• How Journaling Helped Me Be More Calm, Mindful And Resilient

    Authority Magazine – An Interview With Heidi Sander

    Journaling is a powerful tool to gain clarity and insight especially during challenging times of loss and uncertainty. Writing can cultivate a deeper connection with yourself and provide an outlet for calm, resilience and mindfulness. When my mom passed on, I found writing to be cathartic. When I read through my journal years later, there were thoughts that I developed into poems, and others just provided a deeper insight into myself. In this series I’m speaking with other leaders who use journaling to become more mindful and resilient.

    Read More on Authority Magazine

  • Why is Your Love is Dying? A radio interview explains
    Show Promo: I am excited to have three interviews booked by Dr. Pat on Transformation Radio covering the three topics that are closest to my heart.  I will be sharing practical solutions learned in my own journey through three of the darkest times we humans can experience. The first topic will be about how Jim and I recovered the love in our marriage by learning how to speak and listen to each other with respect.  The belief that love is enough is a lie!   Respect is the Fertilizer that nurtures Loving Relationships:  How learning respectful communication and conflict management skills saved our marriage. I will be interviewed by Dr. Pat on Transformation Radio this coming Monday, October 26th at 11 .m. PT. (Links below.) A second live interview will answer the question, “How do I Survive  the Chaos of my Drug Addicted Child?”  This question is being asked by thousands…even millions of parents in our country and around the world.  How do you deal with the pain of seeing your child destroying his life? Or your daughter turning away from your love and help?  What does it mean to love your child in these circumstances?  Monday, November 23rd at 11 a.m. PT.   On  Monday, December 28th at 11 .m. a third interview will address the topic of Stepfamilies: A Horror Story or a Success?  That topic will address the crazy levels of stress that make creating a healthy stepfamily so difficult.  I’ll be sharing some of Jim’s and my story, but also focusing on strategies that help stepfamilies succeed. The interviews may be heard live on these two links: RADIO LINK: www.transformationtalkradio.com VIDEO LINK:  https://www.facebook.com/pg/transformationtalkradio/videos/?ref=page_internal If you miss them live, you can listen to the recordings on my website: www.nancylandrum.com or scroll down the Facebook page for Dr. Pat until you locate the recordings.
  • Our Children Destroyed Our Marriage!
    Sounds like the lead for an afternoon talk show, doesn’t it?  Well, it could be.  Every day, all over America, immature two-year-olds are doing and saying things that break up marriages. What do I mean? Every one of us has a two-year-old living inside.  The great qualities of this two-year-old are he loves adventure, she uses her creativity to paint, decorate, solve problems at home and at work, he initiates fun, and finds amazing solutions to persistent problems. But when this two-year-old isn’t given it’s own way, watch out!  He throws a tantrum.  She gives him the cold shoulder.  He recruits his friends and family to be on his side. She uses sarcastic humor to belittle him. They both either yell or endure days of silence.  These behaviors erode whatever love brought them together.  If unchecked, these inner two-year-olds tear apart the fabric of a marriage. Like every two-year-old, the one inside needs a loving, wise parent to give him a time out when he’s about to do or say something hurtful.  She needs firm control when she’s about to cut loose with biting criticism.  Both need to sit in a corner to calm down when their behavior is about to become disrespectful rather than constructive. Time outs for inner two-year-olds prevented a lot of damage for one couple this week.  When she said, “I need a time out,” he just said, “OK” and left her alone rather than pressing to continue their conversation.  When he called a time out on himself, and went into the other room to vent his frustration, she didn’t take it personally, but let him yell into the air, just glad it wasn’t at her. When the air was cleared, and both “kids” had calmed down, they had several sane, calm discussions over the next few days that moved their marriage firmly back into the “loving, and working together peacefully” arena. This couple was tired of suffering through the chaos and destruction experienced when their two-year-olds were allowed to “act out” in their marriage.  They are both developing their inner, wise, loving parent who will intercept an about-to-lose-control inner child before he or she does damage. No one wants to act like, or live with a two-year-0ld out of control!  If you’re tired of cleaning up the mess left in the wake of your two-year-old’s tantrums, you can exchange that behavior for loving alternatives, just like my smart clients did this past week! They learned these skills in MODULE SIX of the Millionaire Marriage Club along with support in their coaching appointments.  You can also purchase a mini-course entitled, “Maintaining Respect 24/7” from my website page under “The Club.” Wishing you all the love and respect in your marriage (and other relationships)  that you desire and deserve!      
  • Hopefulness Turned to Disillusionment? Krystel Can Help!
    Note from Nancy:  I am so excited to introduce to you Krystel Doudera, my new associate coach!  Krystel and her husband Earle  did a massive amount of work on their own marriage with amazing results.  Now she is dedicated to bring those same transformative results to other young couples who want the marriage of their dreams, but don’t know how to achieve it.  Here is her story:  Although we were high school sweethearts, we waited to get married until after we finished college. We both secured stable jobs. We went through premarital counseling. We read every book, blog, and article about marriage suggested to us. We even interviewed several couples asking for advice or “secrets” to a long-lasting marriage! Yet on the day we returned from our honeymoon, we had our first fight. And it was ugly. Thus, began our cycle. We were so full of love when we were happy with each other, but when we disagreed, our poor communication and disrespectful behaviors tore at our hearts and our dreams resulting in hurt, regret, withdrawal, hopelessness and finally, passive acceptance. We got plenty of good advice, but had no idea how to implement it.  How could we have the happy soulmate marriage we wanted? Enter Nancy Landrum, a wise coach who taught us how to communicate RESPECTFULLY even when we disagreed.  Once we fully committed to using these new skills, we never had another fight and soon resolved our differences. Now these powerful skills enable us to successfully navigate every new life-stress including welcoming a new baby!  We enjoy treating each other with respect 24/7 and have consistent love and peace between us. I am excited to teach you these same skills that transformed our relationship.  You deserve to have the marriage you thought you were getting when you said, “I do!”  Use the calendar link below to schedule a complimentary appointment with me. Appointment with Krystel Or you may prefer to call or email me: 424-382-4787  krystel.doudera@gmail.com    
  • Fertilizer and Respect: What Do They Have in Common?
    If you’ve been following me for very long, you know I love to garden.  I have a few house plants that have thrived for more than 20 years.  My rose bushes are flourishing.  My sunflower plants are about twelve feet tall.  My yard has been called “an oasis,”  or, “a park.”  Why is this? I adequately water for my dry climate, but I also fertilize regularly.  Water is essential, but even with enough water, plants won’t thrive without fertilizer. Lately I’ve noticed something about the couples I coach.  Some of them struggle along, doing their best to use some of the tools they learn from me.  But others make astounding progress in transforming their relationship from mediocre or unhappy to loving and secure again.  The difference is how consistently they use the skills that enable them to be respectful to each other 24/7. Love thrives in a medium of respect.  Without respect, love withers, limps along, or dies. So how is Respect given?
    1. By using respectful, non-attacking language and behaviors.
    2. By keeping your agreements, including those of your marriage vows.
    3. By choosing to vent anger privately and safely, not at your partner.
    Does this sound ideal?  It is!  However, many of us come to marriage with great intentions, but without the skills needed to nurture our love with a foundation of respect. All of us have an immature two-year-old living inside.  She comes in handy when planning a party.  He is delightful when playing with his children.  But when a two-year-old’s anger gets triggered, he will not react with respect.  She will fight back with biting words.  Two-year-olds ruin a lot of marriages! You would not allow your two-year-old child to run unrestrained into the street.  Neither should your inner two-year-old be allowed the freedom to do or say hurtful, disrespectful things to retaliate when hurt or angry. Just as children sometimes need a time-out to calm down, you can call a time-out on yourself to calm your inner two-year-old down so you can come back to deal with the conflict as a mature adult. Need help learning how to do this?  You may now order the Respect 24/7 module separately from the Millionaire Marriage Club.  This mini-course maps out the steps for managing the two-year-old within so that you can maintain respect with your partner 24/7!  Consider this cost-effective and powerful mini-course online at https://nancylandrum.com/the-club Wishing you plenty of fun and play with your inner two-year-old as well as effective adult supervision when anger is triggered!
  • Stepfamilies Require Different Strategies for Success
    This blog is specifically for MFTs and Coaches who work with couples who head a stepfamily.  Earn 9 CEs  from CAMFT for  attending Success Strategies for Stepfamilies Seminar! This ONLINE course will be offered once per month for the next year beginning May 1-3, 2020.  Check out information and register for the course at  SSS Course.   You can register as a member of CAMFT or as a guest. Alternately, you can email me for a copy of the course flier and register independently without being awarded CEs by CAMFT.  Nancy@NancyLandrum.com Tell your therapist and coach friends!    
  • Help! I’m going crazy!
    Help! I’m going crazy! Face it! We’re all going through a crazy-making time.  So how do you move through this time (however long it may turn out to be) without going crazy?  Here’s some tips:
    1. Limit your news gathering time to 15-30 minutes tops. A steady diet of depressing numbers and fearful predictions will only feed fears about tomorrow.  You can’t know how to manage tomorrow until it comes in reality, not in fearful predictions.
    2. Focus on what you have control over today…in this moment. #1 is your attitude.  Keep affirming, “This craziness will eventually come to an end.  Until then I will do the best I can to take care of myself and my loved ones.  For today, that is enough.”
    3. Practice gratitude. Is there a roof over your head?  Is there a bit of money in your bank account?  Is there enough food to feed yourself and your family today?  Are you currently symptom free?  Any or all of these are great reasons to be grateful.  I am so very grateful for two friends who dropped everything to track down a roof leak and fix it yesterday!
    4. Use common sense precautions. You know them already.  Wash your hands whenever you come in from any outing.  Maintain “social distancing.”  Practice air-hugs!
    5. Get outside for at least 30 minutes per day. Go for a walk around the block.  Pull a few weeds.  Trim dead branches off of a tree.  Sit in your patio chair and read a novel.  Breathe deeply.  But get outside!
    6. Take extra Vitamin C with bioflavonoids to support your immune system. Some doctors recommend 2000-3000 mgs extra during this stressful time.
    7. Eat real food. Chips, colas and cookies are not real food.  Prepare a warm meal, even if it’s only soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.  Staples are in short supply in many stores, but fresh produce is abundant.  Last night I roasted some fresh veggies in the oven.  The result satisfied my body and my soul’s need for comfort. (Toss fresh veggies and cut up potatoes in oil and garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Roast at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. The last few minutes I added two flounder filets. Yum!)
    8. Pray for inspiration about how to spend your house-bound time. One desperate woman with small children had them draw pictures that they then posted to their fence for the neighbors to admire.  Children across the street reciprocated with art projects of their own!  A friend is using this time to sort through all the artifacts saved from her son’s childhood.  She’s creating the memory albums she’s had on her to-do list for years!  I’m piecing together a very complicated quilt pattern in between seeing clients online and working on a presentation coming up.
    9. Frequently send compassion to yourself, your family and our world. We all need extra measures of grace during this unprecedented and unpredictable time.
    10. Vent your frustrations safely, away from your partner or children.  Call a ‘time out’ on yourself while you close yourself in your bedroom and beat a pillow.  Write out your frustrations in a journal.  Bake a hearty loaf of bread and knead it for 15 minutes before letting it rise to bake.  Make a list of activities to keep you and your children engaged.  Learn a new game.  Start a jigsaw puzzle.  Any of these or many more options other than taking your fear and anxiety out on those you love!
    You have my compassion as you do your best to deal with the uncertainties we have in abundance right now.
  • But I want…I need…You should…
    Although my first marriage only lasted 4 ½ years due to the untimely death of my husband, it lasted long enough for me to begin to learn some important life lessons. JG was a good man.  He worked hard, loved his job, turned his pay over to me and never questioned how I spent it, was home every night by 5:30 (unless he had to pick up equipment for repair from Bakersfield or somewhere far away.)  He thought he was getting a sweet, young woman who would complete his life.  I thought I was getting someone who would fill my insatiable need for reassurance, affection and attention.  We were both wrong. He worked all day, six days a week and we spent most of the seventh day at church.  Several times every month I would complain, beg, nag and pout about how little attention I was getting from him.  Why couldn’t he take an occasional day off?  Why didn’t he tell me he loved me more often?  The only relief were our occasional vacations where I got to be with him 24/7.  But for 50 weeks out of 52 I was unhappy and made sure he knew it. I didn’t like the results.  We were both unhappy most of the time.  Not the marriage either of us had envisioned! I was finally desperate enough to tell God, “I’ll do anything to make this marriage better.  I’m even willing to change if you’ll just tell me how!” (I’m sure God breathed a sigh of relief!)  There were no lightening bolts or voices out of the heavens, but the first little whisper of an idea came shortly after.  “Instead of complaining about how little time you have together, how about being grateful for any time you DO HAVE?”  Hmmm… So, every evening when his truck pulled into our driveway, I said a prayer of thanks.  “Thank you that he’s home safely.  Thank you that he comes home faithfully.  Thank you for the next few hours that we have together.”  And then greeted him warmly when he came through the door. A few weeks later, as he was leaving for work one Saturday morning, he said, “I’m planning on coming home at noon today.  Is there anything you’d like to do?”  Shock.  Wow.  I didn’t even know what to say.  If my memory serves, we had lunch, went for a drive, got an ice cream cone…all without any discord…peacefully, lovingly…time that nurtured my need for his attention. That lesson…being grateful for what is, rather than unhappy about what isn’t…has continued to be a life-lesson theme for me.  This lesson repeatedly calls me back to what Ekhart Tolle calls “the present moment” in his book, The Power of NowIn this moment I am safe.  In this moment the main bills are paid.  In this moment I have food for myself, my chickens and my dogs.  Living in the moment, and being grateful for what is RIGHT NOW, is a powerful spiritual practice that continues to challenge and enrich my life. Being grateful for what is good NOW seems to go against our natural inclination to worry about the future, fret about how a bill will be paid, focus on our partner’s failings, create imaginary scenarios in which we fail, or are disappointed. But the payoff for gratitude is a more peaceful life, more peaceful relationships, a quieter mind, an opening that seems to attract more miracles like JG’s offer to come home at noon, or unexpected income, or help such as the woman who offered to help me transfer groceries from my loaded cart into the trunk of my car this week.  Gratitude seems to grow the good in my life.  Will you take the challenge? What is true about your life NOW for which you can be grateful?  Are you willing to join me in the discipline of pulling our attention back to RIGHT NOW and being grateful for the good that is ours in this moment?  You have my respect and support if you answer “Yes!” and my compassion and understanding if you refuse…  It’s hard.  It’s not a once and it’s done event.  It is a practice, a journey, a calling that must be answered over and over again, moment by moment.   All I can add is that the practice of gratitude, although certainly not done perfectly, has brought many more blessings and miracles into my life than I couldn’t have gotten by complaining and nagging!
  • I’m Into Purging These Days…
    I’m really into purging right now… Since the temp outside is 105 I can’t call it Spring Cleaning… But I am making room for some changes in my life. As I look back on my life, I see that every time there was a major change in the air, I purged.  Cleaned out cupboards, got rid of clothes I no longer used, disposed of books I no longer needed.  Redecorated a major area. Logically it seems like you would acquire something new and then get rid of what you no longer needed.  But in my experience, the purging comes before something new arrives…especially when I have no idea what the something new will be.  There has to be space available for the something new to have a place. I am seriously, even desperately ready for some areas of my life to change.  Donating six big bags of clothing I haven’t worn for years, cleaning out and reorganizing a dresser or my messy house-tools drawer, repairing and repainting a huge bird house that was showing signs of weathering…all of these are metaphors for the interior house-cleaning I’m doing.  What old, unexamined beliefs have been unconsciously creating their predictable reality in my life?  What things have I stubbornly been holding onto that compromise my health and wellbeing?  What must I examine that isn’t working for me and with what do I replace it in order to get the results I want?  Several months ago, Steve and  Jeanine decided they were ready to try to improve the quality of their relationship.  As you read this brief report, notice what they removed and what they added in order to enjoy a much higher level of satisfaction (love and peace) between them… Steve and I came to Nancy at a critical time in our relationship.  We had been fighting so much and things just continued to get progressively worse and more intense.  We both decided we needed to seek help or our relationship would not last.  

