Posts Tagged ‘successful marriage’

Avoid Tempers And Tantrums Around The Turkey

November 2, 2012

[Cut out article, copy for your friends, post on your refrigerator.]

Ready.  Aim.  Fire!  As the holiday season kicks into high gear, tensions inevitably mount in most loving relationships.  The pressures of family feasts, party roulette, shopping marathons, and obligation overload are enough to make even the best turkey dressing come unglued and ham glaze gummy.  (Historically, January is the months with the highest divorce rate.)  Whether you’re single or married or somewhere in-between, lessons learned by long-married couples who’ve endured decades of holiday stress can help you, your mate, family, and friends keep tantrums and tempers silenced:

Love the one you’re with.  There are so many fine looking men and women attending holiday get-togethers.  Everybody is bubbly happy.  Everyone looks their best.  These observations can magnify the challenges, problems, and issues you and your spouse, partner, or significant other are dealing with on the home-front.  Are you missing something?  Don’t be fooled by all this razzmatazz.  99% of the time the grass is greenest under your own feet.  Instead of wallowing, turn the energy spent in doubt into energy devoted to rekindling the love between you and your loved one(s).

Ignore the braggers (and don’t try to one-up them).  Holiday get-togethers compel people to brag about their gains and make you feel miserable about your life.  People brag about their children’s trophies, their travels to Peru, their stock market gains, their knee replacement, their frequent flyer points, and on and on and on.  With the realization that your list is a lot shorter, you may think: What am I doing wrong?  Or you may gaze into your mate’s eyes and wonder: What are we doing wrong?  The answer: Absolutely nothing.  Whether your accomplishments for 2012 equal 1 or 100, give yourself a big pat on the back.

Does this make me look fat?: It’s the dreaded question guys hate most from ladies, and this is the time of year the ringing echoes.  So many parties.  So many outfits.  So many decisions.  Ladies, don’t ask.  And gentlemen, should they dare, don’t risk ruining the evening (and perhaps the entire next week).  The “correct” answer is to not answer.  A safe, generic response is “Honey, you always look beautiful to me.”  Besides, deep down, every woman knows where her curves should and shouldn’t be.

Never comment about anyone’s weight gain or irritating kids.  If the people are present, you’re stepping on a land mine.  If the people aren’t present, you can be sure the words will somehow very mysteriously get back to them.  These two topics are off the menu unless you want to start World War III.

Never, ever, miss a good chance to shut up.  The venom is certain to come out during family feasts, celebrations with co-workers, and happy hours with friends.  Remember, every comment doesn’t need a retort.  Every issue doesn’t need another opinion.  Speak up when it’s important, and keep your lips zipped when it isn’t.  What you don’t say is often as important as what you do say.

Hug and squeeze, aim to please.  The holiday pace is frenetic and it’s easy to lose your mate and other loved ones in the shuffle.  In the midst of the chaos, don’t forget to nurture relationships.  Everyone can use an occasional hearty hug.  If you’re a couple, discipline yourselves to block out time for each other, just as you do for everyone else.  Actions can be as low key as calling or text messaging to simply say “I’m thinking about you” or taking a 15 minute after-dinner walk together.

Bundling: Here are a few more time-tested relationship tips…Repel little mishaps and misunderstandings with laughter; sprinkle compliments throughout the day; and concentrate on the things you can change and don’t try to fix things you can’t.

These time-tested proven tips will help provide relationship resilience over the next several weeks.  Put them into practice to insure that long after the leftovers are gone, your relationships are still in tact.

Get Along Better provides you relationship tips with a twist of humor.  Want more?  4,000+ years’ worth of advice are documented in Everlasting Matrimony: Pearls Of Wisdom From Couples Married 50 Years Or More, a coffee-table book by Sheryl Kurland.  An excellent gift for weddings, anniversaries, engagements…or just because!

