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Advice Column

Welcome to 1 Question & 2 Answers from the Mind of Monica. A guidance column with a fresh take on advice. Make one inquiry, get two responses. The first will be an example of existing in the Land of Make Believe (LOMB) where the living is based upon perceptions, others’ expectations and societal labels. The second will be based on the Land of Authenticity & Truth (LOAT), where residence requires you to live authentically with your core values, facts and internal truth as guides.

Give it a try. All names will remain confidential. Send questions to 1q2a@monicacost.com.

*Given the volume of inquiries, all questions may not be answered. Questions will be selected and posted accordingly.

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Dear Monica,

I am recently engaged to wonderful man. We are in the midst of planning our wedding and the family feuds have already begun. Most of it having to do with my maid of honor and the location of my wedding. My "best friend", only because of seniority is upset that she is not my Maid of Honor. While we shared many memories growing up, she has not been a part of this phase of my life. I value our friendship and want her in my bridal party, but I don't want to feel uncomfortable throughout this process. The second part of my issue is that my aunt has started a crusade against the location of my wedding. While the majority of my family lives outside of the state, most of my friends live here in Chicago. In addition, my husband to be and I are paying for the wedding and it just makes it easier for us to have it here. What to do?

Signed - Pre-wedding Blues

Dear Pre-wedding Blues,

Weddings and funerals are often tricky, especially when it comes to family. For some reason, everyone wants their status to elevated during this time. Their opinions, thoughts and presence should count more than it ever has before. I'm sure there is some psychology around this behavior that I don't claim to know.

LOMB: In the Land of Make Believe family pressures will be your guide to keep the peace and your early childhood best friend will get swapped in for your current gal pal. It would be "easier" to give in and to have less of you want, despite the fact that it's your day.

LOAT: It seems to me in the Land of Authenticity and Truth that this, probably being one of the most memorable days of your life, should reflect some resemblance as if not a complete resemblance of what you envisioned this day to be. Honesty would prevail as you have a conversation with your childhood best friend about the importance of her in your life. Explaining your want for everyone who matters to you to be involved in your wedding will hopefully assist her in supporting your decision. As for your disagreeable aunt, I believe another conversation is necessary, particularly because you don't need to be defending yourself during your planning process. Speak to everyone in love.

Sincerely,

Monica

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Dear Monica,

I have wanted to make a big change for a long time, new state, new professional opportunity and the like. I know this will involve risk and letting go of the ease of “what I already know”. My job has become limiting and I am desperate for growth. I am a single mother with two children who has greater aspirations than what I’m currently living. Is the opportunity for change worth shaking up my stability?

Signed - Bound for Change

Dear Bound for Change,

Change is inevitable, except for the change we create ourselves. It sounds like you are ready for change, but possibly a little hesitant given the unknown. Comfort can be an enemy to progress, if not managed carefully.

LOMB: In the Land of Make Believe one might believe that you should not fix what’s not broken and that you should ride out your current job where you are established and avoid risks. In addition, it would dictate that you set your eyes on the what is sure and not what is in your core. Basically, settle down and settle in for the comfort.

LOAT: It seems to me that in the Land of Authenticity & Truth one would pay attention to the yearning in your soul for something new and challenging. It appears that a value of “growth” is coming to the surface. Do your homework around how a move would take place, the things that could go wrong and the remedies for those setbacks. Progress is rarely without failure, but learning and growth usually comes with gratification.

Sincerely,

Monica

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Dear Monica,

One of my dearest friends has a child that I’m ashamed to say, I just don’t like. While my friend is one of the most mannerable people I’ve ever met, her child has the charm of bull in a china shop. It’s getting to the point where I don’t enjoy being around her anymore. I don’t claim to be an expert, in raising children, but I can’t take it anymore. What should I do?

Signed - Hanging In

Dear Hanging In,

Raising children is certainly one of the more challenging things that I’ve ever done in my life. Deciding what to feed them, how much discipline to administer, when to let them make choices and when to choose for them and all of the other decisions that have to be made can be difficult. My default is always to pay attention to the results. If my children ever display bad manners, I don’t make excuses, but rather try to understand how to correct. And, the same goes for all other behavior. Whether it’s schoolwork or behavior, the proof is in the pudding. Approaching someone about their child’s behavior or concerns you have is never easy. We, as parents, are very protective over our children and self reflection on the process of raising them is a tough thing to do.

