Posts Tagged ‘communication’

photo by: wreckedm

You, me, WE.  Yours, mine, OURS…c’est WE!  Who knew those bitterly plotting pronouns would follow us long after we bid adieu to our rigid English instructors’ bloody war zone of red corrections slaughtering our diligently written papers.  Stalking us like ninjas in the night…ready to obliterate us with their nunchuck skills the minute we utter our marriage vows binding “me” to “we.”  Singular pronouns D.O.A.  Your plans.  My savings.  Your house.  My car.  Your money.  My kids.  Married adults declaring “Mine, Mine, Mine, Me, Me, Me?”  Much like a couple of preschoolers brawling over the only light up Buzz Lightyear toy.  One difference…preschoolers are way easier to deal with.  🙂  We adults sometimes get so caught up in remaining individuals, we forget that we married for a reason…to join TOGETHER.  But, understandably, with a 50% divorce rate, we may find ourselves in self-protection mode, keeping assets, experiences, and problems separate…just in case.  The problem is “me” can’t manage a marriage.  The mindset of “we” is what keeps us bonded together.  Without it, “me” usually ends up becoming a divorce statistic.  Me, you, us, we, mine, yours, ours.  The language of marriage quickly devolves into one down and dirty pronoun throwdown!

It seems obvious enough.  For a marital union to remain happy, it must be…well, united.  A union is formed when two become one.  Two individuals merging together to form a singularity.  If two individuals don’t wish to become one ~ financially or emotionally ~ they should also avoid a marital merge  and should, instead, travel as a parallel pair on a perpetual dating road.  But for those who do choose a marital merge and wish to prevent fatal accidents, the traffic lingo must be WE.

A study published in the journal Psychology and Aging followed 154 middle aged couples and had a front row seat to their pronoun throwdown.  Blood and gore galore!  Last one standing:  “WE!”  Those couples who stuck to plural pronouns… “our,” “us,” or “we” …were happier with one another and showed less physiological stress.  When conflict did arise, these couples showed more relaxed heart rates, had lower blood pressure, and were better able to resolve their conflict.  Opposite the plural pronoun victors were those who emphasized their separateness…using singular lingo such as “I,” “mine,” or “me.”  These couples weren’t as content in their marriages, had more difficulty resolving conflict, and displayed more negative facial expressions, tones of voice, and body language.  Hmmm…they were sore losers even before they lost.  🙁

In today’s modern matrimony, some couples predict their own failure.  Before the marriage license is even signed, they anticipate divorce and make it a point to keep anything and everything separate…mine, yours, no confusion.  Some see it as savvy business sense or self-protection.  Some see it as a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Our expectations sometimes predict, or cause, our outcomes.  Things like prenups, while my logical brain can justify them, scream “red light” to my emotional brain.  Entering into a union that is based on trust without trust seems a moot point.  Why open the door if you’re expecting an armed stranger?  And if you do open the door and arm both yourself and the “stranger” with ammo, fear and self-preservation will eliminate one…or both.

But that’s just finances.  Some couples choose the more treacherous road…emotional singularity.  Rather than focusing on financial assets, they focus on more intimate day-to-day experiences and problems.  Day after day, reiterating their separateness.

~ to the sick spouse ~ “You’re sick?  Ok, you stay home.  I’m going out.  See ya.”

~ to the wife who pleads for help with birth control ~ “Your body.  Your problem.  I’m not getting a vasectomy!”

~ to the husband who worries about money and struggles to support the family ~ “I AM buying this for myself.  I deserve it.”

~ to the wife who’s crying over a lost connection ~ “What’s your problem?  I’m here.  What more do you want?”

“Sticks and stones may break my bones…”  but words can break our bond.

Turns out words are much deadlier than sticks and stones, acting as poison darts firing upon an already choking emotional connection.  When we disconnect emotionally, we tend to quit thinking in terms of “we” and focus on “me.”  We’re no longer a team.  Gone are the days of “us against the world.”  We divvy up our metaphorical weapons and prepare to stand alone.  We stop making together plans, stop considering the other’s feelings, and begin carrying out our days alone only crossing paths when absolutely necessary.  Result…LISTEN UP!  The fat lady is singing.  D.i.v.o.r.c.e…it’s D-Day.  He finally has those double D’s he’s been dreaming of since his pubescent afternoons spent in the john.  Unfortunately, the only thing he’ll be “jerking” on is his wallet as the divorce lawyer charges him for giving her half of everything.  Uh-oh…the fantasy has gone horribly awry, no?

So, how do we take back our marriage?  And control our looming pronoun throwdown?

