I Made a Relationship Choice

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Nathan and I went for a walk on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywooe, down where Chin Chin is. We passed a store window with a mannequin  dressed in elegant Elizabethan attire. The entire outfit was made of recyclables—plastic bags, paper, batteries, etc. Very, very clever.  Then on a small sign it listed all the things that were represented as recyclables.

I said, “Hangers. See, I told you hangers are recycled.”  (He gets his shirts laundered and put on hangers.  He always puts the hangers in the trash.  I even brought up a separate trash can to the bedroom for the hangers and other recyclables. He got confused about which was which, and hence ignored it completely. Read the rest of this entry »

Name Calling is a Relationship Deal Breaker

With 42 years of marriage, we’ve gone through some rough spots.  But some things actually started out at the front of the line. One incredibly important deal-breaker was name calling.  My sweet easy-going (not necessarily easy to get along with) husband came with only 2 requirements:

  1. If at all possible that we get custody of his 2 children (8 & 13) and
  2. No name-calling—not in a joke, not in a double-entendre, not in a clearly sarcastic remark, not ever.  It’s the only time I saw that flash of “Don’t mess with me or I’m outta here —now.”  He meant business!

I came from the heart of sarcasm land. My mother would say the most outrageous thing in complete seriousness until I got completely hysterical and then announce she was kidding – and not a moment before my hysteria.  She told my brother to call me Fatty, because she thought it would motivate me to lose weight.  I am serious.

And she loved me.  True, she wasn’t mature in every area of her life.

So not saying a funny, sarcastic, but insulting name as a joke was really hard for me.  I would declare, “Oh for heaven’s sake, you’re brilliant, Nathan. Clearly I’m only kidding when I call you ‘Stupid’.”  Apparently, he didn’t get it. Read the rest of this entry »

For Women Who Date: A Good Relationship Takes Courage

MY GOAL

I’m dedicated to helping women who are unhappy in their relationship and would prefer to find a way to turn that around rather than end the relationship to transform their cold, rocky relationship into one that’s smooooooooth and HOT.

It’s within that context that I chose the name for my domain: ImperfectSpouse.com.

And it’s interesting to note the many ways that people are responding to those words: “Imperfect Spouse.” Read the rest of this entry »

Confessions of a Former Angerholic

Angry Merle
Angry Merle

It started with this tweet this morning.

Lissarankin (http://www.owningpink.com) Angry people cannot create a peaceful planet, turn your thoughts to Joy and feel the shift.

I responded: Yes. Anger is a choice. That was a powerful revelation to me.

Lissa said: A revelation that enlightened your life, I’m sure! RT @ImperfectSpouse: Yes. Anger is a choice. That was a powerful revelation to me.

I responded: @Lissarankin Knowing anger was a choice more than enlightened my life, it changed my marriage. It oiled the gears for smooth ride.

Lissa said: That is beautiful @ImperfectSpouse what a wonderful way you Owned your Anger. Big *hugs* to you.

Then I was off to the rest of my day and this evening when I have had a chance to reflect.I conclude that anger is ugly, hence,the expression on my face. (That picture is of me very angry or very constipated.)

I find one of the primary sources of anger is defending your position against somebody else’s thoughts. This defensive position can be coming from a victim mentality— feeling already defeated with no way of winning. You noticed that I mentioned ‘winning’ as if this were a contest, not a conversation. And it may be, depending on you and the other person, though I don’t recommend it. Read the rest of this entry »

SHINING KNIGHT OR MARTIAN?

 Fairy Tales

Fairy tales and kid’s stories help children learn the difference between fact and fantasy.  Still, as much as children adore the fable of Santa Claus, they let go – some earlier than others.

But there’s one fantasy that seems to persist into adulthood: The idea of “A Knight in Shining Armor.”
Dresden-Zwinger-Armoury-Armor_02  This fantasy perpetuates the feeling in women that we need/want to be taken care of. That feeling wreaks havoc with our growing sense of self-worth and our need to be independent. Many of us conduct wars within ourselves on a daily, if not moment-by-moment, basis.

And then there’s how we, as women, view our men. And the kind of men we have relationships with, or marry. According to many women, our men are either wusses or control freaks. They push us around (not physically, I hope) or we resent that they let us push them around.

It was somewhere around the time that I truly recognized this external battle (between men and women, and about what women want and expect of the men in their lives) and internal battle (within myself, wanting to be cared for and simultaneously independent) that I stopped blaming my husband Nate and started looking at him, observing him.

