Is Your Pride Hijacking Your Health? Why Women Breadwinners Need to Stop, Look, & Listen… (Read Time: 4 min.)

School 8I used to insist upon doing it all: myself, right, and perfect the FIRST time.

I used to expect, on the rare occasion that I asked for help, that people did it just like me, right, and perfect the FIRST time.

I used to shake my head in absolute knowing when people let me down, didn’t show up or didn’t do what I wanted to my super high standards.

And then I experienced serious, prolonged, and seemingly never-ending burnout… and I was left with no other choice but to ask AND accept help… REAL help.

Women breadwinners know what I’m talking about.  99.9% of all moms know what I’m talking about.

You want help.  You desperately wish people would psychically know that you need help… but you refuse to bow to the level of needing to ASK for help.

It’s this kind of pride that winds you up in one of three states:

1) Crazy

2) Sick

3) Mega-resentful

And, very often, in all three at the same time.

So here’s the question:

Is your pride hijacking your health?

Is your wanting to do it right, do it perfect, and do it yourself the FIRST time exactly the thing that is keeping you annoyed, frustrated, exhausted, overworked, and overwhelmed ALL of the time?

It might be… and if you are the woman who’s bringing home the bacon, the financial provider of your household with all of the responsibilities that this role entails, what will it take for you to release, relax, and replenish so you have the health you need to keep bringing home the bread?

Here’s what it will take:

  1. Honesty.  Pull out a calendar and see how far your 24 hour day will take you.  When you’ve got 50 things on your plate, guess what?  It won’t take you that far.  In fact, you’ll be lucky if you get 3 MAJOR things done in one day.  When you get honest with how little time you actually have in a given day (yes, subtract out bathroom time, commuting time, and all the other 5-20 minute tasks we love to forget we actually have to do throughout the day), you start to realize that, no, it won’t all get done today but at least two or three big things will get done.  When you get real about your time, you begin to use it better (and criticize yourself less about all the things you didn’t have the time to do).
  2. Vulnerability.  I don’t like this word.  It sounds fragile, weak and painfully open but it’s clearly the thing you need when you have to open up your heart and ask people to REALLY help you.  I don’t mean the “let-me-give-you-the-small-tasks-that-you-couldn’t-really-mess-up-if-you-tried” kind of help.  I mean, “Can you watch the kids all day Saturday?” or “Can you cook all the meals this week?” or “Can you stay with the kids while I take a weekend away?” kind of help that requires the vulnerability it takes to say, “As much as I’d like to do this all on my own, I’m not an island.  I’m tired and I need help and your help is absolutely necessary to my success.”  That kind of vulnerability is scary but VERY necessary if you’re going to stay healthy and sane.
  3. Vigilance.  There comes a point where you have to become a master of two words: Yes and No.  Creating and keeping healthy boundaries are critical to keeping your life in harmony.  Forget about having balance.  The problem with balance is that it can never be maintained.  The moment you add one thing to one scale, you throw the other scale out of whack.  What we’re going for is harmony, different things taking a different level of priority at different times but all of it blending together to make beautiful music.  Sometimes, work will take 70% of you and family 30%.  At other times, family will be the 80% and work the 20%.  Be okay with harmony and forget about balance.  The best way to do that comes in being vigilant about creating and keeping your healthy boundaries.

Having all three is a work-in-progress lifetime process.  Don’t worry about getting it perfect.  Just get it going.

Here’s your first step:

Delegate a major responsibility that annoys and frustrates you to someone who you know can and will handle it…

and then don’t micromanage how they handle it…

for the next 14 days.

Yeah… not easy but oh so worth it…

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Ever have a moment where you forgot who you ARE? (Read Time: 4 min.)

Kass Pic 1I haven’t posted in the last few weeks.  Every time I looked at my blog editorial calendar, I thought to myself, “I have nothing to say.”  Women breadwinners, female breadwinners, sole breadwinners, women breadwinners and money, love, marriage, kids… so many topics and I had absolutely nothing to say.  Nada… Nothing… Not a thing…

Until today.  I can’t explain what changed or what happened but it took me the last month to return to myself… and I didn’t even realize that I’d been missing.

Ever have a moment where you forgot who you are?

