Make Your Wife Happy! Finish Your Jobs!
December 15, 2014 · Posted in Marriage, Parenting, Relationships · Permalink · Comments (0)

This post is for the guys. Want to make your wife feel loved, taken care of and appreciated? One very simple way is to finish whatever household jobs you begin to completion. A task done fully and completely is an act of loving kindness.

After decades of meeting with mothers the same refrain is constant, “If he would just do the whole job, I would be so happy!” Translation: If you are supposed to empty the dishwasher, empty it and put every last thing away. Do not leave a pile of tupperware on the counter for her to do. If you are making a snack for the kids, put the peanut butter and jelly away and wipe the breadcrumbs from the counter. If you are bathing the baby, go back to the bathroom and empty the tub, put the used diaper in the garbage and put the dirty baby clothes in the hamper.

This may seem trite, but it is not. When a wife comes in to a fully emptied dishwasher, a cleaned up kitchen, or a drained tub she feels loved, thought about, appreciated and relieved. If you were counting on her making dinner and only the salad -no main course- was prepared, how would you feel? If she was supposed to bring your suits to the cleaners but never picked them up, what message would that send to you? You would feel burdened, frustrated, unappreciated. I guarantee it.

So here is a clear road map to less conflict, more team work and love: Always finish the tasks you start at home. It is an easy way to show how much you care and believe me, won’t go unnoticed!

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Being Right
June 25, 2014 · Posted in Anger, Communication, Marriage, Mental Health, Parenting, Relationships · Permalink · Comments Off

The Curse and Seduction of Being Right

by Lisa Merlo Booth

 

Many people struggle with the curse of being right.  When people struggle with being right it feels as if you’re constantly in an argument about the “facts.”  Sometimes it can feel as if you’re talking with a lawyer instead of a friend or partner.  For example, you might ask your partner to lower their voice and they respond with, “My voice isn’t loud.  I was just being passionate.”  Or perhaps you start to tell a story about work and say, “When I left home at 8 a.m.…” and your partner quickly butts in and corrects you with, “Well, actually you left after 8 a.m.”  Whatever the circumstances are, you feel as if you’re in an endless battle.  All you want to do is share your thoughts or make a request, yet the other person is busy checking your facts instead of listening to your message.

Needless to say, if you’ve ever been on the other side of this dynamic, it can be incredibly frustrating.  If you’re the one constantly “correcting” or arguing the facts, then you can be incredibly frustrating.

Stop correcting and start listening.

Being around someone who is constantly telling others how they’re wrong blocks intimacy and connection.  Ironically though, many people get caught in the being right trap…because being right is seductive.  After all, people think, isn’t it important to have the right facts?  If my partner says he’s angry that I was late for our dinner on Saturday and I know we went out on Friday—shouldn’t I correct him and tell him I was late on Friday, not Saturday?  After all, I’m right—I happen to know for a fact that we went out on Friday because Saturday was our son’s soccer game and we ate dinner on the road while driving to his game.  Shouldn’t I correct him when I know I’m right?

No.

The seduction of being right is that often our information…is right.  We’re not making it up, we’re not giving false information and we’re honestly correcting wrong information.  What’s wrong with that, we wonder?  Several things are wrong with that.  To start with, when we’re so ultra-focused on arguing the facts, we miss the bigger point.  In the dinner example, my husband was upset that I was late.  My focusing on the “accurate” day is irrelevant—even though my information may be correct.  Second, if I’m busy critiquing what he says, then I’m shutting down the conversation.  If I shut down the conversation then I’m blocking repair.  It’s often only a matter of time before people give up trying to talk with someone who seldom listens and instead corrects the minute details.  At some point we just say forget it.When it comes to healthy relationships, remember to not get lost in the details and instead hear the main message.  If you’re stuck on critiquing the messenger, s/he is likely to stop relaying messages.  When that happens, your relationship is in trouble.  The other person gets tired of being blocked repeatedly and in the end they often just turn away.  It’s in your best interest to have the courage to stop getting lost in the details and instead hear the message…and fix your part in the situation.  Insisting on being right is damaging.  Don’t give in to the seduction.

