Archive for June, 2010


Lies! Lies! Lies!  Each and every air-breathing, fire-breathing, or barely-breathing human being is guilty of the occasional white lie.  We lie for all sorts of reasons.  While we don’t think too much of our personal white lies, we tend to get our offended little panties in quite the pouty bunch when our spouse gives us a dose of the same.  We say we don’t want to be lied to, that honesty is always the best policy, that we would NEVER lie to him (one of our very own little “whities”).  But are we being honest with him?  With ourselves?  Do we always want to hear the brutal truth?   The ugly truth?  Or do we prefer to entertain our delusions?

There are four main reasons men lie:

1. For sex: Men prefer to have sex often (yes, I know…stating the obvious).  He knows that on any given day, it isn’t him deciding whether the two of you are “doing the deed.”  It’s YOU deciding.  He’s up for it ANYTIME you are, so his “nookie night” depends on your mood.  Now, assume you ask him whether you look fat in those polka dot, second skin pants that you secretly know are not your best look.  He has two options:  He can be brutally honest and say, “Yes, we could make money advertising on that polka dot billboard.”  – OR –  he can play it safe, hope to get a piece of that billboard later on, and say “No, honey, you look hot.  They look great.”  Now, he KNOWS that even if you know he’s lying, he just scored nookie points with his white lie.  Cha-Ching!

2.  To avoid conflict: Let’s face it.  Sometimes, we women like to think he agrees with us on almost every issue.  If he doesn’t, our relationship (in our mind) has just entered dangerous waters and our difference of opinion could be construed as a “disconnect.”   So when you are going on and on about how that “supposed” friend of yours has been talking about you behind your back – how she must not really be your friend at all –  how you knew all along what a back-stabber she was, he will probably lie and say he agrees with you, even if he thinks you’re being completely unreasonable.  WHY?  To avoid your devil eyes abruptly switching direction and making a bee-line for him: your updated target of choice.  This can apply to any issue on which he may not agree with you.  He knows that disagreeing with you will lead to hours of conflict.  He also knows that after all that energy is expended on this conflict, he still has NO hope of coming out on the other side holding his “Yes! I’m right” trophy.  When the argument is all said and done, he’ll still be wrong.  Where will this position land him on the “possible nookie” barometer?  Lower than zero.  Exhaustion from fighting, never being right, AND no hope of sex.  Come on ladies, we seem to condition him to lie a little. Don’t you think?

3.  To avoid doing something he doesn’t want to do: The latest romantic tear jerker is playing at the theater.  You can’t get there fast enough and assume he wants to go with you because he “loves” you, right?    For him, watching a romance and possibly falling prey to the elusive strong man cry ranks right up there with couple manis and pedis.  NO THANKS!  This is not his idea of a fun night.  He may make an excuse.  “I have to work late.  You go on without me.”  “I’m not really feeling up to it.  Can you find a girlfriend to go with you?”   Chick flicks, shopping, chores, housework…any of these may merit a white lie to prevent his otherwise required participation.  ~  Of course, he may not lie to get out of chick flicks and shopping.  He may claim to enjoy them.  If he does, please refer to reason #1.  He may join you with hopes of his evening of hell being rewarded with the much anticipated “nookie!”  And shouldn’t it?

4.  To avoid hurting your feelings: Men are sometimes empathetic creatures.  He may present to you a heartfelt lie to avoid crushing your ego.  You do the same for him on a regular basis.  We do this out of love, not malice.  He doesn’t want to tell you that he’s reminded of his mom when he sees you in that flower-print, cover- ALL swimsuit – just as you don’t want to hear it.  He doesn’t want you to feel hurt when he gets caught looking at another woman.  So, when asked if he thinks she’s pretty, he may say, “No, she’s ugly.  Just look at that nose!  I could hang my coat on it.”  When you ask him whether he likes your over-cooked, under-flavored meatloaf, he doesn’t want to hurt you.  He’ll likely lie and say it was wonderful.  As he should.

So, there you have it.  Men lie for many reasons, but most of his white lies will find themselves falling under one of these four major players.  Do we unknowingly condition men to lie to us?  I think so.  Men learn how to avoid conflict, keep peace, and hopefully say the right things to lure out our frisky mood.  They’ve learned this through trial and error.  We certainly can’t blame them.  Not only have we done the conditioning, but we also do the lying sometimes ourselves.  Do we want them to tell us the truth ALL the time?  I don’t think we do.  We don’t want to hear that we, by no means, resemble the sexy vixen we were before we wed (especially when he has LITERALLY no room in his seam-bursting, begging to be retired pants to point fingers).  We don’t want to hear that the dinner we’ve slaved over for two hours is about as easy to choke down as roadkill.  We certainly don’t want to hear that we’re the one to blame when it comes to an argument with our friends.  We just want him to agree, validate, and…wait for it…LIE!  Please!!!  For the sake of everyone’s feelings, egos, AND nookie!  😉