4 Relationship Tips As Spooky As Halloween

October 25, 2012

I vividly remember three Halloweens.  One, as a kid, I was a bit obsessed with organization.  My neighborhood had many curvy streets.  I always wanted my younger sister to be happy.  So, one year I slaved over mapping out a route to assure she got gobs of candy during our trick or treat time.  Two, still a kid, I went trick or treating with a friend, and there was a house with no lights on outside but we could see lights on inside.  Our neighborhood was always safe, so we made a joint decision to ring the doorbell.  A woman gave us big handfuls of candy, which thrilled us.  When we got home and went through our bags of loot, we realized she had dumped trash in our bags.  Three, as an adult, one year my husband dressed as Dracula and sat outside our front door stone-cold until kids approached him…at which time he bellowed out his vampire howl and scared the bajeezus out of them.  The shenanigans didn’t end there.  The kids had to “earn” their candy by putting their hands into holes carved into a box and feeling the unknown goo.  One smarty-pants said, “That’s pasghetti!”  Mr. and Mrs. Dracula got a mighty big chuckle.

Halloween celebration, much like our relationship with the one we love, is full of ups and downs.  As you contemplate which bags of candy to buy for your trick-or-treaters this year, give some thought to these spooky Halloween-related relationship tips:

  1. Don’t be fearful of ghost and goblins.  The aura of Halloween is scary.  Although creepy things may happen and frightening things pop out in the night, trick-or-treaters keep their eye on the goal — candy.  Relationships can be fearful, too.  “Ghosts” are unforeseen challenges.  “Goblins” are annoyances that bother you about your partner.  Life is full of curve balls, good and bad.  And your partner’s irksome habits will always annoy you.  These are some of the bumps in every relationship.  The important part is to deal with them as a couple, and by doing so you will reap the “candy,” the delicious rewards of being together.
  2. Wear a costume only for risqué fun together.  On Halloween it’s tradition to dress up as some other character.  This concept doesn’t work in a loving relationship.  You have to show up as yourself.  100% authentic.  100% honest.  When one or both parties pretend to be someone they’re not – “wear a costume” – the relationship is doomed to failure.  As hard as you may try to sustain the falseness or withhold guilt, sooner or later it will seep out in destructive ways.  If you want a great relationship, and to make it even greater, reserve the costume for sexual play!
  3. You’ve got to howl.  The epic soundtrack of Halloween is the howling of wolves, a wonderous song heard through the darkness.  Have you ever observed or seen film footage of a wolf howling?  Their entire being is engaged.  Their focus intense.  Every sense participates.  For humans, these same traits are the essence of a meaningful relationship.  Full engagement requires drawing from deep within your soul, opening yourself to feel without boundaries, living with intensity, and allowing complete vulnerability.
  4. Avoid the vampire that wants to suck your blood.  Ah, seduction, temptation, manipulation, and power.  They are all the “vampire” of love.  Your relationship will be threatened by intruders, people and circumstances they will make you ponder, “Should I stay?”  These moments can either destroy or strengthen your relationship.  You must consciously decide whether it’s worth the risk, worth putting all you have built together in jeopardy.  Can’t decide?  Remember: The grass is usually greenest under your own two feet.

Get Along Better provides you relationship tips with a twist of humor.  Want more?  4,000+ years’ worth of advice are documented in Everlasting Matrimony: Pearls Of Wisdom From Couples Married 50 Years Or More, a coffee-table book by Sheryl Kurland.  An excellent gift for weddings, anniversaries, engagements…or just because!

End Of NFL Referee Strike Good For Marriages

September 28, 2012

Courtesy of Reuters

Now that the referee strike is over and football season kicks into high gear, it’s normally the time condolences are extended to football widows across America.  However, instead of wallowing in loneliness, it’s the prime season for wives to revitalize their marriage.

Wives have 50% of the power in a marriage and ‘alone’ time is one of the best times to take steps to improve the relationship.  This isn’t about putting on a sexy negligée and trying to distract your husband in-between touchdowns.  Instead, wives need to seize the opportunity football season provides to make points in ways that will enhance the relationship over the long term.

5 Marriage Tips For Football Widows

  1. Get your own life.  Develop your own personal interests.  Long-married, happy couples say that having both independent and interdependent interests keeps the relationship lively.
  2. Fill the refrigerator/freezer with delicious, healthy food.  There’s truth to the saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”  A husband adores a wife who looks out for his appetite and well being.
  3. Send an “I love you” text when his team makes a touchdown.  Get a group together of four other football widows whose husbands are all watching the same football game, and assign each wife to follow one quarter of the game.  Text or call each other when the team scores, which should trigger you to send a quick hurrah cheer or “xoxo” text to your husband.  Your husband will be impressed!
  4. Later, ask some questions about the football game experience.  The questions don’t need to be specific to the game, just general, such as “Did you have fun with the guys?”; “That’s great [fill in blank] won” or “Sorry [fill in blank] lost.”  You’ll likely just get responses in small sound bites (how men converse), but, be assured, they appreciate that you care about what’s important to them.
  5. When your husband is home decompressing, occasionally give him a shoulder massage or back rub.  Watching all that football is exhausting, afterward.  He will love you all over again with your soothing affection.  But don’t act every time.  The element of surprise will make the stroking even more treasured.

