Category Archives: Dating

Is an Office Romance a Good Idea?

About 75 percent of office romances don’t survive. However, a small percentage do. Here are the pros and cons of dating a coworker:

Pros:

  • If you’ve had a hard day, he or she will get it because you work at the same place.   
  • You get to see them – a lot.  It’s very sweet to see each other at the water cooler and touch fingers.  (Although, I’m not entirely sure this should be on the “pros” list because couples do need breaks from each other. However, it’s a pro in the beginning of a relationship when you feel like you need to be in each other’s pockets all day).  
  • You get to learn a lot about them in different circumstances with colleagues, pressure, etc.
  • You have one more thing in common because you’re both experiencing the same work environment.
  • If you or your boyfriend or girlfriend are having some troubles at work, you can give each other advice because you both know the atmosphere.

That being said, office romances require two incredibly mature people, and the odds of two incredibly mature people being in the same place at the same time is not great.  So let’s move on to the cons.

Cons:

  • Gossip: You think it was tough in high school?  Everybody is going to notice.  You’re going to become part of a scenario of guilt, discomfort, and sibling rivalry. And, most importantly, the soap opera will distract you from what you’re there to do – work!
  • Whenever you fight, going to work won’t be a haven. Instead, it will be yet another place to be aggravated (but you still have to act civilly – good luck!)
  • Envy. If you’re dating a superior, be prepared for office envy. Other people are going to have a hard time with it because they will assume that you have perks they don’t, and that’s not good for business. 
  • You see them all the time. The flipside of seeing each other all the time is that you’re seeing each other ALL the time, which can create its own stresses.
  • If the relationship goes south, you’ll still be in close proximity to each other, which may be uncomfortable.

As I said before, office romances only make it about 25 percent of the time, so statistically, you are taking a big risk.  In my case, it did work.  My husband and I both taught at a major university, and we fell into the small percentage that makes it happen.  However, I still wouldn’t recommend it because we were in the minority.  Frankly, I would go elsewhere if I were you.

How to Shelf the Selfishness in Your Marriage

Everyone is selfish when they get married. In the beginning, it’s all about “I’m in love,” “I’m getting married,” “Something wonderful is happening to me,” and “I love the way this person makes me feel.”  And although this me-centered narcissism is normal, if you fail to transition out of it, your marriage is sure to fail within three to seven years, especially if you have kids.

I can’t tell you how many callers I get on my program wanting to know, “How can I make my spouse ______?” The blank could be “do chores the way I want,” “spend less money,” or “change their attitude.”  However, the bottom line is you can’t make anyone do anything. That’s why I say to choose wisely before you get married in the first place.  If you’re the only one in the relationship ever being selfless, you’ve made a mistake.

Marriage is about giving more than you have to, not constantly wanting more.  Your spouse is not your slave or fairy godmother.  It’s not always about your needs, your hurts, your feelings, your time, and your schedule.  Marriage takes compromise and a willingness to lose fights and arguments. It’s the acts of sacrifice sprinkled throughout a marriage that make love deep.

The best time to put yourself out for your spouse is when he or she is not at their best.  Have you ever been in a pissy mood and someone acted sweetly? I bet you snapped out of it almost instantly.  Listen to your spouse, hug them, give them a back rub or a gift, or plop them in the tub with you. Do whatever it takes despite how you feel.  Selflessness costs you something, but it protects the relationship.

Your job when you get married is not to sit there with a scorecard of all the things you’re getting.  It’s to throw away all scorecards and figure out each day how you can make your spouse feel happy that they’re alive and married to you.

For further discussion of this topic, read my book, The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage.

Why Shacking Up Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Couples who shack up before marriage are more likely to divorce, experience domestic violence, have sexual and emotional problems, and be involved in affairs. Yet, regardless of the statistics, people continue to do it.

