If “they” leave you, let them… (Read Time: 3 min.)

srts-blog-post-72“They”… Who are “they” anyway?  Even though we don’t seem to be able to answer that question, there are a lot of “they” who seem to be keeping us connected to situations, experiences, and drama that we really don’t need… and you’d think the situation would improve when “they” leave our lives… Quite the contrary.

For many overachieving, highly successful, driven women entrepreneurs, being left feels like a slap in the face, a failure of sorts, something that they don’t know how to rationalize or recover from.

So what do you do when you’ve been left (by a client, fired from a job, walked out on by a spouse, abandoned by a friend, rejected by a family member) physically but are still holding onto the situation emotionally and spiritually?

How do you let go when everything inside you keeps fighting to hold on?

Here’s what you do:

You love it until IT lets YOU go…

 

Give me a minute here…

There are 3 things about this concept that you want to take hold of:

  1. What’s for you won’t pass you by.  If that client, job, career, or relationship had REALLY been for you, it would’ve stayed and it would’ve produced good fruit.  Anything that stays in your life but brings you down or leaves your life and leaves you feeling low is NOT something that is meant for you.  When you truly get this understanding, you allow things to be what they are without feeling the need to push boulders uphill or go kicking and screaming into the night.  You love what is, you accept what is and, as things unfold, you embrace the adventure of it.  That doesn’t mean the pain goes away; it simply means you’re unwilling to magnify it.
  2. Go with the season you’re in.  There are seasons and reasons to everything.  Rather than fighting the season you’re in, flow with it.  Allow there to be the natural ups and downs that come with life.  Embrace them.  Remember: you NEVER have to chase what’s for you.  It will come on its own.  What’s not for you will leave on its own.  You don’t have to control anything to usher in what’s for you.  You do, however, have to be open and aware of what season you’re in.  Be present in THIS season and allow it to unfold as it needs to.  The key here is trust: trust in yourself, trust in the process, and trust in the timing of your life.  If you don’t have trust, you will cling and grasp and lose everything you are trying to hold onto…
  3. You won’t get more until you stop giving space to less.  There will be no room in your life to receive what you REALLY want if you continue to hold onto the things, people, and experiences that are far below what you deserve.  The scarcity associated with clinging to anything because you’re afraid of having nothing is a painful way to live.  The second you begin to trust and know that better is ALWAYS on its way is the second you start to let things go with ease.  Why?  Because you understand it takes the act of faith of opening up space in your life to receive and embrace better in your world.  #BOOM

If you (like so many of us) have trouble letting go, listen to an episode of She Runs The Show that speaks more to this issue… how to love and let things go.

Click HERE to listen.

How to Apply The 5 Gifts of Heartbreak to Your Business (Read Time: 5 min.)

Kass Cry 1bAfter a recent heartbreak, I took this picture.  Look at it closely.  In my eyes you can see the loss, the pain, and emptiness.  I recovered from that heartbreak as I’d done from many others: a little bit wiser, a lot stronger, and definitely less trusting.

I’ve experienced the loss of love many times.  It started with my dad and never quite shifted form.  I guess that’s what happens when you allow childhood wounds to define your concept of “love.”  I’m working on that…

Until recently, I thought love was THE thing… not “a” thing or “some thing” but THE thing… the defining moment, the required experience, the ultimate accomplishment… and then love left again…

And, since then, I’ve had to ask myself, “When love leaves, what’s left of me?”  As much as I’ve read the books, attended the workshops and devoured the subject, it’s a question that hit me in the gut as I cried myself to sleep.

And here’s the answer that came:

“Everyone falls in love sometimes
Sometimes it’s wrong, and sometimes it’s right
For every win, someone must fail
But there comes a point when
When we exhale” – Whitney Houston, Exhale

The lyrics from a song of one of my favorite movies, a movie that inspired me to write my first screenplay, rediscover my love of acting and, eventually, leave the marriage that was draining the life out of me.  So many monumental moments from one song… and here it was again to teach me the things I didn’t want to learn…

So the question becomes: when your heart breaks and you’ve still got a business to run, how do you transform the feelings of grief, loss, pain, and loneliness into something that fuels the empire you’re building?

Here’s the answer…

You embrace the 5 gifts of heartbreak and you apply them to your business.

Gift #1- Surrender

Heartbreak breaks  you open.  It forces you to let go of things that you don’t want to let go of, to face emotions you don’t want to face, to simplify life in a way that’s not about what you HAVE to have but becomes about what you long to create.  You go from being someone anxious to succeed to being someone who simply wants to take a deep breath and feel at peace.  When your heart breaks, you accept the fact that very few things go according to plan and you begin, once again, to go with the flow… and that’s when magic starts to happen in your business.  No longer confined to goals, plans, strategies, and revenue models, you now operate from a softer, more intuitive place and your business begins to succeed in a different way, not because you’re not as driven but because you understand that it’s trust in yourself that drives your business, not in any plan or strategy you come up with.  Nothing teaches you that better than heartbreak.

Gift #2- Freedom

In relationships, we do all kinds of things we NEVER do outside of them.  We accept things we shouldn’t accept.  We tolerate things we shouldn’t tolerate.  We go silent when it’s time to speak and talk about things we don’t agree with.  We compromise and accept and prove all because we don’t want love to leave… never fully getting that the second we lost ourselves, love was out the door anyway.  When heartbreak comes, the freedom to be who you REALLY are returns… and now you can go into your business full throttle because the REAL you is finally back in the building.  While there are moments where loneliness creeps in, what really shows up with this freedom is an understanding you refused to see when in the relationship: you NEVER have to be someone else for someone who really loves you.  Your newfound freedom gives you full opportunity for you to love YOU… and that’s when the business starts to pick up speed.

