Happy Valentine’s Day! How to say, “I love you.” Even when you don’t feel like it.

I love youUPDATE: This was posted 1 year ago and is still relevant.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

How many of you have stood in front of the greeting card section at your local grocery store, just days away from Valentine’s Day, snorting or hrmphing at the prose expressed on romantic cards?  I have.  In fact, one time I snorted and mumbled “Yeah, right!” loud enough so that the woman next to me broke up in raucous laughter.  I apologized and walked away lamenting (quietly) about the state of my marriage mind.

There are times in any relationship when the shine has worn off, the dents and dings show, or worse, rust and corrosion has undermined the very foundation of who you two used to be.  Here is a short list to still honor the man you married, regardless of the state of your relationship:

  1.  Do something completely different, together.  If you’ve never golfed, go to the driving range.  If you haven’t been to a library, lately, sit quietly flipping through magazines and watch who uses it and talk about the future of libraries.  Try cooking a brand new dish, together.  Walk quietly through a cemetery, in the daylight. Go to a jazz festival, because you’ve never been to one.
  2. Watch and listen to him and find out what he’s been reading, listening to, watching and suggest he read a chapter to you, listen to a track or two with him, or watch an episode.  Just sit and be there.
  3. Get out of your city/town for the afternoon (evening puts too much romantic pressure on a stifled relationship).  Schedule a babysitter, if needed.
  4. Tell him to describe 1 hour, 1 meeting/job/project, 1 drive/bus ride/walk to work.  You’ll be surprised what you learn.

Did you make some suggestions and he poo-pooed them? Did he insinuate you’re nuts?  Then go and enjoy yourself, and come back and tell him how much fun you had.  Feel good that you tried.  Or did you two reconnect in even the smallest way?  Like a smile or you held hands or it was just simply quiet between the two of you?

What are your ideas? What worked?  What didn’t? Please add them in the comments section.  Remember the rules:, no bashing, swearing or griping.  Only helpful solutions and tips, please! Hurting people may be reading this.

Don’t forget, you are loved and lovable!

 

Stop whining, blaming and complaining in its tracks with 1 simple tactic (and a cute kitten picture).

So, you are faced with another issue.  Yours, theirs, whoevers.  Stop whining, blaming and complaining immediately with 1 simple tactic.

Dee Dee Artner said, “Blaming others is an act of refusing to take responsibility. When a person can’t accept the fact or the reality, they blamed another person or the situation instead of taking accountability. If you have time to whine then you have time to find a solution.” 

I love that.  But, I take it one step further with all my critical relationships (my children, husband, employees, volunteers, etc.).  My simple tactic drastically reduces and in many cases, stops whining and complaining Stop whining, blaming and complainingin its tracks.  The tactic?  Insist that if a problem exists and they must “tell” you about it, then they must also bring to the table 3 solutions to fix it. Perhaps those 3 solutions aren’t applicable or realistic (especially in the case of a young child, story below) but what it does is shift the thinking to solution mode rather than stay in complaint mode. The other benefit to this trick is eventually the person will learn that they have to come to you with 3 solutions and they a): either don’t bring it to you or (even better) b): they figure out the solution and the problem is solved and done! Added benefit is children (and adults) start thinking strategically about problem-solving rather than having a reactive approach to problem solve.

Why do you have to keep children’s solutions in perspective?  I’ll tell you a story to illustrate. When I was a little girl of 6, I received a kitten as a gift by my beloved grandmother.  I Stop whining, blaming and complainingloved that kitten.  I called her Furful, because she was full of fur.  Well, after some time, it became evident that my older brother was allergic to her. My parents had to tell me the tragic news that Furful couldn’t live with us anymore and had to go to the local animal shelter.  I was heart-broken and in my wails I howled, “There must be another way!”  My dad in his infinite wisdom asked, “What would you have us do?” Sitting there looking up at my parents, I thought long and hard about my big brother (who I really didn’t like very much then) and how much I loved Furful.  I said in complete seriousness for my 6-year-old brain and broken heart, “Well, give HIM away!”  Furful you were never forgotten. 🙂

 

 

 

Show me the money, honey!