Experts say it’s simple…equality.  Neither husband, nor wife, dominating the relationship.  No “his.”  No “hers.”  Just “ours.”  Whether it’s financial assets, debt, problems, or plans…the concept of “us” suggests a team…working toward a common goal and providing support and confidence for one another.  Without the team mentality to help us through life’s storms, we’ll be drenched in the pouring rain hoping our tiny umbrella for one won’t attract the crackling lightning from above.

Scientists say our pronoun lingo is as telling about what goes on inside our marriage as an x-ray is of what goes on inside our body.  It can show a healthy body…or it can reveal a nasty cancer festering, growing,  and destroying its host. They say to master our marriage, we must master the art of togetherness while maintaining our own identities.  That we must share interests, feelings, ideas, experiences, and memories.  When shared, this common ground serves as our marriage fingerprint…gives it a uniqueness all its own.  No two alike.  This fingerprint is bonding as a couple and helps to create a sense of “we.”  Together, we’ve survived terrible twos, teenage rage, job loss, and dysfunctional families that make us want to bitch slap the Cosbys.  On the other hand…together,  we’ve enjoyed births, anniversaries, school plays, vacations, and holidays that would put a tear in Clark Griswold’s nostalgic eye. “We” persevered…together.  And together, “we” stand united to face whatever more this fickle life has to throw our way.  As long as WE control our pronoun throwdown.

Ditch the “‘me.”

Say “OUI” to “We!”

Chick Hughes 🙂

“The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together.” ~ Robert C. Dodds


He’s mad.  She’s mad.  He yells.  She rebels.  He decides to call it a night.  She demands they stay up and finish the fight.   None of us is unfamiliar with the best marital advice this side of a divorce.  Drum roll please… “Never go to bed angry!”  It’s said that if we don’t hash through a disagreement before our head hits the pillow at night, it’ll lead to resentment and ultimately dismantle our relationship.  Well, I don’t know about the rest of the married world…but if I had to resolve every marital argument before going to sleep at night, I’d quickly resemble a zombie from the Thriller video.  And on that laughably inadequate amount of sleep, I’d be much less passive…think cross between “Zombieland” and “NightBitch On Elm Street.” Yeah, this is what happens when I “Never sleep again.”  🙂  But it turns out sleep-deprived fight nights and  groggy dark circle-eyed days don’t pave the spit-swapping way to make up sex.  So, in the event of a night brawl, should we stay awake and duke it out…or put our head to pillow while we internally shout?  Is “never go to bed angry” sound advice?

Psychologists say NO…it’s a myth.  They say couples are afraid of fighting…when, in fact, fighting (in moderation) is a sign of a healthy marriage.  We all fight.  It’s inevitable.  Spending minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day with the same person WILL lead to disagreement from time to time…unless you’re a deaf-mute…and even then the sight of their annoying breathing pattern may eventually tip your tolerance scale.  We coexist, therefore, we fight.  😉  Sometimes over our passionately differing viewpoints…and sometimes over mundane little details of our deceptively delightful days.  Whatever we’re sparring over, experts say the fact that we’re sparring at all is a good sign.  It means we’re comfortable enough with ourselves, AND with our partners, to disagree.  That we won’t go along with whatever the other says just to avoid an argument.  They say it’s THIS bobble-headed “whatever you say” attitude that leads the bobbler to, one day, tire of nodding his head and leave the marital bed.  So, go ahead…speak up!

If you do speak up one late night opportune moment, emotions are running high, and the argument is going nowhere…pushing the issue while both partners are emotionally and physically drained will be more harmful and counterproductive than going to bed while angry.  When we’re exhausted and seething furiously, the last thing we want to do is LISTEN.  And just as important as sharing our opinion is LISTENING to that of our partner.  Listen, share, listen, share…compromise OR agree to disagree and move on.  But none are likely to happen in the middle of a war with lots of ammunition and little rational thought.  We’ll just keep hitting lower and lower below the belt trying to make our point.  In the end, we’ll still go to bed as our heads boil over with tears…however, now more damage has been done…and that damage cannot be undone.  This emotional unleashing is due to what psychologists call “flooding” …when we’re so overwhelmed with anger and emotion, all rational thought has evacuated our firehouse head, our hearts are pounding, and we lose all ability to fairly and justly resolve an argument.  It’s better to table the discussion until  morning and go to bed mad.

When you find yourself head on with a night fight, remember the three R’s:

Recharge: Go to sleep, get rest, and recharge your battery.  The issue at hand will be clearer with a rested mind.  With rest comes rational thought.  With rational thought comes perspective.

