Relationships Take Work (But Not In the Way You Think)

Relationships Take Work (But Not In the Way You Think)

Have you heard of the seven-year itch?  The classic term describes how a marriage declines around the seventh year, largely because the two partners aren’t as satisfied with each other as they once were. My first serious relationship crashed and burned in a spectacular way around the seven year, so I’ve carried this idea around for quite some time.  Now my second marriage is closing in on the seven years, and for a while, I’ve waited for the other shoe to drop.  When will he become dissatisfied with me?  When will I start daydreaming about getting out of the relationship?  How can we stay on track? What’s going to go wrong? Anxiety aside, I’m extremely satisfied with the relationship I have with my husband.  We still hold hands.  We never fail to find topics of conversation, sometimes talking for hours even though we see each other every night.  We have similar interests and pursue them together.  I find that it’s becoming quite silly to wait for an arbitrary year to change our relationship when what we have works so well. Some of my worry stems from a common theme that crops up when people talk about relationships.  “Relationships take work,” they say, and it’s said in a tone that implies it will not be fun work.  In my mind I conjure up this drudging image.  The kind of work that you hate, but you know you have to do.  The kind of work you try to avoid, but you have to get around to it anyway.  It feels like filing taxes while getting a medical exam and organizing your closet all...
My Labor of Love

My Labor of Love

I’m writing this blog post purely out of love. This statement may sound forced, or worse, a lie.  You may think that I am writing this blog post for my own website, so this post generates website traffic and earns me money.   Blog posts also help me build my personal brand, giving me an edge on my resume. The truth is, if I were to look at writing for The Change Blog as a moneymaking or career-building opportunity, it would be a waste of my time.  I do not own the site (the affable Peter Clemens does).  I am merely a columnist who started writing for this site five years ago on something of a whim.  I do get paid a modest fee for writing articles, but I command a higher hourly wage doing other things in my life.  While I meet many wonderful people through the site, very few of them intersect with my current career in video game development. I write these columns simply because I love writing. I have always enjoyed writing.  Even in elementary school, I would spend extraordinary amounts of time crafting essays and short stories.  As I grew older, writing became a type of therapy to deal with the ups and downs of puberty.  I convinced my friends to create a fantasy world in which we were characters, and they even co-wrote some stories with me in high school. As an adult, I’ve continued to make writing a priority in my life, even when it isn’t always convenient.  If my current job doesn’t involve a lot of writing, I will find other outlets...
5 Situations to Stand Up for What you Believe In

5 Situations to Stand Up for What you Believe In

We all know people who are very adamant (and vocal) about sharing their beliefs.  They have Facebook feeds chock full of pointed articles, status updates, and pictures that support specific causes.  Whenever you meet them in person, topics generally go straight to those causes, and if you are even remotely argumentative, you will spend the evening having a debate.  The world needs these types of people with strong belief systems who fight inertia and status quo in the hopes of making an impact.  I applaud their efforts when I agree that their causes are ones worth fighting for. I am, however, not one of these people. I am a more moderate person by nature.  Although I love a good structured debate, life is seldom structured.  I hate hurting other people’s feelings, so unless I know a person really well, I tend to keep the topics more conversational than confrontational.  It’s not that I don’t believe in causes.  It’s more that it emotionally taxes me to argue with people, so I need to know that the benefit of arguing is worth the stress it will put on me. If you find yourself in the same boat, here are a few rules of thumb that I follow before I engage in a cause.  In these situations, it has always been worth the effort to take a stand, even if it took me out of my comfort zone: 1. When you can set an example. The best way to stand up for a belief is to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.  If you really believe in something, then don’t...
Resolve to Love Yourself This Year

Resolve to Love Yourself This Year

“Love yourself. Forgive yourself. Be true to yourself. How you treat yourself sets the standard for how others will treat you.” ― Steve Maraboli It’s been a while since we made our New Year’s resolutions, and all our vows are quite well-intended.  Exercise more.  Pick up a long-lost hobby.  Reconnect with friends.  Maybe you’ve been sticking to your resolution, or maybe you’re disappointed that you haven’t gotten things quite off the ground yet.  But no matter how things are going, I urge you to tack on one additional resolution this year: Love yourself as you are right now. I’m a very self-critical and goal-oriented person.  I hold these traits dear because they made me who I am today.  But being driven comes with its own set of problems.  I am hard to satisfy, and I find there’s a fine line between self-criticism and self-doubt, even self-loathing.  I want so much to become a future version of myself that I often forget I’m a pretty great person today. If you find yourself in the same boat, here are a few tricks I’ve taught myself to keeping loving the current me: Know when you’re being overly critical of yourself. A good rule of thumb is, if criticism helps you become a better person, then it works.  If criticism only succeeds in making you feel bad, give yourself a break.  Stop criticizing yourself and instead focus on what makes you a good person now (even if it’s only that you’ve recognized you want to change, which is a huge first step).  Once you can find something good about yourself, break down criticism into...
How to Cope When You Are Clearly In Over Your Head

How to Cope When You Are Clearly In Over Your Head

No doubt, I had bitten off way more than I could chew. While I generally enjoy juggling many plates, I knew a few months ago that I had stepped over that invisible boundary of “busy” into “overwhelmed.”  That’s when I had decided to replace my old part-time teaching job to instead devote those hours to a startup business.  It was 100% the right move: working with former colleagues whom I respect (who respected me back), getting back into the startup business scene (which I love), and having a job that worked around my crazy parenting schedule (which takes up the majority of my time). But it wasn’t as easy as shifting my hours from one job to another.  A teaching job has set hours and a schedule, so it’s more predictable in terms of when the work comes in.  Being an entrepreneur means grabbing opportunities as they come, and that sometimes means long nights.  Long nights, unfortunately, do not mesh well with feeding cranky babies at midnight, nor taking care of children when my husband needs to take an unexpected business trip.  So things like exercise and sleep started to slip, and that caused another cascade of problems. I knew I had to do something when my lack of sleep pushed me into acting like a cranky toddler, irritable and irrational.  Something needed to change, but what? We all reach points where we feel overwhelmed, treading water instead of thriving.  When these moments happen, I boil my life back down to the basics by going through these steps: 1. Decide exactly what you need in your life. This means...