Not your name, date of birth, occupation, or the basic everyday labels of life but the essence of who you are, the spirit that’s within you, the inner fires that still burn bright… Ever forget that they’re there?  I did… and it took me some time to figure out A- what was missing and B- how to return it to its rightful place.

So, here are 5 things I’ve RE-discovered (and I hope it helps you rediscover something in yourself as well):

1) I have an awesome capacity to make s*it happen and happen brilliantly, completely, and with absolute excellence.  Not only had I forgotten that fact about myself but, looking back, I realize that I’ve been dimming the light on that part of my brilliance (in part, to make others feel okay being around me) for a WHILE.   So I’m going to stop that effective IMMEDIATELY.  I’m brilliant and anybody who doesn’t like that fact can take it where? BACK THERE…  #nuffsaid

2) I need more adventure in my life.  Somewhere along the pursuit of stability, predictability, and a sense of security, I forgot that I’m an adventurer at heart.  I like to take risks.  I like to have fun.  I NEED adventure.  Whether that’s going on an actual safari or treating a Target shopping trip like it is one, I need the chase.  So I’m adding more of that to my life.

3) I have no time for people, situations or things that have more interest in whining than growing.  There’s a time to vent and throw pity parties.  I do it.  Everybody does and I am quickly learning to separate those people who share frustration from those who live as victims and, effective immediately, all those who enjoy victimhood will not find time in my inner circle.  Being picky about who you hang out with is critical to success and, somehow, I was getting less picky in the last five years and hadn’t even realized it.  So now I’m doing an inner circle inventory and if a person’s not rowing in the boat with me, if they’re drilling holes as I row the boat, they are getting a one hour notice: bye bye!

4) I can accomplish more faster than I was giving myself credit for.  This is linked to epiphany #1 but it’s different.  I have spent the last five years going through some major ups and downs and, all the while, I spent a lot of the time babying myself, cushioning my back for a fall.  That’s a great skill for a therapist but it’s not a great attribute for a person looking to succeed in a life that will ALWAYS have ups and downs.  I challenged myself this week to do 2.5 hours of exercise a day knowing that I’ve been sedentary for the last three years.  I told myself, “My body can do this.  I’ve done this before.  No easing into it… Just get it done and your body will back you on it.”  And my body has.  For most of this week, I’ve woken up, gotten straight into my gym clothes and worked out for 2.5 hours STRAIGHT.  And I feel amazing!  Oftentimes, we baby ourselves into a state of mediocrity.  And this isn’t about tough love; it’s about living up to your capacity of strength, agility, and performance.  If you’re not doing that, you’re not growing.

5) Smelling good, dressing impeccably, and sporting high heels are critical factors to my self-esteem.  Having spent the past few years in sweats and sneakers, I can tell you that I am ready for an extreme Kassandra makeover.  I forgot what it felt like to strut out daily in 3 inch heels and a sweaterdress smelling like Chanel No. 5 and feeling absolutely impeccable.  I’m working a plan to bring that back so between the gym, Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, Chanel, Gilt.com, and a really great hairdresser, I’m bringing my sexy back!

These five discoveries were HUGE for me… game changers… and it’s brought back a level of creativity, focus and joy that had been missing for some time.

Is it hard work?  Yes.  Anything worth having is…

Am I in the “arrival stage of it”?  No.  Life is evolution.  I’m never going to “arrive.”  I’m simply choosing to re-introduce me to ME, get back to HER, and enjoy life for what it is… Hope you’re doing the same!

Baby or Business? (Read Time: 4 min.)

mother 2The more time I spend on this journey to having more children, the clearer it becomes that conceiving a baby and birthing a business have opposing needs.  I know there are women who’ve been where I am, building the business that I’m building, and have gotten pregnant, carried twins, and given birth, all while keeping the company flag waving… but I am having trouble keeping 100% dedication to birthing a business AND a baby.

This post is for all the women breadwinners out there who are considering having a baby (first, last or somewhere in the middle)…

I want to get my body geared up for pregnancy… really I do.  But the idea of 7-9 hours of sleep a night, giving up caffeine, getting plenty of sunlight, rest, reducing stress, cleaning up my eating, and following a regular exercise regime all feel and seem contradictory to what it takes to build a 7 figure business as you have other children, other priorities, and other commitments.  I keep waiting for more time to open up… it doesn’t.  I keep hoping I’ll find that “magic pill” or that “magic book” that will give me the 4 hour workweek I need to get it all done… hasn’t shown up yet.  And the one thing that keeps radiating inside of me is something I’m refusing to listen to:

Something’s gotta give…

Yup, I hate that.  I remember when I wanted to conceive my second son.  I lived that truth.  I wanted a baby so badly that I changed my life, my eating, became a personal trainer, dropped 70 pounds, gave up coffee, and got in the best shape of my life just so I could have a shot at getting pregnant… and I did get pregnant… twice.