Regroup: Think about the point your partner was trying to make.  Was it valid?  Was yours?  More often than not, with a fresh perspective, we realize the argument wasn’t ALL THAT!

Revisit: Choose a time to revisit the issue with your partner.  Discuss it with a clear mind and emotions in check.  If the issue remains ALL THAT upon revisiting, then more discussion is needed.  If not…then let it go, apologize, and get geared up for make up sex.  Established emotional and sexual connections are the ties that bind our love.  Heated fights will unravel those ties.  And failure to reestablish them will burn the edges so they may never bind again.  So, manage your relationship and “tie” it up with a pretty little bow.  🙂

We all fight.  It’s not a sign of the end times for our marriage.  It’s simply a sign that we’re together every day, we have our own opinion, and we’re comfortable enough with one another to vocalize that opinion.  A healthy couple will fight.  A smart couple will fight when the time is right.

So…go ahead.  Sleep on it!

Chick Hughes

“Do not teach your children never to be angry; teach them how to be angry.”  ~Lyman Abbott


If there’s one thing we women aren’t equipped to navigate, it’s a one-sided conversation.  This feels about as natural to us as strapping on that delicate sexy bra over, rather than under, our favorite baggy sweatshirt.  It just doesn’t make sense to us.  Women need feedback.  We crave it.  We respond to it.  But according to men, conversation simply isn’t a valuable commodity.  However, if he knew the trade value of conversation with women, he may be eager to buy more stock.

She asks, “How was your day?”  He responds, “Fine.”  She waits for him to elaborate…fill her in.  She’ll be waiting a while.  He’s done with this conversation and is oblivious to her curiosity.  He walks away, moves on to another task, and leaves her feeling “left out” of his life.  She may push, but it’s unlikely she’ll get much more information than the mind-blowing ear-full she got the first time.  Still, she hopes.  To her dismay, her hopes are dashed by his complete disinterest in hashing out his day with her.  Resentment follows.  She may hold onto that resentment for later, more convenient use during a fight over something totally unrelated…or she may confront him immediately.  Disappointment makes for a good boomerang.  She’ll just hurl it right back his way.  But he’s blindsided by the boomerang.   He now knows that she’s angry, but left wondering “what about?”  He has no clue that she NEEDS to hear the details of his day.

Attention men:   she DOES…

Women exchange details of their lives as a means of connection.  If you’re not communicating your daily details with her, you’re not connecting with her.  Men, on the other hand, only speak with purpose.  If there’s no reason to give details, he won’t.  Ladies, it’s not personal…it’s just pointless to him.  He doesn’t need it, and he’s completely unaware of the fact that you do.  So, tell him.  Tell him that you need to know what’s going on in his life…not because you want to “control” him (which is what so many men choose to think), but as a way to stay connected to him.  Tell him…enlighten him.  He needs you to tell him what you need.  Otherwise, he’ll never figure it out…he’s not a mind reader, obviously.  Explain to him what you need…or forever hold your “peace.”

Aside from the fact that men just don’t have a need for excess talk, he may also feel intimidated by talking to you.  Let’s face it, sometimes we possess the uncanny ability to take in the things he says, swallow them, twist them, turn them, completely reconstruct them in the most negative way possible, and then regurgitate them in all their glory… right in his unsuspecting, utterly confused  face.  Poor guy.  Once we do that a time or two, he may – being the logical thinker he is – decide less is more…and be very careful about sharing his details, or feelings, the next time around.

And how many times have we asked his opinion about something, thought it over, and then proceeded to override his opinion with our own?  “Honey, what do you want for dinner?”  He replies, “Chinese.”  You come back with, “Really, I was thinking burgers?”  Now is this really a question?  Not a chance.  Burgers…it’s what’s for dinner.  😉  So, yet again, he realizes there’s no point in his expression of thought, as it will be vetoed anyway.  Guys are linear thinkers.  So, once he figures this out,  he’s no longer interested in engaging in the “What do YOU think?” game.

There may also be a neurological reason men don’t share feelings or daily details.  Our brains are divided into left and right hemispheres.  The corpus callosum is a white matter tract connecting the two.  It’s this connecting tract, or bridge, that allows for cross-talk between hemispheres…. Studies have shown that a woman’s corpus callosum is wider than that of a man’s.  This may be why women aren’t able to compartmentalize…we can think AND feel at the same time.  Having a more narrow “bridge” for cross-talk between hemispheres may contribute to his tendency to compartmentalize…separate his feelings from his thinking.  And consequently, engage in much less conversation about how this, or that, makes him feel.

