Category Archives: Blog

8 Reasons Why Romantic Relationships Fail Over and Over and Over and …..

We are all familiar with the pattern. The relationship starts out amazingly great, but ends in pain and misery. When relationships fail time and again, it’s best to remember that despite our initial rationalization, the world is not full of losers. Rather, the serial failing relationships usually is indicative that we’re just rotten pickers.

I don’t say this for the purpose of trying to make people feel badly. Rather, people can feel empowered, knowing they have the ability to examine their selection process, and why they are chronically drawn to the wrong type of mate.

Eight top reasons for repeated relationship failures include:

1. Not looking at the person’s past behavior. Past behavior is typically the best indicator of future behavior. Pay attention as to how s/he left past relationships. Is s/he kind to others? What is his or her relationship with family members/colleagues/neighbors?

2. Failure to ask questions. Is s/he forthcoming about his past issues? If not, what is s/he hiding? Do you really want to marry someone without first knowing about their 4 ex’s, 2 bankruptcies and current parole violation?

3. Letting chemistry do the picking. Physical attraction starts in the brain. If your feelings for the person decline, so likely will the physical attraction. You are then left with nothing. S/he won’t look quite so hot when the relationship is ‘not’.

4. Expecting the person to change. If you marry a smoker, you must expect a lifetime of living with a smoker. If your potential spouse is too attached to his/her parent, and hasn’t matured beyond the parental-child dependencies, accept that relationship as is. It is unlikely to change after marriage. Lasting changes occur because they see the need to change for themselves, rather than because they are smitten with their loved one.

5. No shared values. You don’t need to be attached at the hip, sharing the same activities. Having the time to pursue your own interests can serve to prevent stagnation and boredom from setting in to your relationship. However, if you do not share a compatible value system, you are likely to encounter non-negotiable conflicts. This will be evidenced in spending and saving money, raising children and respect for one another.

6. Avoiding loneliness. The alarm on your biological clock is ringing, all your friends are paired up, and you are tired of the dating scene. Marrying the decent but not-for-you person will not be an antidote for loneliness. Worse yet, you will likely find yourself lonely within a committed relationship.

7. Falling in love with the idea of love. Building a life together means preventing fantasies from being confused with the relationship realities. No one can ever live up to the expectations and perfections of fantasies. Worse yet, fantasy love inhibits the openness that is required for two people to come together and see each other as wonderful, unique people.

8. Moving too fast. It is only natural that we have our ‘party manners’ on during the beginning of a relationship. We act our best, put out our finest appearance, and are generously tolerant of our partner’s peculiar behaviors. What we forget to recognize is that the same is occurring with the other person. Relationships have natural cycles, and it is imperative that the friendship and trust be allowed to grow over time. Ignoring the fact that the ‘honeymoon phase’ of perfection will come to an end can result in regrettable premature life changing decisions such as impulsive geographical moves, pregnancies, or rushed marriages being made.

I encourage readers to add your own personal experiences, and what you learned about improving your romantic selection skills.

Eileen Lenson

Retirement: Too Important to Gamble On

Ask people the requirements for a successful retirement, and most will unfailingly say “money”!

But is money the only ingredient that will provide for a satisfactory retirement? Will money alone secure happiness? My experience is that retirement is only one fourth of the recipe for a successful retirement. The remaining components are emotional, social, and physical aspects of one’s life.

Workers are instructed to begin planning for their retirement from the first available opportunity. They invest in retirement plans, meet regularly with their financial planner, and monitor their investments, all in an attempt to keep on track for reaching the financial resources they believe they will need to make their retirement a success. Once that magic number is obtained, they retire.

People are living longer in retirement than ever before, thanks to improvement in nutrition and healthcare. Thus, it is all the more critical to plan for not just the few years that our grandparents experienced post retirement, but perhaps decades of retirement. The following tips will help you avoid gambling away the opportunity to guarantee a successful retirement:

Recognize the value that work has in your life. In retirement, roles change overnight. No longer are you faced with daily schedules that are directed by others. While this can be refreshing, the other side of the coin is that you risk having no daily schedule, unless directed by you. You worked hard to be respected and valued at work, and as such developed an identity tied to a hierarchy in the work place. Stepping into retirement means to be entering an undefined role.