The standard entrepreneur and spouse dynamic can be very touchy.  As entrepreneurs, we have a high-risk tolerance.  Spouses typically have a much lower tolerance.  Entrepreneurs are optimistic and often obsessed with their business.  Spouse of entrepreneurs are often more wary of the business’ upside and don’t feel connected to it.  Entrepreneurs spend a lot of time with their “other” child, their baby, their business, which can breed resentment.  Add the dynamic of entrepreneur as wife AND spouse as husband and we’re all on new ground.  Now, throw in the different styles of handling money and that ground just gave way to a sinkhole. Just for added measure, men are typically more practical and women are often relational.  In fact, your husband’s practicalism can come across to you as resistance or lack of support. Put entrepreneurialism, male/female dynamics and different money styles in the same relationship and you have the potential of creating significant discourse in a marriage.  That just means it’s time for meaningful discussions.  It can take time, work and dedication to help our spouses understand our business, our dreams, our motivations with the hope they can become our allies. There is a lot of loneliness and heartache in the process, on both sides. Not just for us women, but for the men who love us and stay with us. But, I can help shorten your learning curve. And one of the shortest ways is to show me the money, honey!

Show me the money, honeyIdeally, your business is a profit driven business vs. a drain-the-family-finances beast.  The surest way to drive a wedge between you and your husband is if you’re not contributing to the family coffers, regardless of the reasons why.  Are you also sacrificing family time, private time with your husband, household needs, your health, to work on your business?  If so, this will surely add to his level of frustration and resentment.

For everything, there is a season.  When you start a business it will take up a lot of your time. When a major project comes along and you need to give it your all (think of the launch of a new product line, a book, being on Shark Tank).  Hopefully, you secured the stakeholders (your family’s buy-in) to pursue these efforts.  Perhaps you had a serious health issue, family matter, or life-altering event that forced you to put the business on the back burner, but now you’re going at it with all 8 cylinders.  Putting those situations aside, have you been working at your business for 2-3 years and you’re still using the business as an excuse to avoid your responsibilities at home, for not contributing to the family account? Check out this post, “Is Your Business Your Lover?”, for some additional insight. Additionally, perhaps you’re treating your business as a hobby.   If you’re not sure, here’s a helpful post for you, “Is Your Business a Hobby or a Real Endeavor?

How do you determine if he is just being practical or if he is resentful and unsupportive of you building your blockbuster business?  It is best not to dismiss gripes, but to respond in a compassionate manner.  Ask him what he is worried or fearful of. Listen carefully to his response. Perhaps he’s worried about the future of your retirement accounts or is feeling ignored or sidelined. He may even be worried about your health.   You can make bargains like Nina did.  A stay-at-home mom with a rockin’ transcript business. When she started the Show me the money, honeybusiness, Mike was very leery, so Nina made small bargains with him. Such as, if she made $X in XYZ time-frame, they can purchase/do ABC.  Then she upped it a little with each new bargain. Over time, the “bargains” gave him concrete examples of her dedication and the potential for the business. Barbara, a lawyer who struggled to get her private practice going in the early years, consistently hit income goals. In other words, she hustled and her husband worried less.   Nina and Barbara didn’t come from an adversarial perspective but rather worked with their husbands to have their goals met. You’ll also need to address the issue and come to a thoughtful, realistic agreement that you and your husband can both live with.

Have you tried those tactics and your husband is still critical and unsupportive, but you know you’re building a blockbuster business?  Well, you’ve come to the right place.  Humans are created and wired to connect.  And those connections need to be supportive, helpful and encouraging.  By the way, I’m not talking about rubber-stamper-yes-people.  They can be just as detrimental as nay-sayers. But, that’s another post.  We need people in our corner building us up, not tearing us down. The world and our own inner critic do enough tearing down.  The community at Till Business Do Us Part will support you (Hug) and give you the practical advice when necessary (Shove).

Hug and a Shove,

Annette

Reflection: What is Your Intent?

Do you know the reason you acted or spoke the way you did?  Take a moment of Reflection.  Think strongly about what may have caused you do react that way.  What was your intent when you did this?

When harshly confronted, when listening to another’s malice or spite about others (think heated opinions about traffic or politics or…), or when someone unexpectedly fesses up about some transgression, human’s typically counter 1 of 3 ways: Flight, Fight or Freeze.  My personal modus operandi?  I freeze.  I am stunned when someone lashes out at me, is spiteful about something or someone (who isn’t there to defend themselves) or is even mildly surly.

To combat this, I internalize 1 question, “What is/was your intent?”  At worst, they huff and puff and storm off. At best, someone may reflect on their reaction and rephrase their statement.  My children, while growing up, heard me ask this question all the time.  It was and still is powerful.

