A Mother’s Letter to Her Daughter

A MOTHER’S LETTER TO HER DAUGHTER

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Girl Child Unaware of Challenges Ahead:

Dear daughter, now that you’ve come into the world, beautiful and delicate, I must protect you and teach you the hash truth concerning the things which await you. You must keep your head up and put on your armour. You must stand and fight, little angel.

Women have fought for equal rights for generations. The battles have been hard-fought, but we still have a long way to go. Our victories are surrounded by uncertainty. Women from different calibers can tell of their challenges because it’s still just a dream. A dream which perhaps your generation will make real.

Because you are a girl and one day will become a woman, you have forces to fight. Pressure to overcome. Inequalities to push through. Stigma and abuse to endure throughout your life. You must gear up with confidence and strength and stay vigilant. Above all, focus on yourself first and seek guidance from Almighty God.

They have it all wrong:

Women are thought to be very strong but they are more fragile than a bird’s egg. They smile and hide their sorrows from their children and the world. They give hugs even with a hundred knives sticking from their back. They drown silently in their own tears. Only a woman can look at her child from her dying bed, wipe away the tears on the child’s face and tell them she’s okay.

Because they are the backbone holding a family together, they sacrifice everything to see others happy. Although their efforts often go unnoticed, they are like a nonstop clock, only better because they never run out of energy. “When the time comes, don’t forget to take care of yourself too, my little angel.”

Invest in Yourself First:

A trusting woman can spend the last penny from her retirement benefit to build the man in her life only to watch him walk out on her and the children in search of the woman of his dream. Left with little hope and strength, she looks at her children, smiles and assures them that it’s going to be alright.

She gathers herself together, gets down on her knees and talks to God. At dawn she rolls her sleeves up and starts all over – because she has the strength of a woman. “Never get into this trap my little angel; build yourself, you will never get disappointed. An independent woman is a powerful soul.”

Too Many Hats will Ruin your Hairstyle:

Too much work will wear your spirit out.

A woman wears many hats – a wife, a mother, a cook, a cleaner, a nurse, an organizer, a prayer worrior, a provider, among others. Some call her superwoman, others focus on what was left undone. She does all the feminized work done more often by women than by men.

She thinks, worries, pays attention and delegates but her efforts are largely invisible. She gets almost no recognition or pay. Everything overwhelms her, but she only cries when nobody is watching. She understands she’s the backbone holding her family together. “You cannot do it all, my little angel. Do what you can and never be afraid to ask for help.”

Believe in Yourself:

A woman supports and validates a man’s dreams but she has to fight for her own. Do not give away your power to someone else. You can do anything if you lead. You do not have to follow lest you end up falling off the cliff.

A woman loves without ceasing because she’s made of pure love. The heart has misled many; sadly some are not here to tell their story. Don’t close your eyes when you kiss a man. They shut your mind down if you do. Open them wide and see beyond the kiss. “If you ever fall in love, use your brain to love and not your heart, my little angel.”

Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut:

A woman is often mistreated, abused and stepped on. Sadly she forgives and hopes for a brighter day – because she understands that she’s the torch-bearer of peace and she cannot afford to drop it down lest it burns out. Never misuse your strength, my little angle. It is OK to walk out and close the door behind you. “I understand it might be scary but, remember, you are stronger than you think.”

Women are beautifully and wonderfully made. They are a masterpiece and not an object. You do not have to buy somebody’s love by offering your body. Once you give in, the desire goes with their promises. If anyone is worthy, they will wait and love you until you’re ready and of sound mind to know exactly what you want.

Take baby steps with life, little angel. Do not rush through. Don’t exhaust yourself. Live for the moment, put God first, do the things that make you happy and do not expect from anyone but your Creator. Climb to the top of the mountain first, then drop a rope to help others get there. It is not selfish, it is the way of life.

“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.” Maya Angelou. Remain under His wings, my little angel. You will be safe there now and after this life. I will not always be here with you; one day the winds will carry me into the unknown.
However, God will forever hold you in His arms. He is the one true God who is the beginning and the end. He is our Heavenly Father who controls the unseen winds. In Him we are safe in this walk of life and the unknown.

Keep this letter close to your heart and remember to share your wisdom with your friends. Tell them it is a letter from mothers to their daughters.

Date Like You Did in the Beginning and the Passion Won’t End

DATE LIKE YOU DID IN THE BEGINNING AND THE PASSION WON’T END

Kyle Benson

We are supposed to find love by dating around. All across the globe, different pairs of strangers meet every night at restaurants hoping that the person sitting across from them is “The One.”

Many dates will be awkward enough to signal the server over immediately for the check. Other dates will last for hours. Some couples get lost in the world of sharing their hearts, and when they go on a second and a third date, they put on their best behavior

The new love birds shop for attractive clothes, exercise more, eat well, and groom themselves. One of them will plan the date by picking the restaurant, the dance class, or making a reservation at a hip speakeasy neither has been to. A lot of work goes into seeing each other again.

And this is something we often forget. Dating is work. It takes an intentional effort. And this effort is created by the desire to impress and please your mate. It is the essence of romance. It is our gestures; the care we put into the way we dress, the places we take our lover, and even the surprises that produce excitement, novelty, and emotional connection.

Date nights are like gasoline to the flames of romance. Yet, 44% of long-lasting couples in America go on one date a year. 1 These couples forget to add wood to the fire to keep the heat burning. And as their relationship goes through time, the fiery passion turns into lonely embers in the night.

“Couples who stop spending romantic time together lose sexual interest in each other.” – The Normal Bar

The authors of The Normal Bar surveyed 70,0000+ individuals and found that more than 60% of men and women in the United States desire more romance.

Globally speaking, women generally wanted to enhance the romance more often than men. But more than one-third of the men said it bothered them a lot that their lover wasn’t more romantic.

When you’re done falling in love, you must learn to stand in love. To wilfully create it. The authors of the Normal Bar propose that Romance is a simple loop that reminds us of this.

Date night
“Romance creates desire and desire is expressed romantically.” – The Normal Bar

And romance is created by the desire to be loved by your partner, to impress them and your desire to love and want them more. This happens in small ways, such as showing admiration for each other, and making each other a priority by continuing to court each other.

