Will This Last? Part 4 of 6

If you haven’t read parts 1 through 3 of this series, take a moment to read them here –

1. Goal and ambitions – do you share similar life goals and ambitions?

2. Getting along with others – how your partner interacts with your circle of family, friends, strangers, etc.

3. Time and money – how you manage your time as a couple, how to handle money matters

Here in part 4, we explore a simple topic that has many layers – whether your significant other (SO) has a focus on you, including what’s important to you. And no, this isn’t about your SO watching every move you make and wanting to be joined at the hip. But you do enter their sense of curiosity some of the time? Do they ever curtail their personal interests to engage with you because you are now one of their personal interests? Or, are all your discussions about the children, work and the bills?

How do you know your partner is thinking about you? Below are some easy questions you can use to determine whether they have a focus on you.

1. Do you have a title?

Out of nowhere they have a title for you that they use around others. You have become ‘My man,’ ‘My woman,’ ‘My boo,’ ‘My bae.’ And remember; it’s not enough for them to have a name for you when you’re all alone. Do they use that same name when they’re around people they care about? It’s okay to be their ‘Boo’ when you’re alone. But it’s another thing all together when they call you ‘Boo’ in front of their best friends and family members. Have you gotten a title yet?

2. Does your partner make an effort to understand you?

Understanding comes by study. You want to be in a relationship with someone who cares enough about you to study you. The person that has a focus on you actually takes the time to contemplate everything about you. They really think about what’s important to you and then use that information to engage with you. Does your SO try to exist with you in an understanding way?

3. Does your SO find ways to make you happy?

You’ll start to experience little surprises. She got you something in your favorite color or made plans and tried to surprise you. He recalls something you said in conversation and asks you more about it. These little surprises don’t have to cost a thing – a thoughtful gesture, a handwritten note or cozy night for just the two of you. Is your SO trying to see that smile on your face?

It really is the ‘little things’ that help relationships endure. Now that you have read and answered questions for 1/2 of this series, how would you rate your relationship thus far?

I would love to hear from you! Comment below or email me directly at hiddenruleshq@gmail.com

7 Self-Care Tips

You've probably been hearing a lot about self-care lately. It might seem like the next trendy buzzword, but it’s a concept that many of us could stand to practice more often. Self-care is the practice of deliberately taking care of our mind, body and spirit with activities, mindset shifts and rituals that nourish us from the inside out.  

We seem to believe that taking care of others means they will also take care of us. Or, that helping more people means more people showing up to help us. I still have moments where I put so many things on the front burner of my life that the only place for me is the back burner. It doesn’t take long to burn out and have nothing left for yourself.

Now is the perfect time to reexamine your self-care routine. Below are my top 7 self-care practices.

1. Embrace the fact that self-care is not selfish. This is first important step in practicing self-care. Taking care of yourself is an absolute necessity because you can’t serve from any empty vessel. We all need regularly scheduled “me time,” so carve out the time and stick with it. If you think, I’ll take care of myself once I get everything else done…think back on a time when you actually got everything else done. It’s been a while, right? So, you might as well take time out for yourself now.

2. Get comfortable loving yourself as you are.  Strengths and flaws! Remind yourself daily of what’s great about you, and limit your focus on what’s not so good. Go out of your way to limit comparing yourself to others. They came into the world on a different mission than yours. Figure out what you have, what you want and start living a life that is aligned with that. There’s nothing wrong with changing, but learn to enjoy who you are before you make any changes.

3. Seek joy. What brings you joy? Joy is different than happiness because happiness is based on what’s happening around you in the given moment. Joy is deeper. Once you’ve found your joy, pursue it!

4. Speak your truth. When you speak your truth - your passions, values, feelings and aspirations - you give others the chance to know the real you. And once you show the world the real you, like-hearted people will show up to be part of your circle. Speaking your truth helps build your community of people you can share with and learn from along your self-care journey.

5. Create calming rituals. Rituals are things you do over and over in the same way, often around the same time of day. Creating a calming ritual can signal to your brain and body that all is well – there are blue skies after the storms. Some rituals include deep breathing exercises or visualization. My personal favorite is lighting a candle and reading while the candle slowly burns and fills the room with its sweet scent. Find what calms you and create a ritual around it - practice doesn’t always make perfect but it always makes for improvement.

