Put a Ring on It? Maybe Not!

Beyonce with Justin Timberlake and SNL cast members parody Single Ladies dance: https://pin.it/f4rgczckaexise

Do all the single ladies want a ring on it?

In Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” she sings about her ex, who is  jealous because she was with a new man. She tells him it was too bad for him because “if you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it.” The snappy song and accompanying  video went viral. It was even hysterically parodied on Saturday Night Live with Beyonce and Justin Timberlake.

The song became almost an anthem for single women. Or did it?

There is a rise in the single population, and not just because millennials all want to live with mom and dad forever. They don’t. What they want is to be happy – and don’t see marriage as the only way to be happy.

A new report from Mintel’s Single Lifestyles UK reveals that “61% of single women say they are happy with their relationship status, compared to 49% of single men. Overall, it appears that unattached Brits are in no rush to find a partner. As many as 70% of singles in the UK say they have not actively tried to find a partner in the last 12 months*, rising to 75% of women.”

Why??

Maybe those women watched too many friends and colleagues trade in their careers and carefree and happier ways to become wives. Maybe they are learning something I learned after seeing so many of my girlfriends leave their personalities at the altar: as those women settled into marriage, they weren’t particularly happy with the direction of their lives. They realized that the “happily ever after” stuff we hear is the stuff of fictional and advertising.

Also, today’s smart and savvy women have more opportunities and choices. They can get credit, buy a house, and easily travel alone – often resulting in amazing adventures.

That doesn’t mean single women don’t want marriage. They do. For several reasons, once of which is the fear being lone and dying alone. More importantly, they also know, from an economic standpoint, two incomes pays the rent and the utilities much more easily than one.

At the same time, today’s single woman – especially if she’s a bit older – used to making her own decisions, She comfortable doing things her way. She isn’t interested in giving up her “SELF” to become an appendage to someone else. She also has no interest in being told what to do or having all the household responsibilities dumped on her.

Instead, today’s single wants to be with a partner – someone who will split the responsibilities and leave her some space for the freedom to grow into her own bigger picture. It isn’t a easy expectation or a stress-free choice to make.

How do you know marriage will be a better choice than single?

I must have been ahead of my time! Like today’s single ladies, I really wanted to have a love relationships and a partner. I was ready for it. What I wasn’t ready to do was give up my hard-won independence. So, when Joseph said he wanted to get married, it was a really hard decision.

First, I came up with the Five-Year Marriage®.

Then, I launched a dirt-simple “formula” for safeguarding my SELF. It’s one basic question: “Am I happier now than when I was by myself?”

I use this question to assess just about everything in my relationship. I ask it sometimes in a meandering way, like while enjoying a long walk. Other times it would be after Joseph and I had a fight and I was trying to calm down and sort things out.

If the answer is “no” then I figure out why not. Then I bring it to a Family Meeting and discuss it. Sometimes I don’t even wait for the Family Meeting.

That’s a measure I use, and it might be one you like too. If you do, get into a habit of using it.

If that question doesn’t work for you, find another simple but overarching question that’s meaningful to you. It should be short and sweet but powerful enough to push a couple of your internal buttons. The more you know how you  feel and the faster you recognize and articulate it, the better chance you have a fixing it – and doing it before it festers into a serious problem.

Before all the single ladies put a ring on it, get some safeguards in place for your SELF.

Learn more tips in The Five-Year Marriage®: Shifting the Marriage Paradigm.

Do You Make Yourself Small?

marriage disconnect

“I had this sort of uncanny ability to make myself as small as possible, like I was a supporting character in my own life,” said singer/actress Mandy Moore about her six-year marriage to Ryan Adams. She says it happened because she lost herself in her troubled relationship and began to doubt her path.

Moore isn’t the first woman to experience that feeling. Unfortunately, it is far too common.

I don’t know if it’s because most women put their whole hearts and souls into the relationship. They tend to be self-sacrificing and overly willing to go the extra mile to please their spouse and, later, please their children.

I honestly don’t think that alone is a problem. We love helping our loved ones. It makes us feel good, right?

Caring becomes a problem when it’s a one-way street. That is, you are showing your love by helping everyone else but they aren’t returning the love when you need them. Then you stop doing things that will need them…maybe because you don’t want to be reminded that your relationship is a one-way street.

You give up your dreams and stop setting personal goals. You give up your “me time” in favor of “us” and “them” time. Maybe you stop getting together with girlfriends or give up your alone time or spiritual practice. You stop doing all the things that made you feel like yourself.