Dating is so important to long-lasting love that it is two hours out of Dr. Gottman’s Magic Six Hours to Lasting Love. Yes, it’s that big of a deal.

The Ideal Date Night

The vast majority of the Normal Bar couples who are extremely happy intentionally spend alone time together. No kids. No work. Even after partners share a mailbox together, they still “date.”

The research is in: Date night boosts happiness, emotional connection, and intimacy.

Fortunately for you and me, men and women have similar expectations when it comes to the ideal romantic date.

Women want to feel sexy, have a delicious meal at a nice restaurant, drink some wine, and end the evening with some quality love-making at home (or a high-end hotel if there are kids at home). 2

Men agree.

Men enjoy pleasing their partners by taking them out to dinner at a favorite spot, followed by going somewhere private where they can give and receive full-body sensual massages. Or maybe take a bath that finishes with having sex… “all night long.”

Throw in some heartfelt surprises such as a love note, more affection, and a serious makeout session, and you have yourself the international recipe for an ideal romantic date.

The 3 Excuses for Why You’re Not Dating Your Spouse

Couples who don’t do date night don’t prioritize their time together. The kids, work, and everything else take precedence, and their relationship slowly erodes.

If you do nothing to improve your relationship your relationship will get worse over time.

When asked why they’re not dating, couples come up with three excuses:

We don’t have enough time!

No, you just value spending your time on other things than the passion of your relationship. All of us have to make sacrifices by choosing one thing over another.

As Mark Mason puts it, “No, You Can’t Have it All.”

A 75-year study on what makes a good life proves that the way to live a meaningful life is not fame or wealth, but by having meaningful relationships. And meaningful long-lasting relationships are cultivated by two people committing to each other.

Commitment to your partner enables you more freedom because you’re not distracted by looking where the grass is greener. Instead, you are focused on making your current lawn lusciously green. It is this investment in your relationship that allows you to go to the depth that the gold of love is discovered.

Date night

We don’t have the money for a fancy restaurant or a sitter.

One of my favorite date nights with my partner is getting froyo. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. It only has to be with your partner.

If you’re struggling with having the money for a babysitter, get creative! In The Normal Bar, the authors suggest doing “Block Dating,” which means connecting with other families in your neighborhood and rotating who takes care of the little ones. Every other week, you’ll watch their kids so they can spend the evening on a date. It’s a win-win for the whole block because you get your turn too!

We want to do different things.

Of course you do. You’re different people. Take this opportunity to push each other to do things you normally wouldn’t do. This may require some negotiating.

In Stan Tatkin’s book Wired for Dating, he talks about how his wife Tracey wanted to go to her favorite spot for a drink, while Stan wanted to see a new movie. While Stan is not a fan of just going out for drinks, Tracey prefers to emotionally connect and feels that having a drink together is a perfect way to do that.

So they went to the movie and then talked about it over drinks. While this is a simple example, it shows that your partner’s desire can be an opportunity to learn something new about both of you. It’s your responsibility to find something interesting in the thing you are doing with them, not theirs. Ask questions, explore why they enjoy it, and find delight in their joy.

The Skills of Great Dating

Try something new + learn something new about your partner + intentional together time = Great date

Couples often settle into the relationship and take each other for granted. When fun and novelty fall to the waste side, it can be toxic to a bond. By discovering fun activities that are interesting to both partners, you bring in new and different experiences that spark new levels of intimacy.

Additionally, a great date is built on expressing a real curiosity about your partner’s life. Here’s how to do it:

  • “Be Interested, not interesting:” 3 Everyone wants to feel valued and admired. Your ability to pay attention to the details of your partner’s life does this.
  • Ask questions: Remember when you could talk for hours and never got tired of learning new things about each other? This doesn’t have to end. There are always new things to learn. Your partner’s inner world is always changing. You can do this by asking open-ended questions that lead to the heart, such as:
    • What is a secret dream of yours?
    • What and who are the most important things in your life right now?
    • What is your biggest struggle?
    • If you want more ideas, I highly recommend picking up Dr. Gottman’s card deck: Open-Ended Questions. (Hint: you can even bring them on a date! I do.)
  • Focus with all your attention: Once your partner is talking, truly listen. That means no cell phones or other distractions. Don’t plan on the next thing you’re going to say. I like to imagine a conversation with my partner as getting a tour of her heart. I’m not sure where it’s going to go, and if I see something I’m curious about, I stop and ask my partner about it.
  • Show responsiveness: It’s helpful to nod or mm-hmm to indicate to your partner that you’re truly listening.
date night

Date Night Ideas

Struggling to come up with date ideas? Here’s a few ways to brainstorm:

  • Date Night in a Jar: Pull up Yelp and Google and search for date ideas in your town. Select ten, write them on a piece of paper and put them in a jar. Have your partner pull out one – there’s your date!
  • Create a bucket list. My partner and I did this recently, and every weekend of our summer is packed with dates and fun things with friends.

Make a Date, Not a Diagnosis

Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. proposes a very simple approach to rekindling the flames of dating. If your partner feels emotionally unavailable, you may have a habit of diagnosing your partner and the relationship.

You might accuse your partner of having intimacy issues and blame them of being afraid of getting close to you.

This makes things worse.

Instead of complaining about how you don’t date – plan a date.

Such as, “there’s a new steakhouse in town, want to check it out on Friday?”

Before diagnosing your partner’s intimacy issues, try taking steps to create closeness with them to see how they respond.

Dating is Forever

The frequency of dates in a relationship is also important. If you only go out a few times a year, The Normal Bar shows that it’s simply not enough for long-lasting relationships. Dating has to happen often enough to become the norm of the relationship. Once a week, or even twice a month will do wonders, not only for the emotional connection but for the sexual connection as well.

Just because you sleep in the same bed every night doesn’t mean dating should end. Make dating a priority. Plan it. Prepare for it. Get excited about it. Think of new places to go, new things to experience, and make romancing your partner a new normal in your relationship. Court and seduce your lover with the same energy you had at the beginning of the relationship, and the fire of passion will continue to burn.