6. Develop your spiritual practice. Many of us want to be more spiritual but don’t know where to begin. We equate spirituality with sitting in silence or chanting mantras. But the truth is, developing your spiritual practice can be as simple as listening to music that calms you, spending time alone, moving your body, saying a prayer or being out in nature. Spending time on your spiritual practice can help you feel grounded to move through your day putting your needs first.

7. Show yourself some grace. We are all a work in progress; be gentle with yourself because you’re still learning. Show yourself some grace for things you may have done that you’re not proud of and move forward making better decisions.

Self-care is more than spa days and “retail therapy,” it’s a series of activities and best practices that nurture yourself from the inside out. Seeking joy, speaking your truth and showing yourself some grace are all big parts of taking care of yourself. Self-care doesn’t cost us anything and the benefits are priceless.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. And the God of peace shall be with you. (Philippians 4:6-9)”

Will This Last? Part 3 of 6

If you haven’t read parts 1 and 2 of this 6-part Will This Last series, take a moment to read them here –

Part 1 – Goals and ambitions

Part 2 – Getting along with others

Here in part 3, we dive a little deeper into two topics at the core of most relationship issues – time and money. It’s difficult to see your significant other as ‘significant’ when the lights just got cut off, the car got repossessed, the bank just sent another pink slip and you haven’t had any quality time for months. That might sound extreme but the reality is, many of my counseling sessions are spent working through a variety of issues that all link back to time and money.  

If you’re facing issues with time and money in your relationships, consider the following questions when you ask, “Will this last?”

1. Does your significant other believe, “What’s yours is mine?”

How you handle money – how it’s divided, who pays for what, etc. – largely depends on how long you’ve been together. However, there are some common things to consider when it comes to your relationship finances. First, does your significant other believe, “What’s yours is mine,” while also believing, “What’s mine is mine?”

Who picks up the tab and how do you feel about that? What are his spending habits? How does she view saving money? Does he have any limiting beliefs on his ability to make money? Dose she frivolously spend your money but hoard hers?  

2. How does your partner spend most of his or her time? Regardless of their work schedule, how does your partner spend the majority of his or her time? Are you the one working hard and making moves while your partner is plopped in from of the TV for hours at a time? If you’re always coming in from getting something done and they’re waiting for you to get there so you can do something for them, that’s guaranteed to get on your already busy nerves.

If he has dreams for the future but isn’t putting in the work in the present, things might not last. If she monopolizes all of your time because she’s not doing much with her own, things might not last very long.

3. How well does your partner balance your quality time?

Let’s agree that there will never be enough time in the day to check off every item on your to-do list. However, does your partner act as if their productivity is better with you in the picture? How well does he or she balance work and quality time with you? If quality time is your love language, your relationship might not last if it’s at a premium.

The balance comes in making time for each other and having space for you both to enjoy some “me time” (alone time). Time apart is important to stay connected with your goals and dreams. Just because “you” became an “us,” doesn’t mean all of your time has to be spent together.  

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Money and time should be considered treasures in any relationship. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Luke 12:34).” Issues with time and money often come down to your position on the priorities list. Do you want to be with someone who treats you as an option and not the priority?

Will This Last? Part 2 of 6

If you haven’t read part 1 of this 6-part Will This Last series, take a moment to read it here. In part 1, we explored questions about your partner’s goals and ambitions. When you and your partner have similar goals and ambitions from the start, you’re more likely to remain strong and committed when that initial “lust phase” wears off. That’s because your relationship is built on a bond that’s deeper than physical attraction and butterflies.

In part 2, we will review a series of questions about your partner’s interactions with others, specifically how he or she gets along with others. Your partner’s ability to get along with others is a clear indication of how they’ll get along with you long-term. If he struggles with his family relationships, he’ll likely have a hard time getting along with yours. If she is rude to your friends, how do you plan to blend your lives for social gatherings and fun?