Gift #3- Purpose

It’s so easy to get your value and purpose from a relationship.  When your heart gets broken, you can no longer define yourself by being with someone else.  You can no longer live your life based on an “us” or a “we.”  That’s gone now.  In the wake of that loss, you now have to look yourself in the eyes and say, “What is MY purpose?  What am I really about?  Who am I meant to be?”  Those questions can get easily cast aside in a relationship.  Far too often, especially as women, we give up the “I” for the “we” and while that’s noble and glorious and, in some cases, necessary, there’s a lot to lose when you no longer recall who you are or what you want or what God put you here to do.  When heartbreak happens, you finally have enough space and distance to ask and answer the question, “Who did I come here to serve?” and, with full faith and freedom, you now have the extraordinary opportunity and time to serve them.  Purpose, in many instances, is born of heartbreak.  Especially in business, if you can nail down your purpose, you can prosper your business.

Gift #4- Focus

Now that you’re not catering to another person, now that you’re not doing the “How should we… what should we… could we…” compromising thing, you are free to focus completely and totally on the desiring, creating, and offering components that come with running a business.  Not only is it freeing but it’s exciting to be able to give everything you’ve got to your business without the worry of who you need to consider or factor into the equation.  After a heartbreak, you get to put all of your focus into building YOUR empire.  All those times you wished you’d spent more time on your business?  All those moments you said to yourself, “Geez, I really have to get focused and create that product!”?  Guess what?  You now have all the time you need to focus and deliver.  Cherish the gift you’ve been given by using it…

Gift #5- Hope

Heartbreak is a beautiful message of hope when you really understand what it’s saying.  When your heart breaks, it’s life’s way of saying to you “There’s more for you and it’s not here.  Keep looking and you’ll find it… There are gifts for you in this and you can have them right now.  Embrace it… You were built to experience greater things than what you did in this relationship.  Own the fact that you deserve MORE…” and, then, the moment you begin to own your worth and your value and the fact that you deserve MORE, you start to live that way inside AND outside of your business.

You stop settling for clients you don’t want and projects you hate to have to work on and tasks in your business that you should’ve outsourced to a virtual assistant YEARS ago.  You stop doing what doesn’t work for you.  You stop accepting less than you deserve and your business starts to grow in new and exciting ways… because you are growing in new and exciting ways.  It’s an evolution that could not have occurred as fast or as completely without the heartbreak.  You needed the pain to get the point.  Hope helps you understand that EVERYTHING happens FOR you, not to you.  It is your choice to grow and flourish… and hope helps you choose growth…

The 5 gifts of heartbreak have the power to build your business to heights you cannot imagine.  When heartbreak happens to you, don’t turn away from it or make excuses about it or get angry because it’s happening again.  Embrace the experience.  Learn from the process.  Feel your way to healing and, as you do all of that, continue to put your passion, purpose and desire into every business activity you do.

Your business does not need a break because you had a breakup.  In fact, it is right after a breakup that your business requires MORE of you, the REAL you that is now showing up because you’ve been broken open, broken free, and broken to the point of restoration.  Give yourself the room and the space to fully show up in your business and, more importantly, to fully show up for YOU.

That was the point of the heartbreak.  It is your gift AND your lesson.  Accept them both…

If you need help dealing with fears that get and keep you stuck, if you’re ready to go from fear to power, sign up for my Fear to Power course.  It will transform your fear, reveal your courage, and skyrocket your business.

–>CLICK HERE TO GET STARTED<– 

 

 

I Chose Us But You Chose You: How Women Entrepreneurs Deal With Infidelity (Read Time: 3 min.)

Unsplash 1I knew it was coming… For years, the writing had been on the wall…

You know exactly who I’m talking about: Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick…

Yes, the Kardashians… and everyone could see the writing on the wall: Kourtney’s the stability, the security, the breadwinner, and the power entrepreneur.  Scott’s the younger, inept, aimless, addiction-prone partner who is clearly less ambitious, seriously suffering from an inferiority complex, and blatantly unhappy in the relationship… and now he’s been caught cheating.

I’m sad for the children.

I’m angered by the absolute disrespect.

I’m floored by the blatant disregard one person can have for his entire family…

And I’m heartbroken by the fact that Kourtney, as a woman entrepreneur who’s the breadwinner, is not the only woman entrepreneur going through something like this…

Just because her dirty laundry is on blast everywhere doesn’t mean she’s the only one.  There are far too many women entrepreneurs who have successful business lives but, at home, they are desperately waiting… to… exhale…

And it’s time that these powerful women entrepreneurs stopped the madness and did the one thing they’re afraid to do (the one thing Kourtney Kardashian is doing right now): begin again…

We’re so afraid to start over.  So afraid to begin again.  The fear is so great, in fact, that we’ll settle for less than what we deserve, hide behind facades that were never real, and pretend like everything’s great when nothing is.  It’s time to get real and get moving.  Starting over is tough but staying in a hopeless, heartless situation is even tougher.

If someone isn’t treating you right, it’s time to go.  If a situation (business or pleasure) doesn’t feel right, spend no time deliberating your intuition.  Listen and take action.  If you’re feeling lukewarm in your life and numb in your relationships, there’s some truth that you aren’t willing to look at.

And, if you’re in a Kourtney/Scott dead-end relationship that you know wasn’t built for you, it’s time to start over.  Don’t wait.  Don’t debate.  Let it go and get back to yourself… I know it’ll be tough (been there).  I know divorce is never fun (lived it).  I get that you, as the “successful” partner, may have so much to lose (emotionally, financially, etc.) but, if you stay, you have way more to lose that you can’t ever get back.