With love,

Kyle Benson

  1. According to the Normal Bar Study based on surveying 70,0000+ individuals across the globe 
  2. This insight comes from the Normal Bar’s survey responses. 
  3. Dr. Gottman in The Art and Science of Lovemaking 

How to Remain Calm When Others Are Out of Control

HOW TO REMAIN CALM WHEN OTHERS ARE OUT OF CONTROL

Angel Chernoff

Over the past decade, there’s a way of being I’ve gradually been cultivating in myself—I’ve been taming my tendency to get angry and argue with people when their behavior doesn’t match my expectations.

As human beings, we all have an idea in our heads about how things are supposed to be, and sadly this is what often messes our relationships up the most. We all get frustrated when things don’t play out the way we expect them to, and people don’t behave like they’re “supposed” to. We expect our spouses and children to act a certain way, our friends to be kind and agreeable, strangers to be less difficult, and so on and so forth.

And when reality hits us, and everyone seems to be doing the opposite of what we want them to do, we overreact—anger, frustration, stress, arguments, tears, etc.

So what can we do about this?

Breathe… think better… find your inner calm.

You can’t control how other people behave. You can’t control everything that happens to you. What you can control is how you respond to it all. In your response is your power.

When you feel like your lid is about to blow, take a long deep breath. Deep breathing releases tension, calms down our fight or flight reactions, and allows us to quiet our anxious nerves so we choose more considerate and constructive responses, no matter the situation.

So, for example, do your best to inhale and exhale next time another driver cuts you off in traffic. In a poll we conducted with our most recent “Think Better, Live Bette 2019” event attendees, overreacting while fighting traffic was the most commonly cited reason for overreacting on a daily basis. Just imagine if all the drivers on the road took deep breaths before making nasty hand gestures, or screaming obscenities at others.

There’s no doubt that it can drive us crazy when we don’t get what we expect from people, especially when they are being rude and difficult. But trying to change the unchangeable, wanting others to be exactly the way we want them to be, just doesn’t work. The alternative, though, is unthinkable to most of us…

Here’s the way of being that I’ve been cultivating and advocating:

  • To breathe deeply, and often.
  • To remind myself that I can’t control other people.
  • To remind myself that other people can handle their lives however they choose.
  • To not take their behavior personally.
  • To see the good in them.
  • To let go of the ideals and expectations I have about others that causes unnecessary frustration, arguments, and bouts of anger.
  • To remember that when others are being difficult, they are often going through a difficult time I know nothing about. And to give them empathy, love, and space.

“Being” this way—THINKING BETTER—takes practice, but it’s worth it. It makes me less frustrated, it helps me to be more mindful, it improves my relationships, it lowers my stress, and it allows me to make the world a slightly more peaceful place to be.

The Honest Path to Finding a Lifelong Partner with Rachel Russo

THE HONEST PATH TO FINDING A LIFELONG PARTNER WITH RACHEL RUSSO

Kyle Benson

I’ll be honest, dating can be difficult. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed with the number of possible ways to find a life partner, with deciding whether to go on a second date or cancel and eat Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy, or with knowing when to commit to someone. It can feel like a game you just don’t want to play.

That’s why I sat down with Rachel Russo, New York City matchmaker and dating coach, to discuss how you can find someone to create a lifelong partnership with.

In our interview, Rachel and I tackled:

  • The most common troubles people have when dating and how to solve them
  • Handling rejection and how to honestly reject others in a mature way
  • How to take advantage of current dating spaces, both real-world and online

Common Dating Troubles

Years ago I wrote about my frustrations with being a first dateprenuer. I felt lost in a maze called dating, only to find myself running into dead-ends because my dates weren’t “perfectly compatible.”

And that’s a problem.

As soon as I would finish a first date, even on my way back to my car I’d already be back to swiping on dating apps and seeing who else was out there. With the appearance that everyone and their grandmother were available, I believed I had millions of choices.

I fantasized about all the amazing women I could possibly get along with. In essence, I was always looking for something better.

The problem is that this way of dating plays right into what is called the Paradox of Choice. It’s when you have so many options, you actually choose NOT to choose.

This is a perfect example of one of the struggles with dating. You go on a date, you connect with someone, but then you’re worried about missing out on someone even better. Even if the person you’re on a date with is amazing, you’re worried about not connecting with Janice or Jacob who might be, in your mind, a potentially better fit.

In the interview, Rachel points out that if you can get 80% of what you want in a partner, you should stop looking and start committing. Research on long-term committed relationships support this by highlighting that 69% of relationship problems never go away. Ironically, this doesn’t prevent your relationship from thriving.

“[W]hen choosing a long-term partner.. [you are also choosing] a particular set of irresolvable problems that you’ll be grappling with for the next ten, twenty, or even fifty years.” – Daniel Wile, After The Honeymoon

To learn more about the more common troubles of dating, watch the interview here.

The Upside of Healthy Rejection

Connection, Lifelong

Have you ever thought about the language of rejection in romantic relationships?

“She broke my heart” or “He hurt my feelings” or “Her cheating was like a stab in the back.”

“When human beings experience threats or damage to their social bonds, the brain responds in much the same way it responds to physical pain.” Matthew Liberman – Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect

Our attachment system, a primal survival system, is designed to keep you close to others for your safety. After all, your ancestors who stayed closer to the tribe tended to survive long so they could procreate. Essentially, we are hardwired for connection.

This is why rejection is so painful.

But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong or unhealthy. Just because something doesn’t feel good doesn’t mean it’s not good for you.

People who build muscle in a gym tend to undergo difficult workouts and associate a positive meaning to the unpleasant sensations involved, which makes it easier to tolerate.

“This is the skill that’s perilously missing today: the ability to de-couple meaning from feeling, to decide that just because you feel something, it doesn’t mean life is that something.” – Mark Manson, F*ck Your Feelings

You cannot change how icky rejection feels if you do it to someone else or how hurt you might feel if you get rejected by someone you like. What you can change is the meaning. Which paradoxically makes your feelings easier to tolerate. This is classic Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Let’s look at this as an example:

Let’s say that Alex is interested in taking Lucy on a date. Alex saw her in a coffee shop, and he thought she was beautiful. He walks up to her and says, “Hey there… [slightly awkward small talk]… I was wondering if I could take you out on a date?”

Lucy is not interested in dating someone since she just got out of a 3-year relationship and wants time to focus on herself and her career.

