Relationship counseling

Resolutions/Goals are also for those whose relationships are in trouble- if you are flying solo (or just feel like you are) here are some of my favorites for the New Year, courtesy of Michelle Weiner Davis.

  1. Envision positive outcomes – There is no way that you can begin to accomplish positive change your marriage if you don’t believe it is possible. Start by imagining what your life will be like when your marriage truly turns a corner. The more you can picture every detail, the easier it will be to eventually step into this picture at some later date.
  1. Act as if you expect miracles to occur – Once you can imagine positive outcomes, reflect on how you will be behaving differently when they happen. Then start doing that right now!
  1. Be kind, even if you think your spouse doesn’t deserve it – You may be angry, disappointed, or even devastated by your spouse’s choices and actions. However, rather than react to unsettling behavior, assume your spouse is lost and confused. Be patient, kind and steady and your efforts will pay off.
  1. Focus on small, positive changes – Don’t expect big changes overnight or you will be disappointed and it will make it hard to stay on track. Imagine the smallest change possible that would signal a shift in how things have been going. Then focus on that.
  1. Promise yourself this will be a great year, no matter what – You cannot control what your spouse does, but you can control what you decide to do with yourself and your children, if you have them. Take a deep breath and envision how you are going to make this a good year regardless of your spouse’s choices.
  1. If you get off track, get back on quickly without self-blame – What separates the winners from the losers is not whether or how many times you get off track, it’s how rapidly you get back on track. If you’ve veered from the plan, hop right back on track without self-recrimination.

What Fear Factor? Take It On, Stare It Down, Overcome Objections

Whether it’s New Year’s resolutions, a milestone birthday bucket list or a lifetime manifest of places to visit and food to eat, more than half of us create a catalog of events, goals and objectives. Achieving these goals is a road often blocked by one major factor: fear. Fear of imperfect results, unattainable goals, possible failure despite numerous attempts, distractions, expectations of others, big steps taken too soon and focusing on only the goal while ignoring the journey add up to an ambitious agenda too often shelved in favor of a safe existence, wondering about what could have, should have and would have been possible.

Money’s a factor in life’s bucket list; here’s how to face fiscal fears and move forward:

Take on the fear, don’t let it take over you

People afraid of their money will leave bank statements unopened, creditor calls unanswered and fail to track important money markers such as overdrafts, credit score, credit utilization ratio (the amount of credit in use each month versus the total amount available) and credit history. They don’t want to know where they stand; they’re afraid of how bad things might be if they peek at the numbers. Keeping tabs on your financial health is as important as the annual visits to the doctor and dentist; monitoring your fiscal baseline now means fewer problems in the future, and the ability to act fast if fraud appears on a financial statement.

Create a concrete plan for life

Money does not create order in your life. You create order in your life, with money as the constructive framework. Start  saving early and put money away for what’s needed and wanted. Set up checking and savings accounts, an emergency fund, retirement savings at work (and take it with you via transfer to any new job), and specialized accounts for living expenses, entertainment and large purchases, including a home, car and vacations. A budget is a necessity, whether on paper, spreadsheet or budget software. Track what comes in and how it’s spent, and you’ll never wonder why you’re broke halfway through the month, or find yourself saying “I can’t go, I’ve got no money” when friends suggest dinner out.

Write down any objections and answer them

Think about previous money issues that stopped you from fulfilling your goals. Write out a list of why things didn’t go as planned. Then respond in writing to each scenario; how you intend to fix the situation before you say the words “I’m afraid” or “I can’t.” Now there’s a ready response next time the fear of possible financial failure looms and emotions derail your dreams. Your finances, now on firm ground, support your life, your bucket list or that once-in-a-lifetime travel adventure.

Some people like their in-laws. Some of us win the lottery, and get on with our significant other’s family just as well (if not better) than we get along with our own. For everyone else, though, getting along with the in-laws can be tough. In some cases it can be downright Herculean. If you’re not one of the blessed few who have common ground with your in-laws, then you should keep this list of tips in mind. Especially around the holidays.

5 Tips For Dealing With The In-Laws

Tip #1: Set Boundaries

This can be awkward, but sometimes the best thing to do is to sit down with your in-laws, and talk about your boundaries for you, your significant other, and any children you have. Be reasonable, and keep things light, but make sure you communicate clearly what you expect, and what you need from your in-laws. This might lead to some head-butting, especially if you have grandparents who want to spoil your little ones, but it’s also the best way to get results. Remember, you’re all adults here, and you should be able to solve things just by talking them out among yourselves.

Ideally, anyway.

Tip #2: Take Time For Yourself

If you get along well with your in-laws, then being with them might feel refreshing. Just like spending time with good friends. However, if you have to stay on your guard all the time, that can quickly sap your strength. Remember to take a break, and to catch your breath. When you feel your reserves getting low, it might be time to take a nap, go run some errands, or get lunch with some friends. Whatever you do, make sure it will relax you. The key to making sure you can deal with your in-laws is to never let the pressure get higher than you can take. That’s how fights start.

Tip #3: Prepare

An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure, or so the old saying goes. When it comes to dealing with your in-laws, this is astonishingly true.

You know them. You know what causes arguments, and you know what smooths things over. So, before you spend any time with them, do some preparation. Maybe that means planning a family meal so you can all spend the evening together to start off the get-together on a high note. Maybe it means taking a day or so for yourself so you’ll be ready to handle the pressure of spending time with this part of your family. Think of it like stretching before a workout; you’re less likely to hurt yourself if you go in prepared for what’s coming.

Tip #4: Make Sure You And Your Spouse Are On The Same Page

Coping with your in-laws can be hard. Coping with them alone can be an impossible task. So make sure you sit down with your significant other, and talk about what you need from them. Don’t make it about you versus your in-laws, because that can lead to hurt feelings all around. Instead, make sure your spouse knows what you need from them, and that you both agree on how to handle certain situations. You need to be a collaborative unit, instead of working separately.

Tip #5: Don’t Take Them Personally

Your in-laws are just people. Sometimes their comments, habits, or way of being might be abrasive, or exhausting, but you need to ask when it’s being directed at you, personally, and when it’s just how they are. Because a lot of the time, it may have nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them. And if it’s their problem, you shouldn’t stress yourself by making it your problem.


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