January 27, 2010
Inside this Newsletter:
January is almost over and I’m so
glad. Since I get the “midwinter blah’s” (see article on
this below) every January, Alan and I agreed to go to
Mexico this month.. We flew to Phoenix and then drove
with our friends to Puerto Penasco, MX two weeks ago.
However, we did not get the warm “basking in the sun”
weather we had hoped for. I still sat on the beach and
drank Pina Coladas while Alan and our friends played
golf. But the waiters and waitresses (& even masseuse)
wore coats & gloves & scarves. We did see some of the
most beautiful sunsets ever though (see below).
I didn’t mention it in my December newsletter, but on
Dec. 3, I fell on the ice and tore my rotator cuff (in
several places), so life has been a little difficult the
last two months. I will probably have to have surgery,
but not sure yet. The pain has been incredible. If
anyone has any opinions on whether or not to have the
surgery or what to do to heal, I’d appreciate your
FIRST Magazine for Women is doing a series
called Marriage SOS and they will feature a couple I
helped, along with information on me and my book
Bring Back the Man You Fell in Love With, in
their March 22 issue (on the stands March 1). They will
also interview other couples I’ve helped for future
Be sure and listen to me on the radio on Thursday
7:30 am on KYGO 98.5FM with Kelly and Rider, and call
in your relationship questions!
My client Kathy wants to know what’s
normal in a relationship and what isn’t. Is it normal for her
husband to spend inordinate amounts of money on his hobbies while
she struggles to pay her half of the bills while she also does all
the housework? “Should I expect him to be fair with me or not?” she
Kathy’s mother was a drug addict so she is used to fending for
herself while still taking care of others. Her expectations of
others to be there for her are extremely low. So to her, her
husband’s behavior seems normal.
“Normal” is whatever we get used to. So if your dad treated your
mother with disrespect, then it seems normal for a man to do this to
you. Watching others treat people badly that you love and/or having
them treat you badly gives you low expectations for other
relationships in your life. On the other hand, if you were daddy’s
little girl and he (or your mom) spoiled you, being spoiled seems
normal and your expectations in your relationship may be too high.
Many people believe it is normal for their mates to be critical or
nagging with them. After all, our moms and dads did it, even our
friends do it to each other. My client, Jim, was trying to decide
whether or not to marry his finance who he felt he could never
please. I suggested that he bring her in and work out that issue
before he married her. He came back to me and said that all of his
married male friends said not to worry about it because “wives are
never satisfied – just get used to it!” They basically told him that
her bad behavior is normal in marriage.
When I was in college and married in my early 20’s, my then-husband
criticized me constantly. But my dad had criticized my mother as
long as I could remember, so I thought it was normal for someone to
love you, yet criticize you. Then I took my husband to a party with
fellow counseling students. They were appalled and asked me why I
let him talk to me like that. I said, “Like what?” It seemed so
normal to me that I couldn’t even hear how abusive it was. My
clients are now shocked when I tell them this story. They assume
that I have always been strong, but I haven’t. I had to learn that
my husband’s behavior was wrong, no matter how normal it seemed. I
had to raise my expectations beyond my family’s, and communicate
what I felt and wanted to my husband. I told him that I felt
humiliated by the way he treated me, that I wanted him to stop
criticizing me; I asked him to agree, and told him that if he
didn’t, I would have to leave. It was many years ago that I left,
and I now surround myself with people that would never treat me that
My client Samantha’s live-in boyfriend lost his job a few years ago,
and she started picking up all their living expenses, as well as
continuing to do all the housework. When he found another job, he
told her he still wasn’t making much money, and she didn’t question
him or ask him to contribute again. It’s been three years and she
just found out that he has a huge savings account while she has a
huge credit card debt! Is that normal to take advantage of someone
like that? It seemed normal to her since she watched her mom cater
to her dad’s needs her whole life, avoiding confrontation at all
costs. When I told her that her “allowing her boyfriend to use her”
was caused by her parents’ bad behavior, she immediately defended
them. “But dad really loves mom!” she told me. It took her awhile to
see what she learned from them: that being taken advantage of is
okay as long as you believe he loves you.
It’s not just women who get taken advantage of using the excuse that
their bad behavior is normal. Jacob’s wife convinced him that he
should pay more of the household expenses even though they both made
good money. She said it’s normal for a husband to be a gentleman and
show love and respect by paying more. After all her dad did that for
her mom (but of course her mom didn’t work). He agreed, bought her a
new car, paid the mortgage, and then they split the rest of the
expenses -- except when she was able to talk him into paying for
trips, furniture, etc. He felt good about being such a good husband,
and hoped that eventually she would start having sex with him again
because of his “gentlemanly” behavior. Imagine his shock when she
asked him for a divorce right after he got his Christmas bonus at
work. But “giving while getting nothing back” is how Jacob spent his
entire childhood, so spending years investing in a relationship that
produced no return didn’t seem that abnormal to him.
