Wedding Bells in My Future…

Originally posted on miss kjelstrom:

I figured that it is time to write some more articles about my personal journey; I mean what good is all the objective relationship advice and discussion if you don’t hear some of my subjective experiences.  Self-realizations have to be a part of the process in order to implement change.  You can have all the knowledge in the world, but it won’t do you any good if you can not put it to use.

This all began one day when I called my mom to let her know that I had some news.  It went like this:

Me: “Mom, guess what?”

Mom: “What?”

Me: “Jason and Jamie are getting married!” (Both good friends of mine). 

Mom: “You are getting married! You and John are getting married!”  (Screaming to my father). Honey, Laurie and John are getting married!”

Me: “MOM! MOM! MOM!  I said Jamie and Jason are getting married.”

As…

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Hashtag, Fear of Rejection

The coffee shop rocks some stellar music this morning.  1901 by Phoenix blasts through the speakers as I sit in the back corner watching the locals swing through and converse around the shop.  The Sit and Stay Café houses a bookshelf where patrons can exchange reading material.  There are piles of old books and ironic literature.  “Tears of the Giraffe” stands out as I turn to the lady next to me and she calls out, “Excuse me?”  She asks me if I know which coffee is the best?  I look up from The Orange County Register and lean slightly forward to suggest the one on the far right.  After she fills her mug, she swings back to her seat and we begin to engage in conversation.  She is a delightful older woman with a southern accent and bright blue eyes.  She tells me that she is from Texas and visiting her daughter and son-in-law here in sunny California.  She talks about seeing her grandchildren and how excited she is to spend time with them.  I smile back, ask questions, and express admiration for the exchange that took place.  I get back to my breakfast sandwich and black coffee as I sift through the newspaper.  I watch as two young girls take a photo and discuss uploading it to Instagram.  This leads me to immediately think of hashtags, which leads me to think of texting.  Then, I am reminded of a time when passing notes was cool.  In school when you wanted to elicit the attention of a friend or chat, you had to pass a note.  I recall intricate folding and the rush of passing it so the teacher wouldn’t see.  A thrill in its own right.

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A friend and I reminisced about dial-up the other day.  She recalled her parents having to get two phone lines because you could not use the internet and be on the phone at the same time.  There was a time when we still had to be patient.  The lady in the coffee shop was in her 60s, nearly 30 years older than me and these girls were probably around 15, so about half the age gap.  I feel slightly removed from social engagement via app.  What happen to conversing in the coffee shop or asking a stranger a question or engaging in a conversation?  I will tell you what happen. #facebook #instagram #snapchap #socialmedia.  All of this seems to be causing something more than just a lack of communication.  It causes a lack of thrill, a lack of adrenaline, and a lack of excitement.  We are tagging photos and selfies everywhere we go.  We want to project happiness without truly understanding what it takes to grasp it. There is no grace for messes.  We are gaining more control and causing more anxiety in a world where letting go and learning how to handle change are very important.  We online date as a result of the downfall of present and personal communication.  We become neurotic. We become impatient.  The lyrics of 1901 still play.  “Watch them build up a material tower. Think it’s not going to stay anyway. Think it’s overrated.”  The dynamics of human relationships have not changed much in those 45 years from the teens I see to the older woman I speak with, but so much has changed in our means of communication.

I am proposing that ten years ago, we knew how to balance lack of control in life and bounce back from change.  Are we creating a generation so in control that the slightest change will cause fear?  We used to have to wait for a boy or girl to write back or tell the friend if they liked us back; rejection built character.  Now we swipe to the left and the fear of rejection is gone.  Lack of fear or other human emotions causes us to gain more control.  The more control we think we have, the less we actually do.  Anxieties and fears have to be dealt with.  In order to be dealt with, they have to be created.

 

What’s Love Got to Do With It

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Today is that day.  It’s the day that people exchange gifts, cards, flowers, candies, and cute and cuddly teddy bears.  Today is the day that third grade boy buys his first Valentine’s Day gift for his sweetheart.  He mulls over the aisles at the local Target looking for the perfect way to tell his first crush that he thinks she is special.  It is the day that he gets butterflies in his stomach, hoping that he makes the right decision.  It is the day that she waits for his call and lights up when she hears his voice on the other end.

It is also a day of cynics.  It is a day where the jaded remind us that we are crazy and they are single.  It is the day that eyes roll and people scoff.  But why?  I understand if you are displeased with the commercialization of the Holiday, but the same can be said for many Holidays today.  So why so much hate for VD?  I mean, it’s a day to celebrate Love.  The cynical and jaded make the single assumption that not having a romantic interest on this Day of Hearts makes it a painful reminder that we are single.  But what does being single have to do with it?  This day is about Love.  That love is also shared amongst family members and friends.  We share in love with our children and remind them that they are special.  When I was little my father used to get my sisters and I all chocolates.  Maybe my outlook on this adorable day is a direct product of the idea that it was about family and not romance.  Love has everything to do with it.

