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

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Women Breadwinners & Career Change: Climb, Transition or Quit? (Read Time: 5 min.)

 woman 2Woman breadwinner… Who gave you that role?  Who keeps you in that role?  What could easily erase that role?

One answer: Your job.  

Maybe it’s your career.  More than likely, it is your profession.  Is it your calling?  Your vision?  Your grandest purpose for your life?  Probably not… And, yet, you do it.  You do it because it pays the bills.  You do it because it feeds, clothes, and provides a roof for your family.  You do it because it’s what you know how to do well and it’s what keeps you in the current lifestyle you’re accustomed to.

But what happens when the job you do is killing the dreams you have?

How do you make a decision about changing, altering, or erasing a part of your identity that is the requirement for your family’s survival?

The answer most women breadwinners stuck in a career rut choose is this: You don’t.  You stay in the job.  You do what it takes to pay the bills.  You put your big girl panties on and keep it moving.

That might last until your youngest child graduates from high school but, at some point, when you’ve done status quo until it annihilates your soul, what you discover is that you hit a breaking point where you can no longer do what you do, be who you are, and still truly exist.

Your career unhappiness affects EVERYONE around you.  

It hampers every relationship.  It slowly chips away at every dream.  At some point, if your joy is going to be a mainstay in your life, you’re going to have to make a few major decisions about your career (even when you love your career) and, usually, those decisions revolve around one of three options:

Climb? Transition? Quit?

Livelihood, salary, and compensation are critical factors in the life of a woman breadwinner.  If you’re a software engineer earning $250,000 a year and you absolutely hate it, going into work tomorrow and quitting may not be an option.  On the flip side, if you’re a teacher who adores her fifth grade class but your business analyst husband lost his job six months ago and your teacher salary can no longer carry you, your husband and three children, something about your income earning potential has got to shift.  No matter what the situation, women breadwinners are far better off making PROACTIVE career decisions than reactive ones.

If you’re at a crossroads in your career, here are three key questions to ask yourself before you choose either of the three alternatives:

ALTERNATIVE 1: Climb (move up within the company)

1) What career paths are available to me at the company I work for currently?

2) What steps would I have to take in order to move up the corporate ladder?  Would the time and energy investment I’d have to make into these steps be worth the outcome?

3) How can I reality-test my fit for a different position?  In other words, can you shadow a person who currently has the role you’d like to take on?  Can you get a mentor who’s already climbed the corporate ladder and meet with him/her thirty minutes every other week?  Is there an additional role within the company you can take on to “try out” the position you’d be moving towards?

4) How financially stable is my firm?  If I were to move up in the company and get laid off at a later date, would the experiences I gained in this new role make me more viable to companies outside of my current organization?

ALTERNATIVE 2: Transition (change careers/fields)

1) How much exposure have I had to the field/profession I’m looking to go into?  How can I reality test my fit for this position?  If you’re  moving from being a police officer to a doctor, have you interned or volunteered at a hospital?  What experiences can you take on before making a massive commitment to completely change gears in your career?

2) What will be required to fully make this career shift?  Will you need to get an additional degree or certification?  If so, how much will that cost?  How much will you have to pay?  How much time will you have to put in to get those things done?

3) What will it take to get you to the same or a higher salary in this new field?  If you’re a neurosurgeon deciding to become a writer, what’s your plan for making up for the salary lost in the process?  How will you downsize your lifestyle or add additional streams of income to compensate for any lost wages as you make the shift?

4) How willing are you to start over?  When you jump from one career to a completely different one, it often requires starting from scratch which includes working in an entry level position for entry level pay.  Given your family dynamics and your monthly budget, is this something you can afford to do?

ALTERNATIVE 3: Quit (quit a job you hate, one that is sucking the life out of you)

1) What has your current job cost you?  Be specific about the tangible costs of staying in your current position.  Have you gotten carpel tunnel syndrome?  Adrenal fatigue? Depression? Anxiety? Has your eye sight gotten worse?  Did you gain 80 pounds?  Be clear on the what this job is costing you.

2) How much longer do you feel you can stay at your current position?  At all costs, you don’t want to get so fed up that you wake up one morning and quit.  Having an exit strategy is always the best way to go.

3) What is your ideal exit date?  What kind of exit strategies can you start using to make sure you’re out of the company by this day and time?

