one or both of you
simply decide that you don't have the self-control (which would be a
lie for virtually anyone).
point is that this process, while not as simple to achieve as some
might think or hope, can make a huge difference in the quality of
your relationship, day-to-day. And, isn't that something that money
truly cannot buy?
Not a joke. Not something that could happen to any other family but yours.
And, YOU are RESPONSIBLE! (In large part.)
One day, your son or daughter asks for their own cell phone. 'Everyone' at school has one. They tell you that you could keep better track of them with it. That they could call you in an emergency. That the GPS feature could help her if she ever got lost or if she drives, if the car breaks down. Why, they could even use it to help do their homework if they weren't around their desktop or laptop computer.
The pressure on you is immense. On one hand, you want to be a responsible parent. On the other hand, you don't want to add to the monthly budget.
Of course you have heard horror stories regarding Tweens and Teens sexting one another. But your child is a 'Good Girl' or 'Good Boy'. Those things only happen to dysfunctional families.
Well, I'm here to remnind you just how serious an issue sexting has become, even in middle school. Even in elementary school.
Cellphones have the potential to be as dangerous to your child's well-being and that of others' as an automobile. Possibly more so...
YOU have a RESPONSIBILITY. To talk candidly about sexting with your son or daughter. To tell them that it is dangerous. Even if someone says that they will delete the photos. Or that the app they use, such as Snapchat, will automatically delete them. (Because that often is not the case.) That the person who asks for you to pose will often be lyimg. Or, if the status of their relationship changes, all bets are off! That basically nothing ever goes away once it is on the Internet. Nothing.
Don't pretend for even a moment that I am exaggerating the situation. Don't pretend that children do not engage in cutting behaviors, bulimia, and other dangerous activities.
Don't ignore the countless news stories of parents who have lost their Tweens and Teens to suicide, drugs, or other destructive behaviors. Or, whose children are now required to register as sex offenders, for life. Or, that colleges do not search the Internet to see what exists on applicants.
Because you gave them this wonderful and simulatneously dangerous 'instrument', YOU have a RESPONSIBILITY. To talk with them. To check, daily. To be open to your child's remorse, worries, and pleas for help, if they do err.
Following are only some of the true stories related to this phenomena.
So, be a real parent: Heed this advice if it makes sense to you. The final decision is yours to make.
Written expressions of frustration
Are often more easily
Than verbal expressions.
Don't be embarassed! Many folks deal with it. You are not alone.
But, you do need to try getting past it.
Oh... Did I lose some of you? Well, the issue has to do with men and women who find it difficult to express frustration, disappointment, or anger in a verbal manner. They find it much, much easier to dash off a quick note on paper or a sparsely written email than to tell their spouse, face-to-face, what they want to.
Now, I'll be the first one to normally suggest that any spousal communication is better than none. However, this is an exception to the rule. And, here's why...
When we confront or explain something that is likely to get a defensive or negative reaction from our husband or wife, the reaction is not always a positive one. And, sometimes, we imagine in our mind something dreadful happening. So that we feel safer in commiting to writing what we wish to say.
We believe that there are several important side benefits to doing this.
We assume that we will be able to get our entire message across without being cut-off before we get to the point. But, couldn't our loved one simply tear up and throw away the note before they finish reading it?
We believe that our thoughts will be clearer in writing so that our message will be understood.
One problem here is that there is no 'tone', no 'facial expression' to convey the depth of our emotion. Likewise, the reader can assign any tone to it. They might perceive you as being more sarcastic than angry or vice versa.
Words do not always mean the same thing to other people. So, again, the written note leaves the reader to assign their own interpretation to the thoughts and feelings behind the words.
Something in writing tends to stay around, forever. And, ever. So that any painful, accusatory, or other points that you present them with will be at their beck and call to throw up to you, if they so choose, and when they so choose. Or, simply for them to read and re-read and feel hurt or angry.
If you are someone who communicates issues with their spouse, regularly by written word, then your wife or husband might perceive you (correctly or not) as a wimp!
So, bottomline, you need to learn to verbalize (appropriately) your feelings and concerns. Perhaps you will need to take a class in assertiveness training. -- No shame here! Even many business executives take such classes. - Perhaps you simply need to try a face-to-face conversation.
Remember that telephone calls made to avaoid confrontations, while at times better than the written-route, still leave much to be desired and much that can be open to misinterpretation.
By the way... If you are on the receiving end of such notes, why not think about your style of communicating. Would you be intimidating to even the most assertive of folks? Do you instill fear when you say, "What do you mean by that... ",? -- Think about it. remember that most problems are the responsibility of both parties.
So, go and express yourself with those lips that serve you well in many other areas of your marriage!
Pets In Bed
Pets, As with children, Do not belong in Your marital bed
Hold on! - I know that many of you are shaking your head and saying something akin to: "Russ has finally lost it! I know that he is right on when discussing 'the obvious' matters which impact marriages, but isn't this a little 'too obvious'? Stupid, even?"
Think what you will, but rest assured that this is a real issue for some couples.
Many adults, especially those who were never married before or who were childless, have formed intense & special relationships with their pets. - While nothing is inherently wrong about that, once you are married, your spouse is supposed to take the 'priority spot' in your life.
It's one thing to say that your pet is a part of your family. It's a totally different matter to invite them to stay in your marital bed. Granted, that you and your companion might have spent years together sharing the same bed... And, that changing this pattern could be difficult, for both of you.
But, know that if you do not make the bed the 'sacred' zone for you and your spouse, there will be problems. -- Face it: Not many folks are comfortable being intimate while a tail is wagging in their face. Or, hearing the cat meow in sync to a loud orgasm.Then, there are potential allergy issues. And...
You might have noticed that I also mentioned children sharing your bed.
While allowing a young child to very rarely share your bed might be okay, it is not healthy for anyone involved, if that becomes a habit. I have known women who allowed tweens to regularly share their mattress and tell their husbands/ boyfriends that they needed to 'get over it'. Often, this appears to happen with those who were single parents for some time before re-marrying.
Sexually intimate moments are not the only reason for having the bed be an 'adult' zone. -- Bedtime is often the time when couples have completed their daily responsibilities and can freely discuss important matters. -- It is also a time for non-sexual intimacy. As well as 'shared down-time', as in reading or watching television, together.
The bottom-line is that you and your partner in life need to reserve the bedroom for your comfort and pleasure.
Forgetting Birthdays or anniversaries, Speaks volumes. As horror stories. Not as romantic epics.
We've all heard the story before.
The man forgets that it's their anniversary, or Christmas, or her birthday. Until all stores are about to close. So he whips out a used something-or-other from under his car seat and presents it lovingly, if not nervously to his beloved. And, is surprised that his wife is not bubbling over with excitement and gratitude. And, that she is 'not in the mood', later on.
Let me set the record straight. As true as this picture is for some men, there are also women who do the same things.
Now, the most common excuses are that they remembered but had a super-stressful day and forgot the real present at work. Or, that they forgot it when they went out for lunch and someone stole it. Or, that they had to special-order something special that simply had not yet arrived. Or, that everyday is so special with their spouse, why bother celebrating just 1 day?
The bottom-line is that it hurts your spouse. Big time. - They are not being babies. They are being loving adults who wanted that special expression of reciprocated love and affection.
And, no matter how stressed out or busy you were, you could have purchased the proper gift and card, weeks ago. Right? Right!
Your lack of consideration could be about anger or resentment that you hold told them for real or imagined wrongs. Or, frustration over unresolved issues. Or...
The bottom-line is that whether or not you have valid reasons for purposely not wanting to commemorate this special occasion, by your actions, you are likely going to make the situation worse. Or, if the reason was simply that you are too self-absorbed, don't expect loving actions by your spouse.
As obvious as this situation is, I am never surprised to hear that a spouse ignored a special occasion and had the audacity to expect loving that day (night... ).
So, get with it! Be a loving spouse! Show them with special words and deeds. They need and deserve it. Period.
A sure-fire way to begin or continue an argument when compromise, a truce, or mutual agreements would work out so much better? Simply use one of the following phrases:
#1 You never will...
#2 You never have...
#3 You never think...
#4 You never consider my...
#5 You always get your way...
#6 You always forget...
#7 You always agree with them...
#8 You always disagree...
#9 You only think about yourself...
#10 My needs and wants come last...
Can you see a pattern here? Yup! It's that each one refers to an 'extreme' behavior.
The truth is that with very, very, few exceptions, nothing that you would complete the sentences with would be accurate.
Perhaps 'most of the time' or 'many times' might be on target, but realize that basic truth of human nature: The minute that someone is accused of 'always' doing something or not, they know that this is an exaggeration and will either shut down, argue, yell, or otherwise allow matters to escalate. Some spouses will simply choose to leave the situation.
If you truly wish to get a valid point across, be as accurate as possible. Don't 'attack' your husband or wife! No one likes that done to them.
Communication that will help to resolve issues in a marriage needs to be honest, accurate, and consider the other's feelings as well as how they best respond to criticisms or complaints.
Learn from Other married folks' lives.
When they say that 'Experience Is The Best Teacher', they don't necessarily mean that the experience has to be yours.
Confused by that? - Well, here goes...
Look at the marriages of parents, in-laws, friends, co-workers, siblings... And see what you can learn from them.
How many of you often boss your spouse around as if they were an underling, maid, or man-servant, instead of a partner? And, have the chutzpah to act indignant when called upon it? - Yet, you do not pay attention to the complaints of these other couples' spouses? And pay even more attention to their arguments? The impact on their children?
Or, how about cheating on your spouse? You can certainly rationalize it. But did it lead to divorce, for friends? And, was it worth it to the adulterer?
How about the spouse who ignores their lover and best friend? Can you sense the hurt in your parents or siblings? Did you notice that finally, 'enough was 'enough'?
What about finances? The debts the other couple rang up over frivolous purchases and nights out? Did they enjoy filing for bankruptcy? Should they have budgeted, at all? Or, better than they did?
What of the treatment of children and step-children? Are their kids well-adjusted? Did the parents ever spend time with them? Discipline them, appropriately?
The list could go on and on.
Perhaps your 'particulars' are different from the other folks'. But, are they all that different?
So many times, I have heard people say that they wish they had handled their marriage differently. Especially, divorced folks. - Remember that sometimes there is not a 'tomorrow' to change things or improve the quality of your relationship.
Take advantage of the free life lessons that are all around you!
"Want to know something, Maryanne? Steven, once again, didn't hear a thing I said. I distinctly told him that I wanted him to come straight home, today, after work. And, not to go to the range with his buddies. So, what did he do? He sent me a text message saying that he was going to be home at 8:00 after he was done at the range. - Imagine, the nerve! He just won't listen to me!"
Now, let's hear Steve, who is out on the range.
"Ya know, guys... Sharon never seems to listen to me. She and I were discussing my schedule for today. I told her that after work, I was going to catch up on things with you guys. We haven't gotten together for a month, now. And, I, for one, need the down time, with some guys who understand
what I go through at work. - Thanks for agreeing to get together! - Now, let's play some golf!"
Sound familiar? - And, don't worry, ladies! I could easily have made the same point by simply switching some dialogue around.
The fact is, many of you equate your spouse disagreeing with you, for not paying attention or listening. Instead of the fact that they simply do not agree with your view. Or directives.
Now, what should happen, many times, is that each of you agrees on a compromise. But, that should not be always. And, in truth, could not always work.
There are times when you should hold your ground. And, since you are both supposedly partners in this marriage, neither one of you should get to 'boss around' the other person.
Now, simply because your wife or husband decides to go and do the opposite of what you want, do not jump to the position of anger, automatically. Think over their portion of your conversation. Were they simply trying to be obnoxious? To disregard your feelings? Or, was it simply a matter of them having an equally strong, yet different, opinion, than you? And, perhaps, neither oen of you were
willing to compromise.
Were they polite when you were discussing your point of view? Did they appear to consider what you had to say, regardless of whether or not they agreed with you?
If, the answer to both of these questions was 'Yes', than be thankful that you have a spouse who does, in fact, listen to you. - And, to be quite honest, unless you are a spoiled, selfish jerk, you would not expect them to always do as you said. You would eventually lose respect for them. And, probably become bored with them.
It's one thing to have 'Yes' people at work. It's another thing, altogether, to live with a human marshmallow.
So, the next time that they disagree with you, step back. And, decide whether they were not paying attention to you, or whether they simply felt that this was not a situation that called for them to agree to bow to your request, demand, or expectation.
Who hasn't been 'There'? - Where? The place where you had doubts regarding your choice of a spouse. -- Come 'on! You know that on occasion (or more often than that) you questioned your judgment. Did you rely on blind faith? Lust? Passion? Loneliness? Pity? Desperation?
Only you can know the true answer to that. But let me reassure most of you: Your choice was probably a very wise one. But just as so many of you might have experienced 'cold feet' when the wedding day arrived, it is natural to experience some doubts from time to time.
Perhaps you ran into an old beau. Or you and your wife or husband have gotten into a rut, the same old boring routine. Or under the weight of financial or health burdens you feel a crushing pressure in your heart, both physically and emotionally. Oh, I could continue on but you get the point!
So, should you share these feelings with your partner-in-life and love? Only you can make that call. But consider these points:
#1 They might also be experiencing doubts. (Think of the Pina Colada song )
#2 They might have a great way to remind you that your decision was the correct one, all along.
#3 Their love for you might, in fact be gone. But shouldn't you know that?
#4 Once you hear yourself rehearse 'the conversation', you might find yourself laughing at how silly it all sounds.
#5 Reminisce about when the love and romance were burning brightly. And try to hold onto those memories until you discover your heart and love returning full force.
#6 See a therapist. No! You're not crazy! But sometimes an impartial party can help you examine situations and relationships more clearly than on your own.
#7 Find ways to break up the boring routine. Don't wait for your husband or wife to be the one to initiate 'excitement-reborn'.
#8 Pressures, left untackled, feelings, left unspoken, can deal a fatal blow to a marriage. Don't let that happen!
And, then there is this quote by Judith Viost: One advantage of marriage is that when you fall out of love with him or he falls out of love with you, it keeps you together until you fall back in love again.
How many times have you said that to your spouse? And, how many times have they said it to you? Never? Or, if they did you simply blow them off?
The fact of the matter is that people seldom, if ever, pay attention to the tone or words that they use when speaking to their loved one. There is a saying that we often find fault with others who do as we do. We simply truly don't believe that we are guilty of the same behaviors, or we feel that we are only during a rare occasion. (As opposed to the wife or husband whom we believe does it frequently.)
I remember an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond when Ray records one of Deborah's moods. She is wild when he plays it back to her. Yet, how else could he get through to her when she has dismissed his other, 'more rationale' methods?
It's easy for some of you to disbelieve the reality that you can sometimes be a 'bitch' or a 'bastard'. Who really wants to see themselves that way?
Bear in mind that the more you dismiss your partner's view of your behavior, the more that they will either withdraw from you or snap back. Thus, escalation takes place and no one is the better for it.
What about blaming one's mood on stress? Well, that does explain it to some extent. But, you probably hold your tongue with the obnoxious salesperson whom you are trying to do something special for you. Or with the police officer who pulled you over for speeding or a broken headlight!
Yes, I know that you might counter with the concept that you should be able to let your hair down with your husband or wife. But, the truth of the matter is that they are not there to be more than an occasional, rare, object of your anger, hurt, sorrow, or whatever it is that is making you behave this way.
If you decide to play the card of , "But they behaved like this many times in the past and I took it!", stop right there! You hated it. This should not be a tit-for-tat relationship.
Bottom-line, find another way to communicate. Or seek the assistance of a professional counselor or a member of the clergy. - Otherwise, your marriage will continue to ride on the rocks instead of the peaceful waters.
"My spouse has gotten way too fat! - While I still love him (her), they're no longer a turn-on. - And, I worry about their health."
With experts and the media warning us weekly about the obesity epidemic, the above quote is becoming increasingly common. And, everyone is ultimately responsible for taking care of their own health and weight.
That said, I have become increasingly less surprised by the number of spouses who complain about their partner's weight, while describing the following in regards to home eating habits.
* "They put away a pound of pasta at a sitting, along with 3 slices of Italian bread."
* "They put gobs of sour cream on their baked potato."
* "They eat a whole bag of chips and other snacks during a single basketball game, while downing 6 beers to wash it all down."
* "They polish half a cake or a pint of ice cream at a time."
Well, you get the idea...
But, if the food was not in the house. Or, huge portions were made unavailable by making sensible plates up ahead of time, without leaving extra food on the table. Or, less fattening sauces and leaner cuts of meat, baked (not fried) were prepared... If these and other actions were taken by the one who does the shopping and food prep, then the odds are that the weight issue would either stabilize or lessen.
Of course, your hubby or wife could still pig out when not at home. But, you really can't control that. You can control what is served and available at home! In most households, only one spouse does the bulk of marketing and cooking. So take charge of those tasks!
A great side benefit would be showing your children proper food habits.
By the way, if you don't pack them a lunch, start doing so. You will save money as well as calories. And, if you are accustomed to frequently dining out of the home, don't make it fast food, if you can help it. And, at a restaurant, avoid the temptation of buffets. (A personal weakness, of mine.)
If they really balk at these changes, you can not only tell them that you want them around for a good long time, but that the more they lose weight, the more energy there will be for lovemaking and other affection! (Say that as opposed to' 'You turn me off, fatso'.) And, you will probably get a great response!
Like it or not, folks who overeat and are overweight often have multiple issues to come to grips with. But, bottom-line, you have a moral as well as a 'self-loving' motivation to see them improve their health. And, you do have some power to help. Because, the bottom-line key to weight loss for most of us is that simple equation that we would love to disregard: The less calories that
you take in and the more that you move, the less that you will likely weigh.
Do you accept their addiction Because you do not believe That you deserve a better life?
Okay... Pretend that it's just you and me...
"Is it true that your husband or wife is an alcoholic or drug addict?"
"No... They just overuse it... "
"Do they abuse you or the children?"
"There's a lot of yelling. But, lots of times, I deserved it."
"Ever, any hitting? And, what of the children? You did not answer that, yet."
"Twice. They threw something at me. And, once I was punched. But, I let things get so out of hand, so... "
"Why do you put up with this behavior?"
"They're not addicted! And, they are a good provider. A good parent."
"But, why do you tolerate this? Do you believe that this is what your children should expect their life to be like, when they grow up?"
"I don't want to lose them. I can't support the kids and myself. And, my religion frowns upon divorce."
"But is living with all of the problems that addiction brings with it, worth your happiness? Your health? The children's well-bringing?"
"But, who else would want us? I wasn't a great catch, you know... I wasn't all that popular... "
Okay... There are very many paths that I could have taken this fictional discussion on.
The point is that spouses often stay in marriages with addicts because they do not believe that they deserve 'better'.
How foolish! - You deserve the best in life! So do your children.
It's rare for an addict to truly break their chains. Possible. But, not likely. -- And, whether or not they might someday become drug or alcohol free, the fact remains that you need to give serious thought to what is best for you and any children that you might have.
Don't allow others to mistreat you. And, don't tolerate destructive behaviors, whether physical, emotional, or financial.
Note: As always, the basic premise does not apply to all couples/ spouses
Admit it (along with me)! We occasionally 'talk a good talk' but don't always 'walk the walk'.
And, one such area of our married lives involves the matter of 'consistency'. Whether it relates to how we raise our children. Or, schedules during the work week and weekends. When we will be sexually intimate. Or, when we go to our chosen house of worship. Or...
Consistency can be a great thing! It allows for a sense of stability. One can feel 'grounded' when one has a routine in place.
Yet, consistency does call for the occasional 'change' if one is to maintain it, overall. We will from time to time, decide to initiate those expected 'exceptions to the rule'. Typically, when it suits us. Such as when we are exhausted and have 'a headache'. Or when we want to stay home and watch the big game, rather than accompany the rest of the family to our in-laws' home.
There is no big deal about these routine changers.
That is, unless you don't allow your spouse to do the same. - And, therein lies the problem.
Human nature being what it is, we can find it easy to accept our rational for avoiding the routines of our daily life. Yet, we have a difficult time when it comes to affording our wife or husband the same privilege.
So, I ask you to put on the brakes, when you feel the urge coming on, to criticize your spouse's decisions. Yes, it might be disappointing to you. Or, even create a spark of resentment or anger. But, remember they probably feel the same way toward you, at the times when the rules of the game change. And, if they don't appear to care, don't necessarily believe it. Perhaps it is true, but more than likely, they are simply going with the flow, rather than start an argument or ruin what could be a good mood, for all concerned. And, if they truly do not care, then there is even more reason to graciously accept their whims.
Trite as it sounds, marriage is not all about you. That was the way things were in your teen years. By now, you should be well focused on yourself, your spouse, and then, both of you as a couple.
Well, I'm off to change my routine for the sake of my wife. ('Cause I love her. And, she does the same for me!)
10 Excuses For Having An Affair & 1 Reason To Actually Have One (?)
By the end of this piece, many of you will applaud me, while many of you will silently 'Boo' and 'Hiss' me. - The thing is that it will probably not be the people who you would imagine doing either one of those actions.
#1 My spouse lost interest in sex.
#2 Sex became boring... stale.
#3 They got fat and otherwise physically unappealing.
#4 They know I like variety and always had multiple partners.
#5 It doesn't count when I'm away at a conference or on business.
#6 It's purely sexual, so they don't have to feel threatened, emotionally.
#7 They had an affair, once.
#8 What they don't know won't hurt them.
#9 I don't think of them that way, anymore.
#10 They're always too tired.
And now for the 'real reason to have one': "I'm horny and I want to have the affair(s)!"
Notice how I called this 'the 'real reason'. Not a valid one. Not an acceptable one. - This is the truth behind having an affair. It's what adulterers feel and believe is their 'right'. It's what they would like to say to you if and when they are caught. Because they know, instinctively, that you would disagree that it was a valid reason for cheating and greatly hurting not only their spouse and children (if any) but also their trust and love. They know that you would likely condemn them.
Bottom-line: If you value moments of passion over your commitment to your wife or husband, then simply get a divorce. Or, conversely ask their permission to indulge in the extra-marital affair, beforehand. (But another article will discuss this last idea in more detail. Watch for it!)
If you are or were involved in such a situation, please share it with us by emailing Comments@DontOverlookTheObvious.com . If we use it on the website, we will not use the names of people involved, if you give them to us.
TOO MUCH HONESTY
Total honesty is both overrated and harmful.
If you were raised as I was, you were taught that 'Honesty is the best policy.'
That there was never a place for lying.
And, I have seen and heard of marriages where one or both partners tried to live their lives by that rule. Without realizing that there is a place for the occasional lie, otherwise known as 'a white lie'. One primarily intended to spare the feelings of another.
I have never known more than 1 person in my life whom I truly believe never lied. And you might say," Terrific! I wish my spouse was like that."
But think of the consequences of always telling the truth. Or, at least pretending that is the case. - This could mean that you would tell a mother that her child is not beautiful, but homely. That you tell the hostess that her meal was barely edible.
In the case of a spouse, one might tell him/ her, outright, that they were a lousy lover. Instead of with kinder words and actions, showing he/ she how to better please you. - It might mean that when they tell you of a promotion that they received, that you explain you felt someone else at the company should have gotten it because they were more qualified. - It could mean, that in the middle of an argument, you tell them that you wished you had never married them, instead of (fill-in-the-blank).
Fact of the matter is that 99% of the population or more, probably has lied at some point in time, if only with a 'white lie'.
We lie to our boss, to keep our job. We lie to our children to protect them. We lie to parents to avoid their wrath or to win their affection. We simply lie, at some point in time. If only to be polite. (There is a great, little song on 'White Lies', which aired recently on the Fox TV show, Lie To Me. -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMaaXq97Rf4 )
The bottom-line is that there is a place for the occasional 'white lie'. Or, for not offering a perfectly truthful response. - Especially with our spouse, there is a time and a place for this. It is when the knowledge would serve to hurt them or your relationship. When there is no positive outcome to be gained for the other person. No lesson to be learned which could not be 'taught' in a better, kinder manner.
In the end, it boils down to that other cliche of doing unto others how you would want them to do unto you.
You (probably) Can't Have It Both Ways
Some people want to have matters work out just as they want, regardless of how the other person feels or whether or not their request is reasonable.
So it is that more and more, spouses want their partner-in-life to satisfy every role and desire that they have. They want a spouse who can be ambitious and aggressive at work, but, empathetic and nurturing at home. Unless of course they want the spouse to 'take care of'' the problems at home, as well
The reality is that people are seldom able to switch gears, on a dime. Or, they might simply be most comfortable or competent being only a passive or aggressive individual.
Think of your own marriage. How often does one or both of you, have unrealistic expectations of the other.
Let's go one step further, shall we? In the bedroom, your lover is apt to be most comfortable in a particular role: the initiator or the one who might get 'ravaged'. They might be adventurous or timid. Whatever their role is, you can certainly express a desire to try something outside of their comfort zone, but you don't have the right to push it. (No pun intended.)
If in general, you married a 'momma's boy' or 'daddy's little girl', the odds are that what you got on your wedding day is going to be what they will be like for years to come.
If you married an introvert, then don't expect them to be an extrovert when you want them to be one.
Of course, there are some people who are able to switch back-and-forth between different personality types, depending upon the situation at hand. If this is you or your husband or wife, then that's probably great.
Regardless, learn to be satisfied with the person you married and whom you are. And, whom you each become, during the course of your marriage. That is, if you wish to remain wed to them.
Okay. -- So you fell in love with a terrific guy or gal.
You either have pre-marital sex or wait until you are officially husband and wife.
In either instance, you know that the lovemaking experience, while good or very good, is not bringing you to the level of excitement or orgasm, as you had with a previous lover or spouse. So what to do? Especially if you are married?
Well, you could tell them that they were 'so-so' and put a knife through their heart and ego. Or, you could achieve the same effect by letting them know how a previous lover had a special technique for bringing you to the ultimate climax.
A gentleman once opined about a woman he was getting seriously involved with. They had intercourse several times. Out of curiosity, knowing that she had been married and dated others since her divorce, he asked how he stood up against her other sexual partners. (Such a bad move on his part, especially when only in the early stages of dating.) She responded that a person (whom she
identified) was by far her best lover. But that this man brought such emotion to the table (or bed) that he sort of made-up for his lack of technical skill. And, that he was head and shoulders above the other in terms of character. -- Now, while some men might have been thrilled to hear that last part, he admittedly barely registered the comment until they had broken-up. He fixated on his stated lack of sexual proficiency. And, from then on, his performance degraded in direct proportion to his desire to
surpass the former lover
Do you remember my ever saying that there are times when a 'white lie' is called for? Well, folks, this is one of those times. No one wants to hear that they cannot sexually arouse or please their spouse in ways that another person had, before them. So, tell them how great they were! Stroke them, literally and figuratively.
But, you cry out that they are not a particularly great lover! And, that you don't want to spend decades with someone who does not 'do it' for you. That you deserve to have a superb sex life.
Well, I won't argue with you, there. But, you do need to realize and accept a few things, if you want this marriage to not only last, but to flourish.
Again, never tell them that they are not as good as a previous partner. Period. Exclamation point. That said, it's up to you to know what turns you on and 'gets you there' in a dramatic and oh-so-satisfying way. -- Once you are confidant that you know this, then guide him to doing those things to you. Whether it involves a touch, it's duration or speed. Or, it involves verbal stimulus, doesn't matter, because you need to guide him or her.
Now, don't make the common mistake of doing to them what you wish that they did to you. Simply because they might not like those moves. And the fact that you do them to your spouse, does not necessarily make them think that you want these things done or said to you.
Another common mistake is expecting them to 'get it right' on the first, second, or even third attempt. If this is new to them, there will be a 'learning curve', so to speak.
So what are the lessons to be learned here? -- Don't ever verbally compare them to another lover unless to say how much better they are than the other person. -- Communicate your desires to them subtly and without making them feel as if they are an amateur or just plain lousy lover.
Now, go and enjoy your love life! You do deserve it!
Given that you and your husband or wife share a bed, home, budget, and, even dare I say, 'bodily fluids', it is astounding & somewhat puzzling to realize just how many of you are timid when it comes to initiating lovemaking. Or, how many of your signals, 'to come hither'/ 'I want you, NOW', seem to be invisible to your lover. Now, before those of you for which this piece applies, go off somewhere to avoid what you think you seeing coming, stay put and see whether or not you were correct... Or, whether or not you might discover a way to enhance your sex life in a comfortable fashion.
There are 2 distinct types of men and women who do not send (clear) signals to their partner regarding the desire to be sexually intimate. - So, without further ado...
First, there are those of you who truly believe that they do send their wife or husband a clear signal, when feeling amorous. They might cuddle up next to them on the couch. Or, give them a surprise hug, from behind. A gentle pat on the tush, a special gaze, a 'I'm going to head in to bed, early, tonight.'... Giving them flowers for 'no reason'.... Preparing a special dinner... Mentioning that the children will be staying overnight at a friend's house... Matter-of-fact saying that for once you don't have work to do at home... Or, that you think you will let the housework wait until tomorrow...
The list of what you might see as 'obvious' clues is pretty long. And, so are the reasons why your spouse might not pick-up on them.
Come on! Think about it! (But, not for too long, now.) You might intend any of the above to be the clue that you are not only 'in the mood', but that you are also 'available' for the 'asking'/ 'taking'. Yet, problems are many with these 'signals' of yours.
For starters, have you have said or done any of these when you were not wanting sex? If 'Yes', then how can you expect your man or woman to translate the message, as you intended it? People do not like to feel foolish or to be rejected. And, if they mis-read your signal, one or both of these will likely 'sting' them. Following up on the 'rejected part', it takes a very strong-willed, self-confident, or foolish person to keep risking being told 'No', when responding to what they believed to be an obvious signal.
I'm reminded of a great 'Everybody Loves Raymond' episode where Deborah complains to Ray that he never seems to know when she is 'in the mood'. Yet, as she describes her 'signal', it is easy to understand why Ray does not respond, as she would like him to do.
Others of you might feel timid or embarrassed about letting your husband or wife know that you 'want it'. 'Badly.'
Perhaps you believe that only 'bad girls' ask for it. Or that a classy woman never expresses her desire, first. - Perhaps, you were brought up to believe that the man has to make the first move, otherwise, she probably thinks less of you as a lover. Or, she is not behaving 'lady-like'.
And, as mentioned earlier, there is always the possibility of rejection. And, who wants to deal with that? And, if there have been a number of rejections, already, unless you are masochistic, you will eventually decide to no longer take a chance on properly reading what you believe to be a signal for intimacy.
Okay. So, what does one do to remedy the situation? Well, there are several 'obvious', yet effective solutions.
First, you can both discuss the matter and agree upon certain actions or words that mean 'Go for it'. - It can be a phrase. - A specific nightgown or robe that is put on or place on the bed. - It might a phrase, such as 'Turning in, now, care to join me?'. - Or, a well-placed, hand on their body. (Somewhere that you normally don't touch when not in bed. And, not necessarily an overtly sexual placing of your hand, either.) - You might agree that the dimming of lights or turning off of the TV/ computer will be your signal.
Second, you let your husband or wife know that you feel awkward about being the one to initiate lovemaking, for whatever the reason. And ask if they would welcome such a move on your part without them thinking 'less' of you.
Third, make them aware of how much rejection can hurt. Let them know that you do not expect them to always be agreeable to having sex, but that you also would appreciate less rejections. Especially because you know that when they 'get started', they get into it and enjoy the intimacy, the passion, and being able to please you. (As well as being pleased,themselves.)
Before I close, there is another reason why spouses do not respond to their loved one's overtures.
The sex itself has either become boring, predictable, or otherwise non-enjoyable.
To resolve this problem, you need to communicate. Delicately. Either by placing their hands, lips, or other body parts where and as you want them to be... Or, by verbally letting them know what you enjoy.
Tact is the key. - And, going back to that TV episode, Deborah also complained about the sex itself. And, when Ray asked why she didn't say anything to him about it, her response was that he 'should have known'. Ray's logical and common response was that after a few years of him not pleasing her, wouldn't she have understood that he wasn't going to 'do it right', unless she told him?
Bottom line: Don't assume that your signals for lovemaking will be read correctly or acted upon, if they were understood. You need to be clearer. So that the two of you can become lost in the throes of passion.
Merely owning up To your shortfalls
Does not make you
A bigger person
In their eyes.
Only a change in actions will.
Let's start off with a quick quiz. Only 1 question. How many times in the past year have you apologized to your wife or husband and promised not to do the offending behavior, ever again?
Come on, now. Be honest. - More than you would care to admit? But, you point out that they have, as well?
I hate to break it to you. But, we're going to attempt to stay focused on you. And, what your responsibilities are. And, what you can likely expect to happen as a result of apologies not backed-up by actions.
There are 3 main types of spousal apologies.
In one, we are truly contrite. We did or said something that offended or otherwise hurt our spouse, unintentionally. The action could have been a name that we called them. Perhaps we were caught in a lie. - Regardless of the act itself, we know that we did wrong and are sincere in both our apology and intent to not repeat the action. And, the odds are that we will live up to that promise.
In a second type of apology, we had intentionally done the dastardly deed, hoping not to be caught. And, having been called on it by our wife or husband, we did what was expected of us: ask for forgiveness and vow to not repeat the action. This time, however, we crossed our fingers when speaking. So that we believe our vow to them is not valid. And our internal vow is simply not to get caught, again.
The third type of apology is one where we mouth the words, but in our heart don't believe that our actions were any big deal. So that the words we speak are meant simply to appease our spouse. And, the intent to not repeat the action is only half-sincere. We try to avoid repeating the same mistake, but if it happens again, we will probably just shrug our shoulders and seek another round of forgiveness. -
We haven't accepted that we all have 'sore spots' which might not be meaningful to our partner, but should be respected, nonetheless.
Mistakenly, we all too often believe that by owning up to our errors in behavior and apologizing for them, our spouse will forgive us. - Whether or not they verbalize it, our husbands and wives only pay so much attention to this lip service. They recognize that there are the above types of apologies, out there. How they will respond to you, down the road, will be based in large part on which type
they believe that you have given them.
And, that old adage of 'Actions speak louder than words' is true.
Now, they might know that you were simply caught or called-on a misbehavior... That you truly are not repentant... But, they will act as if they bought your story, because, for the moment, they believe that there is far more 'good stuff' to be had in being with you, than not. Or, for the sake of the children. Or, the money. Or, the status. -- Regardless, without a sincere change in behavior, the words will eventually become nothing more than background noise to them. And, any benefits of staying with you
will eventually become less important than staying with a mate who doesn't value sincerity or their feelings.
Bottom-line? Apologies are important in a marriage. However, your sincerity and future actions matter much, much more.
Neither one of you Should be the one
To always apologize.
Sir Elton John sang and co-wrote a very popular song, in the '70s, called 'Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word'. That sentiment still rings true, today. Most folks will probably admit that apologizing is extremely difficult. Sometimes it results in one feeling embarrassed. Other times, we wish to avoid owning up to what others already know: That we screwed up! Or, we think that by not apologizing we will save face with the offended, although the opposite is quite true.
Fact is that just as 'honesty' is usually the best policy, apologizing, even to one's spouse, is best. But, only when you have something to apologize for.
Now, this can get a bit 'tricky'. There are certainly times when you realize that you did, in fact, offend or hurt your husband or wife. But, there are instances where you truly do notunderstand why you need to say that you regret what you did. In your heart-of-hearts, you believe that you did nothing wrong. However, the reality is that we can offend or hurt someone by doing something that would not bother another person in the least! Yet, your spouse's history has made them sensitive to your actions.
For example, if they grew up in a household with much yelling among the parents, they might take you yelling at them as a sign that your marriage is heading down the same path. Or, you forgot to call and inform them that you would be home late, so that they should not wait up for you. And, their former spouse had done the same, when they were out having an affair.
So, apologizing is important to do. Yet, there are some folks who are 'serial apologists'. They say, 'Sorry.' , over everything. They forgot to clean their dinner dish for once. 'Sorry'. You are out at a restaurant and the waitress explains that your spouse cannot have the veal because they just ran out of it minutes, ago. 'Sorry'. You plan a picnic and it rains. And, you say, 'Sorry.' Fact is that you should not apologize for matters which are not in your control. You can say, 'I feel badly that the restaurant ran out of veal. Would you like to go somewhere else, tonight?' But, that is a far cry from apologizing for what is not in your control!
Then, there are the instances where you both did something wrong. And, you both owe the other one an apology. Yet, you always seem to be the one, especially after an argument, who says the 'S' word, first. In these instances, you should not always be the one to make amends before your partner. - But, you say that if you don't, the silent treatment or arguing simply continues for days? Well, let your wife or husband know that you sometimes need to hear the 'S' word, first. Otherwise, you feel as though you are always the main one at fault. And that you both know that isn't the case. This becomes easier, if each of you owns up to your behavior, during those times when only you were wrong. - So often, I have heard folks say that their spouse simply isn't the 'apologizing type'. What a crock! That is only true because no one has probably held them accountable for their actions. Or, made them actually utter the words, 'I am so sorry. Please forgive me.'
