Many years ago, I sold a book idea on successful second marriages and I did all the research. I talked with over 200 people and learned some secrets about being happily married. I also learned what my friends and I were doing wrong.
The book was never published because of editorial staff changes but I got to keep my generous advance and I felt the research brought me new understanding. I’ve always wanted to share what I learned and today is the day.
I started out interviewing about 200 subjects of different ages who came from a wide variety of places. Each one had a unique story but there were common elements. No matter who they were, the happiness of their marriage seemed to depend at least partly on acceptance of themselves and their partners.
The marriages were not so much about romantic love as about gratitude and togetherness. Fewer second marriages end in divorce and second marriages are happier, according to many studies. I think it is because they are less tormented by dreams of Prince Charming or Princess Precious.
I talked to a dance teacher in her 70’s whose husband died, so she married the surviving spouse of her best friend right away. They were lonely and they knew they liked each other so the got married. Made sense to them.
I talked to a young woman with three kids and no support. She married her older boss who was happy to take her and her family on. He wasn’t the best looking or smoothest guy she could have had but she was glad to be with him and they seemed very affectionate together.
Generally, the people who made successful marriages knew what would and would not work for them. One Virginia woman who a good job in Washington DC was suddenly left alone with small kids and little money. The next month she went to Parents Without Partners, “to see what was out there.” She dated professional men with larger salaries but she said, “I like “good old boys” She chose a man with a service station and a truck. They hunt on weekends.
I talked to one engineer whose wife left him. He seemed bewildered, “She said she wanted more.” A neighbor lady invited him for dinner and they married when his divorce was final. I asked him if he’d dated other women. He answered, “Why? She was a nice woman”.
By design, none of the subjects were my immediate friends. As talked to the my subjects, I realized my friends were usually unhappily married or in tortured relationships. Birds of a feather flock together because I wasn’t very happy either.
I’d been widowed twice. I spent ten years between first and second marriage feeling sorry for myself and acting in self-destructive ways. At the time I was writing this book, I was desperately in love with a married man. All I really needed to do was read Dear Abby to figure out where that was going.
Researching the book helped me understand that I said I wanted to remarry but it wasn’t really true. My subjects were people who suffered a loss and then successfully pursued second chances. That didn’t describe me.
Here are some things I think are worth passing on to readers who seek a perfect right partner…
I learned that a partnership can’t be all about you. If you are not emotionally healthy it won’t work. People who have serious addictions or mental problems are not ready to look for a marriage.
I also learned that there is no perfect right partner. Anyone who believes the junk dialog in romantic movies like “You complete me,” is in for trouble. Love is wonderful and it cements a marriage. But marriage is also a partnership that needs to be comfortable. That means you have to be willing to solve some of your own stuff even if you have a helpmate.
I learned something else that was very important to me personally and led me to write books like Wise Women and Science of Mind Skills. Help is on bookstore shelves! Now it is also available for your Kindle.
Until I researched my unpublished book, I didn’t understand how much self-help books serve people as guides for moving forward with their lives. Time after time, I interviewed someone who said, “And then I read, How To Be Your Own Best Friend and I did just what it said to do”. It was a long time ago and that’s the title I remember but there were others that were just as effective. There are even more now. The trick is to follow their lead.
I also discovered that church singles groups are good places to meet men who are candidates for settling down. I’d once attended a Unitarian singles group for a few weeks and pronounced everyone losers but I was wrong. Lots of perfectly nice people meet each other in those groups. Previously, I’d met my men in college classrooms or bars. The ones I met in classes were the better candidates for marriage.
The people I interviewed knew what they wanted and they went where their prospective partners were. They were direct and open to compromise. They seemed to understand that they wouldn’t get everything they wanted in one package.
For years, I’d looked at marriages from the outside and wondered how some of them could stand each other. I also wondered why some seemed so happy with each other. In many cases, the happy couples seemed to genuinely like each other rather than being madly in love.
After over a year of interviewing 200 people, I saw that they considered marriage a comfortable and normal way to live and they wanted that. They weren’t ambivalent, or ashamed to go after they wanted, they weren’t drunk on drama, or too self-centered to really look at the other person.
