August 31, 2009

Inside this Newsletter:


Happy end of summer! I wish it was just the beginning. Alan & I have had a great summer. No travel, just hanging out on weekends at my mountain house! My flowers are all in full bloom and fabulous (see pix below)! However, I had a huge scare and have been filled with anxiety for ten days as my water pressure started dropping and went from 50psi to 20psi and my garden was crashing, not to mention how difficult it was to shower, do laundry, etc.

They are fixing my well and pump today, but there was a possibility that my well was dry. I felt like my house in the mountains was changing from a spa retreat to a home in a third world country. It’s supposed to be fixed by the end of the day and my mother and 3 other guests are arriving this evening from Illinois!

Just FYI: remember the skin study I was in that I hoped would make me look years younger? Well, it didn’t really work very well. I didn’t realize that they were testing 2 different products and both Jennifer and I got the product that lost the contest. The other product supposedly really worked and it’s called NIA 24 and they gave me some samples and I really like it! If you want it, you can get it at Dr. Gregory Buford’s office.

I’m still singing regularly and if anyone wants to come, we usually go on Wed. nites to Armida’s for karaoke, but I may soon have another gig!


My Garden is in full bloom !!

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Wedding Vows We Should Make

“I promise to be a loving and faithful husband/wife in plenty and want, joy and sorrow, sickness and health until death do us part.” There’s nothing wrong with the understood agreement in traditional wedding vows, except that they are vague and don’t deal with the specific issues that tear most relationships apart.

After years of listening to my clients, both in Denver and Aspen, I, as a relationship therapist, know what couples do that destroys their love and how to protect against that.

Most people get married without realizing that there are rules of conduct that need to be applied to any relationship to keep it healthy over the years. Unlike traditional marriage rules of the past with stereotypes for male and female roles, these rules apply to a healthy, equal relationship, and involve mutual respect.

But of course it would be difficult to put everything that’s necessary into your spoken wedding vows, so I suggest an addendum. Below is a 20-point agreement that I suggest couples sign as a promise to each other to remind each of them what is expected in a long-term healthy relationship. {Be sure and sign and date the agreement and remember that if one person defaults, it nullifies the entire contract.}

I promise:

  1. To try to always remember the reasons I married you. When I’m upset about your shortcomings, I will remind myself of your best traits and why I fell in love with you in the first place.

  2. To always communicate to you when I’m upset with you and to look for a compromise/ solution when we argue, knowing that if I don’t speak up, I will let resentments build which will damage my love for you.

  3. To try and always give you the benefit of the doubt, thinking the best of you instead of the worst.

  4. To be kind to the people you love (family and friends) even if I don’t really like them.

  5. To continually show and profess my love to you and never withhold it.

  6. To not take you for granted, continually appreciating and acknowledging what you bring to our relationship.

  7. To remain sexual with you, and if at any point I stop feeling it, to promise to work it through until the issue is resolved.

  8. To be your partner in every way, including making decisions jointly and carrying my own weight in the relationship.

  9. To love you for who you are and not who I want you to be. To never stifle your identity because I love the “you” that you are and do not want to change you. And, vice versa, i.e. to not allow you to take away my identity as well.

  10. To never look down on you, put you down by criticizing you, or act like I am better or smarter than you in any way.

  11. To try to always support your goals and dreams, even if I don’t understand or agree with them.

  12. To always treat you with respect, not overstepping your boundaries by acting like a parent or treating you like a child

  13. To make you a priority in my life, never allowing anything to come between us whether it’s family, children, friends, work, or anything else.

  14. To continually schedule and reserve quality time together no matter how busy I get.

  15. To not take advantage of you, always giving to you as much as I get from this relationship.

  16. To listen to your pain, sadness, frustrations, joys, etc. without judging you or telling you that you shouldn’t feel that way.

  17. To say I’m sorry for hurting you even when I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong, and to admit when I actually know I am wrong. Then to make a plan or promise or deal so that the same issue does not happen again.