Until or unless you break them of that cop-out, then you will probably hold in resentment toward them, allow yourself to be a doormat, or both. - Remind them that adults take responsibility for their actions. Children do not. That you thought you married an adult. At first, you will probably get some pushback from them. But, eventually, they should get your point, and they will act responsibly. If not, then your marriage has some deeper issues than this one.
No one is perfect. Apologies are certainly a part of life, for healthy relationships. But, that does not mean you should always 'go first'.
Verbal Or Written
Don't be embarrassed! Many folks deal with it. You are not alone.
But, you do need to try getting past it.
Oh... Did I lose some of you? Well, the issue has to do with men and women who find it difficult to express frustration, disappointment, or anger in a verbal manner. They find it much, much easier to dash off a quick note on paper or a sparsely written email than to tell their spouse, face-to-face, what they want to.
Now, I'll be the first one to normally suggest that any spousal communication is better than none. However, this is an exception to the rule. And, here's why...
When we confront or explain something that is likely to get a defensive or negative reaction from our husband or wife, the reaction is not always a positive one. And, sometimes, we imagine in our mind something dreadful happening. So that we feel safer in committing to writing what we wish to say.
We believe that there are several important side benefits to doing this.
We assume that we will be able to get our entire message across without being cut-off before we get to the point. But, couldn't our loved one simply tear up and throw away the note before they finish reading it?
We believe that our thoughts will be clearer in writing so that our message will be understood.
One problem here is that there is no 'tone', no 'facial expression' to convey the depth of our emotion. Likewise, the reader can assign any tone to it. They might perceive you as being more sarcastic than angry or vice versa.
Words do not always mean the same thing to other people. So, again, the written note leaves the reader to assign their own interpretation to the thoughts and feelings behind the words.
Something in writing tends to stay around, forever. And, ever. So that any painful, accusatory, or other points that you present them with will be at their beck and call to throw up to you, if they so choose, and when they so choose. Or, simply for them to read and re-read and feel hurt or angry.
If you are someone who communicates issues with their spouse, regularly by written word, then your wife or husband might perceive you (correctly or not) as a wimp!
So, bottomline, you need to learn to verbalize (appropriately) your feelings and concerns. Perhaps you will need to take a class in assertiveness training. -- No shame here! Even many business executives take such classes. - Perhaps you simply need to try a face-to-face conversation.
Remember that telephone calls made to avoid confrontations, while at times better than the written-route, still leave much to be desired and much that can be open to misinterpretation.
By the way... If you are on the receiving end of such notes, why not think about your style of communicating. Would you be intimidating to even the most assertive of folks? Do you instill fear when you say, "What do you mean by that... ",? -- Think about it. remember that most problems are the responsibility of both parties.
So, go and express yourself with those lips that serve you well in many other areas of your marriage!
A Tough Lesson For Many Parents To Learn
They keep an eye out for dangers. They swoop in to 'Save The Day'! They also crash and burn!
What am I speaking of? Why, those of you who are 'Helicopter Parents', of course.
Admittedly, no rational parent wants to see their child get hurt, be sad, or even fail. Yet, any rational parent is going to want all of those things to happen, in moderation, to their child.
Am I crazy? No, simply logical.
Regardless of how hard we might try, as parents, we cannot shield our child from all hurt and disappointment. Life's bitter lessons need to be learned because they are real. And, the more that we try to shield our offspring, the more likely it is that they will have difficulty coping when confronted with disappointment and pain.
Before getting your feathers riled up, think about it. How can your daughter or son develop coping mechanisms if they never have to cope with anything 'negative'? Life is often unfair, cruel, and an obstacle course complete with figurative landmines. Now, of course it is important for you to impart wisdom to them. For you to be there for them when they need a loving hug or kind word. And, to help set an example of how to deal with life's curveballs. But that is very different from attempting to protect them from anything that might be painful. They also need to learn such life lessons as failing a course when they fail to turn in an assignment. Or they give their heart too readily to someone. Or, they (fill in the blank)...
So, learn the art of 'being there' for them. But not in such a way that you block out any light that comes from them living life on their own. Because, the truth, as difficult as it might be to hear, is that they will come to resent you, at some point, otherwise. The other truth is that you will likely die before they will. Help them to be prepared for independent living! For that is a far better gift than you can offer them by trying to supervise or otherwise micromanage their life.
Bottom-line: Let go of the 'training wheels' and watch them learn to master life on their own! Even if they get the occasional 'bruises and scraped knees'.
Don't Be Surprised This Holiday Season If...
Expectations are high during the Holidays! We hope for a wonderful, joyous season. And, why not? Well, that aside, you should not be surprised if any of the following occurs. I bring these up simply so that you might be less taken aback if they do happen to you. And so that you might have ideas to avoid these in the future.
#1 Don't be surprised if you and your spouse argue. -- Tensions and expectations are unusually high during the Holidays. So that it doesn't take much for one or both of you to be on edge and 'look to pick a fight over most anything'. So before you do, try to get some sleep. Whomever fired the first round should be asked to leave for a while and chill. Perhaps catch up on some much needed rest. Or let the other know what is truly bothering you.
#2 Don't be surprised if you don't get what you wanted as a gift. -- Not many people share their secret desire with their partner. Then, they get disappointed or angry when they don't get it. You might think that your spouse can read your mind but that is seldom the reality.
#3 Don't be surprised if you don't have sufficient money to buy presents with. Or, at least the ones that you and your spouse wish to buy. -- Next year, try saving money or buying items throughout the year, especially when they are on sale or clearance priced. No one needs to know what you spent!
#4 Don't be surprised if your in-laws aren't pleased with your plans for spending the Holidays. -- Try to take turns with each family and your own home. Not easy but often well worth it. If a family lives far from you, then offer to pay their way to you or ask for help getting out to them.
#5 Don't be surprised if you can't decorate the house or apartment the way that you would like to do. -- There are so many hours in a day and so much money to go around.
#6 Don't be surprised if you find yourself depressed instead of joyous. -- Winter is often a depressing time of year in general. And when you realize that hopes and dreams don't always materialize, it's natural to feel down in the dumps. But if you can't seem to get yourself out of the funk than turn to someone who can help you. Perhaps your wife or husband. Perhaps a friend, counselor, or clergy person.
Bottom-line, is that the Holidays can be a super time for you or one that is not what you wanted. Either way, remember that there is always (!) someone worse off than you are. Always.
'Nuff said. Happy Holidays! To you and yours!
How to Celebrate the Holidays in an Interfaith Marriage
Baby-making Decision: Marital Crisis?
Long ago, and far away, when you were dating. When it was all fresh. Hormones were riding high on waves of passion. When you would have probably said almost anything to help get to the altar and honeymoon stage. -- You said that you wanted children and he/she aged, perhaps right away, perhaps after much nagging and begging. (Both of these coming across in a more benign fashion thanks to the urge to consummate
the bond that you formed with one another.)
Well, you told your partner that it was time to 'collect' on the promise made: The 'pill', diaphragm, or condoms were to collect dust for a while. Sex was to focus on the art of baby-making, if such exists. But wait! What's this? They tell you that they really don't want children. That you shouldn't have pressured them, before marriage. They expressed that they didn't want to interrupt a career path. Or,
perhaps, they doubted their ability to parent. Or, they were afraid that they would make the same or worse mistakes than their own folks did. Perhaps they pull the 'I'm too old. I don't want to be in my 60's when the child is still in high school', tactic. Or, they already went through the whole child-rearing thing with their previous spouse. Now, at this stage of their life, they want to simply enjoy life with you, as a childless couple, so to speak.
What to do? What to do!
You were counting on having a child. Now, you learn that in order to stay married, you will have to forfeit that dream, that urging, that biological clock's promise of countless joys.
Don't think for a moment that this situation only applies to women wanting the child. No! Men often have their own biological clock. As well as, perhaps, the somewhat outdated urge to have a biological child who will carry on the family name, and yes, traits.
Unfortunately, you will probably hate my response: If both of you do not sincerely wish to become parents, then you should not keep pushing for it. Because you might wear them down. Or even trick them by 'forgetting' to use birth control. The result will likely be not only anger and great resentment toward you, but also toward the child.
This is truly an extremely important decision to make. One that once made is difficult to reverse course. This situation is related to the one wherein the wife or husband marries believing more than hoping, that they can change their spouse's bad and annoying habits, temper, addiction, laziness, or any number of other aspects of 'who they are'.
In rare instances, the woman's reason for not wanting a child involves the concern of going through the physical aspects of pregnancy and child-birth (forgetting any post-partum issues). So that adoption might truly be a winning compromise.
If you and your spouse are facing this situation, then complete honesty is called for. As well as being sensitive to each other's opinions and feelings.
I pray that all goes well for you, both.
If you are or were involved in such a situation, please share it with us by emailing Comments@DontOverlookTheObvious.com . If we use it on the website, we will not use the names of people involved, if you give them to us.
JOB OR FAMILY TIME?
Are you more concerned with 'Job security' Than with 'Family security'?
In today's economy, millions of us are struggling. To varying degrees. Yet, struggling, nonetheless. - Having to do without extras... In some instances, having to give up your home.
Millions are without jobs. And, when a job comes along, the issue of what sacrifices are necessary arises. - For those with work, the issue is often 'How much will I tolerate in order to keep my job? Take stuff home? Work extra hours for the bubble? Commute more? Relocate? Or...'.
So it is that couples often face the dilemma of what sacrifices need to be made. And what impact will they have on the family... The spousal relationship. The children, if there are any.
These are not simple questions to answer. And, I will not be so presumptuous as to pretend that I know what you should do.
Yet, I will point out that once you have a job that will pay at least your minimum bills. The necessary ones. Not cable. Not payments for an expensive automobile. Probably not private school. Fancy new clothes every month... You get my drift. At that point, I urge you to examine the impact upon the family. In terms of time. Your stress level. Your ability to have a quality relationship with each one of them.
Because the economy will eventually turn around. But once there is too much damage to the family's cohesiveness, it can seldom be regained... Or, easily.
'What to do', you ask, 'if my spouse and kids resent my spending time with them at the expense of doing without the niceties of life?'. -- If your family truly cares more about material things than your health, stress, and family time together, then I hate to tell you what you probably already know.
I remember some years back watching a TV segment on a man who had a high-powered job, earning well over $200,000 per year. The family had multiple homes, country club memberships, great cars, and more. He was laid off. And, he was middle-aged. He eventually was hired as a veterinary assistant, if memory serves me correctly. Despite all this, his relationship with his wife was strong. Yes, it was tough for them. Each in very different ways. But, they were committed to
their marriage. And, to each other. They made it work. Without all of their former expensive trappings.
So, it's a juggling act. But, if you are only the breadwinner. And nothing much more, than why stay? Just a thought.
If you listen to Dave Ramsey, you know that he values not only living a debt-free life, but, most of all, a family that is committed to one another. I agree with him, here!
So, how many times have you heard someone complain about their spouse, male or female, who forgot to give them an anniversary or birthday or even a Valentine's Day card?
And, how often have you heard the 'offending spouse' attempt to defend themselves by stating 'just how crazy' things have been at work or at home? That traffic was a 'killer'? That the card shop only had ones which were not expressive enough of their love for their betrothed? Or...
Fact is that we tend to do what we want or is expected of us by someone whom we wish to please. So that when we 'forget' that anniversary. Or, we 'forget' to pick up the dry cleaning. Or we 'forget' that we were supposed eat at our in-laws, so that we made other plans... We are almost always lacking the desire to please that other person. Or, at best, we want them to be happy, but just not as much
as we want ourselves
to be pleased!We might hate to admit that fact. But, it is a fact for many folks.
Often, we also look at these omissions as a sort of a 'payback' for a real, imagined, or overblown 'hurt' inflicted upon us by our wife or husband.
One of the problems with this behavior is that the spouse doesn't really know this is going on. So that your intended point gets lost. And, only a new resentment on the part of your spouse remains.
Not too bright, huh?
Birthdays, anniversaries, religious holidays, and so on, are not... Let me repeat the word 'not'... Situations where you should be planning a 'payback' move.
Conversations, on the other hand, are the perfect locale for that release of tensions and clearing of the air. And, in case you need reminding: bedtime, or rushing out the door time, or as the big game is about to start time, are not the times for heavy discussions.
So, show your partner in life some respect and, hopefully, love. - Don't forget the cards or other tokens of your love, respect, and commitment.
WHEN THEY ACT LIKE A FOOL
We love to laugh at someone when they open their mouth and insert both, oversized feet. Or, we eagerly anticipate certain people making the expected faux pas, so that we can spread the news of it. (And, thank goodness that the Internet makes that a whole lot easier to do!) We also love to remind people of when they made a fool of themselves. It makes us seem 'more perfect' or 'powerful'.
Most humor is done at the expense of someone else. Their mistakes. Stupidity. Over-inflated ego. Mini tragedies that befall them.
With that acknowledged, let's switch gears, and think of your spouse.
They undoubtedly, from time to time (or perhaps more frequently), say or do something incredibly embarrassing or foolish. (For example, complain about your mother without realizing that she just walked into the room. Or, trying to talk their way out of a speeding ticket by spouting the names of influential people whom you truly don't know.)
Yet, if they are like most folks, they instantly recognize what they have done. So now, they feel embarrassed, dumb, or worried. They truly do not need you reminding them of it. They don't need you kicking them while they are down. They certainly, do not need you, holding this over their head, so that you get what you want to from them.
If you don't, they will remember that. It will effect how they relate to you, not only at that moment in time, but for the foreseeable future.
Depending upon their nature, they will either anxiously await your next foolish move or they will withdraw and become less willing to share portions of their day with you.
And, finally, exchange places with them... Did they feel oh, sooo good? Or, pretty lousy? And, were you looking for a corner to hide in, or a way to lash back out?
I guess that old 'Golden Rule' thing still applies today. Who knew?
Co-Ed Sleepovers: Yea or Nay?
Don't you want to be among the 'Cool Parents'? Of course you do!
Yet, you and your spouse are having a rather heated disagreement regarding your tween (or teen) spending the night at a friend's house, after an evening of fun. You think there is nothing wrong or otherwise inappropriate about your child staying the night in a supervised situation. They think you've lost it! So, let's take a peek at each side's rationale.
#1 The host mother/father are known to you. They seem nice. You've met at school functions. Never smelled cigarette smoke, let alone weed. No excessive yelling or other warning signs of them being poor parents.
#2 There will be plenty of your child's classmates there. So, you believe that their friends would watch out for your young one.
#3 The hosts have assured you that the kids will sleep in separate rooms and floors. There are separate bathrooms, that will each be marked for use by a specific gender.
#4 Avoiding embarrassment for your child is important at this age, so you wouldn't want to show up late in the evening to take them home.
#5 Alone time for you and your wife/husband would be guaranteed for a change. Imagine the possibilities!
#6 Doesn't your spouse want to teach 'independence' to your tween/teen?
#7 How about showing your child that you trust them to always do the 'right thing'?
Wow! Some pretty impressive reasons for allowing it. - Now, let's look at the flip side of the coin.
#1 You don't know the hosts, all that well. People are often on their best behavior when at school functions. Do you really know how stable, emotionally, these folks are? You really don't know whether or not they have a drinking problem or use drugs. Do you? Or, are abusive?
#2 When you were your child's age would you really get in the middle of your friend's poor choice, whether or not it was to smoke, have a drink, or 'fool around'? Perhaps you would say something, but would you truly intervene?
#3 Separate rooms and floors really don't mean all that much. Remember sneaking out of the house when parents slept? Even in 'the dark ages', like the 1950's, kids always sneaked from room to room during sleepovers. Especially if there was a cute kid in the next room. (Have you thought about crushes on older or younger siblings of your teen's friend?)
#4 Embarassment is almost a 'rite-of-passage'. How many times were you 'embarrassed growing up by what your folks did? And, how many times have you already been accused of being too strict or... ?
#5 Alone time is great. Every couple needs it. But using a co-ed sleepover is not really the scenario that provides the best details for a safe time. And, will one or both of you be at least partially focused upon what problems might be arising at the kids' house?
#6 Independence. It certainly is important to cultivate. The operative word being 'cultivate'. Logic needs to be taken into consideration here.
#7 Yup! Your child needs to know that you trust them. But, that should be happening gradually. A co-ed overnight when hormones are raging... When far too many girls become pregnant... When making-out can easily become carried away... When saying no to booze or drugs requires great will-power and a very strong 'sense of self'...
SO, WHAT DO I THINK?
From my experiences growing up, employment, anecdotes, and research, I side, for the most part with your spouse. - Obviously, each of you have some valid points. However, where your son and daughter's well-being are at stake, I tend to err on the side of caution. This doesn't mean that there cannot be compromises made. Or, that you might wish to host a party where you and your husband/wife stay up all night (yup). And there are strict controls. Zero tolerance for certain actions. But, on
the whole, you need to value your child's well-being over peer pressure, whether that of their classmates or that of other parents.
Feel free to agree or disagree with me. Let me know what you think/your experiences growing up or as a parent. Send your thoughts to Comments@DontOverlookTheObvious.com (Any names that are included in the email will be altered, if your comments are posted.)
An In-Law's Inappropriate Advance
So, you're over at your mother-in-law's home. Your spouse is at work or simply someplace else. Your mother-in-law asked you to help move some furniture or mow the lawn. You finish up and she says that she wants to thank you for helping her out. You tell her that it's not necessary. You're happy that you could be of help. She comes over to you and plants a wet one on your lips. Before you know it, she takes
one of your hands and slips it inside her blouse and bra. Then whispers that there is more to feel than that. Before you know it, her other hand is rubbing your crotch. What do you do?
Or, suppose your mother-in-law is out of town on business and you offer to cook dinner for her husband. You join him for supper because he says that he hates to eat alone. When done, you go to the sink to rinse dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. Suddenly, you hear a 'snap' and he has whipped you in the ass with a handtowel. Stunned, you turn around, and he says that he has fantasized about your
ass since you married his son. And why doesn't he show you how he has managed to keep his wife satisfied in the bedroom, all of these years.
Far-fetched? Unfortunately, these scenarios or something akin to them get played out in many families.
What should you do? Other than turning down the 'offers'.
First, back away and let them know, that while flattered, this is far too inappropriate. That you will let your spouse know what happened. And, you need to follow through with that.
"But, what if my wife (or husband) won't believe me? Or what if it ruins their relationship? What about our kids? They think the world of Grandma (or Grandpa)."
Odds are that your spouse will be shocked. From there, if your relationship is a sound one, and you have not been prone to fits of jealousy or being overly flirtatious, than they will believe you. Or, at least be willing to accept the possibility of your accusation being truthful. Perhaps when they were previously married or dating someone, this behavior came up.
You then need to discuss how best to deal with this turn of events. They might want to storm over to the in-law's place and confront them. With or without you. - This is not, generally-speaking, a great idea. Not, at least, until your partner-in-life calms down.
The next big decision is whether or not to inform the in-law's spouse/relationship, assuming that they are married or involved with someone, romantically. My vote would be to tell them. Whether or not you are believed is another matter, entirely.
What if your spouse doesn't believe you?
Well, then you have another serious problem to contend with. And, for that I would recommend seeking professional help.
What if your in-law's spouse or significant other doesn't believe you?
Then your spouse has to decide how they wish to proceed. They will hopefully remain supportive of you. If not, then again, you will probably need to seek professional assistance for your marriage.
Do you still visit the in-laws? Have them over to your place?
Whether or not they deny their actions, you will certainly not place yourself in a position of being alone with them, again. If they admit to their deeds and at least appear contrite, then I see no reason for not having visits with your spouse and children, present. If they persist in saying that the event never happened or that you came on to them, then I would refuse to host them at your home. And, I would leave it up to my husband or wife as to whether or not they wish to maintain
a relationship with their parent, elsewhere.
What about your children?
If they are younger than late teens, I would certainly not let them know the real reasons as to what happened or why the relationships/visitations have changed. Be creative and find a way to save face for everyone, for the sake of the children. However, I would not wish to let my children stay at the in-law's without you or your spouse being with them.
"What about any siblings that my wife or husband have? What should they know about the situation? Or why things have changed?"
Adult siblings should be told. Who knows? Perhaps they have who might be 'hit upon' at some point in time.
"Okay. What if I succumbed, in a 'moment of weakness', and had sex with my in-law? Do I tell my spouse? Or, simply keep it to myself and promise to not do it again?"
Well, first and foremost, I would want to be checked for any STD's. Something that should be done for the sake of both you and your spouse, before you have any more sexual relations. Then, if the in-law understood that it was a one-time matter and it would not happen again and if you felt that you could trust them to neither tell anyone else about it or to make another play for you, then I would probably say nothing to my partner. But if I felt that the in-law would want to act again upon their desires,
then you need to own up to your infidelity and hope that your spouse can deal with it. Or, if test results come back that you do have an STD and you believe that it was not from your husband or wife, then you also need to confess.
"Do I ever think that my mother-in-law (or father-in-law) might have been lonely and made a foolish mistake that should never be made known to anyone else?"
That's a decision for you to think about, long and hard (no pun intended). No easy answer.
Unfortunately, these situations do arise. There are no 'easy' answers. While I have given you my thoughts on the matter, you ultimately must make decisions that you believe to be the correct ones for your marriage and family, as well as your in-laws'.
Note: If you care to share a personal experience along these lines, please send it to: Comments@DontOverlookTheObvious.com -- If posted here, any names given by you will not be used with that information.
Perhaps He Should Have Looked In The Mirror?
NOTE: I am going to take some literary license here so as to conceal an individual's identity and to focus on one primary issue: Weight.
Having lunch in an office building, recently, I overheard the gentleman at the next table. He was bitching quite steadily, about his wife. (Stopping only to take another bite or to answer a question posed by his lunch companion.)
The primary complaint was that his wife had gained a rather large amount of weight which he found to be an all-around turn-off. It would probably not be an exaggeration to state that he was all of 300 pounds. Perhaps, more.
Now, before any of you decide to send me hate email, I am not looking to pass judgment on this person's weight. Rather, there is another matter at work here.
Like it or not, a major factor in determining whom we fall in love with and decide to marry is appearance. (At least if we are seeking a marriage where sexual intimacy would be a part.) Granted that the more our romantic feelings grow for someone, the more attractive they tend to become. That said, we still have an image in our mind of whom we find appealing. For some men, it is
the voluptuous lady. Others, a woman who would easily fit in on a fashion runway. Some men prefer buxom women. Others, a woman with a well-rounded derriere. - Women's ideal male might be the muscle-bound hunk, or the slender, yet agile male. Perhaps a tall and well-endowed fellow, or one simply carries himself well. -- Bottomline, there are a myriad of physical attributes that rev our engines, so to speak.
All too often, once the honeymoon period is over, one or both spouses begin to pay less attention to their looks. And, as with the gentleman in the cafeteria, one or both of them finds less to be passionate about and more to bitch about.
Perhaps, this gentleman had the same overtly large physique when they dated and first wed. Perhaps she loves him for it. But, maybe not. So, my first bit of advice is not to complain about your wife or husband's build without first deciding whether or not you have also let yourself go. If both of you have gained weight, then you both need to work on it. Together or separately is not as vital as 'simply getting to it'! Otherwise, think about your spouse once again becoming the 'subject of someone's desire' while you remain, not so much of one.
Next, whomever grocery shops and cooks has to take some level of responsibility for weight issues.
Exercise is (virtually) always an option. Think of all the physically disabled individuals who still manage to look fit. If needed, get yourselves a fitness coach. It doesn't have to be a longterm commitment. You simply need to be equipped with a good regimen to follow. Many employers offer discounts or even free access to such trainers/consultants.
But, my primary point is that spouses tend to help the aging process along. And, we judge our spouse's appearance without also evaluating our own.
The Ashley Madison Data Breach Is Knocking At Your Door
"How could you?" -- "Bastard!" -- "Bitch!" -- "Fess up!"
The above are hues and cries that households across this country... Heck! Across the globe... Will be heard.
Why? A not so little data breach of a company known as Ashley Madison.
What, you wonder, is Ashley Madison? Well, it's been an Internet-based company where married folks who wish to have an affair could go to find a compatible match. That match could be someone who was also married, or a single person. It is a place where spouses felt comfortable in sharing sexual fantasies that they wished to turn into realities. Where a guy could feel comfortable in asking for a dominant woman who would please and punish him, sending him straight to bed. Or, a woman could ask for a man who would
treat her to a threesome, without her concern of being labeled a bi-sexual or a lesbian. Then, there are those who simply want an 'old-fashioned', non-committal fling, as it were.
Well, a group calling itself, the Impact Team, has dumped on the Internet, personal and financial information of approximately 33 million ( as in 33,000,000) or Ashley Madison clients. When doing so, they suggested that wives might find their hubbie's info there, but that an affair might not have taken place. Why? Simply because there were approximately 5 times as many men as there were women on the site. (But, that could
simply mean that their men were bi-sexual or closeted gay. Or, that a single woman might have had affairs with countless men! Or, that they simply had 'no takers'.)
Washington, D.C. had the highest number of users! Let me repeat that! Washington, D.C.. had the highest number of users!
So, I wonder how many of the very conservative, 'moral majority', 'family values' politicians, aides, lobbyists, and law enforcement folks were doing a 'wink, wink', 'call me', on this site! But, lest we forget the more rural or liberal areas of our country, Pittsburgh was in the top 5 of major cities with Ashley Madison members, with New York and Boston, not far behind. Military emails were among those revealed, as well.
So, what should a wife or husband do, if they discover that their betrothed had decided to have a fling or more serious relationship, without them? That all depends...
#1 Would divorce be your favorite choice, even after you calmed down 'a tad'? What of the children, if any? Finances? Religious beliefs regarding divorce? #2 Would you require them to be tested for venereal diseases? (A wise option, in my opinion.) #3 Would you automatically change the locks? And, max out the credit cards? (Not a wise choice, for safety and legal reasons, without first consulting the police/a lawyer.) #4 Would you decide to try talking it out? (A wise choice, in my eyes!) #5 Would you wish to maim them where 'it counts'? (Not a wise decision, regardless of how tempting the idea might prove itself to be.) #6 Would you alert the children, before they learned about it from classmates or neighbors? (Depending upon the kids and their ages, a resounding 'Yes', I would think.) #7 Would you alert family? Yours and theirs? (Yes, but only after speaking with your spouse and not telling the overly-protective brother/dad.)
#8 Would you try to verify that they actually did sign up with Ashley Madison? As opposed to they began the process but never consummated the affair. Or, that someone else used their email address. (Think of identity theft.)
#9 Would you give them a big hug and a kiss? Because you were happy that they sought affection, sex, adventure, and more, from someone else, thus leaving you alone? Or, because you were also a member? Or, because you would like to explore an 'open marriage'? (If any of these would make you happy and the two of you discuss discretion, and safe sex, then you are adults. But think this through carefully.) #10 Would you seek professional help? From a marriage counselor, religious leader, or... ? (A very wise decision for many people in this situation.)
Probably the best advice that I could lob your direction, is to count to one hundred and try your best to communicate your thoughts and feelings. But in a civilized manner. Whether or not you believe that your husband or wife deserves that treatment. In the end, you must do what you think best. Not what I, your family, best friend, religious leader, neighbor, or pundits say that you should do. It's your life! Do the best that you can.
Shopping For School Clothes - An Opportunity For You To Show Your Parenting Chops
Back-to-school shopping can be a joy or a nightmare. Sometimes both.
And, especially with tweens and teens, the experience can be especially trying. This is where you as a parent get to help set examples for them. You show them that you are a parent who is responsible for setting appropriate limits. You might even get to hear those incredibly painful words 'I hate you!'. (More on that one, later.)
Girls get to see, far too often, TV stars dressing in clothing that not so long ago would have been relegated to women in their 20's and older. Although they have yet to enter puberty or are still in their adolescence, they see in all media and in school and on the streets, others whose attire would be more fitting for a mature woman.
Not to be sexist, there are boys whose jeans appear to have been molded on them.
With hormones raging, along with great curiosity, and peer pressure, do you really believe that your children should be wearing clothes that essentially invite sexual attention, before they are mature enough to know what should be done with it?
Some parents are afraid to say 'No' because they want to be their child's friend more than their parent. It's often the easy route to take. Less confrontation.
Yet, your primary responsibility is to teach your children many things. Including what is appropriate and what is not, for given situations. And, as a parent once said, "I knew that I was a success when my child said those hurtful words: I hate you. - I knew that I was not simply rubber-stamping every decision and desire that they had, regardless of the appropriateness and potential for problems."
Others of you wish that your parents had let you wear such clothing. So you decide to live out your fantasies through them. - Not a good idea.
Perhaps your son or daughter has a better and sexier physique than you had or currently have. Again, be a parent, more than a buddy, at this age.
Then, there are some of you who are rather proud of how you look when wearing revealing or sexy clothing. That can be fine! But, you are an adult, already. They have yet to 'get there'. Allow them to get there, at a slower pace than they probably want.
She! Want to know a secret? Some of your kids do not want to wear these clothes. But they feel pressure from you, or classmates, or 'society', or the media. And, they are holding their breath, figuratively speaking. Hoping that you will not allow them to get these items.
Finally, I remember reading about a group of parents whose daughters went to a high school where they did not have a dress code per se. However, if a female came in without a bra on, or with a very low cut top, or a halter top, they would be sent down to the female gym instructor who would loan them an oversized shirt to wear during the school day, rather than send them home to change and miss class time. The school system
knew that otherwise, boys and some teachers would be apt to become distracted. Whether or not that should be the case, 'hormones are hormones'. These mothers actually sued the school system, citing the school's depriving their daughters of a 'freedom of speech' when it came to their dress.
Step up! Show your children that you care about how they present themselves and how others see them. Help them to arrive at their own style, by offering them choices. Or by not shooting down everything that they pick out. (Within reason.) - In years to come, they will hopefully thank you. And, if not, you can still feel that you did your best. (No parent is perfect. Remember that!)
(Whether you agree or disagree with me, I would like to hear from you. So, please contact me at: Russ@DontOverlookTheObvious.com If your comments are used, the names that you use in the email will not be used.)
"You Always Do That, So Why Deny It?"
We know that our spouse follows certain predictable habits. They leave pantyhose hanging on the shower rod. They miss the hamper. Lights get left on. Doors are unlocked. Food forgotten on the kitchen counter to the delight of flies or pets.
Yet, as predictable as these might be, are there not those 'rare times' when you are guilty of these or similar acts? Come on! 'Fess up'!
Too often, we jump down the throat of our husband or wife when we discover these self-proclaimed 'sins'. The problems resulting from this are several.
First, there are actually occasions when someone else did these things. Perhaps you, perhaps a child or even a guest in your home. It's one thing to know that you are a slob or forgetful. It's a far different matter to know that you are innocent but still bear the brunt of your spouse's wrath.
Perhaps worse, is the feeling that one gets knowing the person whom they share bodily fluids and a home, will not believe them. That cut can run deep and take a long time to heal. For some, the reaction is to strike back at the one who hurt them. (Not right, but a somewhat natural reaction.)
Believing that our loved one is guilty of not only lying about their behavior, but of trying to blame someone else, eats away at our trust in them. These feelings of a type of betrayal can linger and show in our becoming distant.
Then, if and when we do discover that our partner was, in fact, innocent of the 'crime', do we apologize for our behavior towards them? Or, do we brush off the thought of doing that because we can rationalize things by saying to ourselves that 'they usually are the responsible party'. Therefore, we were completely justified in our own reactions.
The problem is that we were not. And, if we expect our spouse to own up to their misdeeds, in the future, then we need to do so, in the present. - Make sense?
Tween/Teen Dating and 'Cool Parents'
No, it is not cute! -- It is not what 'everyone' allows! -- And, yes, there are high enough odds of something going very wrong!
I'm talking about allowing your Tween and young Teen having a boyfriend or girlfriend. And, allowing them to believe that the 'perks' of having such a person in their life, applies to them at their still tender age. -- Yeah! I know: "Tender age? Come on! Kids today are a lot more savvy than when we were young. And, they are a lot more mature than we were."
Well, I beg to differ with you. Yes, children these days have been exposed to a lot more sexually-charged media and messages than when you or your parents were young. But that is not the same thing as being more 'savvy'. And, they are definitely, not a lot more mature. They're too young! They are still developing. Brains, body, and, yes, emotionally & spiritually.
Face it! It doesn't take much for kids to have sex. And for it to backfire. Hormones do rage. Tweens believe that sex without having intercourse isn't really sex or dangerous. Heck! Some still believe that the guy can 'pull out' before ejaculating and avoid getting the girl pregnant. Or, that condoms are foolproof. Or any other number of myths that even some of you parents believe!
What do you think is likely to happen when 2 kids are 'dating' and ask to spend time behind closed doors? Or in that older friend's parked car? And, yes, they could 'do it' anywhere, but why would you want to make it easier for them? Do you really believe that they would stop at mere kissing or petting?
Peer pressure aside from the date's pressure can be enormous.
By the way, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in a study, found that approximately one in four girls between the ages 14 and 19 had one or more of these sexually transmitted diseases (STDs): Chlamydia, herpes simplex virus Human Papillomavirus (HPV), and trichomonias. Boys are not immune from having an STD. Far from it!
How about the emotional tolls that premature dating can have?
Well, one only has to look at the incredibly high suicide rate among Tweens and Teens. They often can't quite accept or deal with or a breakup. Especially if they had sex for the first time with this person who might have pledged love or no consequences to a casual hookup. -- They can feel as though their whole world has exploded or imploded upon them. And, don't believe for a moment that they are likely to confide their pain in you. They might, but many will not. And, is that a risk that you should really
Very religious children might face serious conflict over any premarital sex that they have. And wonder whether or not they will be damned for such an act. They are highly unlikely to approach their clergy regarding that question, unless the religious leader has expressed an 'open mind'.
Summer is upon us. And, kids are going to have more free time on their hands. So, promote group activities. Ones where they will be unlikely to have group 'splits' where couples go and do as they please.
Talk about these things with other parents. Put any awkwardness or embarrassment that you have, on a shelf somewhere.
Pregnancy, an STD, and depression is not what you really want your child to write about when asked for the obligatory, 'How Was Your Summer Vacation?'.
BTW, monitor their social media and smartphones. You do have a right to spotcheck. At least for the general usage of such apps such as SnapChat. Sexting and bullying are too common.
Am I being an alarmist? No. Far from it. And playing 'Russian Roulette' with your child's future and life for the sake of being considered to be one of the 'Cool Parents', is far from cool.
(Whether you agree or disagree with me, I would like to hear from you. So, please contact me at: Russ@DontOverlookTheObvious.com If your comments are used, the names that you use in the email will not be used.)
After The Shock
You might have suspected it, but you were still bowled over! By what? Your spouse's admission that they had sex with someone else.
You might have yelled, certainly (?) cried... You had talks and some time for reflection. But, now what, now that you decided to try to make the marriage last?
Well, first things first. Your wife or husband has to get tested for any sexually transmitted diseases. It doesn't matter whether or not they had intercourse only once or they had oral or anal sex. They still need to be tested. You need to know this before any promises of exchanging bodily fluids, in the future.
Then you need to know whether or not they intend to resume extracurricular activities. (Yes, this needs to be addressed, again, assuming you already did this. And, if you didn't then I advise rethinking the whole commitment thing before going forward with remaining together.)
Next come the ground rules. And, you get to lay them down. They certainly need to get a say in them, but, you get the absolute veto power, here. If you expect your relationship to last, then you do need to truly understand what your real and imagined role in there straying was. (The odds are that unless you married an absolute creep, there was a reason that involved you, to some extent.)
What if you wish to remain together, but no longer share physical affection or sexual intimacy? (And, remember that these 2 are not necessarily the same thing!)
Well, you not only both need to agree to this, you need to realize that the odds are not going to be great that they will be willing in the long run to forego these. Even if they sincerely intend to follow through on the promise.
Seeking professional help whether through a marriage counselor or member of the clergy, could be extremely helpful. The operative word, here, being 'could'. For if either one of you (or both of you) cannot buy into this person's ability to help the marriage and, as important, their ability to be objective, then don't bother with this idea. At least not right now. You stand to make matters worse. (Especially if you or
your spouse believes that the therapist will be gender biased.) Likewise, as obvious as it shouldbe, the counselor should be trained and experienced in dealing with marital and sexual matters.
From here, take things slowly. Your wound is apt to be deep. And, if they are truly repentant, their guilt and pain must also be substantial. (Yes, they are entitled to these feelings!)
