Zen-ing My Monster/How I Calmed My Nerves and Enjoyed a Date

Am I the only person who becomes a monster when it comes to matters of love and dating?

Ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you: I like people. I love their stories and quirks and cultures. I may not be consistently outgoing, but I always love me a new friend. I really do.


Until it comes to dating. The planning of it, the executing it, the whole nine yards.  Then my judgements are never-ending.

Is it that I don’t like men? I don’t think so. Is it that I prefer being alone? Not always.

“Why are you so mad at men?” a friend asked me recently when I groused about a man asking me out.  It stopped me in my tracks.

I don’t like to be mad, and certainly at a whole gender, but she was right. Even when I joined Match, I’d look at rows of pleasant faces online and make snarky comments. This guy’s nowhere near this stated age or Good luck with that, Buddy.

After much deliberation, I’ve come up with my top three reasons to avoid first dates.

unnamed*Dating messes with my sense of control, and though I enjoy other types of adventure in life, I could live without first dates.

*Dating forces me to answer everyday questions about myself in which the answers are anything but normal, i.e. Are you close to your parents?  Do your kids see their father much?  If you knew my weird life, complete with a parental child abduction as a toddler, and my daughters’ international abduction later, you’d understand how this could kill early dating pleasantries.

*Dating requires a certain vulnerability to be authentic. I don’t do that well. Instead, I cover my nervousness with humor and hold my date hostage by asking all the questions. I get to be like a stand-up comedian.  Take my children, please! At the end of the date, I’m worn out, and my date has turned into a raisin.

This past Sunday, as I made the mad dash for the coffee shop I arranged to meet an gentleman at, I was a hot mess. My curls even got nervous and I looked like Albert Einstein. I tried to dust my shiny (sweaty) nose with loose powder in my car and spilled it all over me.

I immediately lapsed into negative thinking. This will never work. I’ll bet this guy’s another jerk. He probably won’t even show.

Then I stopped myself and pictured a better outcome for my Two -Hour Date. That he would be there in the coffee shop. That he would be fun to talk to, and that I would be glad we met.

This week, Leo Babauta wrote in Zen Habits :

2012-07-21 21.30.43You worry about how you look, about how you’re perceived, about how you’ll do, about whether you’ll fail, about what you don’t have, about what you’re missing out on, about how you compare to others.

He goes on to say that if you start to build confidence, you can let go of the worries and feel good rather than anxious.

You will walk down the street, relaxed with a smile on your face.

And so I did. I walked in to the cafe with a smile on my face, and was greeted by a handsome and very kind man. I enjoyed a killer cup of coffee and lively conversation. The time was well spent, and I added a new friend into my life. And I never saw the monster-me the whole time.

The Odds are Good But the Goods are Odd/Taming Alaska’s Wildest Life

70418699JThanks for joining me for my first week at the WordPress site.

Learning how to navigate my way around it won’t be easy, but we’ll get there.

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling excited about a bunch of new beginnings. The snow here in Alaska is finally melting. I’m off work for our local holiday, Seward’s Day, and an eagle is soaring in view of my bedroom balcony.  And I’m fiddling around on my new and improved site!

Then, as I run outside to  push my recycling bin to the curb, I find a lovely pair of moose eating my neighbor’s tree. They size me up and then move around to my small back deck, where the eating is better.

70418699QLife in Alaska isn’t for the meek.  A woman can get scared by all of the wildlife surrounding her, especially the men.

There was a funny Facebook post I saw not long ago.
 You know you’re in Alaska if–

*You only recognize two seasons: fishing season and waiting for fishing season.

*Dressing up means putting on your cleanest flannel shirt.(There are 98 others tips, but you get the point. We’re a little different in Alaska.)

Men here seem to have rough edges.  They like to catch their fish, shoot their moose, and don’t take kindly to anything or anyone that gets in imagesthe way.