Chick Hughes

“A truth that’s told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.” ~ William Blake

photo by: Marinela

We routinely hear single, successful women complain bitterly about men’s insecurities , as if they somehow play helpless victim to them.  “I guess I’ll always be single.  Men are just too intimidated by my intelligence and success.”  “As soon as I tell them what I do, the conversation dies.”  “They never call me after the first date.  They can’t handle being with a more successful woman.”  “I keep two business cards to pass out to men:  one for my real career: CEO…one for my cover career…bank teller.  If I give them the CEO card, they can’t get away fast enough.”  Over and over, we hear this…from friends, movies, magazines, so on and so on.   A similar excuse is echoed by beautiful women.  “My beauty scares them away.  It intimidates them.”  I, for one, have never seen a man shy away from a woman simply because she’s too beautiful.  Men flock to beautiful women like hypnotized mosquitoes to a bug zapper on a dark summer night.  They can’t help themselves.  Beauty is intoxicating, it seems.  After hearing from men and employing careful consideration, I’m not so sure men ARE intimidated by beautiful, intelligent women.  Maybe some beautiful, intelligent women unwittingly sabotage the potential relationship with the one characteristic they don’t think men are paying attention to:  PERSONALITY.  Hasn’t this been our beef with men since we had the pleasure of hitting puberty?  “Why don’t men pay attention to my personality?”     “Why do they only care about looks?”  Beauty and brains, wonderful as they may be, do not conceal an arrogant superiority complex.  That little character detail can be a deal breaker.  Men putting personality over looks and brains?  Who knew?   Maybe our assumption that men are shallow and sex-obsessed has just returned for a big, juicy bite on our backside.

Of course, there are some men who find a beautiful, successful woman intimidating.  This probably stems from his lack of education, self-esteem and confidence in sustaining a relationship with such a woman.  If this is the case, the match is not a good one to begin with.  In the epic search for love, one tends to attract AND be attracted to a mate who can relatively match his/her wit and intelligence.   So, the question is WHO is it you’re scaring away?  Is it attractive, intelligent men who you perceive as intimidated?  Or is it men whose bulbs are slightly more dim with no replacement bulbs in sight?  If it’s the latter, then you’ve lost nothing as it wouldn’t have lasted anyway.  Less educated men will most likely be turned off by an intelligent woman only because he feels inferior.  Even the most intelligent men aren’t built to feel inferior to their mates – it’s not in their DNA.

An arrogant woman who uses her beauty and intelligence as a weapon to emasculate a man is probably only doing so because she’s overcompensating for her own insecurity.  In turn, once he’s run for the hills –  just as she predicted –  she’s just reaffirmed her notion that men are intimidated by her success.  Now her fears of being alone and her insecurities in attracting the opposite sex are spinning a dizzying web in her head.  This fear will instigate more arrogance.  See a pattern evolving?  Another hidden reason for her attempted dominance may be her way of rejecting him before she can be rejected herself.  If she can convince herself that he ran away like a frightened puppy because of her superiority, she can avoid facing the fear that threatens to rock her world:  It’s HER that men don’t want…not her beauty and success.  This revelation will unleash a war within herself , rather than her preferred war with the opposite sex.

Generally speaking, intelligent men will appreciate intelligent women, whether beautiful or average – and vice versa.  But here’s the million dollar question:  are you driving off all men?  If you are, then it’s likely not your beauty, brains, or success that’s doing the steering.  Odds are it’s your winning personality.  If you’re arrogant and coming across as if you perceive yourself as superior, why would a man (any man) want to get to know you better.  You’ve already told him all he needs to know:  He doesn’t want to KNOW you any better. Imagine you had the most beautiful, shiny apple you’ve ever seen.  All you can think about is taking a bite out it.  But before you get the chance to partake in that sinfully divine apple, you see the most vile, disgusting little worm peeking out through a tiny hole.  Now I ask you.  Would you want to continue and partake?  Or would you politely set it down and walk away?

No matter how beautiful or intelligent a woman is – if she’s self-absorbed, rude, and peering down at you from her stiletto heel high, she just went from desirable to SCARY in the blink of her Cover Girl mascara-coated eye.  While men, young and old, love to drown themselves in a  beautiful woman,  they prefer to be the one doing the drowning – not the one being held under and robbed of air.  At what point do we stop playing victim because we find it easier to blame the unsuspecting men for our personality flaws, which we’d rather not reflect on?   Maybe the old fallback line of “It’s not you…It’s me.”  holds more truth than we’d like to think and warrants closer examination.  So ladies, if you want to be irresistible to men, make sure you’re not letting your intelligence, success, or beauty  take the fall for your personality.  Remember: Be beautiful, be brainy, but lock the bitch in the kennel at home.