Hopefully, you both can make your marriage work past this. But, remember that this will never go away, 100%. You might be able to 'put it away on a shelf' somewhere in your psyche's library of memories. But, it will likely be opened up, from time to time.
Oh, and what if the affair really didn't bother you? What, then? Well, I'll save that topic for another day.
Affectionate! To Be It Or Not To Be It! That IS The Question...
AFFECTION! -- That infamous 'They' claim that every human craves and even needs physical touch. In fact some suggest that without it, babies develop issues with bonding. Which leads to intimacy problems when they grow up to be adults. (At least if a lack of touch continues.)
Touch is linked with better health, as in a better level of blood pressure.
Surprising to many is that your spouse... Your lover... Does not like you touching them in a non-sexual manner.
Why do you seem to turn them off? Why do they appear to even cringe as your hand moves in for contact.
Well, there are a multitude of possible reasons for their reactions. So, let's take a look at some of the common ones.
#1 They were abused. Either as a child or an adult. Perhaps as both. Therefore touch is a 'scary thing'. For the others who abused them probably expressed feelings or statements of love as well.
#2 Touch, with you, or others was almost always a prelude to sex. And, they simply are not in the mood. Or, they simply desire affectionate touching with no other motivation or 'endgame' in sight.
#3 You're clumsy at it. (Gulp!!) Face it. Not everyone gives great back or neck rubs. And, Some guys' or gals' hands are rough.
#4 The reverse of #2. They equate affection with sex-to-come. They don't want to get revved-up only for you to want to leave the touching 'session' at that. And, cold showers are not always an option. (Or, a substitute for wanting you!)
#5 Private gestures of affection would be fine with them. However, they abhor public touch. They equate it with a lack of privacy, intimacy, or respect.
#6 Similar to #1, you have abused them. And, they don't trust you to respect them, on a number of levels.
#7 You cheated. So they are not ready to trust you, again.
#8 They are having an affair. The change in feelings toward you can influence their wanting to touch you, as before. Or, their guilt is preventing them from touching you.
#9 No particular reason for it. At least not one that is easily explained. Some folks are more touchy-feely than others are.
#10 They no longer have romantic feelings for you. Love can ebb and flow. And sometimes it dies. You should bring it up and see where the conversation goes.
Affection is important in a marriage even if each spouse has different expectations and needs. Aside from discussing the matter, going the extra mile in pleasing the other person is simply part of a healthy relationship. But this does not mean that you always do what you do not wish to do. Simply that you each try to respect and please the other person. You might be surprised at how good you do feel, whether being physically
affectionate or withholding it, simply because you made your partner happy.
YOU ASKED FOR IT, YOU GOT IT... NOW, THE THING IS DEALING WITH IT
Human nature being what it is, many-most people want to have things go their way.
That often means not having to compromise or give in.
Well, too often both men and women marry someone who seldom questions them and will pretty much do as they please. -- This seems to work well for a while, but then one of 2 situations frequently arises.
The first is that the husband will often do as his mother bids. And you, as his wife, find yourself in a tug-of-war with her. You will likely complain that your spouse is a 'momma's boy', but you did choose someone who would do as the woman in their life dictated.
Your wife might be a 'drag doll' who like their mother agreed with everything their husband said and did. You find yourself bored with someone that lacks spunk or their own initiative.
Secondly, you might grow tired of someone with no backbone and stated desires of their own. Their sex appeal will likely diminish, as well.
In any event, you might find your attention wandering, if you catch my drift.
Bottom-line, be careful when choosing a mate. Think long and hard as to whether or not you foresee yourself being happy and content with someone who fits either of these descriptions. If you already made 'a mistake', then try to find ways to work with and around the situation. Divorce without each of you putting in some good amount of effort to find an agreeable 'compromise' should not be your primary move. Perhaps a marriage counselor would be helpful, here. Certainly non-confrontational/non-demeaning conversations with your spouse would be in order. (And, who knows? They might have some issues regarding you which need addressing!)
Note: If you would like to share your experiences with this type of situation, please email them to Comments@DontOverlookTheObvious.com . (We will not publish actual names, if we use your 'story'.)
PARENTS: An Important Message
As a parent, you dread the thought of losing your child.
Well, yet another teen has taken their life. This time, one of Everybody Loves Raymond's on-screen sons, Sawyer Sweeten. A young man, weeks from his 29th birthday. Suicide claims a substantial number of teenage lives, yearly.
Please read the following with your teen, if you wish to. You can find additional, relevant material at www.TeensImproveYourLife.com
You might have watched the show Everybody Loves Raymond on TV Land, Nick At Night, or on another network. - The 3 Barone children were in fact, actual siblings. And, many of us watched them grow up during the series' long run.
Well, Sawyer Sweeten, one of the twin boys, weeks shy of his 20th birthday, killed himself.
Why Sawyer chose to end his life is a mystery to us. But, the reality is that I wish he could have known that life does go through phases and that life does get better. That there is always someone else who hurts more than you do and needs to see you as an inspiration. That suicide is not the answer and it leaves great, everlasting pain to those who love you.
Most everyone has felt hopeless, alone, unloved, or desperate at one or more times in their life. Bullied or sick or heartbroken or rejected. Taunted and teased and ugly, stupid, or simply unloved. Some of us have been depressed or full of anger for which we had no 'safe' outlet to express it. We might have cried ourselves to sleep, only to awaken in the morning with the same or worse sadness and pain in our mind, heart, and soul. Perhaps we felt abandoned by G_d and family and friends. Speaking of friends, they
might have betrayed us or we at least believed that they did so. Embarrassment over our looks or awkwardness at our lack of physical or intellectual prowess... Abused by family or strangers, too ashamed or scared to let someone in authority know... Tired of being afraid of the bullies at school, in your neighborhood, or at home... Doubting that you will ever 'succeed at life', whatever that means... Drugs or alcohol might have taken a stranglehold on you and you feel helpless and ashamed and scared... Speaking
of 'scared', you might have had sex too soon and been dumped by the person who promised to always love you, especially if you satisfied the hunger of hormones raging in them, you, or both of you. You might be pregnant or had an abortion or be the father of another's child. An authority figure might have taken advantage of their position of trust and made you (falsely) believe that no one would believe you if you spoke of it. You have been on a streak of 'bad luck', to put it mildly, for such a long time. You
dropped out of school and are afraid of what choices you will have to 'make it in life'. Illness might have taken a toll on you. You are gay, or bi-sexual, or feel that you are not the gender that others see you as being... Social media has taken a far too great a role in your life. And the strangers whom you call 'Friends', you discover are truly not that. Or...
If you know of someone who is hurting, please share the following resources (and these are but a few of those available) with them/let a responsible adult know. Regardless of any of the above or other problems that you face, please... Please... Do not give up on yourself!!
There are resources to help see you through this period, even if family, school, or church, is not the answer or comfortable for you to share these issues with.
Sometimes, I feel the need to stress parenting, here, because it plays such a large role in not only family dynamics, but in the relationship that you and your spouse has.
Although it has largely passed already, Spring Break and its effects can linger well into the summer and beyond. College students are on the cusp of full-fledged adulthood. While many of them are independent financially and otherwise, many others still rely upon you folks for money, advice, a home when the semesters end, and...
Spring Break not only poses financial concerns for parents (airfare, food, clothing, hotel, spending money... ) but it can be stressful, beyond belief. If you have a daughter, you worry about sexual activities, including rape, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases. If you have young men, you worry about these as well, albeit with some differences. And, regardless of gender, you know that drugs, booze, and peer
pressure flow far too freely.
Before discussing their plans, you and your husband/wife should try to come to a consensus as to what locations would be acceptable, the amount of money you would provide, if any, and other ground rules. Then, try to have a mature and calm discussion with them. If things begin to get out of hand, let your young adult know that you will be willing to discuss matters again, when everyone can behave in an adult fashion.
Let them know that if things do get out of hand during their adventure that you will be there for them. (And, no, this does not mean that you will automatically approve of their behavior. There is a difference.)
Finally, let them see of what can happen during a typical Spring Break.
Just The Way You Are
Billy Joel had a great hit with 'Just The Way You Are'. And, many couples put that on mixed tapes, requested it from jukeboxes or bands, and had it played during their wedding reception.
Yet, far too many spouses feel pressured, internally, to change their looks. Not because of anything their spouse has said, but because they feel uncomfortable in their own skin. Or, they look at the beauties or hunks on TV or in the movies and wish that they looked as good as they do. Or, they watch their husband or wife stare at the waitress or lifeguard and know that they undoubtedly fantasize about having a lover
who looked like them. Well, let's take each of these thoughts, one-at-a-time, shall we?
#1 Even models and movie stars will tell you, sincerely, that they often doubt their own looks. If you need proof of that, then Google something like 'Stars who doubt their looks'. Pay attention to interviews where they express their concerns. And, if that is not sufficient to convince you, then ask yourself why they go 'under the knife'. Plastic surgery is not only for them to get better gigs, but for their own insecurities.
#2 Now, how about wanting to look as great as the stars do? Well, look closely the next time you see a star in person or in a magazine where there was no Photoshopped photos. (For the latter, you might have to check out a tabloid for a true candid photo. ) Their ears might be too large, breasts not matching in size, the beginning of a beer belly or double-chin... They cover up much of these 'imperfections' with hair styling,
over-sized blouses, or facial hair. None of the sex symbols have perfect faces or bodies upon close examination. Not one of them.
#3 Staring and even fantasizing about others is extremely common. And as long as your spouse does not act upon it, I would not worry. For it's you whom they want to make love with and to stare across a breakfast table from. I remember an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where Debra sees Ray get excited when around a woman with large breasts. So, she surprises him after a business trip with what appears to be
breast enhancements done while he was away. She eggs-him-on seeking compliments for them, and he obviously is excited by this change! Then, she bursts his bubble by revealing that her enlargement was due to stuffing tissues inside her sexy nightgown. She lays into him for wanting her to have actually done the surgery. Then, she cries explaining that her sagging breasts were 'working ones', as she breastfed their 3 children. Ray, in a rare moment of emotional sensitivity and sincerity, explains that he loves her
'just the way she is'. - The lesson? Well, I daresay most people if they had their druthers would not only be better-looking themselves, but might wish for some sort of cosmetic change in their lover. But, that doesn't mean that they are not madly in love with you or not turned on by you.
Obviously, if you have been letting yourself go physically, as many of us have, over the years, then there is nothing wrong with a proper diet and exercise regiment. But, plastic surgery will never make you 'perfect'. And as long as your spouse still loves you, then what's the big deal? Feel comfortable in your own skin.
I would love to hear from those of you who had plastic surgery or whose spouse did and what, if anything, changed. (If published, the names that you give in your description will not be used. Please email to: Comments@DontOverlookTheObvious.com .)
What Your Mother-In-Law Is Really Trying To Tell You:
Julie Hanks LCSW on KSL TV's Studio 5
Oftentimes, we get the best advice from those who have actually
experienced the situation that we face. Herein are some ideas.
Think them over and decide whether or not they would benefit
your own marriage/relationship.
Marriage Advice From Divorcees
Listen To Yourself Speak
While in a store, recently, I heard the conversation between a wife and her husband.
They were shopping for a major piece of furniture which they would both use. The wife repeatedly told her spouse that she wanted him to be equally pleased with the major purchase. However, they could not agree on the same style or comfort level.
The wife then suggested that they compromise and get something that they each found comfortable, but was probably not their favorite piece in the showroom. The man agreed. "Who wouldn't be happy with that?", I thought.
Well, she kept saying that she agreed there was a piece that each would probably find comfortable. But truth be told, but she wasn't really willing to get it. She really wanted the item that she found to be the most comfortable to her and which he did not like. At all.
Fascinated, I watched the interaction go back and forth for what appeared to be an eternity. In the final analysis, they bought what she, alone, liked. Even tough, until the last moment she told him that she wanted him to be happy with the purchase, as well. I couldn't help but feel badly for him, as I saw a look upon his face that spoke volumes: This was not the first time he had to pretend that he was satisfied
with her hollow promise.
So, here is my advice:Listen to yourself! Don't say what you do not mean! And, don't pretend that you are being fair when you know that you are not. Don't delude yourself into believing that your spouse doesn't know the difference or cares. Because one of these days, they are bound to say, 'Enough is enough', through words or actions. At that point, reconciliation might be too late.
Think about that.
Why Do Wives Cheat?
NOTE: This is one group of professionals' viewpoints.
Consider them and decide for yourself, if you believe they are accurate/with merit.
Shh! Just Listen!
Silence is golden. - How many of us have heard that many times during our life? Raise your hand (in your mind's eye).
Now, how many of us practice that in our marriage? On a regular basis? - Uh, oh! I daresay that the number of raised hands decreased, dramatically. Well, at least, we're being honest.
There are many instances during the course of a day or week, when the wisest thing is for us to listen to our spouse and not make any judgemental comments, or any comments, whatsoever. They simply wish to share something that happened during their day. Or, a point of view after watching a news story. Or...
But, you say that in a good marriage, there is frequent and open conversation. Yes, that is true. But 'frequent' does not equal 'always'. Just as we know that someone who has lost a loved one does not often need or want more from you than your quiet presence, the same applies to our wives and husbands, on a frequent basis.
They do not want us to be judgemental. They do not want to be corrected. They simply wish for you to listen.
If you practice this, then an amazing thing will likely happen. Actually, multiple, amazing things! First of all, you will find them probably more relaxed than when they began to speak. They will look at you with a different sense of warmth. And, when you need to do the same, speak without the other's commentary, they will likely return the favor.
Of course, I am not advocating that you offer no feedback when the topic calls for it. How will you know what type of reaction is called for? Well, most of you will feel it in your stomach or heart. Some of you will require some trial and error. Regardless, the primary message here is that there are times when you need to simply be an empathetic 'sounding board or 'non-judgemental partner'.
Giada De Laurentiis announced that her 20+ year relationship with Todd, her husband, was ending. She did not give specific reasons, that I am aware of. Yet, an interview that she gave to Redbook Magazine back in 2011 might reveal clues. In it, she said:
"I think it can be hard for any man to sometimes be upstaged by his wife. So when I'm home, I work very hard to be Todd's wife and Jade's mother. I have no problem going back to those traditional roles. I try to be Giada, the young girl that he met 20 years ago and fell in love with. All men want to be treated like kings in a relationship, and I think if women don't indulge that sometimes, their men are likely to stray and look for someone
who can give that to them. It's simple. It's not brain surgery."
There is nothing inherently wrong about a woman wanting 'It All', including success in the world of work. But, if you wed your spouse before reaching that pinnacle or even broaching the subject of the aspiration, realize that they agreed to marrying you based upon certain expectations. So that if the situation changes greatly, there will be some men who will be proud of and excited for you, while there will be some husbands
who will feel 'less then'.
Now, if your husband falls into the latter category, you could say, "Tough s__t! He should love the fact that I am so successful and provide so much money for our family! This is his problem and he needs to get over any crap that he feels."
But bear in mind that just as you do not want him to dictate to you, how you should feel, you need to respect his state of mind.
The other thing (gulp!), is that he married you expecting a certain type of relationship. And, as Giada expressed, above, if he is not periodically treated as someone special and 'manly' and 'important', he will likely have an affair, simply withdraw from you, or become passive-aggressive. None of which should please you. And, none of these should excuse his behaving those ways. Yet, they do explain them.
No, I am not suggesting that you should give up your career or that you should pretend that your success never took place. I am suggesting that you accommodate your spouse, just as you would want him to do for you, if the roles became reversed.
There is another 'trap' to be on the lookout for: One wherein you are now spending much time in a very different social and professional circle than you were used to. And temptation for you to stray can be great. Resist it!
As Giada said: "It's simple. It's not brain surgery."
Interfaith Marriage and Children
Interfaith marriages raise many issues, including which religion to raise the children. What follows simply one perspective. The primary point, I believe is that each couple Should discuss this matter before a marriage proposal, before deciding to try the process of having a child, and again, once a child is born. Each of these represent milestones when what was previously discussed and agreed upon might be very different from what each spouse now wishes.
Where To Spend The Holidays
Where to spend the Holidays? With your family or theirs?
One would imagine that this would not be a very difficult decision for couples to make. Yet, it often is.
You know! Your husband's or wife's folks do not particularly like you, or you they. Same thing for the other in-laws. So, why should you have to tolerate tension during an otherwise festive & religious time?
Then, there is the matter of travel. Almost any distance to the in-laws' home is far too long/ expensive. (Even if your side lives closer to you than their's does.)
And, there is the issue of children getting cranky. Or, not getting along with cousins, or aunts, or uncles...
Well, I hate to burst your bubble! But, you have an obligation to balance time spent during the holidays.
Yes, you can offer to have the celebrations all at your home, but that poses problems with siblings. And, face it: Many grandparents would love to have you at their home instead of the other way around.
So, here is my recipe for solving the problem.
Rotate. - That simple! And, yes, there will be whiners and complainers. But that is the fair thing to do.
Now, even if you or your spouse is sincere about not caring where the day is spent, you still need to consider the in-laws. That simple. If 1 side truly wishes to spend time with you at your humble abode, that does not mean that the other side needs to.
And, it should go without saying that if there are many, many miles between you and family, plus the cost would be a hardship, then let those folks know that. Perhaps they will be willing to help out financially. Or, to arrange for holiday time every 2 or 3 years.
Another exception would be if a parent or sibling is dying or gravely ill. Then, flexibility is in order.
All of this might seem 'Obvious', but trust me, I know that it is not so, for many folks.
Do not bully or guilt-trip your spouse so that they will agree with your position.
Finally, remember that the 2 of you need to work things out as a team, putting aside any selfishness that might color your respective inputs.
Enjoy the Holiday Season!
Over-Sharing With Others
Respect your spouse!
So, you're probably thinking that this is a 'given'. What more could I possibly add to the apparent meaning of this phrase. Well, you know that I am seldom at a loss for words.
Respecting very personal information regarding your husband or wife is something far too many of you overlook. Not to be mean or hurtful. Or to embarrass them. You simply don't give it much thought. That is until they feel violated. Huh? What do you mean?
We tend to share a lot of info with our best buddies, siblings, even parents. But, there are some subjects where you need to tread very carefully. For example, if your spouse has a dreaded fear of clowns or walking on sidewalk cracks, your sister does not need to know that. If your wife was molested as a child, that isn't something that you need to share with the guys at the bar. Same thing goes for their past. If they were a virgin until marriage, had an abortion as a teenager, or used to be the subject of bullies' beatings, when in junior high... It truly is not these folks' business. Sexual preferences and 'hang-ups' should also be taboo topics.
"What's the big deal? My folks and I share lots of things."
The problem is that first and foremost your partner-in-life would not really want you spreading intimate details of their life. Then, once you say these things, you cannot take them back. And, those who heard you will never look at your wife or husband in the same manner again. Period!
Now, I do make some exceptions. If there is abuse or addiction going on and you feel that you cannot yet speak with the authorities or a counselor about it, then perhaps the next best thing is to share with a friend or relative. Someone who might help you to get out of the situation.
Otherwise, I am hard-pressed to think of any good that would ultimately come from divulging very personal information regarding your spouse.
Here's a rule-of-thumb to use when you are tempted to reveal intimate information regarding your husband or wife: If the roles were reversed, would you be happy that they shared the information with someone else? Especially someone close to either one or both of you?
Stop and think about it for a minute. Or two. Or even into the next day.
The 'C' Word And An Often-Ignored Aspect In A Marriage
The 'C' word. Strange, how that one letter can instill fear, sadness, overwhelming grief to so many.
Yes, cancer is absolutely terrible. Yes, there have been great strides made, over the years. Many more people are diagnosed early enough to receive treatments that can result in remission or 'simply' an extension of one's life.
But, lest we forget, the number of those diagnosed with breast cancer is similar to those diagnosed with prostate cancer. Thus, cancer does not really discriminate among the genders.
Cancer will certainly change the dynamics in a marriage. On so many levels. The emotional, financial, and even spiritual. And, on the physical level. So many women who have had mastectomies have felt 'less than sexy' (although they still are). Men often equate impotence with a lack of masculinity (another untruth).
There are financial counselors available to help couples plan for medical needs. There are clergy willing to assist with the spiritual crisis that often accompanies a diagnosis of the disease. And, there are plenty of therapists and marriage counselors who are more than willing to help you each work on daily issues. Family therapists will involve children and other family members. So, yes, you should, you need to avail yourself of the assistance that is out there.
But, the sexual needs. The often drop-off in physical intimacy. All too often, these issues go unaddressed. But, there is no need for embarrassment or shame. Feelings too often too painful for a spouse to address. And the healthy spouse can be at a loss for how to deal with their own fears and feelings resulting from their loved ones' crisis. How do they confess even to a therapist or clergyman that they no longer wish to have sexual relations with their lover. Or, that they might desire to keep up the passion, but are afraid of somehow hurting their spouse during lovemaking. Or, they do not wish to feel as if they are pressing sex upon their wife or husband,
who might not be interested in it, any longer.
For some cancer patients, physical intimacy can be life-affirming. A reminder that they are still alive and might be able to get this into remission, coming out of the tunnel on the side of life. For some spouses, sex might feel like making love to a soon-to-be-corpse. Others might be easily able to adjust to their 'new normal'.
Don't presume to fully understand your husband or wife's feelings regarding this. There is much room for incorrect assumptions.
If you are one of those who is struggling greatly with this issue, I implore you to seek a meeting with a professional. Or, even a support group. (The latter can be both a benefit and a problem, depending upon those involved and where they are in terms of the matter, at any given moment.)
Again, let me reinforce the fact that cancer is a major blow for any couple. But, not one that cannot be recovered from.
If you have dealt with this matter, either as the one with cancer or the spouse of one with it, and you wish to share some of your feelings and how you addressed it (or not), please email to Comments@DontOverlookTheObvious.com . (We will not publish actual names, if we use your 'story'.)
Yes, Couples Can And Do Marry For 'Ever'
Divorces seem, oh, so very common, these days.
They're covered in the news, entertainment sections, gossip pages, reality TV, movies, and just about anywhere.
The fact of the matter is that divorce is very commonplace. Yet, so are marriages that last. They simply don't often shout their accomplishment from rooftops.
The secret to a happy and lasting marriage? In addition to 'Love'?
Well, fans of this site and the book, Improve Your Marriage - Don't Overlook The Obvious, know that I believe that the small things and the large things and everything in-between all matter. That balancing each of your wants and needs without actually keeping score matters. That compromise and knowing how and when to argue or otherwise disagree matters. That life together is not always perfect, but that's okay! That ultimately, you care more about their immediate and longterm happiness than your own. (But,
you still want them to feel that way about you.) That paying attention to 'The Obvious' is a huge factor.
And, the folks in these 2 videos share some of what made for their lasting marriage.
Ultimately, a lasting and overall happy life together is the culmination of many factors, because marriage, as with each spouse, is always in a state of flux.
So, think about these thoughts and what the following lovebirds have to say...
Are Children Raised In A Household With Married Parents Better Off... ?
There was an article discussing whether or not a family where there were married parents living together was the best choice for hoping to raise children who are better off than those who live in other family arrangements.
The conclusion was 'Yes', but not because of the marriage, but because married parents tend to have better parenting skills and higher incomes coming from 2 working parents, the parents would have more time to spend with the kids, and they might have a higher education level.
Well, I hope that the author can accept my disagreeing with the conclusion for a number of reasons. So, here goes:
#1 The study upon which the author based her conclusions was one by Kimberly Howard andRichard V. Reeves at the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution. Their research, in turn, was based on the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth which began collecting data at the end of 1996. (From approx. 9,000 youth, 12 -16 years of age.) Data was collected periodically/updated
until September 2006. By 2005, they had key data elements on only approx. 70% of the initial students. Why is this important? Simply because the sample size was not huge and diminished greatly over time. Also, American life and culture changed dramatically from 1996 to 2006 (which is almost a decade ago).
#2 How many parents in a 2-parent family, are working 2 jobs out of necessity? Especially if one parent has child support payments to make, there are health issues, they are sending children to private schools, or the cost of living is really high where they are.
#3 Did their sample have many married parents who were not college educated?
#4 Did they examine a large enough sample of married couples where 1 parent stayed home? Especially if they believed in the 'traditional' family lifestyle where it is believed mothers should remain at home? (By the way, I believe that each couple needs to decide the working arrangements best-suited for their particular family. There is not a 1-size-fits-all,
best way to live.)
#5 What about unmarried, stable 2 parent families?
#6 There are plenty of low and middle income families with a married couple who still manage to raise children who are well off. There are also plenty of families with high incomes and parenting skills which are dysfunctional. (Perhaps one parent is abusive , drinks too much or... )
I could go on and on.
The article's author appears to conclude that it is less the marriage and more the income and parenting skills that matter when hoping to have a child who is better off than other children.
Yes, other living arrangements can also produce well-adjusted, successful, and happy children/adults. But the odds of these 'positive' criteria taking place are more likely to occur within a family that has married, committed parents than with a single parent family, for example. (I am not knocking single parents. Simply making a 'generalization' that I believe is valid.)
While there are always 'exceptions to the rule' and countless variables to take into consideration, I still believe that the optimum family life for a child includes married parents.
Too often, we give too much thought to something that our wife or husband said or did. In other words, we over think matters.
While it is important that we focus on words and actions, the reality is that we can make assumptions regarding the motivation behind them. And, far too often, we are incorrect.
Want an example? Well, for starters, how about when your spouse either brings you flowers for no apparent reason or they buy you that tool you've eyeing, or...
Images of them having an affair and wanting to assuage any guilt that they might have, comes to mind. Or, the tool or vacuum might be a not too subtle hint that they haven't fixed what they promised to or that they do a lousy job cleaning the house. Yet, the gifts might simply be an acknowledgement that you should have proper equipment when doing your things around the house. The flowers might result from realizing that you deserve them for simply being their partner in life.
How about conversations? Do you tend to read things into them that are not truly, there? I know that I have, at times. And, do I ever regret it. Plus, I feel extremely foolish. Sometimes, often times, words do not have a hidden meaning or agenda.
I guess that the crux of this issue comes down to trust. Do we believe that our husband or wife is honorable? Loves us? Has our best interest in mind? If so, then stop second-guessing everything they say or do. If you don't trust them, then why are you still married to them?
Very little good comes from distrusting your partner. Or reading hidden agendas into everything that they do. Would you like it? Please don't tell me that you do it simply to get back at them for doing it to you. 'Cause you are not 10 or 16. Act your age.
By the way, please don't bring up their little white lies. Because we all say them. At least, I have yet to meet anyone who hasn't, at some point in time. If you doubt me, check out the lyrics to this children's song that can easily resonate with adults. And, yes, a lie is still a lie. But, there are times
and places that call for them.
The bottom-line is this: Assumptions often get you in trouble. They can lead to fights, tense moments, lack of romance or other intimacy, ... And, they don't have a real positive purpose. So, knock it off! (If your spouse has earned your distrust, then you both better work on the issues or make that awful, yet occasionally necessary decision, to divorce.)
For The 'Empty Nesters' Among You
Okay. Your youngest child (who is now a Young Adult) has left home. Perhaps for college. Perhaps for their first big, full-time job. Perhaps to begin their life with a spouse of their own!
Whatever the reason, you and your wife or husband are now 'Empty Nesters'.
So, now what?
For some of you, this is the moment that you have fantasized about, for years. For others of you, there is much dreaded anticipation of what lies ahead for your marriage.
Look. This will not a major problem for those of you who remembered, while the kids were growing up, that you were more than parents... You were spouses, lovers, and friends.
But, for those of you who chose... Yes, it was a choice, despite what you might have wanted to believe... For you who let yourself drift apart from your husband or wife... You simply have to court one another, again. - That simple, in it's essence. You need to pay much attention to your Partner In Life. You need to learn what is currently important to them. In so many areas,
including, but not limited to
their personal interests. You need to rediscover one another sexually. That mindset is needed for you to get out of any sexual ruts that you might be in. And, that's assuming that you have remained lovers, while the kids grew up. You need to remember that each one of you has grown and changed over the years. But, that does not mean that you should simply ditch the other and begin a new life with someone else, or that you have the right to not work on your marriage.
Remember that word, 'Commitment'. And, that other word, 'Love'. And, of course, 'Respect'.
Will all of this be easy for those of you who allowed yourselves to become simply roommates? No. But, is it worth the effort? Hopefully, the answer will be a resounding 'Yes'.
So, go for it! You each deserve it!
That 'Taboo' Topic: Suicide
Perhaps you are a parent (including step-parent), aunt, uncle, neighbor, teacher, minister, or... You might now or in the future come face-to-face with a someone, regardless of age, who is contemplating suicide. Even those whom we think 'has it all', such as Robin Williams, can face this 'dark way out'. Please help them to seek help. And, if it is you who is in that space, reach out.
Below are some resources for possible help. Life can get better! Everyone is special and loved.
Whether we were the bully or bullied. The guy or gal who joined in the harassing so that we remained 'cool' with our friends. The ones who hung back and watched with morbid curiosity; glad that we were not the one getting kicked or verbally beaten-up. The teen who simply didn't c are about anything that did not directly involve us. - The teacher or administrator who did nothing because of fear of lawsuits. Or, who truly had
no idea of what should be done.
And, bullying follows into the workplace. More on that, shortly. But first...
The other day, I spoke with a father whose son had refused to go to school. The teen was a geek, without friends outside of class, unless you counted his online gaming partners. My hunch is that the young man was being bullied or otherwise threatened. The pain and frustration in the dad's voice still haunts me. - And, it brought back memories of my own teen years. Where I grew up as a member of that neighborhood's racial and
religious minority. People watched my harassment and did nothing. That is until a buddy of some of these bullies,who also happened to be huge in size, came to my defense. And, you know what? This 'gentle giant' had more guts and heart than teachers, administrators, or peers did!
So, what's the point of this trip down my memory lane? Simply this:
We have all been part of the 'Bullying & Harassing' problem. One way or another. But we all could be like that gentle giant and do something.
YOUR SCHOOL RESPONSIBILITY
Whether or not you have children in school, you own this problem. Why? Because the bullies are the type to be vandals in your community. Or, to be the rude, loud, and obnoxious neighbors whom you detest. -- And, because those who are picked on, could someday be your grandchildren, or nieces or nephews, or... Or, they already are...
You need to let the schools know that this situation is not acceptable. That when adults see fights or threats, they need to act swiftly. And without cowardice, fearing lawsuits from the bullies' parents.
Administrators need to punish the bully differently than their victim, if the bully begins a fight and the other student is simply defending themselves.
Schools need to do more than have yearly 2 hour assemblies discussing the situation.
They need to utilize student-run skits and plays regarding bullying, harassment, and tolerance. - We need schools bringing in 'kids-now-adults' who can let the bullied know that life does get better. - We need schools to offer 'Life Skills' classes. Where they learn what is needed to survive and then some, in the real world of adulthood. We need to add books on 'Life Skills' to the summer reading lists.
THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER
Unfortunately, the Internet with all of it's wonder has also provided bullies with an incredibly harmful weapon. Facebook, Twitter, and countless other social network sites provide a powerful tool for spreading rumors and harassing innocent teens.
So that the summer vacation simply allows bullies more time and opportunities for getting off on making others' miserable. And, possibly, suicidal.
Your responsibility as a parent is to kick it up a notch! Safeguard your kids. Show them that you care. That you don't have to be a miserable authoritarian, but neither should you relinquish your responsibility and act as if you were your teen's buddy. Be a parent, first. Friend, second. - If your child is being a jerk, then call he or she on it. - Don't assume that girls aren't bullies. Some are.
BULLIES SOMETIMES GROW UP TO BE A BOSS OR CO-WORKER
Too many of us have had bosses who are really just adult versions of the 'mean kid' in school. They get off on finding fault with your work, even when the quality is there. Or, you have the co-worker who sets you up. Or takes credit for your work.
When that happens, show courage. If a talk with them doesn't get results, go to your union steward. If there is no union, then go to your bosses' boss. Or, your co-worker's supervisor.
Don't be the truly heroic police officer who tolerates their partner's harassment of minorities, youth, or others. It takes away from your 'badge's shine' - Stand up for your co-worker when you hear them being chewed-out over something they had not done.
The bottom line at work is that we are now adults. We need to stand up for ourselves and others. And, thus, set an example for our children.
Bullying has become more grotesque and destructive than it has ever been. And, it's up to us to speak out for those who cannot or who don't know how to!
We should not tolerate any more teen suicides. Apathetic or lawsuit-weary administrators. You need to contact the schools in your district. The parent-teacher organizations. The political powers that be, in your area.
As trite as it sounds, the bullies of today can grow up to be the 'work tyrants' of tomorrow. Unless we behave as grownups should. And, take a stand for those too weak to do so on their own.
It's only part of 'The Obvious'. The things we too often ignore or purposely choose to overlook.
You have the power to make a difference. Use it!
'Nuff said. Bullying doesn't take a vacation .
And we all own a part of the Bullying Phenomena.
Yup! - 'Bury The Past'
As much of a cliche as it sounds, there came a time when you should have buried your former spouse. Notice that I say 'came', past tense, because when you decided to propose or accept your current spouse's proposal, you should have already decided that your former spouse needed to be relegated to your 'former life'.
Perhaps you are a widow or widower. Their death might have come in the night and robbed you of a final goodbye... An opportunity for one type of closure. -- Or, their death might have been the third act of a tragic play. One wherein they suffered a terrible death. Whether by stroke, cancer, heart attack, murder, fatal car accident... The cause maters less than the all too vivid memories of suffering on everyone's part. Including
Divorce also robbed some of you of your fantasy marriage. And, whether or not it was due to another lover... An action that they wanted from you which you were not capable or willing to share with them... Or, simply that you outgrew one another. (A cliche that is based in reality, as most of them are!)
Regardless of why you are no longer with the other wife or husband, the fact of the matter is that you must not expect your new spouse to be like them... To call you that precious pet name or tilt their head, just so... They might be an intellectual and not a handyman... They might not be 'super-feminine' or the 'stud'... They don't have the 'tomboy way' about them or be that strong, yet sensitive, 'alpha male'. The fact of the matter is that no one would or could replace your former spouse.
It's funny how single parents re-marry and tell their children not to expect the new adult in the house to be like their birth mom or dad. Yet, they can secretly desire that very same new adult in the home to be like the former love of their life! (At least, be similar to them in ways that you want them to be.)
Corny, as it is, people are like snowflakes. No two are truly alike.
So, if you truly wish this new marriage to last as long as possible, then relegate your former love to the occasional memory. One that you probably should keep to yourself. (Or share occasionally with your children.) Photos can remain up, probably, as long as they are not in your bedroom and there are not many of them.
Don't make the new husband or wife attempt to compete with a ghost, 'real', or one imagined and separated only by earthly space. Favorite meals, hobbies, vacation spots... All should remain a part of your history, remembered, occasionally. Following is an example of this:
A not often spoken of episode of Friends had Rachel tell Ross that some other guy was a better, 'animalistic lover'. And when she realized that Ross' ego was badly hurt by this news, she attempted to correct matters by saying that he (Ross) was more gentle, tender, and the sex was beautiful with him. Unfortunately, once spoken, some words can never be taken back.
So, bury the past. - You can still 'visit the gravesite', occasionally. - But it is best done, on your own time.
"He flatters me! Unlike my husband... Plus, he makes me laugh. He'll buy me a coffee if he goes out for one and I'm stuck here... "
"Frank. She brushes up against me once in a while. I think it's on purpose. Either way, it's more contact than I have with my wife, most weeks. She admires me. Doesn't nag. And, it's all 'innocent flirting'.
Either of these sound familiar?
For some of you the answer is a resounding, "Yes!" And, for others, the answer is, "I should only be so lucky."
Adoring eyes gazing your way. Someone paying attention to you. Double entendres flitting back and forth. Rom-Com dialog. - Who wouldn't want to indulge in some 'innocent flirting'?
Problem is when that imaginary line gets crossed. Trust me, it will. Perhaps by a toe. Perhaps by a foot. Perhaps with 2 sets of lips leaving no space behind. But it will, in all likelihood.
All it takes for some folks is to have a terrible argument with your spouse. Then having a co-worker/semi-friend cozy up to you...
Sometimes you simply feel so under-appreciated by your partner-in-life. Always working, taking care of children or parents or pets... No time for a date or physical intimacy.
Regardless of the reason, trouble lies ahead. One of you is bound to mis-interpret the flirting. Reading too much or too little into it. Wanting more or less from one another. Then there is the danger that other co-workers or a supervisor observes what is going on and decides to separate you two. Perhaps with one of those fancy pink colored slips of paper. Or, you both cross the line so much that you resemble a cliche from the movies, with 2 hot and sweaty bodies enjoying the 'afterglow'.
While natural to want to revel in this flirtation, please try not indulge yourself. Odds are that someone will get hurt. And, it just isn't worth it!