 

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Marriage Vows are Really Parent Vows
November 23, 2011 · Posted in Fatherhood, Mental Health, Parenting, Relationships, Teens · Permalink · Comments Off

When times are good with your children, you can’t even imagine not wanting to be a parent. When difficulties arise, from the typical and small, like constant temper tantrums, to the  unthinkable, like diagnosis of Asperger’s, or juvenile diabetes, or your teenager in the grip of an eating disorder, your mettle as a parent is tested to the limits.

You may wish for an escape–that is natural. You may seriously doubt your capacity to parent, but as with nothing else, you are committed for life. You are on the journey no matter what. This lead me to think that the marriage vows, which can be and are retracted for many of us, really belong to our children.

“I take you______to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, till death us do part.”

It is to our children that we make this vow. Everything else in life can really be changed.

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5 Empowering Reflections During Divorce
November 10, 2011 · Posted in Relationships, Separation/Divorce · Permalink · Comments Off

By Heidi Bernstein-Krantz, Professional Life Coach

1. Although it may not be easy to envision, the challenge of divorce can be accompanied by significant opportunity that would not have otherwise presented itself. Identify one goal that you can accomplish now, that you could not have achieved during your marriage.

2. Divorce can often cause our confidence and self-esteem to waver. Recognizing your positive traits is essential at this time.  Identify one of these special personality or character traits that can show itself more clearly now than previously.

3. When we are involved in a difficult life transition, we tend to focus inward. Going beyond ourselves is an effective way to find meaning and put our issues into perspective. Identify one new strategy to contribute in some small way towards helping others or impacting the world.

4. When you want to see changes in your life, reaching out for support is an important part of the process. Identify three professionals, friends, or family members who can fill this role.

5. Developing a positive vision for yourself can be enormously empowering and can help you stay focused and goal oriented. Create this future image. How do you want to see yourself in five years?  Let this vision guide you.

 

Heidi Bernstein-Krantz, OTR, CPC
Professional Life Coach
516-313-3185
www.reinventionlifecoaching.com
www.coachheidik.tumblr.com 
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A Note to Men: Want more Sex? 5 Things You Should NOT Do
September 1, 2011 · Posted in Marriage, Parenting, Relationships · Permalink · Comments Off

by Lisa Merlo Booth

In my work with couples, I often hear the men complain that there’s not enough sex and the women complain that the men always want more.  What’s up?  Besides the likely differences in sexual appetites, there are a lot of things men are doing that’s shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to increased physical intimacy with their wives/partners.

If you’d like to increase the amount of sexual intimacy in your relationship, below are 5 things NOT to do:

1.    Don’t turn every kiss, hug or handholding into a sign that you might get lucky. Women complain all the time that they can’t even hug their partners without them turning it into a sexual move.  Really men?  Aren’t we past the adolescent days of even the wind blowing getting you excited? The more you turn the slightest act of affection into a sexual come on, the less affection your partner will show you.  Don’t be desperate—it’s a huge turn off.

2.    Don’t have sex be the only time you show any affection. As Dr. Phil often says, “Foreplay should start 24 hours in advance of being sexual.”  It takes more for women to get into the mood than men and men need to know that.  Be loving, playful and affectionate long before you actually do the act.  Give her compliments, hold her hand, tell her you love her and act like you actually like spending time with her.

3.    Don’t be a jerk 90% of the time and then expect that your wife will want to be sexual with you. Your wife/partner does not “owe” you sex.  This is crazy thinking that I hear from men all the time.  If you’re generally a pill to be around then don’t be surprised that your partner isn’t feeling intimate.  Stop the anger, harsh tones and meanness.  Similarly, don’t barely speak to her day-to-day and then wonder why she’s not feeling close.  Be engaged and respectful and act as though you love her if you want her to act as though she loves you.

4.    Don’t have her be responsible for the house, the kids, the food and your entertainment—even if she doesn’t have a job outside the home. Being the sole person responsible for the home and children is like being single; that’s not what she signed up for.  Remember that if your partner is the one home caring for the family, this does not mean that her job should be 24/7 while yours is only 12 hours a day 5 days a week.  Help…or watch her burn out.

