Archive for June, 2011

Sneaky Snuggler

Posted on June 27, 2011. Filed under: Couples, Relationships |

Dear Lora,

My husband has this annoying habit of asking me to snuggle, then starts getting frisky.   I now feel like I can’t trust him when he says he just wants to snuggle.  How do I tell him that?  I really do want to trust him.

Fear of Frisking

Dear Fear of Frisking,

The good news: it sounds like you’re married to a red-blooded male.  The bad news: they’re among the worst communicators on the planet!  They are notorious for using confusing codes for intimate conversations.  While it may make them feel more comfortable, and perhaps somewhat clever, to women, they end up sounding like the parents in the Peanuts cartoons… “wa-wa-wa-wa-waaaa.”  Unfortunately, we’re not handed a guy-code book when we get married.  I bet that Rosetta Stone company could make a fortune selling “how to speak guy” CDs.

“Snuggle” has become your husband’ code for “I want some action.” Honestly, most dudes don’t really like to snuggle.  On the other hand, your husband is smart enough to know he’s dealing with a very complex creature and if he simply said:  “I know you’re too tired, but how about a quickie,” he’d receive a definite “no.”  He’s playing the odds with the snuggle line. Scooter does the same thing. They all do sister!  If he asks enough times, it’s eventually going to happen.

Here’s something I’ve learned from Scoot which might help you understand your husband’s approach to this situation.  Guys have five main things they think about:  eating, sleeping, beer, sports and sex.  Whatever they’ve had the most of recently, is what they are thinking about the least.  For example, if your husband has just had a sandwich, is watching baseball and drinking a beer, he’s probably ready for a nap, followed by, you guessed it, his form of “snuggling”.  So you see, they’re not trying to trick us, to them, it’s just not that complicated.

As for your ability to trust him, I don’t think I’d bring that up, he won’t hear it way you intend for him to.  He will only hear that you don’t trust him, no matter what you say or how you say it…instead of warm hug you’ll be getting a cold shoulder.   However, that’s certainly one way to get him to leave you alone so you can get to sleep, but I do not recommend it.

I would try using this line: “I know what you’re angling for and it’s not that the idea isn’t appealing to me; but honestly Honey, I’m exhausted tonight,” then suggest you “snuggle” his way another night.  That way, you acknowledge his needs, but are also able to state yours.

By telling him it’s important enough for you to reschedule, you are able to validate his feelings.   Whatever you do, don’t just give him a flat out “no.”  Men hate rejection and rejection isn’t going to get you roses, rings or other sparkly things.

I say, be happy he’s still “digging your action” and let him know you’re still digging his.  It may not get you any gifts, but I’m pretty sure you could get some help lugging those trashcans to the curb this week. Honestly, that kind of help if more exciting to me than any piece of jewelry.

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To Clean Or Not To Clean?

Posted on June 19, 2011. Filed under: Family, Home, Parenting |

Dear Lora,

Does having a housekeeper help teach kids to clean or does it teach them to be lazy when someone else cleans up after them?  Is it a better lesson to let them clean up after themselves? 

Confused Cleaner

Dear Confused Cleaner,

The timing of your question couldn’t be better.  Last month I had the great pleasure of helping my daughter move out of her college dorm for the summer.  On day two of packing and schlepping, I finally made my way to the top shelf where her TV perched for 10 long months.  As I picked it up, I noticed it started snowing a blizzard of gray powder!  Once the dust settled, literally, I found myself with two options: I could either write my initials in thick dirty fuzz or grab a towel and wipe it down.  My first instinct was to clean it, then I thought to myself, “wait, I wasn’t the one who went an entire school year without a can of furniture polish!”  Lord knows if they can afford those fancy coffee drinks on campus, they can afford a can of cleaner.

Being a neat freak, I was mortified that I had raised a daughter who either didn’t notice the build up, or worse, didn’t care.  Before she came back from yet another run of boxes to the rental car, I realized this wasn’t her fault, it was mine.

As a working mother, I’ve found hiring a housekeeper is one of the best ways to keep my sanity.  Honestly, it’s cheaper than therapy.  As I’ve recently learned, at the end of the day, that’s exactly what it’s for, for me, not my kids.

Unfortunately, the epiphany came too late for my oldest daughter, who’s actually very tidy, but as I discovered, she’s just not a “cleaner”, that’s because I never taught her how to clean.  Needless to say, I’m not making that mistake with my other two kids.  I can’t guarantee that they’ll have less of a dust storm in their dorm room after their freshman year,  however, I promise they’ll know how to scrub and be equipped with the tools to do it.

