A Woman’s Job?

Reader’s Question:

My wife and I have been married a little over a year and want to start a family. This was our plan from the very beginning, but we never discussed the work situation. My wife is a nurse practitioner and I am a surgeon. I have asked my wife to start thinking about quitting work as we start to try to have a baby.  We do not need her income and it would really make things easier if she would just stay home, like women are supposed to, and care for our home and our soon to be children. She is thoroughly pissed off and angry with me for asking her to quit and said we could live on her salary alone. I highly doubt this as I make at least triple her salary yearly and we have grown accustomed to not skimping on much. I don’t want to come home to a wife who has worked all day and is just as tired as I am. I want to come home to nice meals and a clean home. I don’t want my children raised in daycares when my wife is highly educated and can get them started at home in our care. Am I wrong to want a wife that has traditional values, who is willing to care for me and our children, and only work within our home, now that we are expanding? How can I make her see this is her place in our family?

WOW. JUST, WOW.

I am guessing that she is very pissed off, and from the way you worded the question, she has every reason to be.

I get that you make more money. I get that you want your children to skip the first few years of daycare. I get that you want to come home to a nice dinner and a clean house. Who doesn’t want all these things? BUT, should they come at the expense of your wife’s’ happiness? Do you get what is wrong here?

I sincerely doubt you do.

Your wife worked very hard to get where she is in her career. Now, after all that hard work, you are asking her to leave it all behind and never look back for wet diapers, dirty dishes, and all your wants and needs. 

Why does she have to quit now? Why can’t she continue to work until you have children, take maternity leave, and see how it goes? There are many, many, MANY women who say they will go back to work, but then love being at home with their children and change their mind, deciding instead to take a few years off to stay at home.

Can you accept that you must be patient and let your wife make her own decision when the kids are born? You should try.

You must consider that you dated for years and have known how much her career meant to her. She has bettered her career over time and must feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose. Wanting children does not mean who she is or what she cares for most, has changed.

Both of you will most likely change when you become parents, but you are “putting the cart in front of the horse.” 

At this point, I am not sure sitting across from one another at a table will do much good, but you can always try. Have you asked her what she wants? How she feels? Her thoughts on how to handle the changes that are involved with having children? Have you considered those things? Since money is no issues, what about a livein nanny to help out? There are many options to discuss in a RESPECTFUL manner. i.e. Do not tell her what is going to happen, ask her what she thinks.

These discussions must not start with making her “see” her place is in the home. It’s 2017!

Now, to your wife:

What’s wrong with staying home and having a family? There are many women that would give anything to stay home and care for their family, me included, but this was not always true.

Once, I wanted to take over the world and no one, no husband or child, was going to stop me!

Then, I had kids and a husband. I started working really hard as a full-time employee, a full-time wife, and a full-time mom. All of that became a full-time me. It is stressful. Through all of this I realized, I totally would have stayed home and been the “old fashioned” wife and mom. I guess you don’t know until you’ve been there and done that. Sometimes we look back and think, damn, I got that one wrong. 

I wish someone would have told me. So I’m telling you:

Your husbands delivery was awful and left no room for you to consider the option due to his approach. If you can get past that, consider the possibility that you will love your children so much that going to work instead of being with them through the precious few years you have at a young, impressionable, and adorable age, will seem dreadful and downright depressing. Just keep an open mind, and maybe smack your husband a bit for his inconsiderate communication style.

This is on both of you. Communication, rather poor communication, is the problem here. Talk it out. Don’t fight and put each other “in their place.” Everyone should be where they feel comfortable and there must be some sort of compromise in these situations. “Walk in each other’s shoes.” Think about all the outcomes. Really put some effort into analyzing the situation, but COMMUNICATE with each other in a healthy way. You have a great relationship and when you add kids to the mix, things can get a little tricky/messy/hard/complicated/busy…so, you really want a solid foundation of understanding from the get-go.

