Wa Wah Wa Wah Wah Wah

When you look up “nag” in a thesaurus, synonyms include pester, irritate, badger, harass, and that’s only the beginning of a lengthy list of words you don’t want to be described as. Think: the Peanut’s Teacher. And for some reason it’s women who get the reputation for nagging. You can almost see the switch in your partner’s head go off. You’ve hit, what I refer to as his “hot button”. It doesn’t really matter what you’re trying to get across, he’s annoyed and you’ve been shut out. How do you avoid that and still get him to do what you want him to do?

When are you asking? You want your husband to take the trash out; is it right when he sits down after work? Or during the middle of a baseball game? Probably steer clear of these and similar times when he’s focused on relaxing. He’s not thinking about anything else and he’s especially not thinking about what you want him to do.

How are you asking him? “Do this, do this, DO THIS!!!” You’re not going to respond to someone asking you to do something if they have that tone with you, so why would your boyfriend? Try asking once politely and if that’s not working, leaving a little note (that’s not passive aggressive) asking again. It’s just a little reminder that doesn’t get either of you worked up.

 Why are you asking him? I’m not saying women are responsible for taking care of all the household chores, but if it’s something you can do and it’s going to be easier than both of you getting upset with one another, just do it. Simple. Lots of stress saved on both ends.

Men are forgetful, gentle nudges are helpful harassing is not. Remember, at the end of the day he’s not doing it to spite you, he’s doing it because he’s a man and they’re hardwired a whole lot different than we are.

 

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Yes! I mean NO! Do I mean no?

If saying “NO” is not an easy thing for you to do, join the club. It’s like we are wired from the beginning to say “YES” to everything. It’s the polite thing to do, right? So, once we start doing that from the get-go it’s a habit and then by the time you’re in your mid-twenties and you are overcommitted and can’t figure out how that happened. I feel like I could be the president of the club most days. And I’ve improved. You don’t want to let anyone down and they need you. Well, who is the affecting more, them or you? My guess would be you because you’ve taken on more than you can chew and it very well could be affecting your other relationships. Your boss asked you to take on another huge project that keeps you after work late, which consequently prevents you from getting home to your spouse or family. Who is taking the hit? How can you confidently say no and not forsake losing your job, friends, family, or peace of mind?

First, check out the book “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud (he’s got books on all sorts of boundaries for all sorts of relationships). He covers everything you need to know to protect yourself while still keeping friends. I recommend it to 90% of the people who walk in my door. We all need it.

Practice saying no. Say it to yourself in the mirror. Say it to your dog. Tell your cat no. Do not be afraid of the word no. You can say it politely, “Thank you for the offer but…”, “How about we revisit this next week…”, “No, I don’t think that’s a very good idea…” No is in the language for a reason. If you give in and you don’t want to, that will lead you to resentment.

Reverse the roles. So, Sally wants to go to drinks and you’ve already committed to Donald to go to dinner. No need to overbook yourself. You might be worried Sally will never ask you to drinks again or her feelings will be hurt. Change the scenario. You ask Sally for drinks, Sally says, “I wish I could, but I already have plans to eat with Donald tonight.” Easy. You understand, so Sally will understand as well. I am sure you make great company, but your friend will be okay if you can’t make it to everything they ask you to.

Does it make you happy? If all of the running around and pleasing other people is exhausting and you find yourself more annoyed than enjoying what you’ve agreed to, take a time out. Do something for yourself. Turn your phone off. Go to a movie alone. Do something you want to do because you want to do it. Not because someone has asked you to or you’re expected to. You can’t always be the volunteer that chairs every event your local college chapter has, the classroom parent who plans all the holiday parties, or the go-to man in your office that gets all the projects. You will burn out.

Remember, NO is not a bad word.

Interview: Part 9

What would your top 3 tips be for women who feel like they are doing all the work in the relationship or don’t know where they stand in their relationship or they are not getting the kind of commitment from their partner?