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GREAT GIFT IDEA!Great for married couples! (As well as for those who are engaged!)
Making The Effort
"She wants me to jump through hoops, I tell you! Nothing I do is ever good enough. And, yeah. I know that I sound like a kid. But I do things my way, and what says that she has a better way? I take out the trash. I mow the lawn. I do the cars. But is that ever 'good enough' for the Queen? No! Of course not! I need to help out more around here, she says."
"Jeff is so unreasonable. He laid me out in lavender for not keeping the apartment clean enough. But with 3 kids, chauffering his mother around town, then schlepping the kids here, there, and anywhere, I think that he should be damn glad that I even prepare 'anything' for supper. And, he thinks that 30 seconds after the kids go to bed and the house is somewhat in order, I should be ready to jump his bones!
"She promised to stop nagging."
"He promised to stop screaming and spend more quality time with the children."
Okay. Odds are that either 1 or more of these conversations are familiar. From your upbringing, your current, immediate family, or a friend's sharing.
What we often ignore during courtship is that we each have differing views about many topics. Such as: How clean is clean? How much is too much to spend on vacation? The frequency of sexual relations. What should actually happen during sex? (As in positions, fantasies, conversations, aphrodisiacs.) How we handle frustration and anger. And...
Once you both make that commitment and marry... Unless you simply want to jump ship. You will each, hopefully, make an effort to please the other one.
The problem that often arises is that we seldom believe that our spouse has truly grasped the importance of what we seek from them. We expect a total acquiescence. A capitulation, to be blunt.
In other words, making an effort is really not good enough, in many instances. You expect them to ditch years, even decades of habits, desires, and their own expectations, so that you are satisfied and the home will have more 'peace'.
"What's wrong with that?", you ask, sincerely? "I make plenty of concessions to and for them."
The truth of the matter is that they are likely experiencing something very similar. They question your commitment to doing what matters to them.
So, how to and who determines what is a positive sign that you are making an effort? And how successful you are at it?
Reality for many of us is that the answer lies in how invested we are in the marriage, emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially... If you have 'lost that loving feeling' or lost respect for them or feel miserable, dreading the time of day when you/they come home from work, or you no longer feel passion when they touch you or gaze lovingly at you, then regardless of how much effort they have objectively made to change their behaviors for you, it will never be enough.
Conversely, if you make only a token effort to please them, the odds are that they will see through that facade, whether or not they verbally admit to it.
So, how do you two 'win'? 'Cause surely having these incompatibilities will only wear on your nerves, more and more, with each passing anniversary. The answer lies mostly in tweaking (not twerking) the old adage: Treat others as you would want to be treated.
Add to that the truly important piece of: How important is my demand/expectation in the scheme of things? Are they worth more to me than having this person in my life? How easy or hard have I made it for them to be satisfied and happy in our marriage? Can I accept that my efforts might not be sufficient for my partner-in-life? How big a deal would it be for me to 'step up my game' for their sake and that of our family?
Only you can (and they) can answer these questions.
I simply ask that you consider your responses, very carefully. Words cannot be erased as easily as with an eraser or a 'delete' key.
Happy Father's Day
In our society, far too often, Father's Day is somewhat of a second thought, after celebrating Mother's Day. Some of the feelings behind that are well earned. Others are not. Anyway, Happy Father's Day! (And I personally am blessed
with 2 incredible sons!)
The Father's Day Song
Heart Touching Father's Day Tribute
When Graduation Parties Divide A Household
Ah, the glorious moment that you each have been waiting for!
The day when your daughter or son graduates from high school. It's a turning point for all of you.
And, it should be a day of great joy. So, why is there so much tension and stress? Could it be that you disagree about graduation parties?
One of you firmly believes that your child is now an adult, whether or not they are 18 years old. The other truly believes that your offspring is still in that transition period between adolescence and full-blown adulthood.
These differences rear their ugly heads because you each have a dramatically different viewpoint regarding graduation celebrations, sponsored by you. (Or, another family, but more on that later.)
Let's pretend that Sam sees nothing wrong with a house party where controlled drinking is allowed. "Face it," he says. "They will drink booze anyway. So, isn't it better that we host the party and monitor how much they drink? We can take all of their car keys away from them, when they arrive. Then, if someone is too drunk to drive, one of us will drive them home or let them sleep
it off, here. So, what's your problem?"
Ju-Lee just doesn't understand why the guests can't all have fun with mock cocktails, non-alcoholic champagne, and other soft drinks. She worries that something 'bad' could happen.
Well, they each have valid points, to an extent. No, this is not double-talk.
The grads are truly apt to go off somewhere and drink. Probably drive, as well. The number of teens seriously injured or killed in alcohol-related accidents is far too high. Additionally, you don't know how 'loose' parents at another house would be. Perhaps they would let the 'kids' overindulge and they might get alcohol poisoning.
Ju-Lee worries that hormone raging teens might decide to get a little too 'frisky'. Someone might call 'rape' or worse yet, actually be raped. She and Sam cannot watch everyone, all of the time. Then what if someone is on medication and has a bad reaction to the booze. What would prevent a drunk teen from having an extra set of car keys with them and leaving the house when they wished to and while too inebriated to drive? It's not unheard of for there to be party crashers who might bring booze, unbeknownst to
the adults. Then, there are the 'social host' laws which mean that the parents of the party that allowed for underage drinking could be charged, face stiff fines, and have other penalties implemented.
While agreeing on principle with some of what Sam says, Ju-Lee makes better points. In Rhode Island, for example, there have been numerous instances of parents being charged under 'social host' laws. A former Providence Police Chief's party ended up getting way out of hand between alcohol and drugs. Then, if a grad leaves while under the influence and causes an accident, you could be held at least partially
liable for any injuries or damages. Of course there have been instances where sex got out of hand. Renting a house for the teens to party at, even with chaperones present, has not always worked out well. Last year, for example, the Maryland Attorney General's son was at a rented house for a graduation party. Over $50,000 in damages to the property and numerous photos/You tube videos depicting wild partying and drinking (allegedly) took place. Even with the AG visiting the party.
So, what is a parent to decide?
Well, I cannot make that decision for you. (Whew!) But, I can say that hosting a party where underage drinking is allowed opens everyone up to a high level of risk. A really high level!
Now, I did say that I would cover the option where your child wants to attend a party elsewhere. If it was my child, I would politely insinuate myself into being a guest, so that I could help to keep an eye on things.
Graduation parties are not as they were when we were young. (In my instance, back in horse and buggy days?)
Drugs are easier to come by. Teens can be on anti-depressants, ADHD meds, or other products which would not go well together with booze. Peer pressure is a huge factor to consider.
Although condoms are used by some 'more responsible' guys, we all know that they are not foolproof. And, that sometimes, guys do not accept 'No!' as an acceptable response to their overtures. This is not to imply that girls could apply a lot of pressure to a guy for sexual relations before he feels mature enough to 'indulge'.
Social media has led to numerous instances where hundreds of uninvited 'guests' appear. And parents can easily become overwhelmed by the situation.
Then, there are documented occasions where parents sought to distance themselves from overly inebriated teens by driving them off their property, only for there to be some serious health and safety consequences for the teens.
No, I am not a 'tea-totaler'. Simply a practical dad.
There is no 'easy' answer here. But allow me to make a few suggestions.
-- You and other parents could rent a room at a restaurant where you might be able to monitor behavior, reasonably well.
-- Host a party where you have a sufficient number of other adults present, who share your belief system.
-- Arrange for an 'After-Graduation Party' held at the school, along the lines of the 'After Prom' parties.
Ultimately, the two of you need to make a decision that you are comfortable with. And, hopefully, you have helped to raise a young person who is on the 'correct road' into adulthood.
A Cautionary Tale - About As Cruel As It Gets
Living a long life, one gets to 'see it all'. Or, at least one thinks so, until a new reality hits you across the face.
So it was when a while back, someone shared their story with me. Actually, their 'pain' would be a more apt description. - I share it's essence with you, now, as an example of 'going too far' when you become angry with a spouse and you decide to lash out at them.
Sharon had been married for a relatively brief number of years. According to her, there were both good and bad times. The 'good' included the birth of a birth of a beautiful daughter. The 'bad' involved affairs, addiction, and anger. Lots and lots of anger.
Anyway, Sharon and Dave divorced, going their separate ways. Dave had full custody of Shannon, their beautiful and bright child, due to Sharon's addiction. Dave eventually moved away and Sharon could no longer be in touch with her now, distant, in many ways, family.
Years passed. Sharon got herself 'together'. She tackled her addiction, winning the battle, day by day. She re-married and was faithful to her new spouse. Was gainfully employed. - Yet, with all these blessings, something was missing in her life: Contact with Shannon.
Try as she could, there was no getting updated contact info from Dave's family or (once mutual) friends.
Years passed. She would have to endure hearing a re-hash of how much she had screwed things up with Dave and Shannon, whenever she reached out to others.
The Internet and social media can be a wonderful thing, as you probably know. And, they also have a 'dark' side.
Sharon eventually searched for a trace of Shannon. There were countless Shannon ______s, whenever she Googled her name. One day, the third listing for Shannon _______ was an obituary. No details. Simply basic funeral info, for one that occurred years back, when Shannon would have been 18 years young.
With much pleading and sobbing, Sharon eventually reached past the armor of one of Dave's old friends who simply explained that Shannon had been promiscuous and more than a dabbler of illicit drugs. She died 'turning a trick', which she had hoped would net her a fix. Instead, she was raped and brutally beaten. Left to die.
Sharon simply could not hold back her simultaneous feelings of grief and anger. Some of the anger at herself. Much, at Dave, for not allowing her access to her daughter. Perhaps, she wondered, would having had her 'together' mom in her life, made any difference to Shannon? Perhaps she turned out as she did because she felt abandoned by her birth-mother. - She would never know. But she did know that Dave, in his anger, cut her deeper than any deranged 'butcher' could have.
He didn't even allow her the 'crumb' of being able to attend the wake, the funeral.
Would you have let Sharon, once 'reformed', 'transformed', back into her daughter's life? Could you inflict such pain, regardless of your personal anger? Especially when you were far from blameless in the demise of your marriage?
Spouses, by the very facts that you share love and secrets can wield incredible acts of violence, both literally and figuratively.
Even still-married spouses know the power that they have. I simply implore you to use it carefully.
To paraphrase a fictional hero: With great power comes great responsibility. Use it wisely.
Hiding Your Spouse Them From Friends And Family
Have you ever wondered why your wife or husband never seems to want you around their friends?
You know... They arrange for friends to come over whenever you are at work, the caucus meeting, your folks' house... And, perish the thought that you come home early to find that the friends are still there. You get sent out on an errand, or the guests suddenly have to leave.
Well, sometimes, the reason is as simple as what Ray in an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond had to deal with. He went, kicking and screaming to a school function, with Debra. Once there, he was 'typical Ray:' He stuffed his pockets with food. He made loud comments. He was rude. - When they got home, Debra went on about how embarrassed she was by him. To which Ray reminded her that he was simply being
himself. She explained that she even pretended not to know him when others commented on Ray's inappropriateness. Then, he was visibly hurt, saying that he would never deny knowing her, regardless of how she behaved. Whew! The impact of his statement hit Debra hard.
So, does your spouse ever feel embarrassed by you? Or, perhaps I should be asking whether or not you are ever tempted to deny knowing your wife or husband.
If the first instance is true, than you need to find out what it is precisely that you say or do which embarrasses them. If reasonable, work on the issue. If unreasonable, then point it out to hubby or wife and let them know how hurt you are. Unless they are a jerk, your feelings should matter to them.
However, if you are the one who is ashamed of your partner,then you need to do both some soul-searching and apologizing.
What if they dress really inappropriately? Too slutty, frumpy, out of style, or just 'plain wrong' for their body type? (You know: The guy with knobby knees who insists on wearing striped shorts with black socks and white sneakers. The gal whose midriff should not be exposed in public.)
Well, if that is the case, then you need to have a soft-spoken talk. Or, give them a present of something more appropriate to wear and say how nice that they look in it. People thrive on sincere compliments.
What about those whose language or jokes are foul? Then give it to them straight-up.
Drinking too much of a problem? Have that talk, as well.
If these ideas don't work, then continue with your leaving them out of situations, reminding them that you have a right to not be embarrassed by these things which you are willing to deal with, one-on-one, and with certain others, present. Someone who is not extremely insecure and who loves you will probably be okay with it. If not, it's their problem.
Oh! But what if you are simply being a jerk about this?
You know! If your family comes from big bucks and they look down on your choice in a man whose family was blue-collar, then you need to try straightening out your family. If only to remind them that they are being boorish and inappropriate. The same goes for friends who are being grossly judgemental.
Finally, there are the times when family or friends are simply 'different'. Nothing in common. So that evenings together would be boring or awkward, at best, for everyone concerned. Then, remember that you don't like spending time with everyone whom you meet. Well, your friends and family should not be expected to automatically love spending time with your spouse, either.
This is something worth thinking about, as most couples will encounter this situation somewhere along their years together.
'The Good Wife' Cheating Question
A Cheating Spouse!
Who among you wants one? And, if you are one, are you proud of that title?
TV, specifically the popular show, The Good Wife, has presented us with a question worth contemplating: Who gets to claim 'the high road'? The wife/husband who has sex with those whom they have no emotional attachment, or the spouse who has sex with someone they have strong emotional feelings?
In a pivotal scene, Peter (aka Governor/Adulterer) tells 'The Good Wife' (aka Alicia) that when he cheated, it 'didn't mean anything'. Alicia, on the other hand, snaps back that when she cheated, 'it meant something'.
So, which spouse gets to say that they were less immoral? That their tristes were essentially insignificant. That they are worth forgiving and earning their spouse's trust, sooner than later? First, a disclaimer: I do not condone cheating. Period.
But, is there a qualitative difference between these two spouses' behavior? I must confess to experiencing the unique sensation of indecision regarding this question.
Question: Would it matter to
you if the adulterer said that they only cheated because there was no
longer any sex or even physical contact, any longer? If sex is a
major, defining sign of fidelity, does it follow that withholding sex
is also a sign of breaking marital vows?
Additional Question: If the
emotional and spiritual connections matter most in a marriage, would
the person who has an emotional affair with a co-worker or someone
else be committing a worse 'sin' than the one who cheats only for the
sexual rush? If they have both an emotional and sexual affair
is that worse than any type of cheating?
All of this might seem to some of you
to be a waste of your time. Yet, if you know someone whose spouse has
had an affair or even random sexual encounters, they would be the
first to tell you how important these scenarios and questions are to
consider. And, that if they had only thought about and discussed
these with their husband or wife, beforehand, there might not have
been the urge or actions that led to adultery.
Believe me! I know that some of you
will balk at my frequent use of the words 'adulterer' and 'cheating'.
For many people in our culture do not wish to 'judge' or 'stigmatize'
others. In fact, although many states have anti-adultery laws on the
books, virtually no charges are brought these days. despite the
impact not only on the couple involved, but on any children that they might have.
So, where do I stand? Which is worse?
Alicia or Peter's indiscretions? As I said in the beginning of
this piece, I remain undecided. Except to say that both are wrong.
And that I implore couples to discuss these matters, openly and
honestly, ahead of any such issues rearing their ugly head; becoming
the 3rd entity in your bed.
'Nuff said. - Except that I would like
to hear from you regarding this subject. So, contact me at:
russ@DontOverlookTheObvious.com - Your stated names will not be used
if we choose to publish any responses.
Arguing Does Have It's Place In A Healthy Marriage
"He's like an animal! He gets this look on his face. I have to tell you, Sis... He yells... I want no part of it. And, he knows that. It doesn't happen often, but when it does... "
"Jim, she managed to do it to me, again. She re-folded the laundry. When I asked why, she said it was because I didn't fold them 'the proper way'. It's like I'm some sort of child or incompetent adult! She knows just how to push my buttons. So, I do get angry. But I don't swear, hit, or throw things. I don't call names. I do talk loud. But loud is not yelling."
Many of you can probably relate with one or both of the above scenes.
Fact of the matter is that prior to marriage, arguing and disagreements are probably few and far between. We tend to be on our best behavior during the courtship period of our life.
We are products of our childhood, like it or not. If our family had 'yellers' we are apt to gravitate toward one extreme or the other. We will yell a lot or not at all.
"But, he yells. He looks so mean at those times. That's not acceptable."
Well, perhaps not. But, if this is how he was raised and he does not show violent tendencies or actions, then let it slide off of your back. Tell him that you will continue the discussion when he calms down. - As for his demeanor or looks at these moments: Hardly anyone looks attractive when they are angry, upset, or simply pissed-off. So what? There are multiple times in a day when one or both of you are
not attractive. Your facial expressions tend to go with the mood that you are in the moment. Correct?
"Well, she pushes my buttons."
Understood. But, you need to let those zingers, slide off of your back. This is part of who she is.
Obnoxious behavior is uncalled for in a marriage. But, we are human. So accept the fact that arguing is healthy in a marriage, if handled properly. (But, some ground rules, first: No hitting, throwing, swearing, name calling... )
Until relationship training becomes part of a high school curriculum, face the reality that arguing can be a vital part of a healthy relationship. As well as a great way to relieve stress.
Next, and real important: Acknowledge your role in the argument. Very, very rarely is this not a dance with two willing partners. One or both of you might not intend to have an argument, but you likely contributed to it, at some point in time. Corny as it might seem, try putting yourself in the other person's shoes.
Relationships where there are no arguments are often fraught with passive-aggressive behavior, avoidance of spending time with one another, or choosing to 'turn-off and tune-out'.
You are no saint for keeping anger bottled up. Every spouse finds things, daily or weekly, to findfault with the other for doing or not doing.So, what? Not everything that annoys you is grounds for divorce or worth bringing up.
Bottom-line: Behave yourself! And expect that there will be the occasional spat. (And, no one gets to be a human punching bag.) 'Nuff said.
GUESS WHO'S MOVING IN? (A hint: Begins with 'g' and has the word 'kids' in it.)
Ah, the grandkids! What so many parents look forward to having in their life!
Imagine... Feeling as though you can enjoy their company and when you are tired of them or simply tired, you can go home or send them home. No discipline issues, probably. But a lot of spoiling and fun! Even feeling as though you have been given a 'second chance' at being a better 'parent'.
Well, for some of you, the grandchildren are not filling the above role, because you are their full-time caretaker.
Perhaps, your child ran away from the responsibility of raising these 'dumplings'. Perhaps a state agency took custody away from the mom or dad. - Regardless of the reason, you now find yourself being a full-time 'surrogate parent'. (Another time, I will discuss when your teenage or adult child moves in with you, bringing your grandchildren along for the ride.)
Aside from having more fatigue and stress directly resulting from having the grandkids in your home, there might just be added marital stress.
Time for one another is reduced. Perhaps retirement plans and funds are changed and reduced. If these are your step-grandchildren, there could be a lack of emotional connection happening. So, what can and should you do, here?
Well, aside from being there for these kids, you need to own up to your feelings. The 'good' and the 'not so good' ones. For better or worse (remember those vows), you need to be honest with your husband or wife.
Figure out a game plan. Just as you (should have done) did with your children, agree on some basic rules. Who tends to these kids. What types of behavior would trigger what types of discipline. Curfews/bedtime. Food. Education (homework). After-school activities. And, so on.
Then, schedule some 'alone' time for each of you as well as some 'couple time'.
There is always a way to do this. You might have to be creative. Perhaps swap babysitting with another couple who is in your situation. Perhaps another adult child or a sibling could help out. Perhaps somehow budgeting for a neighbor's child or seek help from your place of worship.
If you do not do these things, the situation will probably not be a great one, to put it mildly. However, you need to feel comfortable with any decisions to be made and then accept responsibility for consequences, both 'good' and 'bad'.
Bottom-line: You do have a great opportunity here. Take advantage of it and work on making your marriage a type of a 'priority'.
I invite you to send your thoughts or experience regarding this to me. I will not publish your name, if I use them in a future segment. Please write me at Russ@DontOverlookTheObvious.com
'Pleasing Them'. - Doesn't that sound as though this piece will focus on sexual intimacy? Actually, specific acts and tips? - Well, if so, you are apt to be sorely disappointed, as this will only touch upon sex, at all. Additionally, it will do so without any explicit language.
During the marriage ceremony, we typically promise to make the life of our partner 'special'. We will stand by them. We will support them, in a multitude of ways. We will be faithful. We will endure, 'as one'.
In fact, don't we often refer to 'being as one'?
So, what happened?
Somewhere along the way, some of us focused more on pleasing ourselves. Indulging in what we want. What makes us feel great! What we expect to do with our free time and our hard-earned monies. We feel entitled to being waited on. (When we wish to be. Otherwise, we detest the sensation of being smothered.) We want our whims to be fulfilled.
What of our spouses'?
Well, as long as their wishes and whims do not interfere with our own, we figure it's 'okay'. But if they do cause us any inconvenience or interfere with what we want, than we become less than happy campers. Right?
No one says that you should continually suppress your desires in favor of your husband's or wife's. However, I do stress that you are no longer a teenager. So that self-absorption and entitlement should make way, many times, for the great feeling that you can get from seeing a smile or glow on your lover's face. (Yes! This was a reference to 'anything' and 'anything sexually'pleasing
to your spouse.)
Unless you married someone equally self-absorbed, your wife or husband will take delight in pleasing you, the more that you give to them.
Think of this in terms of a business. If you provide a customer with great service, great products, great prices... Will they not tend to frequent your establishment more often? And, gladly contribute to your bottom-line? -- Well, a marriage is not so different. When you treat your partner well and do what you can to please them, than they will likely return the gestures.
Dare I forget that some of you are narcissist-wannabees, let me point out that your lover probably did not sign-on for a one-sided relationship. If they did, the odds are that they will grow tired of this, at some point in time, and decide to go elsewhere for what they want from a marriage.
It might sound simplistic, but the happiest marriages seem to involve couples who enjoy being passionate, both about being pleased by and pleasing their spouses.
The Gift Or Curse Of Holiday Buying
Dave Ramsey, famous financial guru & celebrity, often cites the statistic/ idea that financial issues are the largest reason behind divorces. Whether or not that is in fact reason #1 or #2 really doesn't matter. The fact is that finances are a major source of marital discord.
Okay, you already know that. So, what are you and your spouse doing, this holiday season? Blowing money that you do not have on presents, many of which the recipient will never use or only rarely.
The fact is that after the celebrations, the impact of how much you spent will sink in. And, the arguments will ensue. At least, the stress will.
Regardless of which holiday you are celebrating, try focusing on the spirit and true meaning of the day/ days. I know that this sounds trite. I know that either you, or your wife, or husband, will push hard against not being a top notch spender. But, be firm, even if with only yourself.
Set a great example for any children whom you have.
Yes, my words ring of incredible triteness. (A real word?) But they do hold great meaning. Just ask those who received the gift of remission from cancer. Or, who survived a crash. Those who lost so much during Hurricane Sandy. They will tell you what truly matters. And, spending money is not one of those things.
Happy Holidays! Happy Hanukkah! Merry Christmas!
Remembering back to my dating years, several women had informed me, early on in the relationship, of their expectations for a man who would have the potential for becoming their lifelong mate. The list was pretty standard. And, on the surface, they were reasonable requests.
#1 Be honest with them at all times.
#2 Be faithful. (No fooling around or cheating on them.)
#3 Treat them with respect.
#4 Be gentle.
#5 Be strong/ be a 'man'.
#6 Never disappoint them.
Well, I thought that I would now tackle the 'never disappoint' expectation, because it is one that is often the source of problems in a marriage. (Don't fret! I will cover the others, at a future date.)
I bet that if I were to ask any 6 people (men or women) what that means in real life, I would get 6 or 7 different answers. (7? Okay! I was simply chocking to see if you were still paying attention... )
Some of you would say that meant your spouse should always keep your word. - So, if I said that we would own a home, get new cars every few years, and take yearly exotic vacations, but finances did not match these dreams, would I have 'disappointed you'? Or, only if I d not tried to provide these?
Others would give the example of my saying that I would be home for dinner at 6:00 P.M.. but I called to say that my boss wanted me to work late, so that you should go ahead and eat alone... Is that 'disappointing' or a serious 'disappointment'?
If while window-shopping with me, you pointed out a necklace that you would love to have and instead of that, I bought you a new coat, would I have greatly disappointed you?
What if I was content being a laborer or a mid-level manager? What then?
Everyone enters a marriage with expectations not only for the 'marriage itself', but for what we want of our partner in life. That is normal. But, what can be harmful is if our expectations are neither realistic nor shared by our spouse. Or, even communicated clearly to them.
Childhood and even adult disappointments from those whom we have loved or simply grew up with can taint our view of what is fair and not to expect from our mate. However, you do not have the right to expect your wife or husband to make up for all of your past hurts. Disappointments.
Far too often our marital disappointments are not fair to lay on our husband or wife.
What is fair is for us to expect fidelity and companionship. Most of the rest that we hope for is simply that: Things that we can hope for.
I invite you to send your thoughts or experience regarding this to me. I will not publish your name, if I use them in a future segment. Please write me at Russ@Don’t
Take your pick! - Which is the primary reason for divorce: Sexual or Financial?
Well, either one has been declared by someone at some time in their research, as the 'winner'.
So, for the sake of my current train of thought, let's go with 'Financial'.
When wives began working outside of the home, in great numbers, the financial situation and rules governing money began to change. Add to that, the woman's movement and the coming-of-age for credit card usage and you have the stage set for a financial storm.
Yes, one would imagine that if both spouses were working that there wouldn't be a lack of money to divvy up among bills, savings, and some 'mad money'.
The woman's movement and an increased awareness of spousal abuse led wives to want to have their own bank accounts. Ones that their husband would not have access to possibly would not be aware existed.
Both men and women began wanting the extras that they saw on their brandy-new color television. But, what to do if there was not sufficient money left after paying bills and having some spending cash? Answer: Put the merchandise on credit.
Add inflation to the mix and you have the makings for financial infidelity.
Just as spouses can cheat sexually and emotionally with someone else, husbands and wives can find themselves indulging their material-good fantasies, without letting the other person know. One simply has to get a credit card in their name, alone, and have the bills go to a P.O. Box or to the home where they retrieve it before the other person sees it. Once a purchase is made, you can always say that
the new car, TV, or jewelry was bought, 'sales final'.
Back to separate accounts (which some men also keep). Some will maintain the accounts, watching them grow fat. Others will keep taking the cash 'to slaughter' so that they can buy whatever they want, without giving it a second thought.
Problems come in when the credit card bills require more of a minimum payment, adjustable rate mortgage payments increase, or someone loses their job/has hours reduced. - This is when financial infidelity often rears it's head, coming out of hiding.
So, what can you do if your spouse has been buying stuff behind your back?
Well, I would not suggest a divorce. At least not right out of the barn!
You first need to ask your partner why they did this. Did they believe that you would never okay any of their spending wishes? The ones for things that they wanted, usually just for/primarily for themselves? Or, did they intend no deceit, but the spending sort of got away from them? And, they imagined that they could somehow keep up with any necessary payments, but couldn't?
Did they not tell you out of fear, either physically, verbally, or financially? Did they think that you would make them cancel credit cards? Take their name off of shared accounts?
Did they overspend out of a 'self-medicating' reason? Just as some folks drink too much or take drugs or gamble in order to feel better about themselves or life in general?
Have they always had an over-spending problem and you simply did not realize it? Or chose to ignore it?
If they did this as a way to 'self-medicate', then they should probably seek professional counseling. They also need to be able to rely on you for support, as they work out issues with you.
If they have always been a compulsive buyer, then still probably need to seek the guidance of a professional, in the field of addiction, perhaps.
If the issue is simply that it has been something that simply got of hand, then, together, you need to lay all of your cards (credit cards) on the table. Finances should be shared, without separate accounts. Do what you can to ensure that each one of you has some amount of 'mad money', even if only to treat yourself to a lunch out, one day a week. Do not give a spouse who is a stay-at-home-spouse, money
calling it 'an allowance', because that is really demeaning.
Financial infidelity is not a victimless problem. Credit scores get hurt. Utilities might get shut off or vehicles be repossessed. Or...
So, nip it in the bud! Work it out together. Because this should not have to be a reason for an otherwise/potentially healthy marriage to end.
I invite you to send your thoughts or experience regarding this to me. I will not publish your identity, if I use them in a future segment. Please write me at Russ@DontOverlookTheObvious.com
Put-Downs: The Wrong Type Of 'Performance' In A Marriage
Comics do it. Smart-aleck do it. Politicians do it.
So do some spouses. But, somehow with them, it isn't appreciated. Yet, they continue, seemingly oblivious to it's effects on their partner.
They hurt. - They produce resentment. - They lead to cold shoulders as well as cold beds. - They are never forgotten. - They lead to arguments. - Children learn to mimic the behavior. - They ruin 'date nights' and parties. - They do all this and more.
So, why on earth do husbands and wives insist on doing it? Even after their wife or husband points out how unappreciated and obnoxious it is?
The answer in many instances is that the offending spouse wants to be mean. They want to hurt or upset their partner. For whatever the reason.
Sometimes, they are simply repeating what they saw in their own home growing up. Not thinking that there is anything wrong with it.
Often, the one with the put-downs believes that they are simply being 'funny' and that their lover is being overly sensitive.
Yet, if their partner were to attempt reciprocation, watch out! Somehow it is never taken very well.
So, what then is the recipient to do? Just take it? Of course not. Point it out. But, in very clear, nouncertain terms. Lay out consequences and be prepared to carry them out.
If the behavior persists, then they have to make a serious decision. Put up with it or separate.
This is a serious problem and a form of abuse. Perhaps not on the same level as physical or sexual abuse... But, it is abusive, nonetheless.
Wives and husbands deserve better. If you are the one on the receiving end, you deserve better.
If you are the offender, then straighten out your act before it is too late. Because, eventually, your 'audience' might disappear.
So What If They're Not Interested In What You're Doing, Now?
Picture this... The two of you are in the garden. You're pruning, he's digging holes. Or bagging the dead leaves and debris. You think to yourself, 'How nice this is! The 2 of us, spending quality time together.' Then, you look up and because you have been together for so long, you can read his face like a book. And, you catch that look on his face. You know the one. Boredom mixed with irritation, served
with a side order of impatience.
Now, you feel angry and hurt. And, you let him know that. In no uncertain terms. he comes back with, 'You know I hate gardening, but I'm here with you, aren't I? So, what's your beef?'. Of course, you need to let him know what your beef is. So, you do. And, what had been a potentially great night, becomes one with a temperature of such cold with frost, that any plant within a mile of either one of
you, would die.
I could easily have given an example of you helping him wash the cars and detailing them. The basic scenario wouldn't be all that much different.
It's not a matter of gender. Or, how long you have been married. It is a matter of expectations and respect.
We all want to believe that our spouse is into anything that turns us on (non-sexually), in this situation. We want their undivided attention. All, as it was when you were dating and even first married. The problem here is that some of that (most of that?) was all a part of the dating rituals. To make a great impression. To feel out whether or not you shared the same interests. Somewhere along the line, they realized that they did not share the same passion that you do regarding certain activities. But, out of a sense of obligation and even wanting to please you... spend time with you... they tolerate activities that they
would normally avoid.
But, instead of being grateful for having a spouse who cares enough about pleasing you that they deal with things that would normally drive them to distraction, you complain. Be happy that they value being with you more than watching the game, being on Facebook, or doing whatever else that they would rather be doing.
By the way, when was the last time that you returned the favor, for them? Pretending to enjoy something that they are into.
Finally, I am not saying that you should never be honest with your wife or husband about your true feelings. I am simply suggesting that there are times when pleasing them should be more important than what you might otherwise want to be doing at that moment for enjoyment.
"In Sickness Or In Health... "
Who hasn't heard that phrase? Whether in movies, on TV, in books (remember those things?), or during your wedding ceremony.
But how many of you have had to test your reaction during such a time of need, as when your wife or husband has been ill? Now, I don't mean the type of 'ill' when a bowl of chicken soup, some aspirin, and a warm blanket will do.
No. I refer to when your loved one is diagnosed with cancer. Or, Parkinson's. Or, MS. Or, has a heart attack. Or...
Those are the times when both your love for your spouse and your commitment to the marriage becomes tested.
Can you bear to see them suffer? Do you wince at the prospect of your wife losing a breast? How about the possibility of them never being able to have intercourse with you again? Perhaps, they become a paraplegic?
Then, there are monetary issues. Will the heart attack prevent them from returning to their former occupation? Mounting and ongoing medial bills? A change in lifestyle due to medical expenses/ loss of wages?
What will be the reaction of the children?
These are all questions that you should contemplate, sooner than later, during your marriage, because the answers are not always easy to come by. And, while some folks certainly rise to the occasion when necessary, when they doubted that they would... It is important to try to place yourself in those positions, beforehand.
I remember a woman who complained because her husband's cancer meant that they would need to sell their beloved boat, in order to cover expenses. When asked why she did not retire, as she could have, in order to spend time with him, she replied, something to the effect of: "So, I could spend all day with him?"
Then, there was my Dad who retired early in order to be with my Mom who had both early Alzheimer's and multiple heart attacks. - Getting by with a decade's plus, old car, and living fairly frugally. - Sad as he was, he was happy to spend time with and caring for his longtime partner-in-life.
Children often learn how to deal with illness by watching us. They might choose to emulate your behavior. or, decide to do the opposite of what you do. - Simply realize that they will likely make life decisions as a result of observing your behavior.
Illness is never an easy matter to deal with. But it can happen to any of us, when least expected. Your husband or wife deserves to have someone willing to tackle the consequences if it occurs to them.
Who knows? You might surprise yourself and rise to the occasion. Regardless, you need to some soul searching and have a discussion with your spouse.
Knowing When To Shut Up!
I don't intend to be crass, but some of us tend to belabor a point, continue an argument for too long, or simply bore our spouse to tears. That phrase, 'Know when to leave well enough alone', is such an appropriate one, don't you think?
So, allow me to begin with a confession: I have a really bad habit of continuing an argument/ disagreement way past the point when it has been either deemed to be a 'draw', I have actually won, or my wife came out on top. I still felt the need to continue the debate and not to simply accept defeat gracefully, dropping the source of the friction.
Perhaps for some of you, the point is that you must always be 'The Winner', at any cost.
But, for me, I think it's more of an over-thinking of the event and wanting to be certain to have covered every base imaginable.
Others of you want to be certain that you are still loved. So, you figure in a type of warped logic, that if you can somehow convince your wife or husband that you were correct, they will return to adoring you.
Let me remind you of you what you should already know and probably do, somewhere down deep inside: You need to drop it! Sometimes, winning a 'battle' or a 'war' comes at too high of a price. In other words, even when you are correct, the 'casualties' are far too great to suffer.
Also be aware of this problem: Winning the argument, then deciding to pull a 'Columbo' by saying, "Just one more thing... " - That's usually a sure sign that you are about to blow it! That this one extra comment, tiny little fact, final 'dig', will be your undoing. Unraveling all that you finally had accomplished.
Often, the best way to win a disagreement or argument is for you to walk away. Now, some husbands or wives will find that to be super irritating. Others will recognize it as a way to avoid a foolish and potentially devastating fight. Either way, this strategy can be a winner.
Arguing can be healthy and it certainly is natural, in moderation and tone.
But remember: A wise person knows when 'enough is enough'. So instead of continuing to beat your gums, put your mouth to a far better use! Kiss your lover! Then walk, away, leaving them wanting more. (Who knows? They might just follow you or lead you into the bedroom. (At least to the couch for some snuggling...)
The 'Elephant In The Room'
Society plays it both ways.
We celebrate special occasions with it. Companies advertise the heck out of it. Movie and TV stars are often seen using it, in their performances. Heck, we even use it during wakes.
Yet, we all have known someone who abused it. Who suffered at the hands of someone who over-indulged. Some innocent people, including children have lost their lives, prematurely because of those who thought they knew when to stop indulging themselves with it.
Yup! I'm discussing alcohol. And, far too many spouses have a problem. Either because they themselves, or their spouse, has a drinking problem.
Far too often, the spouse with the drinking problem will deny it. They will rationalize it. They will often blame their husband or wife for them having the problem. - Yet, in the final analysis, the solution does lie in 'The Obvious'. Whether or not your partner would be diagnosed as a 'problem drinker' or an 'alcoholic', truly does not matter as much as how you and other immediate family members (referring
to any children; not in-laws, parents, or even siblings) see the situation and react. Other crucial factors can be the legal/ criminal justice system and employers.
I worked quite a bit with those who had alcohol/ other substance abuse issues.
It is never an easy situation. There is, in my experience and opinion, no one 'magic bullet' when it comes to treatment options.