Get Along Better provides you relationship tips with a twist of humor.  Want more?  4,000+ years’ worth of advice are documented in Everlasting Matrimony: Pearls Of Wisdom From Couples Married 50 Years Or More, a coffee-table book by Sheryl Kurland.  An excellent gift for weddings, anniversaries, engagements…or just because!

The One Thing A Man Wants Most – And It’s Not What You Think

September 9, 2012

What does a man want most?  Your first guess is wrong.  IT’S NOT SEX!  Think ABOVE the waist.

In today’s society, immense pressure is put on men.  They’re not allowed to be seen crying.  Why is it only women sob with grief at funerals?  And only women cry tears of happiness at weddings?

Men are ingrained to be fearful of showing their emotions.  They stuff their feelings way deep down.  Don’t want to be thought of as a wimp.  Or sissy.  Or weak.  Or unstable.

If you think women are objectified in the media, on TV and in the movies, to be skinny and gorgeous, pay attention to how men are treated.  It’s equally sexually abusive, maybe even worse.  Men have two choices: 1) either hunks and smoking hot, or 2) buffoons.  In the movies, the stud gets the voluptuous babe.  TV commercials often treat dads as buffoons, fools, clueless, a total putz.  Take Viagra or Cialis, and you return to #1.  Maybe this explains why the first instinctive answer to the question “What do men want most?” is “sex.”

Good guys will give the shirt off their back to anyone in need.  But they do it quietly, not seeking any attention or recognition.  Good husbands will drop everything in a heartbeat to come to the rescue of their spouse or partner.  Good dads slave to juggle bringing home a decent paycheck and having energy to make their kids feel like a million bucks.  Sex is nowhere in this picture.

What men want most is APPRECIATION.  They feel validated by a simple “thank you” from those they help.  They feel validated by the back rub their spouse or partner gives them after a hard day’s work.  They feel validated by the hugs their children give them.  They feel validated when they fix things and everyone raves over the outcome.  They feel validated by the sound of laughter they triggered by creating fun for others.

A wife called me not too long ago to talk about problems going on between her and her hubbie.  After some conversation, I asked her….

Sheryl: “What has your husband done lately that you ‘appreciated’?”

Wife: “He fixed our stove.  One of the burners wasn’t working and he did the repair work.  It works perfectly now.”

Sheryl: “Did you say to him something like ‘Thanks, Honey.  You did a great job.  I really appreciate it.’  And then give him a kiss on top of that?”

Wife: “No, it didn’t dawn on me.  He just fixes everything.  That’s what he always does.”

A few days later, the wife called me back……

Wife: “I told my husband how much I ‘appreciated’ him fixing the stove.  His eyes lit up.  It made him feel so good.  I think he was stunned that I thanked him. I had no idea that it would have such an impact on him.”

Yes, men like great sex.  And delicious food.  And snazzy cars.  And cool gizmos and gadgets.  But one thing supercedes everything else: APPRECIATION.

Get Along Better provides you relationship tips with a twist of humor.  Want more?  4,000+ years’ worth of advice are documented in Everlasting Matrimony: Pearls Of Wisdom From Couples Married 50 Years Or More, a coffee-table book by Sheryl Kurland.  An excellent gift for weddings, anniversaries, engagements…or just because!

Please Let Us See Prince Harry’s Crown Jewels

August 23, 2012

Come on.  Prince Harry — the guy is 27, single and filthy rich.  He serves his country honorably.  He does tons of community service.  He’s loyal and loving to his family, especially his brother and sister-in-law.  He just wrapped up his gig at the Olympics, and very dignified and handsomely represented England in the closing ceremonies.  And he knows how to party and live life.  Sounds like every mother’s dream son to me.

It’s making headlines all over the world, nude photos of Prince Harry partying in Las Vegas.  Playing strip billiards.  Cool.  (Where was his security team while the party was hopping???)

