Sunday, April 30, 2017

Adapting to Change

The world around us is constantly changing and life is measured by the milestones of change. We are in varying states of transition as we adapt to our evolution of life. There is birth, death, divorce, careers and daily changes with schedules, friendships, children and the needs of the family as we age. Anticipating change can become a natural part of life and an opportunity for personal growth.  Learning how to accept change can decrease your stress, worry, and physical or mental duress.

Phases of change

As children our parents protected us from change as it was associated with loss. Understanding that change can be a positive concept will open your mind to the possibility of the transition you are facing. Learning to accept change is an acquired skill because it is a challenge to your old belief system. It can cause a break from your routine or shift your priorities to create a complete transformation to your lifestyle. This can generate a range of emotions from fear of the unknown to anxiety, anger or even excitement.

Professional and Engineering Projects (PEP) is a consulting company that will help organizations modify their structure to produce growth. They believe there are five stages of change that we progress through. There is shock, denial, depression, insight, and learning. Once you receive the initial shock of what the change will mean to you the negativity and resistance will occupy your thoughts. You will not want to leave your “comfort zone” and attempt to avoid making the necessary adjustments. Depression is the turning point to acceptance as you realize the options are limited. Insight will bring you the vision of what needs to be reorganized for success. The learning will then evolve with the change of attitude and belief system.

Success of adapting to change

Learning the skill of accepting change will help you to face all challenges and emerge from them stronger, wiser and more self-confident. Allow yourself the time to process your options. Try to modify any black and white thinking by finding a compromise when possible. Then self-check your resistance, as you establish goals to move forward. Act or behave how you visual the transformation and begin to celebrate your small victories of accomplishments. Having the appropriate coping skills can increase your happiness in all areas of your life and relationships. Moving forward can give you a sense of order and purpose to life. This can allow you to perceive tomorrow as a new day of possibilities.   

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Turn Defeat Into a Win

In a society where winning is everything…..defeat is looked upon as losing. Failing at something can also be very discouraging. Many people who encounter a set back will give up easily. The more failures that a person encounters the less willing they are, to try again. When a person experiences defeat their self-esteem is attacked and their feelings of loss can overwhelm the confidence to persevere. At some point during our life journey, failure is unavoidable despite our best efforts. 


 The educational process of your child isn’t just about grades. It’s a time of learning about yourself…..your strengths and weaknesses. You learn about your character, morals, and values that are important to you and how you face the challenges of life. Failure is unavoidable yet very few parents take the time to help their children understand the process of learning from defeat. It’s an opportunity to build on what was learned from the downfall so that the next time they are faced with the situation they have a chance at being more successful.

We all want our children to win but teaching them how to cope with setbacks are just as important. The more opportunities children pursue to learn new skills, the more encounters of defeat they will have in the beginning. There is a learning curve to every new experience. The more a skill is practiced, the better we become at it. Parents should lead their children by example on how to move forward after encountering an obstacle. There are many ways to achieve the goal and a multitude of ways to get there.


Failures are unavoidable……despite our best efforts it is part of the learning process. Patience is the key to success. You must have patience with yourself and patience with those who are working to achieve their goal. It doesn’t matter how many tries it took to accomplish the goal. The important thing to remember is how you finish and what you experienced from the journey to get there.

First give your children time to process the disappointment. Then praise them for their good effort and the strengths they conveyed while trying. Listen attentively while they express their pain without criticizing. They will need your emotional support and comfort during this time. When they are ready encourage them to try again and analyze what went wrong so they can improve next time. With your love and support you can help your children turn defeat into confidence.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Marriage and Money Management

One of the most difficult things to agree on in a relationship is how to manage the finances. In most relationships one person is responsible for budgeting and paying the bills on time. Blended families have a more complex system with additional burdens of child support, alimony, and future college bills to consider. Louis Scatigna author of The Financial Physician believes that couples should manage their money together. He states that the best option is for the couple to sit down monthly to discuss bills, savings and investment options before writing the checks.  Sharing the financial burden will help the couple shift from “adversaries to teammates who can strategize, motivate, and hold each other accountable” for the spending.