As a child, I too had a cleaning lady, her name was Mrs. Thigpen, I’m not making that up, in fact, I thought it was funny her name rhymed with pig-pen.  There was nothing pig or pen about her, she was a first class cleaner who arrived every Tuesday.  Each week she’d make the house shine and put everything in it’s place…except my clothes.  I would find them on the bed, waiting for me to finish putting them away.  Now, granted that wasn’t a big deal, but rather a clever little nudge in the “take care of your own stuff” direction.  As I grew older, Mrs. Thigpen, or anyone other than me rarely touched my room, it had become my responsibility and I had to clean it.  I’m guessing that wasn’t an accident, but rather a very stealth move by my mom.  A woman who was smart enough to know the difference between paying for her sanity, and paying the price for a pampered kid.

This summer, Betsy, my oldest, will not only be working part time and taking Spanish to get her language credit out of the way, she will also be studying something just as foreign at home — housekeeping 101.

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The Other Mistress

Posted on June 13, 2011. Filed under: Couples, Family, Relationships |

Dear Lora,

How can I get my husband to put down the Blackberry and focus on the kids and me?

Black & Blue-berry

Dear Black & Blue-berry,

In the technology-driven world we live in, I never worry about my husband, Scooter, cheating on me with another woman, because I know he wouldn’t possibly be able to put his BlackBerry down long enough for that to happen!  In our house, his smart phone has earned the appropriate title of  “Mistress.”  I know others who refer to their husband’s handheld electronic devises as “Crack-berries,” because they can be just as addictive as a drug.  However, since it keeps both his mind and hands otherwise occupied, I think Mistress is the winner.

It seems that your family and mine are dealing with the same digital dilemma.  How many “look at me Daddy’s” does it take for your husband to move his eyes off that super-small screen?  Let me guess, around six.  By the seventh time your kid calls out, you’ve already shouted out “for the love of Pete, put down the Mistress the watch your son nose dive off the coffee table!”

You can only imagine my excitement two weeks ago when Scoot came home and told me he was adding another Mistress to our family!  Yes, he now has two.  One made in Canada, the other made in Mexico, both wrecking havoc on our match made in heaven.

I can’t tell you how many fights we have had over these 5-ounce pieces of plastic!  BlackBerry bickering had become one of the top topics in our house; I’m guessing that’s the case in yours as well.

Even our four-year-old daughter Emmy is well aware of his lack of attention when he’s clicking out an email during dinner.  She actually says “Daddy, put that down and listen to me!”

It recently reached a pinnacle at a cocktail party, I couldn’t figure out why Scooter was scooting to the restroom so much.  My mind keep flashing to those prescription medicine commercials we see on TV each night and I began to worry about him.   When I cornered him in the hallway, I caught him tucking the Mistress back into his coat pocket. It was then that it hit me, he didn’t need to tinkle … he needed to text!

I was at the end of my earpiece, exhausted by this electronic convenience, which I wanted to toss in the toilet.  That’s when something unplanned and downright poetic happened … our oldest daughter, Betsy, recently home from college sat down to dinner with her Dingle-berry, yet another naming option for you to consider.

She placed the pink crystal covered cell next to her salad fork.  Every time a text or email came through, the entire table would vibrate and sparkle like a spotlight on a disco ball from the 70s.  As she reached to respond, I could see Scoot starting to get annoyed.  Funny, the rest of us were pretty trained to just “deal” with that type of mealtime messaging, but not the man of the house.  As smoke started to come from his ears, I began to read his mind, as I often do during at moments like that.  He was about to recite a line from his own parent’s playbook, “when I was a boy… (insert ridiculous story here),” that’s when I gave him “the look.”   I followed that up with a Hail Mary pass:  “I think dinnertime should be a cell-free zone.”  To my surprise, they both agreed.  For Betsy, that option was way better than a yet another lecture about how deprived Scoot’s childhood undoubtedly was.   As for Scoot, he recognized the irony of the situation and knew to keep quite.

Now, I cannot tell you that the tableside conversation has become more riveting with this newly found family time.  However, we now look each other in the eye when we ask someone to “please pass the salt,” instead of being captivated by tiny keypads.  I’ve also found that it takes longer for my family to eat chicken drumsticks than fish sticks.  I may not be solving the world’s problems by making meals last longer, but I can tell you, at this point in my life, cell phone silence is more important to me than sending a man to Mars.

In his defense, Scooter will tell you his annoying little gadgets are essential to doing deals at work.  He’ll believes they make it easier to go on vacation and still keep in touch with the office, after all, that’s what pays the bills isn’t it?  Okay, so that last part is true; someone needs to keep the lights on.  But that’s still not going to stop me from planning vacations where Crack-berries, Dingle-berries and the Mistress can’t get a signal.