 “Drool Cool”

Nate definitely isn’t  the vibrant, vital, virile man from the Dos XX (beer) ad. That guy is so cool, he’s “drool cool.”

Well, actually, if we dressed Nathan and coiffed him “perfectly,” he COULD look  like the Dos XX man in a picture – but not in a video. Though he can sometimes look cool, he rarely ACTS it.  Instead, he either acts gruff, loving, disinterested,  caring, thoughtless, thoughtful… A lot of things – a bunch of them very lovable – but not one of them necessarily “cool.”

Hey, what am I asking of my man? After all, even the Dos XX man gets body odor, and farts. A fart (the louder the better) is the true evidence of a happy, self-satisfied living man – definitely not one of the fantasy qualities of a knight in shining armor.

 John Gray

 In real life, most men DO try their darnedest to make their women happy.

 Yes, I believe that.

 It’s true, men are awkward, misinformed, and clumsy.

 And we women are sometimes picky and mean in our demands. We want men’s armor polished to a high shine. We want them perfect.

 It’s not just that men are not perfect (neither are we, ladies), it’s that men are men – an entirely different species. (Well, not really… But it can seem like they are.)

 Men are Martians; not knights. That’s why John Gray, PhD,  wrote “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” http://home.marsvenus.com/

 Mimi Donaldson
mimi_d  Another person I learned about these differences from is Mimi Donaldson http://www.mimidonaldson.com/ 

I heard Mimi speak  a couple of times, more than 15 years ago. She had a different last name then. She’s the first speaker that I ever bought an”information product” from – tapes (yes, cassette tapes) of her speeches, which she was selling from the back of the presentation room.

 Mimi talks about how men and women behave differently in the workplace. When I heard her speak, the truer her words were, the funnier she was, and she was hilarious. She took stuff I knew and reorganized it into new information. Her information is more than hilarious, it’s very helpful. Hire her as a speaker, buy her information products, listen to her speak… get her information any way that you can.

 Defending the Caveman

 One other person that’s had a great impact on my understanding and being able to talk about the differences between men and women is Rob Becker in his comedy show “Defending the Caveman” http://www.cavemania.com/ (He’s appearing in Las Vegas right now.)

Rob’s show had Nathan and I rolling on the floor – partially from embarrassment, because we saw ourselves in his stories.

Although I suspect that Rob considers himself an actor and not a comedian, he gave me the idea to pay attention to comedians as a source of information about relationships. I don’t agree with everything comics say, of course, and I probably wouldn’t repeat a great deal that most comedians say on the subject, but many times they get it right on. Watching comedians is definitely a fun way to do research on relationships.

 Merle at the Improv

In fact, if you haven’t already done so, check out my own attempt at stand-up comedy at the Hollywood Improv. You can find it in the comedy section on YouTube, titled  Merle at the Improv   I highly recommend it. I’m funny – mostly.

  Summary

 It took me a while, but I learned that Nate has never been stupid or mean, as I was absolutely sure he must be. (Well, I still have to check that out from time to time…) He’s always just been male.

 And we are living happily ever after, but definitely not perfectly.  Ahhh….

 How do you handle the male/female differences in YOUR relationship? Let me know your thoughts.

 Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ImperfectSpouse?Find me on Facebook: http://Facebook.com Search: Merle Singer

Yes-Yes, In an Established Relationship, Testing is a No-No.

It was Wednesday. Nate asked me where I was going? I didn’t want to tell him. Ever get like “Do I have to account for every second of my life just cause I’m married.” Well, actually it wasn’t like that. I don’t get those feelings anymore-but I used to.

I didn’t want to tell him because I was going to the hairdresser and I wanted to see if he would notice when I got home. If I tell him of course he will be alerted. He asked so directly that I couldn’t obfuscate or change the subject, so I told him. He took it in. In fact, he said something to the effect that “I’ll be sure to notice your hair when you get home.”

I went to Loehmann’s afterwards to extend the time to see if he would still remember. Well, I also wanted a couple of tops. I haven’t bought any clothes this year. That can start to wear on a lady’s psyche after a while.

(Caption:Yellow is not good next to my sallow complexion, but I fell in love with the color and pattern.)

Even so, when I got home, he remembered to oooh and ahhh. Note, I said remembered, because I know he remembered; I not sure that he noticed. Let’s face it, when I’m in the middle of a style, a trip to the hairdresser freshens it up, it doesn’t make an extreme difference. Even my friends don’t notice; they just complement me on how great I look in general. I can see they haven’t figured out why. Hey, I’m not complaining.