Work together to set goals

A couple that establishes a routine to pay their financial responsibilities together has the advantage to set realistic goals together. Unrealistic expectations can create conflict or make a partner feel like their goals are being sabotaged. The couple should create goals they are both motivated to accomplish. This can be a savings account, family vacation or to purchase larger items like an automobile. If one person is controlling the finances it can create a parent-child dynamic. Kansas State University’s Institute of Personal Financial Planning Kristy Archuleta says, “to rebalance, the parent character has to cede an equal amount of power and responsibility to the child in the relationship, so that they are both acting more like adults together.”

Each couple should have an established dollar amount that they are allowed to spend without consulting their partner.  This can allow the individual to purchase items that are important to them without creating conflict with the partner. Dr. Scott Haltzman author of The Secrets of Happy Families says, “Successful relationships are based on the establishment of trust, and a spend-first/apologize-later strategy feels like a betrayal.” Couples could also create their own accounts for discretionary spending for those purchases that are separate from family goals.

Want or need

When raising a family there always seems to more needs than there is money available. We need to learn how to break the cycle of spending beyond our means of income.  “The people who really have the financial lives they want understand themselves on the inside first,” says Brent Kessel author of It’s Not About the Money. First ask yourself why you want the item. Determine if it is a “want or need”. If it is an impulsive purchase Kessel suggests you ask yourself why you want the item.  Then let the impulse pass so that you avoid creating any feelings of remorse or grief. Learning to establish financial boundaries and maintain your long term financial goals will help maintain a healthy marriage.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Love and Communication

In the beginning phase of a courtship you may have been completely swept off your feet while being ravished by affection and attention. This hyper focus felt intoxicating and romantic but over time has faded. Experts report the top reasons why couple’s separate are communication problems, followed by sexual infidelity and not spending time together. Communication in love relationships is a function of emotional connection. When people feel connected they communicate well. If they feel disconnected they will emotionally detach from each other and communicate poorly.

Where the problems begin

There are certain obvious clues that suggest something is wrong in a relationship, such as abuse and emotional or sexual affairs. The problems that occur most often are usually a combination of more subtle issues that can destroy a relationship. People don’t argue for lack of communication skills. They fight because they feel their partner doesn’t care or isn’t interested any longer.

Communication problems happen because you don’t like what the other person has to say. Even if you’re not talking to each other…’re still communicating. The silence states that you each know that you don’t want to hear what the other person has to say. A constant exchange of negativity can lead to judgmental and critical attacks on one another. This exchange continues to create more distance between the couple until they have little or no desire for sex and spend the majority of their free-time with friends.

With the constant display of disrespect and lack of appreciation displayed in the relationship emotional distance continues to grow. This can create a lack of trust. Your partner may feel a need to check emails, follow you where you go or check-in with who you say you spend time with. This behavior in a relationship can create a lot of tension or feelings of hopelessness. If this is a pattern you experience in your relationship couple’s counseling would be a helpful option to create a plan of repair and how to move forward.

Recreate the connection

Emotional connection is a mental state that begins with a resolve to show compassion and love. When two people discuss the concern openly, the bond of trust increases.  When honesty builds in a relationship you grow as an individual and closer together as a couple. Through this growth you are capable of reaching new intimacy and passion.

Being honest in a relationship involves risk. Living with another person forces you to grow-up and take on new responsibilities that evolve with commitment. Recognize this and the energy it creates. Look at your spouse and see the erotic lover, a passionate friend or simply a partner in life’s adventure. Embrace the possibilities you can create together.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

New Year Optimism

January 1st has arrived and you have probably been contemplating what resolution you might want to attempt this year. Some of the more popular goals people make are to lose weight, stop smoking, find a better job, exercise, or make time to eat better. Whatever resolution you choose, seeing yourself as you want to be is the key to personal growth in 2017.


