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Relationship Advice Articles and Column

  • Relationship Advice Articles
  • ASK DEBBIE Relationship Advice Column
  • e-mail Debbie Mandel


    Become More Assertive, No Buts About It**NEW**
    How to Fill an Empty Nest
    7 Signs Your Relationship is in Trouble
    How to Shake Off a Bad Mood

    What Your Fighting Style Reveals About You
    Are You Living in a Non-Divorce?
    How to Enjoy the Holiday Season Again
    Untraditional Holiday Traditions
    "Can I Ever Trust a Man Again?"

    Dumped After 30 Years, Now What?
    Fall: Season to Fall in Love Again
    Boost Your Relationship with Humor
    How to Keep Your Friends
    How to Get Your Man to Share His Feelings

    From Stale Mate to Soul Mate
    How to Live a Charmed Life
    What Women Can Learn From Men
    Jealousy - Curse or Blessing?
    How to Get Him to Listen

    The Surprising Benefits of Writing Love Letters
    How To Become Irresistible in Love
    How to Toss Your Toxic Friends
    How to Ask for What You Want
    Halloween Can Help You Define Your Identity

    How to Deal With Problem People
    Should You Always Tell the Truth?
    How to Handle the Stress of Betrayal
    The Stress-Free Method for Becoming a Multi-Orgasmic Woman
    Deal with the Stress of Divorce - Don’t Divorce Yourself

    How to Jumpstart a Waning Libido
    Are You Addicted to Taking Care of Everyone?
    The Joys of Sex Are Out There, But Where Is the Intimacy?
    How to Find a Soul Mate Instead of a Cell Mate
    Snooping – What It Reveals About You

    How to Find Love at Home Depot
    How to Transform Jealousy into Success
    How to Have a Constructive Conflict
    How to Avoid the Heartbreak of Valentine’s Day
    The Clique Factor – How to Cope with Exclusion

    How to Deal With Difficult Family
    How to Deal with the Bullies in Your Life
    How to Refresh a Stale Relationship - Take the Stale out of Stalemate
    Ronald Reagan Taught Us One Final Lesson
    How to Let Go of the Need to be Right

    How to Recognize and Shed Toxic Friends
    How to Deal With Your Mother-In-Law
    How to Communicate Your True Feelings During a Conflict
    Learn How to Keep Friends
    Attracting Love and Romance This Valentine’s Day

    How To Keep Your Balance In A Divorce
    How to Step Back and Include Dads
    How to Revive a Sleepy Love Life
    Hark! The Holidays Often Herald the End of Relationships
    Making Room For Romance

    ASK DEBBIE Relationship Advice:

    Dear Debbie,
    My husband dumped me after thirty years of marriage. He says that we are not dancing in the same direction and that I make him feel old. I worked, raised two children, ran the house and believed we would grow old together and travel. Now I am abandoned and feel lonely. Every day is another sad reminder of living alone. Can you help me? I don’t want to take medication or spend a lot of money on therapists who have broken lives too. (Abandoned, Maine)

    Dear Abandoned,
    First, get rid of the term abandoned. You have not been abandoned by your husband; however, you have abandoned yourself! There are no guarantees in life and after thirty years sometimes people grow apart. Because your husband was feeling unhappy with himself and the aging process, he felt (rightly or wrongly) that he needed to forge a new identity and that might involve a woman that makes him feel young. However, that’s his problem, let’s get back to you in the present. It’s time to empower yourself and stop looking back in anger. Work on yourself to be better and get out there to have fun with girl friends, guy friends and new acquaintances.