There is no amount of money that can buy back your self-respect, self-esteem and self-worth.  Nothing is worth losing your soul.

If you need help with starting over, check out my latest book- Begin Again: 32 Ways to Release the Fear of Starting Over.

In the meantime, listen to your gut.  Your intuition is never wrong…

Begin_Again_Cover

 

 

Why Your Relationship Should NEVER Be On Your To-Do List (Read Time: 2 min.)

Mark Semple EP 13As a woman entrepreneur, where does your relationship fall on your To-Do list?

How high does intimacy, cuddling, and great sex rank of your most important priorities sheet?

If you said, “No where”, you might be on to something…

In today’s episode of She Runs The Show, I had the pleasure of talking to Mark Semple, coach and creator of Successful Together Coaching.

We talked about everything relationship:

  • Why your partner doesn’t want to be another item on your priority list
  • How women entrepreneurs can support their partners in supporting them
  • What it takes to co-create a relationship you desire (not require) without the other person feeling disposable
  • What it takes to embrace your unfolding journey

You don’t want to miss this episode!

–>CLICK HERE to listen<– 

Women Breadwinners & Sex: Is the stay-at-home-husband sexy? (Read Time: 6 min.)

coule 6This is a controversial post (HINT: If you’re wanting a politically correct post that says all the right things and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, this would not be the one- stop reading now).

My husband recently got a new job that pays SIGNIFICANTLY MORE than he was making in his prior position… and I noticed that, as a result, lots of things changed.  My stress level went down, my smile factor went up, and so did my sex drive… and then I watched a show yesterday where a woman breadwinner made the comment: “Stay-at-home dads are SUPER sexy.”  So last night, after watching my latest episode of Cashmere Mafia on Netflix (only 8 episodes but all about women breadwinners… stay tuned on what I’m going to do with that in a few months), I was up pondering:

Is the stay-at-home-husband sexy?

Not just the stay-at-home-dad.  Kids can make staying at home key but there are stay-at-home husbands who have breadwinning wives and no children (unemployed, underemployed, pursuing an art or a dream that has him home alot, etc., etc.)

Is that man just as sexy as the corporate husband who wears a suit, is out the door at 6 am, home at 6 pm from a hard day’s work and is making good money?

Hmm….

Well, let me give you the answers I came up with (3 of them to be exact):

1) It depends

2) Not to me

3) If you like it, I love it

Let me break down each one:

ANSWER 1: It depends.  

I’m really tired of people talking about women breadwinners and the men they marry in politically correct terms, focusing only on the good and how wonderful things CAN be.  CAN is a word based on potential, not necessarily actual and here’s the truth:

A stay-at-home-husband will be sexy to the wife who’s agreed to that relationship contract.  

In other words, if a woman breadwinner marries a man assuming he’ll work or expecting that he’ll contribute financially and he ends up not doing that, sexiness goes out the window (regardless of how many great meals he cooks or diapers he changes or household projects he does).  It’s all about the UNSPOKEN relationship agreement both people assumed they were signing up for.  When a woman breadwinner marries a man, she has certain expectations (as does he) and if those expectations drastically shift over time and nobody ever talks about it, openly changes the rules, and clearly accepts the “new normal”, there are going to be problems.  Why?  Because if your idea of a partner isn’t one who stays at home, makes gourmet meals, and brings in no actual cash, you’re going to stop feeling the magic.  Is it fair?  Life’s not fair.  Is it right? All depends on who you’re asking.  But if we continue to ignore the fact that a lot of women marry men EXPECTING them to be financial providers, wind up with something different, start resenting it, and NEVER talk about the change or openly accept the change, we’re missing out on a key opportunity TO CHANGE the relationship dynamic.

ANSWER 2:  Not to me.  

On a personal note, I am completely uninterested in being with a man who doesn’t have a career of some sort and doesn’t bring in any income and I make no apologies for making it known.

Why is it that men can have lists of criteria they have for women they’d even CONSIDER marrying and we call it “standards”

and women have a similar list and society calls it being “picky”?

I don’t think so.  When I have my next baby, I’m going to be at home for a while.  My choice.  Do I want my husband staying at home with our new baby? I don’t think so.  The relationship contract I signed up for does not include a stay-at-home-husband and it seems that we’re living in a society where women breadwinners are made to feel like gold digging, stuck up princesses if they openly say, “I have to have a man who works.”  In Liza Mundy’s book “The Richer Sex”, she asks the question, “How can a man be sexy when he’s in an inferior position?” and then she goes on to ask “Marry up? Marry down? Don’t marry?”  Liza goes on to say that women breadwinners have two options: Marry down or don’t marry.  What? REALLY??????? Would we give those same options to men?  Exactly!

I don’t agree with those options but here’s what I am saying about my personal preference: I chose a man who gets me, is on my level, and compliments me (i.e. brings strengths to the table that I don’t possess).  Part of that agreement also means that he has his own career, his own professional aspirations and he earns money.  Does he have to make more than me at some point? No.  I love being a woman breadwinner.  I don’t need a man who brings in six or seven figures and is always on the road or in surgery or doing a business deal.  That was a conscious choice I made to NOT have that.  But do I want a man who sits at home all day and watches the kids or plays video games or is a gourmet chef and has all of my meals prepared for me as I walk in the door? No way.  While that may have its perks, in the bedroom, for me, that’s  a TOTAL turnoff.  And having worked with enough women breadwinners, I can tell you that I’m not the only one.

ANSWER 3: If you like it, I love it.