But, now, years older and with less biological clock time than I had before and more goals than ever, I find myself at a crossroads about what to do.  I’m constantly running the different scenarios in my mind and asking, “Can I REALLY put A down to make room for B?”  And I’m on the fence about it…

At some point, I’m going to be 80-something years old and I’m going to sit in my rocking chair and look back on my entire life… and what will I see?

Will I care, at 80, about the various blog posts I didn’t put up on the site?

Will I be concerned about all the extra hours I didn’t put into the business?

Or will I look back and regret the fact that I gave up my most fertile, reproductive years in pursuit of a level of professional attainment that I had the rest of my life to attain…

See, that puts EVERYTHING into proper perspective.

So I know what I need to do.  I know WHY I need to do it.  The question is:

Will I listen this time and do it?

The jury’s still out on that one.

#tobecontinued…

Whose baggage are you carrying? (Read time: 6 min.)

School 7I was reading an article about female breadwinners.  It talked about the way in which the husbands of these breadwinners felt emasculated and, as a result, the breadwinning wives carried around with them unspoken guilt about their husband’s loss of identity… and it left me wondering:

Whose baggage are you carrying?

I get the mommy guilt, the woman breadwinner resentment, the wanting Superman and finding bliss with Clark Kent.  What I don’t get is why we continue to have this dialogue about how women breadwinners have tougher marriages, greater divorces, and spend less time mothering their children… all because they make at least 60% of the annual household income.

How do you win in a society that says “Damn you for being successful!” on the one hand and “Damn you for being dependent!” on the other?

How is it that women have come so far and still they carry with them other people’s baggage, other people’s issues, and other people’s guilt?

Is it not enough that we carry and bear children, that we’ve spent thousands of years being dominated, treated like property, and tossed aside like trash?

Isn’t it time we put away the old paradigm of expecting men to be bullet proof and women to be soft as silk?

The answer is yes.  But if women breadwinners continue to carry their spouses’ baggage, their boyfriends’ hangups, and their partners’ insecurities, don’t we keep sending the message that women breadwinning is somehow wrong and that the women who do it are, in many ways, committing a societal sin?

Women are breadwinners because they can be, because they want to be, and, in many instances, because they HAVE to be.

This is a sign of forward movement, not a symptom of societal decay.

It is not a woman breadwinner’s job to “make” her partner feel more like a man nor is it his role to become her maid, her housekeeper, or her babysitter.  We aren’t talking about two people who happen to be roommates.  We’re talking about two people who signed up for the same journey, who agreed to enjoy the ride, and who decided that they were stronger together than they were apart.  That means you love who you’re with.  It means you support their highest potential.  It translates into focusing on what makes the relationship work, not what makes the parntership suffer.

We’ve come so far… and, yet, we haven’t.

I remember in college, as women, we were told, “You can have it all!”

What “they” didn’t say is that “having it all” isn’t always a win.

Sometimes when you win, you lose… and, sometimes, when you lose, you win…

So what do you do when you’re tired of carrying around other people’s shame, guilt, anger, frustration, and resentment?

1) You let other people’s  baggage go.  You do this by not making anyone else’s emotional hang-ups, opinions, or concerns your own.  Be very clear about what you think of your woman breadwinner status.  When someone comes your way with negativity, separate their issues from your beliefs.  Say to yourself, “I’m not taking them or that comment personally” and then move on to something more positive.  Change the topic of conversation.  Focus on your goals.  Ask them to stop the negativity.  Walk away if you have to.  Someone can attempt to hand you their baggage but you get to decide whether or not you accept it.

2) You stop defining your life by your role.  You may fill the role of a woman breadwinner but a woman breadwinner is not who you REALLY are.  People like labels because they like to arrange their worlds in neat, tidy categories.  You don’t have to be one of those compartments.  Nobody is their title.  You can decide here, today, that while you might fulfill the role of a breadwinner, you are so much more than that.  You are not your stuff and you are certainly not your breadwinning title.  Begin to define your life by  WHO you are, not WHAT you do… and the title (woman breadwinner) loses all stigma and all unnecessary pressure.