No wonder he’s not as enamored with all the mushy talk as we women are.

So, if you want to know what he’s feeling, but he’s not volunteering…be more direct.  Men don’t respond well to vague questions such as “What are you thinking?”   Rather, asking a question like, “Do you think _____?”  or “Do you feel _____?”  will draw his details out front and center.  It’s not that he’s deliberately withholding his life.  He simply doesn’t know you need to connect in this way.  Volunteering the details of who said what at the office, which project isn’t going well, and what he ate for lunch doesn’t come naturally to him.  But with the right prodding, he’ll open up…all you have to do is listen.

Because of the communication gap between men and women, we tend to think men are distant and uncaring.  But upon closer inspection, you may discover that men are quite vulnerable and full of emotion…they’re just encouraged both by nature AND nurture to hide it well.  And hide it well, they do.

Tell him what you need.  Men need AND want to know how to make you happy.  Speak his language.  “Sweetie, you need sex.  I need connection to have sex.  Connect with me…and I’ll ‘connect’ with you.  Tell me all about your day.”  You put it in those terms…you won’t have to ask him twice.  He’ll be OH so happy to oblige.  His daily details will erupt forth like lava from a volcano after a multi-century long dormant spell.  You may have to go dominatrix to shut him up and tame his “volcano.”  🙂

Chick Hughes

Part of the reason that men seem so much less loving than women is that men’s behavior is measured with a feminine ruler.  ~Francesca M. Cancian


Ahh, love.  It comes.  It goes.  It takes your breath away… leaves you floating on air.  Then one day, it simply takes your breath… leaves you deflated, void of life, and gasping for the very air you once floated effortlessly on.    But what goes up must come down, right?   We fall passionately in love… can’t pull our otherwise rational head out of the clouds – not that we want to.  Our love is intoxicating, empowering, and seemingly infallible.  Little do we know.  🙂  We trust that love so completely that before long, we take it for granted.  Anything we take for granted, we neglect.  A marriage neglected becomes a marriage…fallible.  What comes next?  The better question may be what doesn’t come next?  We may find ourselves in love limbo…somewhere between “in love” with our spouse and divorce.  No man’s land.  We still love our spouse, but we’re not “in love” anymore.  What now?  Do we give up, lawyer up, and begin the battle of who gets what?  Or do we fight for our marriage, rather than against it?

It happens every day to couples everywhere.  Spouses fall out of love.  They no longer feel that electric spark between themselves…no longer see in their spouse what they did once upon a time.  They’re simply no longer happy with this person they vowed to love in “sickness AND health.”  Of course, there are occasions when divorce is the best choice.   But more times than not, a couple who was once passionately in love can find their way back to that love…given a little effort and an open mind.  Do you remember those heartfelt vows you pledged to your spouse?  Do you remember the look in your spouse’s eyes when you were exchanging those vows?  Do you remember the moment you said “I do?”  Do you remember the officiant who wed you waving the “easy marriage” wand over your heads?  Do you remember the marriage license containing a disclaimer?  “Warning:  Marriage will suck the life out of you.  If you have a wandering eye, a short temper, a stubborn personality, a closed mind, or if you in any way, shape, or form classify yourself as HUMAN…you may want to consult your divorce lawyer before entering into this contract!”  Of course not!  We don’t enter into marriage with the anticipation of divorce.  We’re too blinded by our love at the point of “I do.”   But there will come a time…a time when you don’t share the same spark that once had the ability to set your whole “forest” ablaze…a time when you simply tolerate the other…a time when you no longer feel “in love”…a time when you wonder if divorce is inevitable.

You won’t be alone.  When we say “I do,” it’s hard to imagine the profound reality of the next 50 years.  As newlyweds, we’re infants in the world of marriage.  We can’t comprehend the difficulty that awaits us…the stress of keeping mounting bills paid, raising kids whose primary job seems to be pulling us away from each other, meeting the needs of career, family, and life, in general.   Romance is often times stuck on the back burner, metaphorically speaking, and forgotten about until we smell that “burning” stench lingering in the air.  We forget to pay attention to it until we’re so far apart emotionally that it may seem too late…and we begin kicking around the “D” word in our thoughts.

