About a month ago my husband and I got “into it” at our daughter’s basketball game. Don’t worry, no fists flying, or particularly angry barbs. Just a little marital shadow boxing; a little jab here, a little jab there. More sexy teasing than real fighting, in my opinion. One of our friends and team parents, Matt Smith (name not changed to protect the innocent), made a comment.
His comment jolted us out of our fighting foreplay. Of course I had to inquire further.
“Last time I was with you, it didn’t seem you liked each other very much.”
My husband Ken’s response to Matt’s response was very male and predictable: assume an glazed over gaze. Whether Ken cared or not, you would not be able to tell. So inscrutable was his facial expression, you might want to poke him to see if he did not just lapse into a emotional-deficiency coma.
I, however, hotly defended our exchange.
“We don’t like each other all time!”
“What, are you worried about us? Fighting doesn’t break US up!”
“Maybe if more people fought…”
And then, as my husband retreated even further into the emotionless abyss, I decided to let it go. Instead, I write this blog, dedicated my good friend Matt, who had only good intentions when he wanted to whip out a magical remote control and “turn the channel” on our fight.
Matt, here are 6 reasons why I think Ken and I will probably fight, IN PUBLIC, forever.
FIGHT IN PUBLIC Reason #1: You learn how to dissent.
The goal of marriage, or long term romantic relationships is not harmony. In fact, pre-marital advice states it’s best to fight even before you tie the knot. Of course I hope you get along more than you don’t. But, having that one person who doesn’t take your crap, challenges your ideas and doesn’t buy into the public version of you, can actually hone your character and make you a better person.
FIGHT IN PUBLIC Reason #2: It’s kind of sexy.
I believe the sassy-Liz, while sometimes infuriating to my husband, is also kind of sexy. A tension-filled banter that can only lead to…well I’ll get to that later. When our buddy, Matt, encouraged us to pipe down, I was teasing Ken about the irony yelling at the referees, when he-himself is a referee. I actually said (yes, out loud in front of Matt and other adults in the stands) I would make a digital short about his referee-self throwing his spectator-self out of the game. Sure, Ken was irritated; he felt criticized. But when I grabbed his leg to soften my words, there was something intimate about the exchange. If you haven’t tried it, you should. It’s electric.
FIGHT IN PUBLIC Reason #3: A little skirmish might head off “the big one.”
It’s better to “have words” when you need to, than to wait until later and have one big displaced blow out. If you focus on maintaining the peace, you lose the opportunity to voice your needs. I’m not saying you should nag and nitpick your partner to death. Just be honest. While the emotional exchange might be uncomfortable, you are developing the skills to disagree and choose a variety of responses (ignore it, tease back, stand your ground, have it out). At any rate, Ken and I are prepared for the natural disasters we will face over a lifetime together.
FIGHT IN PUBLIC Reason #4: It helps you stop pretending.
You might actually stay together longer, if you admit you have some things to work out. Pretending to be happy doesn’t equate to harmony. Your Facebook feed reflects a perfect relationship, full of selfies, exotic vacations and grand gestures. Sometimes an on-the-spot-exchange, “what’s wrong with you, you look irritated,” and the response, “I want to be able to cheer for my daughter without you criticizing me,” solves the problem. I would rather spend a week in mud with my husband being real than to spend a lifetime being afraid to ask, “what’s wrong.”
FIGHT IN PUBLIC Reason #5: They need to see you work it out.
Have you ever been shocked by the “never-ever-fights couple” who suddenly gets a divorce? Aside from the other four points I’ve made that may have led to what looks like an abrupt breakup, let me ask you a question. Who do you see fight and get over it. Where is THAT prototype for relational success? When you fight in public, you are surround by crowds of happy, laughing couples, having a grand old time. You turn inward in shame, thinking, we aren’t normal. No one is fighting but us. Newsflash: Everyone fights. Anyone who is in a real relationship fights. It doesn’t mean you should break up. It means you should get your feelings out, listen and work it out, together. Do your children a favor and fight in front of them too, once in a while. They also need to know that fights are normal and can easily be worked out.
FIGHT IN PUBLIC Reason #6: You get to make up.
