Category Archives: Relationships

St. Valentine is not the Patron Saint of Debt

Awwww new love!

Editor’s note – this is a “from the vault” release that never stops being relevant for you, your loved ones, or Valentine’s Day…enjoy!

Here we are again. Valentine’s Day has come back around and if you’re like me, the status of your love life is directly proportional to how you feel about the holiday. Lucky for me, I’m now happily married to a great guy. This year I have some conversation hearts in a jar on my desk, a pink and red wreath on my office door, and heart wallpaper on my cell phone. Heck, I will probably even wear red on the actual day. Love is grand! But this hasn’t always been the case. If I were stuck back where I was eight years ago, single and somewhat bitter about love (when I spent Valentine’s Day with a guy friend eating wings at Hooters), I’d probably be tempted to pelt a few snowballs at any happy couple that wandered into striking distance. I will sheepishly admit that in my “loveless” years I may have crudely referred to the holiday as VD.

I’ve heard many times that Valentine’s Day is just a made up holiday to line the pockets of candy and card makers. I can understand why people would say that but I also think they’re missing the point. Is there anything really wrong with taking one day to focus on telling our loved ones how we feel about them?

The key is not to get carried away with overspending and to focus on the point of the holiday, which is to show someone that you love and appreciate him/her. Choose carefully how you share the love. According to my friend Carla, her husband had better not even consider getting her that footed pajama thing she keeps seeing ads for. Apparently, she is not buying the claims that “it feels like a hug”. Even if you can’t afford a giant stuffed bear, Godiva chocolates, jewelry, and two dozen roses for your sweetie, there are still ways to show that you care without going into debt.

Continue reading St. Valentine is not the Patron Saint of Debt

Preserve, Protect and Defend: A Credo for Our Intimate Relationships

John F. Kennedy said it during his swearing in ceremony almost three years before I was born.

Lyndon B Johnson said it after Kennedy died, and again in 1965 with Lady Bird at his side. Her solemn face only allowing a smile after the final word of the oath of office was completed.

Nixon was next, with Pat slightly raising her chin when he said three special words;  followed by Ford then  Carter.  They all said it in their own style, with their own emphasis and punctuation. Slow and steady, with a very Southern flair, or with their best resolve.

Reagan said it  twice while nodding with determination as only he could do; his second round was more subdued and solemn than the first. Then Bush the Elder, and Clinton twice, his first oath completed with a slight grin and classic tightening of his lower lip, the second completed much like Reagan’s second – more subdued and solemn.  Bush the younger twice (interestingly, with the same pace and energy level as the first time) and finally Obama.  Obama’s oath of office was interesting in that there was more than the usual level of cheering from the crowd, Obama smiled a little more than most presidents preparing for the oath of office, and he and the Chief Justice had to repeat a few words in order to get things straight.

But every one of these presidents, and all those before the ones I’ve listed here, took the oath of office on inauguration day, and they all said this:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Many of them ended their oath with, “…so help me, God.”  And, all of them could have certainly used the help of a Higher Power to manage their work.  But one of the strongest portions of all the videos I’ve reviewed was that of each president stating that they would “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution of the United States.

In other words, the elected leader of the U.S. swears to preserve, protect and defend the supreme law of our country…in front of God and everybody.  It’s a very public oath for a very serious job.

Many of those reading this post today will have taken a very public oath for a very serious job of their own – their wedding vows, pledged to their partner in front of God and everybody.  And I’ve been wondering about something.  We know that traditionally couples affirm phrases to each other such as:

I take you to be my wedded wife/husband. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish ’till death do us part. And hereto I pledge you my faithfulness.

In other words, they have pledged their faithfulness to “the supreme relationship status” in our country.  But I wonder, would vows be measured and stated any differently if the phrase, “to preserve, protect and defend” were to be included? Continue reading Preserve, Protect and Defend: A Credo for Our Intimate Relationships

The Importance of Showing Up

You can say a lot of things about my brother in law Joe. He makes a mean pot of homemade chili. As evidenced by my son Kyle’s peals of laughter, he does a spot on impression of King Kong in the inflatable wrestling ring. He also makes the funniest tooth fairy I’ve ever seen. But Joe was blessed in another way, too, that may be evidenced only by those who have found themselves really in need of a friend. Joe understands the importance of showing up.

You probably have a friend like Joe. At least, I hope you do. If you had surgery and needed someone to drive you home, he’d be the one in the waiting room who would eventually bring the car around, drive you home, help you up the steps, fluff up your pillows, and make sure you were OK before he went home. Of all the things I can say about Joe, the biggest compliment I can pay him is that I know if I ever really needed him, he would be there for me. And he would probably be the last to leave. I can’t really think of a major event that has occurred in my life since I have known Joe where he hasn’t been there. I know that I can always count on him and that is a rare quality these days. Thanks, Joe!