4) If you had to stay at this company, what could you do to improve your experience of it?

5) If you had a choice between staying on your current job or working for a company that paid much less but had a better working environment, what would you do?

At the end of the day, the best decision you can make about your career will come from four steps (what Dan and Chip Heath call the WRAP Process in a book they wrote called “Decisive”):

1) Widening your options

2) Reality testing your assumptions

3) Attaining distance (i.e. giving yourself time to reflect and consider)

4) Preparing to be wrong (knowing that no decision is permanent and that you can choose a different path at any point you choose)

Be sure that you complete each of the four above-mentioned steps and then (no analysis paralysis) DECIDE AND DO… It won’t be easy but it will be worth it.

5 Decisions You NEVER Make Alone (Read Time: 4 min.)

School 7When you get faced with a major life decision, how do you respond?

Excited? Nervous? Curious? Stuck?

As a woman breadwinner, you have a lot on your plate.  You’re constantly making decisions, whether it’s about the project at work or what to cook for dinner.  By sheer experience, you probably top most people in the ability to navigate, decide, and implement solutions.  But, when it comes to major life decisions, choices that you know will impact the people you love most for a VERY long time, how do KNOW that you’re making the “right” choice?

Therein lies the problem… you don’t.  In fact, all of the analysis paralysis in the world will not guarantee that the decisions you are making are the decisions that are best for all involved… including you.

So if decisions can’t be made perfectly, how can they be made well?

By using a solid decision making process.

In July, I will be teaching a 12 week decision making boot camp called BE DECISIVE! (Check it out here: http://kassandrabibas.com/get-decisive-.html).  In that course, I’m going to talk about a solid, strategic decision making model that will simplify decision making while producing MASSIVELY EFFECTIVE results.  If you’re having issues in the area of decision making, you’re not going to want to miss it!

One of the first things I’m going to teach in BE DECISIVE! has to do with knowing the biases or villains of decision making that impair your ability to make good choices.  There are many of them but four are truly sinister.  In the same way that there are biases to decision making, there are also key life decisions that we must NEVER make alone.  For women breadwinners, there are 5 that are subtle but deadly.  If you make these decisions alone, you are setting yourself up for drama, frustration, and, worst of all, resentment.

For the rest of this month, I’ll be blogging about each of these five decisions and how to avoid framing the options and making the decisions alone.

For now, let’s identify the 5 decisions you NEVER make alone:

  1. Relocation: Whether it’s across town, out of state, or to another country, the decision about whether to move an ENTIRE family cannot be done in a vacuum.  I’m sure there are those reading this post who will say, “Duh Kassandra.  Everybody knows that.”  Talk to enough people and you’ll find that most people suffer from “walk their talk syndrome”: they KNOW what to do but they don’t DO what they know.  Relocation is a prime example of that.  Most people get that you need buy-in from all members of the family to have a successful relocation.  Most people make the decision without buy-in and pay the consequences of resentment, anger, and discord later… once they’ve moved and unpacked all of the boxes.  Relocation is too big an issue to decide alone.  Don’t do it.
  2. Career Change: Women breadwinners, by definition, carry the bulk of the annual household income.  ANY changes to a woman breadwinner’s career has a massive impact on the entire family.  Before deciding to take a job that will double your pay (but also double your travel time), more than one person needs to be involved in that decision.  Before you decide that you’re so burnt out being a lawyer that you want to quit, go back to school, and become a teacher, you need to do some reality-testing of your assumptions, seek out role models, and interview former lawyers who’ve made a similar transition and have been there-done that.  Before you decide to go back to school full time to move up in your career, there needs to be a family meeting about how everyone will support the 20+ hours a week of study time that you won’t have available to complete the tasks you’ve always been responsible for.
  3. Marital Status: Before you decide the honeymoon is over and you want to call it quits, there are many people that need to be involved in that decision making process, the most important being the other person in the relationship.  I’ll dive in to this when we get to that post towards the end of the month.
  4. Having a Baby: Sperm banks with anonymous sperm donors whose specimens you pay for are an entirely different situation from cajoling a spouse into having a baby that he isn’t ready for or doesn’t want.  The same applies to the reverse.  Coercing a breadwinning wife to have a baby that she’s not completely sold on is NEVER  a good idea.  Bringing a life into the world is NOT  a decision you make out of fear, anger, or insecurity.  Far too often, it’s exactly that.  There’s a better way.
  5. Financial Priorities: This area runs the gamut (from creating the monthly budget to debt management to retirement planning to buying a house or a car to how much you spend online).  Even if the woman is the only one bringing income into the home, there needs to be more than one person looking at the financials and engaging in the discussion of what to do with the money that comes in.  Without more than one voice, the decisions being made are, oftentimes, the result of a number of decision making biases (most esp. the narrow frame).  Financial success comes from financial wisdom.  Involve more people in the process, you get more wisdom (caveat: choose people who are good with their money, #justsayin).

