Monthly Archives: October 2012

Quote of the Week

At two hours after midnight appeared the land, at a distance of 2 leagues.

Christopher Columbus
Italian-born Navigator and Explorer
1451- 1506
Journal of the First Voyage, October 12, 1492

This year, Columbus Day is celebrated on Monday, October 8.

Keeping Secrets from Your Spouse

Just because something is true doesn’t mean it needs to be said.  Everything that crosses your mind shouldn’t necessarily come out of your mouth.  Honesty is sometimes a cross between stupidity and cruelty, and when it comes to keeping secrets from your spouse, honesty is not always the best policy. 

The most successful long-term relationships are based on very strong emotional and physical connections.  However, intimacy is not necessarily equated with absolute and complete honesty. 

There are obviously some things you ought to be honest about:

Debt.  I’m amazed at how many times I talk to somebody who wasn’t told that their spouse-to-be had college loans, credit card debt, and no money in the bank until after they were married.  A lot of times people don’t find out that their new spouse is in debt until they see their credit when they’re applying for a mortgage.  Hiding bad money skills leads to feelings of betrayal and mistrust that can sometimes never be overcome.  A lot of people walk away from marriages in which their spouse put the family in debt due to their spending or unwise financial schemes.

Eating disorders and substance abuse.  If you have an eating disorder or a substance abuse problem, you have to disclose it in advance.  Ongoing substance abuse or addiction will almost always interfere with intimacy.   Why?  Because something else is more important than your spouse.  Unless it’s dealt with, addiction will destroy just about every relationship.  That’s the truth.

Past illegal activities.  It’s best to reveal and explain past crimes and jail time because not only are they available on public record, but keeping them hidden only fills you with enormous guilt.  And if you’re exposed, it will scare everybody into thinking that the behavior could be repeated.

Molestation.  There was a period of a couple days where it seemed like just about every woman who called in to my show had been molested when she was younger and had no interest in having sex with her husband.  I put a question up on my website asking women who had been molested if they thought female molestation victims should ever get married.  When reading the responses, I was shocked to find that most of them said, “No.”  That blew my mind.  Quite frankly, I didn’t expect that would be the answer.  Considering this, I think that if a molestation is clearly still part of your life today, you need to tell your spouse-to-be.  Generally when a woman is a victim of molestation, the molester never gets exposed and the woman feels residual fear and anger.  They feel bitter about justice not being served and get mad at their parents and whoever else failed to protect them.  However, it’s their spouse who ends up getting the brunt of it because that’s the one area where the victim has power.  Withholding sex from their spouse, for example, is a way they maintain that power.  It’s not really all that complicated.  Past molestation should be revealed because it can lead to a very painful marriage if left concealed.

Lack of sex drive.  There are a lot of women who keep their disinterest in sex a secret and fake their orgasms.  Some guys keep their Viagra in a hiding place.  Although we live in a culture that is erotic and pornographic, we don’t seem to be able to talk about intimacies with the people we’re closest with.  Every day I get a call from some man or woman upset because they have misinterpreted their spouse’s physical disinterest as a lack of love and caring.  The first thing I always recommend for couples to do in this situation is for them to each get a complete physical.  Check everything out.  Examine your hormone levels because they have a lot to do with your sex drive.  Next, take a look at your schedules and lifestyle.  What is it that’s making you tired or preventing you from being playful and affectionate?  It’s sometimes advantageous to talk to an independent third party like a therapist or a religious person who has counseling experience.  

Because of the above concerns, I think it’s important that you go through six months of premarital counseling with your spouse-to-be so these secrets get uncovered.

However, not everything needs to be shared with your spouse.  Intimacy and complete openness are not one and the same.  You need to share your vulnerabilities with each other, but you also have to be sensitive to the consequences that sharing brings. 

