Archive for January, 2014

“Born To Be A Mom”: Your Destiny?

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

A woman said these words to me the other day, “I was born to be a Mom!” She was describing her desire and hoped for destiny. The words came from deep in her being. She has been a Nanny and now is hoping to find the right man, get married, and fulfill her dream life of being a Mom.

Another woman in my practice said the same thing recently. She was thirty and hoping that her current relationship is the one that leads into marriage and parenthood. She, too, feels that she was “born to be a Mom”.

Our daughter, Brittany, is a SAHM (stay at home Mom) and loves it – most days. She also has a “cottage business” income stream from her consulting and blogging in the areas of nutrition, exercise, and overall wellness, including family life tips. Being a Mom is her “calling”.

The young Nanny got me to thinking. She was the Nanny for three kids for five years. The parents proclaimed that their life’s satisfaction came from their work. The Nanny wondered why they chose to have these kids if they were not going to be around them to nurture and mentor them, and give them that security that only a present loving parent can give.

The question I raise to women is this, were you “born to be a Mom”? Is this your primary purpose in life or ancillary to what you were really meant to be? Or, perhaps you have a limited maternal instinct and motherhood is not your desire? Or, perhaps a combination or motherhood and career bring the most satisfaction?

These questions of clarification are not meant to critique, judge, or prescribe what any woman should do, or be. What I am asking is what is your primary purpose in life? Where does having children fit into your picture? Or not?

As for you men, I also suggest you know who and what you want in your mate. Do you want to be a Father? If so, make sure that you do your “due diligence” in choosing a mate. And if Fatherhood is not your desire, make sure that you are clear about that with any potential marriage partner.

When I wrote my desired list of qualities that I wanted in a wife, being a “good and devoted Mother” was in the top three. And I got her – and more! My wife Sherry has been a terrific Mother, as has our daughter, Brittany. And our son, Kris, did his due diligence well. He married Cara who is a terrific Mom to their daughter. Our family is fortunate that these three women knew who they were and in this case each was “born to be a Mom”!

P.S. I wonder if there are some genetics involved here as both my Mother, Sherry’s Mother, and Cara’s Mother were stay home Moms who did a terrific job!

May you, Respected Reader, know what is right for you and be able to fulfill that destiny!

How Is Your “Learning To Love Yourself” Game Plan Working For You?

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

If anyone doubts the importance of “loving yourself”, get over it.  I am not talking about narcissistically being in love with yourself, for that is ultimately self destructive and damaging for anyone who shares life with such a person. Positive Psychology asserts the value of loving yourself. The words of Jesus coincide with this imperative. (“Love God above all and your neighbor as YOURSELF”).

Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse has long been a proponent of this worthwhile endeavor. She devoted one of her books to the topic.  In this article I will quote some of the directives from her book, LEARNING TO LOVE YOURSELF, adding some of my own commentary.

Wegscheider-Cruse states that signs of low self worth include eating disorders (eating too much or too little), trouble with relationships (especially intimate ones), physical problems (usually not taking very good care of yourself), drug and alcohol abuse (a way to run away from pain), workaholism and frenetic activity (stay busy to escape feelings), smoking (another example of not taking good care of yourself), overspending (another way to negate sad feelings with superficial adrenalin activities),dependency relationships (lean on someone else if you can’t love and depend on yourself).

The first step, according to W-C, is to become aware of your present reality and the forces in the past that have shaped your present condition. Once you raise your awareness of what is, it is time to act by: removing toxic substances and relationships from your life; make new more productive life choices. When looking at your past it is important to understand the role of your parents as they were the primary shapers of your thoughts and emotions.  The goal is to understand and describe, “to tell your truth”, but not play the “blame game”. That just serves up a pity party for you.  Playing the victim does not move you forward. Forgiveness may well be appropriate on your road to living a life of love.

Low self esteem usually develops from failures within the family structure.  Family needs to be a place of security, nurturance – of being loved deeply.  The degree of dysfunctionality in the family system generally is reflected in the depth of the low self esteem.

There are only two instances where you experience “intimacy” in life.  Intimacy is emotional vulnerability.  You are vulnerable as a child growing up in the family.  The other place you are vulnerable is in a committed relationship.  Your partner can hurt you emotionally OR your partner can help heal the wounds of childhood by offering that needed security, nurturance, and deep love.