In addition, you ignore it when your feelings get hurt. You make excuses for your spouse and kids. Then, to stop the hurt, you throw yourself into the tub of ice cream or that bottle of wine. They help you forget that you aren’t getting the happy ending marriage promised.

I call it overcare.

Overcare is what happens when you lose the balance between caring for yourself and caring for others...in favor of caring for others. Overcare is when you put everyone else first and do whatever you can to make their lives shine. Bujt no one is helping you to shine.

There is only one way for overcare to go and that’s to burnout. Burnout becomes “I don’t care.” Which is the place Mandy Moore must have gotten to before she divorced Adams.

One of the best things about the Five-Year Marriage® is that you and your partner both set goals for yourselves AND you make agreements for how to help each other reach those goals. If life starts to look uneven for one of you, you can use the Family Meetings to get back on track.

How do YOU get your SELF back?

Worried About Being an “Old Maid”

Last spring I read an interesting article by Cooking Light’s Amanda Polick about being older and not married. It’s what old timers would have called an “old maid.”

I thought about it today. A colleague introduced me to a smart and savvy victorious woman. She wanted to know more about the Five-Year Marriage™. We talked for a short while. Then she asked me what advice I have for single women who want to get married.

I understood her anxiety from my single days. There were so many weddings! And I was a bridesmaid seventeen times!

During the reception, invariably someone asked why wasn’t I married. Sometimes they made me feel like there was something wrong with me.

Of course,  when I answered, I put on a brave face. Sometimes I explained that I hadn’t found the right one yet. Other times I laughed and said, “always a bridesmaid, never a bride.”

It wasn’t that I didn’t date. I did, but not a lot. When I did, I couldn’t seem to make the connection last long enough to even wonder if he was “the one” for me. Friends told me I was too picky and too fussy. They said I had to make compromises.

However, as time marched on, many of the people whose weddings I attended started getting divorced; they were the lucky ones. Too many friends didn’t get divorced but should have. That wonderful man who was once the man of their dreams turned out to be a nightmare to live with every day…year after lonely year.

Over time I started to realize that marriage wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. My focus changed and I decided to work on being the best me, without a man. I developed a new attitude (thank you Patti LaBelle).

So, when the younger woman asked for tips on getting married, the first thing out of my mother was, “Remember it’s better to be an old maid than wish you were one.

That wasn’t all. Here is the rest of my advice:

  • Be who you really are. Like attracts like and, when you work on being your best self, you will attract the best person for you.
  • Find your personal happiness. For me, coming from a strict and old-school Italian family, it took a very long time for me to touch into my personal power. Step-by-step, for years, I worked on feeling empowered within myself (versus seeking validation from others). A ”shining star” moment came when I bought my first house. I was the first woman in my generation to do that without first being married. It was a BIG deal.
  • Take a deep breath of gratitude. I was engaged to a guy, Jimmy, when I was twenty-two. I broke it off, but I was devastated. A few years later a heard he married. A year or two later I ran into his brother and his posse in a bar down the shore. They were ebullient when telling me I should be so glad I didn’t marry Jimmy. Apparently he was a serial cheater.
    When I heard that, I was so grateful. All I could think was “but for the grace of God go I.”

So, whenever you feel frustrated because you haven’t yet found “the one” yet, be grateful. Think about the guys you dated that you didn’t marry and remember: It’s better to be an “old maid” than wish you were one.

A Different Christmas

relationships are strained during the holidays

I had a different Christmas this year.

After years of hosting Christmas dinners for my mom, the parents of a friend, and Joseph’s siblings, things changed. My mom passed, my friend’s parents (with whom we usually spent Christmas Eve, moved to New Mexico with their son, Joseph’s brother adopted his new spouse’s family and he hasn’t been keeping in touch with his sister since their mother passed. And so we were just the two of us.

At first, it was a little strange. But my work got busier so not having to get ready for eight or ten people wasn’t so bad.  Still, this year I wanted a little tradition and a little excitement.

On Christmas Day, Joseph and I drove to Williamsburg, Virginia. Driving together is something Joseph and I like to do. The weather was mild and there was almost no one on the road. The drive through Delaware and Maryland was dotted with WAWA stores (like an upscale 7-11) that were open, so that’s where we had sandwiches for breakfast and lunch. The drive was so peaceful.

Having done this trip before, we knew to time the drive so that we would be crossing the Chesapeake  Bay on the Bay Bridge Tunnel right at sunset.  Though it was freezing on the fishing pier, we enjoyed the quiet beauty of the shore as we watched the sun sink into the bay.

