Monday, May 20, 2013

10 Ways to Divorce Proof Your Marriage

Top 10 Ways to Bullet Proof Your Marriage:

This is an opinion post so I will not be sharing any statistics or scientific data with you, but I have a hell of a lot of personal experience. I come from a family of marriage, divorce, & remarriage and I am going to share with you what I have seen that works & what does not work. In my effort to ensure that my husband & I do not fall victim to the biggest known contributors of failed second marriage, I have read just about every book, article, & blog post that I could get my hands on. 

It's no secret that a happy marriage requires work & compromise. I quickly learned that a second marriage begins with built in problems and baggage, that doesn't affect first marriages. Read this, for more information on the top ten reasons that a second marriage is likely to end in divorce.

So, you want to make it work, the second time around. 

You & me both. 

What can we do to reduce the odds of our second or subsequent marriages ending in divorce.

1. Communication: This sounds like a no-brainer, right? It's such a simple idea, that we overlook it. Communication in key in any marriage, but in a second marriage, it's just as or even more important that we communicate with our spouse. We must communicate our needs, our bottom line, and we can't expect our spouse to read our mind.

Keep in mind, when communicating with your spouse, it's not only what you say, but the way you say it that counts. Pay close attention to your body language, tone of voice, choice of words, gestures & mannerisms. 

 2. Fight Fair: Cooperative communication it great, but we all know how quickly talking can escalate into arguing. There's nothing wrong with couples who have disagreements, arguments, and, yes, even fights. No, I don't mean the knock down, black eye kind of fights. If your spouse ever resorts to physical abuse, you need to get out of the marriage. But fighting is normal. Actually, couples who seldom or never fight- often harbor resentment.

How do we fight fair? We make an effort not to push the other person's buttons. We limit the scope of the argument to the relevant issues. Never bring up past mistakes. If you've forgiven your spouse for a past blunder, then keep your word & leave the past where it the past.
3. Set Boundaries & Rules (and stick to them): Couples argue. That's a fact. Women & men have different ideas about how to settle disagreements. That's another fact. My husband & I used to argue about stupid things and then it would turn into something bigger. When it did, he would storm out (of course, without stopping to calmly tell me where he was going), and then to make me even crazier, he would turn off his phone so that I couldn't reach him. When you have a pissed off woman who is crying and you storm out and then refuse to take her call...let me tell you, she does not calm down very easily. This became a huge issue in our marriage.

Referring back to #1-communication, we weren't doing a very good job. When we argued, I got emotional. Yup, I'm a chick. I screamed, yelled, cried, threw things (well maybe I shouldn't admit to the last one), and my tone grew louder and more sarcastic with each word. Sound familiar, anyone? It's okay, you don't have to admit to it.

 So we weren't communicating & we damn sure didn't know how to fight fair. What my husband didn't know, was that by walking out on me, he scared the hell out me. What I didn't know, was that he wasn't walking out on me, he just needed to get away from my emotional, hormonal outburst, before he said something he didn't mean & would later regret.

Once we explained our fears & feelings to each other & understood how the other felt, we'd taken the first step. We eventually set some ground rules for our fights. I know...I know- sounds horrible the need to set rules for future fights. But, hey, it works. When things get heated between us (not in the good passionate heated way) and the fighting escalates, we've agreed (ahead of time), that if he needs to get away, he can leave the room (not the house) without me following & yelling. In return, he recognizes that he must return when things have calmed down so we can resolve the issue.

4. Trust: Earn it, keep it, be worthy of it & never ever break it. Be truthful. Having lies & secrets will create distance.

5. Don't Nag: Nothing drives a man crazier than a nagging wife and it goes for nagging husbands as well. He did not marry you so you could mother him. Just don't do it.

6. Respect: Never talk disparagingly abut your spouse to others, this includes your mom & your b/f/f's. You owe each other respect. Respect the marriage & respect each other

7. Get Over Jealousy: Jealousy is usually our own issue. We often arrive in the marriage with the jealousy baggage and if we don't learn how to feel good enough about ourselves and secure in our marriage, then our jealousy will lead to a loving, faithful spouse calling it quits. The irony is that the downfall of our marriage won't be because our partner was unfaithful, it will be because he/she couldn't take our unfounded jealousy any longer.

8. Don't be annoying: This includes gross personal habits, personal hygiene, habits (always being late, never being dressed when it's time to leave), nitpicking & anything else that you know is annoying or that your spouse continually tells you is annoying.