I hope every person reading this post has been able to enjoy make-up sex. There are actual studies about why it’s so good. For a second, you rip off the mask and if you are really good at this, you rip your partner’s off too. You stop making assumptions and taking your person for granted. You decide, in a sort of recommitment, that you are going to work it out and then, the passions burn a little brighter. There is kissing, a connection and the sex feeling all the more meaningful because that passion translates to the positive side. Arguing shows you care. Your person can rile you up because they have that connection with you. And making up can be soooo good.
FIGHT IN PUBLIC disclaimer.
Matt, I so appreciate your concern. I know it came from a loving place; you just wanted to make sure everything is okay, the subject of another blog post (should you confront couples in trouble). I don’t think you should fight all the time. No matter what, it’s the open forum and open mind in both public and private that will foster long term bliss. And I don’t believe that every perceived infraction is an invitation for public criticism. But, I do believe that speaking the truth and working it out is the ultimate marital cement, and aphrodisiac.
It was five years ago. After a day of pushing and rushing I stood triumphant on my “to-do” mountain. Yet in my flush of accomplishment I was tired, depleted and to be honest, in a bad mood. Why? I was hungry, I wanted a glass of wine and it wasn’t 5:00pm yet, I was mad at my girlfriends and I felt fat. In the midst of taking care of everyone else, I had become my own worst enemy. I’ve made some of these life mistakes at some point in the last ten years, how about you?
Life Mistake #1: You starve yourself.
There are two models to American starvation in 2013. Either you eat constantly while taking in very few vitamins and minerals needed by your body to thrive, or option number two- you stingily count your calories, a piece of toast and a cup of coffee, triumphant as you reach the end of the day with the least number of calories possible. Food is your fuel! Starvation and deprivation robs you of your future, in bone density, mental agility AND adds to the fatty congestion around your organs, even mental quickness. The number on the scale, the size 2, 4, 6 cannot be worth the present and future health you deserve.
Be smart: Figure out how many calories you actually need. Start eating things that are high in nutrition AND taste. Stop alternately eating and starving your feelings and figure out what your feelings are.
Life Mistake #2: You try to keep up with other people.
Social media provides a constant stream of false-front updates, well-angled selflies, exotic vacations, high-achieving children and partners, accolades and achievements. While such abundance could be cause for celebration, an underlying social darkness accompanies the light, creating what Belinda Goldsmith calls, “social envy.” You were doing fine and then you feel you need to lose weight, your family trips are lackluster, your partner just isn’t measuring up. You realize your need to clear your carpets, buy your husband a new wardrobe, get a haircut and grow your mane out, all at the same time.
Be smart: Decide what you actually want and need and reach for it. Celebrate others’ success; it will raise the likelihood you will experience the same success and gratitude in your future.
Life Mistake #3: You drink too much.
We ladies are the fastest growing binge drinkers in the western world, according to Wall Street Journal. The reasons to drink are many, to smooth out the edges of those transitions, from home to work, work to soccer practice. We celebrate with a glass of wine, birthdays, promotions, holidays. We use alcohol to calm our social anxiety. We have “just one” before dinner, at cocktail hour, even at lunch or brunch. The reality is we are one of the fastest growing groups of drinkers and it shows. And, it doesn’t work; the endless stream of empty calories leave you tired, depressed and wanting more.
Be smart: Determine what is really going on. Drink socially, but watch those rules (I only drink with others, I only drink two, I only drink after 5). Deal with your feelings first, drink second.
Life Mistake #4: You won’t let things go.
Your drug isn’t food or drink, it’s righteous indignation. You constantly decry the demise of humanity. Why don’t they RSVP? How could they say that? How dare they? You remember, in vivid detail the embarrassment, the betrayal, the disappointment and you are ready for more to come. The truth? It makes you feel superior to know that you are the best behaved. And, you are scared that you will be hurt again so you anticipate the next wrong.
Be smart: Focus on yourself, not others. While you don’t need to be in overly negative relationships, learn to draw and enforce personal boundaries. Look for the good in others. No one ever died of a broken heart. You’ll be fine.