For a marriage or a family to not only survive financially, but also emotionally, physically, and spiritually, the situation needs to be addressed and positive action taken.
Yes, sometimes the person 'accused' of having a drinking problem might not. Their spouse might be overly sensitive to the topic due to a previous relationship, including ones growing up. However, 'perception' can be 'reality' to someone; fair or not.
In these situations, I strongly suggest seeking outside help whether from a certified counselor, a pastor whom has had experience and success in counseling couples, in-patient/ out-patient treatment... But, rarely does this seem to be a problem that couples successfully work out by themselves.
Often, these situations result in a divorce, which is tragic for all involved. Sometimes this is the best solution, at least for the time being. Other times, it is simply an easy 'out' for one or both of you.
The one thing, that I can probably say that applies to the majority of you who are dealing with this situation, is that the odds that ignoring the problem will simply result in more unhappiness, injury, or worse... Well, let's simply say that they are far too great, against you and your husband or wife.
Please think about this situation, carefully, before you act. Evaluate your options. Discuss them. Seek help. And, then make your decisions.
May matters work out well, for all in your family, and even beyond.
You've caught them at it!
"At what", you ask? A LIE!!
Trust is super important for a marriage to succeed. And a huge part of 'trust' is based upon knowing that you can count on your spouse being honest.
But, 'truth' is sometimes 'uncalled for' or simply a subjective matter.
"No, it's not!", you shout.
But, it is. And, I'll try to show you.
Your sister brings her newborn over to your home. She just beams when speaking of this little bundle of joy and soaking wet diapers. She asks you, "Isn't Heather just the most beautiful little baby girl that you have ever seen?"
You look at tiny Heather and can't help but see Dumbo-sized ears. She's homely in your opinion, but what can you tell Sis? So, you say, "Absolutely! I never saw a more adorable and beautiful baby in my life! Not even in the celebrity magazines!"
You rationalize your lie by calling it a simple 'White Lie'. No big deal...
So, if you ask your husband about that new dress which you pointed out to him, took you 3 hours to find... Do you imagine that he would be comfortable in saying that you look fat and dumpy in it? Not on your life! Not, if he wants to ever have sex with you, again. Right?
And, there are situations when your wife is expected to be supportive of your decision, regardless of what you did.
Okay. So, that's a 'White Lie'. That's okay. But you won't accept any other type of lie. - Now, where do you draw the line. Because quite frankly, there are many different lines that get drawn when you ask a bunch of wives and husbands.
Is it okay of they went for a beer with that buddy whom you really don't like? What about saying they were working late but really went to see a movie which they know that you would never enjoy or sit through, anyway? Did you see your friend whom your spouse was once insulted by and whom your partner-in-life forbid you to ever see or have come over to your (shared) home?
Where do you draw the line where you can rationalize your falsehood?
Everybody has a different borderline.
Strange as it will probably seem to some of you, I recommend having a discussion with your spouse. Come to an agreement as to the type of situation where they will know that you will not be happy with what they did, but it's okay to either tell you or lie abut it. Because sometimes, 'ignorance' is bliss! - And, the two of you do not have to draw the exact, same line! You each
will probably have a different take on what is acceptable to not tell the other. That's okay. But, you both have to be willing to let the other know where your line is. Because lying about that will definitely come back and bite you, someday.
You don't always need to know, everything, contrary to your own, personal opinion. - Call it a 'little mystery'. A 'little private time'. A 'matter of personal discretion.'
Don't get me wrong! I'm not saying that one should deceive their wife or husband regarding major financial matters. Or, an affair.
But, there is a time and a place, for the 'Little White Lie'. (Here's a cute song meant for little kids but it still applies, in general, for us 'Big Kids'! WHITE LIE .)
What's the moral here? Don't allow a little white lie to shatter the hard-earned trust that you and your spouse have.
They Simply Don't 'Turn-You-On' Any Longer
Think back to when you first met your husband or wife.
Remember the electricity of that first kiss. (The passionate one.)
Fantasize about the first few times when you made love to one another.
Okay... Break's over!
Actually, for some of you, the passion and even the basic attraction toward your spouse is 'over'.
Oftentimes, the problem is that your partner-in-life has put on more than a few pounds. Or, has let their body simply become flabby. And, (gulp) sometimes they let their personal hygiene slip. So, what are you supposed to do? You still love your wife or husband. You still want to have sex. But, not with them, so much. And, it's not that there is someone else in the picture.
Let's tackle these one at a time.
If weight is the problem, do not simply tell them that they have become 'fat'. That's sort of like telling them that the new clothes which they bought, does not look good on them. But, even worse!
Try to get them to join you in some exercise, even something as simple as walking after dinner. Bill it as you wanting to get more fit. And, that you want their company.
Then, if you are the one responsible for food shopping or cooking, then buy and prepare healthier food. Make individual plates, as opposed to leaving casserole dishes and platters on the table.
If they became too thin, then take the opposite approach of the above. It's not too difficult and will take time to feel comfortable to both of you. But, it can work.
The above exercise related tips will also work for the 'flabby', middle-aged spread issues.
Don't forget that lingerie, lighting, and similar touches can help re-ignite the passion, while these tips begin to work their magic.
Hygiene. - That's really a touch sounding one.
But, I have a super, easy to get agreement with, way to tackle this one! Shower together. Or, if you folks use a bathtub instead of a shower, then offer them a bubble bath. (Even Chandler in Friends ended up loving it)! Then you soap them up and... Well, I think that you get the picture...
Before I forget, remember that your husband or wife might look at you with the same lack of sexual interest due to the same problems, outlined above. So, simply put the above ideas into practice. They'll work for you, as they could for them!
Affection, sex, and other forms of intimacy are crucial for a happy marriage. So, don't let these distractions keep you from them.
Trophy Spouses and 'Year-End Clearances'
You want a trophy wife or husband.
That's who you married. But, as time
has passed, you have watched your spouse add weight, look not as
refined as you had hoped they would, and, they aren't changing friends
to keep up with the pace of your professional success.
You look around. If not simply at others who travel in
the circles that you wish to, but at celebrities. You know! The ones
who after years of paying their dues, finally make it 'big' and then
decide to trade-in wife or husband. Just as they would change
managers/ agents. And, you drool, looking at their new catch.
You rationalize your new desire as
'their fault'. They let themselves go. They did not choose to keep up
with you. They are to fault for your new found dilemma.
So, if you are that shallow. (Yes,
shallow.) Then your spouse is probably better off without you!
this is something that you are on the fence about, then read the rest of this piece.
always such a 'catch'? Did you encourage your spouse to become 'less
stylish/ healthy', because that way no one else would make passes at
them. So that you would not worry about infidelity? Did you support
or encourage any efforts for them to get ahead either educationally
or career-wise? If you did the food shopping or cooking did you
consider the types of foods that were prepared? And, I
could go on. (But,, do I really need to do so?)
have a decision to make. But let me warn you. Divorce will impact you
and any children that you have. Emotionally, financially, even
physically. (As well as your spouse and yourself.)
Realize that many of these 2nd-time-around trophy spouses will not have the same depth of love for you or loyalty to you, that your 1st wife or husband had. So that at the 1st sign of greener pastures, you could find yourself dumped. And possibly owing them mega alimony.
And,how happy, for how long do these celebrities, or co-workers appear to
be? The fact that the divorce rate for 2nd
marriages is higher than for 1st
ones, should tell you something.
you say, you have grown apart. Well, that took 2 of you. And in many
instances, that can change, with enough time and effort.
In the end, you must decide for yourself. - Just tread carefully.
by the way...Are you a 'fine enough catch' that you would be able to
get a trophy husband or wife? Think about it.
"I Want Who They Are Married To!" or Envy, Part 1
It is so natural for us to look at others (especially when we are going through a difficult time) and wish that we had either the 'life' or 'material things' or spouse/ family that someone else has.
Before you run off and leave this web page because you think that you know what I am going to say, please stay a bit and perhaps be surprised!
Most couples will hit a patch when the relationship is strained due to health, finances, employment (or lack thereof), or that dreaded 'sexual/ intimacy dry-spell'.
What you do with it matters, greatly. - Many of you will begin daydreaming of what it would be like to have your best friend's husband or wife. - Perhaps you always had a crush on them. Maybe they flirted with you in the past. (Or, you took their behavior, that way. Is it 'reality check' time?) Well, I'm going to give you the 'green light' to go ahead and fantasize about them and their life. Now, before some of you get angry or hysterical, I am not advocating adultery. I repeat! I am not advocating adultery. - I am suggesting that fantasies are normal. And, many professionals consider them to be natural and healthy. Just do it in moderation.
Now, I'm going to strongly suggest that you not simply fantasize about them, sexually.
I want you to imagine living with them, day in and day out.
That large breasted, long-legged neighbor might be a quick, visual turn-on. But, could you deal with her squeaky or whining voice? And, the husband's tight ass and non-beer-belly stomach might look hot, but does he have a temper? If they have flirted with you, in the past, would you perhaps be angry if you were their spouse and they did that? Why would they stop doing that simply because they were officially with you, now? (Rude behavior seldom stops with any new 'conquest'.)
Would you like the way that they speak to their husband or wife? Or, children?
How much pressure might there be to perform sexually? Perhaps they have some weird fetishes?
Would the heat be on to earn a lot, regardless of the hours it would take?
Can you imagine them really wanting you in their life, on a daily basis?
See, there might be little wrong (in many instances) with some spousal envy. It's all about the execution of it. One key is that you need to keep reality and fantasy apart: two separate worlds. Another key is that you need to examine what is going on in your own home. And, if there is work to be done, then get to it!Don't expect that it should be your wife or husband's responsibility
to bring up and tackle any problems that the two of you have. Finally, remember the vows that you made. Do your best to honor them.
So, envy, can be a good thing for a marriage.
You might appreciate your spouse more than you have, lately. You might decide that your marriage is not all that bad. And, you might decide to make some changes in your life and that of your partner in life.
I invite you to send your thoughts or experience regarding this to me. I will not publish your identity, if I use them in a future segment. Please write me at Russ@DontOverlookTheObvious.com
Another Almost 'Impossible' Expectation
So many of us want what we want, when we want it. Period.
This not only applies to activities, but also to moods. But, the reality is that the expectation is not realistic.
Take for example, the couple where each person works at least full-time. They have children to schlep around. Homework to monitor. An apartment or house to straighten up. A yard to maintain. Perhaps, older parents who need some attention and housework or marketing done for them. Then, perhaps your employer gives you tasks that cannot be completed during the day, so that you lock yourself in a room and get
cracking on the projects.
Add to this, health and financial difficulties. Little, uninterrupted sleep...
What do get when you add all of this up? 2 very stressed individuals!
Even the most sanguine among us would find it difficult to be the super-attentive, relaxed, mellow, wife or husband during the times when you both can steal a few moments, alone together.
This is when each spouse is most prone to have their 'non-good-side' show.
While that is the last thing that either partner really wants, there is only so much that people can put aside, at the drop of a hat.
Worse than the scenario that I just painted for you is the one where life's stresses and needs are the rule and not the exception. And, for an extended period of time.
Anyone who has been subjected to unemployment during this last Recession can attest to the toll that money woes can take on a marriage and joblessness, on self-image.
Some health matters are beyond getting past.
Some spouses, during trying times, will hold everything in, until it explodes. Others will let go, and every opportunity that they have.
Words will be said without really thinking about the consequences.
Some people will be oblivious to their actions and the impact on their loved ones.
Okay! So, I outlined a typical problem. But how about my offering a solution!
Well, I will warn you that what I suggest will not likely be easily achieved.
Here are some basic, yet often effective suggestions:
#1 Make time for one another. And, making time to simply have each one of you re-hash what problems are already known, unless they are accompanied by real solutions, is not going to be effective. At all.
#2 Get sufficient sleep. Without it, you will be pretty worthless to your partner. Plus, you will be more likely to say and do things that you will regret later.
#3 Make some 'Me Time'. Similar to #1, but obviously this is akin to a game of solitaire. Designed for 1 player, only.
#4 Don't let complaints about your wife or husband build up. Eventually, all of that steam has to go someplace. And, I pity the person who will be left with steam burns.
#5 Watch out for overly-optimistic expectations. Whether it you or both of you who are stressed and burned-out to the max, the worst thing is to set yourself up for a huge let-down. Think of Christmas, Hanukah, or other joyous occasions when far too often the hype does not match the reality.
#6 Be intimate. Now, this does not simply refer to sex. Although, sexual release can do wonders for your mood, body, and overall stress level. Warning: Both you and your partner need to be in the mood and open to such touch.
#7 Try not to jump! By that I refer to jumping to conclusions. It is natural for many of us, but should be avoided whenever possible. Because the reality is that, especially when you are under great stress, you are likely to take an incorrect leap and find yourself going, 'SPLAT'!
No Time Together? Why Not?
There are few, if any, 'absolutes' in this life.
So it was with this in mind, that I decided to re-explore the reason why your husband or wife chooses to not spend time with you.
My primary belief is that we tend to spend free time doing what gives us the most pleasure. So that if they would rather go on Facebook, play WOW online, hang out at the bar or go out with friends, then the primary reason is that you are not as enjoyable to be around as these other distractions.
And, I still hold on to that concept.
But, I want to propose other reasons for this behavior: That they are not comfortable with themselves, at this point in time. And that they would rather 'reject you, then to have you reject them. That they are weighed down by work-related problems and do not wish to burden you with them.
Sure!You can say that you want to hang out with them, doing 'anything'. But, whether or not they choose to believe you is another story.
Perhaps, they put on a lot of weight and feel, grumpy, dumpy, and mopey. Perhaps they are carrying so much work-related baggage, that they don't want to burden you with the problems, and they don't believe that they can get themselves to be sufficiently distracted. Perhaps, they don't even know why they want to be alone, doing their own thing!
So, how would you know which is the reason why they are avoiding time together?
Well, the obvious answer would be to simply ask them.
Now, there are 'delicate' and 'pushy' ways to do this. My suggestion is that you know your spouse. What type of questions that they will respond best to. Keep in mind the environment and time of day when you do this. - In front of the children is not a good idea. Nor is when you are trying to go to sleep. So, choose a time and place that you believe will be most conducive to a delicate conversation.
Once you learn the real reason, then work toward a mutually agreeable solution. Sometimes, your husband or wife will want to actively participate in finding one. Other times, fair or not, you need to experiment until you hit upon 'the answer'.
Bottom-line: Don't assume that the reason for time apart is you. Don't assume that it's something they haven't wanted to share. (Perhaps, they were waiting for 'the right opening'.) Whatever the reason is, discover it and work towards a solution. Because the longer that this goes on, the more that your relationship will suffer in other areas. The more difficult that it will be to get back on course.
And, you both deserve to re-connect with both quality and some quantity time together!
Picking A Fight Over 'Nothing'
Anytime I hear a couple or a spouse proclaim that they never argue, I know that to be either a lie or one or both of the partners is holding in a massive amount of anger, resentment...
Likewise, when I hear a spouse recount numerous arguments 'over nothing', I know that the odds are that one of several things is going on:
#1 The angry husband or wife is taking out the anger and frustration that they have for a different person or situation, out on their loved one. There is this myth that you can abuse your spouse and they should (as in being obligated to) take their crap. It's somehow easier to lay into your spouse than it is to your boss, relative, or whomever should be the recipient of your loose tongue.
Well, your wife or husband did not hear anything about being a human punching bag, physically or verbally, in the wedding vows. So either let loose on the person who deserves the tongue lashing, or find another way to resolve your anger.
#2 You find yourself wanting a divorce. But your religion frowns upon or outright forbids it. So, you figure that if you make life really miserable for your partner, they will eventually get so fed up with it that they initiate the divorce. This way you can play the role of the 'wronged spouse'. And everyone, including your children, will side with you and want to do anything to heal your 'wounds'.
Grow a pair! That's right. 'Man up'/ 'Woman up'! Be upfront and honest with your spouse. Just be careful of what you wish for. There is often 'no going back', once this conversation takes place.
#3 You love getting the attention from being the 'victim'. So picking a fight with a spouse who is easily brought to a 'boiling point' will allow you to then let everyone know just how horrible he/ she is. That you were simply trying to discuss something, but they took it into the realm of an argument.
Victimhood is not attractive. At least not for long. The role of 'rescuer' that your wife or husband once played will wear thin, eventually.
#4 You're angry because you didn't bargain for this life that you have. You wanted to be on 'easy street' and not worry about bills. You expected your lover to remain sexy, fit, and attentive to your every desire. Health problems were never to be in the cards. Children were supposed to be brilliant and obedient. Not pregnant at 16 or on drugs by 17.
Take a long, hard look in the mirror! Have you let yourself go? Did you do anything along the way to help your husband or wife to remain fit? (Like suggesting going to a gym together, or serving healthy meals, or... ?) Were you an involved parent? Have you become less attentive to your spouse? - Take some responsibility! And, remember those vows that you took. Life is not guaranteed to be rosey for anyone. A marriage is meant to be a partnership. Through sickness and health. And so on...
It's easy to pick a fight over any of the above. But if you want your marriage to last, then take a long hard look. Communicate. - And, if a divorce is what you truly desire, than go for it. But don't play games. They don't deserve it.
Marriage was never designed to be a perfect state of bliss. It needs to be worked on. It needs some common sense approaches to problems that are in your control. Love is not enough to make a marriage successful, but it's a great beginning. Now, go work on the rest...
'Scuse me! I'm talking to you! Put down the cell phone, tablet, or remote control.
Trust me, I do wonder at times whether or not you folks are giving the site your undivided attention. Why, you ask? Simply because so many of you multi-task throughout your day. And, that includes time with your wife or husband.
Don't bother trying to explain how talented that you are! That you can do 3, 4, even 5 things at once. That all of them get proper attention from you.
Well, I'm here to tell you that you are so incredibly wrong! Study after study shows that while we believe multi-tasking is a skill to master and that we can do as well this way as we could simply focusing on one task at time, the opposite is true.
What does that mean for your marriage?
Well, for starters, texting when you are having dinner together is simply rude. Worse is when you do it while they try to explain their day. You will not only appear to be dis-interested, you will in fact miss details, expressions, nuances... All things that matter. To tem. And, so they should mean a lot to you,as well!
Never putting the clicker down. It's one thing to relax and watch a show. It is certainly another to be so pre-occupied with non-stop dribble that your spouse wants to throw it through that 50" high-definition screen that hangs where a family portrait once did.
Now, how about bedtime? Somehow having sex with someone who is keeping one eye on their iPad and another on the TV is truly not a rush! Worse still is when one of you answers the phone during intercourse. Remember! The vibrate feature on the phone is not meant to arouse you.
The reality is that when you are together. And it is supposed to be 'your time together', then ditch the high-tech stuff! You and your lover deserve to have some quality time. And if one of you feels like you are simply another task or device to pay half-attention to... as if background music... then your problems are becoming huge whether or not you realize it.
20 Ways That Your Marriage Is Not What It Used To Be
There are many ways to help ensure that your marriage is the best that it can be. And, many of you don't bother doing them. Not any more.
So, in the coming weeks I will tackle some of these in some depth. But, for now, let's see whether or not you remember what it felt like when these were a part of your relationship. And, check to see whether or not you can relate to these situations. (For some of you, the problem is not that you don't remember... The issue is that your spouse doesn't.)
If you think that your marriage is so great that there is no room for improvement, then you are deluding yourself. There is always room for improvement. Simply ask the couples who have been together for 30, 40, 50, or more years and are still obviously very much in love!
#1 - Kisses are on the cheek. Your lips are now devoted to salivating only at a scrumptious dessert or for use to nag or simply 'chat'.
#2 - They don't touch you anymore. Perhaps, the sex is gone. Perhaps you don't hold hands. Except as a 'show' in front of your family or theirs.
#3 - Hugs are hugs and can't be differentiated from those that you give an old friend, a relative, or a work colleague. There is no 'tightness', no rubbing, and, certainly, they do not last more than 5 seconds.
#4 - A night out consists of marketing, clothes shopping with the kids, or going to the mall where you split up and arrange for a time & place to re-connect.
#5 - You don't find them attractive anymore. And you don't really care whether or not they find you sexy.
#6 - When you complain to a friend or sibling that your lover no longer makes a 'move', you mean that they won't get up off of the couch to take out the trash or help to clean up after dinner. Or they stay seated at the kitchen table with the cell phone attached to their ear as if it were a new limb.
#7 - Undivided attention. Cell phones, Facebook, Cable TV, and... are a part of any conversation. There is also no point to having an answering machine, because any call 'is important enough' to interrupt the family dinner time.
#8 - 'Dressing up' means that you zip your pants or bother to wear a bra around the house. Your last sexy nightgown is in a drawer 'somewhere'. Or your bathrobe no longer closes, not because you are trying to be a 'turn-on', but because you gained so much weight.
#9 - You no longer laugh when you hear about couples who watch the Tonight Show before falling asleep, because the clicking of the TV remote control is the only thing that experiences any 'action' in bed.
#10 - The florist went out of business because you no longer send bouquets 'for no special reason'. Helium is what you get at the dentist's office, not what your wife or husband has put into heart-shaped balloons.
#11 - Expensive gifts are given begrudgingly. Not because of the household budget, but because they mean that there is less money for something that you want.
#12 - There is no point in having sex, anymore. You know every play by heart and the re-runs are boring. Plus, you already know how it will end.
#13 - You stopped pretending to care about how their day went, long ago.
#14 - Innocent or shameless flirting gives you a feeling of being desirable. Something that you haven't felt in many a year.
#15 - Separate vacations are the only ones that you want to take.
#16 - You try your best to be busy and not have the time to spend with your husband or wife.
#17 - You now sleep in separate beds, as if you were Rob and Laura Petrie. And you never stumble into theirs or slide the mattresses together.
#18 - You squirrel money away not to buy them something special but to treat yourself to what you want or to have an emergency nestegg in the event that you want a divorce.
#19 - Instead of a calendar to count the days until your next anniversary, you mark the days until the children are grown up and you will serve them with divorce papers instead of a romantic card.
#20 - You don't share a common dream, anymore. Or, even share what yours has now become.
I could go on. I know that some of you have many more topics to add to this list. So, I invite you to send them to me, and I will not publish your identity if I use them in a future segment. Write me at Russ@DontOverlookTheObvious.com
IDENTITY & FINANCIAL CRISIS+!!
We often spend our days going in and out of phone booths. (Remember them?) - We go from being a Wife or Husband... a Father or Mother... Daughter or Son... to being an Employee or Employer.
For better or worse, the latter 2 are of greater importance, much of the time, than our other roles. Perhaps because we might spend more of our days in their environment. Especially nowadays, when so many of us are tethered to our smartphones, tablets, or computers. Perhaps, because these roles are the culmination of childhood dreams and the answer to the all too typical question asked of children: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" And, as adults, we feel obligated to have a specific answer,
that is grounded in our current reality.
Dave Ramsey, an incredible financial guru for the person facing debt head-on, often says: Finances are the most common reason for a divorce.
Well, while I am torn between that response and issues of communication or matters of intimacy, I do agree with his premise that financial stress will certainly take a huge toll upon a marriage.
This Recession has been particularly difficult for so many of us. Some of you have found yourself laid-off. Others, if you were fortunate, were now working longer hours for less pay and benefits. Perhaps, benefits came off the table, altogether. Regardless, the financial and emotional stress has been unbearable, at times.
Strength in a marriage is summoned during these periods, perhaps more than any other crisis, aside from death or illness.
Your husband or wife's identity, regardless of age, is intricately woven with threads of their profession. - Younger workers suddenly lose their teenage sense of invulnerability. Older workers feel stripped of their clothes, their very skin. And, for all, there can come the overwhelming black cloud that pours rain and accompanies thunder and lightning storms, at home and in their heart.
Unfounded embarrassment is common, whether or not your loved one had done anything wrong.
Denial, fear, and dread can block out anything positive in their life.
Has your spouse lost their employment? If so, allow me to recommend a movie made not too long ago. The name of it is The Company Men. Starring Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner, Craig T. Nelson, and other recognizable names. This film captures so much of the dread, the denial, the fear, the hopelessness, the utter terror, the charades... As well as the goodness in others. The
effects that a supportive spouse can create. The horrible acts that having a selfish or frightened spouse can lead to. How to be realistic...
What you do as a spouse of someone whose identity has been ripped apart will dictate the direction of your marriage. It will have a profound impact upon any children whom you have.
There are no magic bullets, per se. Yet, there are some steps to take.
Be a listener. Offer suggestions. Do not pretend that this job loss is not all that important, because it is! Be loving. Be firm. Be creative. Just 'be there'.
Hopefully, as with many storms that we encounter in life, 'this too shall pass'.
How we come out of the other end of it, largely depends upon skills and the love that we developed along the way.
Don't be afraid to seek the advice and support of professionals. Be they pastoral, financial, legal, or therapeutic in nature.
My final advice is to not run away from your husband or wife. But to be the team that you promised to become on your wedding day.
(If you would like to share your marriage's story of struggles, loss, or success in dealing with a lasting loss in employment, please write to Russ@DontOverlookTheObvious.com - If posted, any real names given by you, will not be a part of the posting.)
The Fallacy Of '50-50' For Dividing Household Chores
Equality. Equality in a marriage is a commonly stated goal of many a spouse. Possibly, you have expressed a strong desire for this state of affairs? Well, if so, perhaps you have already stumbled upon some, shall we say, 'issues' resulting from this. Even if not, you might get some preparation here which might prove useful should the occasion occur.
Depending upon your personal upbringing, culture, and the society that you find yourself being a part of...
The husband might hold a traditional role. The sole breadwinner. The one who makes the heavy decisions. The disciplinarian of the children. The one who does the 'manly' stuff around the home. - The wife might be subservient to the males in the home. She might have all of the housework, shopping, cleaning, and other stereotypically 'female' responsibilities.
Or, you might find yourself in a marriage, such as mine, where many of the roles have been shared, regardless of the above.
Ultimately, every couple should come to an agreement on how household jobs will get done, by whom, and when.
But, let's get back to the concept of 'Marriage Equality'. A '50-50' relationship... Well, first of all, there is no such thing! Let me repeat this. There is no such thing. And, if you and your spouse attempt to create such an atmosphere, you will become frustrated, and it will be doomed for failure. Once you both get into a 'scoreboard' and tallying each person's job functions, the marriage becomes less about helping one another out and more about 'the impossible'.
"Why can't we easily divide chores and such... ?"
Well, I never said that you shouldn't divide tasks. I simply spoke of the concept of 'equality'/ '50-50'. For example, how does one assign a 'point system' to the following? Cooking meals - Cleaning the house - Taking care of the outside upkeep of the property - Helping the children with homework - Running errands - Marketing - Clothes shopping - Writing out/ otherwise paying bills - Planning vacations - Planning 'date nights' - Babysitting the children - Car repairs - Handling in-laws...
Is cooking the meals worth more points than cleaning up after the meal? Is helping the kids with homework worth more or less than running them back & forth to appointments and after-school activities? Is 'taking out the trash' included in 'cleaning the house'?
What if you don't like doing something, such as trimming bushes, but you are clearly better at it than your wife or husband?
Do you evaluate tasks by how much time they take to complete? Or by skill level required? Or by the 'eckk' factor?
Does the person earning the most money or working the most hours get to do less around the home? Does doing work at home exempt either one of you from responsibilities?
When does it pay to hire someone to do the specific task?
What happens when someone is sick? Do they have to 'make up' their household tasks?
If you thought that I would make this an easy assessment... Or, that these questions do not arise in real life... Then you are incorrect! - So, be careful for what you ask for. Realize that a '50-50' split of household jobs is not possible or even desirable. So, what is the answer for a couple who wants to be fair when sharing jobs on the homefront? - Simply discuss who has the best skill level for specific jobs. Who doesn't mind something as much as the other person. Attempt to find a balance. (Which is not the same thing as 'even Stevens'.) Be willing to be flexible. Re-negotiate and re-examine things, as life changes. (And, be assured that life will change! Many times!)
(If you would like to share some of your thoughts or experiences on this matter, simply send an email to: Comments@DontOverlookTheObvious.com - We will not use your real names, unless you ask us to do so.)
Subtle Put-Downs And...
"... and that's the only good thing about him."
That was the comment one woman made to another as they shopped at a national retailer. And, it had me thinking about the ease with which we often describe our wife or husband to a friend, relative, or co-worker.
Question: Do you criticize or put-down your spouse more often than praise them, when speaking to others?
Another question: If you answered, 'No' to the above, do you say anything about them which they would construe as a put-down or criticism?
Yes, no one is perfect. ('Scuse me! No one other than you... )
But, words can not only pierce someone's one ego, they can easily color someone else's perception of that person. Especially if they do not know the individual, well.
"What does it matter? It wasn't anything drastic or dramatic that I said about him."
What might appear to be trivial to you might not be to someone else.
For example, your husband might not be the handiest guy on the block. Yet, if he tries to fix things around the house and usually does an adequate job, do you really need to point out his failings to your dad or girlfriend?
Guys, if your wife is not a Paula Deen, Giada, or Rachel, in the kitchen, but you haven't had to have your stomach pumped, should you create fear in your buddy who is coming over for dinner?
Fact is that what we say to others regarding our partner in life, matters. Whether consciously or not, it will color their perception of your lover. (Speaking of 'lover', sexual prowess should not be a topic for discussion with your immediate family or friends. If you have issues in that arena, then a physician or counselor is your best bet for airing concerns.)
Now, am I saying that you need to monitor everything that comes out of your mouth? Of course, not! But try to place yourself in your bride or groom's place. And, even if you decide that the comment would not bother you if they said it, you do know how they would take it, if said in front of them.
Remember that once something is said, the other person is likely to remember it when in your wife or husband's presence. Especially if you tell them not to bring it up! (If someone says to picture a guy with 3 nipples or a woman with different sized breasts... Then tells you never to mention it in the person's presence, and definitely not to stare at them... Well, you get the picture. You would
be staring at them all evening at a party! Come on! You know that you would.
Bottom-line: Show some respect for your spouse, even if they are not around and you are simply chatting away with someone. Especially, if that person interacts with your husband or wife.
Did I mis-spell the title of this piece? Did I intend to write, Step Parents? - The answer is 'No' and 'No'.
So, what is a 'Set-Up Parent"? - Glad you asked!
These are parents who set-up the other for looking bad in the eyes of their children. Occasionally, it can be simple, benign matters. Other times, the stakes are much higher.
First, you need to realize that in many-most families, there is 1 parent who is looked at by the children, as the 'Cool One'... The parent who gives them not only the most attention quantity-wise, but who also lets them get away with more, and who appears to be the most supportive one.
There can be multiple reasons for this. Perhaps the other parent works 2 jobs or has multiple commitments which the other one does not. Perhaps each parent simply has a different approach to parenting. Regardless, the Set-Up Parent (SUP) takes advantage of their position in the family.
The SUP might not realize that they are doing this. Or, it might be their way of insuring a lasting bond with the children. Or of helping them with their great insecurity. They might have seen this behavior in their own home.
Need some examples? How about the SUP who tells the children that Mom/ Dad did not make their award ceremony because they felt that work was more important. Even though they do manage to take time off whenever they want to. - Or, the SUP buys the children a gift that the family cannot afford. Then tells the other spouse that it's up to them to find a ways to pay for it. And if they don't and the item gets
returned, the kids will know just whose fault it is. (Not the SUP's?) - Or, they complain about how mean or unfair their partner is. So that the children rush to the SUP's defense, even though the other parent had not been mean at all/
If the non-SUP is the parent who normally does the disciplining (because there is often only 1 parent who really does it), then they become an especially easy target.
The sad part is that children often grow up believing the negative stuff about the non-SUP. Perhaps they will eventually learn the truth or accept it from another source. Other times, there is no revelation as to what really went down. And, this is the worst part. For an otherwise good parent lives so much of their life, bearing the hurt and pain inflicted by the SUP.
Does the Set-Up Parent intend to do such damage? It can vary from instance to instance.
So, if you are a SUP, then stop it, right now. And, set the record straight! If you are the other parent, then attempt too get the family into counseling. If this approach does not take place or yield proper results, the give serious consideration to leaving the marriage.
"And, Here I Thought That I Had The Best Of Both Worlds"
What do the following have in common?
#1 Knights who donned armor.
#2 The Starship Enterprise shield system
#3 Flannel nightgown with feet
Eureka! You guessed it! Each person involved with these things wishes to keep things out and to protect themselves, from someone or something.
Yes, at some point in time, we all have probably gone the extra mile in preparing for a hurt. Physical or emotional.
Now, if you have an abusive spouse, my 1st advice is get somewhere safe with any children whom you might have.
But, right now, I'd like to discuss those of you who don 'emotional armor' so that your husband or wife will hopefully never harm you.
Now, I don't know about you, but that takes an awful concerted effort. And is very tiring. Not only do you have to focus on the 'here and now', and multi-task your work & home responsibilities, but now you need to be ever vigilante so that you do not make yourself vulnerable to your spouse's evil side.
What, you say? Your spouse is not evil? Then why, pray tell, do you go to such efforts to keep them at a safe distance so that they don't harm you?
"Self-protection", you exclaim! You were hurt before by a former lover, betrothed, or... And you will never let that happen to you again.
So, let me get this straight. You chose to marry someone, declaring your love and fidelity to them and your union. You share a bed and bodily fluids. Perhaps, offspring. Finances. A residence. But, deep down inside you truly don't trust them. - So, you married them, "why"?
Here comes the cliche. Walls and armor and footsie nightgowns not only keep away danger but they keep out the great stuff. Like love. Intimacy. Passion. Real fun!
In fact, you simply deprive yourself of the joys that life offers a married couple.
How stupid do you think that your wife or husband is? At some point in time they will catch on and trust me, they will not be thrilled with you. Some savvy spouses will confront you. Others will deal with their hurt at your lack of respect for them by withdrawing or acting out. Others will simply leave you: divorce, affair, substance abuse...
You took on this relationship. Either commit to it, entirely or re-think the whole thing. (Out loud... ) Having a 'half-filled marriage' is not the same as looking at a glass of wine and saying, "The glass is half-full. Hooray!"
Glancing At, Admiring, and Ogling - Is There a Difference?
You've probably done one of these 3 actions.
The questions are: Was your spouse present? Did they catch you doing it? What was their reaction? And, did it seem reasonable?
My late grandfather reportedly told his wife of many decades that it was okay if he looked over the menu but only ate what was prepared by his wife.
In other words, he did not care whether or not my grandmother was hurt or offended by his actions, as long as he did not physically stray from his marital bedroom.
Some researchers would say that it is 'human nature' to check out an attractive individual.
Whether or not that action is harmful seems to truly depend upon each person involved. And, perhaps more importantly, upon the state of their marriage.
During decades of observing folks 'in the wild' (in public places), as well as listening to what workshop participants would say... It appears that more often than not, women will verbally express their displeasure when the husband allows his eyes to linger too long on another woman. Men it seems will be angry or hurt but tend to keep it in, or to act out in a seemingly unrelated fashion.
I have known some women to say something akin to, "Yes, she is very sexy... Now, where were we?"
If the marriage is a sound and happy one, spouses tend to feel less threatened by such actions and more annoyed by them, if anything. Spouses who are insecure in themselves or their marriage tend to react immediately to such actions by their husband/ wife... And, in a hostile manner.
Well, here's my take on the subject at hand.
I believe that at least glancing at an attractive person is almost an instinctual matter. But 'glancing at' is truly not the same as 'staring at'. - I find a stare to be insulting to your spouse. Especially, if you are on a date night or at a party. - If you wish to fantasize about this passerby, then the fleeting glimpse that you took already, should suffice. (Fantasizing is a natural and healthy behavior, overall.)
'Ogling' should never be acceptable. This is offensive to both your spouse and the other person. Yes, evenif that stranger is scantily dressed or is otherwise revealing a little too much of their physical attributes.
Don't forget that the subject of your eyes might be offended and complain about it. How embarrassing! Or, their date/ mate might decide to relieve themselves of some aggressive thoughts. (Not a pretty picture.)
Then of course, what would you do if the object of your momentary 'affection' decided to leave you their number? Or, ask you to meet them somewhere? (A fantasy turned reality can have some disastrous results.)
So, how should the offended partner respond when this occurs?
Well, one could try to simply say, "When you stare at someone else, I don't feel desirable. And that certainly takes me out of any romantic mood that I had." - Another approach would be to say, "Wandering eyes can lead to wandering hands... So, why not put your eyes forward and your hands on mine or on another part of me? Your choice!" (Say it in a cute or flirtatious manner.) - "You could go up to them and see if you get 'lucky'. Or, stay with a sure thing... "
In other words, don't allow rude behavior to go unchecked. But don't make a big scene, either
And, if you do your share of staring and think it's no big deal, then don't fuss about them doing the same. Cut them some slack.
