Apr 27, 2012 - Marriage    No Comments

Drifting Apart

“Dear John, I think my wife and I are drifting apart. We have been married for many years and we both have always had our own hobbies and friends that we like to spend our time with. But it seems more and more that we spend time with our hobbies or friends rather than with each other. She seems to be happy, but deep down I feel that we are losing the connection we once had. I don’t know what to do. Mark”

Dear Mark,

There are hardships that come with marriage. It should be the goal of both parties to make those hardships easier and to help one another grow. What you’re describing is something that many couples go through. You have to find that balance of time together and time apart. It’s ok to have space when needed but in reasonable doses. You need to be the leader here and work towards building things you both can do together.

Maybe enroll in a class at a local college that you can enjoy together, or cook dinner at home together, or find a new hobby that you both enjoy and then spend time developing it. Another thing that has helped couples is small displays of affection. Simply holding hands is a big one. Small little actions like this can have a huge impact on building the intimacy and connection in a marriage. Also never pass up an opportunity to say “I love you”. You may have to give a little and put aside your feelings and do what is best for your marriage. The fact that you’re seeking advice is wonderful. It shows the love and concern you have for her.

Make an effort to talk every day. Talk to her about your feelings and concerns. One thing many couples face is lack of communication or miscommunication. She may be having the same thoughts and feelings you are. Listen and work at understanding her view. Be flexible and be willing to sacrifice your time. With some work and a little self-sacrifice I know you both will grow closer together.

I wish you both all the best.

Apr 20, 2012 - The Work Place    6 Comments

Building Work Morale

“Dear John, I’m having a hard time building morale at work. I was recently promoted and so now I have all these new expectations and demands from my job. I’m worried that being inexperienced in this position will case difficulties with my colleagues. And also I want to keep those relationships I had with people before I became their boss. Do you have any ideas? Kevin”

Dear Kevin,

Building morale in the work place can be a difficult challenge. Often times it takes a lot of effort and will only succeed if you keep with. However in the end you will have a much better work environment than you did before. Here are few things that I remember from past employers I’ve had.

1. Surprise your employees with doughnuts and coffee in the morning. Set up the refreshments in your office, this will allow them to come into your office and when they do say “Hi”. Don’t mention work during this time.

2. Make schedules more flexible. It’s a good idea to give people time to take care of their personal lives. This only works as long as it’s not abused and doesn’t start to interfere with their jobs.

3. If your employees have worked late or put in more effort in days past, then let them off early on a Friday. It’s a big reward to your employees and helps them feel appreciated.

4. Organize a weekly or monthly lunch with your employees. Maybe even a pot luck where everyone can sign up to bring something.

5. Start a monthly newsletter where each month a different employee is singled out for his or her achievements. You could write up a report on the employee describing his or her achievements.

6. Birthday Cards. Have your graphics department make a birthday card for each person (that way it’s personal) and pass it around the building to get signed when it’s their birthday.

7. Set up an anonymous suggestion box in which employees can submit ideas for workplace improvements.

8. Once a month ask each of your employees individually if there is anything they need? As far as materials goes. Or if there is something they would like to have to make their job easier.

9. Have a weekly meeting each Monday morning to discuss issues or success from the previous week. This will keep everyone aware of what others are doing and will help you identify if an individual needs help or praise.

10. Each Friday at the end of the day walk by each of your employees and make small talk. Like “You have big plans this weekend?” or “Hey, did you heard about that new restaurant that opened?” Try and remember what you talk about each week so that you will have something to talk about the following Friday.

The number one thing that you can do as their boss is establish a safe and understood level of equality. This can be hard to do. You need to keep it known that you are the boss but also that you humble enough to treat your employees like colleagues within reason.

Never use guilt to get something done. You’re the boss and they may be angry and upset at you for assigning them an extra task, but it’s far better than the feelings they will have for making them feel guilt. Try and find a reasonable way of assigning extra work. You could try giving out a reward when the task is done. And as you said, you would like to keep those relationships that you had before, but you need to remember that they are no longer your colleagues. They are your employees and when the day is said and done extra assignments should not be argued about. People respect a strong leader.

There are tons of ideas and ways to build morale. These are just some of the things that I’ve been a part of.

Hope it helps,

I Just Lost My Brother

“My brother was killed last Friday and it has hit us all very hard. The funeral was great but sad. They gave him a firefighters funeral and at the end when they paged him one last time… it killed me. There was no response to the page and it kills me even now as I remember it. I have never been one to cry when others are around. Always the one to be strong for everyone with no one there to be strong for me. But that last call was the hardest part. It was painful for me to hold back my tears. Also after 4 years it seems like my husband has learned nothing when it comes to me. ~Alicia”

Dear Alicia,

Out of all of life’s tasks this is by far one of most difficult. I’m filled with such sadness and compassion for you and your family during this time. There is nothing that I can say to ease your pain or frustration. Your grief is your own grief and no one else’s. Everyone grieves in their own way, so take your time and don’t let people get on to you for not “moving on” and don’t let them say that you’re being cold and unfeeling if you’re not drowning in tears. There is an initial phase of numbness right after loss that is often mistaken for not caring. Don’t try and take everyone’s well-meaning and sometimes clueless advice or their strange and fearful responses such as avoiding you or avoiding the topic of your brother, very seriously. Many people are uncomfortable or don’t know how to deal with death.

As time goes on that initial numbness will fade and you will start mourning, in a sort of exchange of better and worse type feelings, but eventually it slows down and you begin to rebuild your life. When we’re faced with something huge like this and we’re unable to process it all at once, our mind will file it away and feed it to us in smaller amounts that we can handle over time. So you will feel like you’re getting someplace one day, then you will go all to pieces the next. It’s normal.

If the passing of a loved one is both expected and merciful people have time to say goodbyes and to grieve together. You haven’t had that opportunity. Your brothers passing was totally out of left field. So give yourself time. Be patient with yourself. This isn’t going to go away overnight. Things will get back to normal, but it will be a new normal. It might take months or even a couple of years, but it will happen. It just takes time.

Alicia, you are right. Life is hard. It is tiring and long. Sometimes it seems like the whole world is out to get us and we are alone. But it is during these times that we grow the most. Through thick and thin every day we are presented with opportunities to fail or succeeded. The outcome of each opportunity is our choice. We have to choose how we’re going to handle each situation. With all the troubles and trials that we face the most important thing is how we finish. Thus, if we finish with our heads held high it shows that we have grown and made wise decisions from our past events. Letting your head down to cry to express how you feel is not weakness, its strength. You are showing great courage in allowing yourself to be vulnerable. This is something that many people run away from and what they don’t realize is that they are causing more damage by keeping it in. Allow yourself to grow. It is okay to let your guard down and cry. It’s the healthy thing to do.

One of the most helpful things you can do, especially early on, is to talk. Talk about what happened, talk about your feelings. I’m sure that your husband knows something about you. Feeling that he doesn’t is normal, especially now during such a difficult time. You get angry, at him, at your friends, and family. That is part of loss and it will fade in time. You are very blessed that he is there. Things are so much harder to go through when you don’t have someone to love you and help you through. Talk to him. If he was close to your brother it might be hard for him. If this is the case you might try and find a friend to support group to rant, rave, and vent your feelings. Just know that you are not alone.

Depending on your relationship with your brother, one of the things that helped me in the past was remembering all the good times I had instead of focusing on the fact that they are gone. I hope things get better for you. You and your family will be in my prayers.

With much care,