Family Relationships

Join other women in the sandwich generation - share ideas and solutions as you learn to nourish family relationships without starving yourself.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Women and Friendship: Emotional Support

You probably don't need proof that the emotional support you get from friends is vital, but here it is. Ten years ago a UCLA study proposed that a cascade of brain chemicals released when we're stressed causes us to seek out other women. This 'tend and befriend' notion, developed by psychologists Drs. Shelley Taylor, Laura Klein and their associates, may explain why social ties reduce our risk of disease and help us live longer. Friends also help us live better. Research about coping after the loss of a partner indicates that women who have a close confidante more often survive without permanent loss of vitality. And that's not all. Both the Harvard Nurses' Health Study and the MacArthur Foundation Study confirm that friendship is one of the keys to a long and satisfying life.
Close-up of two senior women and a mature woman sitting at a table Model Release: Yes Property Release: NA
So what is about your closest friends? Some women appreciate the unflinching acceptance and fierce loyalty, even after disclosing their darkest secrets. Others feel secure knowing that, with the support of someone totally on their side, anything is possible.

Appreciate your friends. Remind them of their attributes and talents. But also accept their flaws – especially at times when they need you to empathize with their position. Listen, regardless - your friends may just let off steam and in the process arrive at their own conclusions. Only give feedback when asked, and make sure that any negatives are gently but honestly delivered.

Here's an article from Psychology Today that speaks to the differences between women and men when it comes to friendships. You can read one woman's story, with questions that may shed some light on your own friendships, from the Newsletter Library on our website,

If you want to learn new ideas about how to improve your friendships and family relationships, sign the email list to the left of this post. You'll receive our free monthly newsletter and can download a complimentary ebook, Courage and Lessons Learned: Reaching for Your Goals.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

We Are Queens Not Princesses

We were pleased to host Donna Henes here at Nourishing Relationships for a Virtual Book Tour on Wednesday. She answered questions about her stimulating book, The Queen of My Self: Stepping Into Sovereignty in Midlife.

Several readers wanted to clear up their understanding of some of the words Donna used when she was chatting with us.

One reader asked:
Excuse my ignorance, but what is an urban shaman?

And Donna responded:

"To answer your question as to what an urban shaman is:

As shamans in every culture always have, I create contemporary rituals for my community, which I consider to be all of humanity. My role is that of catalyst: organizing and instigating innovative, de-mystified systems for creative public interaction, celebration, and communion.

I am an Urban Shaman, a modern urban woman, living in the city that is the capital of the world. My specialty is multicultural ritual and ceremony. I learn from all of the members of my community and blend together rituals that speak to all people from all backgrounds. My circles reflect that diversity and I am proud to be the ceremonial connector of people of all faiths and ethnicities."

Remembering the negative label of 'Princess', another reader inquired:
Just wondering how a Queen is different from a "Princess." I never wanted to be thought of as a "Princess" when I was younger, so why do I want to be a Queen now?"

Queen Mama Donna replied:

"A Queen is not a grown up princess. A princess is pampered, cosseted in a cushion of entitlement. A Queen is a mature ruler of her own destiny. She rolls up her sleeves and does whatever needs to be done, because she sees the need and has the ability to respond. A Queen owns and embraces her own power and uses it to empower others."

Sharon commented:
I like that just because we're focusing on being the best we can each be, it doesn't mean that we ignore the rest of the world. As you say, we can use our maturity to respond to the needs of others and give back.

And Donna's response was:

"Yes, respond is the key word. I like to spell responsibility with s hyphen: response-ability. Our responsibility to ourselves, our inner circles, our community and our world is defined by our ability to respond."

Finally, two readers asked Donna for some advice about how to think of themselves as Queens.

Gloria said:
Thanks for your encouragement. I'd like to think of myself as a Queen but to my kids either I'm invisible or, if they do acknowledge me, I'm an intrusive, royal pain in the butt.

Queen Mama Donna answered her:

"Hi Gloria, So your kids don't see you as a Queen... What do they know?! You are the Queen of your own life. We all are. IF we can allow ourselves to own our own power. Only you can validate your own sovereignty. Issue an official Royal Decree "I hereby declare that I am forthwith Queen of My Self." All hail!"