Marriage Does Not Create Happiness

Reader’s Question:

I have been married for 16 years. My husband and I have two children, ages 10 and 15. I want a divorce. It’s not that I don’t love him, but I am not happy. We fight constantly and honestly I’m not sure if we even know each other anymore. No one has cheated, no one has lied. We have a good marriage, but we fight a lot. We are very different people and only seem to be getting more distant. We spend most of our time together or with our children and it’s usually quality time. I’ve tried to feel in love with him for years, but I just cannot, too much past has brought us to this point. Is it best to stay together until the kids leave for college or is it more harmful to them to hear us argue and know that we are just staying together for them?

Well, the truth is, I just do not know.

I’m sure on an individual basis there are right and wrong answers, but without much more information, I just cannot know. You see, we are all different and we want and need different things in life. So do our children. Obviously, it is not good to have the kids hear you fighting and it is not good for them to think they are the only reason you are together. Children are very impressionable. They watch how you react to every situation. Not all the time, but often. You are their life guide as they work their way to adulthood. You should remember it’s not always about you or your partner, sometimes the kids have to come first. Their needs, not their wants.

From the wording of your question, I can tell this has been going on for some time.

Marriage is hard. Marriage does not create happiness. It is not up to your marriage to make you happy. 

I hear you say everything is fine. Fine being acceptable. You are not head over heels in love. You are not in lust. You are not…well anything but a body doing the motions and that just sucks. Have you just given up or are you still willing to fight? Sixteen years of marriage is nothing to throw away for no reason.

So, what is the reason?

If you take away happiness- because that is on YOU, not your marriage or your partner or anybody but YOU- then what is the reason you want a divorce? You met this man and fell in love enough to stay married for 16 years and have two children.

You must discover why you aren’t happy! 

Step one should be figuring out the source of your unhappiness and why you believe it is your marriages fault. I have found that someone in your situation can often lift their spirits by simply doing more for themselves. What have you done to make yourself happy lately? It is very hard to find a partner to love and trust unconditionally, especially when children are involved. So, you need to make sure that your marriage is actually stopping you from being happy. You need to make sure that your own attitude and perspective isn’t the cause…and if it is, how can you fix that?

What made you fall in love? And why can’t you get back there?

Is neither of you willing to fight for this foundation that you created? Readers – it is important to understand that sometimes in a marriage, when nothing is “wrong,” but nothing is “right,” YOU might have to start the fight to keep the marriage or relationship alive.

YOU may have to go it alone to begin, that is what being a good partner is all about, right?

When they are down, you pick them up. When they have no fight left, you fight hard enough for both of you! Someday they will do the same for you, it’s just how marriage works. There are ups, there are downs, and there are even sideways and backward, but you have to fight and try and try harder. There are those who walk away and those who dig their heels in even deeper. You have to decide which you are.

Pet Issues | How Much is Too Much?

Reader’s Question:

I’ve been dating this girl for a few months and things are going well. She lives in New York City and I live in Miami, so we do travel often to see each other. Financially, I do better than her, so I pay for most of our accommodations. Recently, she has started asking to fly her three small dogs when she comes to see me in Miami. I think this is ridiculous. I have offered to pay for a kennel or a dog sitter when she is away, but she says she misses them and if she is ever going to relocate to Miami, these dogs would come with her. Last weekend she even brought the puppy to brunch. I will admit, I did not handle it right, and I kind of freaked out…which resulted in a major fight and her flying back home. Dogs are not people, they don’t need travel and brunch accommodations, especially at my expense. She is now refusing to come to Miami since I now “hate the dogs she loves so much.” Am I wrong to not want to pay for the dogs or allow them to come to our meal dates?

Well, this is fun. The simple answer is no, you are not wrong, but neither is she, to a point.

Pet people are very interesting to me, but in the end, this is not so different from a lot of quirks you find others have once a relationship begins to get real.

Some folks like to bring their pet with them on every adventure…not just dog walks and beach runs, but also Sunday Brunch on the patio at their favorite restaurant, and trips to Paris because they truly love the animal. I’ve seen place settings at the table for the dogs, purses for the cats, and EVEN a diamond studded wall decoration surrounding the tank of Gucci the Goldfish. Others let their dogs sleep outside and treat them as more of a …well…pet. 