    “Nancy was amazing.  She welcomed us and made both of us feel so comfortable that we were able to open up about things we never even thought were issues.  We both knew that our communication skills were lacking but we didn’t know how to fix it! 

    “Nancy’s program showed us how to do something as easy as listening to each other. Listening to one another broke the cycle of arguing and allowed us to have our own feelings heard and understood.  We now have true conversations instead of arguments.  

    “Overall, we have developed so much more respect for one another.  We both highly recommend Nancy’s coaching and her Millionaire Marriage Club.”
    Jim and I went through the same exchange process.  It took a lot of pain for us to, finally, be willing to let go of some relationship habits that were creating unrelenting conflicts…and then make the effort to learn and practice new skills that actually created the loving, peaceful, even joyful marriage that we both wanted. If you’re ready for some changes for the better in your relationship, let’s set up a complimentary appointment to see how this can happen for you, as well.  https://meetme.so/SpeakwithNancy Meanwhile shall I tackle the guest bedroom closet next?  Or the pantry? Or maybe the barn?  I am relentlessly committed to this process.  As I make room physically, spiritually and mentally, what will come now that there is room?  I got started with a new client last week…Did she show up because of all this space I am creating?  I think so… Stay tuned…        
  • Is it Groundhog day in your relationship?
    Ken and Kim had been having the same fight, over and over again, for thirty years.  Can you relate?  He does (or doesn’t do) something, she says…., he reacts defensively, she brings up previous examples of how he’s failed her, he counters with accusations of her “stuff…”  It goes downhill from there with both parties repeating their memorized roles to perfection. Last Fall Ken and Kim decided to take a chance.  They enrolled in the Millionaire Marriage Club including coaching with me.  Click on this link to hear how they’re doing today:  Ken and Kim’s Update The Millionaire Marriage Club is an online course teaching the communication skills that have enriched and even saved thousands of marriages.  It is supplemented by e-chapters from the book that my late husband and I wrote entitled, How to Stay Married & Love It! Solving the Puzzle of a SoulMate Marriage. Choosing the package that includes coaching with me multiplies the effectiveness of learning, practicing and finally turning these new skills into lifelong habits.  When asked, clients have said that the Club and book information totaled about 30% of the value with my coaching making up the other 70%. Schedule a call today so we can meet for an initial, complementary appointment to see if this option is right for you.  I coach clients in person and also as far away as Australia or Canada using an online program called Zoom.us   Access Nancy’s Calendar I look forward to speaking with you! (OR call me at 714-931-3910)
  • How Are Your Plans Coming Along?
    Is your life looking like the blueprints you had in your mind ten or twenty years ago?  Is your marriage living up to the dreams you had for it? Or are you suffering with a marriage or relationship that isn’t matching your plans? “When life doesn’t match your blueprints, you suffer.”  I’m sorry I don’t remember where I picked up this statement, but isn’t it the TRUTH?! When my body isn’t in the shape I want…When my partner doesn’t act lovingly toward me…When my child doesn’t live up to the potential I see in him or her…When my income isn’t what I’ve dreamed of…When… (fill in the blanks.) And then perhaps you want to shoot the friend who says, “Everything works out for the best,” Or the spiritual leader who says, “We are providentially given the lessons we need to learn,” or, “Life is a school with lessons custom designed for each of us.” I’ve had a few lessons that I wouldn’t have wished on my worst enemy, (if I had one!)  There were times when, truthfully, I just wanted my life to be over.  Sometimes THIS life is just too hard…too unbearable. I’ve been widowed twice.  I’ve had major challenges in relationship to my children and step-children.  I’ve gone through a few seasons of financial strain.  My body has broken down and periodically caused me great pain, both emotionally and physically.  I’m experiencing aging…and facing what might be seen as the final decades of my life. And yet, every tough season, every lesson learned, has delivered or brought me closer to my childhood dreams of (1) enjoying a loving, peaceful relationship with the love of my life, (2) having five children, (3) participating in loving relationships with each of them, and (4) writing books to help others have loving relationships.  The bonus has been my practice of personally coaching couples and seeing an online course published to help those, and other couples become more loving. What were your life blueprints?  What areas of your life look like a building plan gone awry?  Who are you blaming for “mistakes” that have brought you a life that is a disaster in some area or another? If you (or I) are suffering, it is because we long for a perfect construction being built according to our blueprints.  When our life doesn’t match our plans, we suffer. I have the advantage of looking back and appreciating how perfect the lessons have been that I needed to achieve my childhood dreams.  I still have circumstances I don’t particularly like, but I am not fighting them as desperately as I used to.  So, what am I doing instead?
    1. I express gratitude for every lesson…sometimes through gritted teeth, but GRATITUDE.
    2. I look for and expect to be given teachers, guides, skills that will enable me to move through the suffering to a solution that works for me.
    3. I trust that there is a Guiding Force, the Universe, God who is orchestrating a PLAN that is perfect for me…and supporting me as I do my best to cooperate with my journey.
    4. I celebrate every success: each time that I choose food that is healthy for me, each coaching session where couples are excited about less hurt and more love because of skills I’m teaching them, every loving interaction with a family member or friend, each offer of help or evidence that I am, indeed, being guided.
    I can’t help with many things that may be causing you pain, but if your marriage or love relationship isn’t matching your dreams, call me.  I may be able to show you how Jim and I achieved the marriage that matched our blueprints!  We’ll start with a complimentary appointment to see if your needs match my skills…and if they do, we’ll work out a plan to move toward enabling your relationship to come closer to the dream blueprint you had in mind! https://meetme.so/SpeakWithNancy
  • No thanks! I can do it!
    Our American culture highly values independence…self-sufficiency…resourcefulness.  Lately there’s been a trend toward living more simply—tiny-houses, living off of the grid, etc. There’s no doubt that gaining appropriate independence is an essential growth marker to reach!  I believe one can never fully feel “adult” without gaining confidence that can only be experienced with self-sufficiency. Yet, beyond independence is inter-dependence…the awareness that we need help from another…and then to relax into that highest level of human interaction. The lesson of gracefully appreciating help from others has been a lesson occasionally experienced in my life.  I used to find it hard to give up my prideful independence…my insistence that “I can do it myself.” Lately, however, I’ve had weeks of severe pain from a pinched sciatic nerve to encourage me to surrender into the exquisite pleasure of accepting help…even asking for help, when needed. The teen son of a friend volunteered to drop by one morning a week to do any chore I need.  Yes! Thank you! Two precious women have delivered groceries to me ...and put them away! My son and his wife volunteered to donate a few hours during their visit with me to do three big yard jobs that had been nagging me for months.  Wow! What a relief to have those eye-sores gone. I absolutely had to run three errands last Saturday.  I called Mike, my tax preparer and asked, “I’m in a lot of pain.  Would you be offended if I honk my horn for you to retrieve these documents you need?”   He was happy to fetch them from my car. I went to the bank, hobbled into the lobby and sat in reception.  When the greeter came to see what I needed, I requested a teller at a desk so I could sit down to complete several transactions.  They were happy to oblige. My last chore was buying chicken food.  From the pet store’s parking lot, I called the manager. I again explained that I’m in a lot of pain so walking and standing to check out is very hard for me. I requested the bag of food be delivered to my car with payment being given through the open car-door window.    This woman was so gracious about helping me. Asking for help when it’s needed is a gift to myself for sure!  And asking for help is also a gift to the help-giver. I once asked my highway patrolman son what he enjoyed the most about his job.  It thought he might say, “Chasing the  bad guys,” or “Stopping a drunk driver.”  But what he instantly said was, “Helping people.”  He often does that by air lifting injured hikers to a medical team, or assisting the officers on the ground to safely track a fugitive. In my coaching of couples, I am surprised at the resistance some have to asking their partner for help.  Sometimes the barrier to asking is the irrational belief, “He/she should know what I need without my asking for it!  So I won’t ask and I will nurture the resentment that results from my stand.” Sometimes reluctance to ask for help comes from believing that you don’t have the right to ask…you should just do it yourself.  And sometimes the refusal to ask for help comes from the painful experience of asking…perhaps even being promised help…and then being let down when the helper dropped the ball. And yet asking for help is opening a door of grace for both the giver and the receiver. We experience the best interdependence when we trade our ego’s need to be in control, for the sweetness of being helped. I am grateful for the opportunities to help others.  I am grateful for each one who has helped me in the past, and now when my ability to do some physical tasks is limited.  May we all be open to blessings as we give…and receive. If you’re interested in getting Nancy’s help to relieve the suffering in your relationship, book a complimentary appointment with her by clicking this link to her calendar: https://meetme.so/SpeakWithNancy  
  • The #1 Way to Kill a Relationship (or Business, or Life!)
    Recently a respected friend suggested I read Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, Ph.D.  I ordered it.  It came.  When I thumbed through it and discovered many pages of small print, I set it aside.  “Not now.  Maybe later.” Yesterday I opened it to the section on business.  I barely made it through the true examples of well-known business leaders who made an initial big splash in recovering a failing company, but failed to prepare the company for ongoing growth, and so, ultimately failed in their mission.  The cause was what she terms as a “fixed mindset,” meaning “Only I, the Leader, knows what is best for this company.” These were compared to less lauded business leaders who faced a failing company with the desire to learn, grow, identify issues, listen to team-mates, create a learning, encouraging mindset…and who ultimately led their team to recovery and profit.  An “open mindset” is eager to hear another’s opinion, listen to feedback, and make adjustments This was sort of inspiring, but I have a hard time relating to an executive of a multi-billion dollar company like Chrysler, GE, Enron, Chase-Manhattan Bank. This morning I opened the section about relationships.  NOW she began speaking my language!  My late husband and I believed, and taught, that SoulMate Relationships are created…earned…not born.  (See our book,  How to Stay Married & Love It! Solving the Puzzle of a SoulMate Marriage.) Carol says it this way, “…people with the fixed mindset expect everything good to happen automatically.  …sort of like it happened to Sleeping Beauty, whose coma was cured by her prince’s kiss, or to Cinderella, whose miserable life was suddenly transformed by her prince.” In relationship, as in business, parenting, and life, Carol says, “In the growth mindset, there may still be that exciting initial combustion, but people in this mindset don’t expect magicThey believe that a good, lasting relationship comes from effort and from working through inevitable differences.  But those with the fixed mindset don’t buy that.” In my twenty-five years of coaching couples, as well as painfully learned in my own relationships, a fixed mindset believes that “if we love each other, we shouldn’t have to work hard.  We should just be able to talk to work things through. A great, lasting relationship should just come automatically from our love.  If my partner loves me, he/she will give me what I need, understand me, accept my foibles no matter how irritating they are, etc., etc., etc.” Couples with a fixed mindset blame each other for problems, label each other as “selfish, stubborn, unfeeling, lacking empathy, abusive and incapable of change.”  Each sees the other as stuck in a “wrong” position that makes no sense, isn’t reasonable.  Each sees him or herself as “right, reasonable, and justifiably wronged.”  They eventually see the relationship as “impossible, doomed, deserving of dissolution.”  These fixed ways of viewing a partner or relationship are guaranteed to produce unhappiness, and ultimately failure. It was my challenge as a wife in a very conflicted relationship to open my mind to new ways of saying things that were less inflammatory and new ways of seeing my husband rather than labeling him as “wrong.”  I needed to look at what I was contributing to the hostile atmosphere that had begun to consume our relationship…and be willing to learn and change. As a coach, it is my challenge to help couples who are stuck in a “fixed mindset” about each other and their relationship to open up to new possibilities, new communication skills, new ways of viewing each other and the future of their relationship.  I must create a vivid picture of what they can have if they are willing to learn and change. Back when computers were a new phenomenon, a term was coined describing what computers could…and couldn’t do for us.  It was “garbage in/garbage out.”  I find that true in relationships, as well. The good news is that when you learn better communication and conflict management skills, and are then willing to contribute those skills to the relationship, you will soon enjoy the results of a more loving, supportive, mutually nurturing relationship that you will gladly be a part of “until death do us part.” Click on Ask Nancy about Coaching.  Coaching available world-wide.
  • Love in a Car Wash?
    This is a rather long blog that won’t appeal to everyone.  But perhaps there are a few of you who are experiencing difficult circumstances that will be encouraged by vulnerable exposure of my lessons about being loved. I’ve been so fortunate.  I’ve been married to two very wonderful and very different men.  My first husband was loyal, dependable, generous and faithful, but he very rarely expressed his love for me in words I wanted to hear “I love you” often!  I fretted about this glaring lack in his husband qualities for a few years.  But after trying to change him, I finally became desperate enough to be willing to change myself.  What a concept! One of the first shifts was to ask myself, “How is he communicating his love for me that I’m not hearing or seeing?”  He had an annoying habit of washing the car on Sunday morning while I was trying to get myself and our two toddlers ready for church.   One Sunday I looked out the kitchen window to see him, again, washing the car.  It suddenly occurred to me that he was proud of his young family and one of the ways he expressed that was by driving to church in a clean, shiny car.  I was flooded with the warm feelings of knowing I was loved. Recently I’ve been going through a temporary period of financial distress.  It’s surfaced a belief that if God loved me, I would always experience financial abundance…that God should demonstrate his love for me by consistently blessing me with great income.  I’ve been frustrated that my affirmations and efforts have not brought the generous amounts of income as expected. This week I finally admitted that I’m angry with God.  Why isn’t he doing his job?  Has he forgotten about me and my needs?  Am I doing something wrong?  Maybe he doesn’t love me. But really, lots has been happening that supports me immeasurably.  I’ve abandoned some of my limiting beliefs…like getting a NSF charge in my bank account makes me a bad person.  It doesn’t.  It means nothing about my character or integrity.  It’s a temporary circumstance that the bank responds to very non-judgmentally with a NSF charge.  Ho Hum…just another customer with not enough funds. How about the belief that if I’m experiencing difficulty I’m doing something wrong?  What if it doesn’t mean that at all?  What if it only means that I’m on a journey and that this part of the journey is somewhat rocky? Yesterday while driving I was singing some old hymns…sort of mindlessly letting my thoughts wander.  Suddenly I thought, “What if God is loving me by allowing this season of struggle?  Why should his love for me be judged by the health of my bank account?  What if this time of financial stress is the best expression of being loved by God?” So, I am no longer judging myself as “bad, wrong, irresponsible” for being occasionally overdrawn in my bank account.  I no longer choose to believe that I’ve done or am doing anything “wrong” that has resulted in “punishment.” My fears of financial ruin, or being unloved, or bad, or not working hard enough have been replaced by a sense of curiosity:  I wonder what purpose is being worked out during this uncomfortable season?  I wonder what solutions will evolve from this experience? I wonder where the money will come from to finance my next Costco run?  Ten years from now, I wonder how I will evaluate this time…what will I see and appreciate that I can’t see now? Yet, like recognizing my husband’s washing the car as an act of love, the abundance I desire is being heaped on me in ways other than a wealth of cash:  A gift of a new (working!) printer, clients volunteering to do video testimonials for my website,  a “chance” meeting that is resulting in free, thorough tutoring about Facebook advertising strategies, the gift of a gas gift card, a doctor who’s willing to hold my check in order to treat the pinched nerve in my back immediately, a dear friend/therapist who is not keeping track of her hours of support of me. Every time I step into my home, or walk through the yard, or notice a bird bathing in my birdbath, I feel wealthy.  Neither I nor my animals have gone hungry.  All the vital bills have been paid.  The bills that can wait, are waiting without burdening myself with shame or self-judgment. So, my prayers have changed.  In addition to praying for increased income and the wisdom to spot opportunities, I am also praying, “God, thank you for this time.  I don’t particularly like it, but I trust that even this is an expression of your love for me.  I’m not mad anymore.  I trust you and trust the process that is being worked out in my life.  Someday I will understand and appreciate every day of this season and every lesson learned.” Meanwhile I am experiencing more peace than I would ever have thought possible.  And, in the quietness, find myself finely attuned to receive guidance as it comes to me.  Not perfectly.  Not every minute of every day.  But most of the time.  And for that, I am humbly grateful! Need to talk?  Let’s get together! 