5.    Don’t make derogatory comments about your partner’s body. If you would like her to take better care of herself, have an honest, respectful and loving conversation.  Don’t throw out digs to get her to notice. Similarly, don’t point out the hot bodies of other women or ogle them in front of her and then wonder why your partner isn’t interested in being sexual with you.

In general, if you want a more loving relationship, you have to be more loving.  Be cherishing, show interest in her life and world and have sex be something that adds to your marriage/relationship not a duty that is owed to you.  If you don’t add the relational aspect to the picture, sex will become a chore to your partner.  Eventually she will grow tired of doing another chore and lose any sexual desire she may have had.

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Chore Wars – Finally Equal?
August 25, 2011 · Posted in Marriage, Parenting, Relationships, Work/Family Balance · Permalink · Comments (1)

Household duties have long been a battle ground for couples, especially when children enter the picture. Ruth David Konigsberg’s recent cover article in Time Magazine, Chore Wars, sheds new light on the age old perception that women do much more work than men. After doing research, Konigsberg reports that hours spent in paid and unpaid labor for men and women in 2011 are practically the same. This is not to say that chores are split 50/50, but the extra amount of time men spend in the office counter-balances the time not helping in the home. The exact number, 8 hours and 11 minutes for men and 8 hours and 3 minutes for women per day, has never been as equal as it is now.

What’s more, Konigsberg sites data from the The New Male Mystique, which shows that it is actually fathers who are having a harder time handling dual roles of professional and parent – not mothers. The imbalance over household jobs clearly isn’t completely gone, nor are the frustrated and overwhelmed feelings that accompany. But it does look like we are slowly getting closer to equal.

 

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Open Heart
August 11, 2011 · Posted in Communication, Parenting, Relationships · Permalink · Comments Off

The following is an enlightening piece by Rick Hanson, Ph.D. that appeared in Family | Social, on July 7, 2011. Enjoy!

Put No One Out Of Your Heart

What is an open heart? The Practice

Put no one out of your heart. Why?

We all know people who are, ah, . . . challenging. It could be a critical parent, a bossy supervisor, a relative who has you walking on eggshells, a nice but flaky friend, a co-worker who just doesn’t like you, a partner who won’t keep his or her agreements, or a politician you dislike. Right now I’m thinking of a neighbor who refused to pay his share of a fence between us.

As Jean-Paul Sartre put it: “Hell is other people.”

Sure, that’s overstated. But still, most of a person’s hurts, disappointments, and irritations typically arise in reactions to other people.

Ironically, in order for good relationships to be so nurturing to us as human beings – who have evolved to be the most intimately relational animals on the planet – you must be so linked to others that some of them can really rattle you!

So what can you do?

Let’s suppose you’ve tried to make things better – such as taking the high road yourself and perhaps also trying to talk things out, pin down reasonable agreements, set boundaries, etc. – but the results have been partial or nonexistent.

At this point, it’s natural to close off to the other person, often accompanied by feelings of apprehension, resentment, or disdain. While the brain definitely evolved to care about “us,” it also evolved to separate from, fear, exploit, and attack “them” – and those ancient, neural mechanisms can quickly grab hold of you.

But what are the results? Closing off doesn’t feel good. It makes your heart heavy and contracted. And it primes your brain to be more tense and reactive, which could get you into trouble, plus trigger the other person to act worse than ever.

Sometimes you do have to hang up the phone, block someone on Facebook, turn the channel on TV, or stay at a motel when visiting relatives. Sometimes you have to put someone out of your business, workgroup, holiday party list – or bed.

In extreme situations such as abuse, it may feel necessary to distance yourself utterly from another person for awhile or forever; take care of yourself in such situations, and listen to that inner knowing about what’s best for you. But in general:

You never have to put anyone out of your heart.

How?

When your heart is open, what’s that feel like? Physically, in your chest – like warmth and relaxation – and in your body altogether. Emotionally – such as empathy, compassion, and an even keel. Mentally – like keeping things in perspective, and wishing others well.

Feel the strength being openhearted, wholehearted. Be not afraid, and be of good heart. Paradoxically, the most open person in a relationship is usually the strongest one.

Get a sense of your heart being expansive and inclusive, like the sky. The sky stays open to all clouds, and it isn’t harmed by even the stormiest ones. Keeping your heart open makes it harder for others to upset you.