    Jumpstart your life by:

    • Exercising and getting into good physical shape and stamina
    • Eating right for mood, health and fitness; don’t wallow in junk food
    • Getting involved in a creative hobby
    • Indulging in a makeover to see and believe in a new you
    • Doing some volunteer work to meet people with similar passions
    • Going on trips to change your scene
    • Becoming friendlier, more positive and smiling a lot more
    • Not telling everyone your sad story; instead listen to theirs

    Dear Debbie,
    My thirteen year old daughter is driving me crazy asking for expensive fancy things like a Louis Vuitton bag and a Tiffany bracelet. She says all her friends have them and she feels left out of the crowd. What do I do—take out a loan for her wardrobe? How do I get her to be real?(Poor Parent)

    Dear Poor Parent,
    I want you to know that this is happening throughout the country. Kids have gone upscale comparing themselves to the rich and famous they see on TV and they want it all! TV commercials drive the message home repeatedly. Here’s want you can do to counteract: Create a reasonable budget and stick to it! This budget includes clothes, special occasions and accessories for one year divided into the four seasons. No exceptions! Have your child work for some of the extra frills, either at home or outside the home. Get together with other parents to create a unanimous platform of restraint which will ease the pressure from other children. Take it to the PTA and try to get a required school uniform passed at school. Build-up your child’s self-esteem to withstand the pressure of artificial materialism. Listen and talk to your child during the dinner hour; get your child to exercise to feel good about herself; encourage your daughter to develop her creativity through music, team sports, baking, painting, writing, dancing, any sort of self-expression; get your child to do volunteer work, especially for other children who have so little.
    Spend time with your daughter instead of spending money.

    Dear Debbie,
    my name is danielle . i am 15 years old, and lately ive realized how much stress ive been under, and how my anger reflects it. My friends all notice how i overreact over a lot of things, mainly simple little feuds that i could just ignore but my rage takes over and it escalates to the point where i have people mad at me. i really dont like it. I think it partially has to do with a lot of stress i am under because of school and how my grades havent been so well lately, and also from dealing with stress with my family. Ive been reading websites and seeing how it says in most cases angry people have to have things "their way" and think they're "always right". i feel like i fall under that category, but i feel like when i am feeling like im right, its because i really am. But anyways i was just wondering if you have any advice on what i can do to make me less angry all the time, or at least teach me how to teach myself to not flip out about the stupidest things like my friends saying little things that trigger me. I feel if i start to control my anger problem, my friends will be happier with me and i'll be happier with myself. (danielle)

    Dear Danielle,
    You sound very mature and intuitive about what is right for you. It appears that you have answered part of your own question which indicates that you are motivated to change and motivation is a key trigger. I have some suggestions, but remember to be patient with yourself as anger management is a process. Usually, when we are explosively angry at others, we are most angry with ourselves. First, try to use humor to reinterpret the “situation.” Humor goes a long way to take the sting and anger out of a conflict. Remember it takes two to fight, and if you are smiling or laughing—that’s contagious and others will laugh too. When you are angry, you could say to yourself, “That’s funny…” Then reinterpret the situation into a TV sit-com. I bet if it were happening to someone else you would be laughing. Second, Danny, everyone has an ego and everyone wants to be right—so let him or her be right! If you and I and 20 other people witnessed an accident, we might have 22 interpretations. I get the impression that teachers and family members have made you feel un-empowered, perhaps made you lose a little confidence. Take back your power! Try to appreciate how special you are and how lovable you are. Improve and work on what needs to be changed. Third, cut down on little stressors, try to eat a balanced diet, get quality sleep at night and my favorite de-stressor of all to make you look good and feel good—exercise! When you workout, you will shed stress hormones, release those happy endorphins and what angered you in the first place will just disappear into nothing. Try to smile more because smiling releases serotonin—a chemical in the brain that gives you a sense of well-being. When you smile at others, your smile will be returned to you.

    Good luck and let me know how you are doing.

