Category Archives: Women’s Point of View

Listen Up, Ladies! Ten Reasons to Ditch a Guy

In general, people say you shouldn’t pass judgment on others.  Well actually, when it comes to dating, you should.  When you date, you’re supposed to discern what is good, bad, right, wrong, healthy, and unhealthy about a person.  You need to know when to pull the plug because if you don’t, you’re going to experience misery, anguish, and frustration, and waste a hell of a lot of time.

Although I could discuss the topic both ways, I’m going to focus on the ladies.  Here are 10 reasons to ditch a guy:

Reason #1: He’s base when talking about women
You know the music where the singer calls women “hos”?  That sort of thing.  If he leers, acts snotty, calls women “bitches,” or worse, it’s not a good plan to be dating him because his disrespect for women in general also includes you.

Reason #2: He’s a momma’s boy
Relationships are filled with enough decisions to be worked out between the two of you – it doesn’t need to be the three of you.  If his mom handpicks everything from his career path to his apartment, take caution.  I assure you my son’s apartment was definitely not selected or decorated by his mother (even if his taste is, as I like to say, “Eclectic”).

Reason #3: He’s primarily interested in himself
If everything is about his opinions, his concerns, and his dreams, or he likes to hear himself talk, then he’s not really interested in you to any great depth.  You’re just a window dressing on his life.

Reason #4: He has addiction issues
If he has had any trouble with drugs, gambling, or alcohol, don’t even bother.  That often requires a whole lifetime of management and counseling.  Instead of marrying into it, go to school and get a license to be a clinical social worker – that way at least you’ll get paid to do it.

Reason #5: He’s not honest and/or trustworthy
Now, I’m not talking about him saying, “Of course I enjoy your cooking,” and then going out to get a taco when he says he’s putting gas in the car.  That’s what we call telling a “white lie” in order to avoid hurting your feelings.  I’m talking about major things: He says he has never been convicted of a felony and you find out he’s got a rap sheet, or he swears he doesn’t have an STD and then you end up with a little surprise.  Big lies like, “I’ve never been married before,” or, “No, I don’t have kids,” set the foundation for a lack of trust, and if you can’t trust your man, you’re in store for a lifetime of anxiety, frustration, and big-time drama. 

Reason #6: He’s negative
You know the type: He doesn’t like his job, thinks everyone on the road is an idiot, and pouts about nothing ever going his way.  Everybody has bouts of negativity (I know I do), but dealing with a constantly negative person is draining.  It will eventually drag you – and the relationship – down.  If you’ve got a guy who is negative all the time, dump him.

Reason #7: He’s got Peter Pan Syndrome
Guys like this seem charming because they act like kids or perpetual teenagers.  However, unless a guy can take emotional and fiscal responsibility, you don’t have yourself a real man.

Reason #8: He lacks ambition
This funnels from reason #7.  He needs to have a goal – any type of goal.  Life is a challenge, and if you don’t want somebody who isn’t going to protect and provide for you, don’t stay with someone who has no passion or ambition.  A guy who gets fired and then sits back and doesn’t look for a job isn’t the kind of man you want.  If he’s got a “why bother” attitude about life, you should have a “why bother” attitude about him.

Reason #9: He’s a cheater
Life is short.  The last thing you want to do is spend your time worrying about who your guy is in bed with.  I think there should be a one-strike law: If you’ve made a promise to each other that you’re not going to date other people anymore and he strays, dump him.  Don’t accept any excuses.

Reason #10: He isn’t good boyfriend material
Though somebody may look good on paper, if they don’t mesh very well with your lifestyle, family, or friends, you don’t want to have a future with them.  Otherwise, it’s going to be a lifetime of dealing with them not bothering or caring, and making a mess when they can’t fit in.

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Your Spouse Has Cheated. Now What?

In the movie Closer, Clive Owen’s character grills Julie Roberts’ character about the nature of her infidelity.  He bombards her with a barrage of questions about the frequency, timing, whereabouts, type, quality and orgasmic nature of the sex she had with the interloper until she finally asks, “God, why is the sex so important?!”