However you see fit is your preference, and the two of you are clearly not on the same page. 

Do you love this gal? Does the relationship mean enough for you to overlook this? Can you at least get past it and accept what it is? What bothers you the most about the situation?

Is it the money you’re spending to accommodate the dogs or the principal behind it? 

Major resentment can build over this if you are not honest here and now. If you have only invested a few months into the relationship and this is something that you feel very strongly about – likes it’s a deal breaker- then maybe it is time to move on. She clearly loves her dogs as she would a child, or a friend, and does not want to part with them.

You should decide what you are comfortable with and draw a line.

I suggest you get your thoughts in order and make a list. Actually write it down. Show her that you have put time and effort into this matter because you care for her and this relationship. Explain to her what you have decided you are comfortable with and what you simply cannot tolerate, or will not do. Don’t forget she may naturally gravitate more towards your style (i.e. not taking the dogs everywhere) and away from her dogs as your relationship progresses. 

Perhaps the dogs don’t come to brunch at a restaurant (when you are around!), but you plan outings that are intended to be shared with her pooches. Or, maybe they only fly to Miami for special occasions like holidays. If she wants her dogs to make the trip often, she will need to pay their way.

This is also a good time to make sure you will be able to tolerate the dogs if she (and them) relocates to Miami. Assuming you get past the current problem and you two move forward with this relationship.

If the dogs are a no go for you because of their level of involvement, she deserves to know at this point. Put the pet issues on the table now so that you both have a clear understanding moving forward.

Be reasonable. Be honest. Be respectful. Communicate calmly.

If you can do those things, you can work out a compromise on the dogs. If not, at least you know now.

Good luck!

Sex First, Please!

Reader’s Question:

My husband and I never have great sex after our night out, usually we don’t have sex at all. What can I do throughout the date to keep the lust alive until we get home?

I hear this from couples all the time. You are finally getting the date night you have been longing for. A night you and your partner need to stay sane and in love. You plan to start with dinner and a movie, or whatever, then out for a few drinks to be social before heading home to finally have some great sex.

You head to your favorite restaurant and leave with a satisfied “food baby.” At the movies, you have some drinks from the bar and delicious buttery popcorn. Oh, and don’t forget the candy, which fulfills your “food baby” even more (my “food baby’s” name is Beef- for real), then head to the bar and top off your night with a few cocktails. You head home around midnight, trying to stay awake in the car, feel half drunk, and full of food…

But, you must go home and have that great sex.

You should be able to imagine, at this point, no one is feeling frisky and mostly likely will be falling asleep without the sex. Great night, but we need that sex.

So, how do we fix this? My very easy solution…

HAVE SEX FIRST!

I feel like this is the only way to guarantee both great sex and an awesome date night.

Plus, having sex first means no sexual tension, or anticipation, or anxiety. Having sex first puts everyone in a great mood and leaves so much more room for food and fun. Beef likes this! There a many sex experts, such as Dan Savage, who will agree that sex first is the way date night should be done!

Now, I get it won’t be fun drunk sex, but you will have quality time that includes good sex, at least. Which is better than no sex at all, right?

So, next time date night rolls around, make your “food baby” and your relationship happy…

Have Sex First!

Is Marriage Therapy Right for You?

Reader’s Question:

I have been married for 21 years. Things are fine, but not great. My wife would like us to start seeing a therapist, but I am not keen on letting a stranger, a professional stranger, weigh in on our marriage. What are your thoughts about this?

This is a tricky question. Vague makes things difficult to answer. Has this just started or has your relationship with your wife been suffering for some time?

Have you become more roommates than husband and wife?

Either way, when your partner asks to communicate with someone outside your marriage-such as a therapist-about your marriage, there is a definite issue that needs to be bolded, highlighted, and researched.

Therapy is not for everyone.