But the women here  are pretty different too. I heard from a male friend once that moving to Alaska where a woman can just as easily filet a fish and chain her own tires was a little daunting. In Portland, he hadn’t ever lit a pilot light or a camp fire.

 What happens when independent women meet independent men?  Is there room in all of this autonomy for love to take root?

My late cat, Tana.

I’d like to think so.

There’s a cautionary phrase told to Alaskan women who have erroneously been told that men greatly outnumber them: The odds are good, but the goods are odd. Very true.

But regardless, I’m ready to defrost and come out of hibernation, maybe enjoy new friendships. I’d like to work a little  less, play a little more.

And if that fails, I’ll get a new cat!

Please come back soon. I’ll steadily improve my WordPress skills, I promise.

Thanks, Liz

Confessions of an Online Dater/Three Surefire Ways to Scare Off Your Potential Match Before You Have Met

What have you been up to?

My brother celebrating his 50th anniversary

These days, when I’m not at work, I’m nearly always working on my novel about a woman trying to find love. I’ve hired writing coach Brooke Warner, am listening to webinars and attending online classes, and am writing a teeny manual about online dating safety to be published on Kindle that’s a companion to a course on Udemy I’m creating since I’ve been instructed to promote my book long before it’s completed. And just last night, I decided to re-launch my Match.com profile for a month, because although my novel is about a newly-forty single mom named Tilka, it relies on real experiences (Have any you’d like to share that I can pirate? Contact me!), and besides, I wouldn’t mind having a date once in a while and spend time away from the computer.
My profile has been up for less than a day, and already I’m reminded of why I don’t do this too much. One person contacted my online account four times within one hour. Who is this man? Do we share any common values or goals? We’ll never know.  He seems intense, at the very least.

To his benefit, maybe no one ever told him that there are norms when it comes to online dating, and surefire ways to scare off your potential match. After all, who wants to break up before getting the chance to meet?

Here they are.

Three Ways to Scare Away Your Match.

1) Contact your match interest repeatedly. Haven’t heard back from he or she? Don’t worry about it! Just give an online wink, then write a message, and then write another message. You’re interest will be crystal clear. Be sure to include your address so you can be properly served with a restraining order.

2) Do reference your past relationship(s) front and center on your profile.
Why not? Your potential match won’t have to wonder why it failed, and will understand how much emotional baggage your packing from the jump.

3) Don’t trouble yourself to read your potential date’s profile. They probably didn’t mean half the stuff they said, anyhow. Their interests? They won’t matter once you meet, just like their political leanings. And your potential match said he/she is not interested in marriage, don’t worry about it! You can change their mind. In fact,start now.

Don’t get me wrong, love is a good goal. I know some happily married couples who have are still in love. Not many, to be honest, but I do know some. So why not stack the odds in love’s favor and do not employ the above three tips.

Do you know of more ways to scare off potential online matches? I’d love to hear them, as well as any success stories. Please Like my author page on Facebook by clicking, or comment or shoot me an email.

Below, Tilka is beginning the wild ride of dating online by creating her profile.
Thanks for stopping by.

I key in a few details about myself so I can peruse the profiles, giving myself the username of BubblyIntrovert. First, I indicate in Match’s search engine that I’m a male in search of females ages thirty to fifty years old. I figure I’ll take my lead from looking at profiles from both men and women on Match. I start with the women. With user names like Celia907 or AK Sleeping Lady, what I see is row after row of attractive, well-kept women. Combed hair, teeth brushed, neat clothing. They’ve put their best foot forward without showing too much skin or attempting to look overtly sexual. I’m impressed.

Next, I look at the men. Ouch. There are a bevy of men who must have consulted with one other before going online because their profiles are startlingly similar. Their user names often have their actual name in it as well as the year of their birth: davekelly1958 or Fishingsteve1963. “Young at heart wishes to meet sexy woman who is as comfortable in jeans as  in an evening gown. Age: unimportant.”