Finally, remember that there is a difference between a 'glance', a 'stare', and an 'ogling'. That while the first two might be 'human nature', we can perhaps elevate ourselves a bit and keep save reflex actions for when we are alone.
(IF YOU HAVE A DIFFERING OPINION or WISH TO SHARE AN ANECDOTE on this topic, please write me at russ@DontOverlookTheObvious.com - Actual names that you mention will not be posted, if your comments are used.)
When That Day Comes
You've reached that plateau. And perhaps, then some.
You are 40 plus years old... young... whatever.
You look back upon your life with both fondness and regrets.
You wake up in the morning to find yourself in the same room as your wife or husband. But, in separate beds. You long to roll over, give a quick snuggle, a soft kiss, and then begin your day.
Breakfast, if actually eaten rather than gulped, is served with few words. And, what is spoken is often a laundry list of appointments, errands, and commitments.
'Commitment' once meant something special to the both of you. It was an affirmation of your love for one another and a burning desire not only to be one with them, physically, but spiritually.
Now, the desire burns less bright, more often than not. So many commitments and issues have come between you.
The day becomes a blur. An exhausting one. You cherish the ride home from work or dropping the kids off somewhere. Once home, you feel as though the 2 of you are more roommates than lovers... Than man and wife.
You brush your thinning hair away from your face and settle into the madness that is evening. Now, when you brush against one another, it is not purposeful or playful. You sense a loss at that realization, but there is too much to be done before you can relax for the evening.
Evening becomes a preoccupation with TV, Facebook, Netflix, or simply mindless web surfing.
You are together, yet apart. And while you miss doing things together, smelling her hair, or his sweat, you do not pause to attempt re-igniting what you once had in your younger days.
Now, it is time to retire. And, then some. You watch her change and do her hair. How you wish that you could find the courage... the impetus to reach out to her and take her in your arms... and simply 'take' her.
Or, you watch him stretch as he prepares for sleep. And, although his stomach is not what it once was... And his arms are now flabby... You wish that he would hold you. And that you would stroke his hair and gently kiss his cheeks and neck and chest.
However, you each climb into your separate slumber 'pods'. As if a 'second coming' of the Dick Van Dyke Show. There is no apparent reason to roll over except to turn away from them so that they do not see you shed that tear.
WOW! What a downer, you must think! But can you relate to this? Or do you know of someone who can?
Well, you (or they) do not have to settle for this scenario! You are not too old! -- Yes, some of the dynamics have changed, feelings might not burn as brightly. But once re-stoked, who knows?
You each deserve to say more than that you once were in love with your wife or husband. You deserve to not let your sexual self wither. You deserve to flirt! You and your partner in life can re-ignite a strong and vibrant love affair with one another.
You simply need to be brave. And to remember how you once summoned the courage to ask her out or to be the one to initiate the 1st kiss because he was too shy.
Be a living role model for your children. Leave them with a legacy of passion. With the knowledge that marriage is not a death sentence but a perpetual opportunity, each day, to please and to be pleased. To know that your life has been blessed with an incredible lover, of many levels!
"My Way Or No Way"
A huge source of stress in a family comes from a wife or husband who doesn't do things the way that you do. Can we all say, 'Duh', at once?
I know that you expected your bride or groom would watch you do things at home or instinctively know how you want things done. And, voila! They would abandon their years of habits, welcoming your idiosyncrocies with open arms and an open mind. Even thanking you, incessantly for showing them the errors of their ways.
Okay... Enough sarcasm. But, it is so frustrating to hear you bitch and moan about your spouse who actually puts time and effort into how your house looks, or what needs to be done, simply because it is either not up to your standards or done in a fashion that you approve of.
Stop and think: Does your mother or father approve of all that you do? Probably not. So, why would you expect your mate to? Or, to mimic your style?
Perhaps your spouse complains about how you handle matters, so that you feel it is only fitting for you to do the same. Well, it's not. Neither one of you are children!
If you have a valid reason for why tasks should be handled in a manner that you do them, then, calmly and nicely suggest that they try your method. But, understand that the more you nag and the harder that you push, the more resistance that you will get.
Sometimes, as long as the task is done 'satisfactorily', that is all that should make you beam. Because they did care enough to do it, rather than foist it upon you!
They say that couples instinctively know what each other wants, sexually. That it's part of the whole 'chemistry' thing.
Well, as you might well know, firsthand, 'they' got it wrong. Again.
Far too many women and men find themselves either bored out of their minds or simply sexually frustrated due to a lack of their partner's 'style' and actions.
Part of the problem comes from the fact that some women want a 'take charge' guy. One who will ravage them, as if they had jumped off the pages of one of those romance novels. While others want a very soft and tender approach. They want to be wined and dined and brought to their own ecstasy by way of much foreplay. Still others want to be the sexual aggressor. At least for some of the time.
Then we have the man's desires. He might thoroughly enjoy being the 'swashbuckling hero', but believes that his 'dainty' bride would be turned off by this approach. Or he relishes the thought of a woman who makes the 1st move. Or, he wants to role play. Perhaps, even to speak sexually during...
Fact is, many spouses, regardless of their gender, would enjoy a variety of techniques. Too many couples complain of boredom in the bedroom and list it as one of the reasons for not wanting to be intimate this way.
Then, we have the actual places we enjoy being caressed, touched, kissed, and... Along with a desire for quiet, sexual banter, or music in the background. – Point is, that we have specific likes and dislikes. Fantasies to remain that way, as well as fantasies that we might wish to experience, firsthand.
So, what is wrong with asking for what you want, sexually? Nothing, really. And, a lot is wrong if you do not express your desires.
Yes, there is always the risk that your spouse will turn you down. But, more often than not, they will be pleased to know what turns you on and brings you to a climax. Not only for your satisfaction, but for theirs as well.
Now, before you run off to express yourself, keep this in mind. You should be willing to accommodate at least some of their own passions.
Before someone writes me a nasty email, I am not suggesting that either wife or husband participate in something sexual that disgusts them or would result in harm. – That said, we really do not know whether or not we would enjoy most new experiences until we try them. So, be open, while remaining cautious and maintaining your values.
Bottom line is that you need to take charge of your marital bliss, in the bedroom. Do it assertively, with tact... Perhaps simply show them what you truly want done to you or to do to them, by 'doing'. You and they deserve all of the terrific physical and emotional closeness that comes with a satisfying, even great, sex life!
"They thought that they could hurt me by having a fling! Well, I showed them, didn't I? I had one, too. And, I let them know that sex with this person was the best that I ever had. Ever!"
Guess who's saying this! Come on!
No, it's not a child. No, it's not a
It's your spouse! Or, you.
It never ceases to amaze me when I hear
a wife or husband try to excuse their poor behavior by telling
a friend or co-worker that they were simply doing 'X' because their
partner did it first.
Sometimes, they claim that they only
wanted the other person to experience what they did when told
about the bad behavior. - You know: The spouse had cheated on them.
Or, bought an expensive toy without first consulting with them. Or...
Fact is that if you are going to
behave as a child would, then you need to hear what a parent would
say. “If everyone were jumping off of a bridge, would you do that,
And, forget that saying: One good turn
Tit-for-tat behavior only leads to more
problems in the marriage.
For example... Your husband has an affair. Instead of dealing with him, head-on, you go to a club, pick up a guy, and 'do him'. Then, you return home and let hubby know about your dalliance.
Now, neither one of you is going to get the picture of their mate having sex with someone else, out of their mind for quite a while, if ever. So, what did you accomplish? No one wins when everyone is angry, hurting, or acting out.
Then, some of you will not even pretend
to find an excuse for what you did.
Why? Because you were waiting for your
husband or wife to screw up, so that you could do as you pleased and
attempt to excuse it away as being a justifiable response.
Have you ever known a situation in a
marriage where both parties acting out was a positive thing for
keeping the relationship on a good path?
“You don't know what I've put up with
all these years! So, you aren't in a position to judge me.”
Well, I hate to break it to you, but I
am in a such a position. Bad behavior... Adultery... Reckless
spending... Lying... Abuse... Addiction... All are notvalid
reactions to a spouse's bad behavior.
your wife or husband does something grossly wrong, then call them on
it. Deal with it. Perhaps you need pastoral or professional
counseling. Perhaps a good old-fashioned argument. Perhaps a divorce.
deal with it head-on and in a mature fashion. And, that means that
you seldom rush off to Mom's or a buddy's pad. Work things out. You were adult enough to take vows.
I won't pretend that when I was single and in relationships that I
never behaved in an immature fashion. Especially, if the lady was not
acting ladylike or responsible. But, I grew up. And, you can, as
well, if you haven't done so, already.
There's not a valid excuse to treat your partner as badly as they
might have treated you. Hopefully, it was a one-time thing on their
part. Seek professional help, if necessary. Just don't blow-up your
marriage, unnecessarily. Because you cannot 'un-ring a bell', once rung.
Which Way To Look, This New Year's
Well, another year is passing by.
Some of you will be 'looking backward' instead of forward.
What do I mean? Simply that you tend to live your life looking in the rearview mirror. Any and all regrets are not only still occupying your present thoughts, but they overwhelm your mind and heart so that nothing else can be seen. When that happens, you not only miss out on great moments with your spouse and perhaps your children... You miss out on wonderful feelings and chances for new paths in life.
Your marriage will also suffer from this 'hindsight' point of view. All spouses screw up somewhere along the way. Whether 'for real' or simply in your own judgment is immaterial. Why? Because you will make your spouse 'pay' for what they did.
No! I am not saying that you should ignore abuse, neglect, adultery, addictions... But, I am saying that for the routine ways in which your husband or wife upset, pissed-off, puzzled, or not lived up to your expectations from them or your marriage, move on. (As long as you hashed out the situation. If you didn't, then what are you waiting for!)
For example...Your spouse made a foolish purchase, but they are normally wise with money. - They did not get the promotion that you hoped for. - You weren't thrilled with your anniversary present. - You had a few rough months that have since passed. - You felt unappreciated for a while, but that feeling also passed. - There were harsh words spoken, but they were later followed up with
Then, there are some of you who know that you were not the partner in life that you should have been. - You were neglectful. - You strayed emotionally or physically. - You were moody and took out your frustrations on your wife or husband. - You were not affectionate. - You deprived them (and yourself) of the pleasures of sexual intimacy. - You spent most or all of your free time on Facebook, playing
WOW, or working.
Bottomline, this is a time for reflection, but also for revving up your engine and going forward. Don't forget to ask your spouse to come along for the ride... I mean, 'adventure'!
The 'Other' In-Laws
Do you remember the ads for 'The Other White Meat'?
Well, there is a set (or 2) of 'other in-laws'.
For the most part, when we speak of (complain about) in-laws, we refer to our spouse's parents. Well, especially during the winter holidays, our married children's in-laws can become a matter of stress for us.
Some of you thought and still do think that your child's choice of a husband or wife was a poor one. (Then again, some of you would never believe that there was a man or woman who was truly good enough for your 'baby'.)
Even if you do approve of their choice in life partners, the odds are good that you do not approve of or get along with their parents.
Jealousy, one-upmanship... Differing personalities... Opposite social backgrounds... Religious and political viewpoints... Opinions regarding marriage and child rearing... Financial conditions... And, oh, so much more can be sources of conflict.
While you feel justified in letting your feelings of these 'outsiders' be known not only to your son or daughter, but to their spouse, you need to step back. Way, back!
Realize that you are speaking of people near and dear to your daughter or son-in-law. Perhaps your own child truly enjoys their company and lifestyle!
Either way, if you want to minimize stress for your child... If you want to still see your child (and grandchildren, if any)... Then you need to tread carefully. - Yes, you are entitled to your opinion. But, just as religion and politics are often topics best left in the privacy of your own home, the topic of these 'other' parents should be handled very delicately.
Am I suggesting that you be phony? Hold back your feelings? - Well, probably. But, not so much 'phony' as 'polite', 'respectful'. You do not need to put your child in the midst of more conflict, than usually exists in a marriage.
Also, don't get into a 'pi__ing match' with these folks. Be yourself. Otherwise, no one wins and the couple who began the match will likely be painted as the 'loser', anyway.
Don't argue over whose house to go to for holidays, birthdays, or... Let your child work it out.
Remember that most parents simply want wants best for their child and their family.
What of 'in-laws' who are really obnoxious, rude, or... ? In such a case, then pull your child aside, in person, if possible. Express your feelings. Let them know that you will not tolerate being treated poorly or to see them being mishandled by the in-laws. Let them know that if such behavior continues you will either speak up (not yell) or simply not show up to events when they will be present.
Bottom-line? Civility goes a long way. And should impress your son or daughter-in-law.
Although there are some folks who have never done it, I'd venture to say that most people have does it at least once and probably more frequently.
What am I thinking of this time? Well, it's 'One Upmanship'.
I heard a shopper speaking with the salesclerk, the other day. He explained that he had to get a television that was larger and had more features than that of his wife. He seemed absolutely determined to achieve this goal, whatever the financial cost.
This had me thinking about the many ways that a spouse can attempt to 'one-up' their partner.
They could earn more money.
Go for a higher level position.
Seek a more advanced education degree.
Drive a more expensive car.
Purchase a 'smarter' Smartphone.
Cut off their wife/ husband's conversation.
Be the first one to share news with others.
Be more sexually available.
Do more around the house.
Become the children's 'favorite parent'.
Be the most fit.
Be the sharper dresser.
Be the most informed.
Point out their partner's mistakes, more frequently.
Ask their husband/ wife to tackle projects that they know the spouse is likely to fail at.
Lay claim to either the best or the worst childhood.
Have the most 'Friends' on Facebook.
Always get in the 'last word'.
I could go on and on. But, you get the point. Most of these, as with the shopper of a television, are foolish, petty, and the sign of an insecure person. So, don't be that insecure individual.
Why Do Powerful Men Have Affairs?
With the news of Gen. David Petraeus, (now former) head of the CIA, having had an affair with an author, Paula Boadwell, came the typical question from the media: Why do powerful, married men have affairs? My question could just as easily be: Why do powerful/ famous women have affairs?
The real question should be why do stereotypically successful spouses have affairs?
And, the honest answer that most pundits seem to avoid is that there is no single answer. No solitary reason.
Yes, powerful/ successful men & women might feel entitled to have what (and whom) they desire, when they desire them!
But there are countless other reasons:
* No longer being in love with their spouse.
* No longer finding their wife or husband , sexually attractive.
* No longer finding sex with their spouse, fulfilling. It seems 'stale'.
* Receiving the attention from another, that they no longer get from their partner in life.
* They are simply highly sexual and their spouse does not satisfy their needs.
* They get caught up in a 'moment'.
* The above and perhaps they cannot bring themselves to end the affair, even though they know instinctively that they should.
* They have an 'open marriage'. And, when caught by the media, the 'scoundrel' does the 'honorable thing and protects their wife/ husband's reputation by not owning up to their marital agreement.
* They are sex addicts. (Some Researchers now believe that this is an actual mental condition which belongs in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.)
* They are scoundrels. Plain and simple.
* They see marriage as a business arrangement and therefore it is natural to have changing 'personnel polices'.
Obviously, the list could go on for a while longer. -- The point being that adultery is wrong. That women as well as men not only commit it, but initiate it. That these questions are largely vehicles for peeping into the private lives of others. That adultery crosses age, economic, racial, religious, and cultural, lines.
A far better use of your time would be to examine your own relationship. To begin making changes which will have a likelihood of preventing your marriage from becoming a source of gossip and ridicule.
They're Fed Up And So Am I
They're fed up! And, truth be told, so am I!
With what? Well, your drinking, gambling, cheating ways, yelling, nagging, blowing money without consulting your spouse, arguing, put-downs, avoiding responsibilities around the house, criticizing 'everything', refusing to be intimate, ignoring your health, ignoring the children, lack of down time with your wife/ husband, pretending that every problem is their fault, and... I think that I could continue for a while longer.
Yes, you can point to some self-help book that says the man or woman is always at fault. Or, to a 'guru' who will give your obnoxious behavior a 'free pass' because you were neglected or abused or deprive of things, as a child.
But, I won't excuse you that easily, or at all!
Ultimately, you are responsible for your actions. You have some power, at the least to help change not only your personal behaviors, but the quality of your marriage and your home life.
Stop the cop-outs! If you need professional counseling, then go for it! And, money is not an obstacle, because there is all sorts of free or sliding fee scale help available.
And, depending upon the issues, something as basic as getting a copy of IMPROVE YOUR MARRIAGE - DON'T OVERLOOK THE OBVIOUS, can get you on your way.
No, you don't have to remind me that your partner shares some of the responsibility. But, you have the most control over yourself. And, there are ways to impact the behaviors of others, to a degree.
The longer that you wait to act, the larger the rolling snowball of problems will become.
Whoa! What has me on such a 'tear', today? Well, a man I know told me about a pathetic condition that he has tolerated for years, only recently tackling head-on. And, while I have sympathy for him, I also resent that he allowed the situation to get out of hand.
Too often, I have seen and heard spouses brag about their behaviors or complain of those of their husband or wife. And, it's as though they have no real power or responsibility. Both of which is incorrect.
So, look around you. And, at yourself. Take an honest assessment. Then take action. (And, I don't mean whining or tossing the blame, elsewhere.)
You and your partner deserve the best in life. So do any children whom you have. So, get with it! Now!
Two's Company & Three's A Crowd
'Twos company and threes a crowd' applies to the marital bed, and not only as regards a menage-a-trois.
Raise your hand if your child sleeps with you and your spouse. Come on now! be honest. Okay. Thanks!
Now, how many of those children are 3 or older? 5 and older? 10 and up?
Typically, it appears that moms are the ones who either see nothing wrong with this behavior or who refuse to rock the boat regarding it. But, regardless of your gender, I think that you should re-examine the situation.
It's one thing when a toddler is sick or is truly having a nightmare. It's another matter when your child moves into the marital suite on a nightly basis.
Problems set in.
"How could you be so insensitive and cruel? Don't you also want to have a close relationship with your son/ daughter?"
Well, my response is:
#1 Shouldn't your child develop a sense of 'self-security'?
#2 What will they do, if perish-the-thought that you, your spouse, or both of you, were to die in a car crash or... ? Or you and your spouse divorce and end up sharing custody?
#3 Is it possible that this is a way for your child to manipulate you and your partner? And to exercise some inappropriate 'power'?
#4 (And, this could be the 'big one'... ) Why are you avoiding a return to the marital bed, the way it was at one time? Are you angry at your husband or wife? Are you afraid of them and hope that by having your child share the bed, they will not harm either one of you? Are you hoping that this child will provide a reasonable excuse for not being intimate with your partner in life?
While you can probably find some 'experts' who will agree with having children share your bed (attachment parenting?), it appears to many, not to be a healthy behavior to settle into.
And, as with any habit, when you finally decide to end it, the process will likely be much more difficult than it would be now.
I would be remiss if I also did not bring up the matter of possible sexual inappropriateness, taking place at some point in time.
Finally, this behavior will likely create a wedge between you and your husband or wife. It is probably better to have your child whine and fuss than to have that occur.
Think this matter over. And, perhaps decide that tonight, or later this week, that your bed will once again, have only 2 occupants. The woman and man who love one another. And drift off to sleep, cuddling.
Playing 'Hide & Seek'
Do you and your spouse play 'Hide & Seek'?
No! Not as part of sexual foreplay.
Allow me to re-phrase this question.
Do you or your spouse hide from the other, to avoid spending time, together? To pretend that there are no important matters to discuss? To make believe that there are no important matters to discuss? To pretend that your daughter is not pregnant or that your son is not doing drugs? Or... ?
Let's look at some of the many ways in which we avoid our spouse, when not on the job or once housework is done and the kids are in bed. (Okay! I do know that housework is truly never done, but can't we pretend that it is? Just this once?)
#1 Making the perfect yard look even better! Especially since your spouse has severe outdoor allergies so that they won't follow you out there.
#2 Actually volunteering to take out the trash. As well as that of everyone up and down the street.
#3 Taking work home. "My boss needs these reports for the morning."
#4 Remaining at your child's ballet, gymnastics, or butterfly collecting class, instead of dropping them off and going home.
#5 Facebook, Twitter, or forums. "I simply cannot ignore my Friends' messages. Certainly you can understand that."
#6 Volunteering for anything that you can, which will keep you out of the house, until bedtime.
#7 Always spending time at the neighbors' homes.
#8 Being given your own parking space at the local tavern.
#9 Always having company over.
#10 Moving to some online gaming community, at least in your mind.
#11 Working in the garage.
#12 Falling asleep on the couch whenever a heavy discussion is beginning. "But, darling! I couldn't help it. I was exhausted from all of the housework that I did, today.
#13 Hitting the market. "I'm certain that I forgot to buy milk, bread, or knishes."
#14 "Can't this matter wait until another time? This is the big play-off game."
We all know that I could go on and on and on with avoidance techniques.
The obvious problem, however, is that without both of you spending time communicating, or simply 'hanging out together', the rift will simply widen, eventually becoming a chasm far too wide for you to bridge.
Problems truly do not disappear in the real world. So deal with them, now!
Learn the arts of communicating, (polite) disagreeing, and the art of compromise.
Re-connect. Work at finding common interests, once again.
Set aside time for those heavy discussions.
Be more affectionate. - It's very difficult to wish to avoid someone whom you are physically & sexually intimate with.
Remember why you married one another! Acknowledge that each one of you has changed, over time. Re-kindle connections with the 'new you'!
Fantasizing About Their Death
"What the heck? - Why would I be fantasizing about my spouse's death? - That's pretty morbid!"
Yes, you are correct. 'Morbid' is a word for it. Other words could be 'thought provoking' or 'learning how to better appreciate my wife/ husband'.
"What are you talking about, you sicko?"
Think back to those loved ones who have already passed on.
What do you remember about them? Bad times? Or, good times? And, do you miss them? Wish that they were still around?
The fact is that for most of us, when we think back on the life of and our time with a loved one who died, we tend to focus on their positive traits. We tend to remember happy times with them. Special moments that we shared. Their loving ways. Even if they had faults that bothered us when they were alive, we do, overall, miss this person.
Many times, we wish that they were still here with us. For us to confide in. Share mundane moments with. Have them in our life for the ways in which they supported us, cheered for us, or otherwise made us happy.
If it was a former spouse, we might even miss the tender or exciting moments spent in lovemaking.
So, snap out of this daydream. And, realize why I was asking you to participate in this fantasy exercise. It is only after we lose our husband or wife that we realize how trivial so many of our complaints were. Would you now ignore their annoying habit, if only they were back in your life? In your arms? In your bed? Would you spend more time with them. Without nagging? Would you hold their hand, as you did, years ago? Would
you try to re-ignite passion?
Fantasizing about your spouse's death can be an incredibly effective way for you to get back on track... To once again, be the wonderful spouse, whom they married!
Their results included the following: Drinking problems were reported more often by women who were divorced, than women who were married for a long period of time. More men than women self-reported having at least 1 drinking problem, regardless of their marital status. Not surprising was that more men who were recently divorced drank much more than men who were in a long term marriage.
So, you ask, what does this prove other than 'The Obvious'? Well, isn't that sufficient?
Divorce is very difficult. So, when possible and safe to do, try your hardest to make your marriage work! Whether you need counseling or the help of a book such as Improve Your Marriage - Don't Overlook The Obvious, get help if you need it. Your marriage is precious. At least it once was. So, work hard to get it back !
And, if your drinking is a problem, then get help. If your spouse's drinking has gotten out of hand, point them in the direction of counseling/ other treatment. Whether or not they do seek the help that they need, you (and your children) should seek the support of a group such as Al-Anon, or individual counseling.
Another Take On The Word 'Sorry'
Elton John sang, 'Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word', years ago, in a song that became immensely popular. Ever wonder why? Well, some of you do not need to wonder. That's because your spouse never seems to be able to utter that word.
"Seriously?", some of you will ask.
Yes! Some people, for a myriad of reasons will never apologize to their spouse. - Some folks believe that it is a sign of weakness. Foolishness! It takes a strong and confident person to admit when they have hurt someone or made a mistake. - Others were made to apologize for anything & everything while growing up, regardless of whose fault something was. And, they vowed to themselves that when they grew up, they would never apologize again. - Still others are concerned that their husband or wife might not
actually forgive them So that they will not allow that possibility to even exist. Foolish, as their spouse is less likely to forgive them, when there is no apology.
Out of fairness, there are those who might not utter those famous words, but who will show their feelings of regret in another fashion. - They might prepare their spouse's favorite meal or dessert. They could bring home the stereotypical flowers or balloons. Send a card, email, or more likely, these days, a text message. They could do a household chore that their partner knows that they detest doing. Suggest sex. Or, a show.
So, you do need to be able to read your partner's signals and actions, if they are not likely to say the words, "I am sorry".
What if you feel strongly that you do need to hear your mate's wondrous voice utter regret? And, they simply will not do it.
Perhaps you could try doing what they do, when you are wrong. However, I have seen where the 'offending' spouse simply does not get the point of this action. And, they become belligerent, throw a pout, or...
My best suggestion is for you is to simply let them know what you need to hear. That anything less than that simply would not cut it! Then, it will be up to them to respond in the manner that you wish them to do, or not. Simply ignoring the issue will probably lead to increased frustration and anger on your part. You will likely let it show, if not in angry words, but in actions meant to either 'pay them back' or hurt them, in some way. Perhaps, you will decide to withdraw from them physically, emotionally, or both.
Bottom-line, this, like most problem areas in a marriage, will most likely not get better without some direct action on your part. And, depending upon the level that this has risen to (for one or both of you), you might need to seek professional counseling. Try to remember that, "I'm sorry", can also be among the nicest things to say!
I'm Tired! - Too Busy, Right Now, Maybe Later
"Is it time, again? We made love, last Saturday night. Can't that hold you until the weekend?"
Or... "I worked all day. Picked-up the kids from daycare. Made supper. Did a batch of laundry. Spoke with my mom, and yours, for that matter... And, I am beat! So, even though I would love getting physical, Honey, I just can't get the energy going."
Or, "I still have a bazillion things to do. Including that report for the morning and helping with the kids' homework. So, sex is out, tonight. Maybe tomorrow or later this week."
You know that I could go on with dozens more reasons why your spouse simply does not want to have sex with you, today. Or, perhaps you are the one who is avoiding the intimacy. Regardless, if you and your husband or wife don't get it together, there will be resentment, 'payback', perhaps an affair, or...
No one should have sex against their will. That said, giving your partner of yourself is special. And, don't you deserve some enjoyment, some downtime?
If you or your partner are always exhausted, list the reasons on paper. Then tackle solutions. Don't give me reasons why they won't work. There is always a solution!
For example, 'housework'. - Well, aside from the obvious maid/butler idea, there is you and your spouse. Division of labor! It doesn't have to be a tit-for-tat procedure, either.
'Errands'. - Are errands being done daily, when they could easily be lumped together on one or two days/evenings? And, shared? Is there a responsible teen or relative who would love a few extra dollars?
'Time with the kids'. - I will agree that this is super important. But somewhere in a week, there can be some adult-time arranged for. Kids should also have some 'peer time'. (Supervised, but with less of your time and physical energy, than normal.)
If you are too exhausted, nothing says that you can't 'lie back', let your partner do the 'heavy lifting', and enjoy it!
Sort of boils down to good old-fashioned time management, efficiency, and a proper mindset.
Is one of you simply dodging the whole sex thing?
If out of anger, deal with it, head-on! Clear the air!
And, something that can be so mutually satisfying as sex should never be used as a weapon.
What if it simply is that one of you just does not enjoy sex. Period. Nothing personal about your wife or husband...
You guessed it, if you figured out that I would say that they should be intimate with their spouse, anyway. Because they should. Because they love them. - Think about it, this way. If there is sex only once per week, that's not even 15% of the days! How long does the lovemaking session take, anyway? Are we even speaking about 1% of the hours in a week?
Look! Sex is important. And, the odds are great that if the one who wants it is honest, they will say that not having it does matter. Greatly. If you are the one who desires it, more often, be straight about it with your partner.
'Nuff said! (Although next week, I'll discuss other reasons, not often spoken about, why a spouse does not want to make love. And, what to do about it.)
Exhaustion and differences in sex drives became the topic for a while.
Then, Christine asked the 'semi-fatal' question: So, how many times per week does the average couple have sex?
Rather than fill their audiences heads with studies and numbers, I responded by saying... Wait!! Allow me to give you the same answer, but phrased differently.
How many servings of seafood, meat, potatoes, rice, pasta, vegetables, and dessert does the average adult have each day? What? You can't possibly answer that because every person's appetite is bound to be different? And, if you asked people that question in a survey, you would get some folks who answered you honestly, while others might try to give an answer that they believe is 'typical', 'acceptable'. Depending upon the
day and what was going on in their life, the answer might also be different?
Well, the same theories are at work when you discuss a typical, 'normal' frequency for sex, among married couples.
Aside from the obvious differences in sex drives, what would you consider as 'having sex'? Thinking back to President Clinton, would oral sex count? How about only intercourse? Does 'necking & petting' fit in here? What if only one spouse reaches orgasm? And, so it could go...
Would you take into account such factors as having children? Would their ages matter? (How much care and attention do they need?) What of the number of hours a spouse worked? Workplace stress? Financial issues? Spousal harmony? Health of the wife or husband? What if one or both were overweight? Impotent?
Obviously, my sense is that one cannot truthfully and in a practical manner collect such empirical information.
Even if one could, would it truly matter to you and your lover?
Desire, ability, and availability for sex obviously ebbs and flows in a marriage. Of course, there are times when either the 'ebb' or 'flow' is far greater for one person than the other.
So, how can you tell whether or not your sex life is 'normal'? At least in terms of frequency? Reality is that you cannot and should not even consider that issue. - So, yes, you have my permission to let your husband or wife know that comparing your love life with others is pretty meaningless and unfair. What does matter is whether or not one or both of you are sexually satisfied and satisfied with thefrequency!
Let's pretend that there is a chasm... A very wide chasm between each of your levels of desire. Remember that word, 'compromise'? Well, this is the perfect situation to practice it!
"Let me get this straight! You're telling me to have sex with my spouse, even when I am not in the mood! You've got to be kidding!" Well, I am very serious! Again, 'compromise'. For most people, once they get going sexually, they enjoy it. Even if they had originally not been in the mood. And, isn't giving of yourself to your husband or wife, a loving thing to do? Finally, remember that people do not marry their best platonic friend. They wed someone who is a super close friend, whom they are sexually attracted to. (At least this applies to most couples.)
Back to the special number of times per week or month or year, that a couple should have sex... There isn't any! So, work things out in a mature manner with your spouse.
'Nuff said! (Until next week, when I cover the 2nd part of this: "But, I'm tired!" or 'Too busy!" or... )
Is Being 'Right' The Wrong Thing To Be?
When did being 'Right' mean more to you than your wife or husband's feelings of 'betrayal'? Or 'embarrassment?
Don't pretend that you don't know what I mean!
You remember the party where your spouse was describing the big deal that they closed at work. And, you knew that there was a tad or more of exaggeration, going on. So, being the 'honorable' person who you are, you corrected her in front of the guests. Then, when they said nothing to you on the ride home, when getting ready for bed and the flannel nightgown or ratty shorts came on, and the lights went out real fast,
you still 'didn't get' what went wrong.
Are you really that dense? Come on, now! You earned that insult!
'Being correct' is not what it's made out to be. At least not always...
Would you feel humiliated or appreciated if your partner or boss or friend corrected your every factual error or exaggeration? Be honest, okay?
And, no, it is not different than what you do to your hubby or bride.
Now, there are times when correcting a grossly erroneous statement or even a minor, flawed one is called for. But save that for when the information would likely result in harm to someone. As in spreading rumors, promoting bigotry, or damaging someone's reputation when you know that a few well-placed words from you could prevent that from happening.
"But lying wasn't part of the wedding vows!", you say.
No, it wasn't. But think back to the little white lies and exaggerations that you have said during your lifetime. To parents, siblings, friends, and bosses. To your spouse when romance was new and you wished to 'wow' them. To seduce them.
And, motivation matters! Is your spouse, innocently saying something that is false? Or are they trying to feel better about themselves in front of people whose opinion of them matters? (Right or wrong... ) Or...
Here is the bottom line...
Your husband or wife deserves you cutting them some slack. Your job is not to be their parent or school teacher. You aren't the 'Truth Police'.
Know what makes your partner-in-life tick. Be supportive. And, yes, hold them accountable for damaging comments. But, there is a place and time and manner for doing it so that the impact is made, yet, they can save face... Or, at least realize that you are not simply trying to make them appear foolish or dumb.
"Please" and "Thank You"
Remember when you were a child and your parents reminded you of 3 'Special' words? Words that would not only make others see you as a well-mannered child, but which could open doors for special treatment? Candy, toys, ...
If you do not remember them, the words are "Please" and "Thank you".
So, what does a childhood lesson have to do with your current status as a wife or husband?
Simply this: 'Everything'!
Has your spouse yet accused you of taking them for granted? If not, in general, for specific things such as: Always tolerating you being late. - You bringing someone home, without asking. - You making plans without including their input. - You expecting sex-on-demand. - You wanting them to run your errands. - You expecting them to be the sole housekeeper. - You telling them to be the disciplinarian of the children. - You giving
them 'an allowance'. - And, I could go on for quite a while! But, you get the point, now.
Most people want and expect to hear those special words, "Please' and "Thank you", sometimes. Especially from their husband or wife! What did you think? That the marriage license was also some sort of 'Hall Pass' for avoiding a show of appreciation?
Some sincere, well-placed 'Please' and 'Thank you' comments can work wonders for a couple! It canlead to all sorts of benefits. Just use your imagination. (And, try not to let it run in only 1 direction. Okay?)
Not Just 'Another Day'
Yes, the 4th of July is upon us. And, many of you will have the day off from work.
Weather permitting, you will sleep in a little later, have a barbecue, spend time with your spouse and any children whom you have. Extended family and neighbors will bring over dessert. Perhaps you will let children use sparklers (where it is legal and with supervision). And, all in all, everyone will watch major fireworks, listen to patriotic music, and celebrate being here in America.
But, the reality for many of you will be that you will simply make this special day simply a routine 'Sunday'. A day for shopping, chores, everyone going their own way.
Or, some of you might wish to celebrate the day, but you must work. Or, finances are so very tight and even a hotdog & hamburger 'feast' is out of the question, not part of the budget.
Others will simply sit and stare at your spouse, thinking back to when the children were young and there at home with you.
Please allow me to ask you to find some way in which to make the 4th of July 'special' and not simply 'another day'.
Invite the in-laws whom you have not spoken with, in years. - Ask the neighbors whom you know are struggling financially to join you for a cookout. Better yet, bring the cookout to them. Spend time watching fireworks, if only those aired on television specials!
And, gaze at your wife or husband.
In that loving way that was the custom when you were newlyweds. Drop the nagging and hurt feelings, over what you probably no longer remember... Hold their hand. Rub their neck. Make love. Snuggle. Do something special!
Allow this day to re-ignite not only patriotic feelings, but romantic ones, as well.
When Devastating News Hits Home
Bob Seger sings a line in a song regarding war, that 'No one gets to walk between the rain'.
My personal life has seen it's share of tragedy, turmoil, and then some. In fact, someone once told me that if I walked down the street, a couch would fall from a window, seeing it, I would cross the street, but a truck would lose control, go on the sidewalk, and strike me. The ambulance sent to get me to the hospital would run out of gas in the middle of a traffic jam, and... Well, you get the idea.
This week, I was given some very unexpected and devastating news. News that would impact my entire family. It took the wind out of my sails, and then some.
But, in the midst of all this, my bride of 27+ years, gave me an incredible hug and said that we would get through this together. And, the overwhelming sense of being loved, of loving in return... Well, it has seen me through these past few days.
Why do I share this with you, when I seldom discuss personal matters? Well, I count you as special to me. And, I see this as an incredible 'teaching moment'.
When in my book, Improve Your Marriage - Don't Overlook The Obvious, I say that spouses need to learn to count on one another before there is a major storm to weather, this is a prime example of what I mean.
We have been a team. And, sometimes, one leads while the other one follows. Then roles reverse. At times we are side-by-side. And, it truly does not matter. For we have one another's back and tenderly hold one another's heart in our hands and soul. Of course there are spells of arguing, feeling angry, resentful, or... But, always, we love one another and will rise to the occasion when needed to do so!
My prayer for you and your wife or husband is that you learn to trust and rely on one another. Before storms come. So that you can continue to sail onward in your life's journey.
At Home Displays Of Affection
"To be affectionate or not to be affectionate... That is the real question!"
Well, that is the question if you add the condition of your children being present.
I've seen and heard couples discuss this from a gazillion ('technical' number) different angles. In fact, my wife and I have bandied the matter about, over the years.
And, the reality is that there is not a simple, 1-size-fits-all answer.