Men and women react to infidelity differently. Women are more concerned with the emotional side while men care more about the sex. This is a result of hardwiring to a certain extent.  Females want to know if their male can still be a provider and protector for their young.  Males, on the other hand, are primarily invested in the preservation of their genes.  This is why, like Clive Owen’s character, men will ask about the sex and women will ask about the romantic feelings involved. 

Once you understand the differences in how men and women react to an infidelity, the next question becomes, “What should I do if I find out that my husband/wife has cheated on me?” 

First, you need to know that it’s possible for a marriage to survive an affair. In fact, the healing process can even improve the quality of the marriage. However, in order to improve the chances of your marriage staying together, you and your spouse need to seek professional help. 

Therapy helps you have adult conversations and develop skills to resolve your problems. When choosing a therapist, try to find one who has been in a long-term marriage. Be aware that therapists who have been recently divorced have a higher percentage of their patients and clients divorce.

I recommend high quality professional assistance because in order for you and your spouse to truly work through your challenges, you’re going to have to see and accept that both of you played some role in the infidelity. I am not saying that somebody had the right to cheat; I simply mean that if you decide to stay with each other, you have to figure out why things got so bad to the point that someone cheated. The success of your marriage pins on your ability to change the behaviors that alienated each other in the first place.  

If you truly think you did everything perfectly, then dump your spouse. You’re either right and this person is just a bad apple, or you’re not in touch with them enough to work it out. Either way, the relationship doesn’t have a chance of succeeding.  Don’t sit around playing the blame game for your unhappiness or their lack of a moral compass – it’s a recipe for disaster. 

However, if both of you are willing to work, there are some common mistakes you should try to avoid:

Don’t spend your time humiliating, debasing, challenging, and assaulting the cheater. Instead, try to get to the bottom of what hurt the relationship in the first place (e.g. lack of affection, being too busy to be sweet, etc.).

Contacting the person they had the affair with is usually futile. It rarely uncovers the whole truth, and oftentimes, the exposure alone will make them back off.

Naïvely taking your spouse’s word that he or she has ended the affair is one thing, but constantly following them around and checking their phone and email every five minutes is another. Yes, most people need help disengaging from an affair because there is a tremendous amount of physical and emotional investment.  However, hitting them with guilt nonstop isn’t going to help anything. 

Finally, realize that it’s going to take time. 

Ultimately, if your spouse has cheated, you need to ask yourself the following question: Is this a pattern of behavior (i.e. a reflection of their character), or is this a single event which indicates that something seriously wrong in the marriage wasn’t respectfully dealt with? Between work, the kids, and everything else going on, did one or both of you stop paying attention to the relationship? With better communication, better decisions can be made and priorities can be adjusted.  Hopefully, in the end, you can both look back at the affair as a slap on the back of the head reminding you that you weren’t paying attention to the relationship.

Training Your Brain to Stress Less

The vast majority of Americans today feel stressed out.  I would say that it mostly stems from financial struggles, which, in my opinion, are only going to get worse in the near future.  Women, in particular, get stressed out because they have too much on their plates. Ever since the feminist movement, women have been told that they are lazy bums and betrayers of their sisters if they stay home to raise their children.  As a result, women have quadrupled their responsibilities, and in doing so, increased their risk of heart disease and cancer by trying to play wife, mother, and jack of many other trades all at the same time.  If you’re struggling with stress in these hard times, I have some advice.

The first thing you need to do is realize that you are only human and that humans have limitations.  It’s simply the reality of our systems.  There are times when we just need to sleep or shut down.  Thinking that you’re a lazy slob or an incompetent idiot because you’re getting killed by all the stuff on your plate is not constructive.  You need to see that you have limits.

When I was still involved in private practice, I used to tell people to write down a list of all their obligations and then dump a third of them.  You should do the same.  Arrange all the things you need to do into a hierarchy of least to most important, and then dump the ones that are least important.

In addition, there are techniques you can use to train your brain to stress less.  For example, many athletes have trainers who help them respond quickly in stressful situations.  They teach them to focus under pressure, and even more importantly, how to recover from stress-induced errors.  Their trainers also teach them the importance of shutting down so that they don’t carry their stress around with them all day and night.  The same thing goes for soldiers training for battle. The more combat situations they face, the more familiar they become with handling the stress and the more control they have over their reactions. 

Training your brain to deal with stress is difficult, but it can be done. Here are a number of ways you can start reducing your stress levels.