Today’s “worry” is whether the Queen is going to scold him.  If I was in her shoes, I would take him privately into a room, point my second finger at him, and say with a BIG smile, “You’re the bomb, Harry.  Such chutzpah I never had.  Luv ya, Harry.”

Our society is so dang hung up on nudity.  Like we don’t know what’s behind the blur and black stripe across the photographs.  It’s the Crown Jewels, and every breathing woman wants to see ‘em.  (And many men.)

So, it wasn’t the smartest thing for the chap to do.  What single, hormone driven, handsome lad hasn’t made a “mistake” or two?  (And woman, too, for that matter.)  Ask any grown man about his 20’s and he’ll get a glazed dreamy look in his eyes, that reminiscent glow scanning through that wild and crazy and wonderful decade.  The stories he can tell.  Endless.  Really steamy, indecent…and fun stories.  When he tells them, he beams with pride.  This is Harry’s story.  The one that will top all others.

I doubt Prince Harry is losing any sleep over this ordeal.  And I kind of think that he and “Wills” have had some good laughs together.  I can pretty well guarantee you that when Harry soon returns to serving in England’s armed forces, there’ll be lots of high fives when no one is looking.

So, Harry, keep living with gusto.  Perhaps be a little more discreet since you are a member of the Royal Family.  Have no regrets.  Learn from mistakes.  Make every day count, for as you know, it can all disappear in seconds.  And please, please continue to keep us commoners entertained.

Get Along Better provides you relationship tips with a twist of humor.  Want more?  4,000+ years’ worth of advice are documented in Everlasting Matrimony: Pearls Of Wisdom From Couples Married 50 Years Or More, a coffee-table book by Sheryl Kurland.  An excellent gift for weddings, anniversaries, engagements…or just because!

Midlife Marriage – Love It Or Leave It?

August 11, 2012


Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones’s new movie “HopeSprings” is about a couple trying to spice up their marriage and reconnect after 31 years of marriage.  When I interviewed couples married 50-plus years for my Everlasting Matrimony book, Helen Tipton, married to Ross on September 25, 1937, advised “Be sure you choose someone you not only love but also will like after the first bloom has worn off.”  In many long-term marriages today, the bloom has died.  In fact, divorce at midlife has become far more prevalent than ever before.  According to a report by the National Center For Family and Marriage Research at Ohio’s Bowling GreenStateUniversity, the divorce rate doubled between 1990 and 2009 among adults 50 and older in the U.S.

What happened between “I do” and “I don’t anymore”? 

Reasons for higher divorce rates at midlife and beyond include:

  • Verbal, physical or emotional abuse as well as alcohol or drug abuse.
  • Differences in values and lifestyle choices.
  • Shift in social attitude toward marriage and divorce.  Shedding one’s marriage has become easily accepted and easy.
  • Increased longevity and attention to personal happiness.  At 45, people are now facing another 40 years with their spouse rather than 20 or so a few generations ago.  They don’t want to spend decades longer in an unloving relationship.
  • Financial independence of women.  More women today have careers and are therefore more economically affluent than in previous decades.  Gain in financial security contributes to greater self-assurance and fewer fears about going it alone.
  • Children have flown the coupe.  Couples who “stayed together for the sake of the kids” now have the freedom they’ve been waiting for to split.
  • Onset of “double menopause.”  For both men and women, passage into midlife can stir an emotional rollercoaster.  Spouses simultaneously struggling with aging may take out their inner turmoil on each other in the form of resentment, frustration, and rejection.  Double menopause can wreak havoc on a relationship.

Resuscitation: 10 Tips To Help Save Your Marriage

Today’s mentality of “the couple next door got divorced, so it’s perfectly fine” leads many others to conclude that ditching their union is the only choice.  They think there’s no way back and overlook what might be needed to sustain their marriages.  Contrary to misconception, marriage resuscitation at midlife and later is a viable option.  For a couple whose marriage has hit this juncture, the following 10 pointers will help get the process underway:

