Monthly Archives: August 2012

Is Chivalry Dead?

Are men chivalrous anymore? 

The answer is largely “no.”  The reason: women’s behavior.

“Chivalry is a quaint word dating back to the days of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, referring to gentlemanly behavior towards women.  We think of Sir Walter Raleigh gallantly spreading his cape down on a street so Queen Elizabeth of England could walk across a puddle without getting her feet caked in mud. Over the centuries it manifested itself in such common courtesy as opening the door and letting a woman enter before you, pulling the chair out so the man’s date could sit down, or helping a woman take off her coat.

It’s hard to believe now, but in the early 1960s John and Jackie Kennedy era, chivalry was a huge part of our culture, along with men wearing suits and hats to baseball games and women wearing gloves, hats and mink stoles. Then the whirlwind of women’s liberation swept over the land the next three decades.”

Now first off, I want to make it perfectly clear that I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with women having equal opportunities.  If they have the ability, then the opportunity should not be closed to them.  That goes for everything – gender, race…whatever.  If you have the ability, you should not be denied the opportunity.  That’s basic civil rights, and I am very big on that.   All I’m saying is that women shouldn’t automatically have the opportunity just because they are females.  For example, if a certain number of push-ups is required for a particular job, then the number of push-ups that male and female applicants have to complete should be the same.  If a woman can’t do what a man can do physically, then she can’t be a firefighter.  You can’t have quotas for things just because it seems fair.  We promise equal opportunity in our country, not equal outcome.  I mean it’s silly – should you really be allowed to get a job just because you want it?! 
 
And it’s this feminist attitude that has made respect and admiration between men and women take a nosedive.  Women’s studies programs teach women that when men act graciously, they are attempting to control them and keep them down.  They encourage women to be hostile, become major ball-busters, and think they can have babies without men because kids don’t need a daddy.  If you listen to them, they say just about every woman is beaten, raped, and cheated out of everything (just read Who Stole Feminism by Christina Hoff Sommers if you think I’m nuts).  And when these women dress like pigs, talk like pigs, and act like pigs, it is a little demoralizing for men to put them on a pedestal, take them out on dates, and treat them like they’re special.  Think about it.  Chivalry has to do with respect, and we don’t see women behaving with much dignity when they hook up and have multiple sexual partners.
   
Although chivalry is dead, there are still nice guys out there who would act chivalrously, but they simply don’t know what the hell women want.  Today’s men are very frustrated and scared because they accept women’s equality, but they are afraid that if they act romantically, they will come across as sexist and offensive.  I don’t blame them.  I mean it’s just the stupidest stuff that makes women angry with men.   

For example, when I was just starting to date boys, my dad was very clear with me: “If a fellow opens his car door, then go out on the date with him.  If he doesn’t open the car door, turn around and come back inside the house.  Don’t have a conversation about it, don’t argue, and don’t demand anything.  Just say thank you very much and wave goodbye.”  However, if a guy tries to open a door for a woman today, she tells him, “No, I can open it myself.” 

All I can say is if you’re a guy and a woman behaves obnoxiously like that on a date, just let her open the door herself.  In fact leave her there.  Tell her she can call a cab herself too because she’s equally competent to do that.  If a woman acts in an ungracious way, dump her.  Don’t waste your time, money, and effort on her.  If you go out of your way to be chivalrous, kind, and thoughtful, and she doesn’t behave in a way that shows she respects, admires, and appreciates it, she’s not a woman – she’s just a female. 

It makes a man feel good to be protecting and taking care of a woman, and it should make a woman feel good to know that a man is being respectful and thoughtful of her.  If I walk into an elevator and a man lets me walk in first, I turn around and say, “Thank you very much.”  Most of the time they look utterly surprised to get the compliment. 

We’ve lost something beautiful and it’s something so essential in a love relationship.  If you treat your husband like he’s a man, you’ll get more manly behavior.  If you treat your wife like she’s a woman, you will get more womanly behavior.  The polarity between men and women actually means something despite what social trends say.  I don’t care how big of a feminist you are – we are still hardwired. 

Women should expect men to provide, protect, nurture, and love them.  If they don’t want to allow that, they are going to miss out on a lot.

Parents Playing Financial Favorites

“It’s not fair!”

A lot of siblings are treated differently by their parents, and the reason is simple: people are human. They say and do stupid things from time to time because they’re not perfect little computers (even perfect little computers crash and get viruses). 