Video: I’m Busy. I’m Tired. I Can’t Get in the Mood.

Women today seem to believe that work, the kids, the house, their friends, etc. are more important than their husbands, and that somehow a sexless marriage is perfectly acceptable.  Unfortunately, this attitude eventually leads their men to look elsewhere to fulfill their needs.  But there is a different perspective a wife can adopt…  Watch:

Read the transcript.

Fake vs. Real Love – A ‘Chemistry’ Lesson

In today’s world, you meet someone, you text, you think they’re the greatest thing in the world, you have sex, and it’s over.  You don’t even bother to get to know them – it’s just, “Hello. Do you have 15 minutes?  Let’s hook up.”  The romance of actually trying to build a relationship is not much in season.  Of course, there are shack-ups, but those are really just fake relationships. 

I want to talk about the difference between real love and the fake stuff.   Fake love is the immediate chemistry.  We all know what that is – the chemical rush of horniness that can last from three weeks to a year and a half and then “Poof!” it’s gone.  It’s a little different for males than females because they are each biologically focused on different things.  Males are focused on their sperm taking over the world one female at a time.  Females, on the other hand, are biologically concerned with safety, security, and being provided for so their babies will be safe.  Although the biological system in human beings can be somewhat overridden, chemistry for a male is still a) she’s a hot babe, and b) I’m going to look hot walking around with her.  It’s initially superficial, and it lasts longer the younger the male is.  For the female, a male’s attractiveness is semi-irrelevant (I mean, “piggy dirty” is not acceptable, but other than that, she doesn’t care).  She just wants to see if he can take care of her.

Men are perfectly capable of engaging in sex without emotional bonds.  That’s why prostitutes have always existed.  Today, a lot of women are behaving like that, and it’s one of the many reasons why female depression is so high.  “Just having fun” leaves a lot of women feeling used up and lonely.  They engage in multiple meaningless situations of physicality, which don’t make anybody – men or women – feel better.  It takes time to develop a relationship, and a lot of you folks aren’t doing that.  You are just trying to get some physical and emotional needs met.  The problem with that is there’s no giving involved – the cornerstone of a real relationship. 

The onset of real love and fake love can feel very similar.  It’s obsessive – you can’t think about anything else, and you might lose weight, sleep, or time.  However, when it’s fake love, you are both only projecting fantasies and assuming things about each other.  You can’t see future problems because you are both idealizing all of each other’s qualities and insisting that the other person is the best you’ve ever met.  However, you haven’t actually “met” them.  You are only seeing an idealized version of that person. 

That is why courting is so important.  It’s how you learn more about a person other than just, “She’s beautiful and a bombshell in bed.”  You have to let the dust settle.  Until that happens, you really have no idea if you’re right for each other.

When two people immediately start planning for the future within weeks of meeting, it’s a sign that they don’t know a damn thing about each other.  I’ve always told women that if a guy is proposing that quickly, it isn’t because he loves them.  Real love evolves into (and I know this word is going freak some people out) service.  You see, fake love is all about how the other person makes you feel.  Real love is about your commitment to making someone else feel good.  Real love involves two people focusing on the needs of each other and doing loving acts over and over again without anyone keeping score.  That’s why fake love ends up being such a bummer and a letdown – you hit a wall because all you’re thinking about is how you feel.   

Now, just because fake love is largely about physicality doesn’t mean it’s unimportant to real love, especially in the case of men.  I find it really annoying when women call my show saying they’ve gained between 30 and 50 lbs and still expect their husbands to love them exactly the same.  Your husband may have deep feelings of caring and commitment toward you, but it doesn’t change the fact that your blubber is not a turn-on.  If you would have asked him, “What would you think if I gained a lot of weight,” I guarantee you that his answer would have been, “I want you to be fit and nice-looking like you are now.”  Women get all mad and upset when I tell them that because they think, “If he loved me, he wouldn’t say something so hurtful.”  Come on!  All he’s doing is telling you the damn truth.  As a spouse, taking good care of yourself and being healthy are very important.  Chemistry still matters later on, and a lot of it has to do with how you look to your spouse.  

On another note, what happens when you don’t have chemistry with someone?