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4 Rings And A Groom

Posted on June 9, 2011. Filed under: Couples |

Dear Lora,

I have been engaged 3 times — I know that sounds like a lot, but they say you learn from each relationship, I hope that is true.  When each engagement ended, I was able to keep the beautiful rings.  I really like all of the rings and have continued to wear them on occasion.  I am now engaged again and getting married next year, I am sure this time will actually result in a wedding.  Is it bad taste if I wear the old rings on occasion?

Bedazzled Bride

Dear Bedazzled Bride,

First of all, I’m a big believer in learning from your past mistakes.  Hey, you’ll never hit a homerun if you don’t step up to bat, right?

I too have had a couple of engagement rings.  In my case, deciding what to do with them was pretty easy given the nature of the breakups.  The one from my short-lived first marriage was sold to pay my divorce attorney…worth every penny by the way.  The second ring was from the man who all but left me at the altar, that one was sold to pay for canceled wedding bills, again an easy decision.  With that said, I think the person you should ask about the rings is your fiancé.  He’s the one who will likely care the most.  Keep in mind, if you’re not careful, this could turn in to a three-ring circus!

When he answers, make sure you read between the lines, as men don’t usually like to admit these things bother them.  It’s similar to admitting they noticed the new couch at your mom’s house, even after it’s pointed out to them, they have to refrain from making it seem like they care – unless it’s uncomfortable, then they will complain.  For the most part, they see these issues as “chick” topics and may try to answer in a nonchalant way, if for nothing else, to save their “dudeness”.  Remember, they’re called “Knights in shining armor”, not “Knights in tights”.

Whether he says it out loud or not, he may be wondering why you’re still wearing those ring — is it because you want to hold on to a piece of each of those relationships?  Or way worse, are they bigger than the one your future husband gave you?  If that’s the case, skip the next paragraph and go straight to having them repurposed.  Please note: you can keep fond memories without flashing a token of previous relationships in his face.

If it turns out Mr. Right doesn’t care about the former rings, I would then ask the following:  Do the rings look like traditional engagement rings?  Could others confuse them with your “real” ring?  Or do they look more like cocktail rings?  If you keep them the way they are, I would suggest never wearing them on your left hand.

My gut says you need to have them reset, possibly into a necklace, earrings or combined into a fashionable ring to be worn on your right hand only.

For example, my husband Scooter was engaged before me.  When he tried to sell the ring, he wasn’t getting anywhere near what he paid for it, so he asked me how I would feel about having the stones set into a pair of earrings.  Honestly, it didn’t bother me, after all, it was his money that purchased them in the first place.  Since he ended up with them in the “great divide”, as he calls it, I thought it would be a little ridiculous of me to make him sell the stones at a loss, only to purchase different stones for more money.

I suggest recycling the rings, at the very least, they are a symbol of someone else’s love for you, so I say make them “yours”.  Besides, it will not only give you a nice piece of jewelry, but will also send a sign to your significant other that he’s more important than gold and that symbol is priceless.

Sidebar:  As a general rule, if the woman ends an engagement she should give the ring back.  If the man pulls the plug, then the ring stays with the woman as a gift.


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Jerked Around

Posted on June 9, 2011. Filed under: Couples, Relationships |

Dear Lora,

After a 7-year relationship, I recently discovered my fiancé was cheating on me.   I moved out, along with my daughter from a previous relationship.  Soon after, I learned I was pregnant with his child.  At first he was upset, but then he came around and started going to the doctors appointments with me.  He seemed excited, as he had always said he longed for a child of his own.  Recently, he’s started to change, he pops in and out of our lives as he decides.  I have also discovered there is yet another woman in his life.  To make things worse, he’s also told a mutual friend that the baby isn’t his.  I’m so confused, I want him to be honest so I can move on.  Should I confront the other woman for some answers?  I feel like I shouldn’t have to be ashamed of being pregnant, I should be happy.

Lonely Heart

Dear Lonely Heart,

If there was ever an appropriate time to use the term “jerk”, this would be it.  It’s enough that you caught him cheating, but for him to now deny the baby is his – absolutely insane!   With all the testing that can be done these days, he can only run with that story until a paternity test proves otherwise, so don’t waste a second of your precious life minutes focusing on that malarkey!

My heart truly aches for you.  You should not be ashamed of being pregnant for one second, it takes two to tango and you certainly didn’t get to this point on your own.  I’ve have 3 children, and we all know how most of them get here…the old fashioned way.  Don’t let yourself get caught up in this guys’ web physically or mentally anymore than you already are.   And for heaven’s sake, do NOT worry about what others “might” be thinking about you — you’re carrying a baby, that’s enough to focus on right now.

In fact, this reminds me of one of my mom’s favorite quotes:  “If you knew how often people truly thought about you, you wouldn’t care what they thought”.   Norma Jean is right on the money with that one!  People have so much “noise”, as I call it, going on in their own lives, there’s little time to focus on others.  And if they do have time to talk about you, I suggest referring to another one of N.J.’s lines – “we need to pray for them”!

