Ken's Message: Marry Yourself First
Q: What inspired you to write your book Marry Yourself First?
After having been through a divorce myself in 1993, I realized there were some deeper elements of my life that I wasn’t aware of. After all, I was THE (self proclaimed) relationship expert. I took about three years to really reflect, heal and grow. I also noticed much of what I was discovering that was “lacking” in me, was apparent in many of my clients, friends and colleagues. Here’s what I call “the big four missing pieces”:
•A Clearly Defined Life Purpose
•A Powerful Life Vision
•Fully Knowing and Utilizing Values
•Specific (and Lasting) Boundaries
I made a commitment to myself to attain and maintain these previously missing -and very powerful - pieces of my life, AND also began to focus more and more on these same dynamics with my clients. Over the years I began to speak more, facilitate workshops and write. Then, in 2004 I began to get an inkling to write a book. One thing lead to another and I realized that I had a valuable message for people (Marry YourSelf First!) and many people weren’t able to hear the message because of distance, cost, etc. I figured writing a book would be an effective way to deliver my message on a bigger scale. Here’s the basic message: Know who you really are (purpose), know where you’re going (vision), know what’s most important to you (values) and know how to keep it all intact AND never settle(boundaries).
Q: Do you think women and men can/should be friends after a break up? Why or why not?
Good question! I don’t believe there’s a clear answer. It depends. For example, if someone was in an abusive relationship, I would say “No”, there’s no reason to continue that connection. However, I do believe too many people carry resentment from past relationships into their next relationship, which, of course, is a set up for failure. I would like to see as many people as possible “be friendly” about ending their relationships, and if there is value to continue a friendship, then great. Your “ex” can provide you with great insight and feedback, which can be to your benefit when going forward into your next relationship. There is also the “jealousy factor” that may come up. If you have maintained a friendship with an ex and you then enter into a new relationship, know that your new partner may be reactive to your ex relationship. I think this is very revealing of the new person and I would urge extreme caution because that will probably show up again and again.
There’s a “boundary and balance” discernment that’s required for these unique relationships, and that’s what makes it hard to give a blanket answer.
Q: Many people experience feelings of disappointment and inadequacy after a loss or divorce. How can individuals avoid those negative emotions or be better equipped to deal with them?
First of all, I think it’s important to validate those feelings as being somewhat normal. It’s what people do with them. There is time to honor those feelings, as it would be with any loss in life. And then there’s time to move on. I’ve found that if you really want to benefit from past relationship losses, you use them to take a good look at yourself. Turn them “inside out”. See what you can discover about yourself that you might want to change in the future. Let the past hurt become a springboard to launch yourself more successfully into the future. But what this mostly comes down to a self esteem: How do you really feel about yourself? Sometimes it can be very beneficial for someone to seek out professional counseling to give some guidance through this process. If similar patterns have occurred in the past, then there is a great opportunity to ask yourself,” What might I be missing about myself?” or, “What might I be in denial of?” Your eyes look out, not in, so to look inward and really closely examine yourself is not always easy. That’s where a professional counselor can be beneficial. The better you can be with you (a.k.a. Marry YourSelf First!) the better you’ll be able to handle relationship loss should it occur, AND better able to prevent getting into “less than optimal” relationships in the future.
Q: Individuals often get to a point when they simply hate dating. How do you suggest they adjust their attitude?
I’d suggest that it’s not dating. It’s probably more likely to be their discomfort with themselves and with other people in general. I would also suspect that these people may also be carrying “baggage” from past relationships and that’s tainting their view of dating. Get good with yourself and your past, then get comfortable with socializing in general, and you’ll be more comfortable with dating. Additionally, it’s good to have a “dating plan”, meaning that you know exactly what you’re looking for and what you want. Some people aren’t ready for a “serious” relationship, so they need to be clear with themselves and other people they meet that they are in a “recreational dating” mode. Other people may want the serious life-partnership and so they too need to convey that so there is less likely to be any misunderstandings.
Attitude is the one thing we do have complete control over. It’s never what happens to us…it’s what we do and how we respond when these things happen. Life takes no pity on the person who plays the blame game or allows themselves to stay in a victim mentality.