Well, some people hang around for a while to see if the chemistry will evolve.  I’m not a big believer in that.  I think there are probably some circumstances where that does happen, but beating your head against the wall to make it happen is probably not a good plan.  When you hear about two long-time friends who start feeling sexy about each other one day, that is not really chemistry developing – it’s just chemistry they weren’t aware of that is now coming forth.  In my opinion, the chemistry was probably there from day one, but their brains were not functioning on that level. 

If you have persisted and still don’t feel chemistry, don’t try to force things.  It isn’t fair to you or your potential partner to do that.   You can’t manufacture or counterfeit passion, and there is no substitute for chemistry.  Give each romantic experiment a good try, but don’t wait forever.  If nothing happens, you have to move on.

Becoming a Mom – The New Reality

One of the scariest things in the universe is having to transition to being a mom.  At first, it’s a very romantic and cute idea.  You picture the little baby always smiling, and you anticipate getting to hug him or her whenever you want.  You think about how sweet it is that you and your spouse made this baby together as a composite of all your love for each other.  It’s going to be so much fun.  You can’t wait!

But then, the baby is born and reality sets in.

When my son was born, I called up every friend I knew who had ever had a baby and pleaded, “How do you get him to stop crying?! What’s the story?”   Some of them said, “Oh, just put him in the car seat and go driving,” but that didn’t help me much because even though the kid could sleep, I wouldn’t be getting any rest.  I gave it a try, but he only screamed more.   

We had a screamer.  It was a constant thing, and we could never figure out what he was screaming about.  “Does something hurt?”  “Are you wet?”  “Are you hungry?”  “Are you constipated?”  “What is the problem?!”  We just wanted to hold up pictures and hope he’d point at whatever was wrong.  However, babies don’t point or tell you, they just scream.  We even got one of those itty bitty baby swings, figuring that the rocking motion was going to work.   But it didn’t fix anything.  Finally, while I was looking through the mail, I came across an advertisement for a stuffed bear that was supposed to help kids sleep.  It contained a mechanism inside of it, which emulated the heartbeat sound that the baby hears when he or she is floating around in the uterus’s amniotic fluid.  When my husband came home from work that day, I said, “Lew, go out and find this bear, and don’t come home until you have it.” 

Yes, I was that crazed, and he knew I meant it.

While he was gone, I was lying on the bed trying to console the crying baby.  I put him on my stomach, tried petting him, and hummed/sang to him.  Every now and then he’d quiet down, but then he’d start screaming again.  Just when I was about to cry myself, Lew walked in the door holding the heart bear.  He stuck a nine-volt battery in its tush and turned it on. 

My son’s eyes got huge, and within a split second, he was out.  Boom.  Asleep.
 
Mr. Bear was like a miracle drug.  Although my kid is now 26 and doesn’t sleep with him anymore, I have kept Mr. Bear (even though he doesn’t work anymore) because he sure saved everybody’s life.

I use this story about my son to illustrate one of the more frustrating and scary moments about becoming a new mom: when you have no idea what the baby wants.  It’s an awful feeling when you’re standing there willing to do anything for your baby, but you don’t know what it is you’re supposed to do.  You figure it’s the standard things – they need warmth, food, contact, or cleaning – but none of those ends up being the problem.  In my case, it was the heart bear that did the trick.  For some reason, when I lay my son on my own chest and he could hear my heart pounding, it wasn’t nearly as impressive to him as his memory of the womb.     

New mothers have a lot of reasonable fears.  Here are just a few of them:

Everybody who says they want a baby pictures a sweet, happy child who is easy to get along with, studies, does well, has friends, and possesses many talents.  However, pregnancy is this big unknown.  You have no idea what kind of little person is going to come out until he or she grows up enough to start expressing him or herself.   Some kids are cuddly, and some cry a lot.  Some seem to bond readily, and others don’t.  Some are born unhealthy, and others are born healthy.  In the meantime, you have a whole lot of uncertainty going on.  It can be exciting, but it can also be uncomfortable.   There are a lot of challenges that you’re not going to know about until the baby is born.
 