Age to the Match Men is “just a number.” Numbers, however, mattered enough for one thirty-five-year-old man to ask specifically for nineteen-year-old women, and for a number of the fifty-year-old men to request that their potential match’s number not exceed forty.

Do the men worry about their appearance?  Not nearly enough. Over and over, I see a white T-shirt covering a protruding belly over faded blue jeans. It’s practically a Match uniform. I’m already annoyed, and I haven’t met anyone yet. Why is it that everything is stacked in the men’s favor? We women twist ourselves into pretzels, grooming and dieting and exercising and moisturizing, and all they have to do is show up.

Time to Talk with Teens/What Does a Healthy Dating Relationship Look Like?

Why is it that we don’t talk to our young people about the ingredients to a healthy relationship?

It’s an important topic. More important than how to pick an apartment or good car, teaching our kids what a safe dating relationship looks and feel likes is critical to their physical and mental health.

Females ages 18-24 are most at risk to be victims of dating violence according to loveisrespect.org, 

I would love to say this was a topic of frequent conversation with my own daughters when they were teens.

Not hardly.  

After my disastrous marriage with their father, I didn’t feel qualified as an expert. Many years later, after a failed relationship of mine deserved an autopsy, I would dissect it with my daughters, but that was as close as it got.

Good news! There are a number of agencies and websites devoted to making this conversation with youth happen more smoothly.

 Want to know how to start the ball rolling?

 Check out the conversation tips at startstrongparents.org.

Then, be sure to listen to your child, not lecture, and remember that your child is looking at your relationships, even the one the two of you share to inform their decisions about dating.

For a sneakier approach, leave some literature out you can print from the internet. Below is from Start Strong Teens.

Talk to Your Teen about the Characteristics of Healthy Relationships.

Respect. Do your friends accept you for who you are? No one should pressure you into doing things you are not comfortable – such as smoking, drinking, drugs, taking or sending embarrassing or hurtful pictures or texts, or unwanted physical contact.
Safety. Do you feel emotionally and physically safe in all of your relationships? Emotional safety means you feel comfortable being you without fear of being put down. Physical safety means you are not being hurt or intimidated; or pressured into unwanted physical contact.
Fairness and Equality. Do you have an equal say in your friendships and relationships? From the activities you do together to the friends you hang out with, you should have an equal say in all of your relationships.
Acceptance. Do your friends or your boyfriend/girlfriend accept you for who you really are? You shouldn’t have to change who you are or compromise your beliefs to make someone like you.
Honesty and Trust. Are you and your friends honest with each other? Honesty builds trust. You can’t have a healthy relationship without trust. If you have ever caught a friend in a lie, you know that it takes time to rebuild your trust.
Good Communication. Do you talk face-to-face (not just text) with your friends or your girlfriend/boyfriend about your feelings? You and your friends should listen to one another and hear one another out.

Respectful Disagreements. In every relationship you have, you should respect each other as individuals and understand that sometimes there will be differences of opinion.

Talk to your teens about healthy dating relationships before they get their ideas from outside sources.

Thanks for stopping by.

Confessions of an Older Single Woman/ How Age Enhances the Dating Experience

You might think dating after middle-age is impossible for single women.

Not so. I’ve been single (again) now for 24 years, so it’s a topic near and dear to my heart.
I enjoyed the slide show on MSN-Nine Ways Dating Changes After 35 by Denise Wolfe. I emboldened the three quotes I like best.

Meet and Greet

You’ve learned to play safely: You always meet strangers in a public place, and you never enter a new man’s car or apartment without telling a trusted someone where you are. You urge your friends to set you up. Suppose it’s a horrible date—so what? You’ve survived worse.

Cautionary note: One of the worst dating assumptions I’ve made was to assume that since I was fixed up by a friend, my date was automatically trustworthy. Not so. What our mutual friend hadn’t known was the smart and handsome man she introduced me to with the fancy job and fancy house had a history of aggression towards his former wife that led to his arrest. I now practice universal precautions. Trust must be earned over time. No exceptions.