I am so fortunate to have many great friends and a wonderful family. I think of all of the times people have shown up for me. I remember when my dad was really sick and all of the friends and family who spent countless hours with us at the hospital over seven months. It wasn’t so much that they kept us entertained. They didn’t have to always know exactly the right thing to say. They didn’t have to say anything. It just meant so much that they were there, just sitting in the same room, watching TV with us to give us something else to think to talk about for a few minutes. It was a welcome distraction. Sometimes just a kind look or a warm hand on your shoulder can make all the difference to remind you that you aren’t alone.

As I look back on my life so far I see mental snapshots of both good times and bad. Continue reading The Importance of Showing Up

The Plight Of The All-Noing Parent

No. Nope. Negative. Nuh uh. Not gonna happen. Absolutely not. O, let me count the ways I tell my kids they can’t have or do something. In short, I say “no” A LOT.

I’ve heard a good amount of conflicting information about the impact of saying “no” to children. Now, I don’t think anyone would argue the need to stop a child from stepping into the street or touching a hot pan on the stove. There’s a good deal of discourse, though, about the right and wrong ways to respond when our children ask for (or demand) time, attention, or toys, or are behaving in a way that needs to be stopped.

While one expert expounds on the necessity of parents asserting authority and reinforcing firm boundaries, another warns of the devastatingly negative impact to a child’s self-esteem of denying kids their thoughts, opinions, and desires. As with many other philosophies in the parenting world, I feel like we are set up to feel guilty no matter where we stand on the issue.

Just in my circle of family and friends, I see divergent beliefs. Some parents work very hard to avoid saying “no” to their children. These parents aren’t pushovers, but they believe there is something inherently damaging about the word. They distract their toddler when they see the telltale gleam in her eye when staring at the dog’s food or when she’s demanding chips for dinner. They are quick to praise good deeds as a way to elicit only good behavior. And, they ask their kids why they want to do or have whatever it is they are asking for in order to understand the child’s point of view. The child eventually tires of the conversation and moves on to something else.

I also know parents who seem afraid to say no to their kids. They worry their children won’t love them if they are constantly denying them, stating life is too short not to experience simple and inconsequential joys. These parents are usually the same ones who appease their children in order to avoid anything “ugly” in front of other people. As long as the kids get what they want, there is no crying, whining time outs, etc.

Still others feel like “no” is almost an automatic response no matter the question. My husband and I fall into this category. We know we should be in charge and entered parenthood prepared for that authoritative job. We even knew our precious offspring would try to manipulate us – that’s what kids do – and we were poised and ready for the challenge. What we weren’t prepared for was all the gray area, blurred lines, and being so very tired! Lately we’ve been wondering whether our “nos” are always necessary or whether we sometimes take the easy way out instead of doing our kids justice by thinking critically about each situation.

I am not a parenting expert; I’m simply a parent trying to do right by my kids and stay sane in the process. I believe in positive reinforcement and parenting from a place of love and acceptance. I also think saying “no” is absolutely necessary. I believe this is the first step to teaching my children how to say “no” to themselves and others when something isn’t right – socially, morally, or legally. Down the road, when they are faced with life’s temptations, I want them to be able to use their own “no.” I try to remember that today’s second cookie quickly and easily turns into tomorrow’s far riskier choice. Continue reading The Plight Of The All-Noing Parent

Not-So-Newlyweds: The Fearsome Double Date

 

Game of LifeI had never been on a blind date until I got married.

So here’s how it goes. You have a friend, and he/she has a significant other, and you think to yourself, hey, let’s all be friends!

It doesn’t necessarily work that way.

What inevitably happens (to us) is that I like her, and Luke thinks he could be friends with him, but as a couple, we’re not feeling the magic. The ever-so-subtle “let’s get out of here” signal is waving long before the waiter asks whether we want dessert. (No, thank you. Just the check, please, and quick.)

So we’ve had some struggles finding couple friends to spend time with. It’s almost like dating again, except that we plan together. “What if they don’t like the restaurant?” “Oh my goodness, what should we wear?” (That’s me, not Luke.) “Did they like us?” “Should we reciprocate their invitation?”

In our early coupledom, we were exhausted by this process, having intentionally left the dating game behind. Then, for a long time, we couldn’t figure out where the people our age had gone. We went to a small church that didn’t have many young couples. We had graduated from college, and the bar scene isn’t our thing, so we didn’t look for friends there. Some of our closest friends lived “back home” and were inaccessible for a quick dinner and a movie. We were at a real loss about where married-but-no-kids-yet people who lived in a 20-mile radius were hiding.

Eventually, we found a church with a young couples’ class, and we thought, “There they are!” We made some friends, but by that point, we were all working and didn’t have much time for hanging out, and now they all have babies and really don’t have time to hang out.

