Friday, October 28, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Ten Tips on Resolving Conflict

Conflict in a relationship is not necessarily a bad thing …. as long as it is resolved properly.

Living with another person is difficult and, unless you are clones of each other, there will be times when you disagree on issues. Actually, having a disagreement can be looked upon as a positive thing because it illustrates that each partner cares enough about the relationship that they both strive to be heard and respected.

More severe difficulties in the relationship can escalate when conflict is avoided because this can cause resentment and an eventual pull back of loving feelings to occur. Common reasons for avoiding conflict include: not knowing how to bring up a discussion about a sensitive topic; an unwillingness to experience temporary uncomfortable feelings in order to resolve a problem; and a fear of being rejected or ridiculed by a partner. 

Consider the following tips to help you maneuver your way through to a successful resolution, which may be considered a victory by itself.

1. Cool off. Take a few moments to collect yourself – maybe even more than a few! Just as you may give a child a time out, you can take one too so to preclude yourself from saying something you may later regret.

2. Listen. When cooler heads are prevailing, listen to your partner with an open mind and open heart.

3. Make room for different viewpoints. There are usually three sides to a confrontation: the way the woman sees it; the way the man sees it; and somewhere in between, the truth. We naturally view circumstances from our own perspective; so try to see the situation from your partner’s point of view.

4. Take responsibility for your part. Partners are very good at pushing each other’s buttons, but usually no one is totally innocent when disagreements arise. Express your viewpoint with "I" messages such as, "I feel," "I think" and "I want" rather than with finger pointing and blame (i.e. "You do this.").

5. Don’t make assumptions. Always gather all the facts before trying to resolve a problem.

6. Remind yourself that you love your partner. It is sometimes difficult to remember this fact when you are in a heated disagreement. However, if each partner treats the other with respect and honor during tension filled times, it allows a message to be better received and respect and honor to be reciprocated.

7. Don’t ignore the warning signs. Big arguments often start with little disagreements. Don’t brush off a partner’s complaints or cries for change simply because you don’t agree or don’t want to make any changes. A litany of ignored issues, but easily resolved, can explode when consistently deemed unimportant.

8. Don’t be afraid to apologize. When conflict escalates, it becomes hard to back down. We get stuck in our beliefs, even if they are faulty ones. There’s no shame to say, “I was wrong” and apologize.

9. Compliment your partner. Make sure to tell your partner all the things you do like about him/her while asking for some changes on a few issues. This will remind you that there is more good than bad in your relationship and that it’s possible for you to decide to agree to disagree on some subjects.

10. Conclude a disagreement on a positive note. If you can’t reach a resolution in one sitting, don’t walk away in anger. Decide to table the discussion until you can both gather more facts and have some time to assess your feelings/opinion towards the matter at hand. 

Many of these tips are not exclusive to romantic relationships, but may be utilized with children, friends and other family members, too.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: The Alchemy of Success

"Many have said of Alchemy that it is for the making of gold and silver. 
For me, such is not the aim, but to consider only what 
virtue and power may lie in medicines."

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. To garner such attention, does it provide the secret of how to turn base metal into gold or tell of a remedy that would cure all diseases and prolong life indefinitely? After all, these are the two principles upon which alchemy is founded.

Perhaps the book doesn’t literally tell how to spin gold, but it does outline a path on how to find gold in your own life by following your true and personal calling. Coehlo tells us that is the reason we are put on Earth. However, as man moves to accomplish this goal, he throws obstacles in his own path so he won’t succeed. It seems he can’t get out of his own way.

Coehlo puts forth that there are four obstacles hindering the path towards personal fulfillment. 

1. As young children, we are told that anything is possible. Believing this, children dream about what they want to be when they grow up. However, as we grow (and supposedly get socialized), the messages change, and we are told the reasons why our dream, or personal calling, is impossible to attain. It gets buried under the word "No!" as well as prejudice, fear and guilt.