Face it! You first, need to know your spouse and what they are comfortable in showing, affection-wise. Is hand holding, acceptable? How about a neck rub? Back rub? Quick slap on the tush? Kiss on the cheek? Lips? 'Throat-diving'? Arm caressing? Hugs with no hands, or with them? Sweet-talking? Innuendos?
Second, what are you comfortable with? Forced affection is easily picked-up on, by kids.
Third, what about your children? Are they pre-adolescent or full-blown, hormone-raging teenagers? Awkward when mushy stuff or sexual stuff comes on TV or in the movies? Or...
About the only 'true' ground rules that I would set, involves nothing overtly sexual. Meaning no touching of genitalia. (You would be surprised by what some parents believe is okay to do in view of their offspring!) Nothing that would have upset your folks if they saw you doing it in a parked car at a Lover's Lane.
But, you still wonder what my preference would be in demonstrating affection in view of your children?
Well, I know that kids learn much of how to relate with potential mates from their folks.
If they see tenderness and affection, welcomed by both parents, then they are apt to feel more comfortable themselves with this behavior, than not.
If one of their parents' efforts is usually rebuffed, then they will likely get the message that men or women, in general, do not like public displays, so that they shouldn't bother trying when they grow up. Why deal with rejection?
If neither parent makes such moves on the other, then kids will get the message that such behavior is either 'taboo' or is simply no longer important when people get married. (Despite what TV, movies, or books depict.)
So, what exactly is my druther, here?
For tasteful and tender and playful affection. Because it not only will set a healthy example for your sons and daughters, but will improve the quality of the relationship that you and your spouse share. And, how can that be a 'bad' thing?
Adopt A Sailor? -- What?
"What do you mean by 'Adopt a Sailor'?"
Well, actually, that is the title of a little-known, but powerful movie that married folks should watch.
It stars Bebe Neuwirth, Peter Coyote, and Ethan Peck. - No one else. No spectacular scenery. No special effects. No typical movie dialogue or plot. - It came out in 2008 to little fanfare. Had a budget of approx. $200,000.
So, why do I recommend this film when I seldom do that sort of thing? Well, the play centers around a long-married and long-suffering couple who 'adopt a sailor' for the evening. (A practice where sailors can spend 1 evening on leave, hosted by residents of the area, during Fleet Week.)
Through sometimes witty, sometimes poignant, sometimes troubling, sometimes wistful dialogue, these 3 reveal themselves, relationships, and hidden hopes and fears.
This is not, a movie about a threesome. There is no sex or violence. There is deep soul-searching and revealing.
Beyond this description, I leave it up to you to 'bite' and watch it. Netflix and Amazon offer it on their streaming services. You can also purchase the dvd through multiple sources. Or, perhaps your local library has it available for lending.
But, trust me. Watch it alone or with your spouse. It is bound to open you and your relationship to some important introspection.
Sexual Desires, Turn-Ons, & Turn-Offs
There often comes a time in marriages (or even long term relationships) when the topic of sexual desires and practices can become uncomfortable, to say the least. - Like most aspects of intimate relationships, there are many different professional takes on this topic. And, which one is correct or more moral than another can lead to heated discussions, ending without consensus.
That said, the following represents my opinion. You, ultimately will need to decide and take responsibility for what you do with the information and views.
Fetishes, sexual desires, sexual orientation... represent different things. A fetish for example might focus on the sexual arousal caused by rubbing their partner's feet or wearing leather. A sexual desire might include having oral sex. One's sexual orientation could be heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual.
What any spouse will find acceptable depends upon that person.
For example, there are women who find the notion of giving or receiving oral sex to be exciting and pleasurable. While, others are repulsed by this and cannot conceive of being a party to it. Yet, there are women who believe that oral sex is an 'ultimate act of intimacy'. They would rather have intercourse with someone they are casually dating, than have oral sex.
There are men who are aroused by their partner's sexual conversations, while others believe such action is a sign of their woman being 'loose', a 'slut', if you will.
Often, once a couple has married, or they move in together, one or both partners decide to explore aspects of their sexuality that they either have not done before, or not done with their lover. Perhaps they were afraid of rejection and decide that the commitment they have just made will 'protect them' from it. Perhaps, they simply did not feel relaxed enough with their partner to explore new aspects of sexuality.
After couples have been together for years, one often hears of sexual boredom. Even on 'Everybody Loves Raymond' this topic came up! (Brought up by Debra.)
They say that variety is 'the spice of life', so that this seems to be only natural.
In my opinion, what is sexually appropriate depends mostly upon whether or not both partners willingly agree to 'experiment' with one another or to otherwise please their partner. I do not believe in forcing or even coercing the other person.
Likewise, if your spouse agrees to try something new and says, 'Stop' or something similar during the intimacy, then you should immediately stop what you were doing. Otherwise, resentment and a loss of trust is likely to develop and not be easily rebuilt.
I also believe that when you love and trust your partner, you might find something that was previously on your 'Not To Do' list, to be quite pleasurable and satisfying.
But, what, you ask should you do if your partner requests something that you really have doubts about doing? And, they say that if you truly loved them, then you would go along with it?
Again, it is your decision. For some folks, pleasing their spouse is more important to them than being uncomfortable with an action. Others would not even entertain the notion.
There is the question of what is morally acceptable to do, sexually.
Some folks believe that only intercourse, while in what is called the 'missionary position' (the man on top of the woman) is acceptable. Others believe in only intercourse. Others draw the line at anal sex. Others at oral sex. Some enjoy sexual lubricants or lingerie. Others get turned on by fantasizing about other people, silently or aloud. The list of possibilities is endless. You must make these decisions for yourself.
You also need to evaluate, the best that you can, how important to your lover is their desire? Some spouses have such strong desires for 'something new' to you that if you refuse them there will be great tension in other areas of your relationship, or they might seek a willing partner outside of the marriage. (I am not implying that you do something simply because you afraid of these possibilities becoming real.)
I believe that folks should consider not only their and the others' desires, but health and safety issues, as well.
For example, what are the odds of getting a sexually transmitted disease from your partner? Remember that all of their past partners, in a sense, are going to be your partner, as well!
If they are into sadomasochism, do you wish to risk suffering pain or injury?
Will you feel great guilt or shame for partaking in the sexual activity?
What happens, you might wonder, if you accidentally learn that your lover has been bisexual or involved in threesomes or used to be a transvestite or... ?
If you find these behaviors to be offensive, then you need to address them. Perhaps, in the company of a therapist or clergy person.
You would not be out of line to want to know whether or not these were 1-time events. And, what led them to try the situation. If it was 'a habit', but your partner claims that they have since stopped desiring it, you would also not be out of line to question the sincerity of the statement. Especially, if you have found evidence of this, in your home. (They kept photographs of the behavior or former partners, or they maintain close relations with those involved with doing it, or they keep their prior partners'
phone numbers on speed dial, or... )
Now, nothing says that these behaviors still represent current desires, but you probably should be cautious.
I can imagine that some of you are perplexed by all of this. You might wonder whether or not I am condoning or condemning any of these urges/ behaviors.
The fact of the matter is that I believe that you must be the judge of what you are willing to accept or participate in.
Because sex is such a huge part of a marriage, I urge folks to discuss their sexual past, desires, and the like, before marriage. - Just as love is not enough to justify a life together when there are huge differences in basic moral beliefs, religious beliefs, views on finances or child rearing, or there is addiction or abuse... I believe that strong differences in sexual views and what is acceptable behavior or not, in the
bedroom, can be reason enough for postponing marriage or ending a relationship. Especially if you find the thought of a sexual desire or orientation to be repulsive, the odds that your love for the person will more than compensate for it, are not high.
Well, you have some food for thought. My final suggestion is that you face these issues, sooner than later.
Stop The Whining!
Knock it off, already! What, you ask?
Your whining about the crap that you take from your spouse.
Be forewarned that I am probably going to get some of you very, very angry with me. And, the fact of the matter is that I don't care all that much, as long as my message still gets through to you.
So, here goes...
Whether you are a husband or wife doesn't truly matter much in this conversation. If you put up with a partner who has an alcohol, drug, gambling, or sexual addiction... If you let them ridicule you or threaten you with a holding back of money... If they purposely try to (and succeed at) pushing your buttons... If they know how to get your tears flowing... Or humiliate you in front of children and others...
It doesn't much matter. The fact is that you do have choices! You might not be thrilled with the alternatives at your immediate disposal, but you do have them, anyway.
You deserve to be treated well. Especially by your husband or wife!
Yet, if you tolerate bad behavior, you own part of the problem. - Yes, I know about self-esteem issues. And, that you might be afraid to be alone... on your own... But, you are an adult! What sort of role model are you for your children? Do you imagine that your kids would rather see you miserable than give up their own cell phone or computer? Have you not seen others who had a tough childhood or adulthood, make tough decisions with the goal of a better life?
Now, I am not saying that any of the changes that you should be making are going to be easy ones. There are the realities of your fears, real or imagined. There might be religious concerns over a divorce. There is social stigma to consider. And... Yet, in the end, this is about your life and that of your children.
Don't misunderstand me! I'm including you if you don't let your spouse know that they are being a jerk in public. Or, that you want to be a part of financial decisions. That you do have a brain.
For those of you dealing with issues that are not involving abuse or addiction, there are more and easier to implement actions. -- Yes, habits die hard. Attitudes don't change easily. Pushovers don't instantly grow backbones.
Yet, you can make changes, in many instances. Perhaps your spouse really doesn't realize that they are being a jerk. Perhaps they are simply acting out what they grew up seeing their parents do. Just as you are.
The reality is that there are choices. There is couples counseling. There are support groups and treatment centers. There are shelters. There are networks to tap into. There are classes to learn assertiveness. There is so much available.
I don't kid you... Much of this will not be easy, in all likelihood. Yet, you have a commitment to make: to yourself, first. To your children, next. And, finally, to your spouse.
So, take your share of the responsibility. Learn about your choices, your options.
The fact remains that you can create positive change in your life. Probably not instantly, but don't you expect to be around for a quite a while more? (And if you say 'No' to that, then please contact a suicide hotline or center or... )
Please make your life and that of your family as great as it can be.
It's about reaching inside yourself and finding the adult who is responsible and resourceful.
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The Downside of 'Practice Makes Perfect'
We've all heard the saying that 'Practice Makes Perfect'. And, we tend to understand the message implied by that.
However, we probably do not realize that the concept holds true for our 'negative' behaviors and skills. Yet, shouldn't that also be 'obvious'?
Here is a list of common actions that many of us become far too proficient at doing:
* Taking them for granted * Criticizing their behaviors, especially when we engage in similar ones, ourselves * Cutting-off our spouses mid-sentence * Nagging them about inconsequential habits of theirs
* Pre-judging their motivations for doing something * Not showing appreciation
* Withholding sex * Being irresponsible with money * Forgetting that parents are also spouses
* Siding with in-laws and friends even when we know that they are wrong * Yelling
* Making work the center of our universe, instead of ourselves, them, and children
* Putting down their choice of friends * Criticizing their choice of career * Finding fault with what they do
* Calling them names * Withholding affection * Criticizing them in front of your children * Being irritating
* Making everything about us. * Bringing up the past * Not accepting heartfelt apologies
* Committing adultery * Not making time for them * Belittling their accomplishments
* Tolerating their bad behavior and then complaining about it
* Comparing them to past lovers or spouses * Forgetting the good times and focusing on the bad ones
* Wondering why they cannot 'read our mind' * Lying * Being defensive
The list could go on.
Yet, the bottom-line is this: If practice makes perfect for things we wish to be better at, we need to be consciously aware of all the ways that this truism can prevent our marriage and our lives from being all that they can be!
"It's Not Cute Anymore"
"I used to love the way that he
took charge of situations. Whether it was ordering for me at one of
those fancy restaurants. And choosing the wine. He was so suave and
sophisticated. Now, I resent his controlling ways."
"Well, that's nothing! My hubby
was that 'Exciting guy'. He lived on the edge. Had his motorcycle.
the latest in hi-fi equipment. Tech gadgets galore. Now, I resent all
of the money that he wastes on these toys of his. And, to boot, he
doesn't even check with me, first!"
"My wife was the seductress. The
'Come Hither' girl. She knew how to party. Boy, did she know how to
party! Now, I deal with a lush who throws herself at every guy when
we are out at a party. She even flirts, big time, with waiters!"
"My wife was the opposite. She was
the quiet, wifely/ motherly type. I used to appreciate it when she
would help me pick out clothes. Or remind me to do things that I was
apt to forget. Now, I feel mothered beyond belief! She acts as though
I have no brain or can't even dress myself! And, now that we have
kids, the lovemaking is nil and every free moment is spent with the
kids or planning things for the kids, or... What happened to having a
What was once so charming, years ago,
when you first met & married, somehow is not so charming, today.
There are so many additional examples to make, but I know that you're
smart and get the idea. Perhaps, in spades!
So, now what? Are you supposed to
simply accept their behaviors? Even if they drive you crazy? Watch
out, now... I'm going to say 'Yes' and 'No'.
People are essentially who they are and
will be, by the time that you marry them. So that even if you had a
fantasy of being able to change their behaviors, the dream must be
accepted for that: a fantasy!
Keep in mind that (gasp!) you also came
into the marriage with certain qualities which your spouse might now
see in a less favorable light.
You've made a commitment. You knew what
you were getting into, even if you (falsely) believed that you could
So, I strongly suggest, on one hand, to
accept things and find ways to make the best of them.
The exceptions, of course, are if there
is addiction for which your husband or wife does not wish to seek
treatment & does not seek help, abuse, or adultery. Then,
professional help and possibly divorce are called for. (Abuse calls
for immediate separation. And probably legal intervention.)
What of my 'No' response, which I
alluded to earlier?
Depending upon the behavior, good
old-fashioned communication and some behavioral modification tips
might temper what you no longer find appealing.
Let them know that you loved and still
do, certain of their qualities. But as your lives have changed and
needs are somewhat different, you would appreciate it if they would
tone things down a bit. Let you order your own food, unless you ask
for help in deciphering the menu or choosing that fine wine. You
don't mind them having the latest toys if other budget items have
been taken care of and you won't go into debt for them. Set a price
at which they need to discuss the purchase. (i.e., anything over
$100) Set weekly 'date nights' without the kids. (Send them off to a
relative or friend's home for the night, if possible.) Ask what you
could do (notice the ownership) to re-ignite the romantic sparks that
you once shared.
And, do not... I emphasize do not...
forget to ask what you could work on for them! That's right! You need
to make this a 2 way street. if not, then don't even bother with the
previous advice in this section. Simply suck it up!
Sometimes, changing your actions and
reactions to their behavior will have a positive impact.
How so, you ask? Well, you could try
'psychology' on them. You could try laying out their clothes for them
or suggesting what you think that they would look especially nice in,
that morning or evening.
You could arrange for a romantic
evening or simply begin to rub their neck or whatever you know that
turns them on.
You could arrange for household help
and simply tell your spouse that you did that to free up their time
and energy. (Just don't say that it was for your benefit.)
The specific ideas are virtually
endless. But, hopefully, you catch my drift.
Bottom line, you accepted who they are.
Work with and around that fact. Be willing to change, yourself, to
accommodate them, out of fairness.
No one says that you should tolerate or
accept bad behaviors. But, character/ personality traits... Now,
that's something 'sort of' different.
TV Role Models
Where are the Role Models? - No! Not the ones for our children. The ones for us Grownups!
Here's the thing... Watch network TV and spouses tend to verbally abuse one another quite a bit. And, it's not all that unusual to see the husband or wife speak ill of their partner to their friends or co-workers. Then, you have the spouse who is portrayed as an idiot. Or lazy. Or super-selfish. or...
Now, we all know that there are spouses like this out there. Perhaps in your own marriage? But wouldn't it be nice for a change to see a healthy relationship portrayed. I'm not saying that the old days of the '50s TV should make a come back (along with all of those horrid remakes of what were great shows, once upon a time).
But, I am saying that there should be a show that portrays reality without getting over-melodramatic.
A show where couples are not swapping sexual partners, involved in corporate espionage, struggling with a devastating illness, or having their child who was born out of wedlock 20 years ago, show up at their doorstep. (And, probably dating the daughter they had later in life!)
Okay... I hear myself! Haven't I ruled out any show that could either make us laugh, cry, or otherwise take our mind off of our current problems?
So, bottom-line, I guess that TV is meant for 'escapism'. And, it's up to us to be and see 'Grownup Role Models' in one another. To lead our lives, best that we can, as examples of how a spouse should behave toward one another.
Who knows? Perhaps our children will grow up remembering the examples that weset for them, instead of those that the media spent countless hours bombarding their brains with.
The Changing Colors Of Marriage
Great news for many (and not for others) made headlines. What news, you ask? Well, intermarriages between races & ethnicities, in America, have increased dramatically since 1980.
Among new weddings, the rate is approx. 15%. Approx. 9% of all married folks are currently in an intermarriage.
Some of you will join me in taking pleasure with that news. It represents a sign that perhaps racial bigotry will not have a place in our homes, sometime in the not too distant future.
Yet, the reality for too many such couples is not one of bliss. Family members or friends... Even co-workers, can make those snide remarks... those digs either in front of them or behind their backs.
If you are faced with this in your marriage, you need to be strong and draw a line. Just as you would not wish to be the subject of ridicule or hatred, neither does your wife or husband. And, they need to count on you to stand up to those who would show ignorance. And they deserve to expect that of you. It doesn't matter whether or not the culprits are your parents, best friends, siblings, or even your bosses. It's one thing for your spouse to show that they will not subject themselves to this nonsense. But, it's quite another for you to politely explain the facts of life to these folks. As a couple and individually, you both deserve respect. And, if that cannot be afforded to you by them, then there is no need to be in their company.
"But that would mean I don't get to spend time with my sister, or dad, or whomever is not being prejudiced. I can't abandon them!"
Well, if that sister, dad, or other person truly cared for you and your partner... If they had a sense of proper values... They would not expect you to go through this nonsense. They would either straighten out the bigot or arrange to spend time with you, minus the idiot.
I am not advocating that folks purposely marry outside their race/ ethnic group for the sake of creating a homogeneous population. What I am saying is that the more we can accept people for who they are. How they behave... Then, hopefully, the less hatred their will be.
As for children, study after study has shown that we are not born with a sense of racial/ ethnic prejudice. Itis taught. And, yes, there is a difference between wishing to spend time with those whom you share a common bond and being an ass and dismissing others or mistreating them simply because they are different than you are.
I would be remiss if I did not point out that even within the same race, there can be prejudice. ("They are Northern Italians. Or, Irish from the South. Or, light-skinned African-Americans. Or, Middle-Eastern and not European Jews... ") And, my beliefs still count here. Wrong is wrong, however one tries to disguise it.
So, if you are in such a marriage, embrace your partner! Embrace those who accept the marriage, even if they disapprove deep down inside. And, toss in the trash heap, anyone who would show the ugliness of bigotry. Our world has no place for this, anymore!
Displays of Affection
No! Put your eyeballs back in their sockets. I'm not speaking of 2 passionate lovers 'going at it'. I am speaking of what spouses should be doing in front of their children.
That's right! You and your husband/ wife should be holding hands, snuggling on the couch, giving one another a spontaneous hug, and even locking lips.
Don't you realize that children learn from watching their role models? And, you both are their role models. If they never see proper affection being displayed by their own folks, how do you expect them to know what is and isn't appropriate to do?
How often have you been at a party, only to comment on the teens who are all over one another, in front of everyone there? Is it really their fault that no one set proper examples?
Accept the idea that 'casual' signs of loving affection are vital to not only your relationship with your spouse, but for your kids, as well. They will learn that there are limits to public displays. They will see tenderness, caring, love, and, even self-control of sexual desires. And, aren't these things that you would have wished your parents did, if this was not the case?
You have an obligation, I believe, to be the best parents that you can be, as well as the best partners with your wife/ husband. So, don't be embarrassed, ashamed, or awkward about being loving toward your spouse, in full view of kids. (Obviously, within reason. No grabbing body parts or heavy panting, if you catch my drift. Save that for when the little ones are not around to see or hear.)
Too Much Togetherness
We have all been touched by someone in our life whose words made a positive impact. Well, Leo Buscaglia is certainly someone who has touched many lives. One of his quotes is: Don't smother each other. No one can grow in shade.
This is a common problem for many newlyweds and some long-term married folks. They create a virtual cocoon around themselves and their spouse. Only letting in children and perhaps family, plus 1 or 2 close friends.
They believe that everything must be done together. All meal times & bedtimes. Watch the same TV shows. Go to the same movies. Eat the same foods. And...
The problem is that there can be too much togetherness. As you know, by now, I don't believe in extreme behavior (with minor exceptions). Moderation is key!
This is why business advisers do not recommend that husbands and wives work together. - Everyone needs some space and time apart.
If you are the 'smotherer', then figure out why you do this. Is it because you are imitating role models from your past? And, were they truly happy couples? Or, are you insecure? Thinking that if you give them space, they might wander into someone else's yard (not literally) and discover a new love interest? Or, decide that you are not so interesting to be around? Or, are you a control freak and want your
spouse to only do as you want to allow them? Or, worry that they will grow as a person and no longer want you in their life?
Whatever the reason, STOP IT! NOW! Because at some point in time, your wife or husband will likely 'escape your clutches' and rebel, as a teenager would. Perhaps with an affair. Perhaps with drugs. Irresponsible spending. Even with a divorce.
If your spouse outgrows you, then it was meant to be. Besides, if you attempt to stunt your spouse's growth, you will only get bored with them, at some point in time. And grow resentful. Possibly being the one to cheat on them or to ask for a separation.
There is such a thing as too much togetherness. Remember that absence can make the heart grow fonder. So, for everyone's well-being: give them some room!
The 3 'S's
We've all heard of the 3 'R's in school. But how about the 3 'S's at home, at bedtime, with your spouse?
What are the 3 'S's, you ask? Well, they are: Sex, Snoring, and Sleep. Not necessarily in that order.
Let's tackle the least appealing of the 3, first. (Hopefully, that is Snoring!) - More couples are not only willing to admit that this poses a problem, but are willing to act upon it. Snoring can be caused by a multitude of problems, some serious. So, my initial advice is for the snorer to get a medical workup for the issue. - Meanwhile, more and more couples not only try the obvious ear plugs and over-the-counter
remedies, but have agreed to sleep in separate beds and even different bedrooms. Then, when the urge to be sexually intimate strikes, they spend some quality time in the same bed.
Sex is next. - Remember that one does not typically marry their Best Platonic Friend. They wed someone whom they desire as both a Friend and a Lover. And, just as one is not always in the mood for work or family commitments, you should consider satisfying your spouse, even when you are not exactly in the mood. Sex not only satisfies physical needs, but for many wives and husbands it also brings an emotional
reinforcement of the loving bond between you. - For those of you who are truly too tired to be sexual at bedtime, then arrange to wake up earlier than usual. Surprise your spouse with an unexpected kiss or stroke or... (You get the picture!)
Finally, on to the Sleep aspect. - Simple fact is that without a sufficient amount, not only will your work and family responsibilities suffer, but your overall mood will not be as pleasant, shall we say, as it could be. And that can translate into unnecessary sarcasm, arguments, and plain old miserable company to be around. - Everyone has different sleep needs Be aware of your husband's or wife's. And, honor
them. So, if he needs more sleep and you are a night owl, then after a few minutes of cuddling, perhaps, go into the living room or den to read or watch television. Staying in bed, to do these, even with the volume down or lights low, will still interfere with your spouse getting a proper rest.
If you think this is all 'Silly', let me ask you to put these ideas to the test for a month. And, if you don't find yourselves more relaxed, more pleasant to be around, and more sexually satisfied, then you can always go back to the way things were beforehand! (As always, let me know what you think about this or your experiences. We will not print your names, if we end of quoting
you/ describing your situation. Write me at Comments@DontOverlookTheObvious.com.)
A 3rd Person In Your Bed
Whew! - That title could mean many things. And, I am certain that each one of you is conjuring up one of several images, at this moment.
Well, there are 4 different people whom I am referring to in this scenario. So, without further ado...
1st, there is the former lover. The one whom you never married. But, who was an exceptional partner, sexually. The one with whom you not only saw fireworks, but the earth and multiple body parts moved & exploded, as well.
And, those are scenes that you will play back in your head, time and again. No problem, except when you tell your husband or wife about them, in detail. Or, when asked by your spouse if they are the best lover that you ever had, and you honestly (or not), say, 'No.' And, go on to describe this past love.
Once said, that word can never be taken back. - Perhaps things worked out for Rachel and Ross when this scene played out during an episode, but that is not always the case. - remember that there is a time and place for a 'White Lie'.
2nd, there is a former spouse. Whether as a result of a divorce or death.
Fact is that you spent many a night lying with that person. And, if it was a happy marriage for most of the time, the odds are that you will choose to remember the nights of both passion and tenderness with them. Yet, as with the situation above, there is nothing to gain by relaying the positives of that lovelife with your new partner in life.
3rd, there is the actual, flesh & blood 3rd person in bed with you. - And no, I am not referring to one of your children. (We'll save that topic for another time.)
Many couples toy with the idea of having a 3rd person with whom to share sexual passion. Especially when a couple has been together for a while and the sex begins to not only be 'routine' but a bit of a 'chore'.
Yes, there will be some of you who have tried having another man or woman join you. And, you and your spouse found the experience to be satisfying on multiple levels. - But you would be the exception to the rule. Why? Well, 1st, there can be a great sense of 'guilt' afterwards, instead of a warm, afterglow. Whether from religious or societal or personal upbringing, the fact is that you might deeply regret the act. - 2nd, if this newcomer is better looking, better built, or simply more adept at sex than you are, there can be great feelings of sexual inadequacy that follow the night. - 3rd, your wife or husband might truly find this newcomer to be more exciting than you and they decide to
not only make this an ongoing thing, but they might decide to leave you out of the equation, altogether. - 4th, there is always the potential for an emotional bond developing among any 2 of you. - 5th, there is the possibility of a future blackmail attempt by this 3rd party. - 6th, if the 3rd person is married themselves or in a serious relationship, the news of this might someday become known to their significant other and end that relationship.
So, what is my solution for when the sex has become boring and routine/
Well, I first believe that you need to explore the matter, tactfully & tastefully, with your spouse. Then, I also think that there is little wrong with you fantasizing about a 3rd party, either in your own head or aloud with your husband or wife (assuming that they do not have a problem with it).
Bottomline... Whether in your mind, as part of verbal role-playing/ fantasy, or in reality, bringing in a 3rd person to your bed is a risky and delicate matter, which you should approach with great care and trepidation, if you approach it at all.
Your 1st Intermarriage Holiday
Increasingly, intermarriage among those from different religious backgrounds has become more commonplace. Not only among those from different religions, altogether (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist... ) but also among differing denominations (Reform/ Orthodox Jew, Catholic/ Baptist Christian... ).
Regardless of whether or not you and your spouse did the proper thing and gave the topic of childrearing from a perspective of faith heartfelt discussions, the reality is that nothing truly prepares oneself for what occurs during your child's first major religious holiday. Be it Hanukkah, Christmas, or...
If you decided to raise your child in a specific faith that 1 of you belongs to, than the other will inevitably experience hurt, anger, frustration, and regret. Not necessarily in that order. For no mater how much one believes that they have come to terms with the decision to allow their flesh and blood to celebrate that other holiday... Actually watching your son or daughter, firsthand, is something else.
The 3rd Situation When You Should Apologize
Question for you:
Do you know the 3 types of situations when you should apologize to someone (including your spouse)?
Answers: #1 When you purposely did something which you knew would hurt the other person. #2 When you did not intend to harm the other, yet it was obvious that your actions (or inactions) did.
#3 When you did not intend to harm the other individual, they claim that you hurt them, and, yet you do not understand how or why they would have such a reaction.
It is this 3rd type that I want to focus on. Simply because it is the most difficult of the 3 for so many people to accept as legitimate. As a result of that, husbands & wives cause more friction in their marriage than is necessary.
Let's examine one scenario. Your wife has made it clear that she does not enjoy your buddy's company. Or, that of his wife. So, when you told your wife at the last minute that you canceled the evening's plans with the couple, you were stunned by her reaction. That of anger. Later that night, she still offers you a cold shoulder. When you press the matter, she lets you know that she expects an apology for not having checked with her before nixing that evening's plans. You refuse, as you cannot understand
why she should be anything but glad that you had canceled, for she cannot stand this couples' company. - What she does not explain and you cannot understand is that she could have cared less spending time with the others. She had been looking forward to seeing that '1-night only' performance of the concert. When she finally gives you that reason for her being so upset, you still don't understand why you should apologize. After all, it was only a concert and you both go to dozens every year! - What you do not know is this: She had her first kiss, with her 1st lover, many years before, at one of this performer's concerts. So that the concert held a special place in her heart and memories. The reality is that your wife should not have to explain why she was so upset. The fact that she obviously was, should have sufficed for you to offer that apology.
Another example would be when you were both at a party. Someone makes an ethnic joke. Your husband lets folks know how inappropriate it was. Your wife knows that you are not that ethnicity, so when you later complain that she should have backed you up, she sees no reason to apologize for her inaction. If anything, she believes that you should have apologized for making a
scene at the party over 'an innocent' joke.
She doesn't know that you were often beaten up after school because you were Jewish or Irish or Italian or... And, that you grew to hate all ethnic jokes because of the painful memories that would bubble up to the surface. And, because you do not want to let any such crudeness go un-responded to.
We can say, knowing what we do, that the aggrieved spouse should have communicated why they believed that an apology was in order. Or, just how real was their pain, even now, decades later.
But, the reality is that their partner did owe them an apology. because sometimes we do not need to understand or agree with our spouse's pain or anger. We simply need to let them know that we are sorry that what we did, albeit innocently enough, did upset them.
Bottomline, we need to realize that when we hurt or upset our spouse, we do not need to understand or agree with their thniking. We simply need to be a loving spouse and remind them that you would never intentionally hurt, anger, or... them.
All About You
This piece could easily have been a part of the companion website, www.TeensImproveYourLife.com, as the essence of it applies to adolescents. Yet, as it also has great revelance for many of you, here goes...
Newsflash! Married Life is not all about you! Now, don't go becoming offended and sulking or pouting or...
Truth is that many husbands and wives never quite left behind from their adolescence, the notion that life (especially their personal life) should revolve around them. - Sure, they want to make their spouse happy. But, certainly within reason! If doing so would result in compromise or (perish the thought) acquiescing to their partner's wishes, then 'obviously' that would not be
the thing to do.
Before you go off denying that this does not apply to you, allow me to ask the following:
--- Are you more upset when they arrive home later than expected, than they are when you are tardy?
--- Do you make them call you on the way home to see whether or not they should pick something up for the house? But, you find the reverse to be inconvenient and therefore do not do it?
--- Is your wife or husband supposed to check with you before making even a semi-large purchase? Yet, you think that they should trust your judgment without any discussion?
--- Did you decorate rooms in the apartment or house based upon what your taste is and not what your partner might have preferred?
--- Is lovemaking something to do only when you are in the mood and physically up to it?
--- Is your husband or wife expected to spend time with your family at the holidays (and other times), yet getting you to tag along to their side is often a major struggle?
--- Are vacations based upon your desires and not theirs? (Without a trade-off on every other one or simply a compromise where each of you will find something enjoyable to do?)
--- Are you the sole arbiter of what the family should eat?
--- Whose child-rearing techniques are used?
--- Are they supposed to apologize verbally to you when they are/ did something wrong? But, your spouse is supposed to simply know that you are sorry through osmosis and not words or deeds?
--- Are you the one who always gets the new car?
I could certainly continue, but I know that you get my point.
Sometimes we behave this way because we married later in life, so that we are 'settled in our ways' and adjusting to someone else's needs and desires does not come easy.
Other times, we left a relationship where our wishes were ignored, so we decide to overcompensate for the 'past sins of others'.
And, yes, there are some spouses who truly are narcissistic. Or, who haven't outgrown their teen years. Or, whose parents spoiled them rotten, so that the expectation is that a spouse should d the same, because that is how love is shown.
Regardless of the reason, the world does not and should not revolve around you. And, the same applies in your relationship. - If you don't change your ways, I can be safe in assuming that your marriage will likely suffer from that. And, don't you want your partner and yourself to be as happy as possible?
The 'Non In-Laws' Or When Adult Children Interfere With The New Marriage
Most all married folks, at some point or another are thought to have conflicts with one or both of their in-laws. How true that really is might be up for debate. Possibly less so is the issue of adult children doing their upmost to sabotage their biological parents' new marriage: whether or not it followed a divorce or a parent dying.
When there is a divorce, I am extremely hesitant in advising parents of minor children to remarry. At least until the children are finished with high school.
Why? Because even if the children appear to relate well with the new addition to their family, there are so many potential pitfalls ranging from defiance, disrespect, leaving the new parent out of disciplinary decisions or financial ones, and there are so more items in this 'laundry list'. Can it work out successfully? Absolutely! Yet, it is still not for 'the faint of heart'.
When the children are adults, I believe that the dynamics change or should change. Even young adult children (for the most part) could in fact go out on their own if the new family dynamics do not work out. That said, parents of adults too often allow their offspring to tamper with their new marriage. - To be blunt, it truly is not any of their concern. (Unless of course they know and can
prove that the new spouse is an abuser, addict, molester, or similarly 'dangerous' person to have around their bio parent.)
In fact, they should be thrilled if their mom or dad have found love, once again! - For the reality is that people have the potential to deeply love, care for, and respect multiple individuals during their lifetime.
Grownup children should be asked if they are in fact concerned for their parent's happiness or if they are concerned over such matters as inheritance, the dad or mom moving away from them (because that is what the new couple has decided to do), they believe in their head that it is too soon after a death or divorce to remarry, or...
If these grownup offspring were to break up with their spouse, live-in partner, or significant other... would their parent have a right to monitor if and when they should choose someone else to love? Of course not! - Well, the same goes for the reverse situation.
This is where the parents need to have straight-talking conversations with their kids. And, discover what the real issues are. Then, try to calm any fears whether through a new will, financial agreements, promises to visit/ Sky/ otherwise stay in touch, or...
But, bottom-line, the parent has the right to live a life that is meaningful and fulfilling to them and not necessarily what their grown children desire.
This might well call for 'tough love'. Hopefully, not. Hopefully, there can at least be a respect for the new marriage.
Life is too short. And, love should be embraced and acted upon when it there for the asking.
Children deserve to repay their parents' love and attention over the years, with a respect and (perhaps) a heartfelt blessing for the new union.
Think about it.
(Almost) Requiring Marriage & Parenting Skills Training Law Proposed?
Having been a long-time proponent of Life Skills education in our schools, I read of a proposed law in Michigan that on the surface purports to support long term healthy marriages and families.
However, as with many social-shaping policies, this is not well-thought out, in my opinion. - I invite you to share your thoughts with me at Comments@DontOverlookTheObvious.com.
State Senator Rick Jones has proposed the bill, SB 546.
On the surface, it appears to call for couples where both individuals are under 50 years of age, to undergo pre-marital counseling, lasting at least 4 hours. If this was done, the couple could get married immediately after the marriage application was completed and certified, but the wedding would have to be held within 30 days.
Couples choosing not to take the course would have to wait 28 days after the application and be wed within 58 days.
Couples planning on having children would have to take a program that also covered parenting skills.
Limited types of professionals would be authorized to teach the individuals. And, they could offer reduced fees or no fee for those who needed it.
So, what could I object to about this? Again, on the surface, I am generally all in favor of the concept. But why would those over 50 be exempt? We all know that some older folks who lack communication and problem-solving skills. With many couples getting married where 1 or both people have children from a prior relationship, why is the need for parenting skills considered to be unnecessary?
What of previously married folks?
Then there is the matter of the short timeframe for actually marrying. Is someone afraid that if too much time elapses they will forget what was taught them? Or, that they might change their mind? (And, if so, what would be wrong about that?) Then there is the section addressing a situation when 1 or both parties are under 18. Then, a parent must also take the class. Why? Would the parent also have to live with the couple? Go on the honeymoon with them? (I'm being facetious, of course.) Yet, if the future spouse is under 18 and emancipated then the parent is excused form the obligation.
Finally, and most importantly are these 3 points. #1, there is an 'out': the longer waiting period. - If this education is so important (and I agree that Life Skills programs are), then why not make it mandatory, across the board? Period? (Unless that would be illegal, in and of itself.) #2 How much is going to be learned (marriage and parenting skills) in only 4 hours? (Out of fairness, classes could be longer, but only 4 hours is acceptable.) #3 Could this lead to 'marriage license mills'? (Not unlike diploma mills?) Sham programs?
Bottom-line, I support the idea of Life Skills education. However, I believe that bills such as this one need to be very well thought out.
