8 posts from March 2010

March 30, 2010


In my work with women, I often stress the importance of not settling in their relationships.  Too many women end up taking poor treatment, staying with active addicts or trying to coax a philanderer back to their bed.  I work with the women to set limits, hold their partners accountable and to ask for what they want rather than getting resentful for what they’re not getting.  The other side to this is to also be cherishing.

Holding our loved ones accountable for their behaviors is vital for both women and men; it’s a necessary component in any relationship. Many people, however, struggle with holding others accountable.  This struggle intensifies if the other person is at all volatile, controlling or intense.  Some people just wish others would act better and in the mean time they settle for what they’re given.

Not holding others accountable, however, does not help your relationship—nor does it help your partner, child, friend or whoever it is that you’re not holding accountable. Saying nothing about poor behavior sends the message that the behavior is fine.  It also sends the message that you will take whatever kind of treatment they give you.


March 26, 2010


The issue of trust comes up with many of the couples I work with.  Some couples have been impacted by an affair, others by an overly-jealous partner, and others by unhealthy habits that would spark anyone’s mistrust radar.  Other than the extreme jealous types, mistrust rears it’s head typically because...there’s reason to be mistrustful.


Too many people think their partner should have blind trust in them.  They believe that if they haven’t done anything wrong — or been caught doing anything wrong — then trust should be a given.  Some people believe that even if they have been caught doing something wrong they should be trusted if they say they’ve stopped.  All I can say about this is — it’s crazy thinking.  Just because you haven’t been caught doing anything big (e.g. having an affair) or you tell your partner you’re not doing anything wrong, doesn’t mean you’re trustworthy.


The only way to be trusted is…to act trustworthy -- even when no one else is around.  If you are doing any of the behaviors below, you are not acting trustworthy and will likely elicit mistrust from your partner.


·     *  Lying about anything.  This includes lies of omission in which you don’t offer the complete truth about something. 

·      * Flirting with others, either in the presence of your partner (which is very rude and disrespectful to them) or doing so when they are not with you.

·      * Sending racy jokes or provocative e-mails to co-workers or others.  Provocative includes talking about how they look, saying you wish you saw them more, signing it with a signature that implies there’s more than a work relationship.

·      * Blocking all access to your computer, e-mails or cell phone and claiming it’s because you DESERVE your privacy.  If you have nothing to hide, what do you care if your partner takes a look?

·      * Being unreachable for long periods of time (occasionally forgetting to turn on your cell phone is fine, but trust me, that gets old fast). 

·      * Getting defensive when your partner asks you a question about where you were or what you’re doing (unless your partner is the excessively jealous and controlling type).

·      * Frequently staying on the computer late into the night and after your partner goes to bed.

·      * Suddenly no longer wearing your wedding band.

·     *  Going on a trip with someone of the opposite sex (or same sex if homosexual) against your partner’s wishes.

·     * Dismissing your partner’s concerns, fears or requests regarding your interactions or friendship with a potential romantic partner.


There are many ways people raise suspicions in a relationship.  If trust is an issue in your relationship, look at your actions first before blaming your partner for being ridiculous.  Be honest, respectful of your relationship and act with integrity always.  Stop the lies of omission, flirting and secrecy and act trustworthy in all you do.  If your partner still doesn’t trust you, then decide what steps you need to take to address the jealousy/mistrust — but always first look at your side.


CHALLENGE: If mistrust is an issue in your relationship, scan the list above and see which, if any, of the above are present.  Address the behaviors that are leading to the mistrust with your partner and see if anything shifts.

March 23, 2010


In one of my speeches to women I talk about the cost of settling for bad relationships.  Whether you’re a man or woman, the truth is that bad relationships take their toll on us.  They zap our energy, leave us unfulfilled and can be emotionally and physically harmful to our health.

Most people who are in an unhealthy relationship would attest to these effects without hesitation.  They’re quite aware of the day-to-day grind of living in a miserable relationship.  What they’re not aware of, however, is how their thinking keeps them in this miserable grind.  Below are the most common excuses I hear from people regarding their inaction to change things.  I wonder if you have said any of these yourself...

* She’s a nut.  If I tell her she’s too intense, she’ll go ballistic on me.  It’s not worth it.
* He won’t listen -- he never does.  He’ll just tell me I’m sensitive or wrong or in some way turn it around so that it’s my problem not his.
* I’m tired and don’t have the energy to fight about it anymore.  It’s just easier to be quiet and avoid the argument.
* I can’t do anything -- I have three children and I don’t want to leave them to him.  I have to stay and be a buffer for them.
* I’m stuck -- I don’t have a job, money or skills.  What am I going to do?
* I’ve told her I’m unhappy, but what else can I do.  I can’t change her.  He refuses to go into therapy so what can I do?
* He’s an alcoholic and refuses to get help.  I can’t MAKE him go.  He has to want to help himself.
* She’ll make me pay if I do anything she doesn’t like.  It’s not worth the fight that I know I’m not going to win anyway.


March 18, 2010


It’s no surprise that with the rise in unemployment, the struggles with the housing market and the general stress of the economy, couples are struggling financially.  It may also not come as a surprise that couples are struggling with how to talk about their finances, which is just adding to an already difficult time.