The bottom line of this post is to get to a place where we can accept that women breadwinners will differ about what they seek and what they will accept in a mate.  Some love having a stay-at-home-dad for their kids and they see his job as being the hardest job in the world and the sex is hot and heavy because of the gratitude and respect they feel for him making that decision.  Wonderful!  Some women breadwinners want a man who has ambition, drive, and focus in areas OUTSIDE of household and family management and they love a husband who has a professional calling, follows it and brings home money because of it (whether the money is a lot or a little) and that’s awesome.  But to condemn one choice over the other or to say that we all have to love having husbands who are at home or husbands who work is a cookie cutter approach that doesn’t jive in real life.  Not only that but it invalidates the feeling of women breadwinners who may find themselves in marriages where their spouses are at home (and they didn’t co-sign on it) or their husbands are working (and that wasn’t the terms they agreed to when they had 5 children) and they feel angry, resentful, and frustrated.  We cannot deny the feelings of these women breadwinners who may be looking at their lives saying “This is not what I signed up for!”

We need to acknowledge that one of the struggles in being a woman breadwinner is that the gender roles are new,

they’re being recreated as we speak, and they don’t always feel comfortable (for the men or the women).

 We need to accept that not all women breadwinners are going to want stay-at-home husbands and not all stay-at-home-husbands are going to feel like men by taking on those roles.  It is not our job to make these individuals feel comfortable in a relationship dynamic that they don’t want.  It’s our job, as a society, to validate their feelings, listen to their concerns, and help them communicate and move towards creating a relationship dynamic that aligns with BOTH of their values.

But, if we never talk about the dissatisfaction some women breadwinners feel, the unhappiness some stay-at-home-husbands feel, and the impact these uncertainties and unspoken issues are having on the marriage, we’ll continue to speak favorably of women breadwinner marriages and we’ll continue to cheer on women in the workplace and we’ll continue to see increasing divorce rates among these types of marriages.

Let’s keep it real.

Is the stay-at-home-husband sexy?

Woman breadwinner, you get to decide but don’t co-sign on an option you secretly feel isn’t it. 

Say what you mean, mean what you say, and work out whatever is bugging you.

There’s nothing worse than pretending to be in love with life when you aren’t.

#keepitreal

Women Breadwinners & the Perpetual Argument: What is the fighting REALLY about? (Read Time: 6 min.)

couple 869% of all marital conflicts are PERPETUAL

In other words, there is no solution to them and engaging in conflict over them is a complete AND total waste of time.

Given this fact, it’s important to distinguish between marital conflict that’s solvable and conflict that’s perpetual.  If it’s solvable, it’s worth working through.  If it’s perpetual, it’s simply a waste of time, energy, and focus.

There’s only one problem with this:

Most couples fight for the WRONG reasons.

Here are some examples:

  1. Fighting to win
  2. Fighting to be right
  3. Fighting to get attention
  4. Fighting to avoid discussing and solving REAL issues
  5. Fighting to annoy, upset, or deter the other person
  6. Fighting to blame the other person
  7. Fighting to feel comfortable (yes, some folks feel most comfy when life is filled with drama)
  8. Fighting to fill the void and emptiness of being in a marriage that isn’t (and probably was never) right in the first place

Yes, there are tons of WRONG reasons why couples fight.  But the problem in women breadwinner marriages doesn’t come down to whether a husband and wife argue; it comes down to the way they go about viewing, understanding, and working through the conflict.

Psychologist Dan Wile said it beautifully in a book called “After the Honeymoon”: “When choosing a long-term partner… you will inevitably be choosing a particular set of unsolvable problems that you’ll be grappling with for the next ten, twenty or fifty years.”

Did you read the 50 years part?

Yes… In other words, EVERYBODY comes with baggage.  It’s up to you to choose baggage you know you can live with (and love) for the next 50 years.

The trouble in women breadwinner relationships is this:

Not all women signed up to be breadwinners, not all women breadwinners want to be breadwinners,

and not all beta husbands of women breadwinners want to be stay-at-home husbands or dads.

When you’re in a role you didn’t actively choose or one you never thought you’d be in, conflict is bound to creep up.

So… what is the fighting REALLY about?

When looked at productively, the fighting is about growth: discovering it, resisting it, managing it and thriving through it.

In a book called Enchanted Love, Marianne Williamson says the following:

“Growth is a detox process, as our weakest, darkest places are sucked up to the surface in order to be released.  Often, upon seeing the weaknesses in each other, we have the tendency to go “Yuck!” and walk away on some level.  But often it is not a change in partners but rather a change in perception that delivers us to the love we seek.  When we shift our view of the purpose of intimacy-from serving our own needs as we define them to serving a larger process of healing- then an entirely new opportunity presents itself.  Our wounds have been brought forward, not to block the experience of love, but to serve it.” 

In this way, when marital conflict takes up residence in a woman breadwinner marriage, it’s not there to say “This marriage won’t work.”  Conflict is there to proclaim, “There’s a lot of healing here to do.”

And we resist healing.  We resist healing in ourselves the parts that grew up feeling unloved, unappreciated, never good enough, always having to be better, striving for more, constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.  The inner child in us who’s afraid to be vulnerable would rather spend a lifetime in a marriage picking a fight than settling into bliss.  When we come to the understanding that there are parts of us running the show of our marriages and that those parts aren’t always the most beneficial parts for the marriage, we can get real with the fact that the problems of the relationship aren’t all his fault or her fault… it’s an opportunity for both people to grow… TOGETHER.

So how do you take a fight and turn it into a healing process?