The fact is ALL marriages will go through these “dry” spells.  This is the ebb and flow of marriage.  Spouses fall in and out of love with one another all the time.  We enter marriage “in love”…obviously.  As the years pass and stress envelopes us, we may begin to neglect one another…and fall out of love.  While we may still love each other (just as we love our family), we may not be “in love.”  We may love him, but not like him very much anymore.  We may wonder why we ever married this person to begin with.    We may even be disgusted with our spouse on occasion.  We may think there’s no hope…no way to get “it” back.  Wrong again!  By this stage in life, we should be growing accustomed to being…wrong…every now and then.  🙂

The beauty of love is that it tends to come full circle –  much like that iconic, circular representation of it we exchange on the day we wed…the wedding band.  Our love will start out in a state of romantic bliss.  Bliss will fade.  “Getting by” will become our daily struggle…but love will endure.  That iconic symbol will withstand being left at home, being temporarily lost, being smudged by life’s daily messes…it will even withstand us outgrowing it (just as we do our love at times).  But even with all the trials that band encounters, it remains an intact circle and very difficult to “break.”

Love will come and go.  Someday, we’ll fall out of love with our spouse and find ourselves hovering in love limbo.  But give it time…that love will return.  Search for the charming, endearing things your spouse does, rather than focusing on the negative annoyances.  One day your spouse will wink sensually at you, touch you lovingly, or kiss you in a way that reignites that “long been out” flame.  That flame will cause your knees to grow weak, send your heart aflutter, and…hopefully, leave you in the throes of passion.  All the things that made you fall in love in the first place will come rushing back to you…and possibly, leave you floating on air once again. On this day, your vision won’t be so utterly impeded by all of life’s messy trials.  You’ll be able to see what initially attracted you to this person you pledged your life to.  Once returned, that love will likely be stronger than ever before. After all, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger…right?  Cliche, but true.

A love that once found us WILL find us again.  We just have to do our part:  be patient enough to wait for it and devoted  enough to draw it a map.

Chick Hughes

Trip over love, you can get up. Fall in love and you fall forever.” ~ author unknown


Does your spouse know everything there is to know about you?  Do you know everything there is to know about your spouse?  Are you an open book when it comes to each and every detail of your thoughts, insecurities, fantasies, embarrassing moments, etc.?  Is your spouse?  If you think you know every minor detail about your sweetie’s inner self, I’d love to know how the weather is over there in “your” world.  And,  even if you think you’re completely honest with your sweetie, I challenge you to think long and hard on it.  Maybe you’re so good at keeping your secrets, you’ve fooled even yourself.  We each have secrets…those thoughts we’re ashamed to admit we have (like sexual desires we’re afraid to share with our spouse for fear he/she will reject us), those little uh-ohs we’ve made over the years no one else knows about (like fender benders witnessed only by us), those little crushes we develop on someone other than our spouse (being married doesn’t mean we’re dead…we still find sparks outside our marriage every now and again), or those things we take a peek at when we think no one’s watching (like online porn or flirty glances at strangers).  These secrets range from hiding that shopping indulgence we knew our spouse wouldn’t approve of  to harboring romantic feelings for another person…from failing to mention previous relationships  to having post-work beers with the guys while you’re thought to be working late.  These are the little secrets we keep to steer clear of confrontation, to avoid shame, and to dodge repercussions.   But are all secrets bad?  Do we really need to know every thought or experience our other half has?  On the flipside, do we want our other half to be privy to every private thought and detail about us that we’ve tried so desperately to keep hidden?  Obviously, the answer is “NO!”

For years, marriage counselors have preached complete honesty (NO secrets) as the only way to have a successful marriage.  But recently, professionals are rethinking this stance.  It’s now thought that we need to keep some minor details secret (obviously not major details –  such as affairs or financial secrets that will affect both partners) in order to maintain a little mystery, as well as to maintain what’s left of our individual identities.  When we marry, we become one.  But should we…is becoming one the best way?

Sure…at first, becoming one seems like the thing to do.  Walking down the aisle and receiving that symbolic piece of paper seems to be the only way of becoming as close as humanly possible to that person we can’t seem to get enough of.  We want to eat, sleep, and breathe this ONE person.  But in time, as time has a way of doing, we may yearn for our own little piece of identity back.  If our spouse is aware of every fleeting thought, every pending fear, every little move we make – every second of every day –  (and we’re just as aware of his every move and thought) we begin to lose ourselves somewhat.  The line separating where one ends and the other begins becomes as blurry as that cute little yellow line in the middle of the road after one too many jello shots.  When that line blurs, we begin to grow bored with one another and wander over to another “traffic lane.”   Knowing too much about the other can be monotonous.  To a point, this is good…monotony means security for some.  But without a little mystery and spontaneity, we’ll soon bore ourselves to death and, possibly, search for that spontaneity elsewhere.

