Can Valentine’s Day prevent divorce?

The other day I overheard a co-worker declare that he and his wife don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because it’s stupid. When I challenged him and asked when was the last time he and his wife had couple time. Just the 2 of them, no kids, on a date. To which he couldn’t answer because it had been years.

40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce and the #1 reason those marriages fail is lack of communication.

By the time our kids got to an age where they had their own friends and didn’t really need us as much, a giant gap had formed between my husband and I. We had been filling that gap with our 3 kids for years. It’s easy to do.

We are parents. Kids take up a LOT of our energy and time. On top of that, many of us have jobs outside the home. By the time there’s time to breathe, you just want to go to sleep and recharge.

Where’s the time to go on dates or connect with your partner? Where’s the time to take care of the marriage that brought you those amazing kids?

After 16 years of marriage, we are divorced. We had arrived at a point where we really didn’t know each other anymore. We simply couldn’t operate outside of being parents.

For my next relationship, I vowed that we would have weekly date night. One night a week where there are no kids and no work. We can do anything we want. For the last 4 years, I am proud to say that every single Tuesday night is sacred date night. I call it “Hot Date Night”.

We cook dinner. Sometimes we go out for dinner. We have a couple glasses of wine. We talk. Sometimes we don’t talk. We watch TV. Sometimes we just sit together. Sometimes we just read or listen to music. And of course, sometimes we fool around, but not always.

We decided that we would put no expectations on the night. Date night doesn’t have to be anything special. It just simply is a habit that is critical to nourishing our relationship. It’s the one time that we focus on us in whatever way it feels right on that day.

I hear the reasons couples give for not taking the time to connect with their partners. I know those reasons because I had the same ones.

  • We have little kids and it’s impossible to get a babysitter
  • We can’t afford to go out for dinner
  • I’d rather stay home with my kids

Those reasons, with small children, I can’t deny. But I can also say truthfully, that as the years went by, I wanted a date night here and there. I found that those reasons became a safety net. “I’d rather stay home with the kids” meant I’d rather not go out and feel uncomfortable and worry about what we’ll talk about… and maybe even reveal that we’re no longer connected. 

The kids would be at an event, like the school offering to watch the kids for 3 hours… and we’d choose not to take the opportunity. It stung.

After a while, it’s easier to simply not try to connect. And sadly, for us, we separated.

Valentine’s Day may very well be stupid. You shouldn’t have to have a holiday to take your partner out on a date. But it’s still time together. So, if you need a reason to get out and reconnect, then use Valentine’s Day as an excuse.

Take the time, now, to schedule a date night. Maybe you can’t do every week. Can you do once a month? Once every 3 months?

Because it’s important.

Jen Thoden

13 Life Lessons I Learned From Training For A Half Marathon

Last December, I decided that I was going to run a half marathon. I had never run more than 4 miles and the idea of running 13 miles was intimidating to say the least. I signed up for a half marathon in May and I began my training. It was the hardest thing I ever did… physically. But I did it! In fact, I completed the race in 2 hours and 15 minutes which is excellent for a first time runner. I’ve never been so proud of myself for accomplishing something like this. I ran 13 miles! Holy crap!

When I thought about all the things I had to do to be successful, I realized I learned way more than just learning how to run a half marathon. I learned critical life skills that can be applied to all areas of my life to help be reach my goals for this year.

Here are the 13 life lessons I learned while training for a half marathon…

Slow Down

When I started getting stronger in my training, I found myself pushing myself to go faster. To finish my long runs sooner. This only lead to injury and burn out. In life, I’ve learned to stop racing to get from point A to point B. To stop being so focused on finding the fastest path and then stressing about how long the journey is taking me. When I finally slowed down, I learned that the journey can be far more enjoyable than the destination.

2. Power Through

There were days when I didn’t want to run. The idea literally pained me. This is a defining moment. When you hear those voices and simply say “Thanks, but I’m going to do this anyway.” When you power through your mind convincing you otherwise is when you will see self transformation.

3. Expect Pain

If you think you’re going to be able to train for any sport and not incur injury then you’re fooling yourself. There will be pain. Running doesn’t always feel good. There will likely be pulled muscles. Just like assuming you will go through life without hiccups and failure is false. There will be highs and lows in life. The sooner you accept that a low is part of life, the easier it is to power through, because after a low there is always a high.

4. Be Ruthlessly Consistent

The greatest success I’ve had in any part of my life is when I’ve stuck to consistent behavior. This may be the one bullet in this list that is the hardest to stick to, for me. I have to keep reminding myself of my success to keep going with consistent habits. When I trained for my half, I ran every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Without fail. I never missed a day. I was ruthless in my consistency. When I set the same sort of rules for my business or eating habits, I see success. Positive habits are powerful.