There they are: the 5 decisions you NEVER make alone.

In the next post, I’m going to dive into the issue of relocation.  

Should we?  Should we not?  How can we make the best decision possible?  

Join me on Friday!

The ONE thing you need to do to change ANYTHING… (Read Time: 3 min.)

woman 25There’s something about your life that you want to change… and you want it changed NOW, right?

You have a goal, a dream, a lifestyle change and you want it BADLY and, yet, you aren’t getting the job done.  Sound familiar?

How can you “make” yourself do what you know you NEED to do consistently and persistently so you make it to your goal?

I hear this question ALOT.  I ask myself this question EVEN MORE.  And the answers have come from many different sources and in many different ways but the most successful response with the greatest return on investment came by asking myself one question:

What will it cost me if I don’t?

Tony Robbins poses that question in the book “Awaken the Giant Within” and he speaks of this question in his audio coaching programs.  It’s one question with a whole lot of impact.  Why?

Because far too often we subconsciously ask ourselves, “What will it cost me if I DO?”  We think about our dreams or goals and we say:

  • It’ll cost me money I don’t have if I…
  • It’ll cost me time that I don’t have if I…
  • It’ll cost me relationships that I don’t want to lose if I…

We’re always thinking about what going to the next level of life will cost us in terms of time, money, relationships, energy, resources, and relationships.  By doing that, we zero in on the pain of achieving our goals and dreams, forgetting the entire time of the absolute pleasure that comes in achieving what we were born to achieve.  So if you’re grappling with a major life change, if you’re looking for a solution to your procrastination on a BIG life dream, if you’re waiting for the “right time” or the “right place” or the “right stroke of luck” to take you to that next level, stop overanalyzing, investigating and waiting!  Simply ask yourself the question and give yourself a solid ten minutes to catastrophize the most extreme answer you think possible.  Yes, I said catastrophize.  When you answer this question, you need to walk your mind through ALL of the worst things that could happen if you don’t make this happen.  You need to make yourself get real with what you REALLY risk losing if you don’t make this move.  You have to have what I call a get-it-together talk with yourself where you say, “Listen darling.  You can keep going this way and keep getting the same thing you’ve always gotten but if you keep going this way, here are all the ugly, nasty, sucky consequences you’re going to get… Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.”

Yes, have that conversation with yourself.  Do it with ONLY ONE issue in your life (If you try to answer this question with three or four of your goals, you’ll get overwhelmed; don’t do it). Do it NOW!

#thatisall

So… talk to me.  What goal are you not pursuing and what will it cost you if you don’t make this happen? 

I’m reading and responding to your comments:)

What to do when the labor & delivery of your dream stalls… (Read Time: 4 min.)

woman 39I remember the birth of my first child (who’s about to be 16 years old next month) like it was yesterday.  Montgomery, Alabama… steaming hot weather… me waddling around at 39.5 weeks… exhilarated, scared, and seriously ready to have my body back.  When 40 weeks came and went, the doctor made the blessed decision to bring me to the hospital and induce labor.  “Yes!” I proclaimed as we rushed to the hospital.  Over 36 hours later and 1 hour away from a C-section, I learned that no matter how much you prod and probe the birth of anything, sometimes… it stalls. I was induced alright.  And then the contractions STOPPED.  Yes, stopped as in no contractions.  They started again and came back REALLY strong but, this time, the baby didn’t descend.  He had decided very clearly, “I AM NOT COMING OUT!”  So, one hour before I was scheduled to have a C-section, the boy dropped down, the contractions were hot and heavy, and I gave birth to an 8 pound, 6.5 ounce baby boy… and the rest, as they say, is history.