LOMB: In the Land of Make Believe you should ignore your frustration with your friend’s child and just reduce the amount of time you spend with her. Since her child misbehaves, it probably means that she is unable to control the child. (Not recommended)

LOAT: It seems to me that a conversation may need to happen with your friend, if you feel that the relationship is worth the investment. At some point she will notice the change. In the absence of an explanation on the reduction of time spend with her, she may make up her own story on what happened. It sounds like you value manners and consideration. This may be a good place to start the conversation. Relating values can sometimes be a great introduction to tough conversations. (Recommended)

Sincerely,

Monica

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Dear Monica,

I recently ran into an old college guy friend, who happened to date one of my dearest friends some years ago. While she is married now, she isn’t happy and sometimes refers to this gentleman as the one who got away. He and I were in the same place having coffee, so we ended up talking for hours. By the end of the conversation, it was apparent that we had so much in common and that our journeys to today where equally interesting. We exchanged numbers and have been talking on the phone quite a bit. I’m enjoying our conversations so much, but have declined his offers to go out, because I feel bad having not told my friend. While she is married, I know she is unhappy and still has some inner feelings for this guy, even though he was the one who ended the relationship. It’s been a while since I found someone that I’m so comfortable with and I’m not sure I want to let this go. Help, please.

Signed - Wanting

Dear Wanting,

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had discussions with various people about this subject matter and ultimately there are always opposing sides. Some believe that friendships should always supersede any feelings for a friend’s old flame. Others believe that you never know where you’ll find love and why let a good thing go to waste. Needless to say, there are always questions about how long the two former people were dating, who ended it and so on. There is very rarely a person in the middle. Everyone usually chooses a side.

LOMB: In the Land of Make Believe you could carry on this relationship and omit any talk of who you’re “really” seeing from conversations with your friend or you could completely ignore your feelings for him and move on. (Not recommended)

LOAT: It seems to me that there is an honest conversation you need to have with your friend. This is assuming, of course, that you value honesty and that this friend is dear enough to consider as you move forward. As with much of my guidance, I’m suggesting that you start with a value discussion. Be sure you that you know what your values are and that they are in line when you are having this conversation. In addition, be careful not to enter the conversation with a laser focus on your intended outcome. It will be critical, should you decide to have the talk, to follow Stephen Covey’s advice of “seek first to understand and then to be understood”. Whatever, your friend’s initial reaction, it may not be her last. Whether she is understanding or irate, there may be more to say later. Don’t give up on communication.

Sincerely,

Monica

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Dear Monica,

I am currently employed in a position that is unrelated to my college major and is unrewarding. When I first began with the company, my position was totally different. However, since the economy has changed, my position was modified to meet the needs of the existing clients. I think if I go back to school, I can get a better paying job. How do I decide what to do?

Signed - Career Quandary

Dear Career Quandary,

The one thing we can count on being consistent in this world is change. Unfortunately, for many, it is the hardest thing for us to adapt to when we fight it. If we stay tuned to our souls, it will guide us in the right direction. However, often times we are looking around and comparing ourselves to others who seem to have found “it” regarding their career. You may or may not have gone through this exercise. If you have, I would like to state for the record that it is pointless.

LOMB: In the Land of Make Believe, at least you have a job. You shouldn’t give up or complain just because you are not fulfilled in your current position. Things change and you should learn to adjust. (Not recommended)

LOAT: It seems to me that if you are interested in living your truth based upon your own values, I would advise that, before you decide to go back to school or even to leave your existing position, do some soul searching. While some people know from the beginning what they would like to do for a living, many learn through experiences. You have had one such a learning experience. In your search for what’s next, take a look at what kind of work environment you thrive best in, what set of characteristics you bring to every situation, what your values are and what has to be present in any job for you to be at your best. In addition, ask several people you know (including those you’ve worked with and those you’re friends with), what you’re good at. Understanding these may assist you in deciding if there is a way to modify your current position or to obtain another position in the company that fits you better. (Recommended)

Sincerely,

Monica

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Dear Monica,

I have been married for 8 years and out of that 8 years I’ve only been happy for three years, the last five have been a living hell internally. And with in the last year, we don’t even say I love you or even have a sexual relationship. I feel he is with me because it is more convenient to stay, than to start over. Because every part of me says, how can you be with a person daily, and not say I love you. He is very selfish, he wont attend family functions with me, and if I entertain at the house, if no one from his family is there, he is ghost, and I am looking stupid with my family asking me why he isn’t hanging around us, and he isn’t the only man there. Its very frustrating, I have long ago lost the love I had with him and I feel we are better off friends, but since our communication skills are null, I don’t know how to go about asking him for a separation. When ever we have major problems, he sends me an email, yes an email so I know trying to talk to won’t work, I love my house, but I am so attempted to walk away just so I can find some happiness and peace

Signed - Frustrated

Dear Frustrated,

One of the my favorite sayings is from the Bible and it says “how can two walk together, lest they agree?”. The truth is they can’t. I view marriage as a partnership between two people that includes, a commitment to communicate, shared or complimentary values and a genuine like for the other person. When only one person wants it, it’s very difficult to hang on.