Both of us were raised in a small town, where we learned to form solid and lasting friendships, not just casual acquaintances. It’s just the way it works “in the country.” If your neighbor’s car breaks down, you take him to the co-op to get it fixed. You don’t get dressed up to have a backyard cookout with friends, and that line between friends and family gets pretty blurry. That value got into us, so it’s not that we are picky about friends…we just know that when we form a friendship, we’re signing up for an addition to the family. It’s a commitment we don’t make lightly.

So we have persevered through a few uncomfortable dinners because it’s worth it.

Just recently, one of my closest childhood friends and her husband moved to our town, and we have discovered that the “couple compatibility” factor is present with them, so for one of the first times in our marriage, we have couple friends who we can call on a moment’s notice and invite over to play board games in our sweatpants. Having that type of friendship reminds us that we’re not alone in our quest to succeed in marriage and life as a young couple. It provides encouragement that only a friend-turned-family can, and it helps to share life with someone else so we don’t sit in our house and forget there’s a world outside. And of course, the personality and differences of friends just adds to the adventure that can come of everyday life.

FROM THE VAULT: A System Worked and a System Failed. How Illness Impacts our Dear Friends…and Us.

Editor’s Note 1/30/12: Dear all…I was so pleased this weekend to read a “Caring Bridge” entry re: my friend Sammye.  To even begin to share the challenges she’s experienced since this post was written 1.5 years ago would be impossible.  If you’re interested, you can check on her entries here.  But most importantly, I read this paragraph early this morning:

“HIP HIP (left hip, not right one) HOORAY!  PET scan taken at the end of last week shows no malignancies!  Dr. Hollen is as happy as he can be and of course I was relieved, happy, grateful, prayerful, thankful, and every other positive emotion one can think of!  All is well…inside and out!  My visits with Dr. Hollen will continue every three months with scans every six months.  The hip (right one) is still no fun but I’m getting around and focusing on all the things I can do, rather than the things that are still tough.  I’ve lost weight and as more comes off (sounds easy, huh?) I am sure that the hip will show even more appreciation! “

This post was well-read 18 months ago, so I’m sharing it again “from the vault” to remind us that personal things…even haircuts…have histories much bigger than just a word. Love, RDK

***

Editor’s Note:  We have two “impact of illness” perspectives to share with you this morning.

♥  One comes from Sammye Cravens, CFO-COO of Public Strategies, Inc. in Oklahoma City.  On June 4, 2009, she was diagnosed with Malignant Lymphoma, Diffuse Large B-Cell Type.  She used a wonderful tool called CaringBridge.org to communicate with her friends, family and supporters. What a day of celebration there was when her body said “yes” to the treatment and she got through every step of the process.  She has opened her journal, now, to the public and recently wrote an essay on the “chronology of her hair” to share with the community.

As we know, hair can be a fairly precarious concept when getting through cancer treatment. I hope you are endeared by Sammye’s history of hair.  I know I was.

♥  The second came in my mailbox at home, and now I’m sharing it with you.  Holly Foote grew up in Oklahoma and attended my church until she graduated from high school.  She earned her Masters in Nutrition at Columbia University and recently finished medical school at Touro College; she’s now wearing a white coat.  Her best friend Amy, also one of our former “church kids,” contracted Type I diabetes when she was only nine.  She died in May of 2009 and the events surrounding that tragedy were medically incoherent.

You can read about the “broken system” that misdiagnosed and mistreated Amy in Holly’s blog entry, “Failing Heart.” The card I received explains a bit about her grief experience and was a way to touch back those who had tried to reach out to her during her difficult time.

I thank both Sammye and Holly for sharing their funny and/or vulnerable real lives with their friends, and for giving permission to post their thoughts here at the RDC.

Sincerely, Red Dirt Kelly

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

TOO MUCH TIME ON MY HAIR

by Sammye Cravens Continue reading FROM THE VAULT: A System Worked and a System Failed. How Illness Impacts our Dear Friends…and Us.

Cohabitation

Oh, sweet baby. You make me wish I had money to buy stock in these terribly essential household items:

 

You probably wish you could buy stock in human whining.  You listen to me complain enough about dog hair on things so much you’d be wealthy.

Oh sweet precious Tonks, I wish you would understand that when we’re outdoors building things like, oh…say…a storage shed, that you would play with your toys. Not our tools.

 

And you, dear sweet puppy of my heart, probably wish we wouldn’t be so preoccupied about cleaning up what comes out of your backside. Continue reading Cohabitation

The Secret To Life In A Committed Relationship? It’s Usually “One Thing.”

Some people use beginnings to start New Beginnings.