Another reader put it this way:
Mama Donna, You make so much sense - but it's hard to keep thinking of myself as a Queen when I keep getting shot down. What can I do to keep myself on track?

Here's how Donna weighed in:

"Keeping your own center in the midst of opposition is not easy. But it is incredibly important. It is all about Self-esteem.

In The Queen of My Self there is an entire chapter of exercises and practices to help develop a healthy sense of internal sovereignty. Also, I write a daily bog on with information, advice, inspiration and encouragement for obtaining Meaning, Moxie and Majesty in Midlife.

You can also subscribe to The Queen's Chronicles for a monthly Ezine full of ideas to keep empowered. Just go to and sign up.

These tools are helpful as reminders of and as connectors to your own power.

In the end, it is your opinion of you that counts. Eleanor Roosevelt said, No one can make you feel inferior without your permission."

Again, our thanks to Donna for joining us here at Nourishing Relationships. For news about other Virtual Book Tours we have hosted, visit our website, and watch some videos about past guests we have welcomed. You'll also find information on our website about how to order our new ebook, Taking Control of Stress in a Financial Storm: Practical Strategies and Resources for Success.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Eat Yourself Younger Effortlessly

We've got some information for you today about a new book, Eat Yourself Younger Effortlessly, written by Celia Westberry, a cell biologist. In her book, she shares her knowledge as well as her recipes with body friendly foods that are well balanced and promote good health. If you decide to buy her book today, Celia has some bonus gifts that she says will sharpen your skills to slow aging, make you feel great and look good as you age.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife

Today we welcome Donna Henes to our blog so that we can chat about The Queen of My Self, a landmark book that celebrates a new mythic model for the middle years of a woman's life - the Queen! A celebration of the midlife woman in her prime who has achieved wisdom, mastery, and self-esteem, it provides upbeat, practical, and ceremonial inspiration for all women who want to enjoy the fruits of an influential, passionate, and powerful maturity.

NR: Welcome to Nourishing Relationships, Donna. Can you tell our readers something about your professional background and why you wrote The Queen of Myself?

DH: For 35 years I have been an urban shaman, a ceremonialist, a spiritual teacher and counselor, as well as an author and columnist. When I was approaching my 50th birthday, I realized that I needed an archetype to relate to and use as a role model for affirmative aging that just wasn't available anywhere. So I had to create one for myself and the other 60 million Baby Boom women entering their midlife.

NR: You talk about the midlife transition being very difficult for women. Why is this so?

DH: Midlife is all about loss: we lose our reproductive ability, our kids leave, our parents die, we reach our glass ceilings, our marriages founder.

NR: What do you think are women's greatest fears about being middle aged?

DH: Being invisible is a very big one. Another is losing our sex appeal and youthful beauty. It is only a disaster to loose our girlish charms if we deem them to be the exclusive path to beauty, love, and fulfillment. Our allure and sex appeal change with time — increase, even — if we allow them to. A woman is never too old to look and feel beautiful.

NR: The book mentions the Triple Goddess. What is this?

DH: The Triple Goddess is an (out dated) archetype for the three stages of a woman's life: The Maiden, the young girl; The Mother, the fertile care taker; and The Crone, the old, wise one.

NR: You say that this archetype no longer serves women as role models for the life cycle. Why is this?

DH: It leaves out women in their middle years who are long past maidenhood, ending their mothering years and not yet anywhere near being old. 1 out of 3 women in America is over 50 years old. Archetype means "universal." The Triple Goddess cannot be universal if it ignores 1/3 of all women.

NR: So you think you have a better model? Can you describe this?

DH: I added another stage for us women of a certain age: The Queen, the woman who is in charge of her own life and destiny and is out in the world in her power. So then we have a Four-Fold Goddess: The Maiden, The Mother, The Queen, and The Crone.

NR: What, exactly do you mean by Queen?