Keeping secrets is a defense mechanism…self preservation…a natural behavior in human beings.  But our culture dictates that we defy that instinct, divulge every detail of ourselves, and be completely honest in every aspect of our inner beings when it comes to our spouse.  Not only are we taught to practice complete honesty regarding our most personal thoughts, but we’re also taught to expect the same from our spouse.  Guess where these expectations get us?  Denial…denial of our own feelings and actions and denial of our spouse’s feelings and actions.  Denial is yet another defense mechanism we employ when we can’t come to terms with unrealistic expectations.  Why do we insist on expecting superhuman traits from our spouses AND ourselves?  These idealistic expectations are doomed to bite us in the ass.  There’s no way either partner can accomplish this feat… being human and all.  So, what happens when it comes out that one of us has kept a secret?  What happens when she discovers that he’s been sneaking a peek at porn sites?  What happens when she finds a love note from a girlfriend he had long before being married?  What happens when he discovers she has a crush on another man?  Just what does happen when we have our blinders ripped off and realize that our spouse – who we thought was so perfect and incapable of keeping secrets from us – does, in fact, have a few secrets…and is, in fact, not so perfect?  Unnecessary fighting, tension, and disappointment are unleashed as the three-headed dragon that it is.

We’re convinced by society that, as a married couple, we should know everything there is to know about the other.  And, if one is keeping secrets of any kind, the marriage is in trouble.  So, when we uncover a secret…and some secrets will be uncovered…we feel betrayed.  We feel like our marriage is a sinking ship…like we never really knew this person at all.  This is what we’ve been taught to think.  We’ve been taught that if our spouse keeps anything at all from us, we’ve been betrayed.  We’ve learned to deduct that our spouse can’t possibly love us if he’s keeping little secrets… and divorce becomes our life boat to our perceived “sinking ship.”  Maybe this is why the divorce rate is so high?  If we go into a marriage expecting to become one person, expecting to know every detail about the other person, and expecting those details to merge with and mimic our own, where does this marriage have to go but down?

With a certain amount of privacy comes a feeling of being in control of our lives.  Without it, we almost feel as if we’re still checking in with our parents…YES, that’s right…this is especially emasculating to men.  We don’t want to feel controlled.  We need, and deserve, our privacy.  We need our space.  And we need our individual identities if we want to remain appealing not only to our spouses, but to ourselves as well.  We aren’t capable of remaining in love with our spouse if we feel we’ve lost ourselves to that person, if we feel we no longer know who we are without that person, if we don’t love ourselves any longer.   We’re only capable of loving another, and being happy with another, when we know who we are and love ourselves first.

So, realize that we are imperfect beings marrying other imperfect beings.  As these  imperfect beings, we keep secrets to protect ourselves, as well as the ones we love.   Know that your spouse will have secrets from you.  Remember that you, too, have secrets of your own.  Accept the presence of these secrets, know that they don’t end marriages (unless we expect them to), and embrace the humanity in all of us.  Stay mysterious.  Stay individual.  Stay married.  🙂

Chick Hughes

“The human heart has hidden treasures, In secret kept, in silence sealed; The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures, Whose charms were broken if revealed” Charlotte Bronte

photo by: wikkedhill

A chore is, by definition, an unpleasant or burdensome task.  Sarcastically translated – action everyone desperately wants a piece of.  So, it’s easy to see why couples get so combative when they aren’t allowed their fair share.  These are, after all, life’s little treasures, aren’t they?  Who doesn’t love to prepare meals three times a day, do dishes twice a day every day, wash, dry, and put away load after load of laundry, or dispose of trash that just keeps reappearing?  If this list seems short, allow me to confirm… it IS.  An actual list of daily household chores (especially households in which children reside) is so ongoing, so tedious, so perpetual…one may begin to feel like throwing in the damn towel rather than washing it ever again.  Chores are no fun as it is.  But when one spouse is doing most of the chores without help, the tension can become so tangible that it seems to evolve into yet another mess that needs “mopping up” before the day is done.

This scenario may sound familiar:

She’s had a long day with the kids and work.  She’s exhausted, but sees no end in sight where the chores are concerned.  The kids need to be bathed, dinner needs to be made, dishes need to be done, a load of laundry awaits, the garbage is overflowing, the phone is ringing, the dog needs to be fed and walked, the kids are arguing, her head is spinning, her sanity is wavering, and she looks over to find her “partner” dozing in the recliner.  She goes from feeling overwhelmed to feeling angry and resentful in a split second.  Why is it her sole responsibility to tend to the needs of everything AND everyone in the house?  Why isn’t her partner helping her?  Of course, resenting him takes time…time she doesn’t have at the moment.  That argument will have to wait.