For example, I know quite a few people who say things like, “I’ll start that new project on Monday.  I just want to finish out my Friday with other work then enjoy my weekend.”  Perhaps the project they mentioned has a high priority, and work they chose to finish on Friday had a lower priority.  It doesn’t matter.  The mental energy of “beginning” a new project sometime mid-Friday didn’t fit with that person.  It was a better choice for them to start new, start fresh, and start on Monday.

Other people use moments to start New Beginnings.

For example, a person who has smoked for twenty years sees a mother carrying a new baby down a crowded street.  The mother walks through a cloud of smoke left by another smoker who just exhaled. Mother coughs and the baby starts crying.  The quiet witnessing of that sequence was the “moment” to which the twenty-year smoker attached meaning.  He or she wanted that baby to be safe the arms of its mother, to be able to rest peacefully and to breathe clean air around them as they grew up.

What I hope to capitalize upon with this particular post, however, is to provide you a possible moment while at a natural beginning.  It’s the first week of January, 2012, and I’d like to share with you the secret of life.  You remember Curly from City Slickers, right?  Curly boiled the message down the way only a true cowboy could.  Let’s review the scene…

So, what’s the one thing about committed relationships?  Well, that’s what you’ve got to figure out. But I’m going to give you a hint.  Continue reading The Secret To Life In A Committed Relationship? It’s Usually “One Thing.”

Not-So-Newlyweds: Resolutions Together

I don’t think there’s anything magical about turning the calendar to January 1 that makes us all run to our bathroom mirrors to post lists of resolutions. Instead, I think those ideas for positive change are born of actually having time away from our regular schedules to remember who we are and who we want to be. In our individual lives and in our relationships, these vacation days at Christmas have almost a healing power, allowing us space to restore the parts of ourselves we give up during the rest of the year. This is will be the fifth New Year’s Resolution season Luke and I have experienced together, and there are some things I’ve learned about setting goals as a married person. It has been interesting to see the way that New Year’s resolutions are different as married people than they were when we were single. It seems that any change either of us make affects the both of us, and the relationship can provide the support we need to make positive changes.

 

Marriage has been a great place for positive peer pressure. In 2010, we decided that we would run in the OKC Memorial Half Marathon. That spring, we treadmilled our way through snow days, pounded the pavement on injured knees, and spent hours going in circles at whatever running trails we could find to keep things interesting. I guarantee I would have given up if I hadn’t had Luke beside me in the process. For one thing, I didn’t want to be beaten…to spend the whole next year watching him get into his car with the “13.1” bumper sticker and knowing I didn’t have one? No way! Besides, how would I have felt if he’d given up and left me to train alone?

 

The big goal for 2011 was to stop drinking pop (or “soda” or “Coke” or whatever you call it). I’ve sure been tempted by that Dr. Pepper that looked sooooooo good in someone else’s glass, but when one of us is weak, the other is strong, and amazingly enough, we have managed to succeed at avoiding the lovely mix of carbonation and syrup all year. However, there have been some goals we’ve set together that we haven’t met. For example, every January, we decide we should eat better, so we start counting calories and measuring portions, but somehow it never fails that we have an off week early in the year and relapse on all the stuff we were trying to avoid. We’ve had to realize that we can’t blame each other (“Well, if you hadn’t suggested pizza for dinner, we would still be on track.), but instead, we have to take responsibility together and avoid giving up on goals for a healthy lifestyle.

 

At the same time, I have to remember that my individual resolutions affect Luke. If I decided that I wanted to run a marathon in 2012, I would have to consider how much time that would take and what the effect would be on our time together in the evenings and on weekends. Right now, I don’t want to make that tradeoff because we seem to have little time together. Plus, my poor knee hasn’t totally overcome that last half marathon, and have you seen the weather, and it’s so dark in the evenings, and, and, and…ok, maybe I just don’t want to do it this year.

 

I think it’s important to think about what I’m like to live with and how my habits affect Luke. For example, when I had roommates in college, I didn’t even think about leaving my junk all over the living room for them to wade through. Somehow, though, I seem to find that acceptable with my lifelong roommate. He keeps his “area” in the living room spotless, but look to my side, and you’ll see my sewing box with a half-finished project, notebooks in which I jot everything from grocery lists to blog ideas, and depending on the day, probably my camera and computer and a few pieces of mail I haven’t look at yet. He never comments, but I know he can’t enjoy looking at my pileup when he is clearly interested in cleanliness.

 

On that note, I appreciate that he doesn’t make goals for me. If he recommended that I organize my project space, he might not get the positive results he expected from that conversation. I think we’ve both realized that while our stubbornness together is a very positive thing, we are not going to change each other. We have to wait until the other realizes a change is needed. Sometimes, that takes a lot of prayer, patience, and forbearance, but in the end, we have to trust each other to be constantly trying to become the best version of ourselves—both for ourselves and for each other.