Would it be better for Lucy to agree to go to on the date, even though she is not interested, or would it be better for Lucy to be honest with Alex and tell him that she’s flattered, but isn’t in a space to date at this point in time?

If you think the latter is better, Rachel and I would agree.

Agreeing to go on a date in order to not hurt someone’s feelings will, in the end, hurt their feelings more than it would have if you had been honest and kind and tactfully rejected them in the first place.

As Rachel says, it is far worse to string someone along and waste their time than it is to just be honest about what you may or may not be looking for. This also means NO GHOSTING or benching.

Being rejected shows you who is and isn’t for you. Rejection can enable you to find someone who will meet your needs and someone whose needs will be met by you.

Find out more by watching our interview.

Dating Niches Have the Riches

With the plethora of online dating options, you may choose one of the more prevalent apps such as Hinge, Bumble, Tinder, or Match.

While these apps are great, they also put you in a large dating pool with people who have a wide range of interests, which makes it harder to sort through who will be a good fit for you. This means more effort on your end.

Luckily, there are websites that help filter for certain values such as fitness and physical health, mindfulness, and more.

It’s also helpful to think about demographics and dating.

“If you are like most [people], the most important decisions you make about [dating] won’t feel like [a dating] decision at all. Where you decide to live, study, work and hang out are not just random, superficial lifestyle choices…The fact is, you can’t meet the right [partner] if you’re in the wrong place. This means that your city, your college campus, your workplace, your gym, and your favorite coffee shop are not just physical locations. They’re what scientist call ‘mating markets.’” – Tucker Max and Dr. Geoffrey Miller – Mate: Become the Man Women Want

Essentially, the best dating advice is to make dating an extension of your personal life because your local dating zone comprises all of the potential partners whose dating zones overlap with yours. 1

And when you’re having fun doing things you love, you’re probably way more attractive than if you are doing things you don’t enjoy.

Every city, every local store reflects a culture with specific values. Finding a culture that shares your core values is going to make it easier to find a partner who shares those values.

In summary, the best strategy to authentically finding a life partner is to understand yourself and use that information to do social activities that lead to connections with other people who have similar values as you do.

Watch the interview above for more.

Look at Your Partner Through Rose-Colored Glasses (Seriously)

LOOK AT YOUR PARTNER THROUGH ROSE-COLORED GLASSES (SERIOUSLY)

Sanaa Hyder

When you started dating your partner, you probably had glowing things to say about them. You noticed every gesture (flowers for no reason!) and every sweet compliment. Fast forward a few years, you both may have collected hurtful emotional bumps and bruises along the way, making it hard to focus on the good things. It’s easy to fall into a rut and imagine that your partner doesn’t care, even if they still do. Does this negative perspective hurt a relationship? Let’s take a look at what the research says.

Dr. Gottman defines the negative perspective as an overriding sense of negative regard, where even neutral or positive actions from your partner are skewed in your mind to be perceived as negative. This often manifests itself in feelings of loneliness, powerlessness, and eventually one or both partners distancing themselves from each other. When your feelings are predominantly negative, every action, bid for attention, joke, or mistake can be interpreted through this new negative lense – whether or not it deserves to be seen that way.

If you find yourself constantly questioning your partner’s intentions, not giving them the benefit of the doubt, you may be experiencing the result of weeks or months of being in the negative perspective.

Dr. Gottman suggests that it’s never too late to reinvigorate your relationship with positive feelings for one another. This requires a deliberate effort to think about your partner in a more favorable light. Successful couples create a culture of goodwill in their relationship and purposefully strive to see each other through rose-colored glasses.

But what does positivity in a relationship actually look like? Here are some ideas for how to start thinking the best of your partner.

“I love it when…”
Try starting your sentences (even complaints) with “I love it when.” For instance, instead of “Why haven’t we gone on a date recently?” try this: “I love it when we go out together. Remember when we went to that restaurant that night? I had so much fun. Let’s do that again!”

Write down your appreciations
Try making a list of all the small things you notice your partner do or say. Dr. Gottman encourages couples to catch their partner doing something right. Start in the morning and continue through the evening as if you’re tracking their good habits. For instance: made coffee, poured my cereal, called me in the afternoon, paid the bill after I forgot.

An awareness of these small moments builds a habit of mind of seeing your partner in a positive way. When it is time to voice your appreciation, it will be easier to recall one moment out of many. Of course, they may also be negative moments, but try to actively engage your mind in remembering the good ones.

Build up your partner
Find moments to tell your partner about how amazing, brave, and sexy a certain behavior has been. Here are some examples.

Did they collect old clothing for donation? “Babe, you’re so thoughtful and giving  – not just to this family!” or, “Thanks for coming out shopping with me on Wednesday, even though it was boring for you, I’m glad you came.”

Your attitude is your responsibility. You have the opportunity to adjust the narrative you want to tell yourself about the relationship. This narrative is important because it affects the intensity of your arguments, and ultimately your long term-success as a couple.

Now, after doing these exercises, it becomes easier to state your complaint or positive need, because you have a perspective of your partner which may be more akin to the perspective they hold of themselves.

For instance, when you are in the positive perspective, you are more inclined to recall that you are asking someone for whom you’ve built up regard and love. Within the context of appreciating your partner’s efforts all day, it feels easier to to approach your best friend with your needs from a place of warmth and affection.

If you were not paying attention to your partner’s actions all day, your request might gloss over their good behavior. Your partner may think you haven’t noticed their efforts at being caring and attentive. Unknowingly, you create a culture of negativity. So, paying attention matters. Sound like a lot to keep in mind? Maybe at first, but remember that the Gottman motto is “small things often”  -  this includes noticing the small things and appreciating them.

To build a culture of good feelings in your home and in your relationship, you have to start taking responsibility for your mindset. Where the mind goes, words and actions will follow.

How to Apologize and Say Sorry to a Lover

HOW TO APOLOGIZE AND SAY SORRY TO A LOVER

Team Lovepanky

Saying you’re sorry is easy, but learning to apologize the right way with these 8 essentials and 3 ways can save your love and bring both of you closer!

Flowers and cards can say, “I’m sorry” but alone, they just don’t cut it when you are trying to give a sincere apology to the person you love.