Here are four ways to begin: 

  1. Distinguish between solvable problems and perpetual problems.  Agree to disagree on the perpetual; tackle the solvable problems with whole mind in present action.
  2. Begin with softness, sweetness, and ONE memory from the honeymoon phase of your relationship that still makes you smile.  Tell each other what you appreciate, love, and what you remember about each other.  Begin with a fond memory and it creates a soft place to land, even if the rest of the conversation takes a heavy turn.
  3. Self sooth when you need to.  The moment you feel your heart racing, your head pounding, your jaw tighten, and your fists clenched, know that you are doing what we call “flooding” and when you’re flooding, you’re not hearing one word your spouse has to say.  Agree in advance to take a 20 minute time out when flooding happens to one or both of you.  When flooding occurs, call a time out and retreat so you can self-soothe, regain your composure, and come back to the discussion with love.  Remember: this is your discussion.  You can take a break if you need one.  Resist the temptation to fight to be the person who has the last word.
  4. Soothe each other.  You’ve met your partner.  You know what pisses him off, turns him on, and makes him feel valued.  Once you’ve soothed yourself, soothe him and vice versa.  It will show fondness, appreciation and care.  That alone goes a long way in a conflict.

At the end of the day, every fight is about something deeper than the superficial issues presented.  We don’t argue to hear ourselves talk (most of us).  We don’t fight to win.  We create discord because there’s something deep within us that wants to be heard and healed and we haven’t learned any other way to do it but argue.  No matter what brings you to the conflict table, you can find a stronger, more loving way out of it by recognizing a marital conflict for what it is:

An opportunity to heal  

Women Breadwinners & Gratitude: 5 Reasons Your Husband was Sent From Heaven (Read Time: 6 min.)

couple 13According to my blog editorial calendar, this post was originally going to be called “Why Wishing You Were Single is a HUGE Mistake” and I was going to spend the time talking about why the “whether or not” decision of “Do I stay married or return to being single?” is such a bad way to position the struggles faced in your marriage.  And then, as always is the case, the Universe presented me with this beautiful video about love… (check the video out here–> http://www.youcantbeserious.com.au/blog/finding-love/) which then brought me to this extraordinary website about gratitude… and a few clicks and blogs later, I came to a post written by Dr. Cory Allan (he has a course called “Blow Up My Marriage”- Check it out here—-> http://blowupmymarriage.com/) giving 3 tips to help you relate better with your husband (interesting & practical; check it out here–>http://simplemom.net/3-tips-to-help-you-relate-better-with-your-husband/).  All of this internet browsing and it dawned on me that even in a moment of serious marriage reconsideration, it’s imperative that we, as women breadwinners, get back to a state of gratitude.

Change rarely comes from judgment but miracles always come from gratitude.

So… if you’re having a day where you want to pack a bag and run away to a deserted island or you are so frustrated with something that your spouse said or did that you feel like delivering a supreme verbal tongue lashing, BEFORE you go there (and regret it later), join me on a journey and rediscover 5 reasons your husband (even if he didn’t fold the laundry properly or forgot to wash the dishes or didn’t go to the parent/teacher meeting) was sent from heaven:

1) He is an expert at appreciating and handling your particular type of crazy.  Yes, I said it.  We all come with a particular type of crazy.  Control freaks, perfectionists, messy, sarcastic, anal retentive, over-the-top optimism or down-in-the-dredges pessimism, we all have our baggage and the spouse at your side has done a fabulous job of WILLINGLY handling your baggage.  Whenever you think the grass is greener on the other side, stop and ask yourself, “Who else could handle my crazy as well as he does?”  The answer: not many.

2) He’s man enough to support your taking the lead on things (some things, most things, hopefully not EVERYthing).  A man is a man when he can take a backseat in major life areas and not feel his manhood threatened.  Does that mean you’re married to a puppy dog who sits at your feet and says “Yes, dear” 24/7?  No… I do not know of one relationship where that’s the case and if you’re in one, be careful.  Men don’t like to be married to their mothers and wives don’t like to be married to their sons.  Eventually, we all grow up and a man who’s a boy in the relationship will wind up growing up and looking for what he considers a WOMAN (not a mom).  And that’s a whole other post.  What I’m saying is simple: Appreciate the fact that he knows you run the show (in certain areas) and he still feels like a man and actually enjoys your level of power in the relationship.  I heard one woman breadwinner say that her husband calls her his “sugar mama” and they both laugh at the idea.  Laughter, in a relationship, is a good thing.

3) He’s a master at household management and activities you’d REALLY rather not do.  You don’t have to go shout to the world that your husband is a whiz at laundry, cooking, and waxing floors nor do you have to make a public declaration that you hate all things domestic but let’s be real: if you’re a woman breadwinner, it is probably not your dream life to spend all day cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, decorating the house, and doing all things housewifery (I just made a word up).  Own you and appreciate the fact that you married someone who does the things you’d prefer not to do.

4) He knows how to have fun and keep it light.  Very often, my clients tell me that their husbands balance them out.  They are the driven, ambitious, workaholic types and their husbands are more laid back, more fun, and more appreciative of down time.  In this way, their spouses become the personal compass for “Hon, it’s time to rest…. Why don’t you take a break?  Let’s go do something fun.”  When you’re a person who loves to work or who goes 100 miles a minute, you need that type of person in your life.  What better person to fulfill that role than your spouse?

