Today is Giving Tuesday!
So how can you give? also by receiving! In order to love you have to be able to RECEIVE the “giving” from your partner whether emotionally or even a surprise. Many givers have trouble receiving. I like to give this exercise today on Giving Tuesday: surprise your partner with a gift–like a book or a thoughtful knick knack and practice how it feels to give and receive. There is a dopamine rush when we give, called the “helper’s high.” My father described that when he gave and instilled in me the peace we feel when we give, which is why I became a therapist! Take today to give, do something like say hi or smile to a child or elderly person you see, or help an elderly person cross the street. Give to your loved one and remember work on feeling more comfortable receiving. My book “Make Up, Don’t Break Up” and online education to-go course, Marriage and Relationships: Keys to Success: http://www.ed2go.com/online-cour…/marriage-and-relationships describes this rush. Sometimes, the dopamine rush we seek out , exhibits itself in a dysfunctional way. Giving will give you same rush some people get from adultery or financial infidelity. Tis the season to give , but make sure to give and receive all year round!!
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming to a close, beware of the financial infidelity that can come along with increased opportunities to shop. Whether as a way to keep track of wish lists for a certain store that then make shopping in-person easier with shorter lines; or buying the items directly from mobile sites, more people will be wired in to their devices. This can increase instances of financial infidelity – and make it easier – during an already high-risk time.
I coined Financial Infidelity to describe the financial betrayal that can happen when one or both partners spend money behind the other’s back. It’s a form of infidelity that’s so subtle, people often don’t realize they’re cheating – and it is especially high during the holidays. This is partly due to increased pressure to spend, thanks to days like Black Friday, as well as the desire to find the perfect gift in order to please people. Financial Infidelity is higher around the holidays because there are so many temptations to spend, but if families and couples can go into this season with a game plan for saving money, then everyone wins!
Shopping, whether in person, online, or via a mobile device, and saving money is often like a game. When people get a good deal they feel like they’re winning, and often they are! It’s profitable for people to get great deals on items they would regularly buy at their normal price. Shopping this way during the holiday season can prove to be cost effective. But, as with everything, it should be practiced in moderation, lest it be used as a compulsive way to fill a void.
Utilizing technology to be more efficient and get good deals are great alternatives to other forms of thrill-seeking that tend to emerge around the holidays. However, people need to be careful of the additional pitfalls: People often “shop till they drop” (instead of just shopping for what they need), or turn to cheating to get an unhealthy high. Additionally, mobile shopping can be utilized as a way to hide purchases from significant others, whether it’s an overly extravagant purchase for yourself, or even for a mistress. The dark side of the holiday season is that inhibitions tend to be down, stress levels are up, and people suffering from stress, separation and loss are looking to fill a void. Instead of indulging these feelings, go for healthy highs that have a positive influence.
For more on infidelity – financial and otherwise – check out my book, “Financial Infidelity: Seven Steps to Conquering the #1 Relationship Wrecker”, or “Make Up Don’t Break Up” with a free video download, “Falling in Love and Staying in Love.”
Today, on my birthday, I want to talk about something I’m particularly passionate about–something my Mom taught me how to combat tens of years ago: bullying. I spoke with Andrea Peyser at the New York Post about bullying and its effects over the weekend.
Thirty-three percent of kids say they have been a victim of Cyber Bullying in one way or another. Of these, nearly half don’t tell anyone in their off-screen lives about the abuses. It is important that kids understand that Cyber Bullying is just as upsetting as being bullied in real life and it’s just as important to seek help if they’ve fallen prey to that behavior. I first learned about this at the age of 7 when girls in school tried to push me down the stairs. My mom taught me about the value of extending an olive branch and forgiveness. These kinds of experiences with bullying and cyber bullying can be irreparable to an adolescent’s self esteem. At adolescence, you are trying to form your own identity and peers can be more important than family. We need to teach children empathy. That is why I am an advocate of preventative orientations in colleges, high schools,and grammar schools. We need to teach kids not to be cruel from the beginning. Put them in the shoes of someone they might be criticizing or gossiping about. With kids communicating electronically, reactions to comments are not seen. Therefore, a child may not develop healthy communication skills. This is where the parent comes in.
There is a more than 50 percent chance that parents don’t know what is going on in their children’s online lives—yet more than half of the kids recognized that cyber bullying is as bad or worse than bullying in real life. Cyber Bullying also remains a problem for many teens, a quarter of whom say they would not know what to do if they were bullied online. Cyber Bullying is more serious than person-to-person taunting. The threats can be more vicious, and there is more shame involved. Because more people are exposed, Cyber Bullying leads to humiliation on a global level, leaving the victim feeling attacked and vulnerable. Kids can be exceedingly cruel. We need peer acceptance. Nobody likes to be humiliated and be made a spectacle. Schools need to take more of a stance on this and something should be done. It’s unacceptable that somebody treats somebody differently to make themselves feel better.