9. Sexual Intimacy: Keep things fresh & sexy in your marriage.

10. Know when to Mind your own business: Stay out of issues between your spouse and her/his ex, especially when it concerns their children (unless the issue directly impacts you) and then you should allow your spouse to handle the issue, with your input.

One final suggestion: I suppose this could be counted as tip number eleven (11), but I believe this tidbit applies to each of the above listed tips. For your marriage to work, you need to give up your need to always be right. This applies to communication, fair fighting and all of the others. This includes lecturing your spouse. Just don't do it.

Nobody likes (or loves) a know-it-all. Be sincere, admit when you are wrong and don't be afraid to tell your spouse that you are a little insecure about the marriage. Men will respect you for this and will work hard to diminish your doubts & worries. On the other hand, if, you resort to game playing, jealousy & other immature & selfish acts...nothing will send him packing, faster.

How about you? Can you share some tips for bullet proofing your second or subsequent marriage? When you leave a comment on this post or any other post on this blog, don't forget to pop over to my other blog, Have Your Heard, and add another entry in my prize give a way. You get an additional entry for each comment you leave on either blog. The grand prize is an iPad mini

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Teen Party Ideas: Scavenger Hunts, Amazing Race & More

Amazing Race, Fear Factor & Other Scavenger Hunts Your Teen Will Thank You For

Are you planning a birthday party for your teen & have no clue how to entertain a group of teenagers?

Chances are you've considered a scavenger or treasure hunt. You or your teen might be worried that friends will think this is a lame party idea. I'm here to tell you, with proper planning a teen scavenger hunt is anything but lame. Your teen and her friends will thank you. Her/his friends will be talking about how much fun they had for weeks. Of course, they will be blabbing about it on FaceBook & Instagtam, long before it even ends. Your teen & friends will light up the twiitershpere with hilarious tweets all day/night long. And, the best will be the cool mom, the fun mom, all the while you'll be providing good, safe fun for the kids.

I had no idea how many people are googling scavenger hunt ideas. I originally published an article about my daughter's scavenger hunt on my writing blog, teen party ideas and I was shocked at the number of hits it received. This blog is a more appropriate forum for the topic so I am writing a more detailed post. We have teen daughter, ages sixteen and fourteen and a son who is eleven & we've successfully hosted scavenger hunts, treasure hunts, photo scavenger hunts, video scavenger hunts, Amazing Race Scavenger hunts, Fear Factor games, Survivor themed hunts & C.S.I.  themed hunts for all of them. I'm going to share with you the best of our parties and I will also give you my opinion of the pros & cons of each. I'm not going to describe each individual birthday party, because that would take forever. I will give you the best highlights and my ideas for pulling your party off without a hitch. As a bonus, you get to learn from my mistakes. I will tell you what I would do different if I hosted the same party again.

Preparation...Preparation...Preparation is Key. Ignore everything else I tell you, if you choose, but do not ignore the above statement.

A few days before the party I put a note in each neighbors mailbox, alerting them of the party & giving them my contact information, should they have any complaints. I've hosted neighborhood scavenger hunts in the past, so my neighbors are all familiar with the hunt (we have a lot of kids in our neighborhood). In the past, if the games involved knocking on doors or neighbor participation, they were asked to leave the note taped or attached to their door if they did not mind the kids ringing the bell.

 The first thing I did when the kids walked through my front door was hand them a printed list of house rules which included the obvious, no drinking, smoking, bothering the neighbors, drama & I made them agree not to post any inappropriate or unkind messages or photos on any of the social media sites. I also made each one of them text me their phone number and their parents phone number & I made sure their parents knew how to reach me at all times. Each teen knew that any violation of the rules 
would result in a phone call to their mom or dad.  

In the past I've had teams grab a tootsie roll sucker out of a paper bag to determine which team they were on, but since this group was so large, I pre-assigned the groups (separating b/f/f's) and creating diversified groups to encourage less drama and better team work. No one seemed to mind. This time I handed each kid a colored T-shirt ($3) three bucks at Hobby Lobby, and that told them which team they were on. This hunt was held at the Louisiana Boardwalk (a shopping/eating outdoor area), so I had to get other moms to help me with transportation. Each team was required to stay together at all times and ride in the same 

Last year I hosted was a slumber party when my daughter turned 14. She had thirty something girls sleepover and about seventeen guys participated in the Amazing Race Photo Scavenger Hunt. It came off without a glitch and the kids were so occupied and entertained that there was not one single episode of teenage drama.