LOMB: In the Land of Make Believe it’s not that bad and you should stick it out because anything other than that is failing. After all, he comes home every night and doesn’t hit you, right? Marriage is tough and not to be taken lightly, so if you’re tough, you’ll weather the storm until the good times come again. (Not recommended)

LOAT: It seems to me that to be in the Land of Authenticity and Truth, an honest conversation is necessary to clear the air, if both parties are willing to have it. The person asking for the coming together may want to lay some ground rules around listening without judging, establishing that this is not a meeting to talk about what is wrong with the other person, but more to assess where you all are in your marriage journey, and if it is salvageable. Each person must be allowed to state their location without judgment or defensive feedback. It’s the only way the lines of communication can stay open. No one likes to fail, but yet it is the only way we can learn and grow. Material things, including houses, will come and go. Once you lose your peace of mind, it is a much tougher (although possible) journey to embark on. (Recommended)

Sincerely,

Monica

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Dear Monica,

I'm in my early forties and recently married to a man in his mid forties. I am grappling over whether or not to have a baby. Most women that I talk to tell me that I should have a baby because I will regret it in the future if I don’t. Although my husband and I did not agree to have children before we were married, I know it would make him happy, and he has said as much. Just a note, that he also has two children from a previous marriage. When I think about becoming a mother, I’m confused as to whether or not I should and I’m consumed with thoughts of “what ifs”. What if, the baby isn’t healthy or finds this world to be too consuming and tough or if something goes wrong with the pregnancy. I know I shouldn’t feel pressured given what other people think, but it’s difficult to keep the noise out and process my feelings. I am curious to know what perspective you can give me on how to think about the decision.

Signed - Maybe Maternal

Dear Maybe Maternal,

Whether or not to have a baby is no small decision. Being a proud mother of two and having considered a third some years ago, I understand how outside influences can weigh in on your choices. As with all things in our lives, we can choose to live in LOMB or LOAT.

LOMB: Having a baby because anyone else other than you wants to can be a decision you regret later. Once you have a child, that life is yours forever to be cared for, loved, guided, disciplined and poured into. Fooling yourself into believing that you’ll adjust when your spirt tells you that you’re not ready or not sure, is a great way to have potential resentment show up later. That being said, some people decide to bite the bullet despite their reservations and all is well once they see the baby; however, it is a gamble.

LOAT: Addressing your fears of having baby is a wise and prudent decision, however listening to the voices of others is not when it comes to whether you should or shouldn’t. If you decide that you would like to have a child, then I promise that you won’t have been the first mother to worry about the health of the baby. In fact, I submit that once you are pregnant or adopt, the worrying never stops. To be sure that you are living in your truth, I would suggest honestly answering the following questions: Why do I want to have a child? Are there any reasons why I shouldn’t? Am I looking forward to raising a child and being responsible for him or her? How will I feel about the changes to my current life that a child will bring? Is my decision one way or the other based in fear or love? I believe that seeing the answers to these questions will give you much more clarity around your decision. However, make no mistake, this is a very personal choice that you must stand by in truth.

Sincerely,

Monica

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Dear Monica,

I am dating a man and believe he could be “the one”! What practical steps should I (the independent woman) take to be prepared for marriage, while still waiting for him to choose me?

Signed - Ms. Practical

Dear Ms. Practical,

Finding "the one" is something that many people aspire to do. It’s a big world, and we come with lots of our own experiences and baggage that can make the process challenging. However, I believe that living true to who we are and communicating that truth is the key to finding the right person.

LOMB: If you believe that the person you have found is the one, it is important to keep your expectations at bay, until they are met and confirmed. There is no worse ending to the Land of Make Believe than the one that ends in the other person not having come to the same conclusion. Assuming that you are both heading down the same path could be a set up and a recipe for disaster later.

LOAT: It sounds like you are in a great space concerning your new “Boo”. The most practical steps one can take, is to continue to live true to themselves along the journey. Part of that includes broaching “what if” conversations with your potential intended. Not to put a damper on your new love, as I hope for you that it is everything you need and want it to be. However, the truth is that the beginning of a relationship can be so overwhelmingly rosy that we forget to check in with our real selves. My practical guidance would be to continue to stay true to yourself by identifying and understanding your values then making an effort to fully understand his true values. While you may compromise some of your truth during the “honeymoon” phase, your independent spirit will ultimately emerge. Making sure he knows and appreciates your “independent” and other values (and vice versa) is very important. While it may not be the “sexy” route, it is one that will give your relationship a better chance of a healthy blossom.

Sincerely,

Monica