So, just like in part 1, let’s explore questions to help you assess how well your partner gets along with others. This section is short and sweet with only 3 questions to consider.

1. Does your partner get along with members of his or her own family?

Have you ever dated that one member of the family that didn’t seem to get along well with anyone else in the family? Of course, the family could be “off,” but what if the real problem was your significant other? One of my former clients had been in a committed relationship for several years with a man who had a difficult time controlling his temper. Then came his family reunion.

There was no real blowup at the family reunion, but she did notice that other family members seemed to enjoy each other’s company while keeping their distance from him. Also, when he wasn’t around her, she got along well with his family members and everyone seemed to feel more at ease. It put her in a tough position because he got along great when it was just the two of them, but with this family, there was a clear challenge. She asked whether I thought the two of them would last. Here’s the thing, if your partner doesn’t get along well with biological family members, that might be a major indicator of their ability to get along with you for the long haul.

2. Does he or she get along with your friends and family?

In the movie Hitch, “Date Doctor,” Will Smith gave the best advice about getting along with your partner’s friends. He said, “This first date is about how you get along with her friends, not about how you get along with her.” Your friends are people you’ve known for years and you trust them. However, they have no skin in the game when it comes to your dating life because they’re not as emotionally attached to your partner as you are. That means you can get fairly unbiased feedback from your friends and you can watch the interactions of your partner and your friends.

Does your partner try to actively participate in conversations with your family and friends? Does she ask you things about your friends in order to get to know them better? Does he try to find things in common with your family members? Can your partner be him or herself around your friends and family?

3. How well does he or she get along with people…in general?

I’m safely assuming you’re dating someone friendly but you may be surprised to see, the more time you spend together, how they really treat people in general. I’m not referring to whether she’s an introvert or whether he’s the life of the party but more about common decency. Things like saying, “please,” and, “thank you” to wait staff, being kind to those in the service industry, holding doors for strangers whenever possible and not speaking ill of people for fun. This is about common decency and showing respect to people outside their immediate circle...and to you, long-term.  

If you are able to honestly answer, ‘Yes’ or affirm all of these, then congratulations, you may be in a relationship that will stand the test of time. Don’t worry if your answer to some of these questions was, “No,” or, “I don’t know…” but do keep these questions in mind as you move forward in your relationship. Uncertainty isn’t a reason to quit now but it is a great reason to pause and review where you are right now. In the next article, we’ll discuss time and money.

Will This Last? Part 1 of 6

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Three of the most common questions I’ve been asked over more than a decade of relationship coaching are,

  1. “How do I know if this person is really my soul mate?”
  2. “Are we meant for each other?”
  3. “Will this relationship last?”

That last question keeps people awake at night. I totally understand their fear because I had similar doubts before I got married, even knowing all that I know about how to build and maintain a healthy relationship. I actually asked my mom, “How do I know I’m really in love?” She gave me an answer that I’ll never forget, but that didn’t help me one bit. She said, “You’ll just know.”

All 3 of these questions and the feelings they stir up are warranted. Choosing a life partner is a huge decision you only want to make once. It’s scary because the beginning of a relationship is always perfect because you both are on your best behavior. Soon you stop seeing it as being each other’s best behavior and you start thinking it’s your real behavior because your emotions are clouding your judgment. Over time you realize that those best behaviors have faded and the real person is standing right in front of you.

As Dr. Phil says, “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior,” so if you’re seeing some behaviors you don’t like, take note. You can find a quick relationship quiz online to tell you whether you two are meant to last but those quizzes don’t factor in the behaviors that are unique to your relationship. To help you answer that question and feel settled in your final answer, I’ve developed that 1 question into these 6 key areas -

1.     Goals and Ambitions

2.     Getting Along with Others

3.     Time and Money

4.     A Focus on You

5.     Trust

6.     Fun and Work

When you and your partner have similar goals and ambitions from the start, you’re more likely to remain strong and committed when that initial “lust phase” wears off. That’s because your relationship is built on a bond that’s deeper than physical attraction and butterflies. If you’re not sure whether you have similar goals and ambitions, consider these questions -

1. Do you have similar life goals and ambitions? Are you going in the same direction? Do you both want children and if so, are you open to adoption or foster care? What are your career goals and aspirations? Compromise is required in a relationship; however, if you have to give up all your goals and ambitions to help with someone else’s goals and ambitions, in the future you may feel you paid too great a price. Compromise is important but compromise isn’t giving up everything you want to help your partner get everything he or she wants.