Another worry is that you’ll turn into your mother.   Whatever your opinion of your mother’s mothering, it’s your first and strongest model of mothering.   A lot of you say, “I am not going to be like my mother,” but then you start hearing yourself sounding just like her.  That’s because it was your first experience, and it’s what you are familiar with.   Of course you don’t want to blindly stumble along in the footprints of familiarity, but you also don’t want to reflexively react against your mother’s parenting style.  Think about the good stuff you learned from your mom, consider the things you don’t think were the best, and formulate your own method of mothering.   You don’t just want to say, “Well, my mother did ‘x’ so I’m going to do the exact opposite,” because the opposite may not always be a good alternative.   Remember the Dr. Spock era where kids were encouraged to have total freedom to express themselves?  Yeah, that bombed.

You also may worry that your marriage will never be the same again.  Well, that’s true.  Although a baby doesn’t weigh much or speak, the minute you have them there, they rule.  However, the key to holding on to your marriage is to work together as a team.  The experience of having a baby can’t be about one of you being superior, more knowledgeable, or more in charge than the other.  The two of you need to be a team. 

For example, when I was trying to house-train my most recent baby (my Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, Sweet Pea), my husband and I had a system.  I’d pick her up and carry her to the door, my husband would open the door, the doggie would relieve herself outside, and then my husband would help open the door to bring her back inside the house.  We also had a system years ago when my son was breastfeeding.  At a certain time, my husband would get up and bring me the baby.  I’d breastfeed, and then one of us would change the baby’s diaper.  After that, the other one would put the baby back to bed. 

That is what you have to maintain to keep your relationship strong:  a team effort.  On a side note, women’s brains are wired very differently for hearing baby sounds than men’s brains.  The reason is obvious: Since babies come from our bodies and suckle at our breasts, it’s a part of our biology for us to hear those little high pitched noises.  So, don’t think your husband is just being a drag and a bum if he doesn’t immediately get up when the baby calls – his brain is simply not wired to hear what you hear.

Another worry is that you’re going to be a bad parent.  I hear that far too often.  I know it’s easy to think about that in this extreme age of parenting where people are hovering over their kids and trying to make them be totally happy and successful without having to put in any effort, but you shouldn’t worry.  Being a good parent is really just about being open and willing to listen, putting your needs aside, and parenting even when it’s inconvenient, uncomfortable, or unpleasant.   It takes a lot and there may not be one specific way to do it because you and your spouse’s personalities have to coordinate, but you can do it. 

One of the things new mothers often say early on in the first year is, “I don’t think I like this parenting thing. What have I gotten myself into?!”   However, you have to remember that kids are always changing, and the experience of motherhood changes along with them.  Things won’t always be so difficult and overwhelming, and you are bound to have favorite and less favorite phases.  Just look at their sweet little faces while they’re sleeping, and you’ll remember why you got yourself into this.

A final worry is that you’ll be trapped.  It’s not as carefree of a life when you have a baby.  Unless you’ve got grandma living near you so you can go out to dinner and a movie, everything changes.  My husband and I would have to bring the car seat into restaurants with us.  As soon as our son started fussing, one of us would go outside and rock him while the other ate, and then we switched.  We very rarely got to eat together in a restaurant, but we still tried to do it about once a week so we wouldn’t go completely stir-crazy. 

There is a lot of negative thinking and anxiety when you become a new mom, and there are many adjustments you have to make.  Sometimes you think you’re going to mess up and do something terribly wrong, or you have nightmares about something horrible happening to your child.  You may even feel trapped and want to get out of the situation.  However, these are all normal anxieties.  The most important thing you can do is talk about them out loud.   That’s where girlfriends, mothers, or good mother-in-laws come in.  I remember one time when I was getting batty, I called up a girlfriend who was already on her second baby.  I told her, “Oh my gosh, I’m having terrible thoughts,” and she said, “Oh yeah, you’re going to think about setting them on the curb from time to time.  But don’t worry, that’s normal.”   Simply having the support of another mom telling you that what you’re feeling is normal is a huge help.

If you are having a hard time as a new mom, don’t hate or get down on yourself.  When you’re feeling stressed out, it’s time to hand the baby to Dad and go take a walk or a bath.  Do something to refresh yourself for a little bit and then come back.   It’s a difficult transition, but you can handle it.

And just think – when they become teenagers and start driving, you’ll look back and say, “Gosh, that was easy.”