Wegscheider-Cruse offers these “characteristics of intimates”:

  1. Intimates fight, laugh, plan, share ideas and fill the relationship with high energy (fun to be with).
  2. Intimates share authority in relationships.  They are partners.
  3. Intimates accept and appreciate change.
  4. Intimates can be counted on for consistent behavior.  That is how they build trust.
  5. Intimates have enough self worth to know they deserve closeness, care and attention, and don’t have to play games for attention.
  6. Intimates develop their sense of humor.  They save enough money, energy, and time to play together, and sometimes do outrageous things.
  7. Intimates learn to ask for what they want and need, and give up manipulation and whining.
  8. Intimates can become “like children” with each other without embarrassment.  They do not waste a day or night without some appreciation for each other.

The people that are able to create such intimate relationships are those that:

  1. See beauty in other people
  2.  Can define personal values – know what they believe in.
  3. Demonstrate independence, rather than dependence in many area of life.
  4. Know how to develop one’s own self esteem and give as well as take.
  5. Have learned how to accept the reality of how things are rather than how they wish them to be.
  6. Have learned to forgive, and know that life is lived forward.
  7. Have learned to appreciate what they have to offer.

Well, Respected Reader, how do you measure up? Are you very good at loving yourself?  How about creating an intimate relationship?   Is there more “learning” to be done as you continue to create a life worth living?  Welcome to the Club!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

How To Be Sure To Make The “Right Choice” For A Life Partner!

Friday, January 17th, 2014

I’ve had two people say to me this past week, “I’ve made the wrong choice of a spouse for the kind of person that I am.”  Both have children and do not want to put them through a divorce. Their statement of “wrong choice” was based on their getting a better understanding of who they are – at a deeper level than what they had previously understood.  Two of the insight areas were brain wiring and life style interests. Through a better understanding of how their brain is wired, particularly in the emotional needs and capacity area, and what kind of life style is desired, they realized their choice for a partner was not a good one.

Another couple that I have worked with for pre-marriage counseling are very confident that they have made the “right choice” moving forward into their marriage commitment. They know how each of them is emotionally wired from their genetic orientation through their family’s impact. By knowing this core orientation they are more aware of their childhood emotional wounds, as well as their individual strengths and weaknesses. Also, through this examination of who they truly are they have a better sense of the life style to be created to meet each of their needs.  In addition to the work they have done with me, they also have taken an inventory used by the Catholic Church which assesses how each of them agrees or disagrees on a variety of perspectives.  It was interesting and affirming that the inventory bore out the findings we discovered in the counseling process.  This couple will have a loving and fruitful life “til death do us part”!

The following categories are used in the inventory for couples to see how well they agree or disagree in their respective perspectives.

  1. Life style expectations
  2. Friends and interests
  3. Personality match
  4. Personal issues
  5. Communication
  6. Problem solving
  7. Religion and values
  8. Parenting issues
  9. Extended family
  10. Sexuality issues
  11. Financial issues
  12. Readiness issues
  13. Marriage covenant
  14. Family of origin
  15. Dual careers
  16. Co-habitating couples

As you can seen this list is quite exhaustive with many related issues for each category. If a couple participates in such an exploration of these areas with the guidance of a person trained  in examining and facilitating constructive communication between the two, the outcome can be most rewarding.  Unfortunately most couples do not do this much needed due diligence and often end up making the “wrong choice” for a partner.

May the wise know that there is much to be learned about oneself and a potential life partner to ensure the “right choice”. It is an investment well worth making!  Even those already in a marriage can benefit from this examination to clarify some issues and move the relationship forward with these added insights.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

“Due Diligence”:Making The “Right” Choice For A Life Partner

Friday, January 10th, 2014

I’ve had two people say to me this past week, “I’ve made the wrong choice of a spouse for the kind of person that I am.”  Both have children and do not want to put them through a divorce. Their statement of “wrong choice” was based on their getting a better understanding of who they are – at a deeper level than what they had previously understood.  Two of the insight areas were brain wiring and life style interests. Through a better understanding of how their brain is wired, particularly in the emotional needs and capacity area, and what kind of life style is desired, they realized their choice for a partner was not a good one.