DH: The Queen is a woman who is still energetic with youth, yet wise with age. She is confident and beholden to no one. She thinks, speaks, acts for her Self and is secure being powerful. She has stepped into her sovereignty and wears it well.

The Queen refuses to condescend or conform to the adolescent and exploitative standard of beauty promulgated by popular culture. She does not deign to compare herself with teenage models or emaciated-lifted-stitched-tucked-injected-Hollywood-uber-beauties. A truly mature, secure woman accepts the inevitable physical changes that come with the passing of time and incorporates them into the way she presents herself to the world. Self-aware, Self-assured, she transforms her Self as she goes. She glows as she grows into her full potential, and becomes ever more becoming. Her reinvigorated attractiveness stems from Self-knowledge and enfranchisement; her magnetic sensuality is centered in the fulfillment and satisfaction of her Self-worth. She exudes the intoxicating appeal of a woman who is at heart, pleased with her Self.

NR: How does a woman go about becoming a Queen?

DH: She must decide and choose to accept the responsibility for her own desires and needs. She establishes boundaries and obeys only her own inner voice. She asserts her Self without guilt or apology.

The Queen uses the power of Her own purpose, growth, and gratification to claim and proclaim what is rightfully Hers, including — especially — Her own Self-image, charisma, and sexuality. When we are comfortable in our own skin, we carry ourselves with presence and pride, and project our formidable inner beauty out for all to see and appreciate.

Our emotional maturity and depth of character make women in our middle years extraordinarily and vitally attractive. We are substantial and robust, heady with the flavor of all that we have seen and done so far. We are pungent with profound experience, with pain and loss, exploration and transformation, glory and joy. The myriad lessons learned from lives intensely lived are reflected in our palate, which has become sophisticated, subtle, firm, and complex. Like fine wine and good cheese, women ripen and improve with age. Our essence becomes stronger, clearer, and infinitely more powerful. What could be more sexy?

NR: What are the benefits to aging?

DH: A liberating sense of Self. A Gallop poll revealed that despite facing the loss of so much on every level, women declare themselves to be the happiest after the age of 55. They might lose the pigment in their hair and the elasticity of their skin, their parents and their children, but they have gained THEMSELVES! This is glorious.

Once the Queen has conquered the challenges in Her life, she begins to claim Her royal power. She cuts through fear and ambivalence to become the sole ruler of Her Self. She has struggled for Her transformation and has achieved it. Her proud potency is palpable, Her authenticity uncontested. Her life now takes on a new ease, a grace, a certain lightness of being born of Her Self-knowing, Self-respecting, Self-directing, Self-projecting passion and purpose. She sails ahead on Her own steam, cutting efficiently through seas that are sometimes smooth as glass, sometimes choppy and fraught with danger. Her age and vast experience is Her ballast. She keeps Her center, come what may.

But something else remarkable takes place once the Queen has stepped into sovereignty. Now that Her own life is in working order and running more smoothly, the Queen can afford to enlarge the territory and expand the horizons of Her Interests and influence and extend the parameters of Her physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual domain. Firmly rooted in Her best Self and acting on Her own behalf, She is free to reach out in ever increasing concentric circles to others. Now She can freely offer Her compassion, expertise, time, and money to people and causes that call to Her sense of response-ability, literally Her ability to respond.

NR: Can you tell us more about response-ability?

DH: Response-ability is the willingness to encounter each person, situation, event, and emotion with an open heart and an open mind, so that we can respond to the needs of others and our own needs with equal care. Born of awareness and consideration, response-ability means choosing to be fully conscious and present in life and to participate conscientiously in its enfoldment.

Maturity brings with it the understanding that everything is not about us. That the world does not revolve around our personal story. That we do not exist in a vacuum. And that all those other people out there actually have lives of their own and are not simply extras in our movie.

Life and living have shown the Queen the value of community, cooperation, concern, care, and communion. Knowing Herself to be an integral, inextricably interconnected part of a greater whole, She multiplies Her ministrations to include the welfare of the entire world around Her.

NR: Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

DH: If we mighty Queens bring to bear the amazing experience, understanding, and acumen that we have to share, we can, together, restore balance and bring healing to a world that seems bent on destruction.