5) He loves you for who you are and has no desire for you to be somebody you’re not.  One of the big resentments I see surface in women breadwinners who don’t like their role is this: Why can’t he just be the provider?  Why can’t he be the one dealing with all the financial pressure?  Why can’t I be one of those women who married a co-breadwinner, a doctor, a lawyer, someone who’s got ambition and drive just like I do?  Be careful what you ask for.  While not all equally driven, ambitious, overachieving men are the same, take a moment and reflect on what it takes for you to be that way.  How many hours a week do you devote to your career?  How much work has it taken you to get where you are?  Now, if there were TWO of you having to put in all that time into your careers and work, what would be left for togetherness, fun, playtime, having children, raising a family, taking care of a home, doing laundry?  Yes, you could hire maids, nannies, and housekeepers but what if that’s not the life you want?  Also, sometimes, when you marry someone who’s on the same kind of fast track you’re on, they expect a certain kind of wife.  They might expect that when their career hits a peak, you’ll quit your career to support theirs.  They might expect that the moment you have kids, you become a stay-at-home mom and that’s the end of your career until the last child goes to kindergarten.  They might expect that if a great job offer comes up across the country, that you’ll clearly see the importance of his career and give up your job to move across the country.  These are all speculations but rarely do two overachieving, ambitious, highly driven people come together (before they get married) and have an honest, frank conversation about their expectations of each other.  There’s a yin and yang to all relationships.  Be grateful that you’re with someone who gets your yin and provides the yang, a person who isn’t expecting that you’ll sacrifice your career, your dreams, or your life for their ambitions.  Can you get that in a co-breadwinner marriage?  Sure but expecting that both of you will be CEOs of corporations and will have all the time in the world to build a life together (without the help of nannies, maids, housekeepers, and the like) is a bit unrealistic… even Sheryl Sandberg talks about the choices that you make when both of you are highly driven and top earners.

At the end of the day, every relationship brings with it opportunities to feel grateful.  But you’ve got to choose gratitude over complaint.  You have to choose to see the good rather than what needs fixing.  Your ability to appreciate what you have comes from your desire to see the beauty in your life and the joy in your relationships.  Until you are willing to see the good in what is, you will continue to look for what’s missing… in yourself and others.  Don’t do that.

Love what is.  

Life’s always better that way…

Woman Breadwinner By Default: How to Handle the Resentment (Read Time: 7 min.)

couple 8You married who you thought would be Prince Charming… and you wound up with a frog.  He’s not as strong as you thought.  He’s not as smart as you thought.  He’s not the provider you expected… and you now find yourself in the role of breadwinner (probably still doing the laundry and cleaning the house and tending to the kids) while he takes it easy, enjoys his life, and has learned to tune out your nagging.

Sound familiar?

There are many situations where the woman breadwinner marriage works beautifully.  Both partners know their roles and own them.  Both partners see contribution in terms of equity, not equality and appreciate it.  Both partners love their given roles and wouldn’t trade it for anything.  And both partners have bad days (or bad months) where they wish things were different but still suck it up and keep it moving… and find the gratitude and joy in it.  I’m a woman breadwinner in a 2nd marriage.  Can you tell which marriage I felt resentful in?  Yeah, #1 was the test.  Marriage #2 was the eyes-wide-open sign up for this journey.  At the end of the day, I coach a lot of women breadwinners who come to me and say, “I’m pissed off that I’m in this situation!  I didn’t sign up for this!  He has to step up!  It’s not fair that I have to do EVERYTHING and he can sit in front of the TV and play X-Box!  Why won’t he just… (fill in the blank)?”

They are SEETHING with resentment, filled with a deep anger and contempt for the person they married…

and they don’t know what to do about it.

So… if your resentment is real and you aren’t happy with the breadwinning role you’ve been thrust into, here’s what you’ve got to do to change things:

1) Get over the resentment.  See resentment for the self-poison it is and OWN the fact that you CHOSE him.  Period.  It’s not pretty.  It’s not fair.  It’s simply the truth.  There may have been few signs that he would end up this way but I guarantee you the signs were always there.  The honeymoon stage of first love blinds us to character flaws and personality defects that, after years of marriage, we can no longer ignore.  This disillusionment happens in ALL marriages and it doesn’t mean you’re heading for divorce but before you can give the relationship a fighting chance, you have to get over your resentment.  Nothing he does or will ever do will make you feel any less resentment for what’s happened in the past.  You have to alter your resentment.  Nobody can do that for you.  How do you do that?  Look for the gift in the situation and accept responsibility for changing the situation.  In other words, see what this breadwinning role has taught you about your strength, your talents, your ability to handle pressure and stress.  Be thankful that you’re not living in some third world country where women are barred from holding positions of power, where sex trades exist and little girls are still treated as nothing more than cattle (and, yes, that still happens in the United States).  Remind yourself that you have rights and power and abilities that, in some places, you’d never be able to have.  Find the gift of your role.  Find the lessons of your experiences.  Feel gratitude for all of it and make yourself focus on what works about the role no matter how hard things are financially or emotionally.

2) Have THE TALK.  Once resentment has left the building, you need to sit down with your spouse and have “THE TALK.”  In other words, you need to communicate your unhappiness in the relationship, what needs to change, why it needs to change, and come to the table with ideas about how it could change.  Remember: this is a collaboration, not a confrontation.  Your word choice and tone of voice will dictate how this conversation will go for you.  Keep in mind that if he’s not open to change, doesn’t think anything needs to change, or likes his cushy role and feels you deserve to do all the heavy lifting in the relationship, you’re at an impasse and you only have two choices: 1) Make it work as it is or 2) Make a different choice.  I would not be the person to ask about Choice 1 because when I was confronted with this situation, I went for Choice #2 and would do it again if I had the experience all over again.

Remember:

We teach people how to treat us and

the primary tool of teaching is our actions (talk is cheap).