  • The Cost of a Committed Relationship
    There are several categories of a committed relationship.  The first one I think of is 1) a marriage.  But there are others, like 2) a business partnership, and 3) the relationship of a parent and child. There are several categories of costs:  1) Staying in the relationship during the rough times, 2) Being willing to be self-reflective…examine what you are contributing to the health of the relationship, 3) Sacrificing, at times, your own preference for the desire of your partner…and then there is 4) the financial cost if you need help to make the relationship to work well for both parties. In the mid-nineteen eighties my late husband Jim and I spent what, for us, was a lot of money getting the help we needed to save our marriage.  We paid our coach $50/hour, an average of twice a week. She taught us a few simple skills that, as we practiced them, enabled us to communicate with mutual respect, handle our respective anger without attacking each other with it, and eventually resolve our BIG ISSUE in a way we could both support long-term. That was 30 years ago.  An app called Dollar Times says that $50 in 1988 is the same as $106.81 today.  Twice a week for about six months added up to almost $3000 in today’s money.  It wasn’t easy.  Part of that time he was out of a job.  We were scraping by.  I remember a conversation about not paying the water bill one month because things were so “tight.” But, we really, really wanted to find our way back to the love that brought us together.  We were committed to doing whatever it took to resolve our issue and stay together-happily-until death parted us. At first we just noticed moments that were better…and then we broke through into this wide, lovely, peaceful place with each other.  We kept our agreements.  We continued to immaculately used the skills we’d learned.  Neither of us would ever do anything to jeopardize the amazing relationship we’d worked so hard to achieve. We lived in bliss with each other for seventeen more years before Jim died. If it had cost us a dozen times what we paid it would have been worth it. Everyone of our children have thanked us for “making it.”…for giving them the model of a couple who was willing to do the work and pay the price to save their marriage. Today I am a Relationship Repair Coach.  I have taught dozens of classes. Written six books and one curriculum for stepfamilies.  Spoken several times at a national conference of relationship educators.  Taught two classes to therapists, helping them learn how to work with step-couples. Couples come to me in the same desperate, deeply painful condition that Jim and I once experienced.  I give them a Complimentary Consultation where they experience the power of the skills I can teach them.  I know how to help them get from where they are to where they want to be…at peace and in love again! I see hope blossom in their faces.  And then I present the cost of my coaching package. My $3000 package provides the same level of intense coaching that Jim and I were blessed to receive.  It includes a LOT extra support that our coach didn’t have. Some couples that I can’t imagine being able to pay, find a way to come up with the fee because they want the results badly enough. And others who hear that number immediately start to shut down.  They say they’ll talk about it and get back to me.  Sometimes they do.  But many times they disappear. I wonder about the costs they will pay without skills and support from me, or from someone like me. How much of their life energy is drained away in stressful conflict and unmet needs?  How do you measure the cost of being unhappy with your life-partner, often the other parent of your children? What does it cost to separate, supporting two living arrangements?  What does a divorce cost?  Where does that money come from?  Divorce usually means a drastic reduction in style of living for all parties. What do your children pay for losing a model of a loving, committed marriage?  What does it cost them to be divided between two adults they are dependent on and who’s love they need? What emotional and financial costs are involved in a business partnership being severed?  What is the emotional cost of a ruptured relationship between a parent and child? (In addition to couples, I’ve also helped repair the broken relationship of two business partners, and a few parent-child relationships.) My coaching is cheap in comparison.  I am through feeling apologetic about my fee.  From now on I am being up-front and clear about the cost of my fee.  I can help a couple, business partnership or parent-child relationship, if they are committed to the process, transform their relationship in about three months.  When the bill is paid, and the work done, they are equipped with the skills to handle any issue that may challenge them in the future. Gradually, over three months, they get to experience the magic of hope reborn, love reignited and painful conflicts resolved.  They, like Jim and me, get to relax into the safe, trustworthy comfort of a committed relationship that has been tested and come out like gold. I doubt it would go over very well to say all of these things to a potential client/couple.  So I’m saying here, where perhaps you can hear me in a more neutral environment.  My coaching package is a bargain!  Call me for a first, free consultation! Wanting only the best for you, Book a Complimentary Consultation with me by clicking on the link.  
  • The BIG ISSUE
    This is the one that triggers instant anger, simmering resentfulness, and eventually feelings of hopelessness about the quality of your relationship. On the surface each of you wants the issue resolved YOUR way…the BEST way!  Right? When I tell my couples that conflict is the doorway to greater intimacy, they respond various ways…” No way!”  or, “You’ve got to be kidding!” or, “This lady is a kook. Let’s get out of here!” Krystel dreams of traveling with her husband.  She’s an adventurer.  She’s already visited a few countries and loves the diversity, the challenge of finding her way around, the fun of meeting new people. To Earle, her husband, these dreams sounded like nightmares.  He likes safety, seclusion, predictability, the comfort of sleeping in the same bed every night. Totally incompatible wants…right? They had a Skilled Discussion about this issue.  (A Skilled Discussion is one in which she has the chance to express her feelings, desires, concerns while the he listens with the intention of truly understanding.  The Listener puts himself in the partner’s point of view, seeing, feeling, and understanding the needs of the partner.  Then they switch roles.  It’s a very structured, safe way of discussing the HOT ISSUE.) For the first time, Earle understood the depth of her desire to travel…not by herself (which she admitted she was not afraid to do) but with the love of her life…him. Krystel, for the first time, understood his need for safety, comfort, structure. After understanding each other’s needs at a much deeper level, they were ready to brainstorm ideas that would meet her need to travel with him, and his need for a home base.  Now they were on the same side.  They felt a soft desire to meet the needs of the other rather than just remaining stuck in their incompatible desires. They came up with several modes of travel that would meet both of their needs:  1)Rent a cottage in a foreign country for two weeks.  He has a home base from which he’d be happy to explore the area with her.  2) Join a group tour where the schedule is planned and predictable.  3) Use a hotel as a home base where he can stay put as much as he wants and she can go to the local street market and explore…but be together for meals or certain events. A Skilled Discussion is designed to work like a seat belt and shoulder harness…a bit confining, but designed to keep you both safe as you discuss the HOT ISSUE.   As you each feel safe in the controlled structure of a Skilled Discussion, you both share the needs underneath your respective opinions about the only way to resolve your HOT ISSUE. The vulnerable exposure of your needs softens your partner’s feelings toward you.  You are both soon willing to look for resolutions that meet your partner’s needs as well as your own. Successful resolutions of the HOT ISSUE only work when it meets both person’s needs. This process ignites hope where before there was only disbelief that a mutually agreeable solution could be found. Best wishes for solutions that end every HOT ISSUE for you! P.S. Do you find it hard to imagine a mutually agreeable solution to your HOT ISSUE?  Let Nancy teach you how to have a Skilled Discussion that will create willingness in each of you to find a solution that meets both of your needs.  https://meetme.so/SpeakWithNancy
  • Let’s Fight! We’ll have fun!
    Who in the world ever suggests that?  Who would want that?  Fights are exhausting.  It takes time to recover your balance.  It feeds emotional separation.  It rarely results in a lasting solution.  Yet how often are you fighting with your beloved? Or, on the other extreme, how often do you avoid an issue, trying to escape the conflict?  Only to have it blow up anyway… Every time there is a fight and the issue is unresolved (you may shelve it from exhaustion but it is not resolved) the emotional distance in the relationship increases.  Every time words are said in anger or you lie to prevent a conversation about an issue, a brick is added to the wall between you.  Jim and I had the same fight for seven years before we found the help we needed.  Some couples indulge in the same fight for many more years than we did, (although we might have gone on much longer if we didn’t get help…or call it quits.) The first time I say this to clients they nearly gag:  “Conflict is the doorway to greater intimacy.” Are you saying, “Not hardly!” or “You’ve got to be kidding!” or “Sounds like some kind of psycho-babble to me!” Yet when Jim and I used better communication and anger management skills we grew emotionally closer and closer…and finally, motivated by that closeness, we agreed on a resolution to our issue.  It was never an issue again. I have found that the part of couple’s coaching that I enjoy the most is helping them resolve conflicts.  I love witnessing the magic of love reignited, trust rebuilt, and hope re-infusing the relationship with confidence that, with better skills, they really can resolve anything. If you are discouraged by recycling the same old fights…if you long to feel the love for each other that you had in the beginning…if your deepest desire is to find a solution to that ugly issue that keeps diverting your attention…call me. Let’s start with one complimentary consultation…it’s on me.  Book a time on my calendar that is convenient for both of you.    I’ll have a couple requests that you can complete ahead of time in 15 minutes.  Then we’ll talk.  Bring your biggest issue to the table.  I’ll do my best to help you navigate through it to either resolve it on the spot, or make significant progress.  Don’t allow even one more fight to rob you of the joy of your love! I know it’s hard to bare the warts of your relationship to anyone, but what if this is the first step toward ridding yourself of the warts? PS: Make the appointment today.  You both deserve to be happy.  I will show you the path to help you get there!
  • Are You or Someone You Know Considering Divorce?
    For a few agonizing moments, that option was on the table for my late husband Jim and me.  It felt like a bottomless chasm had opened up in front of us…one that if we didn’t find a way over, would swallow us and our family whole. The fighting was endless.  The pain unbearable.  The conflict seemed irreconcilable.  Words like hopeless, helpless, desperate described our feelings.  In addition, we were each full of anger and self-righteous confidence, saying by our behaviors, “My solution is the right one!  Why don’t you understand that?!” After exploring several possibilities, without success, we finally found a coach who taught us a few simple skills that turned our marriage around.  And in a relatively short period of time. I so believe in the transformative power of the stories of us and other couples who used these skills to safely reach the other side of the chasm.  If you are struggling like we were, or even just dissatisfied with some aspects of your marriage, I want you to know there are simple changes you can make that will enable you to experience the marriage of your dreams. Recently I offered you a free audio copy of my book, “How to Stay Married & Love It! Solving the Puzzle of a Soul-Mate Marriage.”  Some of you have not yet taken advantage of this gift. So here’s a sneak preview to give you a taste of what you are missing…the first three chapters are linked here.  You can listen with your computer or download them to your phone. Can you listen to these chapters without getting hooked and ordering the entire audio copy from Audible.com?  I dare you to try!

    Chapter One

    Chapter Two Chapter Three There’s treasure here…don’t miss it!  Click this link to order your free, complete audio copy of “How to Stay Married & Love It!” Order Book Now PS: If you want to confidentially discuss your marriage issues with me, schedule a phone appointment by clicking on this link to my calendar:  https://meetme.so/SpeakwithNancy
  • Audio-Book Give-Away!
    Could you relate to the last blog about my lead-footed driving?  Even driving the speed limit, there are always cars passing me up!  Is one of them yours? Here’s a great fix for speeding tickets, higher insurance rates, excessive wear and tear on your car, and guiltily watching out for lurking CHP cars: In exchange for trying Audible.com for one FREE month, you can download a FREE copy of my book, “How to Stay Married & Love It! Solving the Puzzle of a SoulMate Marriage.” Click here to order my audio-book.  “How to Stay Married & Love It!” audio book  When you get to check out, there will be a zero balance!  If Audible.com is not for you, cancel it before the next month begins and keep the book! Discover how to have a conversation about a touchy issue that results in resolution and deeper loving.  Listen to the true story of a man who discovered his fields were full of diamonds.  Hear the stories of multiple couples who have found rich treasure in their relationship.  Find out why every point of view is right.  Learn how to have a fight-free marriage.  Be inspired to “close the back door” and experience the magic when you do. Where else can you find a way to be a law-abiding driver and improve your relationships at the same time? Order Book Now And if you have questions about what you hear, schedule a complimentary appointment to explore how a peaceful, loving, lasting marriage can be yours, as well: https://meetme.so/SpeakwithNancy   Here’s to safe driving and a happy marriage!
  • Confessions of a Lead-Footed Driver
    Yes, that’s me.  I constantly battle my impulse to drive too fast.  I’m supposed to enjoy the journey…but I just want to get there! I think it started after my young husband unexpectedly died.  I was twenty-three years old with two baby boys.  I just wanted to escape my life. The cure came when my youngest refused to get in the car with me.  I was mortified to realize my driving frightened him.  I made a deal with him.  “You’re in charge of the speed.  If you’re scared and want me to slow down, just say so and I will.”  He did.  And I did. In the years since then I’ve used other tools to curb my need for speed.  As soon as I owned a car with cruise control, with relief I turned control over to that amazing gizmo that would automatically maintain the speed.  All I had to do was summon that moment of responsibility and set the cruise control to match the posted speed for that highway. And then I discovered books-on-tape (and then books-on-cd!)  I LOVE stories.  I LOVE books.  Now I could be occupied and entertained while maintaining a legal speed limit!  Wonderful!  And my local library had hundreds of books from which to choose!  For free! Next I found Audible.com…a limitless treasure trove of authors and titles from which to choose for only $14.99/month.  I’m totally hooked. Sometimes the books are favorite mysteries by authors like C.J. Box and his Joe Pickett series (a game warden in Montana that solves all kinds of interesting crimes.)  And sometimes the books are inspirational like Outrageous Openness by Tosha Silver (encouraging total dependence on the grace and generosity of God to direct my life) or Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo (inspiring creative thinking as applied to my business.)
    • In 2017, thanks to the generosity of a local radio station’s recording booth and my neighbor Reena’s editing talent, my signature book, How to Stay Married & Love It! Solving the Puzzle of a SoulMate Marriage was added to Audible.com’s library!
