“My husband and I have an amazing relationship but one thing irritates me. When we met he was in shape and very active. Over the years he has put on weight and lost his good body through lack of exercise and drinking beer. I’m a health freak and in good shape. I go to the gym every day and only eat healthy food. It annoys me that I’ve stayed the same physically since we met but he has changed physically. I have done everything in my power to encourage him. I get myself so worked up that we end up fighting. The issue can’t get resolved because he is too lazy to do something about it. I’ve told him honestly as we communicate very well. It’s driving me crazy. I often think that maybe the problem lies with me. Why must I look good and yet he can let himself go? Please help.”While you continue to mind his business he will not lose weight. He has the weight, but you have his problem. People are (fortunately) sufficiently free to dig their graves with their teeth (Charles Finney) and drown themselves in beer – such is the majesty of human freedom. Of course I know it is not easy to stand back and watch someone whom you love walk toward slow self-destruction – but while you even lovingly “interfere” the gravity of what is being done will not hit home. “Hands off, mouth shut,” will be a good motto to attempt to embrace. I will believe you “communicate very well” when both of you get this!
“My husband takes me for granted. He does not feel the need to make an effort to make me feel special. I know he is not the romantic type. I don’t want flowers and expensive gifts. He says he does not know about all this romantic stuff. So I show him: I slip in a message in his lunch. When I go to the supermarket I sometimes buy him a chocolate and put it on his pillow. I send him love texts but he is not interested. I do know is that he is faithful. Am I being ungrateful and petty? Should I just be happy that he is not cheating and disregard that he does not care? I am so fed up. I don’t feel like trying anymore. He also says I am fighting for something I will never get.” (Edited)
Apparently your husband is quite satisfied with the way things are – while you, on the other hand, are not. Do something about your life, not his. The passive person remains in control so stop working so hard. The harder you work on him the less he will need to work at all.
Read everything you can find by Harriet Lerner. Begin with The Dance of Intimacy.
“When my husband wants to do or say something he just goes ahead. He does not think of the feelings of others, especially mine. If he has an appointment with someone or if someone has an appointment with him he does not make an effort to be ready on time. His attitude is others can wait because he is busy. It upsets me a lot. I tell him that is not how people should be treated and he treats me the same way. He will not talk to me for days and treat me as if I am wrong. He will never ever say sorry and will remain like that until I go to him and apologize. But I can’t do this anymore.” (Shortened)
Since your husband’s behavior is clearly beyond your control, the only person left to do some changing is you. Take yourself (not him) by surprise. You cannot civilize your husband, so stop trying. You can refuse to cooperate with his selfish antics. So begin. Do whatever it takes for you to reach your full potential.
I am amazed at the volume of letters I get from women who persist in the belief that their happiness is contingent upon the cooperation of their husbands.
I am 22-years-old. I have been in a relationship for four years. I do not trust my boyfriend. He lies and he’s very sneaky. When he knows something is his fault he tries to do and say everything there is to cover up and make it seem like it’s my fault. I’m just so tired of him. I’m ready to leave but he always pleads that I don’t. I’m just tired and too young to be going through what I do. Someone help me on advice what to do. Thank you. (Minimal edits)You don’t need advice, just read your own words: I’m just tired and too young to be going through what I do. Having identified this, I’d suggest you give yourself permission to pursue a future without Mr. Sneaky. Use the “quick and clean” approach. Tell him face-to-face that you are making a decision to date widely. If he insists on an explanation tell him you are tired. Tell him you are too young to face the complexities of a relationship with a high-maintenance, sneaky man who blames others for his issues. At 22, at 62, and beyond, our closest relationships are to replenish us, not exhaust us.
Begin now, today, to be the kind of woman you want to become in the future:
1. Stand up for yourself without pushing anyone else over. Speak your mind. Say what you want to say. See what you see. Say what you see you see.
2. Be your own “virus protection” program by keeping the “bad” out and let the good in. Bad: gossip, unfriendliness, rudeness, lies, unnecessarily excluding others. Good: standing up for what is right, good, and just, being “open” and not “closed” to others, being welcoming and friendly to more than just your closest friends.
3. Decide to be a kind and good person even when you see people being mean to others.
4. Choose to be an agent of healing when others are hurt.
5. Don’t surrender your power to anyone – it is always yours to foster, protect, and use, first for your own good, then for the good of others.
When we were finally seated for a delayed, middle-of-the-night departure from O’Hare, the flight attendant, while conducting her seat-belt check, informed Nate (7) that although there was no in-flight meal service she’d bring him apple juice once we were off the ground. She said she was sorry he was hungry.
Someone heard the dialogue and a large, dark Hersey’s chocolate appeared from across the aisle one row back. Then a sliced turkey sandwich was nudged between the seats from a passenger behind me. I know this could happen anywhere but this serendipitous moment of community affirmed my abiding love for America.