2. If we are able to burrow our way through negativity and have the courage to still pursue our personal calling, we run into the second obstacle, which is love. This seems counterintuitive because love should set us free to evolve into our highest self. However, once ensconced in a life with loved ones, those bonds tie us down to the life we are leading. Ultimately, we become afraid we might lose the people we love and the possessions we have come to love, if we pursue our dream.

3. If the second obstacle can be reconciled and we use love as an impetus, rather than an impediment, we run into the third obstacle, which is fear of defeat. However, defeat, or loss, is often a necessary component of ultimate success. It teaches us lessons that make us stronger, thus allowing us to finally accomplish our goals. At times, loss also helps us refine a personal calling. So, if you are able to overcome hardship and channel it in a positive manner, this inspires you onward with gusto.

4. If you fall down seven times, but get up eight, as the wise saying instructs, then you move closer towards your goal. And now we encounter the fourth obstacle, which is a fear of success. The possibility of attaining our personal goals can make us question whether or not we are deserving of such good fortune. This elicits guilt, which is the most useless of all our emotions. We must reflect back upon the hard work that we have done to get to this point. It was not an overnight success and we ARE worthy. Without this acknowledgement, it is very easy to self-sabotage and let the “prize” slip from our grasp. Facing failure, we may try to blame outside sources, but there is only one responsible party: YOU! Until this fact is faced and accepted, success will continue to be elusive.

The truth is that everyone can reach his/her personal calling and find success and love in his/her life with hard work and acceptance of self-worthiness. Keep in mind, though, it doesn’t always come in the form in which you expect or think you want. Be open to the universe, and it will answer back with its bounties.

I recommend a full reading of The Alchemist, a short read that is under 175 pages.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Developing Momentum in a Relationship

Good advice for new, prospective relationships is to neither take it too fast nor too slow.

Too fast means that after one interaction you decide that this is your soul mate and you hear wedding bells ringing in the distance. This is the one of the very best ways to scare aware a possible romantic connection.

Too slow means that even though you both felt some sort of connection, there is a lapse of a couple of weeks before you interact again. Without a sturdy base of shared memories to build upon, this lack of momentum can make the relationship fizzle before it even starts. When too much time lapses between the first few interactions, you basically are starting anew on each date.

So, what is the correct timing to get a relationship off the ground?

What is important to keep in mind is that men and women have very different ideas about the early days of dating and their meaning. While woman often read too much into every nuance or comment and may assume an exclusive relationship is starting because three to four dates in a row have taken place, men, on the other hand, are usually still in the get-to-know-you phase and do not want to feel penned in quite yet. So, when a woman starts having expectations of the man (such as seeing him every weekend), the man gets the itch to run and unhook the yoke he feels being tightened around his neck.

The following is an excerpt from Love After Loss: Writing The Rest of Your Story, which is now available as a paperback at this link on as well as an e-book via my website.

This story exemplifies how differently men and women see beginning interactions and how this couple could not find the correct balance or momentum, and it eventually caused the budding romance to come to a screeching halt.


A man and a woman meet for lunch. He kisses her hello. She is a little taken aback because the usual order of things is a handshake in the beginning and maybe a hug and a little peck, if there has been a lot of communication beforehand. The meal progresses, and they really hit it off. An hour into the first date, he asks her if she wants him to get tickets for a show a month away. She, again, is a little taken aback but agrees to go out without him; after all, she can cancel at a later date. They get ready to say goodbye, and now it is time for the hug! Throughout the week, they see each other four more times, at the gentleman’s request. A little over the top, but they are enjoying each other’s company. Now, the natural assumption here would be that they are going to continue this relationship. Think again!

In the meantime, the woman has sent the gentleman some thought provoking e-mails and perhaps reveals a little too much about her inner psyche. She thinks to herself, “How can we know if we want to continue to see each other, if we don’t let the other see who we truly are?” This was a mistake. The lesson is don’t reveal too much, too soon.