    If you’re ready to hear a great story and learn helpful relationship skills while you resist driving too fast, or endure grid lock with more grace, or be educated and entertained while cleaning the house or mowing the lawn, click this link to download one of the best relationship resources you’ll ever hear PLUS get one month’s free membership to Audible.com! “How to Stay Married & Love It!” audio book When you download this book you will have me personally sharing with you the priceless lessons that my late husband Jim and I learned while transforming our marriage from daily fights to consistently peaceful loving! OK…I guess I must report that I still tend to drive with a lead foot, but I manage my predilection for speed by faithfully employing the cruise control…and listening to a fabulous assortment of books to make driving time entertaining and productive.  Ready to join me? Order Book Now
  • A Step-Couple Back from the Brink
    This is one of the most inspiring step-couple stories I know of.  Although it’s long, the drama of their experience will grip you and not let you go until you get to the end… Gavin and Pamela first met in the 5th grade in 1980 and quickly became best friends. Even when they went to different high schools they made time to hang out together on weekends. When they graduated from a Mastering the Mysteries of Stepfamilies class in March 2010, they had been married for four years. They each had two children from previous marriages. This interview was conducted about six months following the beginning of their implementation of stepfamily guidelines. Pamela: Gavin (with his then girlfriend who became his first wife) came to my first wedding when I was 23 years old. Although several family members and friends expressed their concerns about my choice, I went through with my marriage to Tom (name fictitious). Abusive behaviors began only two weeks after the wedding. It began with name calling and throwing things, graduated to breaking things, then to hitting me, pulling the telephone cord out so I couldn’t call police. It continued with financial tyranny and infidelity with my best friend. He made sure we only owned one car and prevented me from attending school. He wanted total control. Our son, Dakota, was born in ‘93 and Amanda in ‘95. They were three and five years old when I left with a police escort after he’d chased me around with a buck knife. I met Cole (fictitious) on line, a firefighter from Alabama. He seemed very kind. He came to Missouri to visit me and the kids. He and my parents really liked each other. My Dad suggested to me that I marry him on a Friday. We married on the following Monday, packed up our belongings and drove away in a U-Haul. My Ex surrendered his parental rights to avoid child support payments. My dad convinced Cole to adopt Dakota and Amanda because the court wouldn’t allow me (the mother!) to have sole custody! My marriage to Cole was never very intimate. He liked that I was raising his kids for him, even home schooling them. He brought a check home and spent every night he was home drinking in the garage. He eventually reunited with a high school girlfriend and said he didn’t want to be married to me anymore. He just moved out. Neither of us was sorry. He gave me 6 ½ years of safety. It helped me regain my balance after being afraid for my life with Tom. Gavin: In my early twenties I was not living according the faith that was important to my family. I made decisions based on how I felt and what I wanted. I met Carol (fictitious) at Cal State Bakersfield and married her in spite of her noticeable problem with drinking. During our first few years she attempted suicide several times. We split before our son Terry was a year old. One night about 10 p.m. I was sitting in my apartment when I got an urgent, sick feeling in stomach. I drove straight to where Carol was living. I could hear the car running in the garage. When I opened the door, she was unconscious. I turned the engine off, called 911 and found Terry in his crib with a suicide note. I took custody of Terry at that time. I thought I had it all together but was really immature. I was making great money and changing diapers but was a dad on the fly. I met Cali at an escrow company while I was making good money in the mortgage business. There had been no real change in me. My family was telling me I was out of my mind. Even Pam tried to warn me. Cali quickly became verbally and emotionally abusive to two-year-old Terry. One time he dropped a piece of rice on the table and she freaked out. She’d throw his toys in the trash. She repeatedly said, “He’s not part of our family.” Meanwhile Terry’s mom had gone through counseling and re-hab. She wanted to spend time with Terry—reconnect. I wanted Terry to know his mom, so I shared time with her even though I had custody. Cali was so rejecting and abusive with Terry that when he was with me I’d take him to my dad’s or a hotel. Cali and I were expecting. The birth was difficult—a C-section—so I was very active in taking care of Anisha during the first several weeks while Cali was recovering. I felt very bonded with her. Cali became even more abusive to Terry saying, “Now we have our family.” Things got pretty crazy. She wouldn’t allow any photos of Terry in the house. If we were in conflict when I had to leave for a business appointment, she’d lay on the hood of my car so I couldn’t leave. If she got off and I drove away she would call my phone hundreds of times in 20 minutes. One time I smashed my phone in frustration. The court would not allow her to be present during any time I spent with Terry. She convinced me to let her drive up to Lompoc to pick up Terry. I gave in. We picked him up. On our way home she began to be angry. She wanted a reaction from me and I wouldn’t give engage. She turned on Terry and began screaming at him. “I wish you were dead! You’re the reason we’re in so much trouble!” I reached back to calm Terry. When we got home I packed a few things and left. I was so tired. I began praying, “God, please help me!” Anisha was only 3-4 months old when I left with Terry. I was so bonded with her, but because of her age, the judge only allowed me two hours per week. I left the courtroom sick to my stomach. It took a week or two to regain some focus. I knew that as she got older I’d get more time. I was a single dad uninterested in another relationship. I was just doing my job, spending some weekends without kids and some with kids. I was just plodding along. I became more stable, returning to my faith. About three years went by. I was not looking for another partner. I was resigned to being a single dad. Three years went by. There was not one person I could imagine wanting to see until Pamela emailed me out of the blue. We had not been in touch for six or seven years. Pamela: A friend saw Gavin being interviewed on television for his mortgage business. I looked up his company’s website. I had no idea whether he was still married, so I just sent a general, “How are you?” email, not even sure if he would answer. Gavin: I was sitting at my desk at work. It was a shock to open Pamela’s email. I replied, “I’d like to come see you and see how you’re doing.” Pamela: We hugged and cried and had a great visit. He came out again….and again. I knew he was serious because he’s afraid of flying and I was still in Missouri. Nancy: Why did either of you think you could have a sane marriage after these horrendous relationships? Pamela: The only thing that sounded familiar and comforting was our friendship. Gavin was the only person I knew for sure loved me in the whole world and I knew I loved him. We both thought we were finally going to do it right! Nancy: How long did it take to realize it wasn’t going to be easy? Gavin: When we returned from our honeymoon I was facing two court battles, one each for Terry and Anisha. Terry’s mom was drinking again. She was neglecting him. Once he called me crying. She ripped the phone from him. I was trying to get him protected. Cali took us to court for everything about Anisha. One thing would get resolved then the next week I’d get court papers regarding something else. Pamela: Add conflict between Gavin and me to the mix. We were fighting over the parenting of our children. Gavin is very structured in the way he parents. I am far more relaxed. Gavin’s family told him to leave me. When he refused, they broke off all contact with us. We were spiraling downward. Very little could be discussed. We had fights in front of the kids, about the kids. We had no dates, no time for us. Everything had become a competition. My kids had had no contact with their adoptive or biological father since 2005. Gavin: In 2007 after my last court appearance with Terry’s mom she won back the right to share custody. Two weeks later she was diagnosed with brain cancer. A court mediator was appointed to watch over him. I was given full custody of Terry because his mother’s health had deteriorated. He moved in with us in 2008. Carole and her parents cut off all contact with us. We’ve tried through many different channels to find out how Carole is. We don’t know if she’s alive or dead. Cali tried to move Anisha to New Jersey—precipitating a court battle which we won. Thousands and thousands of dollars had gone into court battles—paying attorneys right and left. Meanwhile the economy tanked and I lost my mortgage business, two rentals and a million-dollar home. My car was repossessed. We couldn’t afford to put gas in our family car. We moved twice. Pamela: We knew we still loved each other underneath all the chaos, but we’d lost trust in each other. Both of us had been in insane relationships for so long. Yet, we both believed that God was with us individually and still had a good plan for our lives. We also had our memory of our very solid friendship as children. Even though we’d lost each other for a while, Gavin was the only one I’d shared deeply with. He was a safest place I’d ever known. Gavin had been going to church before we reconnected. We got involved in a Sunday School class. Nobody knew what going on in our home, but, thankfully, we were there when things got really bad in the Fall of 2009. One couple came over the night of our biggest fight around Thanksgiving when the kids called the police. They recommended we see Pastor Dave Carder. Two days later we saw him, but he said, “There are no classes for you until early February.” Gavin: In January the church had a preview of all the marriage classes offered for Spring. On the way there we had a big fight and Pamela said to turn the car around and take her home. Pamela: I heard a strong voice inside saying, “Turn around and get back there!” We did. At the preview, we heard a woman talking about her experience in a stepfamily. She (Nancy Landrum) was promoting Mastering the Mysteries of Stepfamilies class. We related to everything she said. The minute the meeting was over we went to her and poured out how desperate we were for help. Gavin: Although the class didn’t start for four more weeks, Nancy had experienced the desperation of hanging on by her fingernails, hoping for help. She agreed to see us a few days later. After listening to each of us describe what was happening from our respective points of view, she asked if we were ready to take steps for immediate relief. We would have done anything at that point! We loved each other and were heart-broken that we couldn’t seem to make our marriage work. Without doing something differently, we were teetering on the brink of another separation. Pamela: She described the guideline recommended for stepfamilies who have conflicts over parenting. We would go back to single parenting our respective children. The step-parent would not comment or criticize the bio-parent’s children or parenting methods. We would agree on a few simple house rules by which everyone in the family would abide. It hit me hard. When I told Nancy that I just wanted a man who would love my children, she replied, “It’s too late to have a nuclear family. That time is gone. You’re in a stepfamily now and most stepfamilies only succeed by functioning with different dynamics than first families.” Gavin: But we were so desperate we’d do anything to stop the fights, so we agreed. No commenting or criticizing of each other’s children or parenting decisions. We’d focus on rebuilding relationships with our own children. Pamela: Over the next few days it was like a magic pill had been dropped into our home. The fighting immediately stopped! The calm was like a breath of fresh, cleansing air after being in a smoke-filled room! But I also grieved the loss of my first-family dream. I grieved the loss of a loving father for my children. I cried off and on for two weeks. Gavin: A few weeks later we took the class. The first full Saturday of class went by so quickly! We were learning how to hear from each other’s point of view. We heard each other with deep empathy, learning to Show Understanding. It was transformational! (Showing Understanding is the listening skill for the Mastering the Mysteries of Stepfamilies curricula.) Pamela: I learned why my communication methods were creating and escalating conflict. I learned how to say, “I feel hurt when you….” rather than “You are so thoughtless!” That day and in the evenings to follow we grabbed and used every skill and concept that was presented in class. We were so determined to have peace and save our marriage and family that we practiced constantly. We put into practice the Problem Solving Skill with issues that had been hot topics for four years, such as how much money we spent on our respective children. Gavin: We’d have to call time outs sometimes, but we were successfully talking about things that we’d tip-toed around in our efforts to avoid more fights. Decisions were being made that satisfied both of us. We’ve been successful in following through with our plans. Every successful Skilled Discussion is a miracle that we celebrate! Pamela: The love we knew was buried under everything all along has returned in force. We’ve gone on romantic dates! We have rediscovered why we’ve been friends through all of these years. The kids have calmed down. The whole family had been divided in half, but now relationships between the kids are healing. There is laughter in our house again! It felt like the solution to change back to single-parenting was a bomb that dropped in the middle of our family. Everything flew in all directions. Our expectations had been so unrealistic. Now we know that stepfamilies often require thinking outside the nuclear family box. We’re slowly figuring out how to put our family back together in ways that work for us and our children. Gavin: Right after the class we thought everything was fixed, but in the months since then we’ve realized that a lot of damage was done during all the chaotic years. Now we are taking things one step at a time. As we and the children feel more secure, layers of issues are surfacing that require us to continue using our skills and stepfamily guidelines. We’re doing a better job of listening to our children. Now that we’re not busy being defensive with each other about our parenting, we’re becoming more attentive to the needs of our children. We’re more realistic about the fact that our stepfamily issues will continue to be a challenge, probably for the rest of our lives. Our children will continue to need our love and support as they move into adulthood with the wounds from their childhoods. We hope that they will follow our lead by learning these skills to make their first and only marriage succeed. We pray that they will stop the legacy of divorce with all its pain and chaos that Pamela and I have handed them. Pamela: The great news is that the kids are living with a model of a healthy marriage for the first time in their lives! Gavin and I are absolutely sure now that we will stay together and love each other until parted by death! It feels indescribably safe to have that security! Gavin: We are committed to helping other stepfamilies find the miracle we are experiencing. We recently co-taught a class with Nancy where couples thanked us for sharing our story! We are sharing our story anywhere asked and with anyone who will listen. Even relationships with our extended families are being healed. Finally we are seeing some positive purpose for all the years of pain and misery. We are not only giving our children a safe, loving, respectful home environment but are helping other hurting stepfamilies find what they were searching for when they married. We are richly and truly blessed. Nancy Landrum has been teaching communication and stepfamily skills for many years.  If you would like a no-obligation appointment with Nancy, set it up by using this link to her calendar:  https://meetme.so/SpeakwithNancy
  • Are You Having a Marriage Groundhog Day?
    The movie starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell has made the term, Groundhog Day, a metaphor for anything that happens over and over again with confusing, agonizing dependability. Could this be true of your marriage?  Are you having the same argument over and over again?  Feeling the same frustrations with each other? Unable to communicate effectively?  Bored with the same-old, same-old routines? Having nothing but Marriage Groundhog Days gradually drains the energy out of your love. Murray’s character was bewildered and frustrated because nothing changed…not the calendar, the activities, the people, until he got the message that he needed to change! He did, and then life began to be fresh and fun again. To expect things to get better without any positive changes being made by either partner is crazy-making.  When my marriage to Jim was desperately unhappy I sincerely believed that Jim was the only one who needed to change. But I was finally in enough pain to seek help for me.   I began to see what only I could change…my way of handling anger, for one. Fortunately, Jim eventually got on board so we could, together, learn better communication and conflict management habits.  We resolved our differences and began enjoying each other again! Have you been waiting until your partner was willing to seek help with you?  Are you convinced that nothing can get better until he/she changes? In my twenty-five years of coaching, I’ve noticed that one partner is often the initiator…the one to say, “We need help!” and to look for help even if the spouse isn’t willing to go along with it.  Is that person you?  Are you willing to initiate change? Schedule a call with me. No charge. No obligation. I’ll help you explore where to start…with or without your partner’s participation.   https:meetme.so/SpeakWithNancy Have the courage to “Be the change that you wish to see in the world marriage.” -Mahatma Gandhi
  • FOUR REASONS Why Being a Step-Mom (or Dad) is Hard!
    Reason #1: THE STEP-CHILD You did not conceive, give birth to or delight in the birth of this child.  You did not nurse him or walk with him when he had colic.  You did not see her first smile or gaze with wonder into her eyes.  You didn’t rejoice when he turned learned to crawl.  You didn’t laugh when she said her first word. For a birth parent there are a million moments with this child that are like invisible threads winding these two hearts together. You enter this child’s life after age four, or eight, or twelve years of these moments that you have missed. You are beginning to build a relationship when this child already is tightly bound to his birth mother and father.  No matter what difficult dynamics may be between them, this child is deeply, genetically and emotionally loyal to the two who gave her life. Reason #2: THE FATHER He’s a great guy or you wouldn’t have fallen in love with him.  You believe you can help him heal from the trauma of divorce or the loss of his former wife. What you don’t immediately see is that he feels sorry that his kids have suffered trauma, too.  He couldn’t protect them from the loss of their mother.  Or he left their mother because he was unhappy or the situation was intolerable.  He believes, whether it’s true or not, that he’s contributed to a deep wound in his kids.  He wants to make all other parts of their lives as easy and conflict free as possible to make up for the pain they have felt or are experiencing. So, he wears rose colored glasses when it comes to his kids.  He sometimes excuses behavior you think needs correction.  He doesn’t seem to notice when they leave their stuff all over the house, or eat candy before dinner, or are rude to you. And he resents it when you suggest his kids may need more dependable structure in their lives.  After all, what do you know?  You didn’t live through the events that brought them to this place.  You don’t understand that Susie is especially sensitive and must be treated with kid gloves.  Or that Bobbie is just acting out his confusion and only needs time to adjust. Reason #3: THE MOTHER You are, in many ways, acting the role of the mother.  You may fix meals, drive to school, do the laundry, and attend sports events,  ad nauseam.  But you do not enjoy the loyalty or the affection of these children.  That belongs to their real mother. And she may be jealous of sharing her time and authority with you.  She may still be reacting to the pain of her dream family splitting apart whether or not it was her choice.  She may see you in competition with her for her children’s affection.  She may want to punish the former spouse by changing custody plans at the last minute, or taking him back to court for more money.  She might even tell lies about him…and you… to the children!  She may try to engage you in the drama. And your beloved may be so sick of dealing with her that he is relieved when you take over the communication with her…meaning you are drawing her fire more than him. Having an adult, mature relationship with an Ex where the needs of the children are put ahead of the convenience of the parents (and step-parent) is an ideal situation.  It even occasionally happens that way.  And sometimes relationships with an Ex that start out crazy gradually become more sane.  (Watch the videos recommended below to see how one father learned to handle his “crazy Ex.”) But sanity seems to be the rare exception when it comes to broken marriages and custody of children. Reason #4: YOU, THE STEP-MOTHER Yes, you too, may be contributing to the issues.  Often you, the “new wife,” believe you can rescue this wonderful man.  You are the salve that will heal his wounded heart.   You will provide the love and stability that these hurting children need.  You will love them all back to health and happiness.  You will be the catalyst for a more positive future. And then you begin to resent how unappreciative they all are!  You are being taken advantage of and feel used.  You chafe at the lack of authority you have to make decisions and follow through with needed discipline.  You can’t understand why your beloved doesn’t see that Bobby needs firm boundaries, or that Susie shouldn’t get her own way just because she’s throwing another tantrum. Can’t he see that he’s ruining his precious children?  Doesn’t he understand that you’re giving advice because you care about what kind of adults they will grow up to be? THERE IS HOPE FOR STEP-FAMILIES Unrealistic expectations are at the core of so many step-family choices that add to the chaos and pain rather than relieving it.  You cannot force a new, fragile step-family into the happy, well-adjusted family that most imagine being a part of when they marry. And yet there are proven guidelines that help the unique dynamics of a step-family work more smoothly.  I said “more smoothly” because step-family life is very rarely smooth.  It is multiple times more difficult to navigate around the issues and personalities in a step-family than to deal with the normal ups and downs in a first marriage with shared birth children. Visit this page on my website to listen to interviews of several real-life step-couples who have successfully dealt with all of these issues.  Hearing their stories is far more effective and powerful than if I were to give you a list of guidelines in this article. Their experience is inspiring and their solutions are practical and duplicatable! 