Personally, I do not think that it is a coincidence that just as the planet teeters on the very brink of destruction, there comes along a generation of fiery, accomplished, clever, ambitious women at the height of our supremacy to whip it back into shape. And the sheer enormity of our numbers means that we can actually achieve the critical mass necessary to make a real and lasting difference.

Let us harness our impressive Empress Energy: our purity of purpose, our passion, our heartfelt compassion, and our enormous power, and let us direct it toward creating a safe, sublime, and peaceful world for us all. The future is in our very capable hands.

NR: Our thanks go out to you, Donna, for sharing your exciting work with us. You've stimulated us all to think about our power and take up the challenge to use it wisely. Now it's time for our readers to have the opportunity to connect with you personally - just click on the "Comment" link below to talk to Donna about what's going on in your "queendom." We'll highlight your questions and Donna's responses here on Friday.

And check our blog tomorrow for information about the launch of Celia Westberry's new book, Eat Yourself Younger Effortlessly.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Time for Me

With summer drawing to a close, the kids going back to school and the vacation luggage back to the basement, are you wondering what changes Labor Day will bring? If you're torn between work and family - or family and you - how can you find the balance between your varied roles without accumulating any more guilt along the way?
woman drinking red wine

No matter what challenges you face in your career and at home with children growing up and parents growing older, it's not selfish to set aside time for you. Vow to put your feet up and think about yourself for once. What brings you happiness? What relieves the stress you face every day? What will bring a sense of harmony to your life?

It's time to let go of the part you have played as the 'good girl,' responding to the needs of others first, and for once, listen to your own voice, quiet as it may be. Schedule in some private time and do something that gives you pleasure - take a walk by the water, enjoy the beauty of a sunset, immerse yourself in a good book. Think of this as a personal retreat that provides the opportunity to reconnect with and re-center yourself.

Recognize that it is healthy to receive as well as to give. Ask for what you need from your family members and seek out professionals for their expertise and guidance. You don't have to do everything yourself. Let your spouse, children and siblings know exactly how you feel, what you want from them, and how they can do their share. Taking help when it is offered doesn't diminish your abilities.

Guilt runs rampant among women, who often worry that they're not doing enough for their loved ones. Remind yourself that you're dancing as fast as you can, given the realities of your life situation. You don't have to be the perfect mother, daughter, wife or grandmother. Set your own reasonable standards rather than falling in the trap of trying to live up to others' expectations.

As you decide to take better care of you, you'll discover the strength to find balance in life. Develop a firm core within yourself - it will sustain you as you continue to nurture your growing and changing family. Look for more tips to help you nurture yourself on our website, HerMentorCenter.

And continue the discussion with us on Wednesday as we host Donna Henes, author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. "Mama Donna," as she is affectionately called, will be here to answer your questions about recognizing the wisdom and power you have achieved - and the liberation that comes with it in your prime.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Happiness in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan

As we mentioned earlier in the week, it was the monarch of the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan who first defined the concept of Gross National Happiness. But what is the Bhutanese formula for happiness?

Like many psychological and social indicators, GNH is easier to describe than to define with statistical precision. However, the Bhutanese people seem to know that happiness is multi-dimensional. Learn more on Bhutan's official website. The country is Buddhist and has a matriarchal system, very few cars, no branding in the shops, a single television station and a passion for archery. Healthcare and education are free for life. Almost every citizen wears the national costume all the time and regulations on architecture preserve the craft industry of religious art. Yes, there is uniformity, consistency and they're mobilized for the preservation of their core values.

For more ideas, read this article from Psychology Today about how to make a gratitude adjustment. And there's plenty of material for you on our website,, that can help grow your feelings of well-being. Learn from Trudy about her painful losses that ended in a chance to live life more fully. Here are final tips for the week about increasing happiness:

Pay attention to the practical issues. Get enough sleep, stimulate your mind, eat well, practice relaxation or meditation, find your passion, exercise regularly, don't hold a grudge and spend time with friends. Maintaining order also falls into this category - studies show that if you make your bed, that provides inner calm and helps you start the day off right.