How to Stop Bad-Mouthing Your Body

In magazines and throughout our society, there is such a heavy focus on how women look.  Because of this, many women have major body image issues. 

In my book, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, I relay a call from a woman who told me she was short and tubby.  You know how some people have six-pack abs?  Well, she had a “12-pack” of fat rolls.  The thought of being sexual with her husband made her freak out because she was so self-conscious.  However, I told her that her husband would rather have her naked up against him than have her body be perfect.  She said I was an idiot, but promised to try out my advice anyway. 

So, she went to a lingerie store and bought something bright red and outrageous with spaces everywhere.  It was even a little too small because they really didn’t have anything in her size.  When she got home, she started changing upstairs while her husband was in the living room.  She then stood at the top of the stairs and called for her husband in the garish, red, too-tight lingerie outfit which prominently displayed her rolls of fat.  He took one look at her, smiled widely, and ran up the stairs.  They had a great night (and by the way, she no longer thinks I’m a complete idiot).

In my opinion, women are to blame for this obsession with their bodies.  I read a Glamour magazine survey (which obviously only sampled women who are obsessed with glamor) revealing that 97 percent of women are cruel to their bodies on a daily basis.  After surveying 300 women of all sizes, the researchers found that, “On average, women have 13 negative body thoughts daily – nearly one for every waking hour. And a disturbing number of women confess to having 35, 50 or even 100 hateful thoughts about their own shapes each day.”

That is sick stuff.  I feel sorry for these women who are more concerned about superficial things than their brain or character.  They are not worried about choosing the right men, doing charity work, getting educated, or being aware of what is going on in their community and world.  They are not worried about figuring out how to actually raise their own kids instead of just dumping them in day care.  No.  They are worried about how they look. 

That is so pathetic.  There is something to be said for school uniforms where how you look is irrelevant.  There is less distraction that way.

I’ll admit I’m not too crazy about looking in the mirror and seeing lines and wrinkles.  No woman likes that.  However, I don’t care about new styles of clothes, hair or makeup, and I don’t care about creams that make your face appear younger.  What I do care about is being strong and fit.  I don’t want to be spending the last years of my life unable to get around.  Everything I do is a preemptive strike on the future.  Every day, I get up at 5:30 a.m. and kill myself working out for an hour.  I play tennis two to three times a week, and I also kayak, sail and hike.  I work my body.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t have very good luck with genetics, or they’ve been in some kind of accident (e.g. they’ve got osteoporosis and they’re just waiting for a broken hip).  However, when you do have control, put in the effort.  Don’t have 17 different plastic surgeries.

Ann Kearney-Cooke, Ph.D., a Cincinnati psychologist who specializes in body image and helped Glamour design the survey, said:

“Neuroscience has shown that whatever you focus on shapes your brain. If you’re constantly thinking negative thoughts about your body, that neural pathway becomes stronger – and those thoughts become habitual…Imagine a concert pianist. Her brain would have stronger neural pathways that support musicality and dexterity than someone who hadn’t spent her life practicing.”

Interestingly enough, if a man thinks the same things women are thinking about their own bodies, he’s considered offensive or abusive.  If a man says that a woman’s got a big nose, disgusting skin, bags under her eyes or small breasts, it’s a “no-no.”  And yet with women, negative talk is part of how they bond with each other.

Women also tend to talk and feel bad about something rather than trying to fix it.  Whether it is stress, loneliness, boredom, or a bad day, women go into depression mode rather than being proactive.  I’ve mentioned many times on my program that it’s more typical for guys to be proactive about a problem than women.  Men want to go fix something.  Women want to talk about it over and over and then feel upset about it. 

It’s not easy, but there are some simple things you can do to change your body and feel better:

  • Rewire your brain to see the positive aspects about your body. 
  • Ask yourself if this really is about your body.
  • Exercise!  I cannot stress enough how being physical can change your mood and outlook.
  • Just say “stop” when you have a negative thought.  That will shut it down.
  • Remind yourself that obsessing about what you eat or look like doesn’t make you look better.
  • Appreciate your body for what it does – not what it looks like.
  • Play up your strengths.  Don’t compare yourself to others.  Focus on what you have and be proud of it. 

For further reading, here are some interesting body image statistics.