The myth couples use to justify shacking up is that by living together before marriage, they can “test drive the car” and have a more satisfying and longer-lasting marriage. But it’s just the opposite.  People shack up because they are skittish about commitment and, therefore, more likely to call it quits when problems arise.

In addition, couples who shack up actually lose objectivity because they’re not looking at the relationship from a distance.  They literally haven’t had the “space” to step back and objectively consider whether this person is truly the best match for them.  Instead, they sort of just drift into marriage.

Another reason not to shack up: You won’t have a healthy relationship with your extended family.  A supportive extended family is one of the things that makes a marriage work.  However, moms, dads, siblings, and other family members are not going to expend as much effort, caring, and commitment to you as a couple when it’s an iffy situation.  People often forget that and then complain about their family not treating their shack-up stud or honey like family. Well hell, if you want them to be treated like family, make them family!

Quite frankly, if you shack up, you are basically saying that your future marriage isn’t valuable enough to be worth waiting and making tough sacrifices for.  I love it when people shack up and then demand a traditional wedding. How can you choose to live in a tremendously untraditional way and still expect your parents to cough up the money for a traditional party?  If a kid wants to slap the face of tradition, they are on their own.

Finally (and most importantly), shacking up hurts kids.  If (and usually when) a woman gets pregnant in a shack-up situation, there is a high probability that the sperm donor will split within two years, which results in a never-married-single-mom raising a fatherless child. A guy who is screwing a woman without laying down his life for her doesn’t want to be a dad – he’s just getting off.

In my opinion, the best way to test your compatibility for marriage and reduce your chances of divorce to almost nothing is:

1) Don’t have sex until you’re married.
2) Date for at least one year before you get engaged.  
3) Participate in a structured premarital counseling program which includes psychological testing. 

However, I know most of you are not going to do that.  So, operate at your own risk – or rather, the risk of your kids.

How to Know You’re Ready for Marriage

You’ve dated around, had a couple of long-term relationships, and hopefully figured out which qualities are important to you and what makes a relationship work. Now you’re faced with the inevitable question, “Am I ready to get married?”

For women, the most important signs are:

  1. You share similar goals.  If you and your guy have different priorities, you’re going to end up being disappointed. For example, a woman called my show the other day complaining that her husband had moved their family 13 times in as many years to satisfy his appetite for wanderlust (which is a HORRIBLE thing for kids).  Before you consider marriage, ask yourself and your partner about where you want to live, if you want to have kids, and religious views.  Find out what the deal breakers are.
  2. You don’t want to change him.  Similar to buying a dress from the store, when you get married, you take your man “as-is”.  Sure, you might be able to tweak him a little bit, but you can’t fundamentally change him.  If you don’t accept that, you’re going to end up frustrated and bitchy.  You don’t have to adore everything about him, but you do have to make peace with the fact that on Sunday afternoons it’s him and ESPN, and you’re not going to change that.
  3. You connect on more than just a physical level.  A very small percentage of marriage is spent in passionate lovemaking.  You need to know that you can have fun together and enjoy each other when your clothes are ON.
  4. You can see past your wedding day.  Many women are bridezillas: They are so focused on their wedding and being the center of the universe in their stunning white gown that they lose sight of their fiancé and the whole concept of marriage.
  5. You can talk to each other.  You know you’re ready to get married when you can talk things out rationally (without yelling or screaming) and not let issues get pushed under the rug without being resolved.
  6. Everyone you know says your guy is fab.  It’s fine if a few family members or friends aren’t huge fans (you can’t please everybody), but if everyone you know hates this guy, they might be on to something.  Your family and friends know you, and they can look at the situation objectivity. If they’re reasonably nice people, pay attention to them, otherwise your marriage is going to be a constant acid drip.

Guys, on the other hand, start feeling ready for marriage when the singles scene just doesn’t appeal to them anymore, and they stop wanting to bed hot girls that they can’t have conversations with afterward.  Men have biological clocks, but it has nothing to do with making babies. It has to do with being financially stable and settled in their careers.  Most college educated men don’t consider marriage as a possibility until at least 26, and they don’t enter a phase of high commitment until the ages of 28-33.  Guys who have gone to graduate school hit their commitment peak even later (30-36).