IntentLOOK IN THE MIRROR:  Think of the last time you overreacted.  What was your intent? To vent, to hurt, to dominate? None of these add value and causes ill-will with your partner (spouse, co-worker, parent, child, boss, or friend).

How can I change someone?

We are all wired differently.  We don’t always agree.  How can you change someone so you are on the same page?

Simply answered?  You can’t. But, you can change your reactions to events, people and situations. Especially if you witness a pattern in your life that doesn’t serve you or others.  If you hear yourself saying/thinking, “If they would just (fill in the blank).”  Or, “If they just wouldn’t (fill in the blank)” more often than not, then you need to look within, not out.   But, if in their presence you feel bad, confused or unworthy, you don’t need to invest any time in “changing” them.  You need to move on.  A healthy, dynamic relationship will bring out the best in you and others, not the worst.

Change SomeoneA look in the mirror:

Are you making someone feel perpetually bad, confused or unworthy? It’s time for serious reflection on what you are and aren’t bringing to the table.  Look at your underlying heart-attitude and behaviors.

As always, your family-friendly comment is welcome!

7 Questions to Determine if His Apology is Real

 

Is His Apology Real? 

Apology RealYour husband just apologized, but you’re unsettled by your mental gymnastics that doubt his sincerity.  Perhaps these sound familiar, “He sounds sorry.  Can I trust his apology? But, I’ve heard this before. I wish he had just said, (fill in the blanks). What if he does it, again?” and on and on your monkey mind travels.  The answer may seem complex and difficult due to personal expectations, and personal and relationship history.  To avoid more mind-twisting ruminations and to finally get some peace, ask yourself these 7 reflective questions:

  1. Is he empathetic to your emotional pain? Will he listen to your pain until you get closure?  If so, it’s worth considering accepting the apology and moving on, together. But, if he just wants to move on, stop talking about it, or tells you to, “…get over it. I said I was sorry.” Then, yes, you may need to get over it and fast.  “It” being the relationship and him.
  2. Is he remorseful? I’m not talking about he’s sorry he got “caught.”  I’m talking about real regret for making a decision that wounded another human being.
  3. Is he accepting full responsibility for his actions? Or is there blame involved such as, “If you hadn’t/had, I wouldn’t have (fill in the blank)?” If blame is part of the apology, his apology isn’t sincere.
  4. Will he do what it takes to repair it? I’m not talking giving you flowers or calling/texting you incessantly to ask how you’re doing. I’m talking about voluntarily giving you the information you need to feel safe with him, again.
  5. Was restitution given freely? If physical compensation or restoration is needed to make it right, was it freely offered and completed on a timely basis without your involvement?
  6. Is there true repentance? Now, before you turn from this thinking it’s a religious term, give me a moment. Repent literally means to turn from.  So in this case, it means the “event” never happens, again.  It’s actually a great way to live: do something wrong/hurtful, acknowledge it, apologize and never do it, again.
  7. The over-riding factor you must consider regardless of the sincerity of the apology is this: was the transgression a 1-time event or was this a repeat offense? if the latter, then you’re dealing with a character issue and you need to seriously consider moving on. This also applies if the offenses are different.  Poor choices in multiple areas signify a serious character flaw.  This is not an opportunity to “love him through it.”  It’s time for you to have enough self-respect to be only with people that cherish, honor and support you.  This includes family, friends, and co-workers.  But, more importantly, you need to be with someone who has enough self-respect that he wouldn’t put himself in situations that could hurt himself or wound others.

If your husband meets all the above criteria for a sincere apology, then it is time to put it to rest and rebuild together.  And refrain from revisiting it.  It’s tiresome to keep hearing about something that happened years ago.  This is especially true if it never happened again.  We ALL make mistakes.  His mistake isn’t worse than your transgressions.  They are all the same when it comes to a hurting heart.

Apology RealA look in the mirror:

Have you hurt someone?  Reflect on the questions.  Be brutally honest.  If you need to sincerely and honor someone’s pain due to a bad decision/action on your part,  ask for forgiveness. Then be completely accountable.  Please read my other related blog post, “How to Help Those You Hurt

Disclaimer: the above is a compilation of blog posts, transcripts, columns, etc… often titled the “The 4 R’s of an Apology.”  Because I’ve been on both the ends of apologies and wrong-doing, please read my other related blog posts, “How to Help Those You Hurt” and “7 Ways to Mess Up an Apology.”