    • Hear Jeremy and Lisa’s story and the valuable lessons they’ve learned.
    • Listen to James and Kim share some things they did impressively well.
    • And you must hear how establishing a few house rules made a big difference to Sherman and Alexa.
    http://nancylandrum.com/stepping-twogether
  • Jeremy and Lisa’s Stepfamily Story
    Jeremy and Lisa are former coaching clients.  The stresses of stepfamily living had brought out the worst in their communication methods.  They diligently learned and practiced better communication and conflict management skills.  In addition, over time, they adopted better strategies for managing their children and a difficult relationship with an Ex. This month you’ll be hearing more about the upcoming Stepping TwoGether course that is launching on March 23rd.  Go to the Stepping TwoGether page at www.nancylandrum.com to listen to Jeremy and Lisa’s inspiring story. And my personal thanks to Jeremy and Lisa for so generously and vulnerably sharing their stepfamily experience!
  • Is Your Inner Two-Year-Old in Charge of Your Marriage?
    When my marriage to my late husband Jim was in jeopardy, at some level I knew that my sarcastic put-downs and yelling were not helping resolve our conflict.  But it wasn’t until a great coach began to teach us some basic communication and anger management skills that I saw hope for the future. Even then, it was like pulling teeth to make myself turn a sarcastic put-down into an “I statement,” (I think, I feel, I’m concerned about…)  When my anger was triggered, it required massive self-control to call a “time out” on myself and go vent in my journal or pull weeds until I calmed down and could speak to Jim respectfully. Now that I had learned better communication skills, why was it such a struggle to use them?  Especially when I could immediately notice more receptivity in Jim to hear my message when “I messages” were used instead of yelling at him? Because a two-year-old lives inside me that just wants to do it her way and the consequences be d**med!  My two-year-old thought Jim should just overlook the delivery method (sarcasm, yelling) and understand the superiority of my opinion about how to resolve our issues! Blaming him for not “getting it” and expecting him to agree with my position is so much more satisfying to a two-year-old!  Two-year-olds just want their own way!  And will do almost anything to mold the world to suit their desires.  I had to strengthen the adult me who understood that I needed to change in order for the marriage to improve.  It was like strengthening a weak muscle by repetition. (Please understand that I was a responsible grownup in other areas.  This just happened to be a very immature, undeveloped part of me that was wonderfully exposed by conflict in our marriage!) I’ve noticed that whenever I begin a big change, my two-year-old is activated.  I’ve been carrying some extra weight around for a long time.  It’s affecting my knees and energy level and ultimately limiting my quality and perhaps length of life.  So recently I thought, “OK, I’m ready to take action to lose the weight.”  When a few days go by and I’ve only dropped a pound or two, my two-year-old wants to quit.  She’s disappointed that the excess weight isn’t just magically melting off!  I decided didn’t I?  Why isn’t that enough? And my two-year-old doesn’t like giving up or limiting anything I love…like sweets.  What do I mean that I must do something else to soothe myself other than eating more cookies!  Why can’t I indulge in all the carrot cake I want?  Bummer.  In this example regaining a healthy weight requires the sacrifice of eating everything I want in any quantity. Two-year-olds aren’t good at follow through or sacrifice.  I’ve discovered that the “follow through” part of change is most likely to be engaged when I am in enough pain to take control away from the two-year-old!  KNOWING I need to change is not enough.  I must be ready to COMMIT to changed behaviors! It’s helpful at this point to understand the nature of habit in the brain.   The brain is designed to LOVE habits, nurture habits, and maintain habits.  Habits mean that I don’t have to relearn daily tasks like brushing my teeth, or tying my shoe laces, or safely boiling water.  Habits make efficient use of my energy.  Most tasks can be on auto pilot so I have energy to deal with my job, or learn new skills. The problem comes when I want to change a habit…such as using “I messages” rather than sarcasm.  Or doing deep breathing to calm myself down rather than eating a handful of chocolate chip cookies. Each habit creates a particular pattern of firing neurons that, the longer the habit has been operating, attracts a rich supply of blood.  This is like a well-worn path through the forest.  Very clear and obvious. When I want to replace an old habit with a new one, it’s like hacking my way through the forest with a machete.  It is purposeful.  It requires energy, conscious effort and strong commitment to making a new path through the brain.  It can be tiring.   It’s so easy to slide back into the old habit, the old path through the brain, to do what I’ve done for so long. So the commitment to change…to the new habit…has to be chosen over and over again. UNTIL, the new habit has been practiced long enough that the blood supply moves from the old pattern of firing neurons to the new pattern!  THEN the new behavior has truly become a habit.  There’s no guarantee that you’ll never resort to sarcasm or eating too many cookies again, but when you do, it will feel uncomfortable.  You’ll be eager to resume the new habit and reap the rewards of the new consequences! That happened in our marriage.  For three to four months it took so much effort to make all my communication respectful.  It felt like I was wearing a communication straight-jacket!  Before opening my mouth I had to ask myself:  “How can I respectfully say what I need to say?  What is my tone of voice?  How loud will it sound to Jim? Do I need a time out?” But then it got easier…and easier.  Finally, it became actually hard to think of sarcastic put-downs! To Jim’s credit, he was making the same kinds of changes.  The fighting stopped.  On the rare occasions when we had an upset, we engaged our great skills immediately and resolved the problem within a few minutes. We enjoyed seventeen years of blissful, disrespect-free years of loving marriage before he passed away.  I am deeply grateful for the hard work I did to exchange some very poor communication habits for habits that served my goal of a happy, loving marriage. I’m looking forward to the time when the changes I’m making in my food choices have become new habits that give me the quality of physicality that I desire!  I know it’s coming.  My two-year-old is no longer in control of food choices…at least, not all of the time! If you’d like a brief phone conversation with Nancy, click here:  https://meetme.so/SpeakWithNancy Nancy Landrum has been helping couples achieve the lasting, loving marriage of their dreams for twenty-five years.  Visit her website to see how her Millionaire Marriage Club and Stepping TwoGether: Building a Strong Stepfamily courses or her coaching can support the changes you want to make.  www.NancyLandrum.com
  • Is Love “Lovelier the Second Time Around”?
    I’d like to ask Frank Sinatra, who’s crooning voice made this lyric popular, “Then why is the divorce rate much higher for second and subsequent marriages?” Our culture is still trapped in the unrealistic assumption that stepfamilies are no different than a first family.  That belief is a weak, untrue foundation on which to try to start building a strong marriage and family. It’s a shock when you thought you had another chance at love.  A chance to do it right this time.  A chance to heal, not only for yourself but for your children.  After escaping one nightmare, you didn’t expect to find yourself in the midst of another. The truth is second marriages never start out the same as the first one. To begin, for many, the honeymoon is very brief.   Most are immediately thrown into the turmoil of resentful kids, new, unknown relationships, crazy Exes who refuse to co-parent with respect, leftover “issues” from the previous relationship, sometimes crippling financial demands and legal battles. How can a new marriage and children be nurtured and grow in this toxic atmosphere?  It IS possible, but it requires two things that most second marriages don’t get in time to save them and their children from painful mistakes:
    1. Education about the unique dynamics of new stepfamilies and the strategies that get them successfully through those first few fragile years, (and beyond) and
    2. Good, effective communication skills: speaking with respect, listening with understanding, conversations that lead to agreement, and ways of handling anger when you want to take your frustrations out on any creature unfortunate enough to be in your immediate force-field.
    The average length of time for a stepfamily to stabilize is 5-7 years.  I spoke with former clients this week who have finally reached the stepfamily honeymoon stage.  They’ve been married for six years.  She said the first year was “hell.”  He said, “1000% of the stress came from my crazy Ex.  She’s still crazy, but we’re handling it better.”  Their kids are doing well considering the chaos in their Mom’s home.  And this couple knows they are giving their kids the example of a stable, respectful, loving marriage and home life that will inform their belief that a loving, lasting marriage is possible. I’ve been there.  My husband Jim and I survived the catastrophe caused by our poor communication and anger management skills.  We finally adopted a sane stepfamily strategy that stopped the constant fighting.  We found a coach that taught us how to talk to each other…say what we needed to say…but  say it without attacking each other.  She taught us how to vent our anger safely in a journal, or by hitting a bucket of balls, or pulling weeds in the garden so that we could then have a sane conversation about our “issue.”  We learned how to share our feelings rather than our opinions.  We developed empathy for each other’s difficult roles which made resolving “the issue” much more possible. You can learn the skills and stepfamily strategies that work for most.  The communication and anger management skills can be learned by my online program called the Millionaire Marriage Club.  It’s relatively painless.  All you need is a computer and 30 minute blocks of time combined with your determination to exchange what isn’t working for what will work.  Go to my website, www.nancylandrum.com, to learn about the Millionaire Marriage Club. In a few short weeks I’m launching a live, online pilot class called Stepping TwoGether: Building a Strong Stepfamily.  This class teaches the strategies for successful parenting and step-parenting as well as the importance of making your marriage a high priority.  Or you can click the link below to read about our story…the ugly first years, followed by sixteen years of honeymoon before Jim passed on.  You may glean some lessons from reading about what we learned. If you’d like to speak with me and discuss how I may help, click on this link to choose a convenient time for a brief phone appointment with me:  https://meetme.com/SpeakWithNancy P.S.  You may find some issues familiar to you in this free download: The Landrum Stepfamily Story. Nancy Landrum has been teaching relationship skills to couples for twenty-five years.  Her signature book, How to Stay Married & Love It! Solving the Puzzle of a SoulMate Marriage, is lauded by both professionals and clients. See other resources on her website, www.nancylandrum.com 
  • A Quick Fix for Relationship Blahs!
    Is life beginning to seem like an unending list of obligations?  Is your relationship somewhere on the to-do list?  When the primary relationship of your life begins to feel like an obligation, or a habit, you may get forgetful…forgetting why you love this person…forgetting that you have fun together…forgetting what it’s like to just be with your best friend. Valentine’s Day comes only once a year.  It may be nice to get roses or chocolates or a romantic card, but your relationship can’t survive on a once per year gesture! There’s an easy fix.  Begin courting each other again! But, first, there’s one must-have rule.  When you go out for relaxation and fun, you must not bring up a problem that needs resolving.  If you do, your fun date will immediately be something neither of you want to repeat…defeating the purpose.    Issues that need discussing must be scheduled for a different, separate time.  And then keep that date! Problem solving dates and Fun dates both need regular but separate commitments from both of you!  (I’ll share how to have a problem-solving date in a future blog.) So, here’s some great date ideas straight out of my marriage to Jim.  (We enjoyed a loving, fun relationship until his passing a few years ago.  We had regular problem-solving dates as needed to keep our accounts with each other clear so that our fun dates were really FUN!) Being financially stressed is no excuse to skip fun dates! When you’re under financial or any other kind of ongoing stress, you need the relief of breaks to leave the stress behind and just enjoy each other.   $25 can create a great date.   Look for two-for-one coupons for a meal.  It could be breakfast at a diner, or a spaghetti or burger dinner. Add a matinee movie and you’ve got a great 3-4 hour escape to remember that you’re a team and, together, you will eventually pull out of the financial pits. Do you enjoy table games?  Take one of your grocery totes and fill it with games that can be played by two persons.  Gin rummy, tile rummy, Yahtzee, a travel sized game of Scrabble, etc.  Throw in an old tablecloth to cover the picnic table at your local park.  On rainy days, game tables can be found in a mall food court or your local library. One of our favorites was a Mystery Date.  We each kept a file on the other where we collected newspaper clippings or ads about places we thought the other would enjoy.  One time, Jim let me know that our next date was a surprise.  He told me to wear casual clothes, but to take a dressy outfit to change into.  We drove to an ocean side restaurant where we enjoyed breakfast on their deck.  Then he took me to a quilting store with instructions to take my time.  (He relaxed in the car with a newspaper and crossword puzzle book.)  We wandered around a huge outdoor food court in West Hollywood choosing diverse, unusual food items for lunch, ducked into rest rooms at a coffee shop to change into dressier clothes and ended the day at a live performance in Hollywood. Regular dates were once per week.  These Mystery Dates happened perhaps every four-six months.  They were very special occasions!  The things chosen to do were not nearly as important as the effort and planning that went into delivering the day as a love-gift. Now that Jim has passed on, these memories are a few of my favorites! Can you imagine how loved your partner will feel after having an entire day planned around his or her interests?  Are you ready to start collecting ideas for a Mystery Date? Regular dates restore the love balance to a relationship that may be dragging from too much responsibility.  Regular dates cure or prevent the blahs.  Mystery Dates infuse a giant dose of loving directly into your partner’s heart.  So, get your calendars out and plan a date! Nancy Landrum has been teaching relationship skills to couples for more than 25 years.  Her signature book, How to Stay Married & Love It! Solving the Puzzle of a SoulMate Marriage is full of practical strategies to create and sustain a loving, lasting relationship.  Click Here to Order If you’d like a phone call from Nancy, click here to schedule it on her calendar:  https://meetme.so/SpeakWithNancy
  • Four Skills That Create a Loving, Lasting Marriage
    Valentine’s Day is coming.  Our attention is drawn to loving relationships, especially romantic ones.  Everyone I’ve ever asked wants a happy, loving, intimate relationship with the love of his or her life.  That dream seems to be loaded into our DNA, tattooed on our brains, instinctively coded into our emotional make-up. But is it enough to long for a loving, lasting, happy marriage?  Even though the longing is universal?  No, it’s not enough.  Is it enough to be madly in love when you marry?  No, it’s not enough. Then what does it take?  There are four key areas where skills can be improved or developed that create a loving, lasting marriage.  Here they are:
    1. It takes a dream powerful enough to see you through the rough spots combined with willingness to grow into that dream by making hard choices. To exchange blaming the other for choosing new behaviors for yourself.  To let go of old patterns.  To sacrifice the immature, dysfunctional and hurtful ways in service to achieving the dream.
    I ask every couple I’ve coached, “Do you have family members or friends who have a marriage you’d like to emulate?”  So far, I’ve only heard, “No.”  When you don’t see a loving, lasting marriage in operation, how can you trust that the dream is doable? And worth the effort to achieve it? When you don’t have a healthy model to follow, use books written by those who’ve achieved the dream, like my How to Stay Married & Love It! Solving the Puzzle of a SoulMate Marriage.  (LINK) Or testimonials like those on my website.  These couples have done the work to have a happy, lasting marriage.  www.nancylandrum.com
    1. Good Communication Skills come next. Methods of speaking and listening that create connection, rather than driving more and more distance between you.  (Communication That Connects)
    Without instruction, few of us realize how our delivery of messages may be triggering a reactive response…or escalating an argument.  It isn’t easy to change how we speak and listen.  Those patterns were begun in infancy by what we heard or what helped us get our own way.  But exchanging distancing methods of communication is necessary if you want a lasting, loving marriage. Sue said to me, “When we were first married we fought viciously, yelling and name calling.  But it didn’t take long for us to realize that if we wanted our marriage to last, we had to stop doing that.  We changed.  We’ve now been married forty-five years and are still in love!”
    1. Respectful Conflict Management is essential. Every close relationship has conflict.  When two human beings throw in themselves and the welfare of their futures together, there is a lot at stake.  And, face it, we all love to be “right” and will sometimes fight for the winning position.