A study by the American Medical Association found that one in five people will turn their New Year commitment into action. The rest will have good intentions but stop working on their resolution in a few weeks. “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” Carl Bard

First, reflect on this year’s experiences. What did you learn from them? How did you apply this knowledge to create a better life for yourself? Then contemplate what you envision for yourself in the New Year and what steps you need to take to get there.


This year give yourself the gift of love and acceptance. Believe in yourself. You are not a quitter. You are a strong, capable and resilient person. Persevere and you will attain your goal. The first step is to write your goals and intentions down. Then read them aloud daily and to visualize your success.  You should talk to your family and friends about the positive accomplishments that have occurred in your life and be grateful for them. Take small steps to improve yourself by enrolling in a class, read a book, or save money to take the trip that is on your bucket list. Try to prioritize your family first this year and spend quality time together. This will help you to understand each other more and forgive the things that keep peace from entering your life. Being kind to one another is more important than being right as you listen to the other person’s perspective or idea. Finally, have more fun together and enjoy the journey of possibilities that the New Year can bring to your life.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Blending Holiday Traditions

The United States is referred to as the “melting pot” nation where all immigrants and their traditions have blended over the centuries.  Traditions that your family looks forward to each holiday are originally from different cultures around the world.  The Christmas carols we sing are from England.  The tradition of decorating the tree is from Germany and St. Nicholas originated in Scandinavia.  The Netherlands expanded on the myth to have St. Nicolas or Santa Claus fill the stockings hanging over the fireplace.  The United States extended the story adding the sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

Be open to change

Determining how to celebrate the holidays for divorced or blended families can become difficult with schedule conflicts and trying to combine the traditions that were important to their nuclear family.  There are many solutions to the problem if everyone is willing to compromise and experience new traditions.  Communicate with non-custodial parents to make sure the children are present for the festivities that are important to them.  Try to be flexible and alternate the schedules when possible.  Discuss how change can be a positive event when blending your favorite traditions. 

Blending family traditions can be a challenging but rewarding experience.  When all the changes become overwhelming, try to focus on the reason for the Christmas season.  You are not competing with each other but explaining the importance of how your family customs are celebrated.  Traditions are about building special memories so that one day your family rituals will be passed on to future generations.  Acceptance and acknowledging what is really important to the special people in your life will create the holiday you will all want to remember.  

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Boundaries to Have in Extended Relationships

A happy marriage doesn’t keep you safe from infidelity. Good people in good relationships are still vulnerable to being betrayed by their partner. The current statistics for partners who have been sexually unfaithful in their relationship are approximately 25% for women and 50% for men. These statistics increase 10% to 15% more if you include emotional infidelity. Platonic friendships, co-workers, neighbors and old flames run the risk of evolving into a romantic love affair. Here are seven tips that can help maintain safe boundaries in your extended relationships.

1.       Maintain appropriate boundaries in your relationships with those outside your committed partnership by remaining open with your partner and not sharing intimate details of your relationship with others.

2.       Beware of co-worker relationships pushing the boundaries. Don’t dine alone with the same co-worker. You should alternate your time with other co-workers or dine in groups. When traveling, keep meetings in public places and avoid meetings in a room with beds or the hotel bar.

3.       Avoid emotional intimacy with attractive alternatives.

4.       Protect your partnership by spending time with positive couples and make supportive statements about the relationship.

5.       Keep old flames from reigniting. Couples who rekindled romances from first love romances have a 78% rate of staying together.

6.       Create a united front on social media, text messages, snap chat, etc. Allow your partner access to your social media pages and private message discussions to create unity.

7.       Don’t get stuck in comparing possible alternatives when times are difficult. Recognize that attraction to another person is completely normal but fantasizing about that person is not normal and the spiral from thinking about an attractive alternative is detrimental to the relationship. Affairs begin in the mind.

If your relationship is struggling don’t give up. You can rebuild the connection by spending time together and setting future goals you would like to accomplish. This will help you to do small things together that will make deposits into your emotional bank account.  It is important to seek the help of your pastor or counselor when you need a neutral perspective and feel stuck on the same issues.