Chick Hughes

“Treating the whole world as if it works for you doesn’t suggest you’re special, it means you’re an ass. “~ Raina Kelley at Newsweek

photo by: a stuerz

A cheat is a cheat is a cheat.  This sentiment is echoed time and time again.  Infidelity can deliver a devastating blow to unsuspecting spouses, obliterating their self-confidence, and instantly driving up walls around their hearts to protect from further possible heartache.  Couples will have the inevitable ups and downs… ins and outs —  good times, bad times, and everything in between.  This is the maze that constitutes a relationship.  Navigating our way through this maze will be tricky.  Sometimes we’ll breeze through with ease and familiarity.  Other times, we may butt our head against the same damn wall over and over again expecting the wall to move,  rather than changing our direction.  When a marriage is in trouble, that trouble is our metaphorical “wall.”  We may choose to ignore it…hoping it will correct itself, and we can skip off into the sunset.  Unfortunately, delusionally ignoring our marital trouble, or dissatisfaction, will lead us – not into the sunset – but into the arms of another.  While some spouses actively search out a one-night stand to “fix” a problem they’re not sure how to fix at home, other spouses develop a seemingly innocent friendship that evolves into more.   Sexual cheating…emotional cheating…sexual fantasy.  What constitutes cheating?  At what point have we shredded our marital trust?

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t agree – sex with someone other than your spouse IS cheating.  When we’re unhappy in our marriage, we tend to seek out the missing component.  If it’s the sex that’s missing, an occasional one-night stand will “satisfy.”  Sexual cheating without emotional ties is usually committed by married men…not to say women don’t have one-night stands as well.  But generally speaking, sex, or the lack of it, is the elephant looming in a man’s rapidly shrinking room – the glue holding his marital world together.  So, when that glue pulls the disappearing act, is it any wonder he develops a wandering eye.  Let’s face it, our eyes wander even when all needs are fulfilled – such is human nature.  A sexless marriage, obviously,  is an open invitation for an outsider to “fill in the gaps” and offer that much needed glue.

Some consider surfing internet pornography or frequenting strip clubs to be a form of cheating.  While neither of these (in moderation) is technically cheating, either can most definitely make a woman feel inadequate and betrayed ~ especially when it becomes routine.  Why?  Because women don’t separate sex and emotion.  They’re synonymous in the chick dictionary.  So, discovering that her husband is frequenting porn sites or strip clubs can be devastating to both her trust and her ego…just as devastating as his discovery of her infidelity.  Note to men:  include her in your online fantasies.  This may (depending on the woman) enhance your sex life.  Excluding her sends the message that she’s not the one you want, therefore, making her feel betrayed and forsaken.  But when enjoyed together, and in moderation, it can become the occasional spice needed to shake things up a bit.

Another blurred line in the world of affairs is emotional cheating – flying just beneath the radar, masking itself as friendship.   Emotional cheating occurs when a spouse is emotionally connecting with another person, talking intimately with that person, sharing secrets, and bonding.  Unlike a one-night stand, it takes time to form this connection with someone.  Usually beginning as an innocent friendship, it can lead to sexual cheating given time and opportunity.  The emotional cheater no longer feels that necessary emotional  connection to his/her spouse.  She/he (usually she) may feel “He doesn’t seem to care about spending time with me or connecting with me.  I feel expendable and unappreciated.”   Just as one may search out a one-night stand to fulfill a sexless marriage, one may also search out an emotional connection to replace the one that has gone missing.  While some experts say emotional cheating is more destructive, a sexual affair is an image one will have burned in memory forever.  This image will likely taunt the couple (in different ways: a bitter-sweet memory to the cheater — a threat and constant perceived comparison to the cheated).  On the other hand, emotional cheating can form bonds that will never be broken and forever remain in the thoughts of all parties involved.  It’s my opinion that one is not worse than the other…just different perspectives, different needs, and different methods of fulfilling these needs.

Cheating is an act that may portray itself as black and white, a simple clear-cut absolute.   This would be a deception.  It’s not only individual to the couple, their particular boundaries, preferences, and forgiveness thresholds – but it’s also a cry for help.  If one felt no attachment to his spouse, he wouldn’t bother with cheating.  He’d just walk away and fulfill his needs without the hassle of hiding it.  But when one feels an attachment to his/her spouse, he doesn’t want to leave – nor does he want to forgo needs.  Cheating becomes an outlet allowing both the opportunity for the original relationship to improve AND sexual, or emotional, needs to be met in the meantime.  Affairs aren’t acts committed out of malice to intentionally hurt one’s spouse (although there are always exceptions).  But, they are most frequently a symptom of an ailing relationship.  A relationship consists of two people with completely different needs: men needing a regular sexual connection, women needing a regular emotional connection.  These connections are dependent on one another for the survival of the relationship.  So, it should be no surprise that when one isn’t getting his needs met, he OR she will eventually turn to someone else to provide it.  With many couples, an affair will both further hurt and surprisingly help repair the broken relationship.  Once over the initial betrayal of the affair, it serves as a wake up call.  “Something was VERY wrong with us before the affair.  I don’t want to lose what we had.  What can we do to get it back?”   While an affair is incredibly hurtful to a relationship, it can also be just the slap in the face we needed to wake us from our “too comfortable, routine stupor.”  Of course, if cheating becomes a way of life, both you and your spouse should do everyone a favor and move on.   But, if you’re wondering whether your flirty conversations with your co-worker, your late night internet chats,  your frequent visits to porn sites, or your lunch date with a friend is considered cheating,  trust your gut.  Do you feel guilty?  Do you want to keep it secret?  If so, then you may be well on your way to breaching your marital trust.  Let your guilt be your guide.  Proceed with caution.