So, here’s the imperfect spouse part. It was me—-this time. What was I doing testing him—he wouldn’t notice my hair if I didn’t tell where I’m going? What kind of stupid stuff is that, even if I wasn’t really serious about it?  I really don’t get angry when he doesn’t notice, and if it’s important to me that he make me feel good about how I look, I say to him, “Nathan notice that my hair is done and tell me how wonderful it looks. And he does; that works so great. I think sometimes I act classically female by default and it’s nothing to brag about. It’s not fair to set traps. It doesn’t take a lot of skill to set a trap that a caring, loving, but not that tuned in to our wavelength man will fall into. But every trap we set, injures the man we trap. Is that really what we want? No; shame on me.

I spend half my time thinking about was yoyos men are and the rest thinking about what insecure meanies (true I was thinking of the plural of a 5 letter word, but this works) we are.
When I was younger, I honestly thought that men and women were exactly the same except for men’s extra appendage — which gave them a leg up on us women (I simply could not resist the humor. — Yes, that’s humor. If men and women are alike, then men truly are flunking out. And that makes woman flunking out, too. But we are not alike, although we do share an amazing amount of thoughts and values. Nathan said that what he admired about me when we met, was my values; I didn’t even know they were showing.
Anyway, men and women are different. Next blog, I’ll talk about who I learned that from. There are about 3 people that got the differences through my thick skull. Stay tuned.

Let me know your thoughts.  And stay tuned for contest next month.

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Art Show Featuring Nathan Singer, Sunday Aug. 16, 2009

Lovely Blog Readers,

Nathan Singer, phenomenal artist. is showing a unique piece of his  work at an exhibit at Barnsdall Art Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, August 16, 2009.

Stop by and say “Hi.”

There are many excellent art pieces, AND

Experience a unique piece by the wonderful and creative artist:

NATHAN SINGER.

Come speak to the artist and get a glimpse into the Artist’s Psyche.

Barnsdall Art Center is atop the Hill at 4800 Hollywood Blvd just west of Vermont.

The opening reception is Sunday, August 16, 2009, 2-5pm.

Afterward, meander outside again and be tempted by the booths of crafts and jewelry for sale. (no credit cards.)

Parking:
There is limited parking at the park and street parking in the surrounding neighborhood. Parking is also available at Kaiser Permanente, next door. Enter just west of the corner of Barnsdall Avenue (slightly south of Hollywood Blvd and Vermont).  A shuttle will take you to and from the Municipal Art Gallery.  Please do not park at the shipping center; they will tow.

Let me know that you are coming, Don’t forget to tell Nathan that I sent you.

Merle Singer

Follow me on Twitter: http://Twitter/imperfectspouse

I Improved My Marriage Quality of Life

Since when did you become Queen of the House? he asked..

Oooooo! He was cruisin’ for a bruisin’.

Since I was born, I said as I brushed up against him provocatively and gently delivered the lightest kiss. Our quality of life has definitely improved since I made the choice to not get angry at things that would have pushed my buttons in the past.

Wow. Things have changed. It all started this way. I was doing some work on the back porch. Nate came out to say that he was going to buy some wire and did I want anything. I said “no thanks.” I added, “It’s getting hot out here; I think I’ll go inside.”

What I see working--laptop and all--in my back yard.

What I see working--laptop and all--in my back yard.

He told me that it was getting warm inside as well, and that I will have to put on the air conditioner. I said. “Put it on? I didn’t turn it off. I always say turn it up, not off.” (Implying that he shouldn’t have turned it off and that it was his fault for it getting too warm in the house and that he should take care of it, since obviously he was the one who messed with it.)

Previously, he would have gotten defensive—kind of contracting. By now, he’s learned to be a bit humorously snotty—kind of expanding.

And that’s when he said “Since when did you become Queen of the House?” It was cute. He wanted to be cute, disfuse things without apologizing for his behavior/being himself.

It worked. We women don’t want to beat you men down; we just want to yell at you periodically when you’re not perfect—by whose definition you ask? By ours, duhhhhh.

He left on his errands. I moved my stuff inside and went upstairs to fix the thermostat. Guess what, last night he did it correctly; he hadn’t turned off the air conditioner.
What do you do when start to get annoyed or angry?
Let me know—on the blog, on Facebook or Twitter. Say something, please. I’m interested in your comments, questions, thoughts, reactions, feelings—what have I missed? Let me know.
Meanwhile, have a great weekend.
Follow me:”http://twitter.com/ImperfectSpouse””
Friend me, Merle Singer, on “http://Facebook.com”
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I Finally Got My Relationship “Handled”.