By the time it did, however, we needed a few minutes to defrost when we got back into the car. Happily we found a WAWA and some hot tea just after we got onto Virginia’s mainland. Feeling fortified, we drove the rest of the way to Williamsburg. We checked into our hotel and headed for the Williamsburg Inn, where we enjoyed a couple drinks and a relaxing dinner served by a charming woman with a good sense of humor.

We were only in the Williamsburg area for a couple days, but while there we had a “plantation breakfast” at a wonderful old southern restaurant, The Old Chickahominy Inn. The breakfast included the oddest biscuits I’ve ever seen – flat and oblong-shaped…and with a taste that makes me want to go back again soon.

The day after Christmas we went to historic Jamestown to see the active archeological dig. There wasn’t any digging going on through the winter but our tour guide was one of the dig volunteers. He was so knowledgeable and painted a fascinating picture of life during those early days in the 1600′s.

That night we enjoyed a candlelight concert at the beautiful Bruton Episcopal Church. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry are among those who worshiped at Bruton in the 1700′s. But it’s a modern-day, very active parish and in this day and age, even the current governor worships in the “governor’s pew” when in town.  The big treat for me was the chandelier. It’s candlelit and gives off plenty of soft light, added by electric sconces on the walls. After the concert, I was fascinated watching the process of putting out all the candles with snuffers.

On Friday we went to Yorktown, which was a significant battle during the Revolutionary War. There I took more pictures of the Victory Monument than anyone would ever need to…but what’s a Victorious Woman to do? Look at these beautiful ladies!

As the sun set, it was such a mild day that we  enjoyed a long walk along the river at dusk followed by a couple drinks at a local tappy.

We made it an early night so we could leave early. We returned home yesterday with just enough time to get ready for the party we’re hosting on New Year’s Day.

I don’t know what we’ll do next year. Williamsburg is where Joseph and I took our first vacation, so it always has a special place in our hearts. But I don’t think I’ll make Christmas in Williamsburg an annual event. But for this transition year, in the midst of this year’s change, it was a great idea.

Change. It’s never easy.  But sometimes you can find a way to make the challenge softer. That’s what happened this year.

Maybe next year I’ll just stay in my nightgown and have a video movie marathon. Or not…

Just Married!

Navigating a difficult marriage

Wedding #6 almost didn’t happen.

For months Joseph and I worked on planning the marriage. By late August, while we were on vacation, everything  was in place. We were excited about going forward together – again. But when it came to planning the wedding, we dragged our feet. It was early September and we had an intention and the celebrant, but we had no plan and no place to go. We started making calls.

Among the places we wanted to have our wedding was the world-renowned Longwood Gardens. They were clear from the first moment: they don’t allow weddings – even one as tiny as ours. There was also the Newman Center, West Chester University’s Catholic center for the students. Father Nordeman was receptive and very gracious. He said he could marry us after the daily 4:30pm mass. However, that meant the Reverend Pattie Painter, whose victory through multiple cancers is chronicled in Victorious Woman!, couldn’t do it. In the years since Victorious Woman was published, we’ve become friends, so Joseph and I really wanted Pattie to perform our ceremony.

Call after call, rejection after rejection untel, less than a week before our special day, Joseph called the Tyler Arboretum in Media PA. They couldn’t have been more welcoming. They told Joseph we could have our ceremony anywhere on the grounds.

Quickly we called the Reverend Pattie from Vows of the Heart. She was “on hold” for September 24 and waiting. She started preparing our ceremony, asking what special poems or writings we wanted. I asked for the Apache Wedding Blessing and Blessings for a Marriage by James Dillet Freeman. We’ve used both of those at each of our weddings, so both are very special to us. We also chose the poem, Love by Roy Croft. It was Pattie’s suggestion but it sent chills up my spine because I first read that poem when I was a teenager. In those often-lonely days, I would read it often, telling myself that it was just the way I wanted love to feel. Who knew, so many years later, it would be just that…how I felt at my 6th wedding. Another tribute to the power of visioning!

It was Friday when we started calling special people and inviting them. Joseph called his twin, Tom. I talked to my cousin Maryann and asked if she and spouse, Richard, would join us; both of them are special to me and to Joseph. Joseph also called his friend, Pat, the widow of Danny, Joseph’s best man at our first wedding. Danny died suddenly, of a heart attack, shortly after his 50th birthday. Joseph still misses Danny and it was important to include Pat, whom he knew as long as he knew Danny. Maryann, Richard and Pat could make it.  Tom and his spouse Pat could not. It was pretty small group, but we love the people who were there and know they love us. And that’s what we wanted – a day filled with love.