Chick Hughes

“Mistakes are portals of discovery.”~James Joyce

photo by: danzo08

American women crave one food above all others: chocolate.  White chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, chocolate fondue, chocolate icing, chocolate cocoa – as long as it’s chocolate, we’ll eat it, drink it, bathe in it, bob for apples in it, use it as a spa treatment…when it comes to chocolate, there is nothing unimaginable…no excuse for consumption too big or small.  Whatever the form or the method – we love it.  Women go out of their way to indulge in the effects of that magic cocoa bean and experience the chocolate high.  But are we leaving out the most exciting method for consuming chocolate?  Chocolate before sex?  You bet your malted milk balls!

Studies show a strong correlation between women’s sexual satisfaction and a large intake of chocolate.  Like we needed another excuse to gorge on chocolate!  Dark chocolate, in particular, contains the highest content of cocoa.  It is, therefore, the most potent and beneficial.  This delectable treat has been shown to increase a woman’s sexual appetite, relax her, and heighten her senses.  Result:  a night of unbridled “chocolate.” 😉  Who knew Hershey had the secret to a great sex life?  But how exactly does our favorite candy give us that sexual edge?

According to researchers, chocolate (a known aphrodisiac) contains hundreds of chemicals, some of which give us that “feel good” feeling.  One such chemical called phenylethylamine (PEA) releases endorphins in the brain – the same endorphins released when we fall in love.  It quickens the pulse, lightens the head, and loosens us up.  No wonder we like it.   Who doesn’t enjoy the elation associated with new love?  PEA also releases dopamine into the pleasure centers that are associated with orgasms.  Chocolate, sex, and orgasms…Oh my!  Be sure and save your chemical indulgence for the privacy of your home–or a little PEA may result in a little PDA.  😉

Another chemical adding to the “high” we feel when “getting our chocolate on”  is anandamide, which resembles a chemical found in marijuana.  The effect from this chemical mimics that of Mary Jane, and a similar sense of euphoria is experienced.  Chocolate also contains other chemicals that prolong the effect of the anandamide…YES, chocolate makes you feel good AND makes no “quickies” about it.  It releases serotonin in the brain, which relaxes us and relieves stress, anxiety, and pain.  If this isn’t enough motivation to visit your local grocery store and attack the candy aisle, chocolate has even more surprises in store for you.  In addition to spicing up your love life, dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, contains many vital minerals, lowers blood pressure, helps with blood flow, and helps prevent tooth decay.  It’s good for the heart, body, and libido.

With all of the aforementioned benefits chocolate bestows upon us, there is the single most celebrated reason we can’t get enough. Chocolate is arguably the most delicious, most intoxicating, most downright yummy thing we have the pleasure of sharing with our taste buds.  We don’t just eat it.  We savor it.  We escape with it.  We  place it in our eager mouths, let it melt slowly on our tongues, and enjoy every last wave of smooth, chocolate, heavenly bliss.  Then, if we’re lucky, we pop in another piece.

This may be nature’s best kept secret…no more guilt ladies!  It’s good for you…Enjoy and  Remember –  the higher the cocoa content, the better it is for you AND for him.  With all the benefits of dark chocolate, why isn’t our cabinet permanently stocked with these “magic bars” and dark chocolate cocoa?  It will be.  Make a chocolate run and keep it stocked.  That way, next time you and your sweetie want to enjoy a night of fun, it’s readily available and eager to oblige.  Eat, drink, and be frisky!

Chick Hughes

“This guy found a bottle on the ocean, and he opened it and out popped a genie, and he gave him three wishes. The guy wished for a million dollars, and poof! there was a million dollars. Then he wished for a convertible, and poof! there was a convertible. And then, he wished he could be irresistible to all women… poof! he turned into a box of chocolates.” ~ author unknown

If you’ve ever been in love, odds are good that you’ve come face to face with the green-eyed monster that is jealousy.  Managing that monster, at its worst,  can leave you drained of self esteem and feeling defeated.  Being rooted in insecurity and fear of losing the object of our affection, jealousy is as common as love itself.  They are not independent of each other.  Some disagree and insist that jealousy isn’t a companion of love, but love isn’t open to negotiation.  If you find someone worthy of loving, it goes without saying that you’re likely not willing to share him/her with passers-by.  When that union is threatened by an outsider, we find ourselves in a wrestling ring opposite the snarling, green-eyed monster.  What are we fighting for?  Title of sole ownership of our self-esteem.

