7 posts from February 2010

February 28, 2010


Below is a guest post from Suzanna Narducci of  Enjoy!

Setting the Stage to Avoid Dating Abuse

 Are there steps that we, as parents, can take to help our kids avoid dating abuse in the future? With little life experience, kids do not understand the types of behavior needed to create a healthy bond. Even though recommends against serious romantic relationships for tweens and young teens, we feel that it is an important time to talk to your preteen about building healthy relationships and understanding the warning signs of potential abuse.

The Facts

It is an unpleasant reality that preteens and teens experience remarkably high levels of abuse in dating relationships. The younger kids date, the more likely this is to be true. An inability to recognize signs of a healthy relationship, an undeveloped identity, and low self-esteem can lead to mistreatment. A survey commissioned by Love Is Respect and Liz Claiborne Inc. found that:

    * 20% of children between the ages of 11 and 14 say their friends are victims of dating violence, 

    * 40% of children between the ages of 11 and 14 in relationships know friends who are verbally abused, and

    * 34% of teens that are sexually active by age 15 have been physically abused. 

"What makes this data so disturbing is the clear and unexpected finding that dating abuse and violence begins at such a young age," said Jane Randel, the vice president of corporate communications for Liz Claiborne Inc. Equally concerning, is that the survey results also reveal "parents don't know what's going on."

Continue reading "SETTING THE STAGE TO AVOID DATING ABUSE (for your teen and preteen): GUEST POST" »

February 23, 2010


After trying to trouble shoot a bridge line issue for 2 hours, I was reminded of the power of the pause button.  Have you ever had one of those moments when you want to throw caution to the wind and let things fly (say for example your phone, your computer, or every colorful word in the English language)?  Well, while I was having one of those moments I remembered to take my own advice and PAUSE.  I had to sit back, regroup and BREATHE…aahhh, much better.

Hitting the pause button is a necessary tool in relationships.  The most helpful pause for me is to sit back in my chair, take a deep breath in through my nose to a count of four and out through my mouth with a loud, comforting, wispy exhale also to the count of four.  This quick pause provides me with just enough time to slow down and stop myself from reacting to life.  It helps me to be mindful when the last thing I’m thinking about is being mindful. 

Too often we forget to slow down, pause and just breathe.  Instead, we react to whatever life or our loved ones throw our way.  Before we know it, we’re saying things we wish we never said and behaving in ways we have no right behaving like.  Regardless of whether your pause button is a time out, a centering breath or a walk around the block, make sure you incorporate it into your every day life.  You will take pride in your shift and your loved ones will thank you for it.

CHALLENGE:  Take a moment right now and hit the pause button.  Sit back, breathe in to a count of 4 and loudly exhale through your mouth.  Try it…go ahead—get the feel of that all important, centering pause.  For one week commit to incorporating the pause button into your life.  Be mindful not reactive.

February 19, 2010


A while back I wrote a post titled “The Silent Exodus” which spoke about the dynamic of women emotionally leaving their relationships almost two years prior to actually walking out of them.  In that post I talked about men’s failure to heed their wives’ warnings since many women do complain in the two years prior to leaving. 

What I did not talk about, however, are the mixed messages women often give that make it easier for men to ignore their wives’ warnings.

Time and again women water down their messages.  Regardless of whether women want to protect others’ feelings, avoid conflict or want to be liked, the end result is often a muddy, contradictory, confusing message.  In our desire to be nice—we weaken our message and lessen the chances of getting what we want.  Below are several examples of mixed messages given by women who were on the brink of leaving their marriage:
•    Four months ago, Victoria told her husband she wasn’t attracted to him anymore, was angry about his poor treatment of her and the kids and if he didn’t stop his raging she was leaving.  Since she had this conversation, there has been no change by her husband.  He continues to rage and is often mean and contemptuous of her and the children.  During the four months, Victoria has continued to go out socially with her husband, have sex with him three nights a week and has never mentioned her leaving again.  Her husband has no idea she has spoken to a lawyer and is planning her exit.  He thinks that since she’s being sexual with him and not yelling she’s happy with the relationship.  She is sending mixed messages to him at best and believes that since she told him once, he should know she meant it.
•    Karen told her husband Jack that she’s miserable.  She’s tired of him always working, leaving her feeling like a single parent.  She has asked him to cut back on his hours at work.  This has been an on-going argument for the past 10 years.  Typically, Karen asks Jack to cut back, he agrees and then is offered more work, which he accepts.  One week after this latest conversation, Jack informed Karen that he was offered a new project that would require him to be working more hours.  He wanted to check in with Karen to see what she thought he should do.  Karen was upset he would even ask that question and believed he should’ve said no on his own.  She told him to do what he wanted.  He took the project on and Karen began to check out even further. 
•    Beatrice had been unhappy in her marriage for the past three years.  She mentioned her unhappiness once, three years ago and never spoke about it again.  Since that time she has tried to be the best wife she could be.  She’s positive, affectionate, supportive and seldom complains.  Her husband has long forgotten her complaint.  He chalked it up to PMS and gave it little thought.  He’s certain everything is fine and his wife is happily married.
•    Paula has told her husband Phil that she doesn’t like his drinking.  She especially hates it when he drinks and drives.  Phil knows his wife doesn’t like it when he gets sloshed, however he’s pretty certain she doesn’t expect him to quit drinking—after all, she’s the one who buys the alcohol for the house.  When they go to parties Paula asks to drive them home, but Phil demands that he drives.  Paula gets in the car and hopes they get home safely.

Regardless of whether we’re talking about a drinking problem, a possible divorce or intimacy issues, the bottom line is too many women give too many mixed messages…and it’s killing their relationships.  Women need to pay attention to what it is they want, speak cleanly (respectfully) and clearly about that, and then make sure their actions match their words.  When we water down our message, we get watered down results.