So what did that teach me about life?

It taught me that sometimes, when you’ve conceived a big dream and you’re in the process of nurturing and giving it life, when it’s getting closer and closer, sometimes labor and delivery stops.  Sometimes, the doors of opportunity close, the windows of passage shut, and everything you thought would’ve happened by now… hasn’t.

What do you do when the labor and delivery of your dream stalls?

Here are 3 things you start with:

1) Wait and listen.  When things start to slow down or get to a complete halt, it’s natural to want to force, push and shove our way into the fulfillment of our dreams.  After all, we’ve worked hard.  All of THIS can’t be for nothing, can it?  But pushing a boulder uphill isn’t fun and, at the end of the day, if it isn’t meant to be, no amount of forcing will make it so.  When you feel like the dream you’re birthing isn’t coming down the birth canal, rather than try to shove it down, give things a break by stepping back and taking the time to listen to your Higher Self.  There may be more information that you need to know before the next step comes.

2) Focus on improving the things that you CAN control.  What, right now, is in your power to make better?  Focus on that and give your all to improving that area of your life and, eventually, your dream will come back into center focus.  When you do this, it’s not that you’re giving up on your dream or losing sight of it.  You’re simply giving your seed the room it needs to grow in the soil as you water it by improving another part of the garden.  Do what you can with what you have.

3) Say ‘Screw the worry!’ and resign as Manager of the Universe.  You don’t control the process.  You don’t know the timing of the manifestation of your dream.  When you get sick and tired enough of worrying about what could be, what should be, and how it’s all going to come together, you’ll surrender the cause and go find some relaxation in a good book, a favorite movie, or time with friends.  When you surrender, you gain strength and your dream gains momentum… even if it doesn’t seem that way at first.

Bottom line is this: Waiting sucks.  Yes, really sucks.  It’s no fun to wait for something that you really wanted to have here yesterday.  But waiting happens.  Rather than rail against the inevitable time a dream will take, use the three steps above to make your wait the most productive and least painful it can be.

So tell me.

Which of these 3 above steps will you have the hardest time doing and why?

What will you do to work through it?

I love to read your comments!

How to use your focus to concentrate your power… (Read Time: 4 min.)

woman 27I’m going in a different direction this week than my blog calendar had originally dictated.  That is one of the gifts of being my own boss:  I get to call the shots.  What I want to dish about today is one of my favorite topics of all time: FOCUS.

Women breadwinners traditionally have this in spades.  We know how to focus.  We know how to dive in, dig in, and get the job done… for MOST things.  But what about the areas of life where we don’t put too much of our focus?

What areas of life are you not focusing on?

What is your lack of focus in that area costing you?

Multi-tasking is a myth.  Human beings do not multi-task.  Even if you feel like you’re working on ten different things at once, you’re not.  You might be giving 10 seconds of focus to one thing and 30 seconds of focus to another and 45 seconds of focus to another but you are not multi-tasking.  You’re simply dividing your WHOLE mind in PRESENT action among a number of different things.

But what if all of that focus in one area is costing you the joy, peace, and success you want in another?

How do you switch gears and use your focus to concentrate your power in another area of life?

Here are 3 simple steps you can take:

  1. Approach every task with your WHOLE mind.  In other words, be completely where you are when you’re doing what you do.  If it’s family time, be 100% in family time.  If you’re at work, be 100% at work.  This is difficult in a day and age where we’ve electronically chained ourselves to our jobs and use that as the excuse for why we’re not able to focus on our families.  Throw the excuses out and give your all to each thing when it’s on your schedule.  Dividing your mind or your time between two places is no fun.  Be here now…
  2. Put all of your energy into whatever it is you’re focused on.  A lot of us come to different tasks with different levels of energy.  We half-ass our way through things.  When I was a professor, I’d teach business students about Adam’s Equity Theory.  Part of Adam’s Equity theory says that we look at our work situation and we consider how much we’re being rewarded… and then we alter our level of input or performance to make it equivalent to the amount of reward we’re receiving.  In other words, if I feel like I’m being paid half as much as I’m worth for a project, I might give half as much of my energy to it because I feel I’m being mistreated.  That kind of skewed perception of equity is a sure fire way to fail.  Why?  Because when you don’t give ALL of yourself to ALL you do, the only person you cheat is you.  Make your investment of your energy into your life YOUR BUSINESS.  It’s not about what anyone else is going to give you.  It’s about you enjoying every second of your life, whether it’s at work or at home.
  3. Focus on resourcefulness, not resources.  If you’re resourceful, the resources will come.  I used to doubt this idea.  But, as I started to see how in jams and during major obstacles, I was able to transform pressure into progress, it dawned on me that this concept (which I originally heard Tony Robbins talk about) is 100% true.  If you can get out of fear, worry and doubt and into a place of saying “Ok, I’m doing this now how can I get it done?”, you’ll get resourceful, you’ll stay the course, and you’ll get the job done.  See your journey of focus as a steady climb and focus on the next 3 steps.  Nothing more.
  4. See it as done.  Visualizing the result, thinking from the end, believing you can choose what you focus on, all of these things are key to concentrating your power.  Without your belief in yourself, you have nothing.  If you want to put more focus in a given area of your life, you have to believe that you have the ability to.  Once you do, you will.