I was armed with a one inch binder when the scavenger hunt riddles, dares and and tri-folded bonus 
activities and after each team selected a team leader I handed the binder to the team leader and we loaded up in the caravan of cars, trucks and SUV's and headed to the boardwalk. The groups could complete the task in any order they chose and they did not have to complete them all (highly unlikely they would be able to in the two hours allotted for the game.) The teams were warned that they would lose points any time their group split up and they would only receive points for the competed task and solved riddles if they actually photographed it. There was a time when I would have said it would be a good idea for you to ask the kids to bring digital cameras or tell you to pre-purchase cheap disposable cameras, but who'm I kidding. Every single teen these days has a smart phone with video and camera options, so one less task for you mom.

Below is a lost of the 50 regular task/challenges for the teams to complete. I also offered bonus challenges that I will go into later.

Page 1 starts with: Perform any or all of the following. Each challenge is worth two (2) points, unless otherwise stated, with bonus points for creativity. You must document the event with a photo or video to receive credit. In the past I've handed out bags for the teams to bring back certain items, but it was much easier to just have them photograph particular items. If I don't write "Take a photo of" in front of the task, it is implied. Remember, no points if the event is not documented with a photo or video

1. Find a coin with Blake's birthday year on it
2. Get a stranger to serenade you
3. Take a picture with one or more team members with a family of four or more
4. Get a picture of a man with a mullet

5. Take a photo of a person wearing a concert t-shirt
6. A person playing a musical instrument
7. Get a stranger to give you his/her cell phone number
8. Convince a stranger to chug his/her beverage
9. Convince a stranger to give you some of his/her food (a french fry will do)
10. Convince a stranger to sing a U2 song (must be videotaped)
11. Get a kiss that leaves lipstick on your cheek

12. Photo of a stranger with a tattoo 

13. Photo or video of a couple arguing
14. A buy one get one free coupon
15. A fortune cookie (5 bonus points for the weirdest fortune)
16. A business card (extra points if it is a lawyer) You can make this any profession, but we picked lawyer, because I'm a lawyer & so are Blake's dad and her step-dad.
17. A clean disposable toilet sea cover
18. A stranger's autograph (extra points if the name is unisex) (extra points if the name is Jordan) any unisex name can apply for your hunt
19. Entire team sitting with an unknown family at a restaurant 
 20. A photo of a team member with someone who is at least 85 years old. (extra points if they are smiling) (extra points if they are holding up their photo ID
21. Photo of at least two team members with a uniformed police officer (extra points if he is smiling)
22. Entire team standing by a convertible Corvette (extra points if it is red) (extra points if a team member is inside -with the owner's permission)
23. Entire Team sitting inside a boat 

24. A team member hugging a stranger
25. Entire team in or next to a tree
26. Team members sliding down a slide

27. Entire team eating ice cream
28. A team member playing a pinball machine
29. A team member playing basketball
30. A team member sitting on a firetruck with a fireman
31. A team member handcuffed to a police officer
32. A team member inside a restaurant pretending to cook a meal
33. A team member inside a restaurant kitchen washing the dishes

34. Photo of graffiti (already there- DO NOT PUT IT THERE)
35. Entire team with a mascot
36. Entire team sharing one soda, each member with a straw
37. Two or more team members standing behind the display window in a retail store acting as a store window display

38. Entire team jumping, each member must be in mid air

39. Team member dressed in the funkiest get up (outfit in a store)
40. Team member delivering a meal to a stranger in a restaurant
41. The entire team in a "I can't believe we all fit in here" photo

42. Entire team playing Twister without the board.

43. A couple holding hands or kissing 

44. Photo of a fashion "do"
45. Photo of a fashion "do not"
46. Pretend you are an investigative reporter and snap a photo of a questionable transaction
47. The More I dry, the wetter I get (answer- a towel)
48. What has a ring, but no finger 
The answer to the riddle was "shower curtain"

49. Keys open my door, buy mine only make a sound- (answer -a piano)
50. I start with an e, I end with an e, but I usually contain only one letter-(answer-an envelope)

I've shared a few of the photos taken by the kids. 

They loved this challenge and especially liked the riddle part. The next party I did was The Amazing Race, followed by Fear Factor. I will share both of those next week. I am also adding a down loadable  list of 100+ riddles for you. You can find a link to it at the top of my blog.

If you have any questions I'd be glad to help. Please share your teen party ideas in the comment 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Your Remarriage Will Probably end in Divorce

Will your Second (or third/fourth...) Marriage end in Divorce?


Is it possible to beat the odds? 

