Category Archives: Marriage

6 Ways For Blended Families To Enjoy The Holidays

Holiday time is family time. But the holidays can be challenging when the family includes one or two sets of step children and two sets of parents. With proper planning, flexibility and a lot of love, the holidays can be a success for all.

1. Discuss financial concerns. Often times the men are supporting two families, and money is tighter as a result. Adults need to come up with a workable budget. Gifts can be homemade, coupons for a parent and child to spend together engaged in an activity the child likes, all making gift-giving affordable.

2. Children react to change with behavioral changes. In a new family, children may not want to listen to their parent’s expectations of how they should respond to the new parent. Be patient. Children may not have a solid relationship with the stepparent. Respect their unique way of relating to others.

3. Recognize that traditions have already been established in the children’s previous families. You can’t necessarily start over fresh and discard the past. It is best to plan ahead, discuss options, determine which traditions to have or throw out, and negotiate agreement on how to celebrate the holiday.

4. If children are spending time with both sets of parents over the holidays then be careful to not set up a competitive relationship. Give the children time to adjust to the different rules and environment after visiting the other parent. After all, having two separate holiday celebrations can be over stimulating, stressful, and tiring for the children.

5. Parents of children who are with their other parent over Christmas may feel depressed. These dark feelings can be combated by establishing new traditions, planning activities with one’s spouse that could not be done with children around, or getting together with friends/colleagues.

6. If the blended family consists of ‘his’, ‘hers’, and ‘ours’ children, be vigilant about treating all equally. Children are aware of favoritism in gift giving, and can end up resenting both the parents and the perceived favorite child, negatively impacting on family relationships.

As with all plans, the needs of the children should be foremost in the holiday decision making process. I know of one woman who epitomizes this by inviting all the children, the ex’s, as well as the in-laws and out-laws to celebrate part of Christmas at her home each year. They don’t all come, and everything doesn’t always go idyllically. But over the years, the adults are learning to put aside their resentments and provide lifelong happy memories for their children.

Eileen Lenson, author, is available for life and business coaching sessions. For further information, call 949-244-5100.

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Eileen Lenson

OMG – I’m Marrying the Wrong Person!

It starts off as a nagging feeling in your gut. Over time, it grows into pervasive worry, poor sleep, and moodiness. Finally, it escalates and your emotions morph out of control into a full-fledged panic. All because you realize you are about to marry the wrong person!

Before you start packing and heading for the hills, spend a few minutes looking at what exactly is going on. Marriage is so much more than just setting up house with someone with whom you love being intimate. Going from single to married signifies an important identify shift. It means saying good-by to singlehood and all the flirtatious or impulsive adventures. This can bring feelings of sadness and loss into your anticipated transition into marriage.

Overcoming this hurdle and successfully resolving your fears of marriage can go one of two ways. It may be a growth experience, bringing you to a deeper level of intimacy and emotional fulfillment with your future spouse. Or, it could save you from making a terrible mistake. Either way, you owe it to yourself – and your future spouse – to be truthful about your feelings. Using denial to get through the short run of “I-dos” will not get you through the long run of life. Denial simply isn’t an ingredient for a winning marriage. Being authentic – truthful to yourself and others, regardless of what the truth is – will bring the happiness you seek and deserve.

7 Ways to Deal with Your Pre-Marital Cold Feet

1. Share your feelings with your partner. Your having second thoughts about getting married will be upsetting to your partner. But marriage is where trust should exist for intimate and even unacceptable feelings to be shared. Your partner may be experiencing some of the same feelings. By talking about the issues, the two of you may develop tools to work together as a team and resolve your uncertain feelings.

2. Share your feelings with your support system. Talk to happily married friends and family members, and find out how they dealt with pre-marital jitters. Ask if they have observed issues in your relationship that cause them to share your concerns.

3. Don’t physically isolate yourself. Isolation is a dark place that can result in a downward spiral. It is helpful to have some time apart from the three billion people who are talking nonstop wedding-wedding-wedding. Time to reflect on your feelings, and even journal your thoughts, is useful. However, the danger of pulling away from everyone is that you end up missing the opportunity to mix the knowledge and input from others. Feedback from others helps us make reality based decisions.

4. Don’t feel guilty about disappointing others. Lost deposits, related expenses and other’s expectations will be resolved with time. You need to live your life for yourself, not others. Would you expect your best friend to get married just because family and friends expected him or her to follow through on the plans? If not, then why would you accept less for yourself?

5. Look at the meaning of commitment and intimacy for you. If you have experienced previous abandonments, then perhaps the unresolved feelings from those traumas are burdening you at this time. Fear of entering a commitment that could result in a future loss could be so traumatic that you may be protecting yourself by not risking marriage.

6. Examine your future spouses’ ‘deal-killer’ flaws. Are you reacting to some worrisome qualities your future spouse exhibits that you have ignored up to now? Everyone has personal flaws. But some behavioral or character flaws will affect the sustainability of the marriage and even the quality of your own life. Some people prefer to focus on the partner’s positive qualities, while simultaneously ignoring very serious negative qualities, like addictions, infidelity, and physical abuse. Love and marriage alone will not make this problem go away. There are married people whose partner’s addictions have wrecked their personal credit and finances. There are many victims of marital abuse who would be alive today if they had chosen to become runaway brides instead of marrying an abusive fiancé.

7. Examine your coping skills for stress. Getting married is stressful. Are you delegating some of the marriage preparations to others? Are you taking care of yourself during this time period? Exercise, even walking, can help. Make sure you are eating and sleeping properly. Finally, setting limits by saying ‘no’ can be a stress reducer. You need to take care of your own needs before you can be there for others.

I welcome any comments readers have on dealing with big decisions such as marriage. It could be selecting a college, making a geographical move, etc.

Eileen Lenson

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

Divorced! 5 Easy Ways to Take Care of Yourself

Divorce is so difficult. There are so many things to consider, and people to deal with, that it is easy to forget taking care of yourself.

1. Accept the divorce. This involves letting go of your former spouse, not just legally but also emotionally. Some divorced people remain as connected in anger as they once were in love. Such emotional investment in your spouse will prevent you from being able to move forward in your life.

2. Avoid becoming too socially or emotionally isolated. This is the time to reach out to old friends. Let them know you value their friendship. Explore new relationships with colleagues at work or acquaintances at the health club.

3. Plan ahead. Anticipate that certain dates will be difficult. Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, even your divorce date will likely bring on surge of emotions. Recognize these feelings in advance so you can prepare alternative activities.

4. Own responsibility. Painful process, yes. But you will grow from embarking on such an exercise. Even if you truly feel that your ex-spouse was a louse, then ask yourself why you selected that person to be your lifetime partner? Were you attempting to fulfill a need that should be otherwise met? Or are you a ‘bad picker’ because of some perceptions you have of yourself or others that would best be discovered by personal evaluation?

5. Avoid developing unhealthy coping skills, such as overeatting or drinking, smoking, promiscuity, or drugs. Such behaviors can exascerbate depressive tendancies and create new problems for you.

I invite you to share with our readers what has worked for you in taking care of yourself following a divorce.

Eileen Lenson