Gut Feelings

You recognize red flags earlier, and you trust your gut instinct. You no longer put up with macho posturing or the least bit of misogyny. If he ever seriously calls you “the little woman” or “the old ball-and-chain,” you’re out the door. 
Yes, you’re in love, but you’re not stupid.
Peter Frampton then

The young me would have loved to get a call from a new date as soon as I returned   home from seeing him.  The mature me would find this creepy or insecure. 

The young me would hope to spend every waking moment with my new love. The mature me feels claustrophobic if my family and friendships are interrupted by a new partner.

And the best part of dating while mature? 

Forget Fairy Tales

It’s  not about lowering your standards. It’s about choosing better standards by which to judge. 

Once upon a time, a very young friend of mine went on a blind date with a local reporter.  He was pleasant enough, whip-smart, and bald as a billiard. It was all she could do to get through the date, and not too long afterwards, she met a guy who looked like Peter Frampton.

Peter Frampton now

Her Frampton look-alike had many other good qualities besides his hair, so she married him (but not until after the reporter wrote and published his account of the disastrous blind date in the Sunday paper!). 

Twenty-years later, they’re still married. Her husband still looks like Peter Frampton.  The Peter Frampton of today, that is.The younger version of my friend might not have agreed to a date with the mature version of her husband. Her quick assessment could have overlooked all the qualities that make a great life companion.  That would have been a shame.With age I feel decreased desperation to be part of a couple, and an increased sense of optimism (usually) that everything will be just fine, with or without a love interest.And that’s not bad at all.

Are you middle-aged and single? 

What advantages do you find in dating at this point in your life?


My Funny Valentine/ Three Lessons of Love that My Cat Taught Me

This wasn’t how I meant to spend Valentine’s Day.

In a perfect world, I would have spent it with the one I love, enjoying an appetizer and beverage by candlelight.

The problem? I don’t have someone that I love. Not like that, anyway.

Instead, I came home and spent it with a cat.
Not just any cat. I spent my Valentine’s Day with Nikko, the almost 18 year-old cat that has partnered with me to raise my daughters. The same cat that has shared my Friday night, olive-oiled popcorn and who has watched the Animal Planet with me and the kids.

I had other plans for Valentines Day, 2014. I meant to drive out to a neighboring community and attend a reading of local writers that a dear friend helped to coordinate. But when I got home after work, I saw my Nikko at the top of the stairs, limp and too weak to meow. When I picked her up, she pressed her little wet nose into my neck, and I knew.I knew that I would have to do something I hate: cancel last-minute on a friend. I also knew that almost two decades of unconditional love would be ending too soon. And mostly I knew that it was time to stop running down my never-ending to-do list and simply be in the moment, silently celebrating Nikko’s every inhalation and exhalation.And two days later, surrounded by her entire weeping family, Nikko drew her last breath and passed away. It wasn’t until I paid the vet bill that I realized she had died on my estranged mother’s birthday, having lived longer with us than my mother had with any of her six children.

I lived with Nikko longer than I have with anyone besides my daughters. Longer than I lived with  either  of my parents. Much longer than I lived with my husband. And living with this much-loved feline, I learned a few important lessons.

1) Transformation is always possible.

We adopted Nikko in 1996. She was a self-involved kitten who appeared impervious to the girls’ needs until 2003, when suddenly, she changed. Nikko became more affectionate and playful,  raking her paws through the girls’ hair and giving intense scalp massages, sleeping with them when requested, and initiating games of tag.

2) Ask for what you want.

Life is short. Why hint at what you want when you could simply ask?
If Nikko weren’t an assertive cat, I would never have known that she enjoyed Italian dressing and vigorous spankings and having the bald spots on her temples rubbed. Because of her insistence, I believe her life was more fulfilled.

3) Help coordinate your own ending.