Every relationship is going to have it’s ups and downs, but also remember a relationship is a two way street. If you feel like you are putting all the work into it, there is something that is off and either needs to get fixed immediately or you need to hop on out. Three tips for those of you who are in that situation would include:

  1. Have a little bit of patience with him. Is there a reason he has pulled back? Is work going well? Is he under family stress? Did he experience something out of the ordinary that has shaken him up a bit? If so, give him some time and allow him to heal or seek help to move past this stumbling block. Figure out how you can come alongside him and support him in the way that is best for him. What would work for you may not be what works for him.
  2. Talk to him. A relationship is based on communication. If you’re not letting him know your needs he won’t be able to provide you what you’re expecting. He’s not a mind reader, even though that would be what every woman wants.
  3. Let it go. If you’ve done your part, you’ve talked to him, laid it out, and he’s still not getting it, it’s going to take a lot more than your patience for him to get things sorted out. You also don’t want to wait around for him if you’re sure of what you’re looking for. This won’t be the easy thing to do, but sometimes it takes losing something great to realize what was there. That may be the case for him, and if it’s not there are other men out there that can provide you with emotional support and commitment.

Interview: Part 8

Another common question we frequently get asked from our readers is when they should talk about marriage in a relationship. Some of our subscribers would like to get married soon, start a family and are quite wary of a ticking biological clock. For them, time is crucial and they don’t want to waste their time with the wrong men. Some men when asked about marriage respond “Maybe, some day I want to get married” or “Yes, I want to get married some day in the future.” Women are not quite sure whether they should wait or if they should move on when they hear this response.

What would your advice be for women in this situation?

Marriage and a family is something many people desire, not just women. While women are often more forthcoming with that information, men know what they are looking for and if they want to get married. Obviously, it’s not something to dive into the first few dates, but probably in the first couple months it’s a good idea to be sure you are in fact on the same “Life Page.”

There are opportunities the first couple months where you can slide subtle questions in to find out where he lies on the topics of marriage and children. If he’s talking about his niece or nephew, you can say something as simple as, “I love kids. Do you want children one day?” Gives him a chance to reveal something but in a non-confrontational way. Or marriage, which is trickier, but it’s not hard to find something wedding or marriage related and slide an unassuming question in the conversation. No need to harp on his response, if he’s worth keeping around you can do that later. And if those innocuous questions freak him out, he’s probably not on your page.

For the sake of keeping it simple, if he doesn’t know what he wants or thinks “maybe eventually down the road”, and that’s not lining up with you, cut bait and get out. It’s nothing against you, but if you were “the one” for him he wouldn’t be wishy-washy. He’d be ready to give you some pretty firm answers. It might not mean marriage in the next month, but you at least know you desire the same things. If you wait around you are just spinning your wheels on a guy who is indecisive and not committing to you. There are men out there (lots of them) who want to get married and have families, and if you stick around Joe Shmo you’re missing out on someone who wants to settle down and share a life with you.

Interview: Part 4

We get a lot of emails from our readers who often worry about losing the man that they are interested in. This can be ranging from issues like the man blowing hot and cold to a man communicating with them only via text messages to him taking her for granted and not making any plans ahead of time for a date to being hesitant to talk about how he sees their relationship progressing or discussing his thoughts about marriage etc.

I guess it’s quite natural for people in general to avoid serious topics or conversations especially when they are first getting to know the person. But for a relationship to progress and for a couple to build trust and feel emotionally connected, it is important to talk about what’s on your mind and discuss important issues.

What we see many women do is that they either avoid talking about these issues or pretend they don’t matter because they don’t wan to “risk losing him” or they have this hope that they can change the man later on as the relationship progresses In the process, they set a dangerous precedent by avoiding conflict altogether or by sweeping issues under the rug early on in the relationship.

So how can women overcome this fear of losing their man and cultivate the habit of openness and honesty early on in their relationship?

Losing a romantic partner is scary because of what has been invested into that person. Thinking about it can give you a pit in your stomach. So, in relationships, we do what we can not to rock the boat. Relationships can be like Seahaven in the movie The Truman Show–the sun always shines, people are always “good”, everyone smiles, and there is never any traffic. Pure bliss. And that is what we try to maintain in relationships. The problem comes when we can’t force the smiles anymore and we are looking for something real, just like Jim Carey in The Truman Show.