Now, I’m sure when your kids ask you, “Who do you love more?,” you just look perplexed and say that you love them in different ways.  You tell them, “How can I love one more,” and then go through the litany of “I love your kindness” or “I like that you play soccer, but I also like that she plays basketball,” etc.  You try to say that love is not quantifiable and that you love them for all the unique things they each are.

But in real life, it doesn’t work out that way.  Parents often either show more attention to the kid who is easier to get along with, or they end up giving more attention to the kid who’s a pain in the butt because they’re trying to straighten them out.  That happens a lot.  At birth, some little babies are cuddly and some are colicky.  You’re going to feel a little more relaxed and bonded to the kid who is cuddly.

There are so many subtle things that influence parents, especially when giving money to their kids.  Financial favoritism causes a lot of family discord.   And if there are secrets involved, things can explode. 

There have been so many times I’ve had a competent, confident, healthy individual call into the show who is doing well in life but is really upset because time, effort, and money are being given to their loser sibling.  And I’ve had to explain time and again the sad reality: “You?  They’re just grateful you’re doing fine.  They don’t have to worry about you.  They’re worried about the other one, and that’s why they keep throwing fuel into the fire – to try and get the other one straightened out so they can be like you.” It’s really difficult to work hard your whole life to achieve a good lifestyle to find out that your irresponsible sibling is getting supported all the way along.  It seems unfair. Your parents are constantly throwing good money at the bad kid, trying to fix his or her ways, and their handouts only create dependency.  Why shouldn’t the ne’er-do-well have to go out and make it work on his or her own? 

You’ve heard me so many times (I hope) on the program saying to parents, “Let them go.  What’s going to happen?  They’ll have to figure it out.”  And then they respond back, “But they’ll hit bottom!  They’ll be miserable!  They might live on the street!  They might live in their car!  They might live with their friends!  They might shack up!  They might…” 

But do you know what?  They will work it out.  They’ll figure it out if you’re out of the equation.

Now, of course, parents can do whatever they darn well want to do with their money -they can give it away, they can spend it…whatever.  But you parents ought to remember that when you show favoritism after death with money, you’re going to leave behind you a big problem in the family.  The kidlets are not going to get along.  They’re going to be angry with each other.  So it’s good, before death, to sit down with your kids and clarify what your intentions are and why.  You need to talk it out because if there’s a sibling who is reasonably irresponsible, the good kids are really going to be ticked off that they have to share equally with somebody who they feel hasn’t earned that position.

It’s natural to want to fix things for your kids.  Nevertheless, you should carefully consider how your decisions will impact the relationship you have with each different child and the relationships they have with each other.  It can really put a bomb in the family.

My advice is this: die poor.  Do it like the pharaohs and bury it all with you.  That way nobody can fight over it because it’s all six feet under with you. 

…But even then somebody will dig it up.  You know that, right?

Everyone Can Relate to Feeling Shy

It doesn’t matter if you’re an introverted type or an extroverted type, everyone can relate to feeling shy because nobody wants to feel poorly judged or rejected.  We all want to be accepted.  We tend to think only introverts are shy, but that’s not true.  Shyness has more than just to do with being uncomfortable around other people – it largely comes from being worried about rejection.

Shyness is all about the self: self-consciousness, self-evaluation, self-preoccupation…self, self, self. 

  • You are overly aware of yourself.
  • You tend to see yourself negatively.
  • You tend to pay too much attention to all the things you might be doing wrong when there are other people around.

Everyone can relate to this, and it’s actually kind of normal.  However, the problem is when people take it to the nth degree.  Their hypersensitivity causes a lot of anxiety – e.g. they become preoccupied with someone raising an eyebrow because they assume it must mean something about them.  And if you’ve decided you’re shy, then you will often play that role.  You psychologically feel inclined to live up to those expectations

The first thing you need to consider in getting over your shyness is what situations trigger your feelings:  Are they work situations?  Social situations?  Do they involve all males?  All females?  People you don’t know?  Some people you know but have a hard time getting along with?  It’s really important to sit there and think, “Is this situational in some way?  What is triggering this feeling?“ 

In addition, you basically need to understand that the world is not paying that much attention to you.  Sorry.  Most people are too busy looking at themselves.  If you’ve got a whole room full of shy people, nobody really cares about anybody else because they’re only concerned with how they’re being registered.