A modest amount of jealousy can be a good thing for the relationship, giving both parties small bursts of confidence.  We notice others checking out our spouse,  and we feel a sense of pride.  After all, we like to be reminded of our great taste in the opposite sex.  And if there’s one thing human nature revels in, it’s to be envied.  This envy is a boost to our ego and can serve as an aphrodisiac — a reminder to enjoy him/her because others would easily be interested in the event that we’re not.    Getting the lusty once-over is also favorable to the ego of the person getting checked out.  After being married for a while, we sometimes forget that we might be appealing to anyone other than our spouse.  “Sex appeal? ME?”  Getting the “eye” from a stranger makes us feel rejuvenated and more desirable for our spouses.  Attention men:  a boost to a woman’s ego will usually lure her “mood” out of hiding.  Her perception of her physical self is directly correlated with her sexual desire.  So, the better she feels, the better you feel.  😉  These minor encounters with jealousy serve us well and keep us on our toes.  Enjoy them while you can.  Much like our youthful, pre-grey hairs, they enjoy a good game of hide and seek with age. Indulge when you’re lucky enough to find one.

We may also feel a sting of jealousy when observing our spouse checking out another person.  While this can be uncomfortable, it’s also a very normal human behavior — whether by male, female, attached, or unattached.  This unavoidable occurrence is an indication of a healthy sex drive.  We shouldn’t feel threatened by it — just accept it for what it is — human nature.  Don’t give it more attention than it deserves.  If we’re honest, we’ll catch ourselves participating in a little eye wandering from time to time as well.  This should remind us of its meaningless innocence.  Of course, there’s a difference in “noticing” members of the opposite sex and “ogling” them.  Viewer discretion advised.

Then there are the more dangerous offenders — those that just tick us off.  This is the battlefield where innocent flirtation and imminent danger collide.  We feel relatively safe with a flirty glance because we recognize it as a minor, non-threatening caution flag (existing to keep us both alert, therefore out of a rut). But once our comfort line has been crossed, we feel impending threat.  The caution flag has now been replaced with a road block, which has the ability to derail our relationship.  So, where exactly is that line?  How do we stay on our toes without being knocked down?

The point at which our “line” has been crossed will vary from person to person.  For the vast majority of us, that line is crossed when a member of the opposite sex attempts to get together with our spouse without us – whether it be by phone, email, or lunch.  This “getting together” alone will trigger suspicion and fear in us.  We will begin to imagine the worst case scenario and view our relationship as under attack.  We become angry, defensive, and insecure: three emotions that represent poison daggers to the heart of our marriage.  Of course, for destruction of the relationship to ensue, our partner must reciprocate the advances made.  If this happens, there is something more going on — or not going on — in our relationship.  We should then evaluate and try to find what’s missing.  Whether the fear of infidelity is valid or not, failure to resolve excessive jealousy could prove fatal.

While a quick visit from the jealousy monster is beneficial, we want to avoid him moving in at all costs.  We should enjoy the small boosts to the ego, as we could all use them from time to time.  Jealousy in small doses is our ally —  jealousy overdose… our mortal enemy.  If we keep the lines of communication open in our relationship and maintain the emotional connection, we should be properly prepared when our line becomes breached and the green-eyed monster knocks at our door with his bags packed.

Chick Hughes

“Jealousy in romance is like salt in food.  A little can enhance the savor, but too much can spoil the pleasure and, under certain circumstances, can be life-threatening.”  ~Maya Angelou

Our kids believe us to be superheroes-capable of cooking, cleaning, creating, and buying anything with a wave of our magic hand.  Our husbands believe us to be  nurturing moms by day/mind-blowing lovers by night.  Our friends believe us to be unfaltering in the face of the endless demands of motherhood.  But what do we believe of ourselves?  What do we see staring back at us in the mirror? Do we feel like superheroes?  Do we feel like mind-blowing lovers?  Do we feel like we’re sailing along with everything under control?  Don’t bet on it.

Staying at home with the kids is an incredible privilege, one which I try not to take for granted.  Being the one person your kids turn to for every whim and every problem is definitely a benefit for both mother and child…some days anyway. With that being said,  there are days where we’re left feeling drained, overworked, and underappreciated.  We’ve all had these days.  From the time our feet hit the floor in the morning to the time they’re reunited with the bed at the end of the day, we’re running around tending to someone.  The kids are starving to death because they haven’t eaten in 30 minutes!!  (Gasp)  The clothes waiting to be laundered are mounting and now leering at us tauntingly.  The ironing board is daring us to convert it into a dart board.  The dishes are teetering over the edge of the sink.  The bills are waiting to remind us of the negative spending money we now have.  The pets are demanding to be fed as if this may be their last meal.  The toys are littering the floor begging the question, “Why do I buy them so much JUNK?”   The grocery store has been beckoning us for days disguising itself as our “me time.”  The kids can find NOTHING to eat or play without our expertise.  “Mom, I need a drink.”  “Mom, I can’t find my shoes.”  “Mom, he won’t stop bothering me.”  “Mom, I’m hungry.”  “Mom, I’m bored.”  “MOM!”  “MOM!” MOM!”  And this is all before you’ve had a chance to shower, brush your hair, or use the restroom.  Feeling overwhelmed yet?