 

One interesting aspect of marriage is the possibility of making goals for the marriage itself. I heard one time about a couple who had an annual business meeting to discuss their marriage. They talked about the status of the “merger” and what “assets” and “deficits” were present so that they could make improvements. I told Luke about this, and he just shook his head, but what a great concept—to be focused enough on the marriage as an important part of our lives that we would actually take a Saturday to talk about what is going well and what needs to be improved! Hopefully, we don’t need an annual business meeting for this to take place, and we can be in tune with each other enough to know when it’s time to talk about an issue. I have to remind myself not to just keep making plans of action for marriage improvement but to also highlight the strengths and to make sure Luke knows I think he’s had something to do with the good things being good things.

 

Making goals and then watching them succeed together is one of the ways our relationship has grown in these past few years, and it is always fun to discuss the plans we have for the upcoming year. Making a conscious decision to live every moment and to always improve what we have is what makes life an adventure. I think the main idea is to remember that no matter what our goals are this year, our marriage is our goal all the time. If my personal goals can positively affect that long-term goal, then they are worth working toward. If not, they may not be as helpful as I think they are.

The Gift of…Falling in Love With Hubby 3 Times In One Day: A Christmas Post

I sat in the cab, listening to Hubby and the woodcutter talk while they loaded a semi-green rick into the truck bed. Clunk, talk about football. Clunk, clunk, talk about cattle. Clunk, talk about pecan wood and its redeeming qualities for smoking meat.

I heard Hubby say at least twice, “…my wife…” and each time I heard that phrase my heart did a little super-growth spurt, like the Grinch’s pinnacle moment. MY Hubby had called me HIS Wife and it made me fall in love.

Photo credit: eMergent

It was barely over 30 degrees outside.  The wind was damp and blew directly into our faces.  I stood by my Hubby in a gas station parking lot while we counted out fifty dollars cash.  I would run in and pre-pay, and he would fill up the car.  I came back to find that the gas pump was not working correctly.  He needed the attendant to reset the pump.  I ran back inside to deliver the message.  Again, no go. The second time I delivered the message that we “were going to try again,” Hubby must have seen my teeth chatter.

“Kelly, go sit in the car. It’s cold out here.  I’ll take care of this.  See you soon.”

And I feel in love with him again.

Photo credit: bcbusinesshub

At 7:30 p.m. we left WalMart and crossed the parking lot.  We were parked at what can only be described as one of the furthest spaces from the front door.  In the cold air, it felt like miles.  We reached the car and Hubby said, “If you’ll start the car and pop the trunk, I’ll load the groceries.  I can get this.”

I turned on the heated seats, thanking the ever-lovin’ Farfegnugen for what we were about to receive on our back sides.  Continue reading The Gift of…Falling in Love With Hubby 3 Times In One Day: A Christmas Post

The Gift of “Na-ka-ta-ka Miewing” ~ A Christmas Post

One summer day in 1994 my two and one-half year old daughter went streaking. Hyped up on that exhilarated toddler “clean and wanting to be free” feeling, she wriggled out of my arms as I was toweling her off after a mid afternoon bath.

I was on my knees when this happened and by the time I’d made it to my feet in an effort to chase her down, I heard the front screen door open.

I was at least 25-30 feet behind her so the door was swinging back toward me by the time she had made it across the porch and lept into the front yard. I quickly pushed the door back open, towel in my hand and a surge of adrenaline aidEd my mommy-alert status as I followed her.

As I neared the edge of the porch I stopped, hesitated, then took in a scene that if shown in a movie would be a slo-mo moment.  Hubby was standing in the next door neighbor’s yard, talking to two other dads from our ‘hood. Rylee saw him, sped up her already fast pace, long wet ringlets flowing behind her naked body and threw her arms open wide for the upcoming bear hug she expected to receive when she met him.

“EEEEEEeeeeeeeeEEEE!!!” She threw her head back and screamed, glee shooting from every cell in her body. Grass clippings covered more square inches of her wet skin with every step.

The startled man-group saw her, burst into laughter, but right before she lept into her father’s arms I scooped up her wriggling body, wrapped the towel around her and said the only thing I could think of at that moment. “Rylee, naked bathtime bodies are not for public viewing!”

I said it through my giggles, and the men parroted my message. “She’s right, Ry…not for public viewing!”

We said goodbye to the man-group, I hauled her, tow-sack style, back into the house and started bath number two for my little girl.

A few weeks later, Hubby announced that he was taking the girls with him while going grocery shopping so I could have a break. As soon as they were out of the house, I ran a bath, grabbed a book and sank into bubble-heaven.