Recognizing toxic relationships and 4 things to do to disentangle yourself from them

 

Recognizing toxic relationships

Are you in a relationship, work or personal, where you feel frustrated, stuck, mixed-up, or in the middle of drama most of the time? If so, barring extenuating circumstances, you are in a relationship with a toxic person. Toxic people suck the very life out of you. At the very least, you’re bone weary exhausted after almost every encounter with them. Even if you’re not Christian, the Bible has very pithy scriptures. For example, Psalm 31:10 tells what it’s like living with a toxic person, “My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of (fill in the person’s name), and my bones grow weak.” Spot on, isn’t it?   Do you need more support to determine if the relationship is toxic?  How do you feel prior to meeting with them? Do you feel dread or angst?  How much do you ruminate about it or talk about it what they said and/or their reactions with someone else?  Psst…that’s a victim mentality and a complete waste of your time.   Affirmative answers to those questions mean you have a toxic relationship and you need to protect your heart and soul.  Life is just too short to be with people who don’t love you back in healthy ways that support you to be your best.

Now what?  There are 4 things you need to do if you find yourself in a toxic relationship and want out (you have to want the “out” more than staying “in”) or at the very least limit exposure to them:

  1.  Recognizing the relationship as toxic and labeling it accurately.  Once you’ve accurately labeled it you can move on.  It’s the ruminating questions you incessantly ask yourself that keep you paralyzed.  For example, “Did she really say that?” “Can you believe he feels that way about xyz.” “Maybe if I just said xyz he would have understood …” and hundreds of other time-wasting, emotion-twisting questions.
  2.  Keep your feelings in check and always communicate with them rationally.  In fact, being rational is a trigger for toxic people.  They will try harder to push your buttons.  That’s when you know you have to walk away.  You can’t be rational with an irrational person.
  3.  Look for and offer common ground.  In its’ absence, move on.
  4.  Extricate yourself from that relationship.  Just block the person from your phone.  Turn your chair around in the office.  Don’t accept invitations from them and/or where they will be present.  Never engage in anything personal with a toxic person.  Eventually, they will tire of you and seek another body to suck the life out of.

Hug and a Shove,      

Annette

Do you have comments, tips, or ideas for extricating, unwinding from toxic relationships?  Please leave your kind and helpful comments, below.                                                                                                                

Shi(f)t Happens: Change Your Path

Shi(f)t Happens to us all.  You get to choose how you react to it.  When faced with it:

  • Sometimes you need to change course, reverse course, change direction.
  • Pull up the stakes, break camp.
  • Do a turn-about,double-back, do a 180.
  • Repeal, Have a change of heart.

It’s Ok if you do or you must.  Just promise yourself to make it an adventure.

Shi(f)t Happens

Wishful Thinking has a lot of Power. Don’t allow it.

I’m a very optimistic person.  I cultivate my optimism because it has carried me very far through difficult times.  It is the reason I persevere during challenging times.  It has given me hope where there was none. It gives me energy and motivation.  But, like all things in life, there is a shadow that often masquerades as optimism.  What is it?  Let me introduce you to wishful thinking.

Wishful thinking is Polly-Anna positive which means you are ignoring your reality.  You have to think about the negative effects and/or consequences of said behavior or situation to discern what is good and true and right for you.  This usually means accepting that “it” is going in the wrong direction, “it” isn’t going to change, and more importantly, you can’t fix “it.”  But, what typically happens is we ceaselessly try to fix “it” all in the hopes of a-180-degree turnaround. We do this proactively, with good intentions, by establishing consequences, attending counseling or a myriad of other “trying” options. Most commonly we get stuck in the powerful lure of wishful thinking such as, “I know when (fill in the blank) happens “it” will be ok!”  Or another example, “But, if I just (fill in the blank), I know ‘it’ will turn around.”

Wishful ThinkingYou’re probably asking, “So how do I know if I’m in the snare of wishful thinking?”  Ask yourself this one question, “How do you feel the majority of the time about/when “(fill in the blank)?”  If the majority of the time you feel overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, worn out, anxious, etc. your gut, your intuition, your reality, your God, is telling you it is time to recognize “it” doesn’t serve you and it’s time to move on.