While our kids mean well, we may still find the occasional day tempting us to “Run, Forrest, Run!”  We may work so hard at taking care of our family that we begin to wonder who that face is in the mirror.  We’ve been so busy tending to others, ignoring our own needs.  We look in the mirror and wonder, “when did I start to look like that?”  “Who am I anymore?”  “I miss me.”  It’s very easy to reach this point when all day every day is spent on the well-being of everyone other than ourselves.  No time to work out, fix our hair/makeup, take a break, or do something we enjoy doing.  We become starved for adult conversation and desperate for our brain to resist the mushy, vegetative state it seems to be mutating into.  We feel like nothing more than a maid, cook, or personal assistant to our family.  Our kids and husbands have lives outside the home.  However, we do not.  Taking care of our family and the house IS our life.  Our quicksand is engulfing us, sometimes to our relief.   We have only one sentiment:  HELP!

We love our kids, but we need to maintain our identities as well.  Finding an outlet for intellectual stimulation is of utmost importance, whether it’s a hobby, a side job, or anything that gives us that sense of accomplishment we all need.  This outlet holds the key to our self-esteem and our sanity.  Without it, we lose our edge, our vitality, our spunk.

Sometimes, we just want to lock the bathroom door, run a bath, retreat, and pretend we’re all alone.  This fantasy won’t last long…soon, there will be a knock at the door accompanied by “MOM!”  When this is ignored, it may be followed by the wandering fingers under the door and a softer ,”mom, guess what?”  Fingers under the door may seem harmless, but eventually those fingers will find a way to pick the lock.  This will mark the death of our bathroom solitude. Road trip anyone?

Will you strive for the myth: the supermom who manages to do it all and keep your sanity because you’ve made it a priority to include yourself in your daily juggling act?   Or will you settle for the mess: the unhappy, unfulfilled mom who’s drowning in a sea of chores and searching for your missing self?  M.O.M. (Myth Or Mess) Choose wisely.  Your sanity depends on it.

Chick Hughes

“Lose your dreams and you might lose your mind.” Mick Jagger

Remember those swoon-inducing, romantic gestures he once dizzied you with before you said “I do?”  Ever wonder exactly which black hole they were unexpectedly sucked into?  While dating, women analyze every move he makes in regards to her, just as a scientist forming and testing a hypothesis. ” How does he feel?”  “Does he love me?”  “Where is this going?”  “What did he mean by that?”  Once the wedding planning commences, the analytics subside and surrender to the intoxication of the honeymoon.   Now fast forward a few years.  Responsibilities have consumed him.  She’s no longer receiving what she perceives as tokens of his love and is left wondering what happened to her dizzying gestures.  She still longs for the swooning high from the early years.  Without this, she begins to wonder:  “Does he still love me?”

Men and women have very different methods of expressing their love.  When a relationship begins, a man will show his love for you by spending time with you above others.  He will forsake his family and friends for time with you.  He is consumed with thoughts of you.  He will also display the metaphorical beating of his over-sized chest for you.  “This is my girl.”  “Are you looking at my girl?”  While we humans may have refined this behavior a bit, it still bears a striking resemblance to mate claiming in the animal kingdom.  Once Cupid’s arrow has embedded itself, he will also begin to “provide” for you.  This will include taking you out to dinner, treating you to a movie,  and buying you flowers and gifts.  These early signs of his love represent the romantic gestures women enjoy that get lost in the translation of marriage.

Once married, a shift occurs in how he expresses his love…this is because men are incredibly practical creatures.  They’re very capable of prioritizing what needs to be done to reach a particular goal.  When dating, his goal was to win you over and marry you.  Unless he’s been living under a rock for his entire existence, he’s well aware of what’s required to accomplish this goal.  However, now that he’s won you over, his goals have changed- along with his responsibilities.  He now has the responsibility of taking care his family, not a challenge he takes lightly.  This is now his main focus.  Guess why?  Because he loves you.  He is showing his love for you by ensuring a nice home, food on the table, and financial security.  He must provide for you because…you guessed it…he loves you.   Men are not big on sappy declarations of love.  For him, actions are a more productive means of expressing his love than words.  While women are more feeling oriented, men are more action oriented.  So, working hard in order to provide for you, tending to your car needs (filling your gas tank, making sure your tires are properly aired, washing your car), cleaning the kitchen before you get home, massaging you after a long day–these are your newly evolved gestures of love ladies.  Recognize and appreciate them as such.

Men prefer to share space rather than feelings.  Connecting, for him, may include a road trip, hiking, or some other activity that includes only the two of you.  These side-by-side activities are bonding for him.  If there are issues in the relationship, he would prefer to handle it with a non-pressure activity such as this.  You can talk without ambushing him and boring your eyes into his soul expectantly.  This is why he cringes when you demand a sit-down, face-to-face talk about what’s missing from your relationship?  You may as well sit him in the corner and proceed to chastise him because this will cause him to feel trapped and attacked.  It’s not all that different to him than a lecture from his mom–and the last thing you want is to be perceived as mom-like.  Neither of you want that association come magic time.  For him, eye contact represents a challenge, not an opportunity for growth. A together no-pressure activity may be his way of saying, “I do love you.  Let’s fix our problem.”  Another way to read his love gauge for you is sex.  A man in love has an emotional connection to you and will pamper you in bed.  He will strive for your enjoyment.  Without love, sex with him will be nothing more than an act of lust. Women are perceptive; you’ll have no problem deciphering between the two.