Affairs.  I’ve had a lot of people call in to my show saying, “Oh my gosh, I had a half-hour fling, but I know it was stupid and wrong.  I understand why I did it, and I take full responsibility for my actions.  What should I do?  I don’t want to lose everything I have.”  My response is, “Well, get yourself tested to make sure you didn’t contract a disease, and then keep your mouth shut until the day after you’re dead.”  A lot of times, the spouse who had the affair wants to unburden themselves so they can feel better.  However, if they do, they are only going to destroy the trust in the marriage forever.  If you’re truly remorseful and you’re not going to repeat the stupid mistake, it’s best to just get on with life.

Not everything that can be said should be said.  If you have fantasies about someone, don’t tell your spouse.  You’re only going to make him or her feel inadequate.

Just about everybody has a list of stuff they’ve done when they were younger that they’re not proud of and they’ve learned from.  If a past behavior is clearly no longer part of your present (e.g. speeding tickets, fist fights, etc.), file it in the “private” cabinet and keep it to yourself.  Keep it safely between you and you.  If it’s seriously no longer part of your life, leave it alone because you’ll be judged by what is no longer true.

Teaching Children About Choosing Friends

Every parent frets about their kids having “weird” friends.  At some point, children always seem to gravitate toward some unhealthy, unpleasant, or annoying kid that you don’t like. 

Kids pick their own friends, and who they choose says a lot about their character.  However, they also get drawn into situations where they feel compelled out of fear or threat of isolation to be friends with certain kids.

I remember my son having a bunch of his buddies over once.  When they all left, he came to me and asked, “So, did you like them?”  I told him I particularly liked the ones who could look me square in the eye.  I didn’t say that I disliked anyone in particular.  I just said that I thought the ones who could look me in the eye were more straight, confident, and comfortable kids.  I told him it was just a preference on my end and that he may see other things in them.  Perhaps one of them couldn’t look me in the eye, but they were always there for him when he had a problem.  

If your son or daughter has weird friends, you have to give them little hints like that.  By doing this, you’re not criticizing, condemning, or excommunicating any of their friends.  You’re simply giving feedback.  The minute you start singling out and condemning one kid, your child is going to become best friends with him or her.

Ask your child what they think constitutes a good friend.  Have them to think about what happens at school:

  • Who’s not nice?  Who hurts other kids? 
  • Is anyone bossy?  Does anyone tell your child what and what not to do, or use threats to get them to do things?  Do any of your child’s friends try to make them feel guilty if they don’t get what they want?  
  • Does anyone get jealous or angry if your child spends time with other people?
  • Do any of your child’s friends talk behind their back, laugh at them, or make fun of them?  Do any of them spread rumors about your kid, tell lies, or share stuff they told them in secret?
  • Do any of your child’s friends play rough by hitting, pushing, pinching, kicking, scratching, slapping, or punching? 
  • Do any of your child’s friends ignore them if they haven’t gotten their way?  Do they only pay attention when they want something and ignore your child when he or she has something important to talk about?

Instead of attacking a particular kid, what you should be doing is constantly grooming your child to be thinking about these things and then have them make their own decisions.  Kids choose their own friends, and at some point, parents become secondary to their kid’s friends.  That’s just the way it is.  When you attack your kid’s friends, it’s like pulling the rug out from under them when there’s no floor there.  Instead, you should be more indirect about it and avoid the tug-of-war.  Discuss with them what the qualities and behaviors of an unhealthy friend are.  Keep your voice very low-key, and help them understand that friends do not embarrass each other, put each other down, pressure each other to do bad things, act nicely only when they want something, or reveal information they share in confidence.  Put it back on your child to think about. 

When you see your child in cahoots with a particularly snotty, nasty, or rotten little bugger of a kid, just tell them, “You know, I was a little surprised that when Johnny or Mary said ‘blahbity blah,’ you didn’t stand your ground.  I think standing your ground is a good thing.  Sometimes it may annoy our friends, but there are times when it’s important to stand our ground when we know certain things are right and wrong.  You might think about that for next time.”  So, instead of saying, “That kid’s rotten and I don’t want to see him in the house anymore,” you’re putting it on your child to have strength of conviction.