  1. Accept that neither of you are exactly the same person as when you married.  Experiences and events change us.  Attempting to recapture what once was is futile.  The relationship, much like a faltering business, has to be restructured to meet each other’s needs today.
  2. Get to know each other again.  In the busyness of life, spouses forget to focus on each other.  Jobs, professional commitments, community activities, and other obligations can pull a couple apart.  Just as you schedule meetings for these responsibilities, make appointments to be together.  Whether you sit on the patio in the cool evening breeze, go for a walk or bike ride, or share a latté at the coffee shop every Friday evening, make time to re-connect.
  3. Look in a mirror.  Would you marry you?  When a relationship hits the skids, natural inclination is to blame the other person.  Instead, takea good, hard look at yourself.  Do you still make an effort to look attractive (not to be confused with being skinny)?  Are you proud of who you are?  Do you have a healthy sense of self-worth?  If you can’t answer “yes” to these questions, there’s work to be done.
  4. Notice what’s right, not wrong.  Jump start change by re-establishing relationship basics, such as communication, trust, respect, sharing, caring, humor and so forth.  Count the worth of your mate, not his/her faults.
  5. Peel back arguments to identify their roots and modify interpretation.  When a dispute is stripped down to its core, it’s often discovered that the squabble was precipitated due to one spouse possessing a “strength” where the other has a “weakness.”  The person with the strength was more knowledgeable, informed, experienced, skilled, talented or educated than his/her mate on the subject of the disagreement.  A strength pit against a weakness turns into a fight.  Rather than function in opposition, a couple must re-program and “blend” differences.
  6. Ditch the same old patterns, routines, and habits.  Predictability causes monotony.  Sit down together and discuss the boring “stuff” and brainstorm new ways to do them.  This gives you a plan of action to spice up the relationship.
  7. Get out together.  Going through the days, we come in contact with people and places that trigger “that would be so enjoyable for us to do together” ideas.  But later, upon trying to recall them, the mind draws a blank.  Capture these idea snippets by keying them into your phone’s notepad or keep pen and paper handy in your car, briefcase, drawer of your nightstand, etc.  Then, when you’re trying to think of something different to do as a couple, you’ve got a ready list.
  8. Create a “couple” tradition.  Traditions add excitement to a relationship and help keep the two people connected.  They also serve as an anchor and provide “glue” for the union to remain sturdy when the going gets rough.  Establish one or more traditions that will make your relationship special year after year.
  9. Love the one you’re with.  Observations at the office, gym, social outings, and elsewhere may lead you to believe that others are having all the fun.  Don’t be fooled.  How many times have you seen the couple who seemed to “have it all” wind up in divorce court?  Instead of wallowing or thinking the grass is greener on the other side, devote your mental energy to rekindling the romance between you and your mate.
  10. Seek professional help with a positive attitude.  For marriage counseling or marriage education to have a chance of success, a couple must start with the proper outlook.  Think “How can we revitalize our marriage?” not “Should we get a divorce?”

Taking action to transform a marriage that has fizzled into a renewed source of joy and pleasure requires time and patience.  In the process, each spouse is likely to discover incredible strengths within themselves and the relationship.  With steadfastness and perseverance, there’s high probability that a couple will come out of the journey amazed to have opened a new world of opportunities with their marriage not only intact, but better than ever.

Get Along Better provides you relationship tips with a twist of humor.  Want more?  4,000+ years’ worth of advice are documented in Everlasting Matrimony: Pearls Of Wisdom From Couples Married 50 Years Or More, a coffee-table book by Sheryl Kurland.  An excellent gift for weddings, anniversaries, engagements…or just because!

Give A Man 5 Extra Seconds

July 28, 2012

Matt Lauer and crew are now in London broadcasting Olympic coverage for NBC’s Today Show.  He and his cohorts have been there all week at different venues and some crew is still in the New York studio.  When the broadcast switches locations, I’ve noticed a sizable delay, a silence, a very pregnant pause.  It’s because of transmission between satellites, but somebody always ends up staring blankly on-camera.  This gap of silence reminds me of a rule I learned interviewing couples married 50-plus years regarding communication with men: “Honor The 5-Second Delay.”

It’s a well known fact that men and women are wired quite differently in the ways we communicate.  Men want the quick facts, condensed version, get to the point.  Women gorge in details, elaborate descriptions, the more the better.  Plus, we interpret what we hear quite differently.  For example, you might say to a man, “I heard your cousin John was in a car accident yesterday.”  The man will want to know “What kind of car was he driving?  Did the air bags inflate?”  Make the same statement to a woman and she will want to know “Did John get injured?  Does he have a family?”