2. Are they interested in you and the things you care about? When you discuss what you care about do they try to get more information so they know what you’re trying to do? Even better, do they spend time trying to understand how they can be of support? Or do you get comments that discredit and minimize the things you care about?

3. How similar are your value systems? Values will affect everything from how you train your first puppy together to how you raise your children and conduct yourselves throughout the ups and downs. Do you have the same fundamental spiritual practices? What is his/her moral code? How does he/she treat others in the service industry?

If you are able to honestly answer, ‘Yes’ or affirm all of these, then congratulations, you may be in a relationship that will stand the test of time. Don’t worry if your answer to some of these questions was, “No,” or, “I don’t know…” but do keep these questions in mind as you move forward in your relationship. Uncertainty isn’t a reason to quit now but it is a great reason to pause and review where you are right now. In the next article, we’ll discuss getting along with others.

5 Signs You Might Be Getting Played

During a very recent conversation, I had a young woman tell me that on a first date, the guy told her, “I can see myself married to you.” Mind you…this was a first date! I asked her what she thought of the comment and it was obvious that she was already drinking the Kool-Aid. On a first date, he has already started to consider marriage. Hopefully if you’re reading this, you understand that this is just a game that was being played. One of my favorite quotes, from a woman that I hold in great esteem is,

“Guys play at love in order to get sex; And girls play at sex in order to get love.”

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Believe it or not, this can be very effective provided both sides understand the point - that it takes time to truly get to know someone. We should not always take what someone says at face value, dating prospects included. I asked the young lady a few questions about her date. Her own answers made it plain to her that the young man was willing to say anything to get what he wanted. The same questions that I asked this woman are questions you can ask yourself.

  1. What does he know about you that would make him decide that he wants to spend the rest of his life with you?

  2. What does he think is your favorite color?

  3. What is it about your current life that he wants to be a part of?

  4. What does he think about your behavior when you’re in a bad mood? (Remember, he’s only seen you when you’re “on”).

  5. How does he feel about the future you’ve imagined for yourself?


It didn’t take her long to admit that she was probably being played. She wasn’t getting played because she was dumb or stupid or even inexperienced. She was getting played because she really, really, really wanted what he said to be true. He knew what she wanted to hear and he fed it to her.

  1. You Might Be Getting Played If …
    They’re saying things like “I can see myself married to you.”
     
  2. You Might Be Getting Played If…
    Things started off really strong and then cooled off really fast.
     
  3. You Might Be Getting Played If…
    He/she just got out of a committed relationship last Friday and they want to start a committed relationship with you on Wednesday.
     
  4. You Might Be Getting Played If…
    There is always time for sex, but little time for meeting their friends or family.
     
  5. And the biggest one…You Might Be Getting Played If…
    Things are moving really fast. You’ve only been out to coffee and they want to be exclusive now!

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Has navigating the single life been challenging? Contact me for a free consult to help sort through emotions and difficulties that you are facing.

Actions That Show You've Got A Keeper

“Actions speak louder than words.”

When you are getting to know someone, give yourself time to observe actions. If the actions line up with the words, then the words can be believed. Here are 8 behaviors to look for early on in a relationship. If the person that you've seen these signs consistently in someone who you are dating, he or she might be a keeper!

  1. You are made a priority over time. He/she has time for you in his/her life and routinely puts other things aside to spend time with you.

  2. Sex is not always on the agenda. Sometimes they just want to be around you. You really are that special.

  3. You have a title. “This is my woman.” This is my boyfriend.”

  4. They have introduced you to the significant people in their life such as parents, children and friends.

  5. They want to be seen out with you. They want others to see the connection.

  6. They open up over time and give you real information about themselves. What was their childhood like? What do they think about their job? What are their interests?