So… how will you put these 4 steps into practice?  What area of your life do you want to now focus on?

Leave your comments below.  I’m listening…

Who’s in Your Inner Circle? (Read Time: 3 min.)

women 1I saw my therapist today and she asked me a question that stumped me:

Who’s your social support system here in Los Angeles?

I didn’t know how to answer that question.  Other than my husband and my close friends (who all live out of state), I couldn’t think of more than one or two people in California (and none who live within driving distance) that I could have a hot chocolate with at Coffee Bean or plan a girls night out to the movies with.  It’s great to have close friends you can trust but when they live over a thousand miles a way, who do you connect with in person?  Oh yeah, you don’t…

And that’s when today’s blog topic was born.

Men know how to do this really well.  Even children get the idea of what I’m about to say but, for whatever reason, women (esp. women breadwinners) haven’t learned the art and science of creating AND maintaining an inner circle.

What’s an inner circle?

That core group of 3-5 women who get you, see you, love you, and truly desire the best for you.  They are the like-minded, equally ambitious, fervently loyal people in your life who will challenge you to step up to the plate, force you to take a breather, or inspire you to move in a new direction because they refuse to allow you to settle for less.  The more women work, the more this inner circle becomes dire.

One problem: we live in a technology driven world that makes a tweet more inviting than a live chat and we’ve become a society where we’d rather go it alone because getting together takes too much time.

Especially as women breadwinners, it’s time that we stopped that (I’m talking to me too here).  We need in person, live, physical connection with like minded people.  We need to have relationships that grow over time, that weather life’s storms, and we especially need those connections to be with women who understand where we are in our lives.  And the bottom line is this: it’s not going to happen over a tweet or an FB message.  It might start there but it certainly won’t develop there.  If what we want is a WHOLE life, we have to begin to cultivate and create those relationships that nourish, encourage, and inspire us.  It’s as critical to the quality of our lives as breathing.

So how do we begin?

Here are 3 things I’m going to start doing:

1) Join social groups where you’ll meet and connect with other like-minded women.  There’s a women’s running group that meets every Saturday that I’ve wanted to join for months and as soon as my Achilles tendon is cleared to go back and run, I’m going to start putting that on my Saturday schedule.

2) TALK to people in social environments like the grocery store, the book store, in a doctor’s office, or at the gym.  I am notorious for going into Equinox  with laser vision on one thing: my workout.  Maybe it’s time I started to actually look at other people and, oh my goodness, smile, engage in conversation.  What a revelation!

3) Join professional specific or age specific groups.  There are all sorts of Meetup groups for moms in their 30s or women lawyers or stay-at-home moms.  Finding a group and attending even one even can go a long way in developing those connections.

So let me ask you a question.

What will you do this week to create or develop your inner circle? 

I’d love to know…

5 Ways to Reframe Being Bossy in Work and Life… (Read Time: 4 min.)

woman  7Sometimes, someone will call you bossy and it’ll be spot on.  In that moment, you’ll need to take a step back, reflect, and shift.  There are other times, however, when someone calls you bossy and it’s not an issue of control so much as it’s a matter of you standing up for your needs, desires, and level of self-worth.  In those moments, it’s important to stand your ground, not take the other person personally, and reframe the insult so that you hear it but you don’t embrace it.