Is it better the second time around? It's no secret that half of all marriages end in divorce.  Damn, with  stats like that, why the hell do we even bother? You would think we'd learn from the mistakes of our first marriage, commit to not repeating them and all second and subsequent marriages would benefit from that wisdom, right? 


If that was true, then the divorce statistics for second marriages wouldn't be so high.  According to this divorce rate website, a whopping sixty-seven (67%) of second marriages end in divorce and that rate goes up to seventy-four (74%) for second marriages when one or both spouses have minor children from a previous marriage.
That means that some of our marriages have about a 25% chance of survival. Take a look at the cake. That's a frightening statistic. If an airline pilot told you that your flight had a seventy-four (74%) chance of crashing, how many of you would board the damn plane? I don't know about you, but I'd be cruising the U.S in a recreational vehicle and traveling by ship, if I needed to leave the country.

But, the statistics don't stop us from entering into a second marriage, now do they? Why not? Because we are in love and love conquers all (not). We are certain that we are the way it will happen to me.

 What the hell are we doing so wrong? 

What are we doing to turn our wedding bliss into a disaster of dissolution?

When I got married the first time, sure, I was in love and thought I would spend the rest of my life with my husband. We married young (too young), divorced, remarried and divorced again. Every time my ex and my mom argued, she would always get the last jab, with something like, "Well you're an idiot, you married her twice." 

Do I regret my first marriage? Not a chance. I have great kids as a result and if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't change a thing.
So what happened? It doesn't really matter, the point is when I married my current husband, I was older, more mature and entered the marriage with an abiding conviction that I would not repeat previous mistakes. Is this a guarantee that my current marriage will last?

Let's take a look at the top reasons a second marriage, is doomed (statistically) from the start and then in part two of this series, we will address what we can do to bullet proof~divorce poof our second marriages.

Top 10 Reasons 2nd Marriages end in Divorce:

1. A person remarried on the rebound and has not fully grieved the death of the first marriage.

2.  One or both partners put all the blame of the first divorce on the ex-spouse. When this occurs, problems that existed in the previous marriage, will undoubtedly creep into the new marriage. The new couple is doomed. It is crucial that you take responsibility for your part in the previous breakup. If you find yourself or your new spouse blaming everything on the ex-spouse...something is clearly wrong.

3. There is less glue holding the second or subsequent marriage together,  when the couple does not have children of their own. When the couple does not have children in common, the element of family is not as central. There is less at stake in allowing the marriage to dissolve.

4. Ironically, children from the prior marriage are one of the leading causes of conflict in a subsequent marriage & the biggest or second biggest contributing factor in the demise of the subsequent marriage .

5. Fighting, arguing or constant nagging about an ex-spouse.

6. Financial disagreements, particularly concerning the amount of money a new husband continues to pay to the ex-wife in alimony, child support or a combination of the two.

7. Once a person discovers that he or she can manage a divorce, they are less scared of going through the process again.

8. Large age difference.

9. Lack of shared religious faith or beliefs in other matters, e.g., finances, retirement, child rearing, discipline etc.

10. Infidelity.

In our mission to find Mr. or Mrs. right, we far too often enter into the second marriage without realizing why the first one failed.  Jewish Marriage Counselors, compare this to NASA building a rocket before finding out why the last one exploded.

Make no mistake, one person does not cause a divorce. Regardless of whether the previous marriage ended because of alcohol, infidelity, lack of communication, verbal abuse or any of the plethora of other issues that are often labeled "irreconcilable differences," it is the continued dissension, constant grappling of two inconsistent or adverse belief systems that leads to the demise of a marriage.

Other contributing factors that lead to conflict which, left unresolved, leads to divorce.

1. Alcohol or substance use and or abuse; excessive gambling

2. One partner wants to stay out late & paint the town while the other has lived that life and is more comfortable at home with a beer in hand and a football game on the tube.

3. Emotional infidelity in the workplace (more predominant when one spouse does not work or has never worked in a professional capacity).

4. Verbal, emotional or physical abuse

5. A clingy or jealous spouse

 Does this mean your second or subsequent marriage is destined for divorce? No! There are couples who survive the overwhelming challenges and obstacles of a second marriage. I intend to be part of that twenty-six (26%). Do you?

Marriage involves a total commitment regardless of whether it's your first, second or ninth marriage. There are statistically proven steps that one can take, to beat the paralyzing odds of divorce.

In Part 2 of this series I will discuss the top ten way to divorce proof your marriage.