When we honestly apologize to someone, it is because we want forgiveness.

We want to be let off the hook for whatever wrongdoing we’ve done, or hurt we’ve caused.

And you can’t always receive the forgiveness you seek when you simply flop down a bouquet with a generic thank-you card.

Apologies take effort, and you should take the time to formulate a genuine apology with the following eight steps.

The 8 essential steps of apologizing to a lover

#1 Find out what exactly happened. Don’t guess what the issue is, ask your boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse to clearly tell you what you said or did to hurt them.

#2 If you are at fault in the situation, then you should take responsibility for your actions.

Placing the blame elsewhere is immature and will set you back further, possibly risking your relationship.

#3 You should prepare your apology, taking into account what you want to say and how you want to say it. Also, you should keep the delivery of your apology, such as the time and place, in mind.

#4 Say sorry sincerely. If you’re not genuine, the apology will definitely fail and you will be back to square one.

#5 Be grateful and thank the person for listening to you. Depending on what you’ve done, that could be more difficult than you understand.

#6 Don’t assume you will be excused, and instead ask for forgiveness.

#7 Remember to be patient. Sometimes, accepting an apology can take time, and your partner needs space to think about what comes next.

#8 Follow through on your word. If, in your apology, you agree to do something, or stop doing something, make sure you honor those promises.

Now, while these are the fundamental steps to creating a meaningful apology, you also need to take into consideration the differing degrees of an apology.

While a modest sorry might be acceptable if you forgot to call, that won’t fly if you’ve done something severely untrustworthy like break an important vow.

Depending on the amount of hurt you’ve caused, and the nature of the situation, you can apply the eight essential steps of apologizing to one of these three different degrees of apologies.

The 3 differing degrees of apologies

#1 The Simple Apology

The first degree of apology is for those small things that we could just let pass by without any apology at all.

But, if you truly love your partner, you will want to acknowledge even the smallest wrongdoing, and give a short but sweet apology to let them know you care. Your partner will be thankful that you are concerned with all of their wants and needs, and have taken the time to address why they are upset.

For example, my boyfriend’s work involves being contracted out to many different fundraising, and promotion events, that often run late into the night. I attend many of these events, but when I don’t, I simply ask him to send me a quick message so I know approximately what time he will be home.

If I don’t get a text, I wake up well into the night freaked out, worrying that something bad has happened. My anxiety is probably the result of losing too many people to road accidents, but it is still something I need his help with soothing, when he is going to be working late.

One night he forgot to text me, and I sat up until 3:30 am trying to contact him. His phone died, and he didn’t think to send a message from a friend’s phone. I was upset, all I needed was a quick update so I didn’t need to worry.

When he got home and I confronted him about the situation. He was defensive at first, and didn’t seem to think he had done anything wrong. After I explained where my anxiety came from, he offered the perfect simple apology.

He kissed my forehead, hugged me and said, “I’m sorry that I worried you. Next time if my battery dies I will borrow someone’s phone and let you know.”

Short and simple, and yet effective. If he had chosen to shrug it off instead of apologizing, I most likely would have harbored secret resentment over that. It was something little, yes, but it still mattered to me.

#2 The Nice Gesture Apology

No one is perfect, and sometimes, even the most organized person can forget an important date, event, or responsibility.

I’m not a freak over birthdays but a nice good morning birthday kiss, and tea in bed would be nice. But this year, my boyfriend forgot, and all I got was a rushed goodbye kiss, and no mention to expect anything fun later that day.

Thanks to social media, my boyfriend realized his blunder mid-day and called me, and he promised to make it up to me. He organized a nice gesture apology in the form of a dozen heart balloons *I’m not really one for roses*, and a delicious birthday cake.

A good gesture apology doesn’t need to be too big, but it can’t be too small either. It should be just enough to let your partner know you are truly sorry.

#3 The Wholehearted Apology

The third degree of apology is for those of us that have really messed something up big time. This apology isn’t for forgetting to call, or mixing up a birthday. It is in response to something that could cause serious relationship turmoil.

The wholehearted apology is somewhat less concerned with what you do, or what gifts you bear, and more about what you say, and how you follow up.

Imagine you have done something you cannot take back, and many consider a deal breaker – you’ve cheated on your partner.

No amounts of flowers or chocolates are going to offer your partner the apology they need if monogamy was something you promised each other in your relationship.

The wholehearted apology thus should begin with some deep reflection on why you are in this situation in the first place, and where to go next. Even if you’ve done something so big that it might mean the end of your relationship, you still need to offer a well thought-out, wholehearted apology.

You need to think of exactly what it is that you want to say, and how you want to say it. You need to be honest, and insightful. Don’t say things that are typical, and what your partner is expecting. Say the truth, even if it sucks.

Wholehearted apologies are the hardest, because sometimes, you won’t be forgiven. The best that you can do is to offer your sincere regret, uphold the promises you made after the apology, and try to learn from your mistakes.

Apologizing in love

While these essential steps, and different degrees of “I’m sorry” can help you out if you’ve made a mistake in love and need to apologize, they are not fail-proof.

Not all things can be forgiven. If you’ve done something truly menacing or cruel that could likely have a lasting impact on a relationship, regardless if an apology is given or not, forgiveness might be hard to come by.

It’s best to steer clear of such a situation from the beginning, and instead be honest and trustworthy throughout your relationship. Then you won’t need to do so much apologizing.So the next time you’ve fumbled in love and want to apologize and say sorry, in a small or big way, keep these 8 essential steps and 3 different kinds of apologies in mind. And for your relationship’s sake, do the right thing!

10 Reasons You & Your Spouse Need a Romantic Getaway

10 REASONS YOU & YOUR SPOUSE NEED A ROMANTIC GETAWAY

Nurturing Marriage

Just think of it, when was the last time you two got away, together? If it has been awhile, this list will motivate you to book your next trip today!

1. Getaways are romantic.

Just think of it, a chance to be alone with your spouse, without kids, work, household responsibilities and all the stress those things carry with them. No matter where you two go on your getaway, just being alone will bring back the aura and romance of your honeymoon. 