We found a fancy knob on our walk around the Farmers Market

We found a fancy knob on our walk around the Farmers Market

Life is odd. At least my life is odd. I heard a Dr Daniel G Amen talking about health issues on PBS television and he mentioned automatic thinking. He was referring to negative thinking. I never heard it referred to as “automatic” thinking.

Each has our own version of “automatic” thinking.

I, too, have my own version of automatic negative thinking, but I also have my own version of automatic positive thinking. In just about all my interchanges with my husband, I compare it to how I reacted 20, 30 years ago. Yes, if you don’t remember, I’ve been married to the same man for 41 years. Of course, I was a mere tot, when our folks married us off. NOT.

It’s the one place where my progress in life is so clear to me. We have always had a good marriage, but it’s better than ever. It was me who lead the change, and I’ve changed. Man, have I changed. I’m still me; I’m me without the anger. I’m me without the judgment (pretty much). I’m me with more respect for my husband and his opinions.

I’m much less likely to roll my eyes as if he were a moron. THAT WASN’T NICE OF ME. Notice, I didn’t say he isn’t a moron anymore; oh, come on, I’m just kidding. But what I really mean is that many of his behaviors are the same; I just see them differently

Here’s an example. Our kitchen was a disaster area. The wood flooring was worn bare in spots; we refloored it. It’s beautiful. The butcher-block counter tops was stained and discolored, we got a great buy on granite. It’s beautiful. Our cabinets, not expensive when the house was built in the 70’s or 80’s, are beat up white laminate.

The very fact that I didn’t have a fit because he wanted to do things backward (you should do the cabinets first) and piecemeal shows a huge change in me. I guess I didn’t want to spend the big money anyway.

We got 4 estimates for the cabinet refacing: $24,000, $!3,000, $12,000, and $8,000. Yikes, the amount, and yikes, the range of prices. We went to where they made the cabinets and were duly impressed. I could see our kitchen in my mind with the new cabinet doors (we would only reface—new doors, old interiors). What a huge difference it would make.

I thought we had decided, so I was ready to move forward. However, apparently we (Nathan) had undecided, and was planning fix up tactics to our current cabinets. That would have driven me crazy at one time. I would have been so annoyed. Not today.

He already put back the door that had fallen off in my hand two weeks ago. And he painted the part where the white laminate had peeled off. It doesn’t look that bad. Boy, have I change. I’m not only imperfect as a spouse; I’ve given up perfection in kitchens.

New metal possibility (l) and current wooden handle (r).

New metal possibility (l) and current wooden handle (r).

Hey, we can always get new refacing. In the meantime, why not experiment with fixing up. Nathan came home with a metal handle instead of the wood ones we have; I’m not crazy about it in this setting.

We went out to the Grove for an urban walk and stopped in at Anthropologie and picked out a knob (instead of a handle) we can always fill the other handle hole. In the meantime I covered the hole with Post-it white tape. Hilarious. Hey, I’ll let you know if we end up with all different knobs and handles. No, don’t worry, we won’t–probably.

Using knobs and having to fill a hole rather than using a handle seems rediculous, but gives us more choices. Hey, why not have fun.

Using knobs and having to fill a hole rather than using a handle seems rediculous, but gives us more choices. Hey, why not have fun.

So, rather than get mad at Nathan because he changed his mind, I looked at it from his side. We will save a lot of money, and we can always do it later.

Because I’m more open minded and willing to try a different approach, Nathan doesn’t get so dang stubborn in reaction to me. So we explore the possibilities together in cooperation instead of conflict.

What amazes me is I’ve made the changes; and it has changed him too.

Anyway, I’d love to hear your comments—on the blog, on Facebook or Twitter. Say something, please. I’m interested in your comments, questions, thoughts, reactions, feeling—what have I missed? Let me know.

Have a wonderful day.

Follow me: http://twitter.com/ImperfectSpouse
Friend me, Merle Singer, on http://Facebook.com

An Enduring Loving Relationship. It Can Be Done.

It was 6 of us. We met at Campanile Restaurant. Two couples took out the 3rd couple as a wedding present. By now they have been married 8 months. A really good match of good people. They both were married before. She had a bad experience before. He is sweet and gentle, and we all are so happy that good people have gotten together.

But that’s not the big news. The big news that the two other couples have been married almost 40 years and 42 years. You may think dottering; but we’re hot ladies and aren’t stepford wives.

Folks, it can be done. People are doing it as we speak—learning to live in a relationship, a warm, loving relationship with room for arguments and mistakes.
It can be done.

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