As for now, dinner, dishes, kids, baths, garbage, and bedtimes are jackhammering her patience.  Once everything is done and the kids are in bed, she can finally sit down for a break.  However, that anger is still lingering just beneath the surface waiting to explode like a shaken soda bottle – all he has to do is open the top.  She’s drained of energy (mental and physical), and suddenly, he’s alertupstairs AND down.  He suggests they go to the bedroom.  Bottle top opened…instead of the warm reception he hoped for, he gets slammed with each and every way he made her night miserable.  The argument that had to wait before is now fully engaged.  May the best man, or woman, win.

He was most likely unaware of her frustrations.  He feels completely blindsided by her ranting, just as she felt alone and taken for granted while he rested.  Her anger has gotten the best of her, and she’s attacking him.  He goes into defense mode and attacks back.  Neither hears the other.  Because he didn’t attempt to help her with chores, she no longer sees him as a partner.  Women will never come out and tell men this,  but when left to take care of absolutely every chore the house demands and every need the kids demand (as if it’s “her” job alone), she feels she’s lacking a partner and her spouse becomes – in her mind –  another “child” or “chore” to tend to.  Is it any wonder she’s not interested in having sex at the end of the night?  Not only does she feel a lack of connection, but she’s seeing him as a chore, rather than a lover.  What was the definition of a chore again?  A burdensome task.  So, when he approaches her for sex after she’s completed EVERY other need in the house, she begins to view that as just another “job” to do before she can relax and go to bed.  Her sentiments may include:  “I did all of this alone…you can do that alone.”  :0  Now he feels rejected, angry, and refuses to help the next night.  The cycle begins.

A marriage is a partnership.  Household chores are the responsibility of both husband and wife.  There are chores inside and outside the house.  And believe me, they’re not going away…ever.  Whether laundry or yard work needs to be tackled, both partners need to help each other and participate.  “Your job” or  “My job” shouldn’t be part of our vocabulary.  All chores fall under “Our job.”  Otherwise, lines are drawn, those lines are crossed, and battles erupt.  The battles erupt because one partner feels shorted.  Tension and resentment replace affection.  And the argument becomes a contest of “who does what every day” and “who did it last.”  When both husband and wife are helping, both feel appreciated, both feel equal, both feel connected.  When both are pitching in, chores are finished sooner.

No one feels unappreciated or taken for granted.  She now sees him as her partner and feels closer to him because they shared the work.  On this night, we don’t have one partner who’s rested up and ready to go and another who’s drained of energy and ready to rest.  On this night, we have two partners who are in the same place physically and emotionally.  They understand how tired the other feels from doing the housework, and they’re emotionally connected because they shared the experience.  Now guess what other experience they’re likely to share?  Because the emotional connection is there, she feels a true partnership.  The groundwork is laid.  Now it’s his turn.  Sex is no chore tonight.  When he approaches her tonight, there won’t be any ranting …maybe a little panting, though.

So, keep in mind…the house, as well as the kids, belong to both of you.  The responsibilities belong to both of you.  The chores belong to both of you.  Remain a team, and avoid nightly wars by sharing the nightly chores.

Chick Hughes

“Marriage is not just spiritual communion and passionate embraces; marriage is also three meals a day, sharing the workload and remembering to carry out the trash” Dr. Joyce Brothers


Few things can crush our spirit and strangle our marriage like unrelenting criticism from our spouse…the one person we depend on for strength, love, and acceptance.  A constant onslaught of jabs, insults, and nit-picking leaves devastating scars on the hearts of our spouses…and, sometimes, gaping wounds on our marital trust that may never fully heal.  Undoubtedly, we’ve all been guilty of a little criticizing from time to time.  I’m not sure it’s possible for one to live with the same person day in, day out, year after year, without playing the occasional critic.  Obviously, there’s a difference between the random constructive criticism meant to help our other half and the endless spewing of critical comments meant to drag the other down.  What compels us to repeatedly hurl destructive “balls” of criticism at our spouse?  How does that criticism affect the one on the receiving end?  And how long before we’re pitching hurtful remarks to a catcher who’s left the field and the marriage?