It’s not normal to dive into the nitty-gritty on date one—this is a chance to hit the surface and figure out what kind of person you are working with. The first few dates can be like Seahaven, putting your best foot forward and feeling the man out. However, there comes a time when facing the nitty-gritty is necessary to take a relationship to the next level. It’s relatively easy to keep things on the surface, especially if he isn’t willing to dig deep. What I see many women doing is compromising themselves because they are afraid of what direction tough conversations may take the relationship. But ask yourself this, “Am I staying true to who I am and my values or am I sacrificing part of me so I don’t lose him?” What happens if the relationships ends? Will you be able to say, “I have no regrets and I didn’t compromise who I am.” That should be an end goal.

Having real life conversations isn’t easy, but they are crucial to a relationship and should be discussed on the early-ish end. It is much better to find out that you and Bobby don’t line up with the idea of children in month 2 rather than in month 9 when much more has been invested emotionally. And truthfully, I believe many of these conversations should be had even before the boyfriend title is thrown around. Others may believe that is too early, but I think once you’re on that track, it’s much harder to turn back when core values are not lining up. It’s those values that make you who you are. Be bold. In the end you want someone who respects you, not someone who you’re living in The Truman Show with. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t work out with his wife because it’s a relationship that never left the surface.

On the issue of changing a man, don’t hold your breath. The only thing a woman can (maybe) change about a man is his clothes. Do not get into a relationship with the idea you are different and you can tame the beast, you can’t. He can change, but it’s going to be because he wants to, not because you want him to.

 

ON WEDNESDAYS WE WEAR PINK!

My phone is sitting no more than 3 feet from me as I write this post. I am constantly attempting to figure out ways to become less dependent (is that even possible at this point?) on my phone use and the apps that come accompany it. A little over a year ago, I felt like I spent too much time scrolling on Facebook, so I removed it. A little painful feeling FOMO (fear of missing out), but it lessened overtime. It’s constant re-evaluation of my use and when I think maybe I’ve gotten better, I catch myself in the same habits of picking up the phone only to see my home screen. With that, I removed notifications from popping up from my Instagram account and SnapChat. There is always something I can be doing better.

I came across an article this morning on Psychology Today that is a little longer than a really short read (about 10 minutes) that can help anyone take an honest reflection on their social media use and how to break some of those pesky habits and be more present and live a more authentic life in relationship with those around you.

Are You Self-ie Absorbed?

Zero to 6000

So it’s the end of Date #1 and you’re pretty sure you’ve found the man you’re going to marry. Women can go from 0 to 6000mph in a matter of seconds and before we know it, we have fallen hard for a man. It happens so fast, we hardly even realize we’ve gone from sane to close to insane (but of course you can only see that as an outsider looking into someone else, because we all like to think we don’t do that). Well here’s the deal, we do it, and that alter ego we will refer to as “Crazy Lady”. We need to be sure we are protecting ourselves, and, as cheesy as it sounds, “guarding our hearts” (I promise I won’t say that again…ever).

So, how do you keep Crazy Lady from sabotaging your relationship? First, hold off on the physical intimacy (keep the clothes on). Our bodies say “YES, go there, lets DO THIS”, it’s what we were made to do. Problem, as soon as we’ve gone too far too fast, our emotions start getting warped and the emotions are in charge–not our better judgment. From there, Crazy Lady has taken over your body and you start doing things that are totally unreasonable. And it’s because we aren’t secure in the relationship with the man. We have lost total control and started down a road we never wanted to head down. You’re in over your head.

Second, take things day by day. Enjoy where you are each day with him and don’t get anxious about what’s ahead. Things will progress naturally if it’s a good thing…and if it’s not a good thing, it will become evident real fast and you can bow out.

Last, be secure in who you are and what’s going on in the relationship. If you start getting jealous or second guessing him when he says he is really busy at work but you think he’s taking someone else out, Crazy Lady is about to come back and take over. And we can all relate to Crazy Lady because we’ve all got her hidden somewhere inside us.

Just relax, enjoy, and don’t be in a rush for the next step.

The Ole Break-up

So things aren’t going quite as you envisioned at the beginning of the relationship? You’ve gone from thinking about monogrammed towels and sheets to the idea of burning the towels and sheets after he touches them sometimes. Well, no need to burn anything, it just sounds like it might be time to move on from this suitor. Where do you even begin?

First, it may seem easier to stay in the relationship because change is hard! Thoughts may be running through your mind like, “I don’t want to have to date again”, “It’s not always bad…just most of the time”, or “Maybe I should give it a little more time and things will get better”. When in fact things have probably been this way for quite some time and you just weren’t quite ready to face the music. If you are staying in it because it’s “easier” than breaking up, you need to be a big girl and break up.