I must have lost track of time because I was half-way through drying off when I heard the patter of little steps coming into the bathroom. I hadn’t bothered to close or lock the door because the grocery list was quite long. Evidently, Hubby was a quick shopper.

I spun around and grabbed a towel. Before I could even get it around my body the first time, Rylee pointed at me and said, “Na-KA-Ta-KA-Meewwwiiinng!”

“What baby?” I had no idea what she was saying. Continue reading The Gift of “Na-ka-ta-ka Miewing” ~ A Christmas Post

The Need to Rescue: Important Messages for Family Members or Friends of Addicts

Addiction
Photo credit Alan Cleaver

Addiction is a powerful thing.

I’ve had clients who talk about their own intergenerational alcoholism like it was another family member.

I’ve seen babies taken from their mothers at the time of birth because they were born addicted to crack cocaine.

I’ve seen couples in tears because the husband’s addiction to pornography keeps them from being intimate.

I’ve seen an individual male client tell me with a gleam in his eye that “this month, my wife is gonna win the jackpot over at the casino.”   He shares this hope in session right after he tells me that he can’t pay their bill because they’re probably going to file for bankruptcy “this week.”

I’ve seen enough.  But there’s always more.  And attached to the more, will always be the family and friends who love those whose addictions are out of control and rocking the world around them.

This post is for those around the addicts whose worlds are being rocked.  I’m talking to you today because I’ve seen how incredibly hard it is to be the loved one of someone who is addicted to…something.

I know that you respond the way you do because you love them.  And, I know it’s hard to see but many times your responses will only keep the addiction going longer, or delay your loved one getting better.  And, I know that sometimes the most well intended actions on your part make perfect sense to you because you are so worried about the welfare of the person who isn’t themselves…who is addicted to something and it is ruining their lives.

I know this.  And, I’m writing to you anyway.  I’m writing to you as an outside person to try and offer you a resource when you’re feeling like you are at your wits’ end and you feel like you can’t take your world being rocked any longer.  Here are a few tips…I hope you take them as I intend them – with respect and with genuine regard for you and your addicted loved one.

  • If certain people can’t be present at an intervention, do it anyway.  This seems like a “no brainer,” but so many times I’ve seen people put off asking their loved ones to get help because “Uncle Bob” or “their best friend” can’t be there.  They may never be able to be there.  And, YOU may not feel equipped to say or handle the situation very well.  But I promise you…the longer you put it off, the easier it will be to talk yourself out of the entire prospect. And then, the addiction will only continue until things get potentially “even worse” than you thought…when you never thought things could get worse.
  • Stop overfunctioning for the addict.  Stop it.  I really mean it.    So many times friends or loved ones “are just going to check the cabinet to see if there’s alcohol in the house,” or “innocently bring up the fact that they saw an empty pill bottle in the trash to see how they react,” or “just casually sneak a peak at the computer…or the diary…or a personal planner…because it’s for their own good.”  So many times word vomit comes out of friends or loved one’s mouths and it’s incredibly uncool.  Regardless of being “well intentioned” what it is really doing is helping relieve YOUR anxiety.  YOUR job is to take care of relieving your own anxiety about the addict’s problems AWAY from the addict.  Talk to a priest, a counselor, a support person…but DON’T nag, “act as an accountability partner,” or play any fake role in your addict’s life that really acts as a disguise for you checking up on them.  THEY need to get better, and every time you devise a clever way to check on them, it’s apparent to the addict and will only harm your relationship more.
  • Stop playing judge.  Many times, a close person or family member will “hold out” from an addict some sort of resource.  For example, let’s say the addict owns land or stock or some other kind of asset.  Many times, family members will accept a “bargain” with an addict and say, “Okay – we’re going to keep this stuff from you until you get better.  When you prove you can handle it, we’ll give it back.”  This is the worst kind of blackmail.  Continue reading The Need to Rescue: Important Messages for Family Members or Friends of Addicts

University FAQs About the World of S-E-X

Photo and project by Kate Dollarhyde

Note – the content in this post is consistent with a PG-13 rating.  Thanks.

I’ve been teaching “Human Sexuality and the Family” for four years and I still find myself surprised about what seems to surprise my students.

Thinking back to my predisposed assumptions regarding what students would, or would not, think through out loud in the classroom now seems ridiculous to me.

For some reason, I honestly believed college students were more sexually savvy than what I now know them to be.  Perhaps this was because of the overt and raucous behavior I would occasionally witness among groups hanging out together on campus, cracking jokes, talking about remote vibrator reviews and making continuous, “That’s what she said” interjections.

Perhaps, my misconceptions were because of insecurities on my own part.  It could be that I was intimidated by their attempts to be intimidating…attempts to set up defenses so strongly reinforced that my own fears would keep me at bay from helping them learn what they were afraid to discover. If you want to discover yourself, you might want  considert getting some toys from your local sex shop first.