5. Set Small Goals

It feels good to succeed. I set myself very small, realistic goals that I could celebrate when I achieved them. Just adding a half mile to my route was worth a celebration. When setting goals for myself personally, it find that I’m much more likely to reach them when I have small goals to meet along the way. I need to feel success sooner.

6. Upgrade Your Environments

This is one that was huge for me. I realized I couldn’t run in my old running shoes and I wall ill equipped for the colder weather to run outdoors. I invested in excellent running shoes and high performing running gear. I also downloaded personal development webinars and audios for my long runs. It’s difficult to be successful if your environment isn’t set up for success. Consider weight loss. If you’re surrounded by junk food, your chances of success are lower. Set yourself up so that it’s easy to do what you need to do.

7. Don’t Stop

A body in motion stays in motion. Don’t stop. Slow down. Change your pace. But do not stop. It takes 10X more energy to start back up after quitting. You’ll make mistakes. You’ll break your habits. But don’t stop. Course correct and keep working at it. Success only comes to those that don’t quit.

8. Celebrate ALL Achievements

I think this is one thing that so many of us don’t do for ourselves. We meet a small goal or milestone and instead of celebrating we criticize ourselves. I caught myself saying… great job on running 5 miles, but you need to be able to run 13. Or, at home, the kitchen is finally cleaned up but the living room is still a rec. Celebrate your victories. Small or big. They all deserve to be celebrated. Otherwise, what’s your motivation to keep achieving goals?

9. Focus On Your Accomplishments Not Your Failures

Our brains our so good at focusing on the negative. When I was able to run 7 miles, I caught myself focusing on how sore I was. How tired I was. That I wasn’t having fun. None of this thinking served me well. In life, pay attention to how many times you focus on the negative. This includes scolding yourself, gossiping, complaining, being disappointed. Ask yourself, what is good right now?

10. Understand Disappointment

It’s ok to be disappointed but understand why you feel this way. Disappointment comes from not meeting an expectation. You expected him to propose and he didn’t. You expected the movie to be life changing and it wasn’t. Try to look at the result differently. It is what it is. There’s no point in being disappointed when you have no control over a different outcome. It simply is what it is. And that is perfect.

11. Good Days and Bad Days

You’re going to have good days and bad days. You’re going to have highs and lows. Some runs felt fantastic! I was on a high. Other runs, I barely made it. Some days will be amazing and other days… meh. I think the real lesson for me was to do what I said I was going to do despite the lows. Power through.

12. Take Care of Yourself

When I was running, I neglected to take the time to take care of my body. Stretching, massage and rest. This caused a serious hamstring injury that took a couple months to ease. In life, put your self first. Take care of you. You deserve to be taken care of, so treat yourself to a day out. An hour out. A mani-pedi. A favorite TV show. Something just for you. Because if you don’t take care of yourself, how in the world can you take care of the things and people that need you.

13. Have FUN

If I’m not having fun, then I’m unlikely to do it. Make every step as enjoyable and fun as possible. I played music and took scenic routes. If cleaning out the garage is a goal, make it fun. Pump music. Get friends to help. The task isn’t always going to be your favorite but you can still make the best of it.

You may not be training for a half marathon, but you can apply these lessons to any part of your life to achieve success. Just imagine if you applied just a couple of these things to one of your goals. Would you be successful?

Life Rule #1: Slow the F* Down!

What’s your hurry?

That’s what my business coach said to me in reaction to my latest meltdown.

I’ve been crunching on my style blog this past year achieving aggressive goals. I have an endless amount of ideas and I want to do everything on that list.

I started getting discouraged because I wasn’t hitting the numbers like I expected and it felt like everything was going wrong.

My whining included:

  • I can’t get what I want done done
  • I’m not meeting my numbers this month
  • I’m really frustrated
  • I’m overwhelmed, I have too much I need to do
  • What if I don’t hit my goals this year?

There was more, but you get the idea.

My business coach interrupted me and said… “Hey Jen. What’s your hurry?”

Which completely derailed me. Umm… I don’t know. What IS my hurry?

I was then instructed to really think about the person I am right now and the person I need to be to run a million dollar business.

Well, shit.

I am not a whining whoah-is-me leader of a million dollar company… damnit. But at that moment I fell into a pool of self doubt, self pity and got all caught up in my head.

We are our worst enemies. I am grateful for my coach because it’s times like this that I need a kick in the ass. Which is what I got.

So, I sat with the sting for a bit and then I thought… F* this. I am the owner of a million dollar company. What IS my hurry?? None.

So, I took a deep breath, stepped back and took a look at my company at a higher level. Where are we going? What is the vision for next year? What do I want to accomplish?

Instead of focusing on the little things that may not be going smoothly are started focusing on where I want to take the vision of the company.