Here’s another tip: stop trying to be perfect.  A woman called into my show the other day who was SERIOUS about trying to be perfect.  I just laughed and said, “Well I can’t help you with that because I don’t understand perfect.  I never got to be there.  I don’t think there is such a place.”  If you’re completely arrogant, you can think you’re perfect, but nobody is actually perfect.  And even if you could be perfect, a lot of people would hate you for being perfect, and therefore, you still wouldn’t be liked by everybody.  You have to accept that some people are just not going to judge you positively or want to have anything to do with you. 

At some point, you have to accept rejection and not take it personally.  That’s why in my book, 10 Stupid Things Couples Do to Mess Up Their Relationships, I say that if you get rejected by another person, then it’s “not a match,” not that the “other person is horrible.” 

If you’re shy, there are some simple things you can do when you start feeling uncomfortable: 

First of all, it’s helpful to recognize that you’re good at something and that you have something to offer.  But do you know what’s the number one thing you can offer? 
An interest in somebody else. 

When you’re in a social situation and you’re spending all of your time thinking about how bad you look, how bad you are, how nobody’s going to like you, how you sound stupid, how you have nothing intelligent to say, etc., you’re not paying any attention to anyone else.  That’s why they’re not interested in you.  People are the most interested in people who are interested in them.  It’s as simple as that. 

So, the best technique for breaking the ice and feeling more comfortable in a social situation is showing interest in someone else.  Ask questions about their life, their family, their hobbies, and their work.  Shyness is merely an unbelievably excessive focus on the self, and therefore, it can be overcome by showing interest in somebody else.

The next time the anxiety sets in, just breathe.  Take some slow, deep breaths, close your eyes (unless you’re driving), and concentrate only on breathing and feeling the air going in and out.  Then, look around the room and think, “Wow. Look how fortunate I am to have this opportunity to perhaps meet some people who will be wonderful in my life and me in theirs.”

When to Give an Ultimatum

The number one rule about giving an ultimatum is to mean it. 

A lot of people give ultimatums, but in their heads, they’re not sobered and settled.  They’re trapped, for example, in the belief that they can’t do any better and that spending life alone would be worse than staying with a person who hurts them.  When you say, “If you don’t stop drinking, I’m out of here!,” you’re really saying, “Please change so I don’t have to think about leaving.  I can’t actually live alone.”   That’s why I tell people they shouldn’t give an ultimatum until they actually have their bags packed and a game plan.

The reason most ultimatums don’t work is that the person making it is not ready to follow through.  They hope and hope and hope the threat itself will be enough to make some magical change happen, but more often than not, it doesn’t turn out that way.  You have to remember an ultimatum is finalIt’s a demand that if not met, will result in a direct action.  Basically speaking, the direct action is leaving.  If you are telling your partner for the first time that his or her behavior is unsettling, that’s not an ultimatum.  An ultimatum is a final shot across the bow.  It’s a last resort after you’ve tried everything else. 

The time to issue an ultimatum is when you have the courage and means to follow through on it, and not until then.  If you don’t, stop whining and complaining, and just make the best of life.  Seriously, I mean it.  You can only give a truthful ultimatum if you’re indeed ready to leave.  

One of the dumber ultimatums I hear people make is, “If you don’t marry me, I’m leaving.”  It’s just ridiculous.  Who wants to get married to someone they have to threaten into marrying? 

The best thing you can do is avoid getting to the point where you have to issue an ultimatum in the first place.  It’s much better to be up front in the beginning of a relationship and explain what’s acceptable and what’s not.  Very few people do this because they don’t want to lose their boyfriend or girlfriend.  They play games in their heads and figure everything will work out.  However, if you don’t like someone’s behavior, you need to state your boundaries early on.  If you really don’t want to marry a smoker and you’re dating a smoker, you have to tell them you have no intention of marrying a smoker.   That’s stating a boundary (“I have no intention of __”), not giving an ultimatum. 

So be sure to state your boundaries — “I have no intention of shacking up”; “I have no intention of having sex out of wedlock”; “I have no intention of using drugs or being with somebody who is abusing drugs.”

Finally, giving an ultimatum to a controller is just silly.  They’re not going to give up control.  There was a woman who recently called my show about her husband being a Scrooge.  He made five to 10 times more than she did, but expected her to hand over all of her paycheck and split the grocery bills with him.  I did not tell her to give him an ultimatum (she had already done that over and over again without success).  I told her to inform him that he’s the man and by definition of a man, he is supposed to provide and protect.  I said she was not to hand over her paycheck anymore, and direct deposit the money into an account he didn’t know about.  He needed to face the reality that there would be no water, no lights, no heat, and no house unless he took care of things.  An ultimatum wouldn’t work on him because there was just something wrong with him.  I told her if he didn’t respond appropriately, she’d have to be ready to move home to Mother. 