Don't expect too much. Unrealistic expectations can often lead to disappointment. Built-in obsolescence makes you a slave to the latest style and the next upgrade. It never ends, and leaves you dissatisfied with what you have. In some situations try not to expect anything and whatever comes your way will be a blessing.

Want support for the changes you want to make? Sign our email list to the left of this post and, next Tuesday, you'll receive your first copy of our complimentary monthly newsletter, "Stepping Stones."

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sandwiched Boomers Can be Happier

Are you a Sandwiched Boomer managing the challenges of parents growing older and kids growing up? If so - especially in these difficult economic times - you may be more focused on reducing stress than increasing happiness. But it doesn't have to be that way. The tips that follow are mainly about tweaking your attitude. Try them on, as they don't take much time and are easy to implement:

Become aware of what brings you joy. Set aside time to experience and acknowledge your gratitude. Research participants were asked to write gratitude letters to those who had helped them. They reported that, after implementing the habit, they had a lasting increase in happiness over weeks and even months. What's even more surprising is that sending the letter was not necessary. Even those who wrote letters, but never delivered them, still reported feeling better afterwards.

Embrace simplicity and appreciate what you have. Step outside and enjoy a moonlit night or take you family camping and roast marshmallows over the fire. Those who practice writing down three good things that happen to them every week show a significant increase in happiness. When life isan't going so well, think optimistically and try to find the silver lining in any situation. Being more hopeful about the circumstances, a process called reframing, can lead to increased feelings of well-being.

Practice random acts of kindness. Focusing on the positive can help you remember reasons to be glad. When we perform good deeds and assist others it also benefits us. A recent study found that the more people participated in meaningful activities, the happier they were and the more they felt their lives had purpose. Pleasure-seeking behaviors, on the other hand, did not make them happier.

Read this article from PsychCentral for insight into what you can do to increase your sense of well-being. And click here to learn more about Dr. Martin Seligman and his work on Authentic Happiness at the University of Pennsylvania. If you want, you can even participate in a research study.

Log on to our website, HerMentorCenter and spend some time browsing. Start at the menu on the upper lefthand corner of the Home Page. There's lots of information under 'Newsletter Library' and the articles in 'Nourishing Relationships' are full of practical tips. By signing up for the 'Free Newsletter', you can download a complimentary ebook about reaching your goals. And there's no better time than now to order our new ebook, "Taking Control of Stress in a Financial Storm: Practical Strategies and Resources for Success." Our thanks to Marilee Karlsen for the terrific photos from Bhutan!

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Creating Happiness

It has been over ten years since I retired from my fulltime practice and spent three months doing volunteer work and traveling in Southeast Asia. The best part of my trip was spending time in the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. It was their monarch who defined the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) to measure quality of life. And Bhutan is the only country in the world that puts happiness and general well-being at the heart of its government policy. Read this article in Business Week and find out about the other happiest countries.The Bhutanese distinguish four pillars of GNH: sustainable development, cultural integrity, ecosystem conservation and good governance. Their Buddhist ideals demonstrate how material and spiritual development can complement and reinforce each other. This tiny nation of less than 700,000 inhabitants is totally isolated and among the least populated in the world. And it is situated between two of the most densely populated countries, India and China.

Some North American scientists argue that happiness is largely determined by genetics, health and other factors mostly outside of our control. Other experts think that we're all hard wired and stay at a certain level of happiness. They say that, with this set point, no matter whether we win the lottery or have a devastating accident, within a year of the event we return to a familiar emotional level.

But recent research suggests that we can actually take charge of our own happiness and that a large portion of it is within our power to change. Log on Wednesday and Friday of this week - we'll be sharing lots of ideas that you may want to put into practice to boost your sense of well-being. There will also be more terrific photos, thanks to our friend and colleague, Marilee Karlsen.