    Researchers Markman and Notarius state unequivocally in their book We Can Work it Out, Making Sense Out of Marital Conflict ,  “Love is needed to get a relationship off the ground, but it doesn’t provide enough fuel to keep a marriage flying toward success over time…nor does commitment.  It’s how couples manage conflict that makes the difference.  The key to marital success is to teach couples how to talk without fighting.” John Gottman’s research validated this when he observed couples having a disagreement in his lab.  After years of observation, he could predict within 93.7% which couples would divorce within six years based on how they fought.  He labels criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stone-walling the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse…the fighting methods that eventually destroy the relationship.   The Gottman institute blog. It’s often necessary to make a date to discuss an issue that needs resolving.  Set a time when you are free from other distractions and the kids are asleep or out of the house.  Making a date to resolve a conflict says, “I care enough about you and our relationship to set aside time to work this out.” If it isn’t resolved in one try, then before closing that session down, set another date to pick it up again…and do this until you find a resolution that suites both of you. Fighting badly was one of the habits that my late husband and I had to change in order to save our floundering marriage.  Our story of learning to safely vent anger away from each other is told in Chapters 12-16 in How to Stay Married & Love It!  LINK  The day we committed to always treat each other with respect…and then practiced doing that…was the day the fighting stopped and the marriage began to heal.  It took us six months of two-three Conflict Dates per week before we finally found a solution that worked for both of us.
    1. Regular FUN Dating is a must! Who says the courtship is over when you marry?  Frequent courting needs to be included in every loving, lasting marriage plan!
    There are a couple of rules to continued courting dates.  1) Never discuss a “hot topic” while on a fun date!  Dating is meant to remind you of why you fell in love, and to keep the flames of love alive.  That won’t happen if every date is used as a time you’re finally away from the kids and so “let’s talk about…” And, 2) Do something that is fun for both of you.  Jim loved going to a baseball game.  I didn’t, but I loved being with him.  I took a book to read, or a knitting project and just enjoyed hearing his pleasure about the plays or the players. During a financially stressed time, we were on a strict, tight budget, but allowed $25/week for our date.  I saved two-for-one coupons for a burger dinner and we’d go to a matinee movie.  It wasn’t a spectacular date, but it gave us time away from the stress and a chance to just enjoy being together. How long has it been since you’ve had a fun date?  Make it a weekly commitment, even if it’s just a quiet stroll around the block or an ice cream cone. SUMMARY: These new skills are easy.  Children pick them up quickly when adults are modeling them.  But by the time we are in a marriage, or a second or third marriage, we’ve been using poor methods of handling stress and poor communication habits for many years.  Changing the ways we interact with another or handle our emotions when stressed is like hacking our way through the jungle, forming a new path in the brain which is highly resistant to change. Not everyone will do that.  I think it’s because the dream isn’t vivid enough…isn’t believed possible. Stressful conflict combined with an ego that says, “I’ll change after you do,” or, “You’re the one who needs to change!” makes achieving the dream impossible.  The old patterns are replayed over and over again until the relationship dies, or you give up the dream and just make do with what is. Many couples see divorce as the only way out of this relationship vise.  Others, many others, just settle for the status quo.  They become so accustomed to a certain level of emotional distance and stress in the relationship that it feels normal…as good as it can be.  The dream must have been a fantasy, unachievable, so it’s useless to try for more. As a coach, it’s a heartbreak for me to see couples get amazing results from the skills I teach, and then hear that they’ve gone back to the old ways that give them the same old, painful results. Do you want the dream badly enough?  Are you willing to do the hard work of exchanging old patterns for the four main new ones that will produce the loving relationship for which you long?  Have you known you needed to do something different, but just haven’t known what “different” looks like? Schedule a call with me. I can help!  https//meetme.so/SpeakWithNancy Nancy Landrum, M.A. has been teaching couples these transformational skills for twenty-five years. She has written six books on the subject and recently launched an online program where these skills can be learned from your computer.  Explore the Millionaire Marriage Club on her website: www.NancyLandrum.com P.S.  Download the Free Communication That Connects.
  • Death of Our Dream Became Resurrection of Our Love
    Sometimes the most painful, agonizing experiences of our lives happen to us.  Not that we asked for them, or even caused them, but a new, unwanted life is dropped on us like a ton of bricks. That happened to me when my first husband died unexpectedly.  I was twenty-three years old with two baby boys.  It was five long years before life began to feel good again. I wanted to remarry, but remained a single mom for a total of thirteen years before a mutual friend introduced Jim and me.  He lost his wife after a prolonged illness.  He had two teenage daughters and an eight-year-old son. We fell in love…and I dreamed big!  LOVE AGAIN!  A man to share my bed!  Daughters!  I’d always wanted five children!  He had such a wonderful sense of humor.  He was fun to be with!  He was affectionate and called me his “sweet baby!”  We were adults. We’d been through a lot. We were mature. We would work out anything that might arise in our precious new family. Like many couples married after great loss from death or divorce, we had absolutely no understanding of the unique dynamics of a stepfamily.  We made the classic assumption that we would form a new family that would look, act and function like a first family. NOT! A conflict over parenting differences soon arose.  For the first year or so, we’d talk it out, agree on a solution, then kiss and make up.  But solutions fell apart.  The conflict reignited…over and over again.  The more frustrated we got, the worse our methods of communication became.  I adopted sarcastic put downs. (After all, I’m good with words!)  He verbally attacked with accusations…or walked out the door hoping I’d calm down by the time he returned. (It didn’t work!) We desperately wanted the loving, sweet relationship of our dreams, but were on the verge of separating.  We went to therapists. (They didn’t know what to do with us.) We saw pastor friends.  (They were kind, but had nothing except platitudes like “never go to bed angry.” (I wanted to scream, “How do we do that when I’m so angry I wish he would die in his sleep!”) We finally found a coach who began to teach us functional anger management skills.  We learned how to speak without attacking, and tried to really understand each other’s point of view. The fighting stopped.  A few months later we agreed on a solution to our conflict that saved our marriage.  Within a short time we had the loving, peaceful marriage we’d dreamed of in the beginning. The dream wasn’t idealistic or unreal.  It wasn’t a fairytale that many today believe marriage to be.  The dream kept us going through the hard work of growing into the reality of a loving marriage that both of us wanted until death parted us. Is this story familiar to you?  Would you like a coach who can teach you great skills and help you implement those skills until you can live the dream?  Click on this link to set up a phone appointment with me at your convenience.  You can do this!  We did!  https://meetme.com/SpeakWithNancy P.S. Download the complete Landrum Stepfamily Story here:  Click Here.
  • But I Hate Conflict!
    Rather than seeing conflict as part of growing the relationship, we tend to blame the person with whom we’re in conflict.  “If he wouldn’t _____, then I wouldn’t ______.  If she would just _____, then we’d be happy.” Blame, not conflict, is relationship cancer.  Conflict is just the vehicle sent to deliver an opportunity for growth. (Sometimes I hate knowing this!) There are relationships where conflict is so extreme and abusive, or the partner’s habits so hurtful without any hope of change, that growing means you finally say, “I’m not willing to stay in this relationship.”  There are some marriages that are so soul-killing that they must be abandoned. It is my belief, however, that the vast majority of conflicted marriages are capable of growing into the “happily ever after” of your dreams.  The difference between the troubled marriages that end, and the troubled marriages that go the distance to fulfill the dream, is the willingness of one or, preferably, both partners to grow. Growing means you are willing to look at what behaviors or attitudes you are contributing to the conflict.  Growing means you actively search for help to learn new skills, develop new points of view, that make space in the relationship for positive change. James and Kim are such a couple.  Kim was on the brink of calling it quits.  She agreed to come with James to work with me for a “last ditch effort” to see if the marriage could be salvaged. They evaluated their ways of speaking to each other, finding many fed the smoldering fire of resentment.  They began practicing more respectful ways of speaking. They began to really listen to what the other was saying…not just the thoughts, but feelings, concerns and desires.  They incorporated a skill that made sure they were hearing each other accurately, avoiding misunderstandings.  They learned to address conflict openly but respectfully, speaking and listening until both were understood and a solution could be adopted. Today they are moving closer and closer to the dream that falling in love promised.  Now there is no danger of this marriage failing.  Why in the world would either leave a relationship that is bringing such joy and pleasure to both partners?  NO WAY! The debilitating conflicts you are experiencing can be transformed into the peace and loving enjoyed by James and Kim.  Call me to start the transformation!  https;//meetme.so/SpeakWithNancy P.S. Could there really be a positive purpose for Conflict?  Click Here to Find Out!
  • What Happened to “Happily Ever After”?
    I have a friend who is a passionate advocate for animal adoption.  She calls a good adoption as “finding the animal’s Furrever Home!Falling in love feels like finding a “forever home.”  You found the missing piece of yourself…you feel whole for the first time in your life…you are sure all your problems are over…together you can conquer anything…and you dream of living happily ever after! Dr. Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., in his book, “Getting the Love You Want” labels this the “unconscious loving” stage of a relationship.  It’s more commonly called the “honeymoon phase.” Then, inevitably, she leaves her dirty clothes on the floor, he overdraws the bank account, and the honeymoon is over.  Hendrix calls this the “conflict stage.”  He concludes that the relationship thrives or fails based on how the couple manages conflict.  Multiple researchers agree. But, “Conflict wasn’t part of our dream!  What’s wrong? Did I marry the wrong person?  Did she trick me by hiding annoying parts of herself?  Did he play the charmer when he really has such horrible habits?” In truth, the real purpose of the relationship has just begun.  Yes, it’s possible to live happily ever after, but not without growing into the dream.  Your love for your partner, and your commitment to the marriage, is what motivates you to change habits that prevent a happy, loving marriage. This year my blogs will be exploring different areas where commitment to GROWING will enable you to experience the delight of your DREAM COMING TRUE.  Hendrix calls this process “conscious loving.”  Conscious loving is accepting that what “ticks you off” about him, is your call to growth.  Her annoying habit is your trumpet call announcing it’s time to grow. Dreaming isn’t the problem!  Dreaming helps us imagine the ideal of where we want to go.  But in order to actually arrive at our imagined destination, we are called to GROW into a more authentic self, slowly discarding habits or attitudes that prevent the DREAM from coming true. As you nurture the relationship, the relationship uncovers a more mature, more kind, more loving you. Make this year a year of Dreaming and Growing!  Contact Nancy at www.NancyLandrum.com or click here to schedule a phone call at your convenience: http://meetme.com/SpeakWithNancy P.S. Free Download:  The Positive Purpose of Conflict
  • Holiday Traditions: A Year-End Gift
    There are many post-holiday traditions: the after-Christmas sales, returning items that don’t fit or don’t suit, football games, taking down the tree and house decorations, cleaning up the trash, finding a place for the unusual gift, eating the last of the goodies, moaning over weight gained, enjoying the holiday photos, savoring the memories, or recovering from the unpleasant incident with a relative… Moving from this year to the beginning of another brings up all kinds of feelings in me.  I sincerely hope that by this time next year my knee injury will be fully healed so I can enjoy walks with my dogs again, and ride on my elliptical without pain. I’ve been stretched to the max by the course I set out on a year ago to create an online communication skills course.  It is completed, I think.  And ready for students.  But I find I’ve only climbed one mountain to discover another bigger mountain ahead of me…marketing. However, I have learned a lot this year.  It’s OK to ask for help.  It’s just fine that I can’t do everything myself.  There are people out there who LOVE to do what I don’t want to do, or don’t know how to do.  The building of an online business is a process of ups and downs.  I don’t expect to get it all right the first time. For the past few months I’ve been longing for someone to take my hand and guide me through steps one through ten, cheering me on all the way.  I don’t remember if my longing ever took the form of a prayer, but an answer has come…I think.  I’ll have to wait and see, but I’m hoping I’ve found the experienced guide for whom I’ve been longing to take me through this marketing, course-building maze. Whenever I’ve felt discouraged—out of my league—challenged by programs like Camtasia, Kajabi, and GotoWebinar, I’ve taken a deep breath, sometimes just left it alone for a few days, and then cajoling myself like I might a young child learning to ride a bike, promised myself I would go slow, call tech support when I got stuck and conquer this giant! You may have heard me refer to Helga, the negative voice in my head.  She loves to remind me of my age.  “You’re too old to start doing this!”  But I’ve learned to say back to her, “If I wasn’t doing this, what would I be doing?”  Silence. My dream for 2018 is two-fold:  To create an online relationship skills course, (or courses) that adequately support me, (yes!) but also to help hundreds (or dare I say thousands!) of couples learn skills and concepts that will enable them to create and enjoy the marriage of their dreams! For the past twenty-five years I’ve taught classes and privately coached couples, many of whom have transformed their relationships from highly conflicted into consistently loving and respectful.  Every time I see that transformation begin to happen, I feel energized! Joyful! Sure that I am exactly where I’m meant to be, doing exactly what I’m meant to do! This is my New Year’s Gift to You:  A free coaching appointment either in person (Murrieta, CA) or via Zoom.com.  We can spend some time together, get acquainted, and see what I can do to help further your 2018 dreams for your marriage.  Click on the link below to set up an appointment! Wishing you the Best Year of your life and your marriage! Schedule Your Free Appointment! Nancy
  • Holiday Traditions: Saying Grace
    Our family always says “grace” before a meal.  You and I probably won’t be sitting at the same table, but I’d really like to “grace” you with a few blessings from my heart to yours: Bless you for finding value in my blog… (I assume you wouldn’t read it otherwise.) Many thanks to those of you who have left encouraging comments… Thank you for being on this journey of Life with me… I ADMIRE you for caring about your relationships… May your celebrations of this Season be filled with Joy, Love and Peace… May your relationships be mutual expressions of Love… May the food on your table be scrumptious… May you navigate the holidays in such a way that you feel blessed, rather than stressed… May you complete whatever journey you are on with Ease… I so value all the ways you are blessing me! Sending you a BIG HUG across the ether! Best wishes,  Free Download: TRADITIONS: Saying Grace
  • Holiday Traditions: Three Wise Men
    A big part of Christmas is the story of the three wise men and their journey to find the King.  This story of an amazing journey comforts me because of my own periodic journeys into the unknown.  I believe the wise men must have been on a spiritual quest that led them to be “called” to embark on this strenuous physical journey.  I wonder what “the call” was like?  How did they know this is what they must do? What did they tell their friends?  “We’re going to find the King of mankind by following this star!”  What did they tell their families?  “I don’t know how long we’ll be gone.  I’m not sure where we’re going.  I have no idea what will happen when we find the King!  We only know we have to do this!” After a journey of months, they arrived at the palace of King Herod, asking to meet the recently born potential King.  They expected to find him among royalty, right?  Herod was so intimidated by their message, that he ordered all boy children in the area under the age of two to be killed. When the parents of baby Jesus heard about the coming slaughter, they high-tailed it to Egypt! What must these wise, wealthy men have thought when they ended up at the home of a humble carpenter? Yet they must have felt deep validation in their hearts that they had found the King, because they gave him their valuable gifts in homage and worship. This year I felt called to embark on a course of action without having any idea where I would be when I arrived.  So far, the outcome hasn’t revealed itself to me.  I was hoping to arrive at a palace, but instead, I am still mired down in traveling an unknown road.  In spite of some very challenging circumstances, I just can’t bring myself to quit this journey.  I believe I am meant to keep going.  I long for encouraging signs. I want to know that I’m going in the right direction. But other than the flicker of Star-Light I have in my heart, there are few encouragements. Are you on a journey without a clear destination?  Are you working toward a goal that seems just out of reach?  How do you keep going?  Why do you keep going?  What hope is it that keeps you putting one foot in front of the other?  I’d love to hear about your journey.  Maybe we can learn a few lessons from the Wise Men.  Without understanding everything ahead, they just kept going.  They went where they thought the answer would be, but when it wasn’t there, they course corrected.  When their destination looked very different than they anticipated, they still believed. I wish you safe travels this holiday season! Share your journey with me on Facebook at Nancy Landrum Author Relationship Coach or email me from NancyLandrum.com Free Download: Lessons from the Wise Men
  • Holiday Traditions: Blessed or Stressed?