Napping Nikko

As a cat, there was little Nikko could do to make end of life plans. But watching her in the last days, surrounded by her family, then assisted by a vet for pain management was pretty inspiring. Most of us humans won’t be as fortunate. And it got me to thinking, what can I do to streamline my own process to help my loved ones?

Long ago, I created a living will and filed my will with the court house, but what about funeral arrangements? An obituary?

I’m working on writing my obituary now. There’s something exciting about writing it. I can list the qualities I hope I am remembered for in advance, and then work on being those qualities while there’s still time. I can bid goodbye to the people I love, and make life easier for my survivors. I will also have a picture taken and made into a canvas so my daughters will have at least one picture I won’t be embarrassed to have at my services.

I can’t imagine a more unconditional love than that of a pet. 

What have your furry friends taught you?

Is it Loneliness or Love? Why Do We Cling to Relationships That Are Bad For Us?

The Way You Treat Yourself Sets the Standards for Others-Sonya Friedman

It’s been years since I have worked professionally with women in abusive relationships. I  miss connecting with women and finding out what’s important to them, hearing their stories of strength and survival.

I got my chance. Some weeks ago, I received an e-mailed invitation from Michael Weinberg of Wizpert to join his crowdsourced compilation of blogger expertise. So I did it. I signed up and can be found at http://wizpert.com/lizbethmeredith.

Now, a few times a week, I open a space in my schedule and offer an ear. I keep hearing a familiar trend:

Dear Liz,

I just learned my boyfriend is married after a wonderful year of dating. He didn’t tell me. I found out through a friend. Now he’s stopped calling me. How can I stop missing him? I wish he and I could talk. I wish I didn’t miss him.

Dear Liz,

My boyfriend knows my first relationship was violent, so he never hits me. Usually he’s good to me, but then he calls me names. Once he told me to step into traffic and kill myself. I don’t understand. I don’t feel safe. How can I save this relationship?

Dear Liz,

I’ve been dating a coworker briefly that my family objects to. I’m in graduate school. My family doesn’t like that he has tattoos from head to toe, and that he’s never looked beyond work at the local grocer. I wish they weren’t so judgmental, so I’m going to take a break from my family. He’s moving in with me now. I do worry that intellectually, he doesn’t keep up with me and doesn’t value what I do. How can I be less judgmental? Am I wrong?

I’m left to wonder why we as women are so committed to twisting ourselves into a pretzel in order to maintain relationships that are not good for us.

Are we still so financially dependent?

Is it the biological clock, quietly urging us to go forth and make babies that trips us up and helps blind us to the realities?

Then I look back into my own youthful dating experiences, and remember the desperation with which I clung desperately to dysfunction after my violent marriage ended. The marriage and family therapist who was two-timing me. The humorous alcoholic Prince Charles look-alike who no-showed for half our dates.

Truth be told, it wasn’t until I was an older woman, financially more secure, and with zero possibility of further procreation that I made consistently better choices based on knowing my worth.

What do I want young women to know?

Dear Young Woman,

You are special. You have a unique contribution to bring your world. You deserve to be treated well. You deserve rich lifelong friendships. Hobbies.  A career.
I hope you like yourself. Self-esteem is something that fluctuates like weight, but is your responsibility and yours alone to manage. Low self-esteem won’t cause you to be a victim of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, but it will put you at risk for staying in it.
Things can get better with time.  You will learn that you may fall in love with someone  who is bad for you, but as an adult, you will choose what you know is right above what your emotions dictate.

Beware of the date that wants all of your time right away. Who keeps you away from family and friends. Who begins to work on killing your feelings of self-worth with small putdowns about your character and your abilities.

If you’re feeling confused or downright depressed, do reach out. You are not alone.

A relationship can be a wonderful thing, but it will never be everything. It cannot fulfill all of your needs.

Do take the time to get to know you. Set your goals for yourself. Who do you want to be? What qualities do you want to bring to a relationship?  Then and only then, when you know your own value will you be able to define what qualities you’d like your partner to have.