OK, we had the celebrant, ceremony, location and guests. Joseph took his tux to the cleaners but I had nothing to wear. I looked through my closet and nothing seemed like the right thing for our SIXTH wedding. I started to panic.

Twenty-five years ago, there was no “online” to come to the rescue. I was glad this time there was! After about an hour online, looking only at places that had brick and mortar stores in my area, I found a purple lace dress I liked at Dress Barn. I called a local store and a really helpful woman said she’d look. When she got back on the phone, she was upbeat. “Yes, we just got that dress in and we have your size. Do you want me to put it on hold?” It was a happy moment – the dress I wanted, in my size, in a store near the Tyler Arboretum.

Our wedding day was coming together.

Next I called Maryann who agreed to join us to help us pick out a spot at the Arboretum. She lives around the corner from the gardens and has spent a lot of time there. I knew she’d have a good idea for the right spot. A shower and some breakfast later, Joseph and I were on our way.

First stop was Dress Barn. I tried on the dress and wasn’t sure it fit right. I tried on a few others, but they didn’t do the trick. So I tried the first dress on again and went looking for the saleswoman. As I did, I passed a customer who looked me up and down and said, “Ooooh, that looks beautiful!” OK, I was feeling a little better. I went back to the dressing room and looked again. I saw another saleswoman and asked her if she thought the dress fit right. She asked what I was wearing underneath. “Bra and panties,” I answered. She was shocked when she said, “No Spanx…no nothing?” She assured me that, once I put some foundations in place, the dress would fit beautifully. She was right.

Then we picked up Maryann and went to Tyler Arboretum. Maryann was a great guide and took us to different sections of the garden so we could think about how private it would be, how it would look for pictures, etc. The sun was shining everywhere and the setting was so peaceful. After about an hour we found the perfect place for us. It was a little cubby spot, full of greenery, on the side of one of the buildings.

On the way home, Joseph and I stopped at our favorite local Italian restaurant. We wanted to make sure we reserve just the right table for our “wedding reception.” We scored exactly the table we wanted!

We had just one last stop, to Charming Charlies, in search of “just the right accessories” for my dress. The good thing about Joseph is that he doesn’t just hang out in a corner being annoyed, he asked what I wanted (something that sparkled in the sunlight); he helped me find it.

When we got home, I had an email from Reverend Pattie. She’d written a beautiful ceremony. It included everything we wanted. She suggested that two of our guests do two of the readings. We loved the idea!

When Tuesday the 24th came, I left home early for some beautifying. On my way home, I stopped at Lorgus, our local florist. I talked to Mary and asked her if she could make a boutonniere for Joseph.  No problem. Then I slid in the request for a small bouquet for me. “When do you need it,” Mary asked, never expecting I would answer, “this afternoon.” I was thoroughly prepared for Mary to be annoyed and tell me I was crazy. She didn’t (though she did sort of roll her eyes).

Once she adjusted to the last-minute request, Mary took me around to the refrigerators and asked what I liked for color and style. I was ecstatic! I paid the bill, agreed to return in a couple hours and left. A few hours later, Joseph picked the flowers and, when I saw them, I couldn’t believe how perfectly Mary put together the just right bouquet for me.

It was mid-afternoon when we got to the arboretum. The sun was shining brightly and the weather was crisp and clear – a perfect fall day. When we got to the spot Joseph and I had chosen, and because I’m so used to be the speaker/workshop leader, I felt suddenly “lost” for what to do and had a moment of panic. Of course, I didn’t need to worry. With just a few words, Pattie took charge and got everything in place. Immediately I felt myself relaxing into her most capable hands.

While Joseph and I looked at each other, Pattie celebrated our love and commitment with the words she’d written. Maryann did a reading and so did Pat. Richard took pictures and so did Pattie’s spouse, Tom. Joseph and I wrote our own vows and said them. I surprised myself when I got choked up while reading mine to Joseph. The commitment two people make is always so intimate. I find that the longer Joseph and I are together, the more meaningful our commitments to each other are. I also think we are more and more grateful to be together, and grateful that we still choose each other.

Then, before we knew it, Joseph and I were married!