Notice that an open heart still allows for clarity about what works for you and what doesn’t, as well as firmness, boundaries, and straight talk. Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and the Dalai Lama are famous for keeping their hearts open while also being very effective.

Seeing all this, make a commitment to an open heart.

In this light, be mindful of what it feels like – physically, emotionally, mentally – to have your heart closed to a particular person. Be aware of the seemingly good reasons the reactive brain/mind throws up to justify this.

Then ask yourself, given the realities of this challenging person, what would have been a better path for you? For example, maybe you should have gotten more support from others or been more self-nurturing, so you wouldn’t have been as affected. Or spoken up sooner to try to prevent things from getting out of hand. Or managed your internal reactions more skillfully. Maybe you’ve done some things yourself to prompt the other person to be difficult. Whatever these lessons are, there’s no praise or blame here, just good learning for you.

And now, if you’re willing, explore opening your heart again to this person. Life’s been hard to him or her, too. Nothing might change in your behavior or in the nature of the relationship. Nonetheless, you’ll feel different – and better.

Last, do not put yourself out of your heart. If you knew you as another person, wouldn’t you want to hold that person in your heart?

* * *

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist and founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom. His work has been featured on the BBC, NPR, Consumer Reports Health, U.S. News and World Report, and Huffington Post, and he is the author of the best-selling Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom. He writes a weekly newsletter – Just One Thing – that suggests a simple practice each week that will bring you more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind and heart. If you wish, you can subscribe to Just One Thing here.

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Are You Living With A Woman Who Struggles with Intensity? What To Do and Not to Do
July 21, 2011 · Posted in Communication, Marriage, Relationships · Permalink · Comments Off

by Lisa Merlo Booth

A common union I see in couples is a very strong woman partnered with a fairly passive man.  The men often say their partners are overbearing, controlling, intense, critical and never satisfied.  The women say the men don’t talk, are walled off, often passive-aggressive and say yes just to get the women off their backs.  Often they’re both right: the women are over the top and the men are too passive.

If you’re a male and happen to be living with a woman who matches the descriptions above, here’s your cheat sheet for being in relationship with her.

1.    Stop ducking in response to intensity.  The worst thing you can do with an angry woman (or man for that matter) is to duck.  If your partner is coming at you with high intensity (yelling, swearing, raging, name-calling, etc.), then set a limit on the intensity.  Don’t try to talk her down or jump to do what she’s asking of you until you address the way she is speaking to you.

2.    Say what you mean and mean what you say.  Learn to become a man of integrity and stop lying to avoid her intensity.  Do not just “yes” her to get her off your back.  If you say you will do something, do it.  Otherwise, say no.

3.    Ask for your needs and wants.  Stop being resentful that you’re constantly trying to please her and stand up for yourself.  Healthy relationships require that both partners ask for their needs and wants.  The more you try to do what she wants without asking for what you want, the more resentful you will get.  Pay attention to what you want and learn to ask for it.

4.    Don’t play the victim.  Too many passive men act as if their wives/partners make their lives miserable.  No-one has the power to make your life miserable without you allowing it.  Look at how your behaviors contribute to your unhappiness and address those.

5.    Be direct.  Do not sideswipe your partner by throwing out underhanded comments, sarcastic quips or disdainful looks.  If you’re not happy about something—speak it.  Don’t stoop to being passive-aggressive by emotionally withholding or being behaviorally irresponsible.  Those are child-like responses to adult issues; step up like an adult and address things directly.

If you’re with a woman who you believe struggles with intensity, start looking at what you’re doing that is not helping the situation.  Remember that you deserve to be treated with respect at all times.  If your wife or partner is highly intense or reactive, she is not being respectful.  It’s your job to teach her how to treat you.  Do not play the victim to her rants…or you will ensure they will continue.

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Is Alcohol Affecting Your Relationships
June 9, 2011 · Posted in Alcohol and Drugs, Parenting, Relationships · Permalink · Comments Off
by Lisa Merlo Booth
Many couples seem to be dealing with a third party in their relationships…alcohol. One partner typically comes home from work and makes him/herself a drink to help “wind down”
from a stressful day. It’s not uncommon for the person to drink two to three drinks, three to four nights a week. If there’s a party or an event on the weekend, they drink more.This pattern can, and often does, go on for many months or even years.