As women, we’re forever searching for those little romantic gestures.  As married women, we sometimes feel we’re treading water in a barren sea–void of romance.  Unfortunately, we’re unaware that our “romantic gesture” may not come in the form of fireworks overhead, but in the form of a life raft occupied by him.  As times change, so does our definition of romance.  Next time he changes your oil or takes out the trash, remember this is his way of pledging his love for you.  Your response:  “I love you too.”

Chick Hughes

“Every man is afraid of something. That’s how you know he’s in love with you; when he is afraid of losing you.” ~author unknown

You love your spouse, but have trouble sleeping alongside him in bed.  Do you dare venture into the unchartered waters of “separate beds?” Will he feel threatened, abandoned, or relieved?  Will your marriage be labeled as “troubled” if you sleep separately?  Maybe you wake up in the middle of the night trying to peel your way out of the octopus-like grip of your clingy spouse.  Maybe you find it impossible to go to sleep while the reading light blasts through your pinched eyelids.  Maybe your spouse’s bedtime snacking (you know it…the slow, methodical crunching of chips or the slurping noises that make you secretly fantasize about snatching the cup and pouring it over his/her head) make you wonder if you’d get better sleep in the bathtub.  Maybe it’s just the snoring that’s keeping you awake or the tossing and turning.  It could be any myriad of things making your otherwise quiet and peaceful night of sleep seem like a myth…always referred to, but never actually proven to exist.

On the one hand, your bed partner is your “friend” when you’re feeling frisky.  Although sex can be had, and enjoyed, anywhere, the bed seems to be its home base of operation.  No one wants to muddy those waters.  But on the other hand, when you’re trying to sleep…let’s face it…you just want to be alone, and your bed “friend” can quickly become your sleep “enemy”.  No hand-holding.  No cuddling.  No breathing in my ear (this is my no. 1 pet peeve…breathing near my face will only instigate my hellish torment of anticipating every subsequent breath.)  No snoring.  No cover hogging.  No anything!  Just blissful sleep.  Please!

Until the industrial revolution, couples routinely slept separately.  In fact, it was a sign of prosperity.  But once the movement into industrialized areas began, space became an issue.  Combining 2 twin beds into 1 full bed was more efficient.  So began the trend.  However, the idea of separate sleeping is  beginning to flirt with us yet again.  We are realizing that being compatible in our sleeping arrangements isn’t a prerequisite for compatibility in marriage.  We’re wondering if it’s ok to bring this taboo topic up with our spouses.  Some marital partners will be threatened by this idea…others will be thrilled and relieved.  Studies show that your partner’s response will depend on the stability of the marriage.  If he feels secure in the marriage-no impending problems- it may be a non-issue for him.  However, if he feels there are already issues within the marriage, this can be threatening and seem like a precursor to divorce.

Doctors insist that a good night’s sleep is more important to a healthy marriage than sleeping together.  After all, once asleep, does it matter if you’re in the same bed?  An average of 7.5 hours of sleep is recommended for optimal rest.  Proper rest brings more energy to devote to quality time with your spouse while awake.  This will, in turn, lead to a happier, more connected marriage.  After a long day of work, kids, and chores, we all need to be properly recharged before the next round.  Without that “much needed” sleep, guess what becomes the path of least resistance for neglect…our relationship with our spouses.  Kids, work, bills, chores-these won’t stand for neglect.  But time for connection with our sweeties…now that will give without our awareness.  Before you know it, the marriage suffers.  If the marriage crashes, the others will soon feel the waves and separate beds will be your new normal after all.

Every couple should find what works for them.  No two are the same.  But don’t confuse marriage stability with sleep.  Lack of sleep is not well tolerated while trying to keep up with the challenges of our multi-faceted lives.  Sleep is the one selfish thing we should do for ourselves, for the sake of all who have to smile politely while we flash our mentally and physically exhausted “devil” face at them.  It seems, though, that one flaw has been overlooked for us not-so-morning people.  Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, that the alarm is screaming in your ear.  Your spouse doesn’t respond, as usual.  You now have to wake him.  With one bed, you can reach over and punch him in the arm with minimal  movement.  But if you’re in separate beds, you can’t reach him.    Now you have to, dare I say, drag yourself out of bed for that punch.  Hmmm, does he prefer one bed and a punch to the arm or two beds and an alarm clock to the face?  🙂

Chick Hughes

“Don’t smother each other.  No one can grow in shade.”  ~Leo Buscaglia

In any marriage, there are a few major contenders vying for title of “Most Fought Over Issue.”  The way in which we discipline our kids proudly takes its rightful place among these contenders.  When we marry our chosen love, we’re pretty naive as to what we’re getting ourselves into when it comes to disciplining our future look-alikes.  In fact, we tend to romanticize the idea of having children a bit… only imagining the adorable little baby babbling away…failing to imagine that mouthy little 5 year old who has the uncanny ability to oppose us at every crossing, whether it’s wanting candy for breakfast or screaming aloud at us publicly in an attempt  to shame us into buying him that “can’t live without” toy that will meet it’s fate in the Bermuda Triangle of lost toys within the week.  But now that reality has set in as parents, how will mom and dad agree on how to discourage the unwanted behaviors and encourage the opposite?