3) You start enjoying your life AND your role.  Bask in the freedoms you have that your great-grand mothers didn’t.  Enjoy what it means to experience financial and professional freedom.  Give thanks that you’re a woman who lives in an age where your influence, freedom, and power have never been more available to you.  Instead of making this role your job, see it as ONE of your callings. Be present to all the gifts and blessings that come with running your own show.  Forget about the cost.  No matter how you slice it, it’s better on the side of financial, professional and personal freedom.

4) You continue to speak the truth about your experience of the journey.  No more shame, blame, or guilt about days when you don’t love your role.  Some days you won’t.  No more apologizing for being brave, brilliant and daring.  You were born that way.  Why apologize now?  No more acting as if you wish it were the Leave it to Beaver decade.  Talk to your grandmother.  You don’t.  Tell the truth about your experience of this role and don’t shy away from being candid about both the ups and the downs.  Our daughters and granddaughters will either benefit from your wisdom or learn painfully from your silence.  You get to choose…

And, above all, NEVER believe that your power costs anyone else their own.

 It is the most insidious lie society has ever told and they tell it so strongly about women.

Men don’t apologize for being brave.  Why would we ever apologize for being strong?

Run your show, own your value, and speak your truth…

#sherunstheshow

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

I Committed a Woman Breadwinner Sin This Morning… (Read Time: 3 min.)

Starbucks 1ralphs picYup, I did… committed a woman breadwinner MAJOR NO-NO this morning…

On a regular basis, I remind my woman breadwinner clients to do three things:

1) Create joy by creating time

2) Create time by delegating tasks

3) Delegate tasks by creating rituals, schedules, and routines that offer both efficiency AND fun

Each client is different and we’ll do that in a different way.  However, one of the core things I say often is: “Don’t get sidetracked during your day!”  Don’t… as in don’t get sucked into going to Wal-Mart to spend $5.00 and come out having spent 2 hours and $300.00.  Don’t meet your friend for a cup of coffee when you know you deserve some ME time, thinking it will be 30 minutes and wind up going to JoAnne’s Fabrics with her and helping her pick out new curtain prints for three hours.  Don’t decide to do a mini-clean up of the house for 15 minutes and, three hours later, feel further behind in work and more pissed off at family than you needed to be if you’d just left the living room messy.  Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t…

And so what do I do this morning?

Drop the kids off at school thinking, “I’ll just run to Ralphs and pick up a few groceries… Quick stop.”  Uh huh… A Ralphs, Starbucks, put gas-in-the-car because the car was on E, lug groceries in the door hour later, I’m home with coffee, groceries, and gas but I just lost an hour of my life that could’ve been used elsewhere… Yes, I’m lecturing myself right now.

Bottom line:

Efficiency creates time and time creates space and space creates a life you love to look at.  Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

And when you mess up, like I did today, sip your Americano, write a blog post, and begin again 🙂

Thank God for Starbucks!

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

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!

Women Breadwinners & Infertility: How to Not Go Crazy Over the Miracle You Can’t Control… (Read Time: 4 min.)

mom and babyI experienced secondary infertility at the age of 21.  That’s not what doctors call it when you’re 21.  When you’re in your 20s, they call it “Ah, you’re just fine” or “Oh, give it time” or “Just relax and it’ll happen” but they rarely, at 21, call it infertility.  Fast-forward four years and I was pregnant (without fertility treatments) with baby #2.  But, the doctors considered the pregnancy high risk at that point because, at 25, they said, “You have a history of infertility.”  Ok… so now they admit it?  Baby #2 arrived when I was 26 and I rushed to go for baby #3.  I figured, “I’m not getting any younger and if it’s going to take 4 years, I might as well start now.”  So, when baby #2 was weaned at a year, I began the infertility journey… only to get pregnant 2 months later.  Easy breezy, right?  Not exactly.  Somewhere in second trimester, a test came back indicating that baby #3 might have Downs Syndrome.  I nearly had a nervous breakdown.  From the uncertainty of it all (they can’t officially tell you if your baby has Downs until he/she is born) to the lack of care on the part of the medical industry (at one high tech ultrasound, they asked me if I wanted to abort the baby- SERIOUSLY?), I was a mess.  And baby #3 was born PERFECTLY healthy…  I was 28.