The following week, she calls him and leaves a message on his answering machine asking him if he wants to go to the movies the next day. He doesn’t return the phone call to say yes or no. She leaves another message two days later, which asks him to let her know one way or the other if he wishes to continue seeing her. Still no reply. One more try on her part — an e-mail basically saying that she was confused about his lack of courtesy. Still no reply.

A few weeks later they run into each other, and the gentleman admits the reason he didn’t return the phone calls was that he was feeling penned in. But let’s review the scenario. He asked her out five times in one week, and he asked her out for a date one month away. Who was trying to pen whom in? And who closed the door when emotional intimacy entered the scene?

The truth is that these were two people who did not know each other very well, and they went too fast, too soon and ended up getting scared. The woman, who was very hurt by the lack of response, also mistakenly made it all about her. In reality, the gentleman had his own issues with which he was dealing, and it was more about him than anything to do with the woman.

The lesson? Try to place yourself in the other person’s position and figure out how he or she might interpret seemingly innocent comments and actions. With strangers, it is very easy to take both actions and words in a different manner in which they were intended. And remember to try not to take things personally because it is not always about YOU!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: The First Phone Call

If you are Internet dating, you have may have started off your interactions with a prospective date with a wink, an IM or e-mail correspondence. The two of you are now ready to move onto your first phone call.

This can be exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time, dual in nature just like the rest of life. 

You are looking forward to putting an actual voice to the one you’ve heard coming through your non-verbal connection and will be on the lookout to see if they are in sync.

This is really your first date, although there is no need to clean up, except if you video chat!

Here are 7 tips for this first interaction.

1. Set up a specific time to talk. This should be a time when you can have some privacy, have completed your household chores or have left your job at the office, and when you can be relaxed.

2. Have light-hearted conversation. Two taboo subjects: sex and money. No sexual innuendos either. Steer away from talk about former spouses and custody issues and late spouses who you’ve elevated to sainthood status.

3. If you are especially nervous and want to avoid the possibility of dead air, think about items about which you can converse before initiating the phone conversation. If you can’t think of anything, read the newspaper that day so you are up on current events of the day. However, it is probably best to stay away from politics during this first conversation. Additionally, questions may have been generated during your email conversations, so this is a good time to get some of them answered. Make sure not to make it an interview, though!

4. If the inflection of your voice goes up at the end, any statement you make can appear to be an open-ended question. This lessens the defensive position of the other person because you are asking his/her opinion rather than stating yours as a fact with a “take it or leave it” implication.

5. Be authentic. Remember: the two of you are already attracted to each other by virtue of your previous non-verbal communications. Don’t turn into someone else because you feel the need to impress or to play up your achievements.

6. Be open, enthusiastic and upbeat. Project your "inner smile" through the telephone line! Additionally, let your prospective date know that you have looked forward to speaking to him/her and, if the conversation is going well, that you would be very open to continuing to speak and/or meet to find out more about him/her. Keep in mind that enthusiasm is great, but don't go over the top and be thinking about how this person is your soul mate before you even meet him/her in person!

7. Closing the conversation. As you near the end of your talk, and it has gone well, you might want to ask this person out. You can just go for it, or a more subtle method is to simply mention that you are going to the movies, or going hiking, or attending a concert in the park during the upcoming weekend and that it would be great if he/she could join you. Because this is a little less direct, it can alleviate some of the pressure. Moreover, you've kept the date and time nebulous, so this provides an entree to ask questions, if he/she is interested.

On a personal note, during my first coffee date with my husband, I mentioned that I had read in the paper that a restaurant had just begun offering old movies on their rooftop. I asked him if he thought that sounded like a great date. He jumped right in and asked me if I would like to go with him to find out for ourselves. In this way, I provided an easy opening for him to ask me out. (I always try to be helpful!!) He already knew I was interested in checking this venue out and assumed I would not have mentioned it to him if I was not interested in going with him.

So with the first phone conversation under your belt, you are now ready to meet your date in person!