Life Mistake #5: You lose your personal ambition.
You used to be an HR executive. When you were in your 20′s, you paid all your bills on your own. You traveled extensively. You lived in New York City. Today you are focused on how your lawn stacks up to your neighbor’s greens, the nutritional balance in tonight’s meal, your children’s reading log and your partner’s Christmas party. You can’t imagine working, you rarely read challenging material and you aren’t sure who the Prime Minister of Great Britain is, (not sure you care). Even if you have a challenging job, you don’t have time (read: won’t allow yourself) to picture your future life. In fact, you’ve made a switch from judging yourself for your accomplishments, to evaluating your success through the accomplishments of your partner or your children.
Be smart: Ask any 90 year old woman and they will tell you, your time being the chief cook and bottle washer is only a small part of your life. Make sure you are cultivating YOU and your vision of both today and the future. Challenge yourself. DOn’t worry- it will make you a better partner, mother, volunteer and colleague.
Life Mistake #6: You keep trying to do it all yourself.
I know, you don’t WANT to do it all yourself, it’s just the people in your life don’t do it right. You hurry around loading dishwashers, paying bills, packing overnight bags, getting your nails done, cleaning out the car, managing a girlfriend trip, a girl scout meeting a the same time and triumphantly achieving it all or ending the day in a sad little puddle of stress and remorse. Secretly, though, you feel the stress of the grind. You train people not to help you and consequently reach the end of each day feeling resentful and exhausted.
Be smart: Don’t do it alone. Figure out how to express your guidelines for success. Be grateful for the help. Learn to work as a team or you will burn out. Don’t expect things to be perfect. Perfect is boring. Imperfection is accessible. PLUS, it’s bad for your daughters and your sons.
Life Mistake #7: You avoid talking about political things, to the point where you aren’t involved.
You hate to argue. You vote with your eyes and your heart (he looks like a good leader, she seems like us) and your body temperature rises when those around you get passionate about their political beliefs. You talk a lot about kids and the latest book you read not so much because it’s interesting but because they are safe topics. You also feel a little out of it, you tend to watch your DVR’d shows during a newscast and you read the local paper to cut out photos of the kids you know. News is so depressing.
Be smart: Cultivate the world you live in and do everything you can to leave it in better shape than you left it. Teach your children and your friends how to gracefully approach conversations with intelligence and research. Know what is happening, your loving heart may be provoked to make a difference.
Life Mistake #8: You stop having sex.
You have renamed your sexual organs Sleeping Beauty. Your fat has further insulated the hibernation. The lines, the wear and tear, the mileage. Sex is another obligation and it’s been officially prioritized to the end of the list.
Be smart: Sex is a vital, essential part of life. Figure it out, whether you need to resolve some issues in your relationship or take yourself to the doctor. Expect more out of life, for goodness sake.
Life Mistake #9: You rip on yourself, especially in the mirror.
Every time you pass a mirror or try on something new, you lament the state of your physique. This year, the Ponds commercials highlight the extreme unkindness we show ourselves. The stomach has become a fat magnet. The thighs jiggle, the arm flags wave. As if that wasn’t bad enough, you only stare at the parts that aren’t measuring up and compare yourself to what you once were.
Be smart: Try not being the worst friend on the planet and treat yourself with respect. Stop expecting you will maintain your youth forever. Start valuing other parts of who you are. Be willing to work towards healthiness.
There is more, of course. Not choosing friends that challenge you, financial illiteracy, constantly seeing approval, living in the past or the future. I just chose the 10 I see most often, things I need to work on myself. Go back, take a closer look at the list. Open your heart and your mind for a second and make a decision that will transform 2014. Choose to treat yourself with the utmost respect. In the end, you will only have more for those around you.
Design a year you will never forget! Sign up for the webseries begins December 17th.
It was an amazing, connecting time this Fall as I took a little tour of the midwest and encouraged people to acknowledge and live out their purpose and vision. One thing in common: The Nead Inspiration audience has a great sense of humor and is ready to jump in and take risks on their vision! Enjoy the photos- it really was as fun as it looked!