You can also set limits and boundaries, such as telling your child that he or she can only play with their friend when they are at your house.  In addition, one of the best things you can do is to take the stinger away.  I’ve been suggesting this for years and years and years – especially when kids call saying their friend is being mean.  For example, tell your child that you are going to take them to the zoo and suggest they invite some of their friends, especially the ones you’re having a little trouble with.  While you’re at the zoo, make an alliance with the kids you think are rotten.  You don’t know what’s going on in their homes or what’s making them so difficult, but you can sometimes tame the beasts when you invite them to the beach or ask them to come over for a picnic or a barbecue in the backyard. 

I remember once my parents were concerned about a friend of mine whose nickname was Penny.  I don’t know why they were so concerned about Penny at the time, except that we got into some trouble.  Remember those phony phone calls?  As kids, we’d call up someone, ask them if their refrigerator was running, and then tell them they’d better go catch it.  Or we’d dial a bread company and order a whole bunch of bread to be sent to somebody’s house.  It was pretty terrible – we only thought about the people we were annoying, and we didn’t consider the poor bread company.  I remember my dad sitting me down and saying, “OK let’s talk about what a friend is.  Does a friend have you do things that are bad?”  I responded, “Well, I guess not,” even though at age 9 I thought friends that did bad stuff were pretty fun.  He then went through a list similar to the one I discussed earlier and said, “Now you make up your own mind.” 

Given the power to make up your own mind, you tend to do the right thing.  You don’t believe me?  If you’ve got kids who always squabble over who has the biggest piece of cake, pie, or whatever, next time let one of them cut it and the other one pick the slice he or she wants.  It’s amazing how the pieces all of a sudden come out even.

Spying on a Cheater

There is a show that’s been on TV a very long time called Cheaters.  I don’t know how they’ve been able to do the same scenario for a dozen years, but they’ve pulled it off. 

I’ve seen the show about one and a half times.  Basically, someone who suspects their girlfriend or boyfriend of cheating hires this television program to do surveillance.  The crew follows the boyfriend or girlfriend, tracks their car, photographs them at various places (restaurants, stores, etc.), and tape records their conversations.  If he goes to a hotel, motel, or apartment, the cameras capture him going in, kissing his bimbo at the front door, and then grinding groins with her.  If a guy tells his wife, “Oh honey, I have to be at work late,” the show will then cut to time-stamped footage of him going somewhere else. 

Near the end of each episode, the person who is being cheated on gets to see the tape, realizes they’re right, and then feels very badly betrayed.  The program ends with the girl or guy confronting their husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend.  It’s a free-for-all with the television cameras rolling.  The cheater and their bimbo or side stud start yelling, “What?!  What is this?,” followed by a bunch of “beeps” (because of all the bad words they’re saying).  I always think it’s funny when the cheater says, “How could you do this to me?,” in reference to being put under surveillance and exposed on TV.   Somehow they get moral outrage at that, not about the fact that they’re screwing around on somebody.
 
Now, a lot of shows try to market merchandise to make money on the side: T-shirts, mugs, spaghetti sauce…whatever.  But for a show like Cheaters, it’s a little different.  Since they can’t exactly make shirts saying, “I’m a cheater,” or, “I caught my spouse cheating,” they have instead decided to open up a spy goods web store:

“The Cheater’s Spy Shop sells all sorts of surveillance gear for suspicious minds, including recovery sticks that can pull up anything currently on the iPhone and even recover deleted information; mobile software that will send a person all texts and pictures being sent, web history, call logs, and GPS location every 30 minutes; and even motion-activated hidden cameras that record any movement and activity in high resolution [HD, 3D, whatever you want]…

The laws governing the use of surveillance devices by average citizens differ all over the place.  A lot of people think they’re legally allowed to spy on their spouses, but depending on how it’s done, that may or may not be true.  It may be totally legal to make, sell, and buy this stuff, but depending on the jurisdiction you’re in, it may or may not be legal to use because people have privacy rights.  Some people also get concerned that stalkers could misuse the technology.  It’s pretty scary to think about – a stalker could potentially put a tracking device at the bottom of your purse and know where you are at all times.  If you’re thinking of participating in an operation to expose a cheater either with a private investigator or just by yourself, you have to make sure that whatever equipment or techniques you’re using are legal in your state. 