  18. To trust you and your love for me enough not to suffocate you or display unnecessary jealousy.

  19. To show you any negative feelings toward you by expressing them in a vulnerable way (like hurt) before I display anger toward you.

  20. To never blame you for my unhappiness, as I realize it is each of our responsibilities to make ourselves happy so that we can be a happy couple.

Most married couples today are not following these rules, which is of course what brings them into my office. Many men and women might disagree with my relationship rules, but many more have no idea what a respectful, equal, healthy relationship should look like. I present the rules to give you guidelines, but each couple can perfect them themselves. Even if you are already married, these are the issues you need to work through to preserve your marriage. And of course, if you are contemplating marriage and are now not following these rules of respect at this point, I recommend that you try pre-marital counseling to resolve these issues before you walk down that isle. And yes, my man of 22 years and I do follow them and are still in a happy, healthy relationship.

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Carolyn Writing for!

I am now writing for as their Denver Relationship Advice Examiner. I am expected to write 3 articles per week and I’m paid per hit (so please go to the site and see my articles). My articles are supposed to be 300 - 500 words (but I have trouble staying in that range – surprise, surprise), and so far I’ve written the following: Elway’s – a bar for cougars and cheetahs, Michael Jackson’s childhood issues killed him, Jennifer Anniston should play men like stocks, Weak men who try to please, Single by choice – nothing wrong with it, Perpetually single people want what they can’t get, How to stop feeling guilty, and the Wedding Vows article that is in this newsletter. To see my articles or checkout the site, go to and type in my name or title or go to the link to my page at

If you would like to write for them and be introduced by me, email me at and let me know (I get paid a small fee if they use you). Carolyn will also being writing a Q & A for and upcoming Denver women’s magazine that will be coming out in the next month or two. To see her newly revamped website and/or receive her free weekly relationship tips and monthly newsletter, go to

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Q & A: She Slapped me for Breaking up! Normal or not?

Question: I'm 19 years old and just had my first break-up with a girl. We're in college and have been together for about about a year. We do have a special bond and I thought we should try to remain friends. I tried to be as gentle and as diplomatic as possible but it did not go well. She became very upset and emotional. I tried to calm her down, but was unsuccessful. She walked away in tears, then came back, slapped my face and walked away again. Does it sound like I did something terribly wrong or is this a fairly normal female reaction?

Just an amusing little addendum. I shared the story with my father and he shared a personal story with me. During college, my father was on the receiving end of a breakup with his then girlfriend. She was very thoughtful in explaining why they should go their separate ways. His reaction on the other hand, was one of pleasure and relief, almost thanking her for breaking up with him. Insulted by his lack of disappointment, she gave him a stinging slap on the cheek. Like father like son, in a reverse scenario! Btw, my father also congratulated me on receiving my first slap from a woman as if it were a rite of passage into manhood. I'm still scratching my head over that one, lol. Kevin

Answer:  Kevin -- probably what upset your girlfriend the most (& certainly would me and every woman I know), is that she didn’t see it coming. Why did you break up with her? Did you tell her why? Were there fights leading up to the break-up? To be honest, your email makes you sound like a rather cold, unemotional male. Her reaction is normal for someone who is taken by surprise by a guy she thinks she’s in a relationship with. And, by the way, there’s no bigger insult than to say, “Let’s just be friends.” It basically says that she’s good enough as a friend, but not as a lover.

And your father, well he sounds pretty unemotional too. If he was relieved when his “slapper girlfriend” broke up with him years ago, why didn’t he do it first? Though the idea of you both getting slapped by girls is quite humorous and certainly can be seen as a “rite of passage,” I would say you both did something wrong: neither of you communicated during the relationship as you were having problems or negative feelings; then you both ended the relationships abruptly. First of all, it just isn’t fair to treat someone that way. Second of all, it shows that you (and your father) have difficulty with intimacy.