Being treated badly, being taken advantage of, being shown no
respect – all may seem normal to you because you are playing out
your childhood legacy, but it is only “normal” in dysfunctional
relationships. Your gut tells you when you are not being treated
fairly. Maybe you put up with it because you’re afraid of
confrontation or you feel bad about yourself and think you deserve
the bad treatment. But deep inside you know you would never treat
anyone that way – and that’s how you know it’s wrong.
What Should You Do?
It is your job to make sure that someone treats you fairly, whether
he or she thinks their behavior is normal or not. People in general
will get away with whatever they can. If you aren’t getting a fair
deal in some area of your relationship, you are playing victim
instead of resolving the problem. He or she probably doesn’t even
know that you think something is unfair. He just thinks it’s normal
that he has the guy’s over for football and leaves the mess for you
to clean up. She thinks it’s normal that she nags you all the time
about your bad eating habits. But they’re both wrong.
Use my 4 Steps of
Healthy Communication to confront your mate on a behavior that may seem “normal”
to him or her, but that you believe is unfair. You should expect to
be treated as well as you treat your mate. But it’s your job to tell
your mate if it’s not happening. And promise yourself, that from now
on “normal” in all of your relationships will also mean “healthy.”
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Q & A: Why Do
Men Stop Calling?
Question: I have a question for you...Me and my friends are
ready to sign off from dating. We’re very disenchanted at this point
because we’ve been experiencing a rather odd thing with men lately.
We're all baffled, so I thought I would ask you... What makes a man
you're getting to know suddenly drop all lines of communication? For
example: A friend was emailing and texting a guy of whom her family
connected her with. He had to cancel their date, as his business
flight was cancelled. He told her he would call her to reschedule
and never did. Another friend of mine was emailing a guy who was
working in another country. He came back to Colorado for their first
date. They had a nice time. He even made sure to tell her he was
"looking for the one to settle down with" and told her he would be
sure to come to Colorado to continue getting to know her. They had
daily emails and constant communication. Suddenly, he told her he
was going to Argentina to "maybe move into the next phase of his
life..." She hasn't heard back. What's the story? Can you shed some
insight? Thank you so much!!!
Answer: There are many possible reasons a guy might do this:
Maybe he has a girlfriend. Years ago I dated a man for a
couple of months and then he stopped calling and returning my calls.
When I finally did catch up to him and asked him what happened, he
admitted that he had a girlfriend and that she had been out of town
when he met me, and now she’s back!
Maybe he took one small thing you did and turned it into a reason
he shouldn’t be with you (probably because he’s afraid of
relationships). A male client told me recently that he pulled away
from a woman who got on his case because he told her he was taking
an extra day off work. Instead of standing up to her, he stopped
talking to her. Men do this all the time because they’re afraid to
Maybe you were too easy, i.e. not enough of a challenge
(especially if you slept with him already). When you’re available
every time they call and will see them whenever they want, they
often get bored with you and decide you’re not good enough. You know
the old saying, “I’d never belong to any club that would have me as
Maybe he met someone else he likes better. Men don’t feel
like they need to explain anything to you when they move on.
Maybe he really did get too busy at work. Men don’t have
relationships on their mind as much as we do and can easily “forget”
to follow up.
Maybe he lied. The guy who said he was looking to settle down
was probably just using a good “line.”
Maybe he’s a misogynist, i.e. hates women and gets off on a
power trip treating women this way.
If you want to comment on this article,
send me an email that I’ll put in next
month’s newsletter OR join my
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Return to top >>>
You feel restless, bored at work, desperate for a change. You dream
of a vacation on the beach, but instead of lying on the sand, you
lie on your sofa and become a couch potato. You have the energy of a
burned-out light bulb and wonder when you ever feel like cleaning
that closet or going out with your friends again. You’re a victim of
the midwinter blah’s, usually caused by a holiday letdown, shortened
daylight hours, and nothing exciting happening in January
(especially since the Bronco’s are not in the Super Bowl this year).
Cures for the Doldrums
Spend as much time as possible
outside. Take a stroll through your neighborhood, spend a day
skiing or sit in the sunshine on your lunch hours (& soak up
that vitamin D). If you can’t get outside, full-spectrum lights
in your house is a wonderful therapy and improves your outlook
If you can afford it, take a
long weekend to the beach or to visit a friend. Even a drive to
Colorado Springs or Vail for the day can lift your spirits.
Getting away from your regular routine can work wonders.
Use snowbound days to plan for
the future. Get seed catalogs and outline your spring garden, or
draw up a blueprint for a needed household renovation. Organize
a spring vacation or a St. Patrick’s Day party. Plan strategy
for paying off the credit card bills you ran up over the
holidays. (On 2nd thought that might make you more depressed.)
Statistics say that the most
depressing day of the year is January 25. And when you get this
article, that day will already be over, so see now there’s something
to cheer up about! It’s cheering me up to see (& buy) all the
beautiful spring bulbs that are already blooming and available in
the grocery stores. See, spring is just around the corner!
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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 McCall’s named her one of the “Top 6 Passion Doctors” in the
country. 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
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