Assess the impact retirement will have on your marriage. After years of being away from home typically 10 hours per day, the adjustment to a couple’s lifestyle is significant. You and your spouse will be coming together much like two newlyweds. Some wives have been heard to say, “I married him for breakfast and dinner, not for lunch.” Issues of privacy, household responsibilities, and role changes need to be openly discussed with your spouse prior to retirement.

Know that retirement is not an everlasting vacation. You’re retiring from your job, not your life. After a period of time, you will need to find a new sense of purpose in life. Trust me, despite our fantasies, basking in the Caribbean sun every day while sipping margaritas gets boring after a while. You need to find happiness in emotionally satisfying relationships, mental stimulation, and meaningful activities.

Identify activities that interest you but previously did not have the time to pursue. Unfortunately, people often make the mistake of getting involved in new activities only after they have retired. If possible, start getting involved with these activities while still employed. This will help prevent a void in your life when you retire. After all, it may take some trial and error to discover activities that are right for you.

Examine the rewards in developing a deeper spirituality. Along with all the benefits of retirement come the inevitable losses of meaningful relationships. Investing time in your place of worship can serve multiple purposes. A strong spiritual base can offer you the opportunity to make new friendships, find a supportive base during dark periods, and provide you with new avenues of learning and appreciation of life.

Success in retirement will not occur without your active planning. You cannot assume your retirement will be on the same path as others you know, as success will be dependent upon your own needs, lifestyle, and personality.

Transitioning from employee to retiree is a journey in experimentation. Actively planning on how you will spend your retirement – rather than gambling on hope and a wish – will bring emotional satisfaction and happiness. Planning will result in the creation of new opportunities, accomplishment of goals that previously couldn’t be pursued, connection with individuals and society as a whole, and discovery of a new sense of purpose.

Please share your own ideas, concerns and experiences with regard to your own retirement.

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Eileen Lenson

Teaching Our Children About Love

Children establish their first feeling of belonging from their family unit. The family relationships, which provide the experiences of loving and being loved, establish roots for our children. The warmth, love and security found in the early formation of these close relationships help build our children’s sense of security for life. The children grow up feeling secure in the belief that others will be there for them, not only for companionship and enjoyment, but also when difficult times occur. These feelings of belonging give children the personal strength to take the necessary risks, trusting that the world is a safe place. Much like the long expansive roots providing stability for a tall tree, this sense of belonging will stretch over the course of childhood to include the neighborhood, school, extended family, religious and ethnic group, providing emotional stability.

To truly belong, children must feel needed and depended upon in their family. As is documented in the November 2, 2007 Grand Rounds at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Industrial Revolution has changed the way we parent our children.

Previously, parents needed children to contribute to the household in order for the family unit to survive. Children had to help stock shelves, feed the cattle, care for other family members. In the modern day family, the parents are needed – to drive carpool to school, scout, ballet, and soccer, to make daily meals, and plan the family vacations. The children are passive recipients of all these services rather than being a part of the process of making these things happen.

In today’s society children are separated both emotionally and physically from the parents. Children learn to love their parents, but they do not have the benefit of working alongside them. It is the process of working together that successfully instills values and learning. As parents work miles from the home and come home distracted and exhausted, children all too often receive academic support for their studies from tutors rather than from sitting elbow to elbow with parents at the kitchen table. Children spend their spare time at home on Face Book, texting, and watching television rather than spending time alongside the parents repairing broken items, building things for the home, or taking care of the garden, animals or home. From this separation from parents, children are not learning about true intimacy, for intimacy requires true give and take – not just take.

Without the early experiences of intimacy, our children grow up unable to sustain close and lasting relationships because they fail to learn the give and take of close relationships. This loss of intimacy can result not only from being chronic passive recipients in life, but may be exacerbated by a parental separation or divorce, too many moves, or the loss of close ones. Children are then unprepared for the challenges of marriage and may not be prepared to invest in a truly intimate relationship.

Comfort, luxury and indulgence can all too often rob our children of the ability to learn how to develop emotional intimacy. Emotional intimacy is a key to personal happiness and success. With this knowledge in mind, we can provide the balance to our children of benefiting from growing up in a post-industrial era in which the daily workload from chores is lessened with the awareness that personal wealth and means will never substitute for good old fashioned parent-child interaction.

Article first published as Teaching Our Children About Love on Technorati.