Fast forward 7 years and I am now the mother of 3 children: 15, 8 and 6, remarried, and, at 35, anxious to experience motherhood again… only this time I will have to use in vitro to achieve it.  So… back to that wonderful infertility diagnosis?  I guess so.

One of the greatest lessons of this entire infertility experience has been to accept what I cannot control.  I’m a recovering perfectionist, a Type A on one hand and a Type B on the other.  I like to have what I want when I want it.  Who doesn’t?  But going through infertility taught me that some jobs are God jobs.  There’s no planning it, programming it, demanding it or willing it into existence.  It occurs in its own way on its own schedule.  For a woman breadwinner who’s so clear on how to achieve any and everything, this is one of the hardest lessons you will ever learn.  With 14 years of the infertility rollercoaster under my belt, here are some tips I’ve acquired in how to NOT go crazy over the miracle of conception, pregnancy, labor and deliver you CAN’T control:

Tip #1: Be selective about who you share your infertility journey with.  Not everybody gets what it’s like to want something so badly, to see other people have it so easily, and to not be able to do things like go to baby showers without crying or watch movies about new mommies without doubting whether that will ever be you.  While you may want to let everyone know what you’re going through or have people comfort you, not everyone is capable of doing that.  In fact, some people are downright callous when it comes to infertility or they say stupid crap that plants more seeds of doubt in your mind.  Do not allow it.  Guard your heart, guard your mind, and be selective about who you share this journey with.

Tip #2: Stop blaming yourself for this.  Nobody knows why most infertility occurs.  No matter who’s got the issue (and many times, it’s a husband related or male factor problem), blame will not get you what you want.  Guilt is a wasted emotion.  Instead of blame, shame and guilt, use your Type A, overachieving strength to find all of the information you can on your options and find a way to see this experience as bringing you constantly closer to the miracle of life you seek.  Your faith that this will happen is the strongest asset you own.  Do not remove your focus from that.  Remember: focus on your assets, not your liabilities.

Tip #3: Go on with life.  I spent far too many years putting my life on hold waiting for a baby to come.  I put too much energy (esp. in the beginning) focusing on what to eat, prepping a nursery for a baby who wasn’t even here, and all of the stuff that I thought would make me “ready” for a child.  Don’t do that.  Your life is meant to be lived, enjoyed, and it’s supposed to be fulfilling, whether or not a child ever shows up.  Live your life for you and, at the same time, keep your heart open for the space that a new life will fill.  Children choose their parents so whichever soul is supposed to come to you, they know you by name.  They never believe that you’ve forgotten them or that you have no room for them.  In fact, they know exactly when they are supposed to show up for you.  Trust that and go out into the world truly loving and enjoying the life you have right now.  When I was going through infertility, one of the clear messages that came to me was this: You’ve been given time; cherish it.  Three children later, I can’t tell you how powerful that wisdom was.  Between girl scouts, cub scouts, swim team, college prep, and every other part of life, I no longer have the time now that I had back then.  Cherish the time you have.

Tip #4: Be happy for those who have the blessing you seek.  This is a tough one, especially when you’ve worked so hard in your life to do everything “right”, to be fully “ready” for a child and you turn on the news and here’s another story of a teen mom who drops her baby in a garbage can or a crazy mom who has eleven babies she can’t afford.  It’s enough to drive a person crazy!  However, that energy will not bring forth new life.  What you give out comes back to you.  Whatever it is you seek, you have to be willing to give.  No matter who it is, when you see someone who’s pregnant or just had a baby or has small children, think in your mind (and believe in your heart): “Thank you God for this sign that if it can happen for her, it can happen for me.”  Amen…

If you use these four tips, your life will be filled with peace, love and joy.  You’ll usher in new life with more ease and a greater sense of well-being.  Woman breadwinner or not, infertility is not something you can control but it is an experience of life you can receive a lot from.  Be open to it and cherish the time you’ve been given.  After all, dirty diapers and 2 hours of sleep a night waits for no woman!

Tell me about your infertility journey. 

Where are you in the process? 

How are you coping with wait?

What keeps you strong?

What are you struggling with most?

I’d love to hear from you!