If you want to get a head start on feeling happier, browse around our website,, and read this article about dealing with common unhappiness. And why not sign our email list to the left of this post? You can download a free ebook about how to reach your goals and receive our free monthly newsletter with tips about how to create change in your life.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Staying Strong Through a Divorce

Our guest blogger, divorce mediator Edie Sangiorgio, finishes up her week's posts today with some thoughts about how to create a successful divorce. Edie is the author of Divorce Vows - Before & Beyond the Decree, and her website is Divorce Vows
Close-up of family split with divorce decree document (10-12)

Edie understands the pain of a failed relationship, and talks about some techniques to help you get through the process:

"When we include each day with uplifting, positive, proactive thoughts and strong core beliefs about ourselves we set in motion the direction our lives will take. Divorce is a legal process but more than anything it is a mental game of wills. You have probably been bruised and hurt from your relationship. Don’t perpetuate the hurt by piling on more words and actions that you will at some point have to reconcile with in your heart. Approach the divorce proceedings with your head held high, your heart willing to negotiate for the highest good for all and your soul wisdom leading the way. If you fill your core with spiritual truths that give you strength then no one can get you off your game, not even your spouse or the attorneys.

If divorce is truly the right answer for your relationship then do everything in your power to make it work. You can turn a failed marriage into a successful divorce with the right perspective. If you are a loving, kind, decent person then be who you really want to be starting right now."

Our thanks to Edie for guest blogging this week and a reminder from her that she has graciously offered our readers a free 15-minute consultation. For more information, email her at

Whatever stage of the separation and divorce process you are currently in, you can also find information and a community of others going through the experience at Look for our Her Mentor Center advice there about issues such as emotional reactions after a divorce and for our suggestions about how to ease the pain for children after divorce. You'll find our answers to many questions on Divorce360 - please let us know what else is on your mind.

And for more tips on increasing your resiliency in difficult times, especially if you are a Sandwiched Boomer, visit our website, Her Mentor Center. You'll also find information there about purchasing our ebook, Taking Control of Stress in a Financial Storm: Practical Strategies and Resources for Success, which is available for download in PDF format.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Taking Care of Yourself Through a Divorce

We continue with our guest blogger for the week, Edie Sangiorgio, who is a certified divorce mediator. Edie is the author of Divorce Vows - Before & Beyond the Decree, and her website is Divorce Vows.
broken heart

If you are considering a divorce, Edie has some questions to ask yourself first:

"So here are some ways to nurture a more positive, strong perspective and prepare yourself by journaling your thoughts and beliefs even if they are not yet part of your reality. Sometimes we have to “act as if” or “fake it until we make it.” Write down the following open-ended questions and fill in your answers with the most positive and upbeat responses that you can think of. Even if they aren’t yet or always true.

The characteristic I like most about myself as a spouse (partner) is…
The quality I admire most in myself as a parent is…
I have a positive attitude about the divorce negotiations because I am willing to…
I am a person of integrity and will maintain my integrity during the divorce by…
My spouse and children can count on me to …
I am a grateful partner and I am most grateful that because of my marriage I got to…

The most constructive way for me to deal with my pain (sadness, anger, etc) is by…
My inner strengths are revealed when I…
I show respect for myself by …
I am a forgiving person and I forgive my spouse for…
I am confident that I can take care of myself because I know how to…
I like being alone sometimes because when I am alone I get to do…
I surround myself with uplifting, supportive people like…

When I make a mistake I learn quickly from it such as when…
I am a loving person and my favorite way to show my love is by…
I know my future has good things in store for me because…
The most important thing I learned about myself from my marriage is…
I am a good communicator because I…"

Don't forget to log back in on Friday when Edie will give us some final thoughts about taking care of yourself when you divorce. In the meantime, Edie has graciously offered our readers a free 15-minute consultation, saying: "Divorce is such a difficult period for most people and so often just having someone willing to listen is a huge help. I felt compelled to write the book but in addition I feel a desire to just be available to those who resonate with my message. Taking a more spiritual path is easier when someone is walking beside you. You can request a phone consultation at"

And to learn more tips about managing challenges in your life, especially if you are a Sandwiched Boomer, visit our website Her Mentor Center. And look for information about purchasing our ebook, Taking Control of Stress in a Financial Storm: Practical Strategies and Resources for Success, which is available for download in PDF format.