    Remember the opening lines of Fiddler on the Roof?  Tevya singing, “TRADITION!  TRADITION!” Traditions serve such a valuable service to our cultures and our families.  They provide something to depend on when other things in life may be shaky.  The repetition of them somehow reassures us that there are some things that will never change, when so much seems to be changing at an alarming rate of speed. This past year while creating my online course, Millionaire Marriage Club, (http://nancylandrum.com/the-clubI’ve had to dive into the scary waters of technology.  I’ve learned procedures and programs that I never in a million years expected to need to know—or be able to conquer! When I’m overwhelmed, I fall back on simple traditions, like watering the potted plants, picking a bouquet of roses, trimming an overgrown bush, feeding the chickens.  Although simple and homey, these, too, are valuable traditions that ground and settle me. I’ve found, however, that it’s important for me to evaluate traditions to make sure they are serving my desire for a more peaceful life, especially around the holidays.  Will attending a local musical extravaganza enhance my holiday experience, or exhaust me?  Is making seven or eight batches of Gingies something that gives me joy? Or causes me extra stress?  Is decorating the house with lights something that gives me pleasure? Or am I doing it because it’s expected? Some of these questions come up for me due to my age.  I am more choosey about my activities and output of energy these days.  But I was much younger when I first made the decision—a courageous decision for me—to only do what gave me joy and avoid doing anything that created resentment or exhaustion.  That decision forever altered my experience of the holidays.  I now just enjoy them…participate in whatever I choose, and choose to not participate when it won’t harvest more joy. Is it time to evaluate some of your traditions?  To keep the ones that are truly important to you or your family but discard the ones that only add more stress to your holiday? This week’s free download may help you look at the traditions that give you energy and joy vs those that may need to be downsized or eliminated.  If you are feeling courageous, take a peek! Free Download: Blessed or Stressed?
  • Holiday Traditions: Taste…Yum!
    One of my family’s favorite Christmas traditions was begun when my father-in-law was a student at Gerard College for Boys in Philadelphia, PA.  It was a live-in school for boys from 9-17 who were orphaned.  He hated being separated from his older brothers who were too old to be accepted to this institution, but in later years realized that he benefited from the great education he received there. The first several years after marrying his son, Jim Gavitte, I heard stories about “Gingies.”  Gingies were a huge gingerbread cookie that was served with all the milk they could drink every Sunday evening.  They were meant to keep the boys “regular.” (smile) The boys loved them, and Pop talked about them often. One year I was wondering what to get him for his birthday.  I decided to make a variety of cookies that could be kept in their freezer for him to snack on anytime he wanted.  I opened my old Betty Crocker Cookbook (a wedding gift) and found “Gingies from Gerard College in Philadelphia PA!”  You guessed it! I made Pop a huge batch and promised that whenever he ran out to just let me know and I’d bake more.  I kept him supplied in Gingies for the rest of his life. In addition, Gingies became a big part of our family’s holiday tradition.  Isn’t it amazing how a particular taste or recipe can become so embedded in our memory that a certain occasion just doesn’t work unless that food is included? A few years ago when I asked my son, Peter, what he wanted for Christmas, all he wanted was plenty of  Gingies. So this week I went to Smart & Final, a discount grocery store, to buy molasses by the gallon plus brown sugar, shortening, flour and spices in quantities that are cost-effective for the number of Gingies I make every year. Food traditions are part of what makes a great holiday for many of us.  It’s like that certain food reassures us that life is good, some things are unchangeable, and that taste brings back many memories of family and friends that give us a sense of ongoing security. Next week I’ll bring up the question of traditions that may need to be changed…or at least adjusted…in order to give you and your family a more relaxed, peaceful holiday! Meanwhile, If your mouth is watering for yummy gingerbread spices, you can download my recipe and tips about making Gingies (or multiple batches of any holiday recipe!) Holiday Traditions Free Download: Gingies Recipe
  • Radical Gratitude Challenge: Week #6
    Radical Gratitude Challenge #6 – Ultimate Gratitude Perhaps nothing leaves us feeling more helpless and vulnerable than watching a child suffer.  Whether it’s from illness, or injury, or from crazy, bad choices that kid is making, we are cut to the core. My elder son, Steve, began sliding down the sleep, slippery slope of drug addiction when he was fifteen.  Poor grades.  Being expelled.  Arrested for fencing stolen property.  Counselors. Court appointed therapists. Being awakened at 2 a.m. (when I thought Steve was asleep in his room) and told to come bail him out of jail.  Cash missing.  Blame heaped on myself and by others for being a “bad” parent.  The nightmare seemed unending. Although I wouldn’t wish this story on anyone, some of you have experienced this.  We could exchange horror stories.  If enough time has gone by, maybe we could even laugh together about the dreams surrendered…the lessons learned. I’m not sure I was very grateful during those years.  I think it may have been all I could do to just hang on for the wild ride.   Eventually Steve was hospitalized with congestive heart failure due to 15 years of “speed” and anything else he could get his hands on.  At first he was not expected to live through the night.  He lived. He came home to stay with us.  For two and one half years, I cared for a person still thinking crazy druggie thoughts.  I knew every day could be his last.  What good could come out of this, dear God? And then a miracle.  He accepted that he was dying.  He decided the only way he could die with self-respect, was to die “clean.”  He quit everything.  Cold turkey.  And the Steve I once knew as kind and sweet returned to me.  We had almost four months of regaining the loving we had lost in the chaos before he died.  We each let go of things we couldn’t control and couldn’t change.  We surrendered judgment of ourselves and each other. Without my recognizing it at the time, Steve was one of my most profound teachers. It may seem a small gift in exchange for his life, but my gift from Steve was a lifetime of lessons that are briefly shared in my book, Pungent Boundaries.   I learned what I had to do to disconnect from codependent behaviors.  I learned how to take care of myself, rather than always running to take care of him.  I learned a level of humility that was painful, and infinitely valuable as I coach others in similar circumstances. Is there something so painful happening to you right now that you can barely breathe?  Does gratitude seem impossible to conjure up?  Is the tunnel so dark that even the thought of possible light ahead seems unrealistic?  This is when Gratitude can begin to work its magic in your soul.  Even just saying the words, while pounding a pillow, can open up space inside for a miracle…if not in the circumstances, then in you.  If you are blessed with a traditional Thanksgiving meal, or if you are not, I invite you to join me as I set aside that day to practice gratitude.  You can say, “Thank you, even though I hate this, thank you.”  I’ll say it with you… and send you my love as you stretch beyond what seems possible. Contact me at my Facebook page Get Your Free Ultimate Gratitude Handout
  • Radical Gratitude Challenge: Week #5
    Radical Gratitude Challenge #5 – The Harvest of Gratitude My first husband died when I was twenty-three years old.  We had two baby boys.  I was not very thankful.  It took about five years to pull out of the pit of depression and readjust my life around this new reality. I wanted to remarry.  I didn’t want to be alone forever.  I heard a special speaker talk about being thankful for what we have even before it arrives…especially before it arrives!  So I made myself a lacy nightie and hung it in the closet, waiting for that special Someone who would be my lover and partner in life.
    Years went by.  I occasionally thought of giving that nightie to the GoodWill with other items no longer of use to me.  But I just couldn’t let go of the dream.  I met Jim.  We fell in love.  That magical night came when I told Jim the story of my Belief Nightie and wore it for him. The perfect dream became a nightmare of conflict.  I speak a lot of this in other places, but it’s enough to say that I thought, at times, I’d made a terrible mistake.  Whenever I could, I summoned up the grit to be grateful for whatever good might come out of our pain. We eventually found the help we needed.  We learned and practiced new communication skills.  We resolved our conflicts.  Our love returned.  And then we really FELT THANKFUL! A few years later Jim suggested that we begin teaching classes to other couples who needed to know what we had learned.  How to Stay Married & Love It! was born! And the rest, as is said, is history.  The dream of my childhood to have a happy, loving marriage was fulfilled.  The dreams of speaking and writing books to help others have happy, loving marriages has been, and is still being fulfilled.   What circumstance are you experiencing right now that seems impossible for which to be thankful?  What really stinks about your marriage, your family, your health, your finances?  What if an amazing chapter is being written in your future that you can’t see right now?  Can you be grateful now, as an act of faith?  I believe you can… Get Your Free Radical Gratitude Handout Week #5 Handout
  • Radical Gratitude Challenge: Week #4
    Radical Gratitude Challenge: Week #4 – Where the Rubber Meets the Road! It’s not hard to be grateful when something is going well.  This week while planning this challenge, many lost their homes to California wild fires.  I was grateful my son’s home in northern CA was spared. He is a helicopter pilot.  I was especially grateful that he came home safely after finishing his all night shift rescuing people during 70 mph winds. These are easy things for which to be thankful.  But can we stretch into gratitude for a home and all belongings burned in that fire? Or a child who has become drug addicted? Or a struggling marriage? Or a spouse who dies before his time? Or an illness that places harsh limits on your life? This is where the rubber meets the road. You may be asking, “What is the advantage to being thankful about hard, painful things?  Why should I?” Because gratitude opens the heart.  Being thankful for the hard stuff is the ultimate expression of faith.  You may not share my faith.  That’s no problem.  Whether you talk to your God, or the Universe, it hears you.  It responds to your open heart. An open heart says, “I’m open to whatever good can come from this pain.  I’m open to see new opportunities brought to me by this disaster.  I’m open to learning new lessons that will benefit me in ways I can’t predict right now.  I’m open to a Wisdom that is beyond my limited vision.” And then you persevere.  You put one foot in front of the other. You ask for help.  You do your best to be grateful even while in pain, and waiting for the Grand Plan to reveal itself.  You find joy in small gifts…the companionship of a loyal animal, a neighbor who awkwardly expresses their sympathy, the hug of your spouse, a lost keepsake returned to you. You may think, “Now she’s gone too far.  I don’t want to hear her preaching!”  This is not preaching.  It’s teaching a universal life lesson!  It’s expanding your consciousness of what may be possible! Next week I’ll share a few of the hard, painful stuff for which I have been thankful, sometimes while pounding a pillow and screaming my pain… Are you ready to try out this road with me?  To accept the challenge where the rubber meets the road?  I’d love to hear from you! Get your FREE Download – Rubber Meeting the Road!
  • The Radical Gratitude Challenge: Week #3
    Never Enough? or Abundance?
    This is Week #3 of my Radical Gratitude Challenge.  We’re going to talk about how easy it is to think in terms of “never enough!” He doesn’t love me enough!  She isn’t fun enough! We don’t go out enough!  There’s never enough money! There’s not enough time!  We don’t make love often enough!  Not enough…not enough…not enough… Years ago, after our marriage was solid, but our finances were not, I found myself making out deposit slips while thinking, “This isn’t enough!”  That sentence became like a hamster wheel going ’round and ’round in my mind. I knew enough about how our thoughts often create our reality, that, one day, when I consciously caught the unconscious refrain in my head, I decided to change my mantra.  Whenever I thought about our financial condition, and particularly when I was filling out a deposit slip, I began saying, “Thank you for this $300.  I so appreciate this $150!”  My goal was to become more aware of the abundance we enjoyed, with or without an overflowing bank account. I splurged on a 79c package of sweet pea seeds and planted them along a 30 foot length of fence in our backyard.  Within weeks, the prolific vines were much taller than the fence and producing thousands of pink, purple, white, maroon, and lavender flowers…filling the air with their sweet scent. What a perfect metaphor for abundance!  While I was thanking God for every little check that cleared the bank, I expressed gratitude for the rich color of our green grass, for the joyfulness of my dog playing fetch, for the solid screen of gorgeous color from the sweet peas. It wasn’t long before I noticed that every month, each bill was paid on time. Slowly we were climbing out of the financial hole we’d been in. There is ZERO doubt in my mind that the reason was because we began feeling grateful and rich, long before there was any evidence of prosperity in our bank account. Download your free worksheet for attracting abundance with gratitude! Financial stress is one of the top reasons cited for marital discord.  What if you, with or without your partner’s participation, began to practice gratitude?  What if you began to be open to seeing abundance in your lives, rather than lack. What happy surprises might find their way into  your open hearts?  Are you willing to apply this Radical Gratitude Challenge to your finances?  I dare you!  Please report in via the Facebook Page or comment below!  
  • The Radical Gratitude Challenge: Week #2
    The Art of Expressing Gratitude
    This is Week #2 in my Radical Gratitude Challenge.  Last week I challenged you to express gratitude to your partner.  And, if necessary, work at it, dig around a little, but find things for which you can express appreciation face to face.  Thinking it in your head, doesn’t count. But there’s an art to effectively expressing appreciation.  Throwing out a general, “Thanks for marrying me” doesn’t cut it.  In order to reach your partner’s heart, the words must describe a specific act, or habit, or character quality. Like this: “This morning when you went out of your way to kiss me before leaving, I felt so loved!”  Or, “I saw how you handled the situation with our daughter.  You were so kind!”  Or, “Today I was thinking about how lucky I am that I can always count on you to come home after work each day.  Not every woman can say that!” Or, “Thank you for cleaning up after dinner last night.  That was a special gift to me!” My late husband Jim would sometimes put in a very long day.  He loved it when I met him at the front door with a hug, and said, “Thank you for working so hard for us today!” If Jim saw me at my sewing machine, he would grin and say, “There you go! Making something cute again!”  And my heart would glow. So in addition to being very intentional about expressing gratitude and appreciation this week, deliver the words about something specific in order to make the most impact in your relationship! Download your free guide to the Art of Expressing Gratitude. How’s it going?  Are you finding this Radical Gratitude Challenge a challenge?  Please share what has happened when you gave your partner a compliment. What happens inside of you?  What was your partner’s response?  Share with me on my Facebook Page or in the comments below!
  • The Radical Gratitude Challenge: Week #1
    We are six weeks away from our Thanksgiving holiday.  These six weeks could change your life and your marriage forever!  But first a little history… Every school play reenacts the first harvest celebration in 1621.  More than 200 years later, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving to be a holiday. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt set the date by signing a bill in 1941. It declared Thanksgiving to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November every year. Most major religions encourage a spiritual practice of gratitude.  One of the first verses I learned from the Bible was, “In everything give thanks.” (Ephesians 5:20.)  I confess that there have been times when I’ve asked, “Everything, God?  Really? Everything?” During a particularly challenging time in my life, I began practicing gratitude as a spiritual commitment.  Being thankful for everything really did transform my attitude, and eventually the circumstances. When new challenges come, the habit of being thankful (sometimes through gritted teeth!) reminds me that I don’t yet know the end of the story.  Circumstances change.  And they’re more apt to change in my favor if I keep my heart open by practicing gratitude.  Fear and discontent close my heart and my circumstances to happy surprises. In this post and in the next five weeks, I’m issuing a challenge.  Each week I’ll be challenging you to focus on one area of your life where it may be hard to be grateful. Are you up for it?  What have you got to lose? Since I am a relationship coach, my first challenge to you is to be grateful for your partnerDECIDE that you will spend the next week looking for qualities, actions, and gestures for which you can express gratitude…not just in your heart, but face to face! Examples:  “Thank you for being so consistent about helping out with the kids’ bedtime.”  Or, “I appreciate that you let me know that you might be home late.”  Or, “I love that you are so conscientious about getting our bills paid on time.” Now these may not fit.  But you get what I mean.  Work this! Dig if you have to!  But find things you appreciate about your spouse! Because….whatever we focus on, increases.  When you only deliver complaints, pretty soon, all you see are things you want to change.  When you focus on things for which you can genuinely be thankful, the irritations shrink as they are more than balanced out by things that are good. Are you ready to try Radical Gratitude?  I challenge you to say, “Thank you for…” or “I appreciate….”  or “I’m grateful for…” whenever your mind starts to dwell on a problem or dissatisfaction with your partner.  Each week I invite you to share what this Radical Gratitude Challenge has done for your heart and your relationship.  And I’ll share my experiences with you!  If you are accepting this challenge, leave a comment below. Go Deeper with Radical Gratitude with this Free Download
  • Our Dirty, Ugly Secret…
    “To others we look good.  We have good jobs.  Our children are reasonably well behaved.  We live in a decent neighborhood.  We even attend church regularly.  We are clean, hair styled, clothes presentable.  We look like–and have even been told–we are one of the lucky ones. “But we have a secret that is eating away at this perfect picture.  We fight.  We sometimes treat each other and our children with painful disrespect.  We feel disconnected, angry and unsure of what the future may hold for us.  We rarely have sex, and when we do, it can’t be called “making love.” “We are each quietly desperate.  Wanting help but are too embarrassed to ask for it.  We’re dying inside, and don’t know how to treat this cancer that is eroding our lives.” Could you have written this? Is this what is behind the face of your marriage? At one time this description was true about my marriage to my late husband, Jim.  We hung on for years, trying to fix the dis-ease that was eroding our marriage and family. Yet the last seventeen years of our life together was blissfully happy.  We treated each other with affection and respect.  The circumstances weren’t always perfect, but our ability to stay centered in our love for each other was amazingly, consistently fulfilling. What made the difference? How did we move from our ugly secret to being passionate about sharing our great marriage with hundreds of other couples? We learned new communication and conflict management skills…and we practiced them!  We practiced until they became as habitual as our old ways of reacting to each other.  We practiced until the air between us was full of our loving for each other.  We practiced until any little upset could be resolved in moments instead of days or weeks. A great marriage is sometimes an accident of fate.  But most marriages require commitment to learning and then using simple, yet powerful communication skills… skills that are proven to work miracles in unhappy relationships. We came out of our closet of ugly secrets into the light of a loving marriage! You can, too, by downloading and following:  10 Steps to End Our Dirty, Ugly Secret    
  • #4: What is Your Marriage Bank Balance?!