Independent Community Bankers of Minnesota: The 1440 Principle
I took a tour of Minnesota in the fall (absolutely beautiful!) courtesy of the Independent Community Bankers of Minnesota, traveling to Hutchinson, Worthington, Alexandria and Mankato. The 1440 Principle took center stage as we explored the big question- what if we treated time like a currency? The audience was so welcoming, ready to learn and pretty good at teasing each other! I felt the power of my own vision as I stayed at the Arrow wood resort in Alexandria overlooking a golf course that was the location of a cross country race I ran over 20 years ago! How cool is that?
I’m a combination of fearless and stupid, a result of my now-diagnosed-and-medicated ADHD. In my ripe old age, my child-like obsessions have transformed into a deep-seated vision. From the outside, the extra energy and exuberance makes me look like a natural, productive and focused. My inner visionary is not genetic. Over time I have learned something important: I have to ignore my inner naysayer some of the time. It’s the difference between a overburdened hope chest and real stories of dreams and visions come to life.
Vision doesn’t have to be loaded with grandeur- my recent vision was particularly simple: I need to add a quick
outdoor walk. I’ve been working this plan for a while but it all came together last night, during almost sub-zero dog walk around 6:00 in the evening. I didn’t want to do it but somehow I finished, triumphant and in charge of my life. It wasn’t my character or my will-power. It was vision in action, in four parts.
They are crying for One Direction, huh mom?
Kendall and I watched the “This is Us” trailer together. At one point, she turned away from the images of teeming, hysterical fans, “They are crying for One Direction, huh mom?” I remember my first wide-eyed crushes. Michael Jackson smiled back at me from the walls of my locker with his mysterious single globe and seemingly dangerous songs about love in a graveyard and obsessed fans. A foray into the international sounds of Duran Duran (mainly Rob Taylor) and Menudo, who to this day I have not actually listened to, only gazed lovingly at the magazine fold-out taped to my wall. I was truly boy-crazy, imagining what they would say if they could spend an evening doing homework with me, wondering what it would be like when I could finally kiss a boy every bit as cute as the faces I saw on those posters.
Confessions from a soccer mom.
I’m a soccer mom with a health confession to make. Sometimes I choose to work out when I could be rushing between key
cheering locations at a cross country race or jumping up in triumph at a beautifully executed goal. While fellow fans/ parents sit on the sidelines or huddle at the straightaway, we talk about how to handle our sassy girls and where the time went as my boys enter their senior year. So consuming, these children, that there is NO time to take care of ourselves. Who has time to use the bathroom in peace, much less find time to get to the gym? The array of excuses are well-worn:
- I’m so busy driving my kids around, I don’t have time to work out.
- I feel guilty when I’m not on the sidelines or in the audience.
- It’s their turn to shine.
- I have so little time with them, I hate to steal more minutes to go work out.
What are the health lessons you are teaching your children?
Meanwhile, I am holding on to my little secret. I think a balanced focus on my spiritual, mental and physical health might be the most important investment I can make in my children. Consistently placing your health and wellness behind the endless stream of activities, soccer practice, shopping trips, sleepovers, sends
a damaging long term message to your children:
It was an amazing moment for a speaker, I daresay one of the headiest feelings I’ve had in my career. I stood in front of a cheering crowd, the room overflowing with laughter and cheers, the positive energy lifting me from the floor. The hot lights warmed my skin as I watched the last few seconds scroll away, my #140You presentation came to a close. As I triumphantly stomped to the side of the stage, I looked down at my black leather wedge
sandals and acutely felt the dichotomy, one of the highlights of my experience as an “inspirationalist” and I was wearing kelly green workout shorts and a running bra. Hardly the tailored yet fashion-forward look I normally go for. My look was important nonetheless, the perfect outfit for my talk. It showcased my heavily muscled legs, and defined shoulders and arms, a result of hours of sweat and sacrifice in the gym. But there was an even more vital body part I wanted, no needed, everyone to see. It stood for self-love, authenticity and truth.
My stretch marks. Formerly known as my stomach.
For those of you who saw the images on my Facebook wall and thought I strolled on stage, stripped my black dress, flashed my stretch marks and walked off, I want to fill you in.