Q: If you are thrust back into the dating scene after a divorce, it’s a lot more challenging to keep a positive self-esteem. How can individuals keep confidence levels high so that self-doubt does not interfere with your love life?
There has to be a time for renewal, so my first response is to be careful how quickly you’re getting back into the dating scene. There is no hurry! If your self esteem has been damaged, then it’s the perfect time to rebuild that. Again, using the past as a springboard for the future, look closely at what happened. Did you give up too much of yourself? Did you “lose yourself” in the relationship? People need to be very aware during this stage because it would be very easy to get swept away with new romance without thorough looking at one’s self. Confidence comes from doing, so like anything else in life, the only way we regain confidence is to go out and do “the thing” again…whatever it might be. With dating, I suggest that you be extra cautious, extra aware and use extra boundaries. It’s time to be rebuilding yourself…don’t get the cart in front of the horse or let the tail wag the dog (at the risk of using clichés!).
Q: What’s the biggest mistake suddenly singles make when it comes to dating and new relationships?
Jumping in too fast…period! Not being clear about your deal-makers and deal-breakers. These are the absolute “got to have” and “will not tolerate under any circumstances” very specific relationship boundaries and parameters. Too many people have very little insight here and they jump into another relationship, often to find themselves doing the same thing as they did in the past. Put the dating into “slow-cooker” mode, not the microwave!
Q: What are some of the biggest dating challenges singles face in their 40s and 50s, and how do you help them overcome those obstacles?
Knowing where to go to meet people and not being clear about what they want…and one more: Being to quick to settle. If you settle for less, you’ll always get less…that’s what one of my early teachers taught me and it is stuck…and it’s true!
Get clear about who you are and what you want in your relationship. Identify venues and events that will have a higher likelihood of those kind of people you want to date and get involved. Network, just like you would with your business. Meet “like-minded” people who know other people.
And Never settle…never!
Q: Online dating – are you a pro or con for newly divorced singles and why?
Nether…The bigger issue is “are you ready” to date. Take into consideration everything that we’ve covered so far before you do any kind of dating. Online dating is no silver bullet and it can be very time consuming and has been known for high levels of deception. Create a clear dating strategy with your deal-makers and deal-breakers, and then have a plan as too how much time you want to spend online. It can be become very consuming, so it’s valuable to have boundaries with yourself around this.
Q: What kind of love lessons, if any, do you offer to divorcees and/or suddenly singles?
Marry YourSelf First every day in every way! Love yourself, know yourself and trust yourself…first! Then, become a “relationship expert” and read and listen to other professionals like myself. We have a lot to share with you that can make your relationship outcomes much better in the future. Here’s few specifics:
•Learn how to Maximize the Law of Attraction
•Create a “Pay it Forward” Lifestyle
•Use your Deal-Makers and Deal-Breakers
•Develop Integrity with Yourself…Stay Whole with You
•Use Humor strategies for Stress Management
•Develop a Life Balance System
•Learn Highly effective Communication and Assertiveness Skills
•Create an effective Support Networks
•Get Completion from Past Hurt and Loss
Q: How do you react to singles who express that they “have too much baggage” to find love?
Simple: Get rid of the baggage! It’s never as tough as it seems…really! These are quite simple tactics if you follow them. Surround yourself with a great support system and follow these principles, as well as seeking out a professional counselor, and you’ll be good to go…I promise!
We are wired for success, abundance and prosperity, but each one of us must personally find the tools and resources to get ourselves aligned with all that.
Q: Dating as a single parent is no easy feat. How can solo parents balance their family and dating life?
Boundaries, boundaries and boundaries!! Yes, this can be challenging, but it’s important to prioritize. Have to make sure the kids are okay first. But the flipside is that you have to get out as well. Balance is the key word and although it can be challenging, it can be done. Don’t be in any hurry to have your new date meet your children…there’s no immediacy here. Plan out your week in advance, get childcare/babysitting lined up and balance out your week as best as you can. It may not be perfect, but it will suffice. Something is better than nothing.