I feel so much better… my company sales jumped the following month and I am clear on my vision for next year. I’m so excited!

So, if you’re trying to do too many things… at high speed… you’re going to end up pulling a muscle. Slow down. Make sure you have the support system in place to handle the high pace you set for yourself. Otherwise, you will crash and have a meltdown… and it doesn’t feel good at all.

*hugs*

Jen Thoden

Is This What I Put My Mother Through?

So, last Monday, my son finally got his license. I say “finally” because I feel like he’s been avoiding this milestone event for months. I can tell you, that when I was his age… younger… getting my driver’s license was everything to me. It’s all I thought about for 4 whole months.

4 months.

That is all it took for me to get my driver’s license. Does anyone else remember how ridiculously scary easy it was for us to become drivers? I got my learner’s permit at 15 years 8 months. And on my 16th birthday, I went to DMV, took my test and drove out with my license that day. *Boom*

I then proceeded to drive into random things for a good couple years after that (Burger King sign, mailbox, garage door, etc)… because how can any kid with 4 months of driving experience really be a safe driver?

Nowadays, at least where we live, kids get their learner’s permit at 15 years 6 months… and they aren’t even eligible to take their final test until 16 years 3 months. And for whatever the reason, teenagers are not compelled to get their driver’s license. Seriously?!

I am pretty sure my son sabotaged getting his license at 16 years 3 months. He acted like it was an impossible feat to register for his required Road and Range class. Which I found easily and signed him up.

So, he is now 16 years 7 months and finally has his license!

I danced around like an idiot because I don’t have to pick him and his sister up from their Dad’s after school anymore. Their Dad lives 30 minutes from my house. I don’t have to drive them to school (30 minutes away) anymore. Matt drives Mindy to soccer practice now. He drives himself to gymnastics. I suddenly have all this time on my hands.

HOURS of time that used be taken up by driving back and forth.

Hours…

I have found myself pacing… waiting for my kids to come home. I miss them.

As much as I HATED that commute. Spending all those hours driving… there was ONE thing that I didn’t hate. Singing out loud together like idiots to songs on the radio. This was our routine on the way home. They would overload me about their day… and then we’d get stupid silly. Laughing. Oh my god, I miss it!

This must be what “Empty Nest Syndrome” feels like.

Well… now it’s time to fill the void. I really do love not having to stop what I’m doing and drive 30 minutes out and back. So… today… I’m going to go for a run… and enjoy not feeling rushed to be somewhere. Because I have no where to be… except waiting for my kids to come home…

Does anyone know what this feels like? Ugh.

Jen

Should You Quit Your Job to Start A Business?

4 Things You Need To Start A Business Online

Do you dream of time freedom or location freedom?

Are You Self Employed or A Business Owner?

Are you a business owner or self employed? What’s the difference? Why does it matter? It’s way more fun being a business owner! Learn the difference and how this was a huge turning point for me. I hope this helps you too. Comment… and share if you’re self employed or a business owner.

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Thanks for listening!

Jen Thoden

To The Moms Who Think They Suck At Everything

To the Mom who does everything. To the Mom who feels like they must do everything or their world will unravel. To the Mom who drives their kids to soccer that happen to be in different locations and one kid is always late because you had to leave work 30 minutes early to get them there and you couldn’t because the stupid meeting didn’t end on time… and then when you got to practice realize that you didn’t bring water.

To the Mom who tries to plan nutritious meals but forgets to take the meat out of the freezer and settles for Chinese takeout that isn’t even that good and cost way too much.

To the Mom who was just trying to relax with a glass of wine and spills it all over your child’s homework because they left it on the counter when they asked you a question.

To the Mom who crawls in bed at night feeling only partially fulfilled because the day was all about everyone else… and shouldn’t you feel amazing for taking care of your family?

I see you. I really do.

When my daughter was going through chemo, I ran myself ragged keeping the world together. I took Kelley to the doctor’s. I did the laundry. I handled the medications. I prepared dinner. I vacuumed. I ran errands. I did the grocery shopping. I did it all. And, oh by the way, I had 2 other small children that needed me. And I had my business.

To be fair, my husband at the time did the best he could. He worked full-time and helped when he could. So, this isn’t a husband or father bashing post.

I ran myself ragged, trying to do everything. And you know what? I didn’t win any medals. No one said thank you. I didn’t feel good. I put on weight. I didn’t take care of myself. I became a very unhappy person.

Even when I thought, I should do something for myself… I would think… I have no idea what makes me happy. I only know that there are a million things that have to get done and I’m the one to do it. Period.

If this resonates with you… if this is you in some way… STOP. Just stop.

Here’s a reality check. You can’t do everything. And you sure as hell can’t do everything well. How do I know this? Because when you go to bed at night, how many things are still on your list to do? A LOT, I’m guessing.