Now, about the Honor The 5-Second Delay rule…..Ask a man a question, any question — “Where would you like to go to dinner?”; “What did your Mom have to say when she called?”; “When does your football game come on TV?”  There’s silence.  A pregnant pause.  If you’re a man asking a question to another man, that pause is perfectly comfortable.  If you’re a woman waiting for an answer, that pause triggers anxiety.  Your blood pressure rises.  Your body seizes up with stress.  The veins in your neck tighten.  You wonder, “Did he hear me?  Should I repeat the question?”  You struggle, “I don’t want to make him mad by repeating the question.  I don’t want to sound like a nag.”  To every woman, this is what you need to do….

When A Man Pauses


  1. Ask Man question.
  2. Breathe.
  3. Count backwards slowly, and I do mean very slowly, 5-4-3-2-1-0.
  4. If you get to “0” and Man hasn’t answered, it is safe to ask the question again.

These steps will save every woman a lot of frustration and irritation when talking to a man.  So, ladies, while, you’re watching the Olympics over these next few weeks and hear a “pause” in the broadcast, give it meaning.  Remind yourself of your new daily habit: Honor The 5-Second Delay.  When we honor our differences and adjust accordingly, we get along better, much better.

Get Along Better provides you relationship tips with a twist of humor.  Want more?  4,000+ years’ worth of advice are documented in Everlasting Matrimony: Pearls Of Wisdom From Couples Married 50 Years Or More, a coffee-table book by Sheryl Kurland.  An excellent gift for weddings, anniversaries, engagements…or just because!

5 Easy Ways To Dig Your Way Out Of A Relationship Rut

July 16, 2012

B-O-R-I-N-G.  Every relationship gets boring.  No matter how madly in love you are, one day it will happen.

In my interviews with long-married couples to write Everlasting Matrimony and through my own nearly-23 years of marriage, I’ve learned there are guaranteed ways to dig your way out of a relationship rut.  Most people, myself included, want easy and fast solutions.  Here are five:

1.  Make a list of the things that annoy you about your mate.  Turn the list on yourself.

Reasoning: Often the behaviors that bother us about our mate and make us feel we’re stuck in a relationship rut are a reflection of ourselves.  When you change your behavior, by osmosis, your mate will change his/hers.  The result is renewed energy in the relationship.

2.     Do two things you’ve never done before, one alone and one together.

Reasoning: Relationships get stale when there’s nothing new happening.  Doing something new provides fresh material.  If it’s by yourself, you become a more interesting person to be with.  If it’s together, then you’re adding a new dimension to the relationship.

3.     Surprise your mate with something that’s creative and nonmaterialistic.

Reasoning: Simple personable things, like hiding a few lovey-dovey or funny greeting cards in places he/she will discover, putting mints on his/her pillow along with a hand-written note, or writing a message in the foggy bathroom mirror after showering, will make your mate feel special.  Surprises like these can give a relationship a boost.   

4.     Don’t say “I’m sorry.  Instead, act “I’m sorry.”

Reasoning: When you trace back to “How did we get into this rut?” sometimes the tailspin started when you got mad at each other and then stopped putting effort into the relationship.  Put on your big-girl panties or big-boy briefs and act like an adult.  Even if you can’t bring yourself to utter the words “I’m sorry,” you can act them.  Go tickle your mate or flash a private body part.  Initiate some laughter!

5.  Jot down “fun things to do” as they come to mind.

Reasoning: As the days go by and you have conversations with your mate, one of you will say “We should do ‘xyz’ sometime.” But later on, when you try to remember what “xyz” was, neither of you can recall.  The trick is, when ideas pop up, write them down in a designated spot, i.e., in your iphone notes, a particular computer file, a specific notepad.  When you can’t think of anything to do, you can refer to your list.  Now you have many things to look forward to doing together.

Get Along Better provides you relationship tips with a twist of humor.  Want more?  4,000+ years’ worth of advice are documented in Everlasting Matrimony: Pearls Of Wisdom From Couples Married 50 Years Or More, a coffee-table book by Sheryl Kurland.  An excellent gift for weddings, anniversaries, engagements…or just because!

Camp Get-Me-Outta-Here

May 14, 2012

Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya, oh Lord, kumbaya.

100 bottles of beer on the wall.  100 bottles of beer.  Take one down, pass it around, 99 bottles of beer on the wall.  99 bottles of beer on the wall……..

Ah, those tunes we sang around the campfire.  As the school year winds down, parents prepare to gleefully embrace the next season, sending their children to summer camp.  Yipee!  Time to clip the apron strings.

