Do Not Say This (to a friend who has been cheated on)

So you just found out that your bestie’s husband has been cheating on her. She is devastated, hurt, confused, angry, and feels like she is the only one in the world who this has happened to. Of all of her friends, she chose you to confide in, so watch your words very carefully. This is a very vulnerable time in her life and she really needs a friend to listen. Did you catch that? Yes, to listen.

Most of the time, we love our best friend and step right into the fix it mode with all sorts of chatter. We may say things that really hurt, all the while thinking we are helping the situation. Here are a couple of things not to say. “Did you see it coming?”  Sometimes we hear the old cliche “a wife always knows”.  Perhaps I am as dumb as a box of rocks, but I did not know when my husband was cheating on me. We had just renewed our vows after 25 years of marriage and our sex life was still active and fulfilling. Our children were thriving in middle school, high school and college. We were paying all of our bills on time and were getting along well. So you accidentally say this very insensitive thing to your friend and now she is beginning to lose what little self-esteem she may be hanging onto. Her thoughts are “Why didn’t I see this coming if my friend assumed I knew on some level? Did my friend know and not tell me?” There went that last shred of dignity she may have had.

Another classic no-no is to say  “Kick him to the curb! He doesn’t deserve you.” Although this is meant to show your friend solidarity, she may still genuinely love her spouse. She may have every intention of getting to the bottom of the difficulty and moving through it. If she moves gracefully through the infidelity, she may always question if your well-meaning comment was meant to show support or if when you see your friend with her husband you will always be thinking about what a schmuck he was.

A better thing to say to a friend who just found out that his wife had been cheating or her husband had been cheating would be “Oh, I am so sorry. Do you want to talk about it?” Then you simply shut up and listen. Do not interject, and do not offer advice at first. The shock of finding out what this contemptible person did will take some time to sink in.

Your friend needs to vent and work through it in her own way. Remember that God gave you two ears but only one mouth! If she does ask for advice, please don’t offer it unless you too have gone through the pain, humiliation, doubt and trauma of an affair. The best thing you as a friend can say is “Do you have a pastor (or rabbi or priest) that you can talk to?”

If your friend is still pushing you for advice, offer it only by asking questions. When you ask a question, you are directing your friend to come up with her own conclusions. Questions that would be ok to ask are “Do you still love him?” or “Do you think you could find a place of forgiveness if he wants to work through this?” Allow your friend to process and vent. Just be a friend and listen.You won’t regret being there for her.

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Shhhh, just listen

Continue reading Do Not Say This (to a friend who has been cheated on)

Sleeping With Your Spouse

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Do you remember the first time you slept in the same bed as the woman or man you married? Did you cuddle or stay up all night talking? Did you have crazy, hot sex or did you spoon each other and think romantic thoughts?

My husband and I slept together for years. Cuddle time, spooning, pillow talk and great sex were all part of marital bliss. Then the kids started coming. The eternal earth mother that I am convinced my husband that the family bed was the best way for baby’s night time feedings and parent-child bonding. I never regret that decision, as our lovely, grown children are smart, independent and healthy. The time that they were needy and dependent was fleeting in the grand scheme of things. However, at one point I realized my husbands need to get a good night sleep was not happening with all of us crowded into his space.  In order for him to be functional at work,  I started going into the kid’s room for one more story or one more feeding for the baby and just ended up sleeping the night there.

Years later when everyone was weaned and sleeping through the night, I crept back into my own room with my husband. He announced that he had gotten used to sleeping alone and I was relegated to the downstairs futon for anything other than the conjugal visits. In all honesty, I can sleep standing up, lying down, on a couch, in a chair, when a storm is knocking the house down or basically anywhere. I did not understand his sleep issues but saw what a grump he was when not well rested. No need to watch him take out his crappy nights sleep on the rest of us.