So, if you’re list is long and you can’t get to all of it, then add yourself to that list.

Take care of yourself too. And don’t feel guilty about it. There is nothing shameful about taking time for yourself. Just to watch TV. Sit quietly. Go to bed on time. Exercise. Treat yourself shopping. Meet with girlfriends.

And if you tell yourself you don’t have the time… that’s bullshit. Seriously. That’s you just trying to convince yourself that what you’re doing is the right thing to do.

And maybe it is… but you might wake up one day as a shadow of your self wondering who you are… what you actually like doing… and not knowing what to do that might bring you joy.

Working down a to-do list is NOT joy. It is not your ticket to happiness.

So, if you don’t even know anymore what makes you happy… and that’s why you avoid taking time for yourself… then start small. Write a list of all the things you used to do that you thought were fun or fulfilling. Doesn’t matter if you don’t do them now or that they don’t interest you anymore. Write the list. Let your mind wander. Enjoy this time.

When I did this exercise, I was reminded that taking walks was enjoyable to me once. Maybe it’s something as simple as that. Take the time to get some fresh air. Get outside. Get away from the house.

I’ve done the super-mom thing. I know how important it is to make sure your family is taken care of. I know how guilty we feel when we decide to go out with friends and leave the kids with a babysitter. I know what it’s like to cancel plans because you feel guilty that you didn’t spend enough time with your kids and you don’t deserve to have “away time”.

This is nonsense!!! Take care of yourself first. Take that shower. Run that mile. Eat breakfast. Take care of yourself first. Because if you don’t take care of you, no one will. And you serve no one, if you’re worn out and tired and sick and unhappy and miserable. Right?

So, to all the Moms that try to do everything and feel like they suck at everything… I believe in you. You are beautiful. And the world Thanks You… now go do something nice for YOU.

 

Jen Thoden

I Don’t Need Sex (anymore)

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Let me be clear. I LOVE sex and I WANT sex.

So, if you opened this post to see why I don’t like sex then I’m sorry!

I don’t NEED sex… anymore.

So, what do I mean by need vs. want, especially when it comes to sex?

I used to think that I didn’t need sex and that it was always on a want basis. It wasn’t until I was in my first serious relationship, after my divorce, that I realized how needy I was.

I found myself needing to have sex to feel better about myself, to feel loved. And when we didn’t have sex, I started thinking, “Why doesn’t he want to have sex with me? He clearly doesn’t love me. What doesn’t he want me?” and so on. It wasn’t until I started doing some serious “self” work, that I started to become aware of this needy attitude.

Every time I noticed myself being triggered… I looked at the situation as an outside observer. Why do we have to have sex in order for me to feel loved? He simply wants to hang out with me and connect and his attitude is if we have sex, great! But it’s not a requirement for connecting.

Question to myself: Do I NOT feel loved when I’m on my period and can’t have sex? Does he feel rejected when I can’t have sex or when I don’t feel like it? No. He’s fine.

I Don't NEED Sex Anymore
Image by MFer Photography via Flickr
 

Besides making babies, point of sex is, in my opinion, to connect. Sex should be an extension of an already strong emotional connection. It shouldn’t be a filler. If I’m feeling empty inside, it’s not because I’m not having sex. This is a deeper issue that needs to be addressed.

It’s like saying, “I NEED chocolate.” Do you? Do you really? If you’re hungry, then you need to fulfill that need. Chocolate IS a solution, but it’s temporary. You won’t be satisfied for very long and you’ll start looking for more chocolate or hopefully some real food.

In fact, if you eat chocolate when you’re starving, you won’t enjoy it nearly as much as if you decided to enjoy a piece when you simply want some. Huge difference.

When I stopped being so damn needy about sex, and let our relationship flow without demands, requirements, and expectations that were only in my head, my happiness level has gone way up. Our relationship is stronger. If I want sex, I let it be known. I don’t expect it or require it and if we end up fooling around, it’s a lot of fun and better than having it just to have it because that’s what you’re supposed to do. Yuck.

I don’t worry about how often we fool around. I’ve stopped thinking too many or not enough. I’ve stopped comparing our lives to others, assuming that they have better sex lives than I do. I’ve stopped assuming that my boyfriend is a mind reader. If I want something, I say it. He does the same.

No, I no longer NEED sex. Yes, I love having sex with my partner. I love him. We have fun. And yes, I believe that connecting intimately is critical to the overall health of a couple. I just no longer believe it’s the only thing that connects you. And it certainly doesn’t create happiness.

Happiness begins from inside you. So, if you’re feeling needy or if any of what I’ve written resonates with you, look inward and start working on your self esteem. You don’t need sex to be happy.

Jen Thoden

 

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