Halloween many be almost over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still celebrate! This week everyone had a way to channel their inner control freak, their inner princess, their inner child – and that’s not a bad thing! Why not use a costume to express something that might otherwise be kept pent up. For example, for those who want to be in control, try dressing up as a policeman. For those who feel the need to stand up for yourself, consider donning a witch costume. Then pay attention to what the costume choice indicates – dress-up is a fun, safe way to act out fantasies and dreams in a way that’s playful and acceptable.
Use your costume to hone in on things that may be lacking in your life or relationship. If you want to be a princess or a Hollywood starlet, could you use a little more glamor in your life or relationship? Costumes can be a great way to start to act out feelings that may be lurking below the surface – figure out what they are and how you can let them play out in a healthy way. The more you play, the more you stay. In other words, couples that play together stay together. Couples can use Halloween to uncover a little bit about themselves and in the process, give their relationship a jump-start as well, and not just in the bedroom. Beyond being an addition to your sex life, use a costume to figure out what you want to say about yourself and your life then channel that discovery and new energy into your relationship. It could be something as simple as picking a nice restaurant for your next date so you can get more dolled up than usual, or it could mean re-evaluating the balance of power in your relationship so that both parties feel more in-control.
Use costume to help discover something new, and it can fuel discovery in a relationship as well!
I was just listening to Z100 radio and I heard them discussing the “Hibernationship.” I absolutely loved this term! A hibernationship is a relationship whose sole purpose to get you through the winter. It can go beyond winter or be short-lived once it’s served its purpose of getting you through the cold days and giving you someone to cozy up and cuddle with next to a roaring fire. Some couples will be open and say outright that the relationship’s days are numbered, while others say nothing and break up in the spring. I hear singles say all the time how a winter alone can be long and when snow falls it’s nice to get snowed in with a snow bunny — a hibernationship snow bunny at that!!! To learn more about dating in winter check out my book “Make Up, Don’t Break Up” http://ow.ly/6d8L305zE7o and my online class on Marriage and Relationships: http://ow.ly/1LRf305zENc
The 4th of July should be a time for family, food, and good friends. But wives might find their partner distracted if he’s engaged in or contemplating an affair. Look at the cheater that is trying to pull one over on all parties involved: “The guy who takes his wedding ring off and goes ‘on the hunt’ is especially troublesome, like the “indie cheater;” that’s one of the most sneaky and narcissistic things he could do because he is lying to not only his wife but his potential mistress.” Fortunately, since the summer months have arrived, a ring-finger suntan will be a tell-tale sign that this type of cheater should be wearing a wedding ring.
Aside from sneaking around during time that should be spent with family, “indie cheaters” are a particularly troubling kind of narcissist because they’re out to hurt so many people. It’s imperative that people know when they’re dealing with a narcissist, and how to handle the situation.
Narcissism is a type of bullying, and leaves everyone betrayed. Usually someone who engages in this type of behavior devalues others and may even be trying to hurt their partner. “It’s a drastic form of bullying,” she says.
To nip narcissism in the bud, look out for these warning signs this holiday – or any time:
Do they turn the activities or conversations back to themselves?
Do they feel entitled?
Do they shut down and ignore other people?
This behavior comes from the Biochemical Craving for Connection, which I discuss in my book “Can We Cure and Forgive Adultery.” It pushes people toward a thrill-seeking high to make up for stress, loss, and separation they feel in their lives. Partners dealing with a narcissist should engage in my Smart Heart Skills and Dialogue – “Learn the right questions to ask so this person begins to tell the truth, and begins to see their behavior for what it is.”
And as for the potential mistress, take a look at his ring finger. If there’s a suntan line, chances are he’s married and trying to pull the wool over the eyes of both his wife AND you by lying and saying he’s unmarried.
For more tips from on how to handle a narcissist, click here: , or check out my book “Make Up Don’t Break Up.”
Research from Gretchen Reynold’s blog on “How You Fight With Your Spouse May Affect Different Body Parts” demonstrated that stonewalling spouses were more apt to have muscular issues like back pain or neck pain. I know from my own private practice that negative or intense emotions affect health. Angry, sad, frustrated or fearful people have more health issues. Anger puts a strain on the heart and people in bad marriages can have worse health problems. This is why it’s important to fight fair with an emotional bullet proof vest and make your partner feel safe to share and “air” differences. Doing this increases passion. Walking in your partner’s shoes goes a long way to prolonging the “honeymoon” stage. Fighting fair techniques are essential for fightphobic couples whose apprehension courts confrontation, rather than clearing the air. I recommend 10 min weekly to air differences before they escalate. After that raise endorphins with physical activity with each other like tickling, kissing, or even making love. For more simple techniques on fair fighting check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUM4TnQRWz0 and my chapter on fair fighting in Make Up Don’t Break Up.