Let’s say, hypothetically speaking,  you’ve just started dating someone.  You go out to dinner a few times, maybe a movie or two.  It’s unlikely that either of you will say anything hurtful to the other for fear the potential relationship will roll over and play dead.  But, what if your date began to tell you all the things about you he’d like to change…how you should dye your hair red because he finds that unbearably hot, how you probably shouldn’t wear those pants again because it looks like you’re smuggling two Easter hams back there, how he thinks you should wear more makeup because “You have a cute face, but you could be hot if you tried harder”, how sometimes she’s ashamed of your obsession with country music and the infamous, ratty hat that is so soaked with smelly sweat you’d swear it’s breeding mosquitoes in the seams, how you should really let her do the talking because “You’re kind of clueless and incompetent.”   Would you stick around to see how this turned out?  Hell No!  That’s a phone number that would no longer be listed in your cell under “Jake” or “Megan.”  You’ve now replaced that “name” with “asshole-don’t answer” at least until you feel they’ve gotten the hint and have stopped calling.  ALL HAIL:  Caller ID.

So, if these criticisms would never make appropriate date conversation, then why does it manage to slither it’s slimy little head into our 5, 6, 7+ year old marriage?  Because it can…Because we let it… Our guard is down… our love “high” is no longer keeping our kite soaring in the sky…somewhere along the way, we’ve lost our wind.  This loss of “wind” will lessen our perceived threat of consequences hurting our spouse may bring.  Finding too much fault in our spouse isn’t something that only happens with “other” people.  Any one of us can slowly fall into this pattern while we’re not paying attention and taking the other for granted.  Keep your guard up.

Maybe we criticize because we’re insecure with ourselves and feel the need to spread the “love.”  “My spouse won’t leave me if I can convince him I’m better than he is – that I’m the best he can do.”  Maybe we’re just no longer happy with our spouse and feel safer lightly, persistently jabbing our “dragon” with passive aggressive comments,  rather than attacking it head-on.  Maybe our spouse has hurt us somehow, and we criticize him as a form of punishment or retaliation.  Whatever our reason, with each and every tiny criticism, we personally create new links in the chain binding our spouse to his own insecurity.

Whether we’re criticizing our spouse’s likes, dislikes, parenting techniques, appearance, weight, grooming, etc.  – hurtful words from us can never be reclaimed and have a way of convincing our spouse of his faults like no other source.  Countless complements on our appearance from others can, and will, all be erased with just one negative, hurtful comment from our spouse.  Why?  Because no opinion matters quite as much to us as his.  It’s unlikely that the object of our criticisms will bounce into our lap, thank us for our astute observations, and beg us for more.  It’s far more likely that he/she will internalize the painful attacks, learn to question every personal thought or decision, wonder if we would approve, lose all independent thinking, and eventually, all self-esteem.  These needling remarks have not only caused our spouse to lose self-confidence, but now the confidence in our relationship has gone missing as well.   Our spouse may now be thinking, “What does he like about me at all?”  “Why is he still with me if  he hates everything about me?”   At this point, our spouse’s trust in us is nonexistent.  We’re crossing the line between friend and enemy.  The bond is cracking, and will soon snap.  The number one bonding activity a couple engages in is sex (due to bonding hormones released in the brain during sex).  Unfortunately, our spouse is now riddled with insecurities, and bonding  over sex is highly unlikely.  Who wants to have sex with the perpetual critic –  finding fault in our every detail…during sex, we’re the most vulnerable we’ll ever be.  Criticism in that department is sure to shut down business and supply power to the giant, glowing, neon “CLOSED” sign guaranteed to be hanging over our bed indefinitely.

Now that our spouse is bound by the chains of criticism that we’ve so lovingly created link by link, how will our marriage hold up?  How does a person who is restrained usually respond when they’ve had enough?  They rebel, break loose, cheat…leave.  Once our spouse tires of being stripped of his self-confidence, he will likely look to rebuild that confidence without you –  maybe with someone else, someone who will help him find the person he was pre-US.  Can we blame him?  Fault him?  Persecute him?        For what?  Trying to be happy?

Marriage is no picnic.  No fairy tale –  even on a good day.  It’s hard work.  And it’s hard enough without constant criticism from our partner.  For our marriage to stand the test of time…the good times, the not-so-good times, the “kill me now” times, and the “I’m already dead and in Hell” times…we have to be there to breathe life into each other.  It’s our job to build each other up, encourage each other.  If we, instead, choose to bind our spouse with criticism and replace each shred of self-esteem with a nice, shiny link of chain, we might want to step back.  Sooner or later, those chains will be broken…and we may get slapped in the face with a nice piece of shiny “criticism” hand-crafted by yours truly.  Give love.  Get love.  Give hate.  Await your fate.

Chick Hughes

“Never criticize your spouse’s faults; if it weren’t for them, your mate might have found someone better than you” Jay Trachman


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

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