This group behavior I mentioned, however, tended toward simply masking the struggles and insecurities of thousands of young academics finding their way to adulthood – the majority of whom have little ease or comfort when it comes to really processing their own learning about human sexuality.

I thought it might be helpful to pass along some of the most tangential questions students tend to dwell on over and over.  Understanding what students in their early 20s think about, find curious to discover, or debate about in the classroom could be helpful for our society to continue a dialogue that students seem willing to have.  Therefore, I’ve prepared a few points drawn only from my single perspective in one classroom about who, what, and how sexuality is deconstructed and then reconstructed throughout a semester.

Students are highly curious about the “next life stage” and what that might mean for them and an intimate partner.

The idea of being in a committed relationship and what that might mean sexually is a curious thing for students.  They wonder how they will negotiate long-term birth control decisions.  They wonder what is fair and not fair about Continue reading University FAQs About the World of S-E-X

Where Have All the Great Marriages Gone?

I spend my days talking about marriage, divorce, family strengthening strategies, and child-well-being. I can spout research and trends, and articulate the many factors attributed to changing family dynamics. I’ve seen firsthand the complex challenges low-income families and single parents face in trying to make ends meet and help their children belie the odds. Let me tell you – it isn’t pretty out there.

I do all of this as a part of my job, which I love, but some days I feel like a fish swimming upstream. It’s easy for the stories and statistics to fuse together in my head and settle into a discouraging presence in my heart. This isn’t altogether a bad thing, because the nagging concern I feel certainly motivates me to plug ahead and work hard to implement programs and strategies which help couples and individuals achieve their family goals. And, even though I hear some tough stories without a happy ending, I’m privy to an equal number of revelations by couples who admit to feeling hopeful for the first time in weeks, months, or even years. Hope is a powerful emotion; without it, they will most certainly fail. With hope, however, amazing things can happen.

Another bright spot for me and something that adds to my own feelings of hope is the launch of the “Oklahoma’s Most Inspiring Couples” campaign. For the past three years, we have worked with a media partner to conduct a statewide search for couples who have shown commitment to their marriages in a significant way – have triumphed through adversity, endured through sickness and health, or otherwise inspired friends and family with their support of one another or zeal for life. Just when I start to feel like there are no couples to serve as role models for hard work and enduring friendship, the “Oklahoma’s Most Inspiring Couples” campaign reminds me that long-lasting and healthy marriages ARE possible.

It just so happens that this week is the launch of our new campaign, so what better way to kick it off than to share some information with those who care about Oklahoma and Oklahomans – you! If you’ve been inspired by an Oklahoma couple, Continue reading Where Have All the Great Marriages Gone?

Not-So-Newlyweds: How to Keep the “Happy” in the Holidays

Remember being a kid and the only holiday stress you had was convincing your parents you were asleep while secretly plotting your position for attempting to catch Santa swooping down your chimney (well, that, and if you’re like me, wondering whether he would come at all, given that you didn’t have that all-important brick structure in your living room)? In those days, turkey magically appeared on the table, along with pumpkin pie and that gelatinous cranberry stuff. Grandma and Grandpa, aunts, uncles, and cousins came over, and joy abounded right there in your dining room.

Then you became an adult. Maybe you got married and realized that the inner workings of such a magical day involved more than you had been led to believe. You became aware of the conspiracy to hide from children the dark side of the holidays, the one in which Grandma and Uncle So-and-So argued for half an hour about whether the turkey was really done, and you were spared from witnessing that car ride with your cousins in which they were threatened within an inch of their lives to not to torture the dog—like they did last year—or to face the direst of consequences at home. Not to mention the whole decision process of where Thanksgiving was going to be and who to spend Christmas with. (“Your family again? We always spend the holidays with your family.” Yes, that discussion). For many years, I too was protected from this less-glamorous side of the holiday season, but now, having been married for a few years, I have learned a few lessons about avoiding holiday disasters and keeping that “happily married” thing going into the New Year.

You can’t force anyone else to use a calendar. Luke’s family are big calendar users. They know their Thanksgiving plans weeks or months in advance. My family (not all, but in general) are a bit more “free-spirited” in their planning and often don’t announce holiday plans until a few days beforehand. Continue reading Not-So-Newlyweds: How to Keep the “Happy” in the Holidays

Rejecting Chumbawamba; Accepting Adolescent Doodles

My therapy. You'll soon find out why...

I experienced two brand new phenomena on Friday, November 18th.

First, I chose to turn on “The Sports Animal” talk radio mid-morning after I heard the OSU plane crash news.  I promise you, that’s never happened before.   Although I’ve been a “victim of the environment” wherein my husband listens to sports talk radio with me in the car, and I choose not to throw a fit “because this is ridiculous and endless ranting about mindless nothingness,” I’ve never made a conscious decision to listen.