2. Getaways are like mega-dates. 

Seriously. On a getaway, even a short one, you can fit what would have been eight date nights into one weekend! You could take a pottery class, go hiking, eat out, see a play, shop for clothes, dance, hot tub, and more. However, it is important to note that big getaways without regular dates in between will not offer the nurturing that your marriage needs. You need both. Getaways don’t make up for a year of no dates. 

3. Getaways help you strengthen your friendship as husband and wife.

You can finally do fun things together. All day. Every day. You can laugh, play, joke, work-out, and experience new things – together. Just like the best friends that you are. 

4. Getaways give you time and space for romantic sex.

We don’t need to say much more, do we? 

5. Getaways offer you a chance to talk about more than day-to-day life. 

When you getaway, you are together 24/7 for a few days at a time. You can talk about goals, dreams, big plans, hard things, struggles, and more. You can flirt and ask each other questions like you did back when you were dating. You can talk about people you observe, the adventures you have, or where you want to eat. Getaways give you a great chance to talk about everything and anything under the sun. Oh, and they are a great place to try out the 36 Questions That Will Help You Fall in Love With Your Spouse Again. 

6. Getaways give you a break from the hum-drum of every day life.

You and your spouse need something to look forward to. Something that is just for the two of you. A time and place where you can do things you never get to do together. It’s so nice to relax in a bed that someone else makes and to eat food that you don’t have to prepare yourself. Which leads us to #7…

7. Getaways give you a chance to recharge. 

There is something renewing about getting away – stepping away from all the stress of everyday life. It’s important to try to unplug a bit too, so that you don’t waste your whole getaway on your phone or tablet. 

8. Getaways help you create happy memories. 

All marriages need huge positive deposits into their emotional bank accounts. Getaways will give you huge boosts to your marital self-esteem. Plus, you will create thousands of happy memories and inside jokes. Take lots of pictures, and look back on them from time to time, bringing a back a whole bunch of “remember when…” statements and laughs. 

9. Getaways give you a chance for adventure.

Plan your getaways together, as husband and wife. Take turns picking where you want to go and what you want to do. Having adventures together, which invites the novelty of trying new things, will bring back a host of happy, butterfly feelings for each other. Plus, everyone has a deep sense of adventure that needs to be unleashed from time to time, right? 

10. Getaways help you fall in love all over again. 

It’s true. Getaways are the perfect combination to help you and your spouse fall in love again. They take you out of your normal home, your normal stresses, and your normal marital conflicts and offer you a fresh chance, a new start. A chance to treat each other with respect and kindness, to show extra love and affection, and to really enjoy each other in intimate settings. 

Yes, a romantic getaway is just what you and your spouse need. 

The Power of Couple Resolutions

THE POWER OF COUPLE RESOLUTIONS

Nurturing Marriage

Happy New Year on Tuesday!

Can you believe it is 2019?  Seriously, where did the time go?

With the new year comes a fresh start, a clean slate, and new opportunities and adventures. We’ve all probably packed on a few extra pounds during the holidays and it’s time to get to work on those New Year’s resolutions!

What are your resolutions and goals for the year?
What do you want to accomplish?
Who do you want to become?

Have you shared those goals and resolutions with your spouse?  Have you set goals and resolutions together?

The Power of a Personal Cheerleader

Whatever your goals may be, sharing them with your spouse could very well be the key to seeing them successfully completed within the next twelve months. Studies have shown that making your goals known to a trusted friend dramatically increases your success rate. This is largely because when you make your goals known, you feel a sense of accountability. There’s a little extra drive and motivation to reach the finish line when you know someone’s there waiting for you. 

Who better to choose as your trusted friend than your spouse! He or she already know you inside and out and understand you better than anyone else. They know your strengths and weaknesses and are very much invested in you and your personal development.

You spouse can and should be your greatest cheerleader! They can pick you up when you’re down and remind you of the vision you have for your future self. They can provide much-needed motivation to keep you moving forward with your goals when things get hard. 

I once read the story of a couple I greatly admire. In an interview about their marriage, the wife commented that her husband always gave her “wings to fly.” What an awesome compliment! That is something my wife and I have been aiming for ever since. 

So here’s my first challenge to you – sit down with your spouse and let them know what your New Year’s resolutions are. Ask him or her for support and help so you can accomplish those resolutions. Ask them to help keep you on track when you’re slipping, and offer to do the same for them.

​By being each other’s cheerleaders, not only will you each find more success in reaching your individual goals, but you’ll grow closer together in the process. Then, definitely go out on a fancy date and celebrate your successes together!

​Happy New Year! Can you believe it is already 2016? With the new year comes a fresh start, a clean slate, and new opportunities and adventures. We've all probably packed on a few extra pounds during the holidays and it's time to get to work on those New Year's resolutions (btw, did you know that by far the most common resolution is to lose those extra pounds?). What are your resolutions and goals for the upcoming year? What do you want to accomplish? Who do you want to become? Have you shared those goals and resolutions with your spouse? Have you set goals and resolutions together?

The Power of Couple Resolutions

Along with individual goals, there is great power in setting couple resolutions together. My wife and I have found that there are few things that drive unity more than working together towards a common goal. And there is incredible satisfaction and fulfillment found in achieving goals together as a team.

Your couple resolutions can be anything you can dream up! Here are a few ideas of couple-goals to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Go on at least one romantic getaway during the year (plan it well in advance so you can enjoy the anticipation and build up together!).
  • Save an extra $X dollars each month.
  • Run a marathon together (or maybe just a 5k…).
  • Get scuba certified together.
  • Intentionally make time to talk for fifteen minutes every day. 
  • Take a class or join a club together.
  • Hike a fourteener. 
  • Read 12 books together. Here is a shameless plug and a good place to start. 


Whatever your couple resolutions may be, just make sure you have some! Set resolutions that are meaningful for both of you. Create a vision of the kind of marriage and life you want to create together. Then, work each day to fulfill that vision. Sure, some days you’ll see more progress than others. In fact, some days it may feel like you have taken a step back. However, by the end of the year you’ll be able to look back and proudly admire how far you’ve come together. 

Couple resolutions are powerful because they build connection, create happy memories, and nurture friendship. You and your spouse will feel closer together as you work in unity to achieve common goals. Kind of magical. 