Discipline is as necessary to a child’s upbringing as love.   Our children crave boundaries, rules, love, and discipline.  Without discipline, rules and boundaries are imaginary to a child…only clouds of empty gibberish floating from our mouths, bouncing off of them and back at us like tiny boomerangs.   Empty promises of “I’ll spank you if you do that!” only teach them to ignore and disrespect us.  If we do want our children to respect us and learn boundaries, we must back up our threatened consequences.  But how exactly do we do that if one parent preaches “spank him” and another parent prefers taking away that prized Nintendo DS that is seemingly glued to his hand?

While we may disagree on our paths for discipline, our desired destination is the same…we want to raise well-behaved, respectable children who are able to follow rules, find happiness in themselves, and love and accept those around them.  Our chosen paths for accomplishing this will often mirror our parents’ paths.  If one parent was raised by authoritarian parents who were very strict and insisted that the children do exactly as they say, or else, then that parent will likely parent in a similar manner.  On the other hand, if a parent were raised by more lenient parents who gave the children more of a voice and tended not to focus on rules and discipline, that parent may follow suit.  Whichever path you choose, it’s rare that it be identical to your spouse’s path.  Given this, at some point, we will butt heads over how to punish our kids.

Probably one of the most important things that can be done initially is to educate ourselves on age appropriate expectations.  Different expectations, as well as punishments, apply for children of different ages.  Once aware of these, we can come together (without the kids) and discuss punishments we prefer and which punishment fits which crime.  If one of us feels very strongly against a certain punishment, but the other parent feels it should be employed, maybe we could agree on that punishment being used only under the worst of circumstances.  For smaller crimes, we could employ the other parent’s choices.  This way, neither parent is being “unheard.”  Each of you has a say in how to discipline your children without one overriding the other.

Because many families today are blended, a child’s disciplinary kitchen may be spilling over with cooks…between biological mom, her new husband, biological dad, and his new wife.  I can only imagine how trying this can be for all involved.  Children will, in the beginning, have a certain amount of distrust and resentment towards new spouses, understandably.  While his newly married parent may be blissful in the new marriage, it can be a very emotionally confusing time for a child…whatever the age.  It’s recommended that in the event of a new marriage, the stepparent take a backseat with discipline for the first couple of years.  Let the biological parent take the lead and be the “bad guy” for a while.  During this time, the stepparent and child can bond and develop a friendship, followed by love and trust.  Once the trust is there, discipline can follow.  Until then, discipline on the part of the stepparent will only be met with resentment and frustration, and will, therefore, be counterproductive.

At some point, parents will engage in a battle of words (in front of the kids) over how to handle a situation.  While debating the issue, it’s best to keep the focus on the child’s behavior–not on parental bickering.   Children catch on very quickly  and will pit you against one another in an attempt to manipulate the situation to their benefit…BEWARE of these cunning little cuties…looks deceive.  🙂  While most of our decisions should be made in private regarding punishment, it’s not always realistic.  New “situations” rear their ugly heads at the most inopportune times.  When this happens, we have an amazing opportunity to provide a  life lesson for our child.  Hearing his parents talk rationally (without degrading, verbally abusing,  or disregarding the other) and hearing them listen to the other’s viewpoints will be beneficial.  This will teach him how to have a healthy argument and how to come together toward a common goal, while respecting his own AND others’ opinions.  On the flipside, listening to his parents yell back and forth, make snarky remarks towards each other, and eventually stop speaking will teach him to only think of himself, never to listen to others, and to avoid differences.  Result: an adult completely ignorant on how to hear, be heard, and come to a healthy agreement.

While we will inevitably differ on ideas of discipline, we must remember that our goal is the same.  Who’s right?  Who’s wrong?  Who cares?  This shouldn’t be our focus.   Raising wonderful, caring, law-abiding individuals-THIS should be our focus.  Entering into marriage and parenthood begins our long, winding road of confusion and pandemonium.  But if we work alongside each other, instead of against each other, our road is much more pleasant.  At the end of that road, we’ll find that our once mouthy, difficult 5 year old has evolved into an intelligent, well-adjusted, successful individual….no one ever said the road was short, or easy (for those who may have made that stupendously stupid assumption, ignorance is bliss — as I’m sure they were not yet parents).  As you know, parenting isn’t for the faint of heart.  Sissies need not apply…

Chick Hughes

“When mental energy is allowed to follow the line of least resistance and to fall into easy channels, it is called weakness” James Allen