  7. They put forth effort to build you up in your own eyes and the eyes of others.

  8. They’re bummed when you change plans and they can’t see you. Watch out for jealous or possessive behaviors on this one!

If it feels a little too fast, it probably is. That’s no reason to run, but it’s a great reason to slow it down. Remember, when you pay a lot of attention to what’s being said and watch actions just as closely - you can prevent heartbreak. Remember… actions speak louder than words.

If you are in need of guidance to navigate the relationships in your life, from work relationship to your home life - contact Art

Breakups: A Holiday Survival Kit

The holidays bring on a pile of emotions. From sensory overload and buying gifts to cooking and reconnecting with old friends, there’s laughter and “meeting the parents,” but for so many people, the holidays can be be sad and lonely. This is especially true for those working through the pain of a recent breakup. Happy couples are everywhere! Unless you live off-the-grid, you can’t escape them. Do you keep your normal pre-relationship holiday routine or do you hide out and take care of yourself?

Post-Breakup Holiday Ideas

  1. Volunteer - Give back to the less fortunate and surround yourself with people who appreciate your help. It is easy to get lost in our problems. Sometimes a reality check that others have problems too can help us re-focus our own energy. Staying busy is one of the best ways to get your mind off your sorrows, even if it’s only for a few hours. Volunteering is something we should do year-round regardless of the feel-good benefits we gain, but it’s perfect timing when your heart is aching.
     
  2. Prioritize self-care - Relationships take compromise and sometimes that means skimping on self-care routines. Uninterrupted bubble baths, sleeping in late (alone, horizontally across the bed!), spending money on yourself, spa days, the works! The good thing about self-care is that it can be free. You can do any of the things listed above or simply start the day with an affirmation, do a series of stretches before lunch or write in your journal. Use positive self-talk and remind yourself that you’re worthy of love and that this lost love isn’t your last chance.
     
  3. Ask for support and lean in to your family and friends - This means keeping your plans even though you just want to hide under the covers and cry. It can be therapeutic to see your family and be distracted by their crazy stories, the noise, and the food for a while. It’s a good in-your-face reminder that there is a house full of people who love you. 
     
  4. Clean house - Staying home to wallow among all his stuff isn’t going to help you move past the heartache. Sitting and looking at pictures of her won’t make the days pass by any faster. A clean sweep is necessary and most times it’s going to hurt. Enlist a friend or family member to help you clean out old memories and prepare for a new year, finishing out the rest of this year in better spirits. You might do this close to new year’s eve as a way of getting “out with the old and in with the new.”
     
  5. Don’t ditch your mutual friends - This can be tricky depending on who was friends with whom first, but you can still spend time with mutual friends without your S.O. If you know that your ex will be in attendance, skip those parties! Your true friends, even if they were mutual, can be a support for you and welcome you, especially in your time of need. But be aware that you may get asked a lot about “what happened” and anyone going through heartbreak knows it’s never just one thing. Have a response prepared that is positive but gets the point across that it’s not a topic you want to discuss at length. Do your best to present both of you in the best light and if you don’t want to keep having the same conversations over and over. Reach out to people ahead of time to let them know.

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No break-up is ever fun, though holiday break-ups can suck the life out of the season. Try to be present and feel all the feelings you need to feel so they don't come rushing back next year. Remember that people love and care about you, so share some holiday cheer!

Need to speak with a professional about your sorting your feelings or holiday plans? Call At for a FREE 20-minute consult.

5 Pillars of Relationship Health

Every relationship has its ups and downs. If you've read "Choosing Your Life Partner: 5 Questions To Ask Yourself," then you know that before entering a relationship, there are a few areas to be examined. But why are these areas of life so important? How can they make or break a long-term relationship?

  1. Purpose: Not sure what you and your partner's shared purpose is? Start by making a list of things you want to accomplish as a couple for the greater good. Some examples are charities to support, church missions, community service, art or business projects, etc. Some couples also have success creating a shared bucket list and benchmarks for "relationship success." But don't forget to save time for each of you to experience self-discovery along the way!
     
  2. Communication: This is essential to a strong life partnership. Problems spiral out of control, emotions get misconstrued and people grow apart when folks don’t feel heard, valued, and respected in conversation. When in doubt, just (actively) listen! 
     