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Monday, August 09, 2010

I Know I Have to Leave - Now What?

Highlighting Chelea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky's wedding, our blog last week focused on tips to help overcome the inevitable conflicts that couples face in a marriage. But what happens when nothing is working and divorce seems to be the best alternative?
Woman adjusting wedding ring, mid section (focus on hands)

Edie Sangiorgio, a certified divorce mediator, has been working with couples to "transform a failed marriage into a successful divorce." The author of Divorce Vows - Before & Beyond the Decree, Edie is our guest blogger for this week. Learn more about her book on her website, Divorce Vows.

Here's Edie's post for today:

"So you’ve come to conclusion that you need to leave your spouse. You’ve gone to the depths of your soul and every time you ask the question 'should I stay or should I go?' your gut screams, 'leave.' You are very clear why you and your spouse were together and that the legal marriage has served its purpose. You know that it is in the best interest for your family if you and your spouse divorce and live separate lives as you tend to the needs of the family.

Okay. Clarity of direction is step one. Now what? You know you want the divorce to go as smoothly as possible but you’re not sure how to make that happen. Your next step should be to attend to your own attitude and get yourself as centered as you can and strengthen your core. More than you realize your attitude and your inner strength will have a lot of influence over the divorce process. But it is up to you to state your intentions. Divorce is hardly ever easy but many make it so much more difficult on themselves because they have not mentally, emotionally, or spiritually prepared themselves."

Be sure to check back with us again on Wednesday when Edie will be posting some questions to ask yourself before you begin any divorce negotiations. And if your marriage is feeling the effects of the downturn in the economy, visit our website, Her Mentor Center, for information about our recent ebook, Weathering the Financial Storm: Practical Strategies for Success, available to download in PDF format.

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Friday, August 06, 2010

Chelsea and Marc: First Dance Together

Apparently one friend's unique wedding gift for Chelsea and Marc was dancing lessons and they demonstrated new skills in their first dance as husband and wife. Of course, the longer they're married, the more techniques they'll add to their repertoire – dance steps and otherwise.
Former President Bill Clinton (L) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (2nd R) stand with their daughter Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky after their wedding ceremony at Astor Court in Rhinebeck, New York on July 31, 2010. (One Time Editorial Use Only) UPI/Barbara Kinney/HO Photo via Newscom
No matter who you marry, there are bound to be differences that challenge you – family values, cultural backgrounds, socioeconomic status, religious traditions. But if you're committed to working together, each complements and enriches the other. And when disagreements do occur, you can rely on these tips:

Choose your words. In the midst of an argument, any one of these phrases would be welcomed by a partner feeling misunderstood: I might be wrong; stay with me and don’t withdraw; I see my part in all of this; let’s find common ground; I love you and we'll work this out.

Stay engaged. A gentle touch, eye contact or a quick hug can release oxytocin, a hormone that facilitates bonding as well as reduces blood pressure and stress levels. When you're feeling tense, an affectionate moment can help you feel closer, loved and even more relaxed.

Build emotional dividends. If you characteristically turn toward rather than away from each other, the goodwill you accumulate can provide an emotional cushion. Maintain a reserve of shared positive feelings and you will be able to draw from this supply of affection in times of conflict.

Chelsea and Marc have attended family holidays together so they likely have already started a discussion that includes such topics as Christmas trees and Hanukah menorahs. It is often rituals and family relationships that give faith meaning. The Clintons have raised Chelsea well and she has stood by her parents through tough times. And Chelsea is a survivor - resilient, transcendent, private, well balanced – all qualities that can only enhance a marriage that seems off to a very good start.

Read more here about the newlyweds and making marriage work. We've enjoyed discussing ways to manage the inevitable conflicts in marriage with you this week. If you want more information about family issues, please sign our email list to the left of this post. You'll receive our free monthly newsletter, Stepping Stones, with lots of tips to improve your relationships. And you can download our free ebook, Courage and Lessons Learned: Reaching for Your Goals.