We popped open a bottle of bubbly, had a toast, and took pictures. Then we all headed to the restaurant to celebrate our new union. Being with people who are so special to us was a true blessing. The wine and scotch added to the sparkle. Also, Richard has a business relationship with the owner, so we got some extra-special treatment.

Then, all of a sudden – that fast – our wedding day was over. When we got home, we opened some gifts and cards and heard a precious email from our friend, Sue, who was traveling in California…and thought enough to call and leave a warm message.

Wedding #6 has very special memories with special people. But the most special part of the whole day was that Joseph and I chose each other…once again.

Giving Up Husband and Wife

23104176_s“I’ve been marriage twice,” Marnie, a fifty-ish solepreneur, said before admitting, “It was the same both times – great for the first couple years and then they started to get demanding and possessive. I felt strangled.”

Yet, when talking business, said she was bogged down with all the detail and administrative work that came with delivering her expertise. They were things she hated doing but that had to be done. “I need a wife,” she laughed.

Her callous, sexist words made me bristled. And, at the same time, I understood. In her mind, just as in the mind of the vast majority of people, a WIFE is the person who handles the details of a marriage. She serves without being served.

In Marnie’s marriages, she became “a wife” and, within a couple years, hated being one.

To me, “wife” is a four-letter word. I don’t use it about others unless I must. I NEVER use in reference to myself. “WIFE” is a word which  implies certain tasks. It’s like “HUSBAND” a word that boxes a man into the role of  going into the workplace and becoming the bread-winner to support the family. The husband rules.

Meanwhile, the wife takes care of the household details – everything from making shopping lists and medical appointments to organizing couple events, family social events, sending birthday cards to staying on hold for hours with doctor offices, credit card companies, insurance companies, etc.

In this day and age, many couples are less traditional than their parents and grandparents. Yet the stigma of the “husband” and “wife” words can still box them into mindsets and tasks that don’t serve their marriage.

What to call yourself instead?

SPOUSE. The word is a mental shift out of the sterotypes. It honors the relationship you and your partner share.

 

FYI:  Be prepared for some Neanderthal attitudes from both men and women, but hold your ground. Many times I’ve been questioned about using the word spouse, but when I explain why, most people (men and women) agree. It’s one of those “teachable moments” opportunities.

What Do You Want in a Marriage?

24211009_sDuring our second marriage, Joseph and I hit a “wall” – not unusual in the 5-7 year time. we couldn’t solve it ourselves and I didn’t want to continue it the way it was. However, because of our Five-Year Marriage™, I was committed to working it out, at least to the end of out current marriage.

When I suggested seeing a therapist, Joseph wasn’t interested. But the problem wasn’t getting resolved and what was going on between us wasn’t getting any prettier. Eventually we did see a marriage counselor, a Christian minister who was local and was highly recommended. One of the issues that surfaced was that we weren’t on the same page about what mattered.

In my corporate training work with managers and teams, I knew the importance of shared values. So I told Joseph I wanted to do a values exercise together and see what happened; he agreed that it made sense. So Joseph and I sat down together, once a week, for about two months. The purpose was to explore values in general, then personal values and finally relationship values. The goal was to see if we could come up with a “standard” for our relationship.

I’ll share our results in another article, but if you want to do the same with your sweetie, I found something interesting at the Take Care of Relationships Online website. The people there asked young people and adults what they look for in their relationships. Here’s how the results looked:

  • Self-esteem: people who believe in themselves and their own worth are better able to believe in the worth of their intimate partner.
  • Mutual Respect: people in healthy relationships respect each other’s opinions, feelings, goals and decisions even if they don’t always agree with each other.
  • Trust: people in healthy relationships are not jealous or possessive of each other.
  • Nonviolence: people in healthy relationships do not hit, threaten, or otherwise scare each other.
  • Open communication: people in healthy relationships communicate with each other in an open and honest way. They do not use words to hurt each other.
  • Personal responsibility: people in healthy relationships take responsibility for their own actions and feelings. They do not blame each other if they lose their temper or make a bad decision.
  • Continue own friendships and interests: people in healthy relationships continue their own interests and friendships outside of their romantic relationship; they don’t feel isolated from friends and family.
  • Shared decision-making: people in healthy relationships use communication and negotiation to make decisions about their activities.
  • Non-abuse of alcohol and other drugs: people in healthy relationships do not pressure each other to use alcohol and other drugs.

These are just a few suggestions for shared values. They are, at the least, good conversation starters that will help you figure out the values you’ll live by during the Five-Year Marriage™.