Dating can be a drag and you can get depressed because you have hope you will meet the person of your dreams and that doesn’t usually happen right away. Instead you had a boring evening and would rather have stayed home and washed your hair. My mom always told me it only takes one, but which one? Where? How? Actually you probably will meet him when you do not expect it–maybe at a bus stop, on the subway, at a wedding, or even the salad bar. If only the wall would come down. If you have one great date or experience you could desensitize yourself to rejection, and make sure to keep a sense of humor about it. It’s important not to stereotype and smile, look in his eyes and say hello, do not walk away (it only hurts for a little while),be positive, it only takes one! Yes, women you can make the first move! Men are actually more sensitive to rejection. Good luck and let me know how it goes. Be sure to check out my dating book “Make Up, Don’t Break Up” for more tips.
This Father’s Day, more men are taking an active role in their kid’s lives than perhaps ever before. While this is a positive change, it can have negative effects. According to research published in the Wall Street Journal in 2012, 32% of fathers with working wives are helping to care for their kids under 15. That’s up from 26% just ten years ago. With dad as the new mom, it can affect a couple’s relationship if they don’t know how to best manage things.
This shift can be a positive thing for the whole family – kids get a father who’s present, moms get some time off from the 30 hours per week they work inside the home in addition to their careers. Having involved dads makes sense, since men would be better at parenting than at partnering. Men aren’t used to engaging in the level of communication that a relationship needs so they become great dads – which is wonderful, but it shouldn’t come at the detriment of their marriage.
Single dads might face the parent vs partner problem in even worse ways than their attached counterparts. They’re trying to play catch up because they spend time away from their kids, so they parent with extra fervor! While kids may benefit from this, it could also be the underlying reason why single dads stay single – they don’t know how to be a partner because they’re parents – it’s a different set of skills. And they’re already pressed for time and money, making it difficult to connect on a practical level as well: according to the Department of Health and Human Services, 24.5% of single custodial dads work more than 44 hours weekly; and 90.2% of fathers with joint custody pay all their child support each month.
Whether single or married, men also often find it biologically difficult to connect with their significant others – or to find a potential partner after a divorce. It stems from a time period early in a boy’s life that I call the abrupt schism: when a boy leaves mother abruptly while he’s still dependent, in order to identify with his father and become more like him.
Boys don’t make this transition gracefully and the wounds they incur affect their relationships with women for their entire lives. Some mothers have a hard time letting boys go – which means that later in life a man will disappear from a relationship if a woman makes him feel guilty about not meeting her needs; or he will feel that he is never good enough. This provides another glimpse into the reason why men are more reticent to open up – if they do so, they worry they will then need the woman with whom they open up.
Because of their roles in the culture, men often don’t have to know how to be attentive, how to need someone; they are typically more independent. I believe the skills needed for successful parenting and successful partnering can be taught through my Smart Heart Skills and Dialogue, which I developed because I believe most men are connectable by instruction (I discuss this further in my book, Make Up Don’t Break Up and the attached DVD Falling in Love and Staying in Love).
Although women are often the guardians of connection their husbands can learn to connect in their marriage and communicate successfully. They need the confidence from their wives to be better partners, which can spring from their parenting abilities. Men already don’t feel comfortable identifying their feelings and talking about them, so women have to make a safe place – don’t shame or blame! Set aside ten minutes per day for this type of safe connection, where women create a place that their husbands can express themselves.
But it shouldn’t be either/or – people become better parents when they learn to be better partners, so learning to communicate safely and frequently in a relationship is healthiest for the whole family!
To see me talk more about single parenting and getting your relationship back on track click here: http://youtu.be/vNTq_wwXeKA and here: http://youtu.be/MtdykGxY708
I recently came across an article on Reviews.com that was evaluating and reviewing dating sites (http://www.reviews.com/online-dating-sites/). I was so happy to see this much needed asset in this busy world of singles. My single patients struggle with finding the “right” dating site and one that is easy to use. I’ve had patients marry from meeting on eharmony and OKCupid , so that is a testimonial in and of itself. Many patients prefer the two sites Reviews.com found to be the best, as they felt they had less narcissistic members than the others, and were more truthful. Another couple met and are serious now, and another is engaged. I met my husband through NY Magazine (no computer dating in those days) and we taught a course together on how to write an ad to meet and greet. It’s a wonderful way to meet after college, when it’s trickier or after divorce when you might be shellshocked!
Distancers, Elusive Men, and Vanishing Men Men who are Distancers are not all alike. They can't be lumped into one category any more than women who are Pursuers can be treated alike. There are degrees of distancing and pursuing and since we all have both sides within us, we have to be careful not to use these labels as another way of stereotyping. Make Up Don't Break Up, 2nd Edition, page 222.