  3. Personal Development: Working on personal development is a sign that your potential life partner isn’t seeking the easy way out of life. He or she is likely to be more open-minded, communicative and take responsibly for faults. People who challenge their own way of thinking tend to challenge their partners as well. Challenge leads to growth. Refer to #1 to make sure you two grow together and not apart.
     
  4. Respect: This one is self-explanatory, but I see a lot of disrespect between couples in my office. Sometimes, we take out all of our frustrations with those closest to us - pushing them away over time. Something as simple as respect and gratitude can prevent emotional detachment and all of the problems that come along with that "falling out of love" feeling. 
     
  5. Intimacy: In marriage, two people are in it for the long haul. Make time for each other. Be a non-judging soundboard for your life partner. Be spontaneous and not just in the bedroom. Leave thoughtful notes for each other or verbalize how much you adore your partner - whatever works for them and usually they will return the favor.

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Every relationship is different. Think about the status of each of these pillars in your relationship. How do they stack up to your expectations or goals? Discuss this with your partner or take action to initiate. If you need help in getting the conversation started, schedule a call with Art for advice.

Choosing Your Life Partner: 5 Questions To Ask Yourself

Choosing a life partner is a daunting task. This is not an area of life that you want to make a mistake. However, with divorce rates hovering over 50%, it seems that people are rushing into matrimony or not being honest with themselves or their partners. I meet couples all the time who are excited to get married because they’re honestly in love, this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make from the start. Choosing your life partner should not be based on love alone. Love is not enough to maintain a successful relationship and often, it’s the result of a strong bond, not the glue that holds it together.

Before you decide on a life partner, answer these 5 questions:

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QUESTION #1: Do we share a common life purpose?
Marriage is forever and forever is a very long time. What do you plan to do with your partner to fill the time? And I don’t just mean sharing meals, going to the movies or hitting the gym together. What is your common life purpose outside the day-to-day chores, child-rearing and routine life activities? Having a common purpose is a way of reinventing your relationship in many ways over the years. Relying on each other to fulfill this common purpose can deepen your commitment and connection to each other.

QUESTION #2: Do I feel emotionally safe?
Emotional safety means knowing you can openly communicate your thoughts, feelings and ideas with your partner without being “punished” for doing so. I cannot stress enough how important this is; so often couples are in my office trying to work through this very issue. Your level of communication is a reflection of the quality of your relationship. Can you effectively communicate with each other? Have you mastered the art of fighting fair? Do you feel safe sharing exactly how you feel for better or worse? [Related: 6 Phrases You Should Never Say To Someone You Care About]

QUESTION #3: Is he/she focused on personal development?
Read this one closely because it’s a good segue into the final question. Is your potential partner focused on character refinement and personal development? Examples of this personal development include reading, journaling, attending inspirational conferences, meeting with a life coach or being part of mastermind groups. Do they work on personal growth on a regular basis? Are they serious about improving themselves?

QUESTION #4: How does he/she treat other people?
Before you answer this, think about the following: How do they treat people whom they do not have to be nice to, such as waiters, flight attendants and taxi drivers? What about how they treat their own family? Are they gracious, friendly and respectful or rude, arrogant and dismissive? Is this potential life partner a gossip or can he or she be trusted to keep secrets? 

QUESTION #5: Is there anything I'm hoping to change about this person after we're married?Too many people make the mistake of marrying someone with the intention of trying to "fix" them after they get married.

I often tell pre-marital clients, "You can probably expect someone to change after marriage...for the worse!"  If you cannot fully accept this person the way they are now, then you are not ready to marry them.

Once the shine of dating starts to dull and you get married, your partner will settle more into his or her ways. Can you live with that? Are his quirks deal breakers for you? Are her red flags something you can move past for a happy life? [Related: Will He Or She Change After We Get Married?]

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Lead with your head and let your heart follow. Like I always say, “The best time to get out of a bad marriage is before you get in one,” and doing your homework is necessary! If you need help sorting through your emotions or even your partner’s perspective, contact me for a free 20-minute consult.