Another couple that I have worked with for pre-marriage counseling are very confident that they have made the “right choice” moving forward into their marriage commitment. They know how each of them is emotionally wired from their genetic orientation through their family’s impact. By knowing this core orientation they are more aware of their childhood emotional wounds, as well as their individual strengths and weaknesses. Also, through this examination of who they truly are they have a better sense of the life style to be created to meet each of their needs.  In addition to the work they have done with me, they also have taken an inventory used by the Catholic Church which assesses how each of them agrees or disagrees on a variety of perspectives.  It was interesting and affirming that the inventory bore out the findings we discovered in the counseling process.  This couple will have a loving and fruitful life “til death do us part”!

The following categories are used in the inventory for couples to see how well they agree or disagree in their respective perspectives.

  1. Life style expectations
  2. Friends and interests
  3. Personality match
  4. Personal issues
  5. Communication
  6. Problem solving
  7. Religion and values
  8. Parenting issues
  9. Extended family
  10. Sexuality issues
  11. Financial issues
  12. Readiness issues
  13. Marriage covenant
  14. Family of origin
  15. Dual careers
  16. Co-habitating couples

As you can seen this list is quite exhaustive with many related issues for each category. If a couple participates in such an exploration of these areas with the guidance of a person trained  in examining and facilitating constructive communication between the two, the outcome can be most rewarding.  Unfortunately most couples do not do this much needed due diligence and often end up making the “wrong choice” for a partner.

May the wise know that there is much to be learned about oneself and a potential life partner to ensure the “right choice”. It is an investment well worth making!  Even those already in a marriage can benefit from this examination to clarify some issues and move the relationship forward with these added insights.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

Do You Know How Men and Women Just Miss Each Other Through Life Stages?

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

Life is about change. (insight of the week). Men and women are different. (second insight). Men and women have different aspects of their brain, upbringing, and social enculturation. Marriage does not change any of these basics.  It may, however, bring a man and a woman closer together or drive them apart. Since life is about continual adjustments one must look at the various developmental stages and see what kind of challenges prevail and how most men and women react to them.

A disappointing factor that I frequently encounter in counseling with couples is the “miss” that takes place. Let me address a common stereotype fitting most middle to upper middle class couples.

EARLY TWENTIES: Marriage. Both work. Child arrives (sometimes planned, sometimes “oops”).  Man is primary “bread winner” while the woman works at a less income producing job or stays home with the kid(s). Man has job change/transfer. Family moves. Woman adjusts and accommodates as she is the glue that keeps the family together and on track as much as is possible.

THIRTIES AND EARLY FORTIES: Similar family pattern exists. Man is mostly in control. Woman is a pleaser, peace keeper.  Focus is on income production and child development.  Marriage enhancement is lost in the shuffle. Distance is more prevalent between the couple. “Separate lives” is becoming the norm.

FORTIES AND FIFTIES: Man advances career. He is gone more often for work and socializing with the guys. Woman, with the kids in school or out on their own, goes back to the work place or gets more involved in women endeavors.  Further distancing exists of the couple from each other. Sex life diminishes, sometimes drastically. Women are less interested because of the lack of emotional intimacy and menopause issues.  Men are stressed and ED complications affect time and effort to romanticize his wife. He spends more time with the guys, and maybe the girls, as he seeks a woman connection. Increased alcohol consumption, and perhaps forays into porn and gambling.

SIXTIES: What has resulted? Woman has become cold, controlling, angry, frigid – definitely not interested in cuddling or anything beyond that.  She often sleeps in a separate bedroom so as to not be bothered for sex, or awakened by snoring, or just alone time to read at her leisure. Man starts to feel melancholy, needy, empty, less self confident, depressed, worried about his health – and lonely.

For some couples the distance has become too great and one or two divorces happen through these periods.  Others stay together as “roommates” because they don’t want to take the financial hit of splitting assets or starting over with a lesser life style.  Plus, they do enjoy socializing with other couples who may well be in the same boat. Group fun covers up couple sadness.

 

Such depressive scenarios do not fit everyone.  There are the cases where the man “gets it” and becomes more attuned to his wife and her needs and thus becomes a better husband. The woman decides to again be open for re-connection and pushes her “re-start” button to become more loving and nurturing.

Women usually survive better in the later years, both physically and socially. Women nurture each other better.  Men die younger because they don’t take very good care of themselves and don’t have that loving partner that helps them take care of their well-being.

Okay, stereotype finished. What part of you, Respected Reader, fits you and your spousal relationship? At whatever age you are can you see yourself in this portrayal?  What about going forward, your future? Different outcome desired? Changed needed?

“The unexamined life is not worth living”      Socrates