"For Whatever The Reason"
"For whatever the reason, you keep the house like a pig sty. So I can't bring my boss home. It's pretty embarrassing, but I know that it's just the way it is. So, what's for supper, Honey?"
"For whatever the reason, Barry, you work hard, yet your salary doesn't quite cut it. So, I have to shop at that discount food store instead of Whole Foods. No problem. I just hope that they someday offer healthier foods like Whole Foods does!"
How many times have you said or heard, "For whatever the reason... "? And, if you were on the receiving end, it's pretty demoralizing as well as annoying. If you are the source of this toxic phrase, do you truly enjoy being a b... ?
Once you've aired your complaint or problem with your spouse, especially if it involves a matter of 'who they are', have been for their entire life, or their limitations, there is no need to keep reminding them of it. The odds are that they will not or cannot change. Andy more than you could if they had the guts to use that phrase with you. -- And, if they do say, "For
whatever the reason... " to you, then you know how it feels. Be the classier one in the marriage and knock it off!
Nagging, putting down, and otherwise digging at your wife or husband should be beneath you. Treat them as you would like to be treated.
Importance of 'The Obvious'
I was reminded tonight of how much couples want their marriages to be better. How many know that there are issues, but they also do not believe that counseling is for them... At least not at the moment. And, how the philosophy and specifics of 'The Obvious' can make sense. - That often much of what gets in the way of our happiness is ego, stubbornness, selfishness, laziness, over-thinking, under-thinking, overcomplicating,
and simply overlooking 'The Obvious'. That while neither of you is perfect, you have one another and should take care of the 'little things'. Because attention to them will almost definitely bring added joy and peace.
You deserve to respond to the question: "How is your marriage?' - With: "Terrific." Or, "Pretty Great." Or, something akin to that.
I also marveled at the courage of a young couple dealing with the thought of "Should we marry and can we make it work?" - Proud that they were not simply going to 'jump in blindly". And, at the courage of long term married couples who knew they wanted their marriage to continue but that there was 'stuff' that needed to be done for that to happen.
And, the knowledge that they were not alone. - And, neither are the rest of you, alone. There are people who care and have the knowledge and skills to be of help.
But, ultimately, you and your spouse have to do the 'heavy lifting'. And know that much of what should be down won't be that strenuous, after all.
So, go for the marriage that you both deserve and want! Seek out others. And, perhaps, the book, IMPROVE YOUR MARRIAGE - DON'T OVERLOOK THE OBVIOUS will be of help on your journey. (Let me know if it is helpful to you.)
Surviving The Recession & Joblessness
Sometimes, 'The Obvious' is not so plain to see. So it is with the topic of this piece. - Why? Well, I spend much time with job training programs. And, therefore should have addressed the many stresses caused by the current Recession (or, 'difficult period' if you prefer).
We all know that the nation's unemployment rate is incredibly high. In fact, as former President Clinton said recently while on The Today Show, the rate we often see in the media does not reflect many who stopped looking for work. And, it does not include those who work part-time. - Some of you know this on a very real, daily level.
Finances are believed by many to be the major reason for divorce. More than sexual-related reasons. Regardless of it's ranking, the fcat is economic stress wrecks havoc on even the great marriages.
So, what to do if you are living this nightmare? - Well, here are some suggestions.
#1 Expenses. - Write down all expenses, by category. Mandatory (rent/ mortgage, food, medicine, ...). Fairly Necessary (car gas). Frivolous/ Extras (eating out, golf fees, movies).
#2 Prioritize. - Assign values to those expenses that you must address.
#3 Budget. - Must be written. Because verbal ones are too easy to ignore.
#4 Add income. - If you still have a job, take on extra hours, if available. Get a part-time job. Nothing says that you have to do this 'forever'. - If you are the one without a job, then take something, 'anything' as a stop-gap measure. By the way, many employers are admitting that they give hiring priority to those who are currently working. They also give credit to folks who are willing to work outside
their field in order to get through these tough times/ for the sake of their family.
#6 Be constructive at home. - If you are now jobless, when not actively seeking work, then do extra things around the house.
#7 Spend some relaxing time with your spouse. - It is even more important, now, that you spend quality time together. And this means time that is not spent discussing finances, the job hunt, or the economy.
#8 Try to be more patient. - I am not suggesting that you keep feelings or concerns bottled-up inside. But, with everyone on edge, patience plays a more important role, than ever.
#9 Be loving. - Intimacy. affection. Little, loving deeds. All of these will help you both through it. And, if you don't find yourself in the mood, try to go with the flow. The odds are, that you will quickly get there. remember that you both need this time together, relating in loving ways.
Who knows how long this economic downturn will last? But, together, you can make your marriage survive it, if you try. And, don't you want your marriage to last? Don't you deserve it?
What If 'Through Sickness & Health' Becomes An Issue
Many of us promised to love and cherish our spouse. We also promised to remain with them, through sickness as well as through good health. -- And, as with many promises, their power over our behavior can diminish with time.
In recent years, we have seen or read of celebrities who apparently did not let those health-related vows get in the way of ending their marriage.
Now, granted, we do not know the complete story behind Newt Gingrich and his wife whom he divorced, while she dealt with cancer. (That is, his first wife.) He divorced his second wife, who had MS. But, one can imagine that he did not allow health issues to hold him to his marital commitment. (Assuming he made one that included health... )
Then, you had John and Elizabeth Edwards. She with cancer, and he with a mistress.
This month, Pat Robertson, the preacher who has a popular, national television show, suggested that a man, whose wife has Alzheimer's and does not recognize him, could get a divorce so that he could find new companionship.
And, many of you probably know of someone who took the 'low road' instead of the 'high road'. A husband or wife who ditched their partner either because they hate being around sick people. Or, the bills were draining them of their 'birthright' to marital assets. Or, they wanted a healthy spouse who could please them sexually as well as socially. Or...
Well, I hate to say that I would hope that these folks became sick themselves and had no one willing to care for them. Or hold their hand. Or, their heart. Yet, the temptation is great!
The fact is, none of us know when devastating illness or the unwanted attributes of old age will creep up on us. But, we did make a commitment. And, don't think for an instant that your children won't watch and learn from your behavior. Because, they will.
I think back on my deceased parents. My mother developed Alzheimer's disease in her 60's. She also had diabetes and multiple heart attacks, with arthritis thrown in for 'good measure'. Through it all, my dad stood by her side. He retired early for that reason. He dealt with tender moments. Moments of fear (both his own and my mom's). He would walk many a day to visit her when, finally, after many years of
caretaking, she eventually ended-up in a nursing home. And, when he died, unexpectedly, near his 80th birthday, she also passed soon after. Perhaps of a broken heart and for missing this man whom she seldom recognized by name, yet, who visited her daily. And, made her smile brightly through the dense fog caused by the Alzheimer's.
It's not for a self-indulgence that I share this true story. But, so that you can visualize what it could mean to honor your commitment to your wife or husband.
No, it is not easy. And, yes, you deserve 'a life'. But you have one. Go and discover the beauty in it. The joy that you have been blessed with.
Trust Is 'Near Everything'
We have all heard the trite comment that you earn someone's trust. You don't get it automatically.
Well, that applies, tenfold, in a marriage. And, don't go leaving this page because you don't want to hear... face the facts.
When you said your vows, whatever they were, you promised far more to your new Bride or Groom than being there for them. And, with them. You promised to be worthy of their trust.
Whether or not you break it by having sex with another, or you continue gambling, doing drugs, or drinking. Whether you use them as a punching bag or servant. Whether you use them as your personal ATM. Or... It doesn't quite matter.
All of these result in breaking the trust that you and your Partner-In-Life once had.
And, don't think for a minute that you will probably ever regain the same level of trust that you both once shared. Because the reality is, for so many of you, that the trust will either never be there again. Or, that it will be some remnant of it's former self.
If your spouse forgives you and is willing to work on rebuilding the marriage and, along with it, the trust, then count your blessings. For you truly had exchanged those vows, years ago with an incredible person. - Don't blow it, again!
My Act of Tough Love
Greetings! A lot of you will not be
pleased by what I am about to say. However, that doesn't make it less
valid. So that I ask you to seriously consider what I tell you.
Especially if you truly want an improved marriage. So, here goes.
Stop bitching about what you knew
before your wedding day.
Let me repeat that: Stop bitching about
what you knew before your wedding day.
If you knew that your husband-to-be had
children and owed child support, then stop complaining to him about
the money going there.
If you knew that your bride-to-be had a
gambling problem, then don't act surprised or hurt when she racks up
huge debts due to her addiction.
Same goes for drug or alcohol
addiction. A lack of a sex drive. Someone who is not verbally or
physically in your league...
We were adults. Adult enough to enter a
legally, morally, and, perhaps, religiously, binding contract.
The fact that we wished to ignore the
reality that was staring us in the face is no excuse for either bad
behavior or a 'poor me' attitude.
If you're thinking what a cold,
uncaring jerk that I am being, please think about how you are behaving at this moment. It's okay
to feel anger or resentment or fear depending upon the specific
situation. What isnot okay is for you not to take responsibility for
your own actions, including the decision to go ahead with the
wedding. You also have no right to take frustration over money
issues, out on your step-children. Or, an ex-spouse who collects
alimony. The odds of your anger helping to turn around an addict, is
quite small. You probably don't have what it takes to instill
ambition in an otherwise lazy or party-going spouse. Habitual
spenders are also not the easiest to 'reign in'.
What you should do at this point in
your marriage depends upon many factors. Not the least of which is
your true tolerance for their shenanigans, personality, or
obligations. So, step back. Analyze the situation. But, bitching and
moaning about it will likely only make the marriage worse.
Lessons Learned From A Passing
Unfortunately, my last Aunt passed away this week.
The 'upside' of a family death such as this, (if one can even say that there I an 'up side') is the opportunity to see 'long lost' cousins and other assorted relatives.
In speaking to a cousin whose home I visit with my family with much irregularity during our youth, she easily volunteered something which will remain with me forever. She said that my late father was so special to her because he actually played with the kids, talked with them, and essentially let them know someone knew that they existed.
Aside from a feeling of pride, it made think of the impact that our actions have on our children and those of others whose life we touch.
I know that my folks were married approx. 50 years. This cousins parents were devoted to one another for decades, and another uncle was wedded for approx. 63 years!
And, this cousin has been married for 28 years. - I have been married for over 26 years to a wonderful woman. So, who says that what we do does not impact those around us?
Of course, there will be those among you who will find examples where this theory does not appear to work. And, that's okay. Aside from exceptions to 'rules' there is 'free choice'.
I am simply asking you and your wife or husband to examine your actions with and around children.
By the way, my cousin also expressed what my wife and I have experienced. - That there can be days, months, even years when you wish to leave your spouse, yell at them, or not want to see or speak with them. Yet, because you stay out of love, plus a commitment to one another and a life together, you remain husband and wife.
I wish for you the marriage of my Mom and Dad, my Aunt Lucille and Uncle Sam, and my Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Fred. - Not perfect marriages. But strong ones, which lasted for decades because of love, respect, commitment, and, of all things, effort. And, faith in one another.
Think about it.
Are They Happily Married To You?
What in the world makes you believe
that your husband or wife is happy being married to you?
I'm serious! – Don't simply say that
the fact they haven't left you is proof of their love and joy.
Because we both know that's not a valid way to tell. Don't say that
they have sex with you once a week or month, either.
So, by now, you're likely to be getting
a touch irritated with me. Especially at my asking the question.
Well, folks, here's the story...
Far too often a friend will espouse
shock at the news that their wife or husband is divorcing them.
They will claim that they had no idea
how unhappy their spouse was with the marriage... with them. They
will mention that 'every couple has their share of problems'. That
while they weren't spending much time together, it was simply because
of other demands on their time. That what lovemaking there was did
seem boring and obligatory at times, but doesn't every couple
experience this? As for arguments, that, also, was so very common in
even the best of marriages.
But, we know different, don't we? - We
know that while there is a grain of truth in all of what our
soon-to-be-divorced friend says, the fact of the matter is that we
tend to turn a blind eye to the serious problems in our
relationships. We somehow hope that if we don't acknowledge them,
they will simply disappear on their own. (Similar to when a child
closes her/ his eyes, and tells you that they are now invisible.)
So, let me go back to the beginning of
this piece. What makes you believe that your spouse is happy with the
quality of life that they have with you? And, that they still love
It's only when you decide to step back
and look at your lives together, from a distance... And, you ask your
wife/ husband if they are happy with you and the way things are...
Will you truly have a decent idea. I say 'decent', because your partner in
life might feel awkward in answering the question honestly.
So, what, then?
The second way that you know how your
marriage is going is based upon observation. Do they seem to smile,
when they see you? Do they still take or accept your hand when it is
'there for the asking'? Are any kisses, passionate? Do they make an
effort to relax with you, or do they instead jump on Facebook, go out
with friends, every opportunity they have?
At night, do they simply give you a
peck and then roll away from you?
Bottom line is that it is up to us to
take the temperature, if you will, of our marriage. And, at the early
signs of illness, to find and fill the prescription that will keep
you and your spouse together, in a healthy and happy way. 'Cause you each deserve it. And, in so
many situations, if the lack of harmony is dealt with early enough, then
the ogre of divorce is banished.
Time Will Not Heal All
We have all heard the expression that 'Time Heals All'.
But, do you accept that premise? Or, do you realize, as many of us do, that this is a foolish and inaccurate belief.
Certainly, as time passes, certain wrongs and hurts become distant memories or less painful. - However, there are many situations that actually worsen as time passes.
Among them are hurtful statements to our spouse.
Like it or not, some of us are more sensitive to words, than others. Perhaps we were bullied or made fun of in high school. Perhaps our parents put down our best efforts and abused us with their demeaning and spiteful language.
Among them are the affair. Even a one-time, one-night fling.
We might have grown up with one or more parents who had lovers on the side (as they used to say... ). Or, our previous spouse cheated on us.
Among them are acts of ignoring.
When our husband or wife spends all of their free time with friends, co-workers, and organizations. Leaving nothing for us, but the emptiness experienced by no second imprint on the couch. No one to cuddle with or make love to, as we drift off to sleep.
And, there are more examples.
Unfortunately, until such time as each of you deals with what has happened. Verbally. Honestly. And, you each take responsibility for your share in what has happened... (Yes, while there is seldom an 'equal liability' to be had for what has happened, there is virtually always something that the other has done... Made it easy for the affair to occur, ignoring it for a long time, accepting verbal abuse, not sharing how bad their childhood was, egging the other on, abusing the other in some way... ) The problems
will only worsen.
Bottom line, an open wound, left uncared for properly, will become infected over time. And, perhaps, the limb will need to be amputated.
So, before your marriage reaches a point of 'no return', face your problems. Together. With a clergy person. A therapist. Or...
And, if your marriage is truly beyond repair, it deserves to be ended, for your sake, if not also for your spouse's or your children's.
For time is not always on your side. And, it will not always heal your pain.
The 'Upside' To Celebrity Affairs
Infidelity always seems to make the headlines. Whether it involves the politician of the day, the young starlet, or the sports figure.
Interestingly enough, if you watch 'man on the street' interviews or listen to co-workers on their breaks, you will hear those who are outraged, angry, or disappointed at the news. While some folks actually support the adulterer, or, at the least, excuse their behavior.
All of which reminds me that for each of us, there are differing moral standards. Despite the fact that when we are in church/ synagogue, we espouse a 'party line' against adultery.
And, that conclusion, folks, reminded me of the fact that each spouse, in each relationship, must come to grips with what they will and will not tolerate.
There are some couples where an 'open marriage' works. Neither partner has an issue with it. The situation allows them to avoid the pressure of always having to be there for and to satisfy their wife/ husband.
There are others where they pretend to ignore the knowledge of an affair, because they do not believe in divorce for religious reasons, or because they do not want to break up the family, or they value the material goods that they have over fidelity.
Still others take marital vows seriously and will accept nothing less than monogamy in it's totality.
Even though this should have been discussed before your wedding day, you need to have a frank discussion with your spouse about infidelity. In part to clarify expectations and groundrules. In part to learn more about your spouse.
Must we be monogamous? - At the risk of shocking some of you, the answer is truly one for the specific husband and wife to come to grips with, together, issues of religion and 'societal morality' aside.
Bottom line, I think that the exploits of these famous folks can serve a positive purpose for their fans/ admirers. The real question... The initial question... is will you and your spouse make the time and effort to be honest and explore this topic, before any actions become fodder for your local community's or your inner circle of friends' chatter?
Quantity or Quality Time
Recently, I overheard a mid-30's man explain to some ladies, how he and his wife seem to argue over 'anything and everything'.
As I continued to listen, he described his day which was work, the gym/ hanging out with the guys, then bedtime.
I had to wonder about how much time he was spending at home, before bedtime. - Was his wife homealone, too much? So that she was taking her frustrations out by complaining/ arguing, so frequently?
Difficult to know, in this man's case. - But, I do know that when a spouse feels ignored, they will often act out. - Not that they should, mind you! The wife/ husband should let the other know that they need some quality time. Before bed and requests for sexual intimacy.
Anyway, why not quickly review your typical week. And how much time you spend with your husband or wife. - Know that while 'quality time' is important, sometimes folks also need some 'quantity time', as well.
When Was Your Last Date?
was the last time that you and your wife or husband went out on a
date? One that also lasted into the night, if you catch my drift?
don't go saying that I'm being ridiculous! That couples, nowadays,
are too busy with commitments to indulge in such frivolous,
prenuptial behaviors. Because the truth is that you either 'lost
that loving feeling', already. Or, your sense of priorities are
messed up. Or, you are afraid that your spouse will turn down your
invitation, which would really devastate you!When
men or women who cheat are asked what made the affair so special, the
following are frequent responses: This new person treated me as if I
was special. There was excitement! Newness! And, the sex was also
are all things that we usually say when describing a special date or
a newlywed's partner.
it! There will always be commitments. People pulling us in all
directions. Shortness of excess energy. Financial issues.
face it. If you continue to treat your wife or husband as a roommate,
friend, or housekeeper, then there is an increased likelihood that
they will look elsewhere for a companion and lover.
the choice is yours. And, if I were you, I would be contacting my
spouse, right now, with
A Father's Day Message
The first part of this message is for the ladies out there who have primary or sole custody of their children from a previous relationship.
If your divorce or separation did not involve abuse of the children, I would ask that you consider the importance of a relationship between your kids and their birth father.
It is easy for hostility or anger over the relationship among the adults to spill over into the children's lives. There are many good men who simply were not proper matches for their former wives/ girlfriends. And, many of these men would like to be a part of their offspring's life.
So, on this Father's Day, please take a minute or two during which you evaluate this situation. - Our children need us to be positive role models and to look out for their best interest, even if it is uncomfortable for us, personally.
Now, men, this portion of the message is for you. If you are a divorced man with children who spend most or all of their time with your ex, please consider this: Your kids deserve your love and attention. They don't need to grow up with the pain and anger of believing that the divorce was their fault and that you don't love them. So be a man! Make a call today. Arrange for a visit. And don't just drop out
of their lives, because you meet resistance from the ex or your current wife. You owe your kids! And, you will be a better person for it.
If you abused your children, then all bets are off. Seek help. Work whatever the specific program is. Make a difference for the better in your life and that of your children's.
The Power of 'Faking It'
The 'Power of Faking It'? Whatever could I be saying? Do I realize how I am coming across?
Yes, I do know. And, now it's time for you to get in on the 'secret'.
For generations, spouse, female and male, were advised to fake pleasure. Perhaps with their level of job satisfaction. Perhaps, sexually. Perhaps...
And, as with anything, when it was carried to an extreme, relationships and individuals suffered.
So, beginning with the '60s, folks were told to 'lay it all on the line'. To stop faking it. - Women stopped or cut back on faking orgasms and satisfaction with being a stay-at-home mom (if that was not their true desire). Men changed careers and let their supervisors know when they felt frustrated and unhappy on the job. And, so on...
Fast forward to today, and while there is something of a mixed-bag when it comes to being quiet regarding things that make you unhappy or simply do not give you great pleasure, far too many of you have lost the importance behind and value of 'Faking It'.
Let's begin with a 'simple' situation. - Your hubby or darling wants to have their folks visit for a weekend. You cannot stand them. (And, perhaps the feeling is mutual.) So, you tell your wife that if they visit, you will go to your folks or a friend's home. - Now, unless these in-laws are truly evil, as opposed to irritating, wouldn't you have a happier home in the long-run, if you stayed when these folks
arrive? Because of or despite them, your spouse turned out okay. Hey! You married their child, correct?
How about that present? Unless money is truly very tight, so what if their anniversary or birthday gift or plans weren't 'just right'? - It would be one thing if you let your wife or husband know exactly what you wanted/ to do. If not, isn't the fact that they put thought and effort into trying to surprise and please you, enough? Does everything need to be a 'bullseye' in order to get your approval?
Okay... Here it comes... How about sex?
First, believe it or not, men are not always in the mood. You got it! And, I am certainly not suggesting that you indulge in sex that disgusts or hurts you in any way.
However, don't we 'fake it' sometimes when our buddy or girlfriend invites us out for a few drinks or a game of pool or to help them shop for furniture or hardware?
Well, perhaps we don't always have to be in the mood for sex, either. And, when you think about it, don't you frequently find yourself getting carried away in the mood, once you two get going?
And, if you and your spouse normally have great sexual chemistry, if they are 'off their game' once in a while, what is the big deal? You will do far more harm to their ego and ultimately to your pleasure, down the road, if occasionally 'it simply isn't all there' for you.
And, there are so many other situations where 'Faking It' can be healthy for a marriage. Think of it as being the 'cousin' of the 'White Lie'. We gain nothing by telling a parent that their child is homely (at least in your eyes). And, we gain nothing by never faking appreciation or affection or agreement with our spouse.
For those of you who did not yet jump the fence to my yard where this true, I strongly suggest that you evaluate the consequences of your actions. And, then dare you (invite you) to try this theory out, for a good 6 weeks. If by then, you haven't discovered the benefits of an occasional 'Faking It' session, then you can always go back to your old ways. (There are always exceptions to the rule...
Or, those who refuse to change their ways... )
You both deserve a great, harmonious, fun, and loving marriage.
Stepping Into 'It'
From time to time, I know in advance that my Thoughts or advice will anger some folks. Possibly make others feel badly. Yet, I still offer it. Why? Because I believe that it could be helpful. And, sometimes, we don't want to examine an issue because it might 'rob us' of being able to justify our actions/ positions.
Okay... Enough of an intro.
How many of you folks watch the CBS hit TV show, The Good Wife? - And, guys, don't be embarrassed to raise your hand, as well.
Among topics covered during the show is 'infidelity'. In fact, it plays a central theme. The star's husband was a powerful politician who apparently 'dabbled' with purely sexual affairs. Long story short, he became truly repentant. Meanwhile the wife has had an on and off again flirtation with her boss who used to be her college boyfriend/ friend. The couple sort of patches things up until the wife learns that he had cheated on her years ago with someone who has since become her best friend.
Now, she separates from him and decides to have sex with her boss.
After that intro, here is the point of this Thought: While adultery is always wrong. Repeat: Adultery is wrong... Is it less of an affront to your spouse if the affair was a purely sexual one (as with the husband) or if it involved someone with whom you share emotional fondness or even love (the wife)?
Well, for what it's worth, folks, here is my take on this.
When there is a purely sexual, 1-night stand component to adultery, the motivation is typically to achieve sexual gratification that the spouse does not achieve at home. Sometimes that is due to a lack of frequency. Other times to the specific sexual acts that their spouse will agree with participating in. Other times it reflects a need for affectionate touch, not necessarily a sexual touch. Then, of course, there are the spouses who have still not matured and simply seek as many 'conquests' as possible,
for any number of reasons.
However, when the sex is with the same person, repeatedly. And, that person is someone with whom you share a deep friendship or love, then the marriage is in deeper trouble, I believe.
For now, your spouse must either learn to compete for your affection. And, hopefully 'win you back'. Accept this new form of a 'threesome'. Or, decide to leave you. The pain is also deeper, for some of the betrayed wives or husbands. For they have not only lost the physical, sexual side of you. They have lost the spiritual, intellectual, emotional sides of your relationship. And, that is often a precipice from which there is no retreat.
Know that the above applies equally to men and women. And, that the above is certainly not a hard and fast rule. But, before you indulge your urges for a taste of someone else, sexually, know that you are jeopardizing your life, your family, your finances, and even friends.
Also, if you are already the injured spouse, think about the above before taking any rash actions. -- Try to determine whether or not you should give your wife or husband another chance. -- While there is no valid reason for having an affair, there can be reasons why they felt the need to go elsewhere for sex, for affection, for a full relationship. -- As difficult as it can be, try to realize that some marriages are not worth saving, while others are the effort.
Marriages are fragile, regardless of how strong they might appear to be. Treat them as such. Treat one another as you would wish to be treated. Remember that their wants and needs might not be yours, but you did promise to love this person. And, part of that love is sometimes giving of yourself to please them. (Obviously, not in ways that you truly find disgusting or would result in pain.)
So, go give your spouse a big hug and kiss! And, remember that a successful marriage takes effort.
Why Are We Surprised?
Do you ever watch a parent tell their misbehaving child, in the store, that the next time that there is any acting out, that the child will not get the promised toy, or meal, or will have to wait out in the car? And, are you amazed by how frequently the parent does not carry through with the promised consequence? And, don't you criticize that parent?
Well, then why are so many of you astounded when your spouse doesn't straighten out their act? You let them know, in no uncertain terms, that there would be consequences... unpleasant ones... for continuing to 'cheat', 'yell', drink, gamble, swear, stay out all night, put you down, or...
The theory is the same. And, yet, you don't like it when that is pointed out to you!
You eagerly struggle to find a rationalization as to why the 2 situations are different. - Perhaps you point out that the stakes are higher. Perhaps you simply balk at the comparison of parent-child and spouse-spouse actions. - Yet, however you try to spin it, the theory is still the same. Which is why the results are essentially the same.
So, what I am saying? Simply that before you throw out your promised response to your husband or wife's misbehavior, be certain that you will carry through with it. Because every time that you do not, you are simply empowering your spouse to do more of the same. And, possibly to escalate their disdain for you.
Then, you should be considering the impact this will have on any children. They do learn from what they see. And, they don't always discern the better path from it.
So, am I blaming you, for your wife or husband acting out? In part, yes.
Certainly, I am not excusing anyone's misbehavior. But, you must be honest with yourself. Decide what role, if any, you have in their conduct.
We always have options. We might not like them. But, we have them.
So, don't ignore 'The Obvious'.
When The Same Thing Means Something Else?
A strange title, yes? Well, I promise
that I will get to the point, shortly. But, first...
The other week, I was listening, as I
often do, to Dave Ramsey, the extremely popular talk show host and TV
star. His area of expertise is money. More specifically, how folks
can get out of debt. His approach is both logical and effective.
Anyway, he was reading a listener's
question. She wondered whether or not she should include her monthly
child care costs in her list of monthly expenses. Now, Dave appeared
somewhat amused as he answered that, of course, she should add the
child care expenses. Why wouldn't she have thought that it belonged
Another example of what I am driving at
took place during an episode of Restaurant Impossible, on the Food
Network. The show stars Robert Irvine, who is given 2 days in which
to help rescue a failing restaurant. Anyway, while helping an
establishment, he asked their 4 chefs to make the same dishes from
the menu. When done, he showed the owner (and the viewers) that each
chef prepared the same menu item in a very different manner.
Okay, now for the point I want to make.
There are countless times in a given
week, month, or year, when you and your spouse will believe that you
understand what the other has asked of you. But, your interpretation
will likely not be his or hers.
Need some marital examples?
How about when your husband asks you
for a spicy Italian dish and you prepare what you believe to be one.
Because you find it to be spicy. Now, you somehow forget or
choose to disregard that you know he likes and can tolerate much
spicier food than you. And, you dismiss the idea of splitting the
cooking process in two when it comes to the spices. So that you each
can have what you enjoy. He comes home and eats it, feeling
disappointed. Unless he's a louse or very assertive, he will probably
not verbally complain to you. The problem is that he might show his
displeasure/ disappointment in passive ways.
Now, let's say your wife says she
desires more foreplay before having intercourse. To you, that means a
few extra kisses, perhaps a few compliments on the way she turns you
on, and you feel that does it, and you jump unto things, so to speak.
Your wife, on the other hand can't believe that you would consider
that foreplay. To her, foreplay would have begun with flowers when
you came home. A neck rub while she relaxed for a few minutes, after
the children were tucked in bed. Then, perhaps, you would have turned
off the TV when getting into bed. You would have complimented her
looks, as you did, but you would not have stopped at a few extra
kisses. You would have nibbled her ear lobes. Caressed the back of
her neck. And, so on... But, you didn't do those things so that she
doesn't find herself all that into the intimacy, the way that you had
hoped she would be.
And, there are countless other
examples. Perhaps, you tell your spouse that they need to inform
their parents that there have to be less weekends spent together with
them. To you, that means instead of every weekend, every other
weekend. To your wife or husband, that meant only once per month.
Miscommunication often happens as a
result of both parties having different interpretations for requests
and responses. - So try asking your spouse for clarification, if you
need to do that. If you truly understand what they mean but
you simply want to accommodate them 'only so much', as not to
inconvenience you or impact your desires... Try to honestly assess
whether or not you are simply being selfish... Or, whether or not
they are typically more sensitive to your needs than you are to
theirs... Or, if you are trying to punish them for something real or
I am certainly not suggesting that you
deny your own wishes. Simply, that you each attempt to be more in
tune with the others' needs and desires. Accommodating them when you
And, finally, when you marry, aren't
you promising to love and cherish the other person? Well, part of
that means sometimes compromising and making concessions. At the
least, it means being certain that you do understand what they
say and ask for. Even when it involves life's 'little things'.
Because the 'little things' do add up and can
dramatically impact the quality of your marriage.
COUGARS AND DINGOS What's Wrong With Them?
Annette Johnson of AllWrite Advertising & Publishing had me as her guest on the BlogTalkRadio show that she hosts on Saturdays. And, one of her insightful questions had to do with Cougars. And what I thought of these relationships. - Now, as you know, this is a marriage and not a dating issue site. But,
that said, I know that some of you reading Improve Your Marriage - Don't Overlook The Obvious or frequenting this site are doing so in order to be better prepared for when you marry. So, that I believe this topic is appropriate for this site.
So, what do I think of these relationships which used to be called May-December Romances? First, you need to know that one piece in my book says: Age matters less than maturity. But it still matters. Most people have not sufficiently matured to marry, I believe until age 25. Prior to that, they were still physically developing or first experiencing life as an adult. First having serious dating relationships outside of their teen years. First working. First deciding what they want in a mate. What their value system and beliefs are.
So, now on to Cougars (the older woman wanting to date/ marry a younger man) and the Dingo (the male version of the cougar). If there is 15 or less years difference, I say that the marriage will probably not suffer from the ages of the spouses. However, once you get to a 20+ year difference, there is much to be concerned with. Consider a relationship where the younger person is 25 and their mate is 45. If the 25 year old originally did not want children, perhaps in 10 years, their biological clock says that they want one. And of their own DNA. At 55, the cougar is not likely to bear children even if she wanted to do so. And at that age, both males and females might not wish to begin raising a family. Especially if they already have grown children from a prior relationship. Then there is the matter of friends. Early on, they might be able to easily fit in with their spouses' friends. And make new ones. However when the older husband or wife is 70 and the younger one is only 50, there is bound to be a difference in the type of physical activities they will share. As well as interests. How about the sexual chemistry? Will the 45 year old wife or husband still find their 65 year old lover attractive ad appealing enough for them? How much stronger
might come-ons from those who are their age be? And, difficult to resist? What of the inevitable ailments that come with aging. What if the older spouse needs to be placed in a nursing home or assisted living facility at 75. At only 55 years of age, what is the younger husband or wife to do, the rest of their life?
All in all, I believe that this is not a gender issue. But one that requires the deepest and truest searching of one's heart and mind before choosing to be either a cougar or a dingo.
ONE-SIDED, ONE AND ALL?
Some things in life still amaze me. Not that they should. Especially as they don't surprise me. -- Simply amaze me.
I was in a food court of sorts and overheard a group of women (probably 30 -50) complain about their spouses. -- How selfish they are. What slobs they were. What lazy guys they had become. How little time they...
Finally, I had to speak up. So I asked, if their husbands were so bad, then why did they stay with them. And responses included statements such as 'I'm used to him' to 'There could be worse' to 'We're just venting'.
So my next question was whether or not they thought that their husbands ever vented the same way about them. 'They better not' to 'They wouldn't have any valid complaints about us'.
And, as I left the area, I chuckled to myself. Why? Because I have seen this scene repeated before, but with men and with different gripes. And, the men, as with these ladies, sincerely seemed to believe that any complaints which their spouses had, paled in comparison with their own.
So, what is the lesson here? Well, there are two to be had. One obvious one and one perhaps 'hidden'.
The first one is that most of us need to vent, occasionally. And, that can be fine! As long as we remember that those whom we vent to will likely take our comments literally. And once you bad-mouth someone, it is difficult, if not impossible to change the perception.
The second lesson to be learned here is that we need to see ourselves as our spouses do. Whether or not their take on us is accurate, it is their take on us. And if we want a better marriage, we first need to know how they see us. From there, we can decide, what if anything, needs changing.
Oh, yes. The other lesson? (Okay, so there were three to be had!)
Sometimes we vent for the sake of 'fitting in' with those around us. This truly is not a great idea. Because if we have a great spouse, we shouldn't feel awkward about sharing that! Perhaps our action will get the others to re-evaluate their marriage. And, perhaps realize that what bugs them are the 'little things'. And, that they should feel blessed that their wife or husband is such a gem.
ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL
When It Comes To Advice
"Not one size fits all" is a common expression that can be applied to not only shoe sizes, but to various aspects of life. However, it is not all that often applied to marriage advice. Which is a shame, because you might well know, first-hand, that what works for your friends or neighbors might not work for you.
Too often marriage gurus, including authors, choose a singular premise and attempt to fit everyone into their paradigm. So that they act as if everyone in a marriage wants both spouses working, or the wife to stay at home without a career, or for there to be a 50-50 split on household chores, or to have separate vacations, or to have more sex, or less sex,
or ... They overlook, purposely or not, the reality that as there are many different cultures and sizes and shapes of people, there are many scenarios for a successful marriage. And, (now this is the important phrase), as long as both parties are happy with the situation and no one is getting hurt, then the marriage is undoubtedly on the right track, for those involved.
Yes, it might offend our sensibilities if a woman or man chooses to stay at home and raise their children without the benefit of a nanny or day-care... Or, if the man wishes to let his wife make the majority of big decisions, or neither one truly is interested in sex more than twice a year, or if they do not wish to have children, or want their in-laws
living with them,
But, who are we to say that is wrong? If, in fact both parties truly enjoy that type of relationship? For some husbands or wives, this might be cultural or religious in nature. For others, it suits their personality and wants. This compares with those who say that everyone should be outgoing. Some folks truly enjoy being quiet and reserved.
Now, if someone is not comfortable with their marriage, then that is a very different situation, indeed. This is why Improve Your Marriage - Don't Overlook The Obvious is written as it is and has caveats in the foreword. Because, every person and every couple reading the advice will hear that 'inner bell' go off when they find something that they know in their gut matters for them and can help to improve their
marriage if implemented. And, they know that a marriage is an evolving process. So that what might not apply today might be crucial for happiness, tomorrow. And, the reverse is true,
Observent Comment #1: "So let me get this straight. You're saying that anything 'can go' in a marriage?" My response: Not quite. As long as the issue is not a major problem for either or both partners, and they do not think that changing it will improve the marriage, then the status quo can be okay.
Observent Comment #2: "At the beginning, you mentioned something about 'anything' being okay as long no one is getting hurt. What about sadists and druggies and the like? Aren't you creating your own brand of double standard that you complain about other authors doing?" My response: Wow! You are close paying attention. - In my years of working with substance abusers and batterers, I cannot remember a marriage or relationship where the 'straight' party or victim was really happy with what was going on. Or, the addicts/ abusers, for that matter (with perhaps a few exceptions). So that I do make for an exception here.
Observent Comment #3: "Okay. So let's say that I think about buying into what you are saying here... Aren't you simply trying to hype your philosophy, just as the other experts who are condemning?" My response: First, yes, in part I do want you to buy the book. But, with over 500 pieces of advice, I have yet to find a couple where at least some of it does not make sense for them and would not make their marriage better, if implemented. Again, the fact that 'one size does not fit all marriages" does not mean that folks can not find great benefit from some changes in their lives!
So, think about what I am saying. And, get a hold of Improve Your Marriage - Don't OverlookThe Obvious. Because it can
difference for most marriages, along the happiness spectrum!