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Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

Betty and Stan, both in their mid-fifties have been married for eighteen years. Their children are raised. Betty works at her job about 45 hours a week. Stan works about 30 hours a week. Betty also does about 95% of the housework.

Last week after much discussion about the inequity of their relationship, Betty and Stan agreed that the two of them were going to dig in and get their house in shape. Stan would do the dusting and vacuuming, help fold laundry, grocery shop, and grill dinner. Betty would primarily work on the kitchen, the refrigerator, the floor. She would clean the bathrooms, do the laundry, pay bills, and balance the checkbook.

Within a half hour of starting to work, a friend of theirs stopped by and asked them to go to a big garage sale across town. Betty said she’d love to but they had agreed to get their place in shape. Stan looked at Betty and said, “You don’t mind if I go, do you?”

Betty responded by giving Stan a dirty look.

Stan challenged Betty and said, “What’s wrong now?” In order not to argue in front of Stan’s friend, Betty shrugged and the guys left.

Later in the day when Stan returned, the two of them talked. Betty said, “I’m giving notice. The maid is quitting. I am not taking all the responsibility in this house.”

She gave Stan a list of chores and suggested that he pick the ones he would be willing to do each week. She would do the remainder. Stan took the list, dramatically tucked it in his pocket, and said he’d do it all. Betty explained that she didn’t want him to do it all. But to no avail. He insisted he would do all the chores.

When Betty talked to me she wanted to know what she should do. I told her to take Stan up on his offer for several months. When he stopped doing the chores, next week or next month, she could re-open the subject of splitting the chores.

She said she was worried that if he did all the chores she would lose her value. Stan wouldn’t see her as important.

I said I didn’t know many men who stayed in a relationship because the wife was a good maid. But men did stay in relationships because of history, because they have children together, because of finances, for companionship, sex, and love. The other thing, if Betty continues to rescue Stan by doing almost everything, he will have little appreciation for what she does. She will continue to feel dissatisfied with the marriage and probably act accordingly.

Stan and Betty are not alone in their struggle over who does what around the house. It is estimated that husbands have 15 to 20 more hours of leisure time each week than their working wives. Further, in most families, husbands do 20% of the household chores and child care while women do 80% of the chores and child care. This disparity serves neither gender. The wife feels like a victim, sees her husband as a villain, and eventually closes off emotionally. Or, she turns into a very critical mate. The number two reason women divorce is because of a husband’s unwillingness to share chores.

To not only preserve your marriage but to have a healthy one, visit the issue of chores and child care. Divide them up on paper if necessary to make them equitable. If you have an uncooperative mate, do only those chores that must absolutely be done. Try hard not to focus on those that remain undone. It is not a woman’s job because she is a woman to take care of the house. It is the job of each person who lives in the house.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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How two friends put their bad feelings aside and grew in love.

I lost my friend Mark to cancer a couple of months ago.

I liked a lot of things about Mark — his soft-spoken manner, his easy laugh, his sense of adventure, his willingness to try new things, his zest for life. But above all, the thing I admired most was Mark’s ability to let go of a hurt and move on.

Mark had a friend named Bill, and every so often the two of them would get together for lunch. One day when they were to meet, Bill never showed. So Mark had lunch alone.

The sad thing was that when Bill realized he had missed lunch, he failed to call his friend and apologize. So Mark was a bit miffed.

When Mark saw Bill, he said, “Say, Bill, what happened to our lunch?”

Bill shrugged and said he had forgotten.

Mark said, “But you didn’t call.”

Bill replied, “Yeah, I know, but I got busy.”

With that brush-off, Mark said, “Well, I’m angry about that. You should have called.”

Again Bill defended his actions.

At this point I could see things weren’t headed in a happy direction, so I jokingly said, “Okay, you two. You guys know you love each other. So Bill, tell Mark, ‘I love you, Mark.'”

Bill looked at me a little askance (men don’t say “I love you” to their friends). Then he got this big childlike grin on his face and said, “I love you, Mark.”

Without hesitation, Mark smiled and said, “I love you, Bill.” And the incident was over. From that moment on, I believe Mark never looked back on that missed engagement.

Addendum: Over the next year as Mark was struggling with his illness, Bill would frequently say, “I love you, Mark.” Mark would get a grin on his face and respond, “I love you, Bill.”

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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Why it’s so difficult to end a relationship.

Dear Doris,

Three months ago my girlfriend cheated on me with someone from her workplace. When I found out the next day (from another source) I ended our relationship. Prior to this point I was completely infatuated with her. I was prepared to marry and start a family and I had no idea that things were not as wonderful between us as I thought. She immediately entered a relationship with this person and a week later was telling him she loved him.

I know this because she continued to talk to me and told me these things.