How do you do that?

Here are 5 ways to carry out self talk that views bossy in a positive light:

  1. I am demanding.  I know what I want and I’m unwilling to settle for less.  It might make other people insecure but that’s a challenge to them to be more, not to feel like less.
  2. I’m a natural leader.  My talents have equipped me with the ability to make clear, carefully thought out decisions in less time than most.  I know how to ask to have my needs met and I know how to find, create or obtain the resources necessary to do that.  People who have this ability respect what I bring to the table.  I don’t flaunt my power.  I embrace it.
  3. I listen to my inner knowing, trust my instincts, and act without looking back.  I have an inner wisdom that I trust at all times.  I don’t doubt my Higher Self.  I trust it and take action.  There’s no need for second guessing in my inner world.
  4. I am determined, persistent, focused and clear.  I consider the options, listen to opinions but I am not swayed by either.  I listen to my intuition and stay on course.  I own my mistakes, learn from my failures and keep it moving.  That is what makes me a champion.
  5. I value myself highly because I know that I bring tremendous value to the world.  I know my value.  My confidence is well deserved.  Honoring myself gives other people permission to honor themselves.  There’s no hiding my light going on here.  I shine brilliantly because I can and that encourages others to do the same.

Each of the above 5 statements could be taken as “bossy”: demanding, rigid, stubborn, and stuck up/conceited.  If someone has the audacity to call you that to your face (and you know there are no grounds in reality for it), thank them for the compliment and continue these five points of self talk.  At the end of the day, no one can tell you who you  REALLY are but you so speak into your life who you know yourself to be.

 

How to Get Marital Peace When You’d Rather Be Anywhere But Home… (Read Time: 4 min.)

coule 6You run your show.  You bring home the bacon.  You’re the one wearing the pants… and the BOTH of you know it.  But, lately, things haven’t been easy.  There’s been tension in the air, things left unsaid, household responsibilities left undone, and outside of talking about bills, birthdays, and chores, there hasn’t been much to say… that won’t bite you in the butt later.

Can you relate to that scenario?

How you deal with marital stress will determine a great deal about how the rest of your marriage goes.  Stress is nothing new nor is it unique to the woman breadwinner but how it shows up in the marriage has a lot to do with who’s wearing the proverbial pants… and who is not.  Even though you signed up for this (and sometimes you didn’t), there may be parts of you wondering, “Why am I the one with all of this financial pressure?” or “Why can’t I take it easy, pursue my dreams, and have the lighter load?”  The moment you start feeling like this, guess what?  You’re in a particular phase of marriage that ALL married couples go through.  It’s called the devaluation stage.  Rather than give in to it and begin looking for the exit door, own up to it, get familiar with it, and find your way to a better place  WITH your spouse by your side.

The question becomes:

“How do I do that when I spend most of my time nagging my spouse to do things he KNOWS he’s supposed to be doing?”

Here are 3 simple steps to cultivating marital peace (esp. when it’s the last thing you feel like doing):

Step 1: Do a Spouse Appraisal.  Yup, appraise him.  Just like you would a house.  In other words, detach from the emotional upheaval that your dissatisfaction, nagging, and anxiety have caused, take a step back, pull out a pen and paper, and spend 3-7 days observing your spouse.  In your notebook, answer the following questions:

1) What did my spouse do today that pleased me?

2) What did my spouse do today that annoyed me?

3) How did my spouse help in our household today?

4) What did my spouse forget or not do today in our household that really needed to be done TODAY?

5) What did I love most about how he behaved today?

6) What bugged me most about how he behaved today?

At the end of each day’s observation, compare your responses and see if there’s more good than bad.  Ask yourself, “How did my mood, my day, and my thoughts impact how I evaluated my spouse?” and write down those answers as well.

Step 2: Comparison shop.  This is a fabulous notion discussed by Sharyn Wolf in her book, ” This Old Spouse.”  In other words, when you get fed up with your spouse, think seriously about the grass you think is greener on the other side.  Look at your friends’ marriages and your divorced friends’ dating lives and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Would I want to have THEIR marital problems in place of mine?
  2. Is that grass really greener… or is it turf?
  3. What lessons am I learning in this marriage that, if I don’t get here, I’ll simply take with me to the next relationship?
  4. Would I really be happier without my husband or am I making MY happiness his responsibility?  Is that fair?