Here are some signs that a guy is NOT ready to get married:

  1. He’s financially unstable. If a guy is still struggling to pay his bills, he’s not ready to get married or take on the extra burden of a family.  In addition, if he buys a very expensive car for himself instead of saving up for a ring or your future, he’s not interested in marriage.
  2. He won’t commit.   If a guy is unable to commit to a job, family or friends, then he can’t be counted on.
  3. You have to talk him into it.  If he says he’s not interested in getting married, don’t try to change his mind – believe him.
  4. He calls his married friends “losers” or “stupid.”  A guy who thinks having a family is cute is much more ready to become a husband and a father.
  5. He continually makes you cry (and I’m not talking about tears of happiness).  If he’s unreliable, abusive, a liar, a cheater, or a flirt, you need to divorce yourself from this relationship BEFORE you’re married.

Above all: use your brain.  Don’t get married when you’re in the throes of the early stages of a relationship. Fantasies are not the stuff that long-term relationships are built on.

7 Simple Ways to Treat Kindly

My recipe for a perfect marriage has two ingredients. The first is choosing wisely.  When people don’t choose wisely, start grinding out kids, and then call my show, there’s not a lot I can do to help them.  The second ingredient is treating kindly.  Treating kindly means behaving in a loving way whether you feel like it or not.  The fact is, when you act in a loving way, you actually feel more loving.

So, what can you do to keep your spouse happy and feeling loved?  You may think saying, “I love you,” every now and then means you’re racking up points, but unless you back it up with actions, your words are empty and hollow.  There’s a big difference between words and actions. 

Here are some suggestions (remember, these are only suggestions – use your imagination):

  • Write a poem.  I don’t care whether you know how to rhyme or not, write your spouse a love poem.  It doesn’t have to be a work of art, just something short and sweet.  It shows that you put in some thought and effort, and that he or she was on your mind.  After you write the poem, leave it by their pillow or coffee.
  • Surprise them.  While your spouse is still at work or out with the kids, put out some candles and cook their favorite meal.
  • Do the little things.  Do the laundry or the dishes without making a big deal about it or having it seem like it was some heroic effort. Just do it!
  • Remember the special times.  Guys, listen up: remember her birthday and your anniversaries (your wedding, the first time you kissed, when you first met, etc.).  She’ll love that you remembered.
  • When you first get together after a long day, take time to just chat.  Sit down in your living room or on the porch, have a glass of wine, and say, “Let’s talk about the cool things that happened today.”  The first thing a lot of people do when they get home is just bitch about all the crap that happened that day.  Who wants to hear that?!  You’ve been away from each other for a long time and you’ve both had to deal with difficult things.  Don’t sit there dueling about whose day was more difficult.  Just clink glasses, rub your toes together, and talk about some good things that happened.  Wouldn’t that make for a much more pleasant atmosphere?
  • Leave them little notes.  Texts are OK, but not a tenth as good as hand-written notes.  A hand-written note requires getting out a pen and paper, writing the note, and putting it somewhere.  For example, place one in the refrigerator so that when your wife goes for the baby’s bottle, she sees, “You are the best mommy and I love you.”
  • Arrange a date night.  Find a babysitter: your mom, mother-in-law, sister, aunt, grandparent, etc.  For all you men reading this, here’s an idea: When you come home from work, pick up your wife and carry her to the car.  Whatever way she’s dressed will tell you what kind of restaurant to go to.
  • Take a bath together.  Hop in the tub and sit there talking, giggling, and giving each other back and foot rubs.

It doesn’t require a lot of time or brilliant creativity to show your spouse that you love them, but it does take effort.  And if you behave in a loving way, it will magnify your own feelings of love because loving actions make us feel loving.