So just remember, by setting meaningful couple resolutions together, and diligently working towards them, not only will you be able to achieve great success as a team, but you’ll certainly nurture your marriage in the process!

The Art of Letting Go (to Heal a Broken Heart)

THE ART OF LETTING GO (TO HEAL A BROKEN HEART)

Angel Chernoff

“Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.”
― Dorothy Allison

I loved him like a brother, and he treated me as such. He told me I was a genius and that the world needed to hear my music. He was a ball of passion, and when he spoke it always felt like a battle cry to fight for a better life. I was working as a teacher, spending my summers with struggling artists who gave me that energy and community I craved. When I met him in Toronto, I felt like I found new family in my own hometown.

His family wasn’t so abundant—his parents struggled with addiction and were trying to take the earnings he made producing music. It was killing his spirit, and I could sense it. So without consulting my parents, I invited him to live with me. He was the brother I never had.

We got matching tattoos and promised each other that there would always be two of everything. We hustled the music, threw shoes, networked, and talked about what we could do artistically and for the scene in the city. The summer had ended and now I was back to grinding the 8-5 shift. It was killing my soul to be working knowing there was so much to create. Then he came to me with an opportunity that changed my life forever.

It was a songwriting deal, worth $120,000, to write 10 songs for an unknown artist who apparently had major connections. We’d get paid to write the songs, and with that money we could be full-time artists. Without much thought, due diligence or reflection, I took a leave of absence from work, and we moved into a rental property that I purchased as a responsible adult. Then we got straight to creating.

They Never Did

He explained the money would come soon, but weeks went by with no word. Weeks turned to months, and with no income, I was quickly accumulating debt by swiping credit cards, and negotiating a bigger line of credit. I wasn’t worried, when the money came in, it would wipe the debt clean, and we’d have plenty to play with.

He told me about all the friends that owed him money, and how we could start collecting to cover the bills, but he wasn’t finding much luck. As the months went on, I began to ask him more questions, and he became more and more defensive. One day he went out of town to collect some money from a family member. A mutual friend disclosed to me that he had been asking people to lend him money, and that in fact, no one owed him anything. I called him to clarify this, and he immediately hung up, and I never heard from him again.

He literally left his belongings in the apartment and never came back for anything. Clothes, a computer, keepsakes, it was as if he fell off the face of the earth. I was confused, devastated, and heartbroken. I had never had my heart broken by a friend before; it was a foreign kind of betrayal I couldn’t wrap my head around. Beyond the betrayal was the slow sinking reality that I was in deep trouble with my finances. I had accumulated over $80,000 in debt and had no way to pay it off. It turns out the songwriting deal was never real—he had forged documents, changed names, and was planning on borrowing money from others to cover it. When that didn’t work, he ran out of options and ran away.

That was seven years ago. The years that  followed were the hardest years of my life. I fell into deep despair and turned to NyQuil and muscle relaxers to numb the pain. I blamed the world and everyone around me for not warning me of his sleazy ways. I stayed in bed for weeks, and ate very little, hoping the cavalry would come to save the day.

They never did.

A Challenging Time

During the worst moments, I thought the worst thoughts about him. How dare he do this to me, after I let him in my home, and allowed him to live with me for a year rent-free. I was nothing but amazing to him! I treated him like a brother! And this is what I got in return?

But I learned to let it go, gradually.

Of course, I didn’t let it go because I thought what he did was OK. I let it go because I could not afford to carry such a heavy burden of resentment and regret with me. If I was ever going to get myself out of the mess I was in, I needed less baggage…

I needed a different mindset.

He wasn’t evil, he was scared. He bit off more than he could chew, and instead of facing the consequences of his actions, he ran away. All of that was out of my control. And for me to maintain my sanity I had to focus on what was in my control.

What was always in my control was my thinking and expectations. I expected him to be honest with me, because I was honest with him. But that’s not how things work. As I write this story, I am at a friend’s house in Austin, TX. I can hear the neighbour’s dog barking really loud. If I went over and stuck my hand through the fence, that dog would probably bite me. I can’t assume or expect him not to, just because I don’t plan to bite him. Dogs do what dogs do. Scared people do what scared people do.

So I forgave him, little by little, and began taking more responsibility for what happened. It was hard work. But doing so helped me let go of the resentment and regrets that were holding me back

Truth be told, it’s easy for us to feel sorry for ourselves, and cast ourselves as the victims in life. And it’s not only easy, it’s quick and convenient too. It gives us an immediate opportunity to feel connected and significant. We connect with ourselves because we feel like no one else understands what we are going through (as if I was the first guy to ever be betrayed by a friend). It also gives us a subtle high of significance, because we start to convince ourselves that life is conspiring only against us, as we question what we did to deserve its wrath.

This quick fix doesn’t last though, and what accompanies it is a long and drawn out feeling of powerlessness. We have no power because we’ve blamed everyone and everything except ourselves. Thus, for me to find power in my situation, I had to take some of the responsibility, because only in those areas would I find the power to improve my circumstances.

Again, it took plenty of practice, but I gradually became more mindful of my expectations, and instead of kicking myself (with my 20/20 hindsight) for all the danger signs that were right in front of me, I decided to extract the wisdom from my past experience. I promised myself I would use that wisdom until I was glad I went through such a challenging time.

I Am Cavalry

Over time, my broken heart healed, I got stronger, I got back on my feet and spent the next four years getting myself out of the hole. Through selling my possessions, finding odd gigs here and there, touring, and writing my book Unlearn, I finally got to a $0 bank account—no debt.

And gradually, I began to feel sincere gratitude for the journey I was on, and what I went through to get to where I was.

Figuring out how to go from $80,000 in the hole to $0 also helped me grow from $0 to a bank account with decent savings. My struggling days taught me the value of minimalism. I became a dramatically better judge of character, and looking back I realized how resilient I really was.

I no longer hope for a cavalry, I am the cavalry. I am no longer afraid to lose because with loss comes learning. I don’t question whether I need to trust others, because I know I can trust myself. Challenges and resistance make us stronger, so either we make ourselves uncomfortable so we can grow, or life does it for us.