Step 3: Identify your REAL needs and ask to have them met.

This is a two-part step.

Part 1: Identify your REAL needs.  When you’re nagging your spouse, what is it that you REALLY want?  Do you want to be heard?  Do you want to be seen?  Do you want your spouse to show his care and affection by jumping up in that minute and taking care of the laundry or the garbage or whatever else you’re asking him to do?  What is the emotion or the desire that you have underneath the discussion you seem to keep having?  Once you get clear on your needs, you’ll better communicate them to your spouse.

Part 2: Ask to have your needs met.  Not demand.  Not order.  Not control.  When you’re in a loving mood (keep in mind that loving is your natural state and you can get into that mood at any moment you choose; just watch a cute kitten video on You Tube and tell me if I’m wrong), sit down with your spouse, look him deeply in the eyes, caress his face, and lovingly ask for what you need WITHOUT expecting that he jump up in that second to prove his love by getting it done in that minute.  Ask, trust that it will get done, and move on to the next thing.  You’d be surprised how trust (of the self and your spouse) mixed with affection and love do the trick EVERY time.

Now I have a couple questions for you…

Knowing these 3 tips can save your peace of mind.  Taking action on these 3 steps TODAY  will change your life.

Having read this post, what steps will you take to get marital peace? 

Which of the 3 steps resonated with you most and what do you plan to do about what you’ve learned here?

Reveal what you plan to do in the comments below.  I’m always checking and commenting 🙂

Women Breadwinners & Romantic Love: What Stage are You In? (Read Time: 3 min.)

couple 13What do you do when your marriage feels more like work and less like play?  How do you make a good marriage great when you barely have time for a regular date night?  What can you do to bring the love back to the life you’ve built with your spouse?

It begins by knowing what stage of romantic love you’re in.

If the honeymoon is long gone and the spontaneity out the window and the last REAL date night is a date you can’t even remember, you may be in a stage of romantic love that doesn’t feel romantic at all.  In her book “This Old Spouse”, Sharyn Wolf talks about the four stages of romantic love:

  1. Stage One: The Idealization Phase- In other words, “You are the most wonderful, amazing person I’ve ever known.  Even your annoying aspects thrill me!”  Remember that?  Remember when your spouse could do no wrong?  When even the annoying things were so endearing?  This phase is the first and it lasts the shortest length of time.  When the honeymoon’s over, you know it.
  2. Stage Two: The Disappointment Phase- You get that your partner is human but their quirks are getting to be a bit much.  Instead of working on the house, you find yourself mentally working on them… and you want your partner to change (and change fast!).
  3. Stage Three: The Devaluation Phase- You’ve stopped trying to fix your spouse.  You’re fed up, sick of nothing changing and the only conclusion you can come to is that the problem is not the relationship; it’s him.  You’re looking for the exit door and the longer you stay, the more you become convinced that out is the only way to happiness.
  4. Stage Four: The Pride and Appreciation Phase- You see the problems.  You know the issues.  You’re choosing to be committed to building something stronger than what currently exists.  You get that marriage is work and that it’s not all going to be roses and candy.  Instead of complaining about what’s not working, you focus on what is and you do the work of seeing your partner as being on the same team (and not an opponent).  You come out of this stage knowing that you stayed the course, you did the work, and the marriage that has resulted is the product of time, wisdom, and commitment, not whim and fancy.  Most people don’t make it to this stage.  They decide in Stage 3 that the “other” person is the problem, drop him like it’s hot and find out that the next person is the same problem in different packaging.

As women breadwinners, it’s critical to look at your marriage through the lens of these four stages.  When you know what stage you’re in, you know what’s coming down the road and you’re better able to cope with it.  Rather than going by emotion or circumstance, you can look at the marriage within the context of the phase you’re in and make a conscious decision about what you’ll do next.

Keep in mind one thing: 

The notion of “soulmate” is relative.  In other words, there is no such thing as a perfect partner but there are people out there who could be perfect for you.

Before you decide that your marriage is over or that your spouse is not the one for you, check the romantic stage you’re in.  At the end of the day, the lesson you refuse to learn with one person you are doomed to repeat with the next.

Choose to get the lesson THIS  time around.

#thatisall