As time progressed I learned to stop missing the intimacy of sleeping next to a warm, delicious, loving body. I was busy taking care of the kids, the house and working part time. When I went into the bedroom one night and caught my husband throwing his cell phone under the sheets, I began to rethink our entire relationship. Yes, he was cheating on me and texting another woman before bed time. No, it was not entirely because we did not cuddle at night, but it did not help matters that we had become roommates with benefits instead of partners.

Sleeping with your spouse is an integral part of marriage. I get that one of you likes a firm mattress while the other likes it soft. He has to get up early for work while she gets to sleep in. She has to fall asleep to music while he needs it quiet. She falls asleep during a storm while he hears the neighbor’s dog barking 4 houses down. She loves the sheets tucked while he has to have one toe dangling out of the side of the bed. He tosses and turns while she sleeps like a rock. Sound familiar?

No matter what issues you think you have about sleeping in the same bed as your mate, think again.  Sleeping in separate beds is a great way to kill a marriage. I doubt that my husband would be texting another woman if this woman would have been there, every night, to hear his banter or cuddle, or let him open up in a safe space. I often wonder what my children thought when they saw me bringing a change of clothing into the family room and setting up an alarm clock by the futon night after night. Was this the example of a happy marriage?

Sleep with your husband or wife!  That 5 minutes you talk before dozing off is special. That 2 minutes of spooning before rolling over is precious. That argument you had at dinner softens as you melt into the warm sheets together. I know when I can’t get to sleep, nothing calms me down or relaxes me better than a “quickie”.  Get the special bed that has adjustments for soft and hard firmness.  Throw out the scratchy sheets. Get the sleep mask if he wakes you with the morning light as he is going to work.  Learn to sleep to her music playing and for goodness sake, keep the TV out of the bedroom. Keep your bedroom as a sacred, safe space where there are no distractions. Allow your alone time to be a time of relaxation, peace , joy and……………

If you don’t believe me, check out other blogs. Here are a couple that I like www.lifezette.com/momzette/why-sleeping-in-separate-beds-will-kill-your-marriage/, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-fitness/201308/the-importance-sharing-bed-your-lover, and http://romanticreminders.com/blog/uncategorized/happiest-couples-go-bed-time/1461

New Year Self Care

 

In the new year, most of us set some sort of specific goal or resolution like “lose 10 pounds” or “go to the gym three times a week”. Half the time we never keep the resolution. All of the countless self-help, leadership, and personal development books seem to say to set specific goals and what steps you will take to achieve them. Despite my best intentions, often I still fall short. So, this year my resolution will be general, not specific. It will be meaningful but perhaps not as tangible as the number on a scale or the bill from the gym. My goal will be to fill myself up before I can serve others. I love the saying that you cannot serve anyone with an empty cup.

Now, what my self-care may look like can be transient and change from day to day. Today it includes putting down my phone and reading an entire book while relaxing on the couch. “No, I am sorry I won’t walk the dog right now, honey. I am in the middle of a good part of this novel”. Tomorrow it may be “Yes, darling. I’m going to do the laundry right after my run.” Selfish? No. Self-care? Yes.

Remember that self-care in a relationship is paramount. You must be filled with your own good health, happy thoughts, and mental clarity before you can, in fact, be of any value in a relationship. When we first got married, I assumed that I would be so busy taking care of Jimmy and he would be so busy taking care of me that it would all work out. Now, after 30 years of being with a man who has so many more complexities than I ever imagined, I realize that I need to take care of me first, with no guilt. If I have to put aside an errand that he wants me to do because it conflicts with my self-care, I assure him that it is simply not on the agenda for the day. I offer to delegate it out to someone else, do it another time, or simply say “I just can’t fit it in”. He understands and likewise, I don’t expect him to immediately jump to a task I would like him to do around the house.

Enjoy your day, your week and your new year with the goal of happiness and not a number on a scale. Go for peace in the home and not a number, chart or measurement you may fall short of. Try self-care followed by serving and you will have a new appreciation for the “serving” portion of the relationship.1015162352a_burst02