    If you were to assign a dollar value to your marriage, what would it be?  A Million bucks?  A comfortable, but not great one hundred thousand? Ten thousand, meaning your only a few months away from insolvency?  Or are you in the red…out of energy, out of love, struggling to pull together whatever you need from day to day? Are you satisfied with just enough love in your account to get by?  Or do you want enough love in the account to draw on when life sends you an unexpected relationship challenge?  Or do you want to experience such richness in your marriage that you know you can resolve any issue and neither of you would do anything to jeopardize this precious relationship? Whether you’re pulling out of marriage bankruptcy or just wanting more, the Millionaire Marriage Club can be your investment adviser! The Club consists of three components:
    1. The COURSE is where you’ll learn the powerful skills that have enabled thousands of couples to go from bankruptcy to millionaire status in the value they assign to their marriage. There are eight modules (topics) with a total of nineteen approximately 30 minutes video lessons to watch online.
    2. The GAME is where you’ll track your new habits that earn Marriage Dollars to build up your Millionaire Marriage Bank Account. The Game includes good-natured competition and weekly prizes.
    3. SUPPORT will be lavishly given through our private Facebook Page, open only to members of the Club. You’ll exchange news of wins or setbacks with other couples in the club, as well as frequent personal encouragement from Nancy.
    Be sure that I have your best email address so I can personally invite you to the FREE webinar where you’ll learn a skill that can eliminate misunderstandings, learn more about the MMC, and enroll in lifetime membership at a very cost-effective discount.  Click link below to reserve your space at the FREE WEBINAR where you’ll learn a simple skill that can eliminate misunderstandings and learn about Millionaire Marriage Club! Save my spot for the FREE WEBINAR: Communication That Works! Eliminating Misunderstandings      
  • #3 in Series: We Just Can’t Communicate!
    There is nothing lonelier than feeling emotionally disconnected from your chosen partner in life.  We are hard wired to need emotional connection. Dr. Brene’ Brown says, “Connection is the energy created when people feel seen, heard and valued.“ So what is it that makes partners who were once in love, feel unseen, unheard and undervalued? The first few years of my marriage to my late husband, Jim, started out in the typical newlywed euphoria, but soon turned into a black hole of despair as we battled over issues we couldn’t seem to resolve.  After much searching, we finally found a coach who taught us a few basic communication methods (say it this way, not that way) and healthier anger management skills.  We finally found solutions to our issues that delivered to us the peace and renewed loving for which we longed. We didn’t want other couples to suffer the years of agony we had before finding effective help, so we began teaching classes called, “How to Stay Married & Love It!”  We wanted to stay married, but we wanted to love being married to each other more than we thought our parents had. I returned to school for my Masters Degree in Spiritual Psychology, and then wrote the book, “How to Stay Married & Love It! Solving the Puzzle of a SoulMate Marriage.”  In that book, I listed all the ways Jim and I had communicated (plus others I’d observed in other couples) that created hurt and distance, rather than connection.  That list includes sarcasm, name calling, accusatory “you” statements, interrupting, talking over each other, bringing up a laundry list of complaints, and many more. Recovering the first love we’d experienced meant exchanging distancing methods of communication with connecting methods of communication.  We learned to deliver our thoughts, feelings, concerns and desires with words and attitude that helped us hear each other’s point of view and conveyed the value in which one held the other. As a result, the love that had nearly died under the scorching onslaught of our anger returned with even greater depth and power than before. This transformative process is available to anyone who wants it!  I have been teaching these powerful skills in classes and in private coaching sessions for more than 25 years…all the time wishing I had a way to teach thousands of couples rather than just one or a few at a time. The Millionaire Marriage Club will start in a few short days!  In the Club COURSE, you’ll find brief, easy video lessons that teach you these powerful skills.  The Club GAME will help you painlessly put those new skills into practice.  The Club offers SUPPORT that most people need while making the transformation real in your marriage. In my next post you’ll learn more about the Millionaire Marriage Club.  You’ll be offered an invitation to a free introductory webinar where you’ll learn a skill that can significantly reduce the number of misunderstandings between you. Are you feeling a stirring of hope?  Yay! The answers you’ve been seeking are on the way!   Click this link to receive a free copy of “Communication Methods that Create Distance” and learn how to communicate in a way that creates connection.
  • #2 in Series: Let’s Face It!
    Our culture is full of marriages that are less than inspiring!  Precious few of us were reared by parents who were obviously in love and stayed in love over time.  When I ask new clients if they know anyone in their circle of friends that has a marriage they admire, so far, all have said, “No.” And yet K. Daniel O’Leary of Stony Brook University recently published the results of interviews of couples married for ten years and discovered that 40% of them were “very intensely in love,” the highest rating offered.  And 15% of those interviewed chose the next highest rating.  The biggest surprise came when the couples who had been married 30 years or more chose the highest rating of love! It’s clear that some couples know how to create a happy, loving marriage…or learn how to over time.  What do these couples practice that is missing from many of our parents’ or friends’ marriages? A few of the qualities isolated by this study are: thinking consistently positive thoughts about your partner, enjoying activities together, spending lots of time together, expressing affection daily, making love regularly.  John Gottman’s studies added other aspects:  being able to resolve conflict while maintaining respect and affection for each other and being willing to be influenced by your partner. Based on these research results, having a marriage that is, and stays intensely in love IS POSSIBLE! But how?  The high rates of divorce indicate that a lot of folks think the only way to have an intensely loving marriage is to find a new partner.  One of my friends did just that.  Then five years later admitted that he and his “better” wife were dealing with the same issues he thought he’d left behind when he divorced his first wife!  Meanwhile the daughter from the first marriage had to grow up with the nasty job of learning to navigate between two bitterly enmeshed parents…hardly a skill that would prepare her for a happy, loving marriage of her own! Many parents, like my friend, believe that the children would be better off without the conflict being experienced between their parents and use that as a valid reason for divorcing.  Children living in an environment of physical violence and/or sexual abuse do need the relief provided by separating the abusive parent/s.  But occasional arguments, drifting apart, the love has gone, possibly the silent treatment still give children the basic level of stability that every child deserves.  The most long-term damage to children occurs when divorce doesn’t seem to make sense to them. Those relatively low-conflict, not intensely in love marriages are the ones that are the best candidates for learning skills that will up-level their relationship from unhappy, or tolerable to intensely loving! Does your marriage fall into that category?  Just unhappy? Far from what you hoped for when you married? We are “in love” or “out of love” based on how we treat each other.  So join the growing ranks of couples who fell in love all over again by practicing new communication and conflict management skills. The link to a FREE DOWNLOAD is a Marriage Wheel…a simple way for you and your spouse to each evaluate the areas of your marriage that work well and those that need some added attention.  Print two copies. After you each record what is true for you, share the information with each other…not as a way to criticize, but as a simple way to say “Here’s is where we are.”  And, “I’d like us to find ways to improve in these areas.” The Wheel of Marriage You won’t want to miss information about a simple and cost-effective program that will teach you transformative skills that will help you both reach a  10 in all areas of your marriage!  
  • #1 in Series: It’s Not Your Fault!
    Unhappy with your marriage?  Have the same fight over and over again?  Has romance become more of a dry business arrangement?  It’s not your fault! For centuries whether or not a marriage was “good” for both partners (meaning loving) was largely a matter of luck.  If a marriage became “bad,” or either partner was unhappy, the only solutions were to stick it out or leave…and until no-fault divorce laws were passed, leaving was often impossible.  AND the long-term fall-out from most divorces means that often that solution creates more problems than it solves. It’s only been the last hundred years or so that our expectations for every marriage have included ongoing romance, sexual fulfillment and emotional connection. Beginning in the early 1900’s, researchers began to study the difference between marriages that were happy, vs. those that weren’t.  What elements are consistently found in happy marriages that are absent in unhappy ones?  What methods of communicating are found in happy vs. unhappy marriages?  How are problems resolved in each? GOOD NEWS:  The combined results of multiple research studies have found the same answers.  Great marriages that last have certain consistent patterns of behavior.  Marriages that fail or are unhappy also have consistent patterns of behavior. And better yet, those who are unhappy with their quality of their marriage can learn to duplicate the behaviors found in great marriages in order to turn an inadequate or struggling marriage into a great one! From my colleague, Diane Sollee (www.smartmarriages.com) “Marriage is skill-based. Like football.  The way we have it set up now a couple gets married, and we send them out there to win based on love and commitment.  That’s like asking a football team to win on team spirit, but not letting them learn any plays or signals.  The basis for a smart marriage is exciting research that finds that what is different about marriages that make it—that go the distance and stay happy—are behaviors or skills.  And even more exiting, they are simple skills that any fool can learn!” But how were you to know this?  Research studies are buried in university libraries.  The classes that teach these winning skills, although good, are still not well known.  Most therapists are not trained to teach couples these skills.  There are only a few private coaches, like me, that specialize in training couples in the behaviors that will transform their marriage from mediocre or “bad” to great.  NO MORE SEARCHING FOR HELP!  Soon you can learn how to duplicate the practices consistently found in great marriages from the privacy of your own home computer! Watch for my next post… good news is coming!   Click on this link to accept my gift to you, “What Our Parents Didn’t Know,”  a chapter from my book How to Stay Married & Love It! 
  • Only One Soul Mate?
    There seems to be a popular myth/belief being propagated by movies and other media that there is only one soul mate on the earth per person.  If I were to believe this, I would feel very tentative about developing a relationship with anyone, let alone someone with flaws. If I “fell in love” and committed to a relationship that later ran into conflicts, rather than knowing this is normal and we’ll work it out, I’d tend to believe that I jumped the gun and married the wrong person.  I’d leave that relationship and go back to hunting for Mr/Mrs Right. Sometimes it’s true that in our inexperience, or from our own level of dysfunction, we choose a person who is poor commitment material.  Over time addictions or patterns of abuse show up that make a healthy relationship unattainable.  But most problems/conflicts are only a call to personal and couple growth. In choosing a life-time partner it’s certainly important to find someone who shares one’s values, who exhibits a significant level of responsibility and who demonstrates the capacity to be caring and, at times, selfless in their relationships.  Hopefully you’d attend a marriage prep class or a relationship skills class to be sure you had the communication, conflict management and problem solving skills needed in any lifetime relationship. With those items checked off the essentials list and assuming there’s a level of chemistry that makes commitment desirable, you can know that your chances of a satisfying marriage and life together are very good. Are you allowing a cultural fad to create fear around finding a suitable mate?  Are you looking for a way out of a relationship because you have unrealistic expectations that a soul mate relationship wouldn’t have challenges? How to Stay Married & Love It! Describes how to create the SoulMate marriage of your dreams even if your marriage is currently unhappy! (LINK)  This book is a must read for ideas about how to choose a partner that will go the distance with you: Smart Marriage, Using your Head as Well as Your Heart to Find Wedded Bliss. By Allen Parkman, Ph.D., J.D. eBook on Amazon. (LINK)
  • Please Change!
    It seems to be human nature to believe that if the other person would just change, (come home on time, quit nagging, be more financially responsible, keep the home neater, be more loving) my life would be happy, I would be content. Yet many times I’ve seen someone make an attempt to change to satisfy a complaint and the partner says, “I don’t believe you’re sincere,” or “It’s not good enough,” or “When this new behavior is consistent, then I’ll express appreciation.” Habit changes come in small bites.  It’s smart to look at methods that help habit changes succeed. In cooperating in a habit change that you both agree would benefit your relationship, (the first step) it helps to have the person who’s habit needs to change to give you a way to remind them that doesn’t feel like nagging.  It might be a nonsense code word like “peanuts” to remind him that his socks need to go into the hamper or a gentle touch to remind her to stop back-seat driving.  When the one who has agreed to change the habit has control over choosing a reminder, there is less resistance to being reminded. In addition, the habit-changer needs to choose a kind of reward that is motivating for him/her.  For some it may be a big hug when you notice that the socks are in the hamper.  For another it might be a word of appreciation when a trip has been concluded without back-seat driving.  Choosing the method of reward builds one little success after another until the new habit is more dependable.  Learn more about no-nag habit changing in Module 8 of Millionaire Marriage Club. In addition, it might be prudent to look at a behavior your partner would like you to change. Do you find it easy?  Would you like to choose a reminder and a reward for making the effort to change an annoying habit? *Free Download: The No-Nag Habit Change Strategy!
  • Differences Can Be Scary
    My late husband Jim’s father was a gifted mechanic.  All of his life he worked as a machinist.   He could fix anything with a motor or wheels.  Jim inherited his father’s work ethic and values, but was lost when it came to fixing his scooter or knowing what to do with a broken lawn mower.  His dad couldn’t hide his disappointment, and sometimes even anger, over Jim’s lack of instinct about mechanical things. Jim began his singing career at the age of five by singing to the chickens. It wasn’t until high school, however, that his amazing voice began to be noticed in a big way. He was one of the first in his family to graduate from college, even getting a Masters Degree in Voice and Church Music. His father didn’t come to his Masters Recital, an event that filled the huge college auditorium.  He eventually recorded seven gospel albums featuring his gorgeous baritone voice. In contrast, a story in the September 2013 Guideposts magazine tells about TV’s Mike Rowe and his relationship with his grandfather.  His grandfather could build anything…anything!  Whenever young Mike tried to help him, he’d muff the job.  Once at the height of discouragement, Mike said, “I can’t do anything right!” His grandfather said, “God gave me a toolbox, Mike.  He gave you one too.  But he didn’t give us the same one.  You understand?” Mike didn’t understand that day, but over time gained appreciation for the tools he had: a great voice (he sang professionally for several years) and a natural way of smiling and talking with folks.  He eventually designed and hosted a show called *Somebody’s Gotta Do It”–short profiles of people who do the tough jobs…like his grandfather.  Eventually that led to Discovery Channel’s *Dirty Jobs. Near the end of Jim’s father’s life, he apologized.  He admitted, “I was wrong. I’m sorry I didn’t support your gifts.”  It meant a lot for Jim to hear that apology, but not as much as it would have meant to get his dad’s interest and pride all the years that went before. Is there someone near you who’s gifts need encouragement?  Might you possibly be blind to her gifts because they are different than yours? *Free Download: Giving and Receiving Appreciation