The history of Valentine’s Day has to do with a Christian Martyr that got into trouble for marrying couples.  That background is probably responsible for making Valentine’s Day associated with love and romance.  In a time when lovers couldn’t marry, they were fighting the ability to do so.  Appears we are always fighting against something.  So you cynical singles fight the good fight, only 16 more hours left to go.  As for the rest of us, smile, cuddle, and tell them you love them.

To Prenuptial or Not to Prenuptial

To prenup or not to prenup?  That is the question.  In the local coffee shop, I watch today as an older man discusses this topic with a group of friends.  His sober face suggests that this topic is one of emotional passion.  The man states that he would not sign a prenup and he “would rather have her take him for a ride.”  From what I gather, he believes that if you really love someone, you should not have to sign an agreement of how things will be divided up if you separate.  I have heard this reaction from many people; the prenuptial gives us a way out of the marriage.  Doors also give us a way out, but we don’t go building houses without them.

So is he right or wrong?  Now, I am not in the business of marriage legalities, in fact, as a professor of mine once put it, I am an MFT – Marriage Friendly Therapist.  I work together with couples to help them happily stay together.  However, that means a lot of surrendering to our faults and giving in to someone else’s needs, i.e. our partner.  Most of the time when couples are ready to divorce there has been years of unheard words, unmet expectations, and lack of overall happiness. (Check out this article: When Women Divorce Long Before The Divorce by Quentin Hafner.)

In my life I have had three different views on prenuptials:

The first (early 20’s): That if you truly love someone, you don’t need to sign an “out”contract.

The second (late 20’s): After getting out of a bad business deal with a co-owned restaurant; not having any concrete contracts signed, I felt that you always need a contract no matter what.  I got along with my business partner so I always thought a split would be amicable.  It is true that in the mist of a fight the claws come out.  Marriage is the contract and the prenup is there to protect that asset.

The last (early 30’s):  Premarital therapy.  By-yearly check-ups with the therapist.  I would sign a reverse prenuptial (see below).  In the long run I want a partner that is as happy and silly as I am; we will be adults when it comes to decisions, for better or worse.

Obviously, to make a prenup or not to make one, is up to the discretion of the couple.  Consider this when thinking about the issues:

1. There is a lot of legal advice on the internet about signing prenuptials.  What about other experts on relationships and how they discuss navigating this part of a marriage?

2. Discussion of a prenup needs to be gently entered into.  It needs to be a conversation of understanding and compassion.   Most prenuptials are entered into for protection of the property or assets that one comes into the marriage with.  If you are marrying someone who believes they are owed something you had prior to meeting them, I think a prenuptial is the last of your worries.

3.  If you are not willing to share certain things or benefits you accumulated while in the marriage, whatever that looks like,  you should not get married.  You are a selfish person. Truly selfish people will be unhappy in a marriage.  When you force a kid to share and he doesn’t want to, he will likely throw a tantrum after handing over the toy.  Marry the man or woman who finds joy in sharing with others.  It will make a world of difference in all aspects of the marriage.

4. Over the course of the years of marriage you both make equal sacrifices and you should decide what that is going to look like prior to getting married.  You may be the sole source of retirement and insurance, but your partner might bring in more money each year.  Or your partner might stay at home to with three kids until school age and take care of house work.  At the end of the day it isn’t all about money and assets.  We have to take into consideration the acts of service and the sacrifices.

5. If your prenup has to include things like the religion that your children will be raised, well then, stop right there.  You aren’t putting exacts in the prenup because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter anyways.  If your partner becomes Buddhist in ten years and wants to share some of that wisdom with the children, you don’t pull out the prenup and say – Right here, look this is what we agreed.   People change and you should marry someone who is open to change and that is willing to meet you where you are and go places you feel a need to explore.  You should marry someone who you have similar values with, but nothing in life guarantees that down that road that is going to look the same.

After Much Research on The Topic: Try These

The Reverse Prenuptial

Going back to the analogy of the door. It gives us a way out, but it also keeps us in.  It is a fire escape and a barrier to keep unwanted guests out.  It serves two purposes.  What if our prenuptials started doing the same?  Say that one partner comes into the marriage with a boat, the other does not.  The prenuptial reads that if divorced in the course of the first 15 years, the boat will be sold and the sale split.  However, after 15 years, the asset is given to the rightful owner in full.

Therapy

Yes, therapy.  You are going to be making an appointment with a lawyer to get out of the marriage.  The lawyer doesn’t have an understanding of what makes marriages and relationships work.  He has a law degree and an objective for divorce.  Seek a therapist out to discuss why you are thinking about divorce; gain help from someone who has experience in the area of relationships, not law.  Trust people who work within their scope.  Your lawyer has little interest in your overall well-being.