Gradually the atmosphere in the home begins to change. The conversations seem to slow down, the interactions begin to center around what needs to get done rather than how each person’s day was, and the energy in the house becomes tenser. In some households, the person who has a few drinks becomes short, impatient, and irritating to be around. The rest of the family distances more.

When I work with couples in this pattern, often one partner is worried about the impact the alcohol is having in their relationship and the other partner is not. Guess who’s worried and who isn’t. You got it… the one not drinking is worried, and the one drinking is often certain their drinking isn’t a problem. The drinking partner will often say the alcohol isn’t impacting the relationship; it’s their partner harping on them about the alcohol that’s impacting the relationship.

I’m a firm believer in responsible, social drinking. In fact, I would like to be able to have a drink when I’m ninety years old while I’m soaking my dentures and holding my ninety-one-year-old husband’s wrinkly hand. I’m very aware, however, that in order to do this, I will always have to drink responsibly. I will always have to be in control of my drinking and not have my drinking be in control of me. I’m also aware that there may be a time in my life when I may not be the best judge of my drinking. If you’re drinking several nights a week, you may not be the best judge either.

Drinking is deceptive. Alcohol dulls our senses, it deadens us. Initially, it starts out as a part of a social experience. Next it moves to an enhancer of our experiences. Perhaps next we turn to it to “relax” us or even to help us reduce our stress. Finally, we just use it because. And before we know it, someone in our life is saying it’s a problem.

Alcohol provides a veil that clouds life; it distorts the picture. If you’ve developed a pattern of drinking several nights a week to “wind down,” you’re no longer a responsible, social drinker. You’re a person who’s using alcohol to handle your stress or to settle you down from a long day.

Don’t fight with your partner about whether or not you are an alcoholic—take steps to insure you don’t become one. Creating a weekly ritual around drinking will catch up to you. It may not catch up to you today or next week, but keep drinking several nights a week, and, I promise, it will catch up to you.

There are tens of thousands of alcoholics and substance abusers in this world, and I’m very confident that few, if any, intended to become addicted. It just happened somewhere along the way.

You never know when that one drink or that one drug is going to be the drink or the drug that turned your use into abuse and your desire for a drink into your need for a drink. It’s like playing Russian roulette–several drinks for several months may not do it, and then WHAM, all of a sudden that next week of drinking leads you to think you need another one.

Are you playing Russian roulette with alcohol? If so, are you prepared for the consequences should it be your day for that fatal bullet–that one drink that just turned your “social drinking” into a social problem: addiction?

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The Sperminator, Etc.
May 26, 2011 · Posted in Fatherhood, Media, Parenting, Relationships · Permalink · Comments Off

Now let’s make a prediction. Arnold Schwarzenegger will go on to make many movies, millions of dollars and maul more women. Maria Shriver will grieve and comfort her children and learn deep lessons about herself and move on to a new more fulfilling chapter in her life. Any dissenters out there? It is embarrassing that time after time, our culture continues to not only disregard men’s bad behavior but even reward it with more money and more celebrity. The culture is so out of control that we really have to rely on ourselves as parents to teach our children, and in this case, boys, how to be respectful and loving people.

Sexual harassment, inappropriate uses of power positions, and betrayal in relationships are happening all around us. From Arnold Schwarzenegger to male students at Yale, from the head of the International Monetary Fund, to soldiers using rape as a widespread war weapon in the Congo. The truth is that the objectification of women is alive and well in 2011.

I look back at the hopeful naïveté I had in college that rights for women and equality and safety would just keep increasing and increasing. In many arenas of life for women there have been tremendous gains. In the realm of safety and respect for the physical and emotional life of girls and women, unfortunately, things have not changed much and are actually exacerbated by our culture.

As parents, we need to remember that respect for women and girls needs to be a primary lesson to boys. We need to model as mothers the self respect and intolerance for even benign “boys will be boys” behavior, and fathers have a tremendous responsibility to teach their sons what is really means to be a man. To embody the bravery it takes not sink down to lowest common denominator of human behavior.

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