Caveat:  if “it” is an integral part of your life (job/a primary relationship/…) move on only and only if you sincerely and respectfully gave notice (the old college try) to the situation/behavior and “it” didn’t respond. Don’t wait till you’re beyond wit’s end, angry, or exasperated.  It’s not their fault you didn’t communicate your needs and/or concerns. And, no, they are not supposed to read your mind.  Not your boss, your spouse, your children, your employee, your neighbor, your pastor, your mother, etc…

Hope is not a strategy.  Hope does not reduce your debt.  Hope does not stop someone from treating you poorly.  Hope doesn’t bring in the sales, give you a good grade or shed the pounds. Hope does not improve your job.  Hope cannot change a person’s heart. You can’t wish away your problems.   Your life gets (much) better with change and execution.

Wishful thinking has a lot of power and it can derail even the best intentions.  Stop surviving, take back that power and start thriving.

Consequences for Hurtful Behavior

consequencesWhat a loaded subject.  But, it really is simple.  Bad or wrong behavior needs effective consequences. What is bad or wrong behavior?  Simply defined it is when a person’s actions, words or behavior hurt themselves and/or others.  Obvious examples are, but not limited to, lying, cheating, stealing, bullying, abuse (all kinds), breaking laws/the rules, and disrespectful conduct. If Bobby is caught cheating on his 3rd-grade spelling test he is mostly hurting himself. If Susan, a wife and mom, is in an adulterous affair, she’s hurting herself, her husband, their children (even if they don’t know about it), her affair partner’s wife and children. The ripple effects could last generations.  If Tom hangs up on a customer he hurt not only the customer, but the company culture, the employees and himself.  So, what are appropriate consequences?  I have a simple definition: whatever gets the perpetrator’s attention so they won’t do it, again. This is different for each person and each situation.

The hard part about consequences?  There are three parts, actually.

      1. Confronting the offender.  Many people, I would venture to say that most, are afraid of conflict. But, you need to find a way to get over that discomfort and vexation.  Not confronting someone over slight or egregious misconduct will cause you tremendous frustration and aggravation which eventually leads to unresolved anger.  As much as we’d like it, people can’t read our minds and often don’t even know they upset you. Some may even think they got away with something.  Even if they could read your mind, they would probably bungle “fixing” it because they don’t know what you need.  So, accept it that you need to talk to the perpetrator.  If the idea of confronting them sends you to an apoplectic state, then you need to find a thoughtful intermediary (pastor, rabbi, priest, wise friend, boss, therapist, co-worker, etc) to help you bring this issue to the forefront.  If a conversation, even with help, is still overwhelming, consider writing a letter.  Or draw a picture. Or write a screenplay.  Anything that will get your point across in a respectful way so they can hear you.  If they don’t respond or get defensive you have a bigger problem than the recent behavior issue.  And yes, that needs to be addressed, too. 

 

      1. The punishment needs to fit the crime.  An appropriate consequence for Bobby cheating on his test is to have him print or write in cursive his misspelled words 100 times each.  An inappropriate consequence is not allowing him to go over to his best buddies’ house for his birthday party.  There’s no relation between the offense and the punishment. That’s what we call in my house, “taking away Christmas.”  Also known as a knee-jerk, punitive reaction.  Not smart, thoughtful or effective.   SIDEBAR: Taking away a friend’s birthday party invitation is appropriate if the offense included hurting another through words or physicality.  If your employee hangs up on a customer, then the employee is either fired or no longer talks to customers for an established period of time.  Yes, it is probably burdensome to the other employees, and to you, but that caustic conduct cannot be tolerated. You’re defining the culture and the expectations you have of your employees. In the long run, your company and your customers will appreciate it.

 

    1. Sticking to your guns after meting out a consequence.  If you say, “No sleepovers till next month.” Then no sleepovers till next month.  If you say, “You will not answer the phone for 30 days.”  Then make it 30 days.  No exceptions.  That’s why it is very important to be thoughtful about the punishment.  Make sure you can carry it out. It is OK to say to the offender, “I need to think about this.  Give me X hours and I’ll get back to you.”  Then get back to them with the appropriate consequence.

Hopefully, the situation with an adult is an “event” rather than a character defect (more than once). If the latter, you need to seriously consider severing ties with that person.  Children are not little adults.  Please take age development phases into account.  For example, most children go through a phase where they lie/embellish.  You must call them on it, each time, so they learn lying isn’t acceptable behavior.  But, just because they lie more than once doesn’t mean they’ll end up in state prison.  Relax.  

Live, Love and Serve,

Annette de Lancey Giacomazzi