Overall the conversation of the prenuptial should be one of grace and compassion.  Be comfortable and open to the opinion of your partner.

How to Prevent New Year’s Resolution Relapse

We are nearly two weeks into the New Year.  We have been faithful to our New Year’s resolutions for less than 4 percent of the whole year.  How are you feeling about your resolution?  Are you hyped up about the recent change?  Or are you bummed out? I watch as dieters mope across the work hallways and hang their heads as they crash from lack of sugar and crave salty chips.  We torture ourselves with high end goals but have a low end understanding of what it takes to keep them.

You probably have great intentions when it comes to persevering through this first month.  The truth is only 8 percent of us keep our resolutions.  What can you do to be a part of the winning few? I am eager to help you understand how to stay on track.

Lose the Victim:  If you feel like a victim in the race to your resolution, failing is right around the corner.  By victim, I mean the ideas and judgment that you have given your resolution; if the goal is good but your reactions to it are negative, it will be hard to keep.  I’ve overheard people dieting this week say that they are upset, hangry, and unhappy.  The self-talk, emotional responses, or judgments that we give to our goals can be defeating or encouraging, whatever we allow them to be.  If we can interpret and evaluate the situation with positive regard, we make it better.  Our mindset about our goal is important. Instead of negative statements and defeated talk, try positive reflection about the goal.

Check in with Yourself:  Know what goals you can reach and be honest with yourself.  Ask yourself, “What do I need to achieve this goal?”  Set realistic goals and challenge yourself to keep those goals by “awarding” yourself something at the end of that goal (such as a massage or an overnight trip you’ve been putting off).  An example: You resolve to work out more this New Year.  Your goal is 20 workouts a month.  Each month you reach that goal you get a massage.  We go to work to get money.  Money is the “prize”.  Work is the “goal”.

Balance: Life is about balance.  Too much or too little of anything is bad.  Make sure your resolution is a balance of ways you want to better yourself this year.

Temptation: Most New Year’s resolutions include something that is going to link to temptation.  So you have a list of foods that you can eat on that diet, but what is your plan for when tempting treats make their way into the office?  If you resolve to save money, what is your plan to resist your favorite purchases or to not spend as much time at the restaurant you love?  You need to have a plan in place to resist the temptations that are going to come along with that goal.

Remember, an important part of improving any part of our lives is an understanding of ourselves.  Don’t be discouraged if your resolution isn’t working the way you planned, just reevaluate it.  We get stoked on the social stimulation of the New Year’s resolution, but we can make improvements on ourselves at any time in our lives.

The Third Wheel – Being Single In a Coupled World

Tonight is Friday.  I am single.  So I have so many options.  So many options.  What about setting up an online profile so these Friday’s don’t seem so lonely?  I could jet out to the local bars to harness whatever small amount of luck I have left in me?  I could swipe a tinder app, or upload a boyfriend?  As I sit in my living room Frosty the Snowman by Beegie Adair Trio plays in the background.  My roommate makes dinner for her date, herself, and myself.  The Christmas tree is lit in the corner aligned with presents.  My roommate loves Christmas.  I could take her evening happiness away by being a bitter single.  I could scoff at every couple that passes me and snuggles with hot chocolate and hand holding.  However, as I sit here, I have decided to do none of that.  I have a heart of compassion and understanding that has taken years to cultivate.  The expectation is to be bitter after the reason for my recent break-up, but I refuse.  I refuse to be angry.  I also refuse to seek out filling the void through another relationship.  I was offered for one of the couples this evening to bring me a date, and I kindly declined.  It was time to take a break from the dating world.  I look at it like switching up your routine at the gym so your results can be better.  This year launched a long line of failed dating attempts.  It was time to go back to the drawing board.  It was time to figure out what new self-discoveries could yield a more stable and loyal relationship.  Like I always say, the common denominator in our failed relationships is us.  Through weeks of sadness and honesty I have gotten to this point.  Here I am single, not about to mingle.  I am excited to head out tonight to see the beautiful Balboa Christmas Boat Parade with two couples this evening.  I am happy to be a fifth wheel.

Being single in a coupled world seems hard.  It’s really all what you make it.  When did it become so complicated that we had to seek out the next partner before spending some honest time with ourselves cultivating self-love?  We should wait until we have an understanding of why the last relationship didn’t work out.  Being the fifth wheel has it perks.  No worry about that awkward end of the night kiss.  No obligations to meet or expectations that could go unmet.  Spending  time with yourself harnessing a new passion for life and a better understanding of love.  Spending time with your friends and family.  It’s really all what you make it.