What are your motives? Are you pissed because he forgot to call while he was watching the football game? You’re thinking this is the last time and I don’t want to deal with it anymore. Let your emotions settle down and reevaluate. Making hurried decisions like that is usually not the best and you’re reacting out of emotion instead of logic. If it’s because of something that compromises your value system, still take some time and evaluate what is best and approach him coolly with your concerns and how you feel like this might not be best for both of you.

What about the baggage? Maybe you live together (officially or unofficially) and you will actually have some physical baggage. That’s daunting especially if you have a dog together. It might sound silly but these are real things to consider and may be a reason preventing you from breaking up. If it’s not right, these logistics will work themselves out in time, but don’t let that be the reason to stay together.

Breaking up may mean the end, but it will mean the beginning of something new. You have no idea what could be in store for you and what you take with you from one relationship to the next. Life will move on like it always does, but take it in stride and know that something else is in store for you.

Emotional Intimacy

When you think of intimacy, what do you think first? Romp in the bedroom? Being physically intimate with someone can be relatively easy because it is what our bodies naturally want to do (in most cases). We feel the drive and our bodies begin the natural reactions to prepare for sexual intimacy. We don’t even have to think about it. Easy, cavemen were doing it.

Lets talk about a different kind of intimacy, emotional intimacy. What I have discovered is the emotional intimacy is the more challenging of the two. Emotional intimacy requires work. It’s letting your guard down and having those difficult conversations that no one really wants to have but are necessary for the connection you really desire.

  1. Finding the right time to talk: A time when the two of you are alone and not distracted is ideal. A car ride can be a good place because you’ve got the time and no one can really go anywhere until you get to the destination. You’re stuck. WARNING: it can also get uncomfortable…
  2. Be ready to get uncomfortable: You’re not talking about the weather and baseball. You are talking about things you value and are important to you. Your heart may be racing and your palms are sweaty but that means it’s important. These topics will be the foundation of a relationship with open communication. Long periods of silence aren’t a bad thing and don’t feel like you have to fill it if he isn’t saying anything. He is probably just collecting his thoughts.
  3. Find time to continue conversation: Being vulnerable and letting your guard down is important in fostering any relationship. This is the way you grow deeper. It can be terrifying to start some of these conversations, but it’s easier to take care of them on the early end than damage control on the later end.

Conversations may not go as planned but as you engage in more and more of them they become more natural and you begin to learn who you are through them and how to navigate your relationship. Emotional intimacy is necessary in a relationship so don’t be afraid to develop yours with your boyfriend (or anyone else)!

The DTR (defining the relationship)

The anticipated, yet dreaded, “Defining the Relationship” talk, better known in the shorthand form, THE DTR. Just thinking about it is enough to kinda make my stomach do a few flips. Yes, you want to move this relationship forward, but Mister over there doesn’t seem to be making the moves towards talking about it yet. There are a few things to consider before you decide to breach the topic, and if you are ready for what the potential outcomes could be…

How long do I wait?  Well ladies, there is no magic number of dates or months of dating that need to be met (that would make this question much easier to answer). Think about these questions:

How often do you talk?

If you’re talking nearly everyday and throughout the day in some capacity with both sides initiating, that is a good indicator that things are moving in a DTR direction. If it’s sporadically throughout the week, you probably want to hold off until it is a little more regular.

How much time are you spending together?

If you are hanging out when schedules permit and it’s been increasing over the course of the last several weeks, that’s a good sign. Again, consider DTRing it. If it’s still fairly casual, no need to rush and enjoy the period of casual dating you’re in.

Who are you spending time with as a couple?

If you both know each others friends and have done several group outings this is also a great indicator of moving things forward. However, if you’re still uncertain about who is friends are and your friends aren’t too familiar yet, maybe hold out a little bit longer.

So the time is right, how do I bring it up? Of course it will be easier after a couple drinks but that might not help you be clear. Hopefully if it’s the right time it will be something that happens easily and naturally. If things are as good as you have them envisioned, he is probably on the same page as you and will be excited to have this conversation and move things forward. However, if it happens that he doesn’t know what direction he wants this to go or somehow you aren’t on the same page, remember it’s better to know these things on the earlier end than later.