I’ll be honest, I’m not pro therapy. However, I have been there and done that. While it is not for me, I do believe that it can help some types of people that are in certain types of relationships. If you are open minded, willing to work hard, and can stomach some profound criticism, then maybe it could help you and your partner. Just like most things, you will only get out what you put it.

There should be no shame or stigma associated with seeking help through therapy. Sometimes taking the time to speak with someone who is completely objective can be extremely helpful both individually and as a couple. You must assume of course that your therapist is an objective professional that does not let their personal or professional past interfere with the analysis of your distinct situation. So, getting the “right” therapist can make or break the experience.

What therapy can most certainly improve, regardless of the actual therapist, is how you communicate with each other.

A fresh start to how and why you speak to each other is mighty. Listen to their feelings. Feel their emotions. Recognize their anxiety. Learn what they feel is missing from your marriage. And you do the same.

Remember when you first met? Do you remember what the conversations were like? How you paid attention to every word uttered by the other. How every sentence held great meaning…that is where you need to get back to.

You need to get back to listening and caring about what the other person is saying.

You are a team, never forget this. Never stop working together. As odd as it may seem, working together as a team means strengthening yourself and taking care of your own needs. A marriage, just like any team, is only as strong as the weakest link.

Therapy is not a cure all.

Therapy is not a guaranteed solution or an instant fix, and will probably make things worse for a while.  Hopefully, you work on things together and there is a mutual level of effort being put into making any suggested changes, especially how you talk to each other. If your partner is not putting in the work, you may have to consider that they may not care enough to work on themselves. Which brings to light a lot more questions. Such as: “if they won’t try, should I still be here?”

There are a lot of opinions on couple’s therapy. Finding a therapist that you both trust and feel comfortable with is where to start. Your opinion on the therapist can change throughout your meetings, in which case a change may be needed.

Just remember, work hard on your marriage. Communicate openly and honestly with each other.

Be respectful. Be understanding.

If the relationship is worth it, make it happen.

 

The Death of Date Night

Over the last ten years of my second marriage, I learned something that only comes from life experience…DATE NIGHT MATTERS!

Now, you may be shaking your head and thinking duh, of course it matters. But, do your actions match what seems like common sense thinking?

Most likely, no.

I know couples that live very separate lives. Date nights are nonexistent, but a personal night out is on the calendar in sharpie. Individually free nights of the week are set in stone and even the weather works around it. Yet these same couples piss and moan when the realization of how far they have grown apart becomes clear. Usually, one or both people develop resentment towards the other’s separate life. As no effort is made to set aside private time for only them.

 “Them,” meaning THE RELATIONSHIP! The relationship is not getting its own private time.

Side note: this is also why sex is such a big deal. As the act most likely only includes the two of you. So, at least sex provides some literally, private time.

Couples that live separate lives often assume and expect everything to be perfectly fine. All of the bells and whistles included.

Marriage (or any relationship) just doesn’t work this way.

My oldest son turned sixteen last year and it hit me like a ton of bricks. My baby, my perfect angel, my boogie, my entitled little prince, was just 2 years shy of leaving home. Just like that, the panic attacks and anxiety set in. Even though my youngest had seven more years, the reality of my kids leaving home – hopefully forever- meant I would be left alone with my husband. (My husband edited this and takes offense to the tone of this written statement…)

Well…my husband….my husband…my best friend, my life partner, the person in my life that should be my most treasured, and my most protected relationship. As he is the other half of the foundation, was the one relationship that we’d come to let go.

Then I got kind of depressed. Misty depressed. Was this all my fault? Was I married to my kids? Did my husband have similar feelings? Who was I? Who was my husband?

At some point during my kid’s lives – after kindergarten and before high school – I’d left behind my best friend, my lover, my partner.

We had become parents and caregivers.

Misty and Jordan were gone. Bitter mom and dad were left behind to raise the kids and ride the waves of an unsettled, and unequal marriage. I work in the relationship industry, I see lots of divorces. I see a lot of failed marriages. Lots of loneliness.