Take your time. Discriminate. When seeking a partner, you’ll need to be comfortable searching for a person who shares  your values and goals. You are worth it. And keep in mind that there are far worse things than being alone, like being lonely and undervalued while in a relationship.

If you put a small Value on yourself, rest assured the world will not raise your price. Unknown

What advice would you give a young person in search of a relationship?

A site I like- Loveisrespect.org

Please Like my Facebook page by clicking. Thank you!

Men Speak on Healthy Mate Selection – Author Gary Thomas and Comedian Louis CK

Here’s a question I’ve been pondering: Who or what influences our choices when picking a mate? 

Recently, I was flipping through radio stations as I was driving to work. I paused when I heard a familiar voice. Gary Thomas, a man I attended college with at Western Washington University, was being interviewed on the Christian station about healthy relationships.

I pulled up his website on my smartphone at my next stop.

Who knew that this quiet young man in college would have so much to say as an adult that he filled more than a dozen books with it and became a bestselling author? Or that such a sweet face had been hiding under the previous mop of hair? How wonderful to see and hear him.

Author Gary Thomas

During the interview, he made some points I really appreciated. Below, they’re grossly paraphrased.

Look at how our daughters are socialized to think about men. They’re still going for the macho guy. The man who orders their dinner for them, overpowers them. These do not necessarily make good partner and fathers.


When I look back at my college years, for instance, the guys who were my friends ( but in no way would I have considered dating them) turned out to be the best kept secrets of all, and eventually ended up with lasting, loving unions. At the time, I must have been thrill-seeking, looking for the guy who was daring, unpredictable, and more of an alpha-male. It would be years before I realized what I really wanted was a loyal and gentle friend and listener I could laugh with.

We teach kids how to pick out a car. A melon. How to pick a college. But how do we teach our kids, especially our girls, how to pick a mate?

Here, comedian  Louis CK speaks on the courage of women as they go through the selection process, pushing beyond the very real threat that men can present them.

Then let’s commit to having a conversation with the young women in our lives about what makes a lasting, loving, and safe union.


P.S. Please Like my author Facebook page by clicking. Thank you.


Signs of a Healthier Relationship

How do you feel about change?

I’m thinking about changing my blog’s focus in the next few months, or maybe at the new year.

My second book, presently titled Facing the Odds, One Man at a Time is a fictionalized account of some very real experiences I’ve had over the years after leaving a violent marriage. Its funnier and sunnier than the first book (how funny can a book about inter-generational domestic violence and child abduction actually be, after all?) and  covers the metamorphosis I made over the years as I learned more about myself and who I wanted to be instead of shifting my dependency to another man.

I think the blog will ultimately explore concepts like where do we need to be in our own lives before we can really find happiness with another, and what are things that make you feel safe with your partner.

I’m not ready to morph it just yet, but there will be a transition soon.

In the mean time, I’m waiting for my sweetie to return from two months of commercial fishing. I was writing  today about some of the things I appreciate most about him, based on my early observations of his relationships with his kids. Though I changed the names of he and his daughter, the appreciation is based on a true story.


But what I like most about Don is his relationship with the women and children in his life.
I see him with his daughter, watching her. “I notice the way Danielle’s speech patterns change when she’s with her friends… I know Danielle likes soccer, but it’s her running that could net her a scholarship. Does she even know how great she is?”
With Don’s widowed mother, there’s the occasional lunch date he tells me about. “I can tell mom is nervous about fixing stuff in her house. I wish she’d let me help her.” Or, “Why doesn’t my niece pay Mom for all the babysitting Mom does for her?”  Best yet, “I looked at men in Mom’s age bracket on Match.com. They’re all broken down and looking for a nurse. No way!”
I enjoy seeing Don’s long-distance relationships with his grown children. “I call my son the last Sunday of every month so I don’t forget,” and “My daughter is so extreme. Every thing that happens, according to her, is the best, the worst, the longest, the shortest of whatever it is.” Don laughs affectionately.
But of all his loves, I adore the respect he pays to his ex-wife, Haley. I love that he calls or texts her regularly about their minor child’s welfare. I love that he smiles when he greets her in public places, and that no one watching them interact would ever guess that they broke up due to her finding a new love, and once marital counseling failed to break her new love connection, how contentious their ensuing divorce and custody battle was. I love that Don backs her up with matters regarding their daughter when appropriate. And I love that he can enjoy good memories of their marriage without self-consciousness around me. When I ask him about their wedding day, he smiles and says that he believes of all their years together, Haley had never look prettier than on that day. It was a good marriage with many positives, and then had a sad ending, but he does not allow its demise to negate all of the good times.