I went away to overnight camp twice in my childhood, and there’s one thing I learned that stands out among all other lessons: I hate camp.

Learning survival skills in the wilderness with mosquitoes buzzing around my ears while I was trying to get some sleep was, well, sleepless.  Where do I plug in my hair blower?  You want me to dig a hole and do what in where?

We swam in a scummy lake and took timed swimming tests.  I excelled only in treading water…because there was no damn way I was going to let my feet touch the muck on the bottom.  Frankly I had been perfectly happy at home doing Weeki Wachee mermaid routines with my younger sister in our big swimming pool in our back yard.

At age 12, I was a junior counselor for a cabin of 6 year-olds.  It was the first day of horseback riding class.  Everybody mounted a horse and entered the ring.  The trainer announced, “If anyone feels afraid, you can just walk your horse to the center of the ring.”  The senior counselor and I did just that.

There was an Olympics day.  The entire camp, probably 500 kids, divided into two teams, blue and white, and competed in every sport imaginable.  I wanted to be on silver, as in the silver airplane to fly me home.

But lest I forget, I was a competitor…in playing jacks.  The game with the bouncing ball and metal spiked things.  You throw the ball up in the air and pick up as many jacks as you can while only allowing the ball to bounce once.  Hours upon hours I practiced.  I got so good I could pick up about 20 jacks in one toss.  What a remarkable accomplishment for my parents to have made such a huge investment in, unknowingly.

And, in trampoline class I got the “Most Likely To Succeed” award.

And, I won the “Neatest Cubbyhole” award (where we kept our clothes) for an entire month.

Since I hated those two camps, I decided to launch the best camp ever: Camp Sheryl.  I corralled the boys and girls in my neighborhood for one week.  Parents about kissed my feet as they plunked out $5 per kid.  At my house, from sun-up to sundown, I created a schedule that was a ton of fun.  The kids all laughed a lot, especially when Debbie R. fell into the swimming pool with her go-go boots on.

Looking back on my camp history, the moral of the story is when you’re not having fun, you have to create your own.

Get Along Better provides you relationship “tips” with a twist of humor.  Want more?  4,000+ years’ worth of advice from “real-life experts” are documented in Everlasting Matrimony: Pearls Of Wisdom From Couples Married 50 Years Or More, a coffee-table book by Sheryl Kurland.  Makes an excellent gift for weddings, anniversaries, engagements…or just because!

“I Do” and So Can You

May 12, 2012

Thank you, President Obama, for endorsing same-sex marriage this past week.  You unleashed the souls of many, allowing them to love freely.

Don announced to me, “I’m getting a divorce.”  Don worked for the printing company that printed the bank’s employee newsletter, which I was editor of.   In addition to our serious professional relationship we had a very fun, casual friendship.  He knew I was single and looking, and I knew he was married with three wonderful children.  His news caught me by complete surprise.

A few months passed, and based on where we were in the newsletter production process, Don continued to stop by.  I always inquired “How are you doing?” knowing that divorce is a nightmare.  He always showed his cheerful side but one day he was smiling from ear to ear.  “I met someone super special and I want to introduce you to each other,” he said.  We set a date and time and picked a restaurant.  When I arrived at the restaurant, Don was alone, sitting in a booth.

“So where is this she?” I asked.

“Have a seat,” said Don.  “‘She’ is a ‘he.’”

It took the wind out of my sails.  Not because he revealed he’s gay, but I lost my breath scanning through the decades in my mind in which he had had to live a lie.

Don moved in with his significant other shortly after.  In subsequent visits to the bank, he would always tell me he was happier than ever.

We lost touch over the years because I, too, found my special someone, married him exchanging “I do’s,” and we moved away.

This took place in the late 1980’s.

Some 20-plus years later, slowly but surely same-sex couples are finally making strides.  Obama’s banner for change is bittersweet; it should have happened a long time ago.

I am baffled by the anomoly in our society:  Straight people have the freedom to marry and fair pretty pitifully while gay couples desperately want to commit forever and, in most states, can’t.   Approximately 50% of heterosexual marriages end in divorce (and odds are worse for second and third marriages) and many more are miserably married.  Homosexual couples, despite the obstacles they face — prejudice, bullying, discrimination, harassment, and more — seem to have a true grasp of everlasting love.

Marriage is not for everyone but if you want to marry you should be able to.

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