If you want to avoid these messes entirely, just talk about things before you get married:  “How many kids will we have?”; “How will we deal with our prospective families?”; “What do we think about religion or sex?”  About six months of premarital counseling should go into any marriage.  I would say that a good 30 percent of people who go into premarital counseling don’t get married, and I think that’s fabulous.  That’s a lot fewer divorces tearing up kids’ lives.  It’s not necessarily that anybody is bad – they just find they’re not a good match after actually discussing the issues of marriage.

So remember: an ultimatum is a final declaration.  Don’t issue one when you don’t have the courage and the means to follow through on it because you’ll only be looked at as even less than you already are.  You’ll also think less of yourself.  It’s hard to impress yourself when you see yourself not having any guts.           

 

Stop Being a Worried Mother

A woman’s life changes incredibly when she becomes a mother.  She grows a life inside of her for nine months, brings it out into the world, and suckles it at her breast.  Quite frankly, it’s amazing an experience. 

But with having a baby comes a whole change in how you perceive yourself.  Before I was pregnant, if I wanted to do something crazy, I could do something crazy.  But when you’re completely responsible for another little person’s life, you can’t do crazy stuff anymore.  It’s nothing to pout about (although some people do) – it’s just a change.  So, while my son was growing up, I had a motorcycle purse, motorcycle boots, and some motorcycle T-shirts, but I didn’t have a motorcycle.  But when he was grown up, out of the house, and in the military, I decided to get down and get a bike!
 
One of the big challenges facing new mothers is a tendency to worry.  Moms worry a lot, and I definitely did my fair share of it.  I get calls every now and then from somebody who has a relatively newborn infant and has dreams or nightmares of their child dying.  They feel anxiety about their responsibility, and worry about being able to fulfill it.  It’s scary.   

However, usually by the third time somebody has a kid, they don’t have those anxiety dreams anymore and sort of just know how to handle it. 

But if you are one of those worrying-mother types, I have some tips to help you stop worrying so much:

First of all, worrying about somebody or something is not a sign of caring.  Your worrying only becomes a burden on everyone around you, especially your kid, who has to try to make you feel better.  It can be very stultifying.   Instead, show that you care by doing special things, saying special things, and spending special time with your child.  That’s how you show you care – don’t just worry.

Next, realize that worrying has no power to stop bad things.  Worrying doesn’t create bad things, and it doesn’t prevent bad things from happening – it has no power over bad things.  Generally speaking, if whatever you’re worried about indeed happens, it probably won’t be as bad as you thought it would be.  Just think back to other times you’ve worried about something.  Didn’t things turn out all right?  Wasn’t it not as bad as you thought, or it didn’t even happen at all? 

In addition, you have to accept that some things are simply out of your control.  There’s a lot in the universe you have no power over.  It’s annoying, but it’s true.  You have to accept that to a certain extent, it’s just part of the game.  If you did all you could within your power to make something happen and it didn’t, all you can do is say you did your best. 

When you start worrying, you really have to distract yourself.  You need to rely on the support system of your girlfriends, exercise, or do a hobby.  You need to put your nervous energy into something productive because there’s nothing productive about worrying (because as I said, you have no power).  Moms who spend their time worrying end up contributing 120 percent of themselves to mothering and put nothing in to taking care of themselves.  It’s like putting your brain into a tiny little box – of course it’s going to stress and strain to get out.

One of the things I discovered when I was under a lot of stress was that if I would just take a walk with my dogs (no cell phone, no iPod…nothing), I would feel a whole lot better.  Exercise is a natural stress reducer.  It doesn’t have to be vigorous – it could just be going on a walk in the sunshine or strolling through the snow. 

If you don’t engage in your self-care, you can’t do whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing.  If the tool (you) is broken, it can’t get the job done right.  If you’re fit to be tied, you’re not going to be a very nice person.

Last but not least, accept that worrying is part of reality.  Remember not everything is going to go the way you thought it would or should.  Kids make mistakes, stuff happens, and there are some things in life that you simply have to accept.  Of course there’s always going to be a little bit of shoulder shrugging, but don’t drive yourself up the wall.