We Can Choose

Although I’ve now completely forgiven my old friend, and even thanked him for the lessons I’ve learned, it all happened internally. I never made any proclamation or tried to contact him. After the passing of a mutual friend, he tried to reach out, but I didn’t need that energy in my life. I had already let it go, and there was no need to re-introduce it back into my life.

We need to let things go and forgive others, not for their sake, but for ours. We need to rid ourselves of the weight we carry around holding grudges, regrets, and the other burdens that try to pile up. We also need to let go so we can create a space where self-love exists, because most likely we’ll need that space to forgive ourselves, too.

I have indeed forgiven. And I am truly grateful.

Had I not gone through such a heartbreaking experience, I would have never dug deep into myself to write Unlearn. I would have never crossed paths with the amazing Marc & Angel, or read their books. And, most importantly, I would not have grown into the person I am today.

We can’t see into the future, but we can choose how much of our past we deliberately carry with us into today.

We can choose to let go and move forward, one day at a time.

Now, it’s YOUR turn…

I would love to hear from YOU in the comments section.

What do you need to let go of (or forgive), to move forward with your life?

Anything else to share?

Please leave me a comment.

Pursue Your Partner at Every Stage of Marriage

PURSUE YOUR PARTNER AT EVERY STAGE OF MARRIAGE

Hannah Eaton

We met Marcy and Jack during our first group dance lesson. Unlike many of the dating or engaged couples we’d danced with, Marcy and Jack had been at this marriage thing for quite some time. Forty years to be exact. They first started dancing in preparation for their daughter’s wedding.

The wedding came and went, but Marcy and Jack kept returning for dance lessons week after week. With practice, they continued to hone and improve their dance skills as a couple.

And yet, they tapped into something far greater than dance. They began to experience and integrate an idea central to healthy relationships—continual, purposeful dating and practice is not only helpful, but is central to cultivating and maintaining meaningful attunement, connection, and intimacy in romantic relationships. 

While healthy marriages require us to put in this intentional effort, and to pursue one another on a continual basis, many dominant paradigms in our culture tell us otherwise.

Myth: Marriage is a destination

“And they lived happily ever after.” Disney’s multi-billion dollar industry thrives on this idea. The message is spoon fed to us as children, and reverberated throughout our culture. It’s confusing when our own romantic experiences fail to live up to this standard, which they almost always do. 

So we either destroy this idea, feeling disappointed that it’s not our story, or we hold onto it tightly with the hope and dream that we can harness it if we just find the right person. However, the reality is such that even if we find the “right person,” we soon realize that everything is not simply sunshine and roses. Marriage is not a destination. 

Marcy and Jack know this. They know that marriage, like dance, is a continually unfolding journey in which they are active participants, shaping and molding their shared reality. They know that if they take a few months off from dance, and neglect their practice, it will be apparent in the quality of their dance and interactions. 

Maintaining regular practice not only helps keep them connected and attuned as they dance, but it also allows them to reach new heights and depths with one another. Every time we see Jack and Marcy in our group lessons, we are continually impressed by their new moves, gracefulness, and attunement with one another. 

Whether you’re a newlywed, or have been married for forty years like Marcy and Jack, there is immense value in creating and continuing practices that support the ongoing health and connection of your relationship. As John and Julie Gottman explain in their book, Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, “Happily ever after is not by chance. It’s by choice.” It takes work.

Myth: Love should always feel organic in marriage

One of the most common narratives we see in Hollywood movies and TV shows is the journey of a couple meeting, with perhaps some turmoil or conflict early on, and then a quick resolution, finished off with a hopeful closure. 

Perhaps this is because the full picture of marriage is not depicted as being as sexy or exciting as the hot pursuit earlier on, or perhaps it’s assumed that the public doesn’t want to see the reality of married life: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Either way, it’s doing our culture a disservice.

A second paradigm is ripping through our culture like wildfire—if you don’t feel the love anymore, then why stick around? As a therapist, I hear it all the time: “We just fell out of love.” While love (the noun) may initially bring two people together, it is love (the verb) that makes it last. 

Love is a choice that you make every morning when you wake up. It’s the decision to choose to cherish your partner, especially when you don’t feel like it. It’s in these times, in particular, that your partner likely needs your love the most. In truly healthy marriages, each partner wakes up in the morning, and makes the decision to purposefully practice and cultivate more love for their spouse. 

Marcy and Jack understand this principle. Forty years into their marriage, they are still intentionally “practicing” and choosing one another to keep that connection alive. Like all couples, there have been ample times when they may not have felt the connection or attunement, but nevertheless chose to be there for one another. 

They are proud of their growth and major improvements as a couple on and off the dance floor, and yet they realize that their “work” is never done. They have signed up for a lifetime commitment of pursuing and practicing the art of loving one another, and one way they do this is by their weekly dance lessons.

Myth: Courtship is only for the early years

A third faulty paradigm I see is the notion that courtship and dating is only for the early years. We date, we flirt, we woo, in effort to court one another. And then we’re all set. We know one another, we’ve tied the knot, and suddenly it’s no longer important to date one another as we did early on. 

It’s become so normal for couples to indicate they have grown apart and fallen out of love. Life got busy and suddenly they’re just living with a roommate. It’s understandable how this can easily happen, and yet, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Find ways to court and pursue your partner daily. We all want to feel loved and desired, regardless of what stage we are at in our relationship. Of course, the ways in which we like to be pursued may evolve over the years, which is why it’s all the more important to continue to update your Love Maps

Take time to remember how your partner likes to feel loved—surprise them with flowers, or bring them coffee in bed in the morning. Take time to experiment and explore new ways you can flirt with them. It’s in these small moments of connection that our relationships flourish.

At 62 and 65, Marcy and Jack are still intentional about planning and having regular date nights together. They’ve established a ritual of carving out sacred time for one another, and dance together on a weekly basis.

They recognize that dancing and date nights aren’t just for the youth—they’re for couples at all stages of their relationship. 

It doesn’t matter how old you are, or how long you’ve been married. It always feels good to have your partner pursue you. 

In what ways can you pursue your partner on a daily basis? 

In what ways can you choose your partner every morning when you wake up?

In what ways can you date your partner so that, 40 years into marriage, you’re still dancing like Marcy and Jack?


This is part four of a four-part series on relationships and dance. Here are parts onetwo, and three.

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