A lot of us have been here. It hurts. Raising a family, helping our loved ones, building a career, life’s curveballs…it happens, and we must tend to these things. All while trying to stay in love and make our partner feel valuable, respected, and important.

Why does this happen? It’s simple.

We don’t make time for the small- but actually really big- things that matter the most. This is where date night comes into play. Did you make time to have coffee with Jane or play tennis with Jack? Did the kids go to the park 3 days this week? Did you make it to every school happening, sports practice, doctor’s appointments, ladies/guys night, grocery store trips, dog walks, workouts?

I’m sure you did.

What did you do this week to improve your relationship – or even have one- with your partner?

How much time did you set aside to give them your undivided attention? I’m guessing less than three hours of total undivided time without work or kids. So, why? Why do the two of you not have the same priorities? Why is your relationship not as important? Are you two not the rulers of your world? With 168 hours in a week, why can’t you give up just three for each other. Three hours a week to do whatever you want together as a couple. Not as parents. Not as co-workers. Not as whatever else you may be to each other. Just as husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, lover and lover. Enjoy who you are together. This special time together helps both people remember why you get up every day and fight the good fight together.

With any relationship, you only get out what you put in.

I challenge you to make a minor change in your relationship.

Go home tonight and talk with your other half. Pull out your calendars and set a date. It may take time to get Date Night on a regular schedule, but make it happen. Put it in sharpie and stick with the plan unless impending doom looms over the day.

Remember, date night doesn’t have to be expensive. Grab some wine and cheese and don’t eat dinner with the kids. When they go to bed – even if it is 10pm – turn on some music, keep the conversation light, and enjoy being a couple.

Don’t forget, when you were young, you probably dreamed about being with a special someone. You probably dreamed about getting to sleep in bed with a boy/girl every night. How many of you don’t share a bed anymore?

Yes, real life is not the imagined daydream of a teenager. Real life is what you make it.

Make your relationship feel wonderful again! Start by planning your weekly Date Night!

How to Avoid Online Dating Scams

It happens every day…

Scammers and crooks create fake online dating profiles using fake photos, which are mostly stolen from real people on dating sites. This is very common on social media as well. They will go to great lengths to gain your trust. They may even take weeks or months to do this, all while building a fake relationship intended to make you feel like you have met the love of your life. The scammers wear their “heart on their sleeve” and say all the right things. They confess their love quickly and tug at your heart strings with their emotional stories, and heartbreaking struggles. You fall hard for this, as most compassionate people looking for true, unconditional love do.

Then, BOOM! They need money.

Emergencies, sick kids, travel issues…all leading to a big endless scam to run away with your heart and your bank account. BE SMART. Use your head. Think clearly and make good choices. Everything in life worth having is hard to obtain, nothing good or meaningful generally comes so easy. This concept includes love and positive relationships.

Warning signs:

  • They immediately want to have your personal contact information to chat offline with you via email, text, or phone.
  • They ask you to wire money using Western Union or Money Gram.
  • They ask you to set up a new bank account.
  • They have bizarre and complicated stories of why they cannot meet you in person. Generally, but not limited to: being stuck out of the country, a sick child, they were robbed on vacation, they lost their ID and all their money while doing charity work in another country, they are sick, they are desperate and have no one else to turn to.

What to do if you suspect a scammer:

  • Report the individual immediately to the dating site.
  • Run a background check
  • Tell a trusted friend or family member what is going on and get their opinion. Now, normally I would say they are not in this relationship and this is a path you take alone. HOWEVER, when it comes to this type of scenario where scamming can be involved – it is dangerous and an emotional head fu*k – you need a second opinion.
  • GOOGLE them. Google it all. Google their email, their username, their story. Chances are you are not the first, or the last, and a little online searching can go a very long way.
  • Do an image search of your new love interest. Chances are if their photo shows up with several different names, you have a red flag.

Please report all online dating scams to ftc.gov/complaint— click on Scams and Rip-Offs, then select Romance Scams. Together we can help these dirt bags get what they deserve.