Over the past few months she would call about once a week and describe how terrible things were with this guy and how they were always fighting. She now says she wants to leave him, to get out of her relationship with him, but she’s worried about hurting him.

It’s only been three months and I still have every strong feelings for her. I guess I’m writing this to get some advice on how I should proceed. I would like to have a relationship with her but how would I know if she really wanted it or if I was just a reason to break up with the other guy?

This woman sounds like she needs to grow up. As for you, once you love someone it’s hard to simply turn off your love. It takes time to turn down feelings and let go of your hopes and dreams of the future with this particular person, even if that person has stepped on your heart. My advice is tough it out — get support from your friends, and then start looking for a new relationship.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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Why people complain, why it’s bad, and how to stop it.
Complaining is a real drag in any relationship.

Have you been grumbling, complaining, and whining to someone recently about your job or an unfulfilling relationship with a mate or friend? Why are you doing this?

Chances are your complaining is a way to make contact with the person you’re complaining to. If you can get the person to listen, even briefly, you get some attention. And this attention is important because it makes you feel better about yourself. It helps you forget about those job difficulties or the other people in your life who have been letting you down.

At the same time, too much complaining can be destructive.

If you complain too much about your job, others will start to see you as passive or unmotivated because you’re not doing anything to correct it. If it’s really that bad, think about a transfer to another department. Start checking the online job search sites. Beef up your skills. Do something to make your situation better. Act instead of fussing.

A constant stream of complaints about your mate also gets old after awhile. Work to fix the problem. Insist on seeing a marriage counselor together or go yourself. If you change the way you relate to your partner, it’s likely that he’ll change. If you can’t get him to change his behavior, you can work on handling it better.

Health complaints also drag your listener down. Most people do not want to hear how much sleep you didn’t get, or how your teeth are bothering you. Instead, talk about a class you’re taking or a book you’re reading or a movie you’ve seen recently.

Another problem with complaining is that you tend to frame the problem. It’s as though you put the problem in a picture frame and then it takes on more significance in your life because you focus on it.

Complaining sets in motion operating from a pessimistic frame of reference. Always we have problems to deal with in life. No one escapes. But continually focusing on problems is not helpful. And it certainly wears on those around you.

Think of the people you enjoy being with. They are people who are upbeat, laugh, and give energy. They are not people who spew out a steady stream of complaints, grievances, and ailments.

If you’re feeling down and start to complain, decide that you won’t go on for more than a few minutes before switching to a more positive discussion. If you need to do more fussing, at least call another friend and spread your complaints around.

Another option: think about what you want from the person you’re complaining to. If it’s more attention, perhaps you’ll ask the person to join you for lunch or a movie instead of complaining.

Also, ask yourself, Is there any way I can fix this particular problem? If there is, get busy.

This week, listen to yourself. See if you can stop those endless complaints. You’ll like yourself better. And so will those around you.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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How one woman handled her husband’s affair.

When Joan received an anonymous phone call informing her that her husband was having an affair, she said that she couldn’t breathe. “I think the phone call confirmed what I vaguely suspected,” she said.

“My husband, who had always been easygoing, had became hostile.” When Joan tried to find out why he was leaving so early in the morning for his job or what time he was coming home from work, he acted as if it were none of her business. “He also bought himself some new sweaters and pants, tennis shoes, and loafers.” When Joan shared information about her life or the children’s, her husband would act uninterested.

“I was spending a lot of hours at work, so I think I dismissed the changes that were occurring.”

After the phone call, Joan started checking her husband’s caller ID. She looked more carefully at the bank statements and the charge card bills. There were bills from florists and restaurants. “Restaurants we never went to. Flowers I never saw,” she said.

At first Joan thought of killing herself. “I just couldn’t make sense of it because I thought we had a good marriage. My husband even said we had a good marriage.”

When Joan confronted her husband, he gave up the affair reluctantly. He said, however, that he had never thought of getting out of their marriage. He bought his wife gifts, apologized, and tried to reassure her. When Joan would get angry and berate him, he’d take it. He refused to fight back and he kept telling her he was sorry.

After two or three years, Joan said she brought up the affair less and less. “I could actually get through an argument and not mention the affair. I still have pain, but I no longer obsess on how my husband could do this to me.”

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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Issues in your relationship do have solutions. Some problems are easier to deal
with than others.
What do you do if…

Here are some questions people recently asked me when I gave a talk on marriage.

What do you do when your mate takes a pot-shot at you in public?

The best way to handle this very typical marital problem is to ignore the pot-shot. Pretend you didn’t hear it. In reality, everyone in the room heard it and I guarantee most everyone in the room thinks the guy is rude and “a borderline jerk.”