3) Make your actions fit your words.  Once you’ve made your needs known, discussed options and solutions, it’s time to enact a change of behavior… from you.  If he won’t pitch in with the laundry, don’t do his laundry.  If he won’t go out and find a job, take the X-Box out of the house.  If he won’t help the kids with homework, make sure he does everything for himself ON HIS OWN.  In other words, if you’re getting no help from him in meeting needs you have clearly discussed and asked for help on, you need to withdraw the extra help you’re giving him so you can practice extreme self care and fulfill your needs on your own.  If you do this consistently enough, he’ll either get the message and change, get fed up with the situation and leave, or continue doing the same things and suffer the consequences of not having a maid/housekeeper/personal assistant at his beck and call day and night.  Oh and if he isn’t engaging in the financial management side of the marriage, remove ALL extras from his budget.  In other words, if he isn’t willing to contribute or to discuss, then there’s no reason he needs the extra car, motorcycle, boat, bike, cell phone, and anything else that isn’t of basic survival necessity.

To many of you, this will seem like an extreme tactic.  But this is an extreme case.  I’m not talking about husbands who are at home doing the leg work with the kids (carpooling,  budgeting, cooking, cleaning, fixing up the house) or the partners who do whatever it takes to help their breadwinning spouses feel heard, seen, and cared for (back rubs, a shoulder to lean on, making sure dinner is ready and available, setting the bath, etc.).  I’m talking about those partners that are married to women breadwinners but REFUSE to work in any, way, shape or form while insisting to live like kings.  I can clearly say that that relationship, with its absolute lack of reciprocity, will not work out.  So… choose your path wisely.  Contribution does not have to be monetary but for a marriage to thrive, it does have to exist.  Period.

If you’re navigating resentment and need help figuring out what to do about your marriage, check out my book, CHOOSE YOU, NOT DIVORCE.

–>CLICK HERE TO BUY THE BOOK ON AMAZON<–

Choose You Not Divorce

Women Breadwinners… Did you marry your father… or your mother? (Read Time: 3 min.)

couple 9My husband is not the handy man type.  He wants nothing to do with a hammer, nails and the last place you’ll ever find him in is Auto Zone or Home Depot.  No, he prefers all things tech, the internet and visiting the Hugo Boss store…  Nonetheless, when I look a little deeper, what I find is that we call up in each other the unhealed parts of ourselves.  Usually, these unhealed parts come from childhood experiences we had with our parents.  Most people will tell you in a heartbeat: “I married my mother…”  or “I married somebody just like my dad” or “I married the complete opposite of my mom.”  All of these statements point to the same thing: in marriage, we are mirrors of each other and we attract that which we need to heal and, oftentimes, that which we are…

So the question becomes:

When you look at your partner, which parent did you marry?

Your father… or your mother?

Looking at my husband, I can see his similarities to my father: introverted, quiet, would rather go to the store and pick out a nice suit than change the oil in the car, very sensitive.  Although I swore to myself in my teens that I would never marry anybody like either of my parents, here it is… and there you go.  But what do you do when you marry someone who brings up in you the unhealed wounds of childhood (and they always will)?

How do you separate YOUR emotional baggage from OUR emotional baggage?

In two words: you don’t.

Yours, mine, ours, two people come together to heal wounds, to choose differently, and to learn how to love and be loved.  It is not an easy journey but nothing worthwhile is so the next time you feel like running away from home screaming or you want to rant and rave at your spouse in an effort to make him/her “better”, remind yourself:

This person is one of my greatest spiritual teachers.  What needs to be healed so I can move on?

And then heal it.  See, you don’t need mom or dad’s approval to go beyond what they were capable of being in relationships.  You don’t need their presence to get closure for the wounds they may have inflicted but you do need to process and heal whatever it is you didn’t heal with them with your spouse…. Otherwise, the same spiritual lesson will come back again and again and again… until you are ready to receive it.  Don’t repeat the spiritual sixth grade four or five times.  Get the lesson here…

RESOURCE:

If you’d like to learn more about how couples heal the wounds of childhood, check out Harville Hendrix’s work.  He wrote the book “Getting the Love You Want” and offers couples workshops all of the time.  He wrote a great ‘how to’ article called ‘Stay in the Canoe and Paddle.’  Check it out here: http://harvillehendrix.com/read.html.

Women Breadwinners, Anger & Being Emotionally Unfed (Read Time: 3 min.)

couple 1 aIn a book called Enchanted Love, Marianne Williamson says the following:

“Receiving is as blessed as giving, and at bottom they are the same thing.  When we can’t receive, we are like people who, though fed, have malfunctioning digestive systems and therefore remain unnourished.  On an emotional level, the reason this is so important is that emotionally hungry people are angry.  We are angry about feeling unfed, but meanwhile, people right in front of us might have been feeding us constantly, as best they can, and are starting to wonder why we ourselves are so ungrateful, bratty, and ungiving.”

How often have you felt angry or frustrated because, in your mind, you’re doing all the heavy lifting and your spouse is simply riding the wave?

How often have you thought about walking away from the relationship and finding someone who could match you “where it counts”?

But the question remains: are you looking through eyes that really see the situation?

When you’re the person making the bulk of the money, it can be easy to point fingers at who isn’t doing “enough.”  But until you define what “enough” looks like, you have no benchmark upon which to accurately measure contribution in the relationship.  When people say, “I no longer respect that person” or “I do everything, they do nothing”, what they’re really saying is “I’m emotionally hungry, I feel unfed, I feel unsafe and this person isn’t doing a good job of feeding me and protecting me.”  The real issue isn’t about what’s in the bank; it’s about what’s missing in the heart.

When you feel emotionally unfed, you feel physically unsafe.  You could have millions of dollars in the bank but if you aren’t able to receive what others are giving you, no amount of money will provide the security blanket you’re looking for.  In a relationship that is financially unbalanced, oftentimes the problem isn’t that one person gives more than the other; it’s that one person has the ability to receive more than the other.  Learning how to receive is a critical first step for women breadwinners.  When you have the ability to receive well, even when what you’re receiving is different becomes MORE than enough because you know how to usher the good in.