How about you? Are you in a second or subsequent marriage? What tips and/or advice can you share in the comment section? What makes your marriage work?  What do you believe is the number one, primary reason for the destruction of second or subsequent marriages? How can we remedy that problem. Please share your experiences.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

10 Worst Mother's Day Gifts

Ten Crappiest Mother's Day Gifts:

Tomorrow is Mother's Day so if you are just now shopping, chances are you might opt for one of the worst (last minute) Mother's Day gifts.

Tomorrow, most of you will be celebrating mother's day and honoring the most important woman in your world (face it ladies if you're married to a man who worships his mom, your gift may fall in the worst category). 

My mom is the most important woman in my world, but if my husband feels the same about his own mom, he won't be getting lucky tomorrow night (or any other night this month). 

Listen up men: Even if your mommy is the most important woman in your life- lie...yup, you heard me...lie to your wife and tell her that she is, by far, the most important woman in the world. Believe me, you will enjoy a less stressful Sunday afternoon, if you do it the right way.

Okay, on to the top ten crappiest Mother's day gifts. This list includes gifts from adults to their moms, gifts bought by dad, for the kiddos to give mom, and gifts by any person to any mom, grandmother, god-mother or step-monster-mother. Alright, if your step-mum is a monster...go ahead, you have my permission to give her a gift from this list.

10. A Coupon Book- full of wonderful gestures and treats, such as a day of sleeping in, a clean house, etc., that you will never-ever-ever honor. Do not waste the $5-10 bucks on this gimmick. We moms will smile and say thank you, when we open the coupon book, all-the-while- screaming on the inside, because we know that the coupons will never be honored. The only useful purpose for this book: an alternative to toilet paper when mom forgets to restock because we never got our promised day of rest.

9. A Gym Membership: C'mon, we'd rather you slap us in the face or spit breast milk in our coffee . Nothing says I love you, Mommy you're fat, better than a piece of paper entitling the recipient to get off her ass and work out. Okay, it could be worse. You could give us one of those free trial memberships to a gym. Now, you've not only insulted us, you've spent absolutely zero dineros on us and you've added our name, address and email to Mr. Spam. I'm really feeling loved and appreciated now.

8. Stay away from infomercials, especially the one that offers to easily stretch the waist band of our clothes. Need I say more?

7. A pre-paid Membership to Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers.
We don't care if you had the best intentions under the sun. Just don't do it. And please don't exacerbate the insult by telling us the first month was free (to you), but will begin appearing on our credit card statement at the beginning of June.

6. A Moose Pattern Christmas Sweater: Or anything with a moose pattern. First of all it's downright ugly. Secondly, we know you didn't shop for us, you re-gifted your ugliest leftover Christmas gift.

5. Pink Flamingo Yard Ornaments
Or any other tacky yard decoration that you picked up at the corner garage sale on your way over to wish mom a Happy Mother's Day. Chances are, we passed the same house thirteen times this weekend,  popped over to the garage sale and we also noticed the ugly pink flamingos that had been discarded to the free~give~a~way pile of junk that didn't sell.

4. Designer, Decorative, Plush, Crappy, Ugly, Repulsive Toilet Bowl Seat or Cover
No! Just no. Don't do it. The only thing worse than the gift itself, is our guilty-mom need to actually use said, ugly- hideous gift, so you will see how much we love it.

3. A Snuggie:
You know what I'm talking about, those seen on t.v...., snuggies, that cover you from head to toe. If we're that damn cold, we'll turn down the air, or turn up the heat, however you choose to say it. And don't think you are exempt from the hideous- tacky gift, just because you opted for the Zebra or Cheetah print. No, that does not upgrade an ugly red Snuggie to a stylish fab Snuggie.

2. Any Gift or Item that Still has the Security Tag Attached:
We might give you the benefit of the doubt (depending on gifts from previous years, other occasions, and your criminal rap sheet), but even if we do, we will not take the gift back to the store and ask them to remove the security tag. It ain't gonna happen.

1. A How To Video: How to Successfully Remove A Security Tag:
We will no longer give you the benefit of the doubt for gift number 2

Anything else, and we will love it. I promise! I mean, I promise we will tell you that we love it. It is the thought that counts, after all. That only applies if you actually put thought into choosing your Mother's Day gift & if you have a semi-decent sense of taste to go along with that thought.

How about it moms; what's the absolute worst mother's day gift you ever received? What about the best?

And you too, kiddos- what's the worst gift you ever gave mom for Mother's Day? Don't be shy, share it with us. We want to see the crappiest gift ever given to a mom.