“The two groups who seem to be buying the products the most are women worried their man is cheating, and parents who want to make sure their kids aren’t sexting or getting inappropriate photos themselves.”  The biggest month for buying is Valentine’s Day.  They’re not really sure why, but my guess is that women who either get nothing or get something worth less than what they see charged to their husband’s credit card start wondering where the money went.

Cheating spouses typically get caught in a couple of ways:

1. Accidental discovery:  Most cheaters are not CIA agents.  They don’t know how to totally cover their tracks, and they forget things like a parking sticker hanging from the rearview mirror.  Deception and infidelity are usually uncovered by somebody making a mistake.  “A husband or wife decides to come home from work early, a third party inadvertently reveals the truth, an unpaid parking ticket reveals a spouse’s true whereabouts, or an e-mail exchange is accidentally sent to the wrong person.”  Many times on the air, I’ve heard callers say, “He meant to send it to her, but somehow he clicked me.”

2. Monitoring/Surveillance:  A lot of cheaters are exposed after being monitored by either their spouse or a private investigator.  From what I’ve read, if a private investigator uses a technique that’s illegal, even if unbeknownst to you, you are still liable because they’re essentially an extension of you.  Be careful!

So what should you do if you think your spouse or significant other is cheating?

If you’re not just a hypersensitive or neurotic person, then your instinct that your spouse is cheating is probably right.  If you get suspicious, ask yourself the following question: “Why is he/she cheating?”  Did you make a mistake in picking someone who is simply a bad person?  If your wife had a million affairs while you were dating or your husband cheated while you were pregnant with your first kid (and then you went ahead and made three more) then “Duh!” – you made a mistake.  However, people don’t always cheat because they’re bad people.  Other things come into play, usually relating to the quality of the relationship.  As it turns out, men more than women require opposite-sex feedback for their egos.  Women can turn to their girlfriends to hear about what a bum their husband is and how wonderful they are.  But guys don’t turn to their guy friends – they turn to other women. 

If you’re a woman and are worried about your husband having an affair, you should read my book The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands to see if you’re to blame.  Your husband once picked you, wanted you, and ultimately loved you.  Perhaps if you stopped acting the way you currently are, you wouldn’t be throwing away a perfectly good man.  A lot of times women call my show saying, “I think my husband’s having an affair,” and I tell them that they can either blow up the marriage or they can look at themselves honestly and admit, “I stopped being my husband’s girlfriend.  I’m going to take the proper steps to turn it back on.”   As his wife, you always have an edge over a new honey.  A new honey may be very exciting, but a new honey has no context or history like you have with him.  Losing you not only means losing the house, the kids, the dog, the parakeet and the cat, but he’ll be losing extended family and friends as well.  There’s so much for him to lose.  Missing the girlfriend doesn’t come close to that.  So ultimately you have the power.

There are a million and a half articles on the topic of cheating, but it all boils down to one basic concept: if you treat your spouse and dearly beloved in such a way that he or she wants to come home to you every night, then you’re doing great and you’re probably not going to have a cheating spouse.

Now that being said, some people are simply jerks no matter how much love and effort you’re putting in to the relationship.  The following article contains some practical tips on how to catch a cheater: “Tips for Discovering the Truth.”  Discerning whether or not there is bad behavior going on (affairs, whores, drugs, etc.) usually helps you with securing custody of the children later.   And remember: Don’t just ask, “Honey, are you having an affair?”  That never works.  Don’t even bother.