    Dear Debbie,
    It’s been two years since my divorce, but I just can’t let go of my anger. I got a crummy settlement as he hid our finances from me and he was the one who cheated! Now he’s sitting pretty with my replacement. (Medea)

    Dear Medea,
    I will venture to guess that your real name is not Medea, forgive me if it is! In mythology Medea was replaced with a younger woman by her husband, Jason and after all she did for him!
    Anger proved destructive to Medea’s children, husband and herself. Don’t go the route of vengeance. Anger is an energy drain and keeping you from living in the present.
    Reinterpret your situation. Your journey with you husband is over. It is time to journey to happiness with someone else. Go out and meet and greet. Do things that make you happy. Are you working? Studying? Growing? We learn from losses. When we let go of the negativity in our heart, we catch the abundance life has to offer. Happiness is contagious. People are attracted to joyous souls.

    Dear Debbie,
    The Holidays are coming and there are so many people that I have to give gifts and tips. But my husband and I can barely pay the mortgage. I feel terribly stressed about it. (Donna)

    Dear Donna,
    Your situation is happening throughout America. Although “Tis the season to be jolly,” many have been laid off from work while prices for necessities have gone up. The holidays have become commercialized and materialism connotes love.
    I suggest that you give “redeemable coupons” of yourself—write them up and package them decoratively. For example, “This coupon entitles the bearer to dinner at my house” or “This coupon entitles you to a day at the zoo and baking cookies with me.”
    Donna, the best present by far is you! So be creative, poetic and have fun giving your child’s bus driver a thank you card and home baked muffins. Shop for inexpensive, yet personal items on line or in catalogues. Put them in a pretty gift basket and I think you will be amazed at how far a dollar goes and how much fun you could have using your imagination and creativity to truly personalize those gifts!

    Dear Debbie,,
    I have no energy and have gained some weight recently. Some days I don’t feel like getting out of the house. What should I do? (Maria)

    Dear Maria,
    You sound a bit sad. Since I don’t know any specific details as to what is causing your sadness, or for how long, or how old you are, etc., my first suggestion is that it is always a good idea to discuss fatigue, weight gain and mood change with a physician.
    On a simpler level and something you can think about on your own in the interim is that perhaps being sedentary and eating sugary, fatty white processed foods might be contributing to your mood and self-image. Also, because the days are shorter and colder in some parts of the country, many are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder.
    So Maria, make yourself look presentable and put on a pair comfortable shoes and go out for a brisk walk in the light of day. Eat a balanced diet of protein, complex carbohydrates (brown foods) and a rainbow array of fruits and vegetables. Drink plenty of water—you can get dehydrated in winter.
    Most importantly be kind to yourself. Pat yourself on the back for any one of these accomplishments. If you can’t go out, then sit by a sunlit window. Tomorrow you will go out for sure. Remember a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step…

    Dear Debbie,,
    My daughter in law doesn’t acknowledge me. She doesn’t call me mother, Mrs.----, or even hey you. I love my only son and grandchildren. I feel terrible about her and the holidays are coming. I just can’t take it! (Sara)

    Dear Sara,
    This sounds like a case of two women in love with the same man. You are his mother and will always occupy a special place in his heart. Clearly, your daughter in law is jealous of you! Cut her some slack. Be kind and loving to all. Eventually, she will respond. You can’t change another person, but you can change your own dynamics. Appreciate your son and grandchildren and eventually, with your genuine nonjudgmental love, she will love you openly in return. And if not, you will have done the right thing and with style!

    Dear Debbie,,
    I’m trying to get a housekeeper for my father who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. However, he fires all of them, claiming that they are lazy and that he has no need for a housekeeper. He cannot be left alone and I need to go work. What can I do? I feel so stressed about it that I am developing stomach problems. (Margo)

    Dear Margo,
    It is hard to give up one’s independence and admit infirmity. Although you don’t specify it, I think the expense must be bothering him too. Here is where my background in fiction is useful. Why don’t you concoct a little story and tell your father that the housekeeper is free, a benefit from the insurance company or the state. Be inventive. Also, try to find a patient woman, who is soft-spoken with a sense of humor and who smiles a lot. I think you will have solved the problem and you will be feeling a lot better.

    Just ask and you will receive an answer.
    If you would like ask a question about a relationship or other issue in your life please e-mail Debbie Mandel