So in a nutshell, that’s what’s on my mind.  What’s on  yours? What was a positive trait your loved one had that resonated most for you?

Also, let’s celebrate the bravery of some teenagers in Pennyslvania who intervened in a child abduction this week with good results. In my work life, I work exclusively with juvenile delinquents.  Kids like Temar Boggs make me feel better about our future.  Way to go!
Temar Boggs as seen in the Global Dispatch

Fighting Right/ Tips to Successful Conflict Resolution

How do you handle conflict?   Do you try to avoid it? Do you tell a few friends about it before addressing it with the person it’s with?  Which parent did you inherit your conflict-resolution skills from?

In the early 90’s, I co-facilitated support groups for battered women at a domestic violence agency. One of my favorite topics was resolving conflicts assertively.  At the time, I was in my late twenties, just out of college, and not too far out of a violent marriage that had followed a violent childhood. Years of living life as a doormat were followed by years of occasional volcanic eruptions. Poor unsuspecting clerk at Toys R Us. Poor friends and family.  I simply had no clue how to resolve conflicts in a civilized fashion.
I learned a lot, facilitating those groups.  And recently, sometime between attending my family reunion and reorganizing a second time at my current job, I realized it was time to dust off the old tips.
After Google-searching Rules of a Fair Fight, I found a bunch of familiar information, but was partial to Dr. Phil McGraw’s article below, and though it’s written in the context of an intimate relationship, you can generalize the information to be relevant to friends or coworkers.
How to Fight Fair
Take it private and keep it private.
Fighting in front of your children is nothing short of child abuse. It can and will scar them emotionally — all because you don’t have the self-control to contain yourself until you can talk privately.

Keep it relevant.
Don’t bring up old grudges or sore points when they don’t belong in a particular argument. Put boundaries around the subject matter so that a fight doesn’t deteriorate into a free-for-all.

Keep it real.
Deal with the issue at hand, not with a symptom of the problem. Get real about what is bothering you, or you will come away from the exchange even more frustrated.

Avoid character assassination.
Stay focused on the issue, rather than deteriorating to the point of attacking your partner personally. Don’t let the fight degenerate into name-calling.

Remain task-oriented.
Know what you want going into the disagreement. If you don’t have a goal in mind, you won’t know when you’ve achieved it.

Allow for your partner to retreat with dignity.
How an argument ends is crucial. Recognize when an olive branch is being extended to you — perhaps in the form of an apology or a joke — and give your partner a face-saving way out of the disagreement.

Be proportional in your intensity.
Every single thing you disagree about is not an earth-shattering event or issue. You do not have to get mad every time you have a right to be.

There’s a time limit.
Arguments should be temporary, so don’t let them

get out of hand. Don’t allow the ugliness of an argument to stretch on indefinitely.

One tip I remember from the support group days was not to use button-pushing language.
“You always… You never… You need to”…
 Beginning any sentence with the word you gets dicey during an argument. It incites anger, and  does not  usually end well.
I still don’t always fight fair. I struggle with the You always language, but have mastered the art of addressing conflict and moving on. It’s a work in progress.

What tips do you have for resolving conflicts?

Thanks for all the neat comments lately. I love hearing from you.