Eileen Lenson

A Big Problem: Over-Indulgence in Parenting

What’s wrong with over-indulgence?
We hear so much about the fact that parents are over-indulging their kids; giving them too much of what they want, or before they’re mature enough for it, that impede the children from realizing their full potential. Over-indulged children become adults that have difficulty fitting into society. They expect immediate gratification, have difficulty owning responsibility for themselves, have an inflated self-esteem, and have difficulty relating to others. Many of the parents I coach want to know how they can avoid this trap and best raise their children to be healthy adults.

Why over-indulgence happens:
Blame it on the times. Times have changed. Years ago, families primarily lived on farms. They worked hard. Roles were clear and the kids had a clear sense of what was expected of them. The extended family helped reinforce the family values.

Today, most families live in cities or suburbs. Children don’t have hard work to do at home. Some don’t even have basic chores. The children have constant exposed to the media, which perpetuates the message that they must to have all their superficial needs met. Parents, meanwhile, experience stress because the extended family is usually separated by hundreds of miles, and they have no support. Children grow up not understanding the difference between a want and a need. And unfortunately, sometimes nor do the parents.

Turning off the over-indulgence faucet:
Parents can interrupt the over-indulgence cycle at any given moment. They simply need to evaluate the following:
1. The amount of material things are given to their kids
2. The amount of activities they have them in
3. The establishment and enforcement of rules and chores in the home
4. Whether they are doing things for their children that they should be achieving on their own

Parenting skills can be improved by ensuring that children aren’t just kept busy, but rather that their emotional needs are met as well. Working parents sometimes feel guilty about being away from the home for long periods of time and try to make up for the lost time with material goods. The children benefit more from parental involvement. Tending to children’s emotional needs, even on the limited time available each day, is quality time well spent.

It is a competitive world out there, and even parents of elementary school aged children are anxious about their children getting accepted into college. As a result, they sometimes are tempted to overdo the help at home; be it a project or an essay. Remembering that children are more than a GPA, they will do best in life if they learn self-reliance. Discovering their own independence might also mean that they have to struggle with an academic issue until they learn for themselves how to master it. Do not try to rescue children from painful learning experiences such as homework. Parents cannot follow their children into college. Letting them learn the school lessons at home while growing up will prepare them for success at a later stage of life.

Parents sometimes live vicariously through their children. Missed opportunities in their childhood can cause them to try to make up for them through their children. The result can be compromising to the integrity, safety, or growing independence of children.

What Our Kids Really Need:
1. Children will grow up well if they learn that “no” means “no”.
2. They need to be given discipline, and it is acceptable – even expected – that they will be unhappy about it.
3. Children need to learn that it is safe to share their feelings. They will learn from observing parents doing so comfortably in their presence.
4. Children need to be able to make mistakes. I truly believe that is why they live with us for their first 18 or so years. They can fail at things but the parents will be there to help them process what went wrong, making it a growth experience.

If we look back at the parenting we received, and honestly examine the positives and negatives, then we can incorporate these experiences into the parenting that we provide to our children.

Eileen Lenson

4 Ways To Deal With Difficult People

Regrettably, there’s no escaping difficult people who are argumentative or negative. They are everywhere; at family gatherings, at our children’s soccer games, in the work place, and on the highways. We cannot control the behavior of other people – including the difficult ones. What we can control is how we choose to react to such people.

1. Don’t allow yourself to be baited. Sometimes other people are at an unhappy place in their lives, and want to bring others into the same negative place with them. (more…)

Eileen Lenson

8 Ways to Prepare for the Empty Nest

The time comes, usually when one’s children reach 18 years of age, when parents are faced with the reality of the children moving out of the home. Some parents look forward to that day. After all, the teenage years are often filled with arguments, raging hormones, power struggles and family disharmony. For these parents, the idea of peace in the home is a welcome respite. However, other parents are not ready to face the reality of the children they have nurtured, loved and cared so deeply for over the previous 18 years to be moving out of the family home.

Lovingly let them go explore. Recognize that they are at a stage in their lives in which they can now truly begin to explore who they are. To do so means to establish some distance from the parents. Yes, distancing from the very same parents who tended to every playground injury, drove carpool to school, soccer games and art class, planned birthday party after birthday party, and worried about drugs, driving and dating. (more…)

Eileen Lenson