Below are a few tips on how to have a productive conversation:
 *  Agree prior to the conversation on what the goals are. Do you want to come up with a plan for the next six months?  Do you want to get a better picture of your income and expenses?  Is the goal to establish a new budget or to look toward investments?  The more specific you are, the better your chance for success.
*  If these conversations are typically difficult then have them be time-limited.  It’s better to break the conversation up into workable parts than to try to tackle an entire groundswell of financial issues.  You can schedule a talk once a week or once a month.  Each successful conversation builds on the previous one until positive momentum happens.
*  Remove blame from the conversation.  These conversations are about solutions, not blame.  If there’s something you want to be different, talk about it in terms of a solution: “I notice we’ve been dipping into our savings by $400 for the past three months.  Can we come up with a plan to cut expenses so we don’t have to dip anymore?”  This approach works much better than, “You’re always overspending. I can’t seem to make it fast enough for you to spend it!”


March 15, 2010


IStock_00kids hugging

Many relationships start on a good note.  There’s time, attention and affection given on an almost daily basis.  Both partners often listen to each other (at least in the courting stage), enjoy each other’s company and make time for one another.  As time goes on, the honeymoon stage when everything is wonderful, exciting and fun begins to wane.  Life sets in, errands must be run, jobs must be done and our sole focus, understandably, is no longer on one another.

This is normal.  No relationship could sustain the honeymoon stage forever, although many of us wish it would.  The reality is that we all have competing priorities that we have to constantly balance.  The problem isn’t that we no longer are the sole focus of one another's world. The problem happens when we take our relationships for granted to such a degree that we move from the sole focus to barely being a blip on one another's screen.  

Although this may sound extreme, it seldom happens over night. It often is a slow, steady process of distancing, distraction, busyness, competing obligations and exhaustion.  Throw marriage and children into the mix and that once hot, all-encompassing relationship is now a slow, smoldering ember.  If we’re not careful--an ember that will soon burn out.


March 11, 2010


I recently was given a great bookmark from my husband on building a great community.  The bookmark had a long list of suggested moves a person could make.  It led me to think about creating a similar one for relationships. 

I often talk to audiences about the power of one person setting a ripple effect of change in motion in their relationships and ultimately throughout their lives.  Below are suggestions on how to start the ripple.  Please note that these are to be done regardless of what other people are doing on their end.  Starting the ripple means you do your part to create the shift: Changing Me, Changes starts with you.

*  Be kind, loving and cherishing...especially to those closest to you
*  Treat others as you wish them to treat you...even when they’re not
*  Honor the statement “There’s no excuse for abuse”...yours or others
*  Be accountable...when you make a mistake own it and repair it
*  Hold others accountable for how they treat you..not to do so is harmful to you
*  Be authentic...tell your truth with love, even when it’s the more difficult thing to do
*  Lead by example...if you don’t live it then don’t preach it
*  Set limits in a loving and firm way
*  When angry use a quiet, centered, powerful strength...don’t rage or silence
*  Act with integrity in all you do--and in all areas of your life
*  Don’t play small...and don’t try to make others look or feel small either
*  Own your power...walk in the world with your head held high and know you deserve to be here
*  Never settle for crumbs and think you have a birthday cake...they’re only crumbs
*  Incorporate tender sprinkles (small acts of kindness) with your family and loved ones...compliment, touch, share, write a kind note
*  Ask for what you need directly...and don’t get upset about something you never asked for
*  Know that your partner is not a mind reader...and don’t expect them to be.
*  Say it straight...don’t beat around the bush, manipulate, or be passive-aggressive--grow up
*  Never ignore’s mean, cold, unacceptable and ruins relationships
*  Protect yourself from affairs...send clear messages out to the world that you’re taken
*  Don’t allow yourself to be a part of breaking up someone else’s family...your lover is likely to do the same to you as you did to their spouse--walk in the world with integrity

START THE RIPPLE...and feel its force.

CHALLENGE: Choose 2 things on the list above that you don’t currently do and start doing them.  Continue to add to your list. Notice the ripple of change as a result.

March 09, 2010


A reader requested that I write a blog regarding the old saying Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.  I can’t tell you how many times I repeated this very saying when I was a kid as a quick comeback.  I thought that the more I said it, the stronger I would be and the less name calling would hurt.  For some reason it never quite worked out that way; the name calling almost always hurt. 

This is true as we grow up as well.  Name calling hurts because it is intended to hurt...and sometimes it hurts more than sticks and stones.  This is true even when the person who is calling the names later says they didn’t mean it.  The reality is they did mean it and they meant for it to hurt.

Those people who try to say they didn’t mean what they said in anger are lying.  What they really mean is they don’t want to be held accountable for what they said in anger.  They want to try to pin it on you for being so “sensitive.”  Don’t fall for it.  You know if it hurt or not--it was said to you!  In fact, the closer the name-calling person is to you, the more painful the name calling is.  Name calling is abusive, which is another reason why it hurts--abuse hurts.


March 03, 2010


Time and again I see, hear or am told about people intensely reacting to feedback, difficulties, accidental mishaps, less than caring interactions etc.  When I witness reactivity first hand, I’m often taken aback by it’s intensity and volatility.  People in its path can experience shock, panic, anger or a sense of frozen hopelessness.

Some examples of “intensely reacting” include:
Screaming, yelling or calling someone names in response to something you believe   they did or didn’t do.
Tearing off in your car and screeching the tires in a fit of anger
Slamming your fist down in anger in response to some perceived slight
Falling apart crying, pleading, begging or becoming hysterical in response to something other than death or tragedy
Physically attacking someone or threatening them in response to some slight
Becoming highly defensive and intense in response to someone’s criticism

If you tend to be reactive, chances are you don’t see, get or understand the impact of your intensity on others.  Chances are, that more times than not, you believe that your reactivity is justified, caused by incidents or persons beyond your control or that people are too sensitive and need to toughen up.


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