Much earlier, while coming through airport security in Phoenix, I saw things go Nate’s way in a most unexpected manner. You might have realized he has a way…
He’d removed his belt and shoes and had placed his wheeler bag through the X-ray machine when he spied a stash of TSA officers’ candy on a desk off to the side. Before dressing he’d ushered the officer (the one who had just patted him down) to the candy.
When I next saw Nate, after my own run through security, he and the officer were carefully fishing out the exact pieces Nate wanted.
Gosh. I love America. Chocolate, sandwiches, and apple juice, I understand. There are generous people everywhere. But try and getting candy from an airport security officer in Romania, or anywhere else we’ve traveled. I don’t think so.
Children who seldom (or never) see one (or both) of their parents
Children who are victims of violence or have to witness it
Families who are victims of the excessive use of alcohol
Men and women who are “content” living partial (unfulfilled, discontented) lives
Individuals and groups harboring prejudice
Churches and places of worship selling feelings of obligation and guilt
Businesses that exploit customers and employees
Men and women who refuse to forgive
The chronically (and minimally) anxious among us
Betrayed spouses and those caught in a web of betrayal
Men and women who are indifferent to their own aged parents
Men and women who accumulate wealth and power on the backs of those who have little of both
The primary error of tea (hot tea that is) etiquette is to regard it as simply a drink. It is not. It is a way of life. It is an act of celebration. When served using good china, sipped with an appropriate mystical gaze and a small, appreciative twist of the lip (extended “pinky” is optional), tea drinking is the salute of an unseen army pledging allegiance to all things refined.
To prepare the perfect cup of tea, boil the kettle, and, while the water edges toward boiling point, place teacups and saucers at the ready. Unless you are drastically ill, on your very last legs, please do not use a Styrofoam cup, a coffee mug, or even a teacup without the saucer. Such lackadaisical tea drinking should be kept in utmost privacy, never displayed in public.
Place a sugar bowl (the teaspoons nestled next to the cup and on the saucer) and milk jug around the centerpiece teapot and wait, suspended with expectation.
At the first piercing shrill of the boiling kettle, which, by the way, is music to the ears of long-time tea-drinkers, agility of mind and body are required. Much is at stake in this very brief, urgent moment. From the kettle, tip half a cup of boiling water into the teapot. Swill it around until the teapot is warm, then, in one swift movement toward the sink, rid the warmed pot of the water. The teapot yet warm, lift the teabags from their container (using one bag for each guest) and toss them into the hot water.
As the tea draws or steeps, quiet chatter might be deemed appropriate within some factions of the tea-drinking community, although I was taught to always maintain awe-filled silence.
It is at this point that milk (a mere drop) is poured into each cup. Entire populations argue that the tea precedes the milk into the cup, but I hope it is clear on which side of this chasm I sit. A little tea is poured into the cups until each has been visited perhaps three times until they are seven-eighths full. This circular motion to fill each cup with each visit ensures all participants are served a cup of tea that is equally strong. As free, somewhat uninhibited chatter naturally flows among guests, offer guests sugar. Once again, know there are factions who consider the addition of both milk and sugar an act of severe sacrilege, but many people are often very wrong about much.
Finally, an offer of tea should not be refused. If you really do not want tea, the reply to “Would you care for a cup of tea?” is “That would be really lovely thanks; I will participate later.”
My last Christmas with my father was in August 1994. We were in a car. He began to sing, without the tattered red robe and cotton wool beard, “Christmas comes but once a year…” We twisted down towards Bluff Road and the car became a holy place. I heard him sing again of “the little laddie who didn’t have a daddy” who went home to play with “last year’s broken toys.” This time, he sang it more sweetly and more reverently than I had ever heard.
I cannot shake myself of the serenity in the car and the gentleness in his voice or the sight of his sharp blue eyes against the tanned face, white hair resting on the collar of his habitually-worn blue cardigan. He was smaller than I had ever noticed, hunched, or curled into the corner of the car seat, as if trying to occupy less and less room.
He sang innocently to me, and I believed to every child, with a faulty frail voice embodying hope born of humility. And it was a beautiful and holy moment—one for which an adult son might long.
Three weeks later he was dead.
Within each person is a holy place called The Self. It is here, in the deepest recesses of who each of us is, that the human spirit, soul, and intellect meld, forming the powerhouse for who each of us is. And, the subtle art of self-care (“subtle” because there is a delicate difference between being self-caring, selfish, and self-serving) is fundamental to good mental, emotional, and relational health.
Appropriate self-care is neither selfish nor self-indulgent. It is not self-centered-ness. It is not self-serving. It is self-awareness. It’s self-monitoring, with the firm understanding that each person is responsible for the condition of his or her self. Each of us is responsible for how we relate to all others (to neither dominate or be dominated). Each of us is responsible, when it comes to ALL other adults, for maintaining relationships that exemplify mutuality, respect, and equality.
Part of self-care is the enduring understanding that each person has a voice to be respected, a role to be fulfilled, and a calling to be pursued. Every person (every Self) requires room to grow, space apart from others, while at the same time requiring intimacy and connection. The healthy Self is both connected and separate all at the same time, underscoring again the subtlety required in the art of self-care.