Now back to the jerk – I agree, he should want to be involved with the baby and you’re right for wanting that.  But unfortunately, you can’t make him do a darn thing, take it from someone who knows what it’s like to have a difficult “ex”.   Be prepared to travel down this road without him.  Honestly, given what you’ve told me, I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.  Of course, in an ideal world, you would be together and raising the baby as a couple, but that’s not the reality.

Although a lot of relationships do survive infidelity, this one doesn’t appear to have much of a chance — at this point anyway.  To make it through a betrayal, it takes both sides working to repair of the injury.  I’m sorry to say, it sounds like he’s already working on something else.

For now, I suggest cutting your losses and focusing on yourself, your daughter and  your new arrival.  Your main goal is to make sure they know they are loved and to set a good example for them.  His negative energy isn’t good for anyone, especially an expectant mother.

Here comes the tough love, if he wants to, you need to let him be a part of the baby’s life…even if that means he doesn’t have a relationship with you.  Now that my oldest is 18, I do not have to have any contact with her father, which is fantastic!  But since we divorced when she was only 3, I had 15 years of H-E-double sticks dealing with him.  That was the choice I made when I had a child with him.  You can end a marriage or relationship, but there’s no end to parenting.   Until they are of legal age, that means dealing with the other parent, no matter how much you can’t stand them.

Look, we’d all like the fathers of our children to have active, supporting roles in our children’s lives, but the truth is, that isn’t how it usually works out when the parents aren’t under the same roof.

No matter what you choose to do, do not call the “other” women.  Nothing good can come of mingling with the mistress.  Honestly, how would you even start a conversation with a woman who’s standing by a man who can’t “man up” for his own baby?  I’m not sure this guy is ever going to be capable of being honest.  For me, that’s a deal breaker, life’s too hard as it is.

Years ago, when I was at one of my lowest moments, a girlfriend emailed and reminded me of this simple truth:  “God has a plan for you, BELIEVE IT”.  Hang in there sister, he has a plan for you too.

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Distracted Dater

Posted on June 6, 2011. Filed under: Couples, Relationships |

Dear Lora,

I’m a gay man who has lived 44 wonderful years.  I have lots of friends and a great social life.  I have not dated any other gay men in a while because I find that I’m only attracted to Bi or Straight men as they are more masculine and have far less drama in their lives.  My friends secretly feel sorry for me and tell me that I need to focus more on other gay men.  Problem is, gay men don’t interest me as much (I wish they did).  I’ve come to accept that in my lifetime I may not find “The One”.  Got any suggestions?

Sidetracked Single

Dear Sidetracked Single,

Whether you’re gay or straight, finding “the one” is like trying to nail jello to a tree – nearly impossible!  However, with the right tools, it can be done.  I’m living proof that your love life can change in an instant, for the better.

Before you can find guys that interest you, you’re going to have to stop focusing on the men that aren’t available, in your case, the straight ones!  Listen, I spent over a decade dating “mama’s boys”, wondering why those relationships never went anywhere — it’s because they were already married to their moms!  They weren’t available to me and likely never will be to anyone.   Although you already know this, here’s a little reminder from a chick, men are not going to “change” for you, thus, those unavailable men are a complete waste of your time.  Stop putting energy in one-way relationships and redirect it somewhere it can help find you a hunk instead of a home-wrecker.

I have to admit, I am a little curious as to why you’ve been wasting valuable life minutes on unobtainable people — it could be you’re not ready to settle down yet.  My husband Scooter will tell you, when he was first divorced, he used to “say” he wanted to meet someone and get remarried, but at that point, he didn’t really want that.  He ended up dating fatally flawed women for years, because they were “safe”.   Thank gawd, right?  Otherwise, my happy ending may have had a different outcome.  All kidding aside, I believe two things are critical to meeting your heart’s twin – being open to the possibility AND focusing on the right person for you.

If you’re really looking for love, make a serious commitment to the search.  Tell everyone you know that you’re truly ready to meet someone.  I know, this sounds completely hokey and like a lot of mumbo-jumbo.  But I’m telling you, just the act of saying it will start changing the way you and those around you think about it.  That’s what I did.  Although none of my friends actually set me up with anyone, the “idea” was out there and I was working towards something.  I can’t lie, the frog to prince ratio is awful!  However, you only need to find one.

Now, I’m not saying that you must find your soul mate to live happily ever after, in fact, it sounds like you’ve got a pretty good gig going already.  Some might even tell you that finding your perfect match isn’t all that fabulous.  However, in my opinion, the search was worth it.  It’s not all wine and roses — but who needs either of those when you have someone who will let you watch “When Harry Met Sally” every time it reruns on cable and always let’s you eat the last french fry in the bag.  I say, keep kissing the frogs!

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