So, let’s break this down:

1) Can you give as good as you get?

2) Can you accept compliments?  Dinners prepared for you?  Dishes washed for you?  Laundry done for you?  Can you accept those things as easily as you do your spouse bringing home a big fat bonus or finding an awesome job?  And can you see those things for the value they offer… even if the value isn’t monetary?

3) Can you see the gift in this relationship… or are you too busy looking for a way out?

4) Can you stop yourself, in mid pity party and ask the question, “What is the gift here?” and stop complaining long enough to find it?

Here’s the problem with wanting your spouse to be someone he or she is not: You’re not responsible for HIS change; you can only control yours… and yours is all you need to focus on to experience the relationship in a whole new way, regardless of the relationship’s outcome.  Far too many people sit around raking their brains asking “Will this marriage work?  Will it not?  Will I stay?  Will I go?”  Wrong questions.  You’re trying to look through a crystal ball on a future you haven’t created yet.  Don’t waste time that way.  Acknowledge where you are RIGHT now and make that experience the best it can be for you.

How do you do that when you’re angry about the imbalance?  How do you enjoy being in a relationship where you feel like you are carrying most of the weight?

3 ways:

1) Get real about the weight you’re carrying.  The weight you feel may not actually be the amount of lifting you’re doing so you need to get real about it.  Pull out a sheet of paper and fold it in half.  On the left side, write down, “EVERYTHING it takes to make this household work.”  Then jot down every task, responsibility, chore, and role that must be fulfilled in order for your household and your life to run smoothly.  List everything from carpool to pay the bills, from changing diapers to investing in the retirement account.  List it all.  Then, on the right side, next to each line item, write your name by all of the tasks that you primarily handle.  Write down your spouse’s name by all of the tasks he handles.  Once you’ve completed that list, step back and see what percentage you have versus what percentage he has… and then ask yourself one important question: Is it equitable?  Notice I didn’t say equal.  I love the newlyweds who go with the “You wash and I’ll dry mentality.”  That lasts for about five weeks.  In great marriages, equality is thrown out the window and equity is the focus.  Based on your list, is what you and your spouse contribute (even though the form may be different) equitable?  Is it fair?  Do you both contribute in ways that are valuable and make the house run smoothly?  This exercise will get you clear on how much you do versus how much you think you’re carrying.   If it turns out you are doing “everything”, then it is time to take that list, sit down with your spouse, and have a loving, clear conversation about how to shift some of these responsibilities to him.  In another post, I’ll discuss exactly how to have that conversation.

2) Look for the lesson.  When you feel angry about the situation, instead of asking, “What am I getting here?” or “What have you done for me lately?”, ask “What lesson do I need to learn from this?” or “What have I done for ME lately?”  Any time we feel shortchanged, it’s because, on some level, we’re shortchanging ourselves.  Either we accept less than we deserve or we do more than we need to in order to feel like we’re “enough” or we reject other people’s gifts of love and contribution because we don’t want to “owe anybody anything.”  I could go on and on but you get what I’m saying.  If you resist receiving from others, no matter how much they give, you won’t be able to receive it.  Maybe that’s the lesson in this relationship.  Maybe just maybe the lesson isn’t that you married badly or you chose the wrong person.  More than likely, you chose exactly the right person for exactly the right lessons you needed to learn and it’s better to be present for this and get the lessons this time around than to run from the lesson only to find the same exact spiritual classroom in the form of a different person, in a different relationship, in a different marriage, headed down the same break up road.  I’m not saying you stay in a relationship that offers no equity.  I’m saying you stay for as long as it takes to get the lessons you need so you do not repeat this cycle again.

3) Accept your role or change it but don’t bitch about it.  Complaining is the mother of all failure because it does nothing to improve the situation.  And, yet, so many women complain about what their spouses don’t do, won’t do, or can’t do without realizing that all of that energy spent in complaining could be better used in assessing and altering the roles they’ve chosen to play in the marriage.  Contrary to popular belief, you didn’t “fall” into your role as breadwinner.  You chose it.  Yes, I get the economy might have been rough and you were the one making all the money so when the baby came, it was a no brainer that he’d stay home and you’d go to work.  That was still a choice.  I understand that you made a pact with yourself to always have your own income and you couldn’t help that you were more ambitious than him and climbed higher faster while he languished going from job to job.  But guess what?  You still had to choose to climb.  At the end of the day, you being in the role of breadwinner is as much a choice as a woman who chooses to stay at home.  Complaining about the choice you made (and continue to make daily) is a fast way to go no where.  If you really dislike the choice (and I haven’t met many women breadwinners who’d want to switch to stay-at-home, not-receiving-their-own-paycheck women), choose differently.  Sit down with your spouse and say, “In the next 6 months, I’d like to see our roles shift in this, this and this way… How can we make that happen?” and follow through on it.  Don’t back down when you start to see you’re losing the control you once had in the relationship.  Don’t shy away from it the moment he doesn’t do things exactly the way you’d do them.  If you want to change the role but you don’t want to relinquish any of the power, you’re going to have a problem.  If you don’t like the role, change it but, whatever you do, stop bitching about it.  Bitching solves nothing and, in fact, creates more problems than you originally had.

At the end of the day, the marriage you’re in is the marriage you chose.  Your lesson here is not to find another partner or to stop being married. 

It’s to see this situation for the lesson it is and to ask yourself repeatedly as you learn it:

How can I create this in a different way?

You are the creator of it.  You are the chooser of the role.  If you don’t like what you chose, guess what?  You can, at any moment, choose differently.