Second?  I heard grown men crying openly as they called in to “The Sports Morning” host, recounting the sadness of having two plane crashes impact the OSU Athletic Department and community within ten years.  One man couldn’t finish his comment because he was crying and simply hung up.  Responding to the following caller who was happy and excited about some other BCS Bowl possibility, the radio announcer said, “I wish I didn’t even have to work today.  This feels weird and wrong to be doing this kind of show right now.”

Let’s make that that three new experiences: At that moment, I gained respect for the announcer on Sports Talk Radio.  Continue reading Rejecting Chumbawamba; Accepting Adolescent Doodles

Not So Newlyweds: Friendship, Love, and Baseball

Luke & Julianna in 2006, ready for the "Cards" game.

We just celebrated our 5-year dating anniversary. I know, I know, once you get married, you’re supposed to focus more on the wedding anniversary than the dating one, but my theory is that without the dating anniversary, there wouldn’t be a wedding anniversary.

Five years ago was the fall of 2006. Luke and I were in school at OSU, and we were in the middle of a heated Major League Baseball playoff season. A truly diehard St. Louis Cardinals fan, Luke’s contagious enthusiasm for the sport had won me over to watching some of the TV coverage and even convinced me to go with him to a game in St. Louis that September. We had a blast, and it was the beginning of the end of our “just” friendship.

Backing up a little, I don’t actually remember meeting Luke. We grew up in the same church, but because of a bit of age difference, we were never more than casual acquaintances until we were both at OSU. We “met” when his mom sent a few items with me to give Luke at the end of a weekend I had been home. One thing led to another, as they say, and suddenly he was a staple in my daily plans. Along with an amazing group of friends, we had study “parties,” took road trips, and participated in Dessert Club, in which our friends gathered at restaurants for the sole purpose of ordering dessert. Those were such good times, and almost imperceptibly, moments built upon each other until we realized we wanted our time together to outweigh our time apart. So after the trip to St. Louis that September, we had some good talks, experimented with hugs and hand-holding, and decided to start a relationship. Continue reading Not So Newlyweds: Friendship, Love, and Baseball

Baby, Baby…Baby: You Can Always Come Home

Kelly’s Thoughts: Michael sent me a message a few days ago after he noticed I had written my “Emptynesterology” post. He wondered if perhaps we could tag-team a bit since several of the RDC authors are in various stages of child-rearing (or child-launching). “Sure,” I thought.  No problem.

Then a reader named Jeanne wrote to us sharing that she experienced the “oh, they grow up so fast” emotions with children AND grandchildren.  So there it was…a brand new thought in my head.  The child-rearing, child-launching, grandchild-rearing, and grandchild-launching…they ALL have similar emotions attached.  Sentimental. Precious. Wonderful. Sad. Hopeful.

I love that Michael is writing to his “barely one year-old” daughter now.  He’s giving her a message that is of the utmost importance:  the message to your child that you love them, accept them, and that you are committed as a parent to them regardless of what peaks or valleys lie ahead.

I can share with Michael that there most likely WILL be peaks and valleys.  And, if I had to make a prediction…with a girl? Possibly around 5th – 8th grade.  It’s definitely a volatile time for sure.  Life also throws unexpected curve balls.  And sometimes big, fast, intense dodge balls.  However, at least to me, it seems that if a mantra is established at bath time that “she can always come home,” then not only will she be equipped to play…but equipped to lose.  AND win.

Michael’s Thoughts:  Every night, while I dry Isabella off after her bath and place her in the cradle I took from Pusletaske, I look her right in the eyes and tell her that she can always come home no matter what.

Continue reading Baby, Baby…Baby: You Can Always Come Home

Twenty Kisses




My husband has never really been a “holding hands in public” person.  I was surprised by this discovery very early in our marriage, mainly because his family is a hugging, demonstrative group and he has always been okay with:

1) The arm around my shoulder (or mine around his) in church or other location, such as a restaurant;

2) Asking me to scratch his back or rub his shoulders briefly in public if he gets an itch or has a sore muscle; or,

3) Giving hugs to me, or the girls, his mother or other family members.

All these constitutionals are okay.  But, he thinks the act of holding hands is just weird.  What if you want to pause and pick up something? What if you’re not synchronized in your pace or stride? Holding hands gives you less freedom, in his opinion, and it’s just really not for him.

This lack of holding hands, however, is made up for one-hundred fold by a tradition that began while attending Oklahoma State University (OSU) football games together:  the ritual of giving each other a kiss every time the Cowboys score.

Extra points count too.

If you happen to be listening to the game on the radio, then the touchdown sequence would sound something like this as Dave Hunziker our announcer calls the play: Continue reading Twenty Kisses