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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

A Gift for Chelsea and Marc: Conflict Resolution Strategies

Close to 85% of participants in a recent survey said they're accepting of interfaith marriages. But there can be challenges, especially if issues - like how to celebrate holidays, raise the children, honor life stages - haven't been talked about before the wedding.
RHINEBECK, NY - JULY 31: Balloons are displayed in a store window as the town prepares for the wedding of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky on July 31, 2010 in Rhinebeck, New York. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
Read about conflict resolution from Wikipedia and advice from interfaith couples to Chelsea and Marc. As differences can lead to disagreements, the best you can do sometimes is practice strategies to maximize your strengths:

Minimize emotional overload. Flooding is a physiological arousal that is activated when tensions are high and communication stalls. When quarreling, state a desired outcome and stick to the subject at hand. Try not to blame your partner or get defensive, and take some responsibility for what's going on.

Assume a non-threatening posture. Calibrate your emotions because your body language and tone of voice make a difference. Monitor any negative comments and be slow to criticize. Count to 10 before reacting and, if it looks like the conversation is escalating, walk away.

Agree to a time-out strategy. Before you say something you may later regret, decide to put some distance between yourselves and the problem. Plan to come back to the conversation later and work out a solution. And then take a break until you're less upset and settled down enough to listen without planning a rebuttal.

Find a comfortable position, close your eyes and breathe deeply. Hold your breath for several seconds and release it slowly through your mouth. Repeat this several times, brushing away any distractions. Notice how focusing only on each breath can make you feel more calm.

Pay attention to constructive thoughts. You can turn the negatives into more positives. For example, his anger isn’t all about me; we really do love each other; she's under a lot of pressure at work; this too shall pass; I'm upset now but I know we’re right for each other.

Why not familiarize yourselves with these techniques before a situation gets heated. You can create some key words together that will alert you to the potential danger ahead. Perhaps even use teasing, humor and laughter to cut through the drama.

Here's one of many sites that offers information for married couples. Visit our website,, and read this article about how to fight fair. And log on to the blog Friday for our concluding post about marriage and conflict resolution.

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Monday, August 02, 2010

Chelsea and Marc: Interfaith Wedding

Who doesn't love a wedding? But with months and months of planning, it only lasts a short while - and then there's the marriage. If history is prologue, neither former first daughter, Chelsea Clinton, nor longtime boyfriend, Marc Mezvinsky, had great role models for marital bliss. And that's even without the religious issues - she was raised Christian and he's Jewish.
Chelsea Clinton holds hands with Marc Mezvinsky during their wedding ceremony at Astor Court in Rhinebeck, New York July 31, 2010. Bill and Hillary Clinton's daughter married her long-time boyfriend in the picturesque New York village of Rhinebeck on Saturday in what has been dubbed America's royal wedding. REUTERS/Manio Photography/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY) NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
This much publicized union is affirmation of America's shifting religious landscape. There has been a gradual increase in interfaith marriages over the past two decades and more than 25% U.S. households now are mixed-faith. Despite changing attitudes, it's still not easy to make marriage work.

If you're members of the sandwich generation with a loved one who has recently tied the knot, you know that marriage constitutes a major change. Emotional reactions at times of transition are common and normal. And in making the necessary adjustments, some conflict is inevitable - all couples get angry and have arguments. Whether a marriage will last depends, in part, on how you prepare for the challenges. You'll find that some of these tips may serve you well:

Keep your communication open and honest. Talk out misunderstandings before they become arguments. Don't resort to low blows or get side-tracked by pointing out questionable character traits. Practice active listening skills and sending I-focused messages to clarify that what you're saying is your own opinion.

Use cooperation and compromise. Be direct yet flexible as you make your way through disagreements. Look at the issue from your partner's perspective and practice empathy. Ask yourself if being right and winning the fight is more important than your relationship.

Log on all week as we talk about tips to resolve the inevitable conflicts in marriage. Let us know the strategies that work for you by clicking on 'Comments' at the bottom of this post.

And here's what the New York Times and Huffington Post have to report about Chelsea and Marc's wedding - not so much, as befitting a couple who value their privacy.

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