Intimacy involves sharing both positive and negative feelings with the one you care about as they occur – it’s only then that issues can be worked out. Every relationship has issues and most of them are not deal breakers if handled earl y on. Even if your issue is just that you’re too young to be in a serious relationship (which you are), that should have been discussed every step of the way. I’d be curious about your father’s relationship with your mother and if he got better at expressing himself as he got older. If so, ask him for direction. If not, please stop following in his footsteps!

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Readers Speak

Hi Carolyn,

I wanted to thank you for another great newsletter. I keep all of them. I loved what you wrote about Michael Jackson’s life. How sad that he died feeling that way.

Also, the “alone time” was my favorite part of your book, “Loving Him without Losing You”. I have told many of my female (and a few male) friends to read it, to help them to get their lives back.

I lent the book to my sister, and she would retort back “I spend time alone, it doesn’t help me” but she doesn’t realize that she never got to the point that she was TRULY happy being alone.

When I picked up that book many years ago, it was like you wrote it just for me. I did all of the things in it, and I changed my life around. I still struggle occasionally in my relationships, but how I am now compared to how I was before are night and day, thankfully.

It’s kind of timely, but I recently started a blog, called “Adventures by Yourself”. A few books by Julia Cameron talk about “artist dates” where you spend time alone each week. It definitely helps people who are ready to take the next step. I will be adding blog posts of new ideas for people to spend alone time:

Thank you again for your great books, newsletters, and articles you write. I hope that you and Alan enjoy the rest of your summer.

Also, I hope your kitty cats are doing good. EB

TO: EB - Just an update on my 6 cats. They’re all doing good! Below are 4 of them, as the other 2 are Feral and look just like Tommy. Tommy, the one I raised by hand from birth, is 3 years old now and is known as our “mean” cat by family and friends since he doesn’t like many people except for me and Alan. Then there’s Cuddles, my ragdoll that was attacked by raccoons and lost her leg and tail, is 6 years old and doesn’t know she’s crippled (she chases the feral cats away when they try to come in). Then there’s our most recent kitty, Tiger, who we found in the shed last spring, and he’s the most loving. And finally, there’s Precious who’s a Maine Coone cat about 8 years old and keeps to herself.

Good morning. I have a very old copy of an article you penned from 1991 New Woman magazine about spending time alone (what to do if you find yourself with a few hours or even a full weekend) and was wondering where I might find that digitally to share with several female friends. Thank you!! I enjoyed the piece and have held on to it for all these years, re-reading it when I need to!!! The article is titled "In Good Company" from August 1991, New Woman magazine. As luck would have it (and the reason that I wrote in the first place) was that my husband took our two daughters (11 and 13) away for the weekend to see relatives, so I get to spend three days alone. Very nice. RAB

Then I sent her the copy of the article that I also put in last month’s newsletter (it’s on my website -- if you want it click here), and she replied:

You are awesome!!! Thanks so much. I see my tattered copy ever once in a while and it's like re-reading a favorite book....depending on what is going on in your life, you see different things in the text when you read it over again. RAB

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About Carolyn

Carolyn Bushong, L.P.C, is an expert on relationships and a licensed therapist. She is known for being one of the top relationship therapists in the country and the author of 3 relationship books. She has appeared on Oprah, the View, and many other TV shows, and she has been giving relationship advice on Denver radio for 10 years. She has been helping people like you improve your life and relationships for more than 25 years. Cosmo, US Weekly and other magazines quote her expert relationship advice, and she writes articles for on-line article banks. Carolyn Bushong always has fresh, up-to-date, hot information on topics that will inspire you and change your life and improve your relationships. She has clients all over the country, some who come into her office and others who receive Carolyn's expert advice through phone counseling. Carolyn Bushong is an excellent psychotherapist, but she also lives what she teaches, as she is in a happy, healthy relationship with Alan, her mate of 21 years.

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Phone Counseling is a great way to do therapy, especially for the really busy person who's constantly on the go, or the person who is shy or hesitant to talk about their problem, or when the weather is bad and you don't want to drive to a therapist's office. It just makes sense in this day and age to be able to call and discuss a problem and get advice on a situation with having to leave work and drive to my office.

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