If you respond by defending or shooting an arrow back, you both look bad, and your mate will probably retaliate. After all, he didn’t have the sense or sensibility to keep his mouth shut in the first place.

The following day, tell your mate you were uncomfortable when he made the remark and ask that he not do this in the future. Some mates will apologize. Others will defend and point out how what they said was correct. If you get a defensive response, again state that you prefer that your mate not put you down in public. Amen. Period. No further discussion.

What do you do if your mate always runs late?

You, on the other hand, were taught to be on time and feel very anxious when you run late. You’ve asked your mate repeatedly to respect your wishes. She says okay but continues to be late.

First, assess if your mate is always late. Is she late for everything — church, weddings, movies, meeting friends at a restaurant, doctor’s appointments? Some people are on time for certain events but give themselves more latitude for others. If this is your mate, discuss what events you categorize as most important to be on time for and those where you would be willing to go along with your spouse’s more laid back timeframe.

Sometimes, too, one spouse will define lateness differently than another. If you are to be somewhere at 4 o’clock, do you consider yourself late if you are there at exactly 4 o’clock? Are you late if your clock says two minutes after four? I’ve seen discussions like this clear the air and give both spouses a better understanding of the way each of them views time.

In the worst case scenario, that is, your mate is late for every occasion, including weddings and the symphony — do yourself and your heart a favor. Take separate cars. It may not be ideal, but it will keep you from starting every event with a hostile attitude and feelings of helplessness.

What do you do if your mate drinks too much when you go out socially and he denies drinking excessively?

No matter how many discussions you’ve had, you can’t get him to admit he has a problem, nor can you get him to change.

Sometimes asking a friend to talk with your mate will have more impact than if you speak to him. Sometimes asking a mate to read a particular article or book on drinking will have the desired effect. Sometimes dragging your mate to a therapist and discussing his drinking will make the difference.

In addition, don’t drive home with a mate who has had too much to drink. Make a pact that you will always drive home from a party or social event. This keeps you from guessing how sober your mate is. It also keeps you from arguing at a time when he’s been drinking. You may not be able to get your mate to change his drinking habits, but you can protect yourself and the other people on the road.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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Making your marriage better can be one of those “Best things I ever did.”
No longer in love with your husband or wife? Feeling bored or irritated with marriage? Yearning to go back to an earlier time when you had fun and looked forward to being together?

With some adjustment — thinking about things differently and changing a few behaviors — you can fall back in love. In fact, when you talk to long-time happily marrieds, most of them admit to periods of discontent.

Often people have so much on their plate with job demands, children, friends, relatives, household chores, sports, and hobbies that they forget to spend time with their mate. Then they report not having anything in common. True, because they’re not doing much beyond coordinating schedules. If this is you, what will you do differently? Nail down an evening or two each week where you spend time together. Write it down._________________________________

Next step. What will you do when the two of you are together? Will you take a walk, bike ride, go to a movie, watch television, go shopping? It doesn’t matter so much what you do, as long as the two of you are doing it together.

People get lazy and take each other for granted when they live together day-to-day. They stop focusing on each other’s goals and struggles. When was the last time you really listened to your partner’s feelings about how things are going in his or her life? Can you name two goals your spouse is wanting to accomplish?

Can you list two concerns or fears he has?

When you’re in that period of two ego states collapsing into one and you’re falling in love, you can’t see the flaws in your mate. You only see the good. As time goes on, the issue of who didn’t take out the trash becomes more important than his wonderful sense of humor. It’s easier to move toward friends and co-workers and away from your mate when entanglements with money, chores and children permeate your thinking and cause negative feelings. In order to avoid this pitfall, write down three of your mate’s strengths.

1._______________________________________________

2._______________________________________________

3._______________________________________________

During the coming week share what you like and admire about your partner. When you were falling in love, you had no trouble giving compliments and hugs and “I love yous.” It’s time to start the process again.

Feeling discontent with yourself often translates into: “I’m bored in my marriage.” It’s easier to spotlight your mate’s flaws rather than look at what you should be changing about yourself. Ask yourself two quick questions:

If I had a magic wand and could change anything about myself, what would it be?_________________________________________________

If I made this change, would I like my mate better?__________

Other action items:

-Be respectful. No pouting, name-calling, or trying to bulldoze with anger.

-Get your sex life back on track. Be loving and approach your mate. When your mate approaches you, don’t turn him or her down because of some petty annoyance.

-Don’t criticize. Remember: “You will always move toward anyone who increases you and away from anyone who makes you less.”

Ask yourself: Am I increasing my mate’s self-worth?

Can people fall back in love? Absolutely. Wishful thinking will not get you there, however. You have to get busy and do something. Following the advice that you’ve just read will make a difference.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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