As my mentor Terry Real says, “If you’re not happy, stop acting happy.” 

If you think your partner has a drinking problem, don’t buy them drinks.  Get to Al-anon and stop enabling the drinking.  If you don’t want him to drink and drive—take a taxi home.  If your partner is raging, mean and contemptuous—why in the world would you be having sex with him?  If you want your husband to work fewer hours, don’t say okay when he asks you if he can take on another project.  Tell him if he chooses to work more it will be harmful to your relationship and you will then have to make a decision on what your next move is.  Sit with the discomfort of saying that and don’t water it down or try to calm his anxiety to your response.

If you want a great relationship you have to be willing to fight for it.  Your words need to be clear and your actions need to match your words every day.  Stop watering down your message in the hopes of not hurting someone’s feelings.  In the long run, that only hurts people’s feelings more.  As I like to say: Speak it clean and then back it up with action.

CHALLENGE:  Pay attention to any and all the mixed messages you are sending to people in your life.  If you were to leave no doubt as to your message what would you be doing differently? Commit to do it.

February 16, 2010


The best romantic partners in the world are not the ones with the most money, amazing sexual prowess or endless romantic creativity.  Instead, they’re the ones who show you they have your back at all times -- in big and small ways. 

Having your (or your partner’s) back requires the following five essential elements:
1.    Day to day showing of love with words AND actions.  It’s all in the little things.  A great partner effortlessly interweaves the little things into their relationship: the kind gesture, loving word, unwavering support, critical feedback said with love, affectionate touch and on and on.  The day-to-day interactions of a great partner are…loving.
2.    A bottom-line reverence and deep respect for your partner, even though you may disagree with something they say or do.  A great partner doesn’t swear at, name call or yell at their partner.  They don’t do this simply because they wouldn’t want to—not because their partner would be angry. 
3.    A genuine likeability factor—you genuinely like your partner and enjoy being in his/her company most of the time.  When a person likes their partner, they’re proud to be with them in public, enjoy their little idiosyncrasies and treat them with a higher sense of respect.  Couples who have the genuine likeability factor seem to naturally laugh, joke and play more with one another.


February 12, 2010


I don’t know about you, but sometimes Valentine’s Day feels more like a pressure to buy a gift than it does a day to honor your relationship.  Is it just me who feels this way?  It seems like year after year, people run out at the last minute to get something to show their partner they remembered.  If one partner forgets, there’s hell to pay.

Unfortunately, too many people are missing the point.  The point is not to remember Valentine’s Day; the point is to honor your partner and your relationship.  If you’re relationship is great, tell your partner you love having them in your life.  Show them in your every day actions that you cherish them.  Valentine’s Day itself should just be another extension of that—not a duty.  It’s a time to reflect on what you all have together and to show your appreciation for what they add to your life. 

If you don’t have a great relationship, then throwing a gift at your partner doesn’t make up for that. Take the time to talk to your partner about where you’re at regarding this relationship and what you’re willing to do about it.  If you’re miserable and unhappy with your partner—please don’t go buy them a gift because you feel you have to.  Buy them a gift only if you feel you want to…and you’re willing to work your side to change this relationship.  Be honest with them that you’re not happy yet you wanted them to know that you’re committed to making it work.  Ask your partner if s/he would be willing to discuss the relationship with an open heart and a calm spirit.  


February 09, 2010


As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world -- that is the myth of the atomic age -- as in being able to remake ourselves.

One of the biggest obstacles to transforming relationships is an individual’s endless investment in changing the other person.  Regardless of whether the individual is male or female, most people are ultra-focused on changing their partner.  Many people will say that they do what they do because their partner does what s/he does.  Do any of these sound familiar:
•    “If he would be more responsible, I wouldn’t be so controlling.”
•    “If she weren’t such a nag, I’d be home more.”
•    “If he weren’t so cold and absent, I wouldn’t have to plead with him to speak to me.”
•    “If she weren’t so critical, then I would help more around the house.”
•    “If she weren’t so unaffectionate, then I wouldn’t have had an affair.”

I hear these comments and more like them almost every day.  Believing, however, that you’re the way you are because of someone else, is not serving you.  When you excuse your behavior because of the behavior of your partner, you give your partner WAY too much power.  Since when are you not capable of controlling your own actions? 


February 04, 2010


Paul’s wife Janet was so angry at him that she didn’t speak to him for two days.  When I asked Paul what he meant about her not speaking, he said she literally had not said one word.  Apparently this is not uncommon.  Paul reports that this has been going on for most of their marriage.  One time she didn’t speak to him for an entire week.  Often she won’t speak to him for several hours.  Janet reports that she does this because she needs to calm herself down first before she is able to speak to him.  She also states that when she is hurt or upset, she just doesn’t want to talk to him...or be near him, for that matter.

Although not speaking to your partner for days is on the extreme end of withdrawal, I see this all the time in couples.  What many people do not know is that the silent treatment is one of the most damaging relationship moves a person can make.  When we use a wall of silence, we render our partner helpless.  They can’t repair, discuss or get tuned in to what’s going on for us.  You cannot work on issues in your relationship if one or both of you refuse to discuss them. 

For all you silencers, know that you are OFF.  It’s not okay to give anyone the cold shoulder for a couple of hours and certainly not for days.  The silent treatment is extremely toxic for your children since it sends the message that they are invisible and worthless.  If you struggle with this, get help and don’t justify ignoring people.

For those of you living with someone who silences, send a clear message that ignoring you is hurting the relationship.  First, tell them that you notice they are not speaking to you and tell them what you’re going to do about it.  For example, your first conversation may be:


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