Over a five year period, isn’t likely that core values will change. However, each time you revisit  your couples’ values, you are likely to notice some shift in importance. That you’ll acknowledge that change will be crucial as your design each marriage. For example, health may be a lower value when you are new together because you take it for granted. But as you get older, or one of you experiences a health challenge, you might place health at a higher level. Also, you may want to include a commitment for how you will handle a health crisis in your relationship.

When you both know what you want when you start out, and then you consciously focus on how your values and goals change with each new marriage, you have a greater opportunity to develop maximum intimacy.

Can you and your sweetie come up with a list of common values that you can both agree to live by during your relationship?

 

Going in the Same Direction

5111652_sSince we’re in negotiations for our next marriage, we are meeting about it…supposedly once a week. But it’s really a challenge to make the time. Still, without the communication and the sharing, we would be lost for a direction or a decision about how we want to go forward.

Our meeting was yesterday, but we were meeting friends for dinner. So, because we were coming from different directions, before we met the friends, Joseph and I got together at a coffee shop to sort of debrief our days. We talked about being stuck, not just the relationship but in life and in our businesses.

During our meeting I shared an idea (a dream, really) that I’ve had for a long time. I mentioned it to Joseph a while back but he didn’t connect to it…so, in the relationship, it was “my thing” vs. something for us as a couple.

Then came the “caregiving years” where we were taking care of both our mothers. I’d totally forgotten about my dream venture. Then, on a business trip to Atlantic City, something someone said struck a cord in my brain. I was reminded and excited at the same time.

So, at our meeting, I again brought it up to Joseph. But this time something different happened. I think because of where we were, the kind of coffee shop, he suddenly saw how he could be part of the same picture. Whatever happened as we sipped our cups of tea and shared our ideas was good. It opened a door for a new conversation and moved the process forward.

I’m glad. Sometimes that being stuck stuff will put an end to a conversation. If something doesn’t open it up again, the conversation doesn’t restart. In any marriage, if something doesn’t kick start the conversation, it can be a relationship killer (and usually is).

That’s what happened in our second marriage. I think we thought things went so well during the first marriage, we could coast through the second one.

WRONG!

That’s how we ended up talking to a marriage counselor. And the “fix” wasn’t magic. It took time and effort and we let other stuff go – fun stuff – to focus on fixing what was wrong.

It’s just like how a constant drip in a faucet doesn’t seem like a big deal at first. But, as anyone who’s done it knows, if you don’t get a plumber in, you’ll end up with a big honkin’ water bill and maybe even a broken pipe or some other “treat” – like a burst pipe.

Listen, I can’t tell anyone that it’s easy to keep the lines of communication open. But I can tell you this, at least from my experience in my own relationship and from helping others: we move faster and farther when we move together.

Can you set up a meeting with your sweetie to talk about where you both want to go over the next five years?

End of a Marriage

celebrate a happy marriage

Seven months from now, Joseph and I will be ending our marriage. This one, anyway. Its’ the 5th year of our 5th marriage…something of a milestone by traditional standards (25 years).

Usually, when it comes to the end of a marriage, and we start the next negotiation, we don’t start until May. But things are so busy this year with our businesses. And we have a lot to talk about – more than usual.

This time five years ago, when we started our “contracting” talks, we talked about how much time and energy we were using to take care of our mothers. We talked about how much time and energy we were using to take care of our mothers and assessed the toll it was taking, mentally and emotionally, on our relationship and our lives. It was also taking a professional toll on our businesses.

“Moms in Stereo” was how we joked about it. If we weren’t doing something for my mom, we were doing it for Joseph’s. It was exhausting, but as Joseph would often say, we could sleep at night without guilt.

A lot of our discussion in 2008 focused on two things:

1 – How we were going to take care of our mothers going forward
2 – Presuming (given age and health) that one of both of them would pass on, how we would reconstruct our lives.

Back to 2013: As it turned out, both moms passed two years apart – on the exact same date – in 2010 and 2012. It really was “moms in stereo!

So, for the past year, we have been putting our professional lives back together and looking hard at our future without the moms. I wonder if it’s like being an empty nester or being retired. We rolled into our jobs as caregivers slowly and, before we noticed, it took over our lives. And then it was done.

So, going forward, and presuming good fortune will be on our side, we need to rebuild. The caregiver days that took so much of out time and energy during the last five years are over. And we aren’t getting any younger. So I think this one is going to take longer and we’ll need more time.

We’re going to start this Sunday.