They were straight-forward, good people who would rather be married than single. They understood that it would mean making room for another person in their lives. They understood that the excitement of romance wouldn’t be always so strong. They understood they would actually be living, sharing, loving, and supporting another person if they married.
I took an inventory of myself after that research and stopped complaining about being alone. I admitted I prefer solitude and independence most of the time. I have now been happily single for many years.
I believe that happiness is a choice. It doesn’t depend on your marital status or any other “fact”. You make your happiness happen. If you want a happy marriage, go for it and don’t waffle. Go straight for your goal.. You can go for it in your current marriage by modifying your behavior, and creating a win-win situation. You can also go for it by looking around for the perfect right partner – just make sure that you see him or her when you are looking in the mirror, as well.
What do I want to change?
How might I try to change it?
Anything in this article make me think?
Jane is 15 years old and a winner in the Los Angeles City Schools Speech Contest. Now she’s on stage, competing at the Southern California level. The judges are so sure she’ll win they told her to bring a packed bag to fly directly to Sacramento for the finals.
Her bag isn’t packed because she’s learned,“Don’t count your chickens before they are hatch.”
She is doing a great job speaking until she looks out at the audience and sees her boyfriend who is a college speech major. Her mother and sister are also in front, looking anxious and worried.
She goes blank! The last paragraph disappears completely from her mind. She says, “I’ve forgotten,” and walks off the stage. Later, one judge tells her she would have won anyway if she’d just walked away and said nothing.
Everyone is very nice to her. Her mother is sweet and her boyfriend takes her out for ice cream. She doesn’t speak publically for many, many years.
Fear of success is a common phenomenon. It is learned early, and many of us retain it all our lives. We believe we don’t deserve to win or we are not smart or talented enough. Sometimes we believe no one will love us for ourselves if we are too successful.
Many people can’t just step forward and seek success. They approach ambition very timidly or not at all. Maybe they have ordinary jobs, but they aren’t reaching for the stars. That’s fine if they want to arrange their lives so they can do other things but it isn’t fine if they yearn for more money, acknowledgement or promotions.
Going directly after success in business, or in the creative arts may seem frightening or unobtainable. Some of us avoid trying to catch the brass ring because we don’t want to risk failure. But that is a kind of failure, isn’t it?
All work has value as long as it is life affirming. There is nothing wrong with being a gardener, housewife, carpenter, schoolteacher or junior partner in the family business. The difficulty comes when we are frustrated and resent what we are doing.
I carried that speech contest failure with me for many years as one more proof that I was no good. Usually, I blamed myself but sometimes I blamed my mother or boyfriend. Disappointment, handled incorrectly, can turn poisonous.
In order to succeed, we need to release the anger and accept responsibility for going after what we want. We may not always get everything we want in life, but we won’t get much of anything unless we identify the goal and take sensible steps in the right direction.
If you are feeling stuck or have resentment, you have some work to do. One risk – free way to begin is by private journaling. You can dream independently without allowing other people’s ideas to cloud your thinking. Just begin by jotting down your thoughts and include the things you think you might like to do. Allow yourself the freedom to dream a bit. It’s fun and not a commitment. You first step is just to loosen up.
There is no responsibility attached to this initial journaling exercise, just acknowledging your desires is enough. Many people have a very hard time saying, “I want to retire at 50” or “I want to remarry”, or “I want to be promoted to general manager of my branch.”
As you write, ask yourself what you think success looks like for you. We are unique individuals so answers will vary. Maybe you are making loads of money but have always wanted to paint. Maybe you already have the life you want but you want to believe in yourself and think you are a success, not a failure. You need to change your thinking. Your success is what you believe it is, not what others tell you.
After you have some clarity, you are ready to take steps. You can’t stand back and say, “Oh, I’m not good enough!” or “I could never do that!” You have to speak up and step out. No one can do it for you. Nor can you hang out and hope for a magical memo or a big break.
The Creative Nature of the Universe (God working as Spiritual Law) is responsive and we must be the initiator. We need to take the first step toward the goal. I believe that first step should be a consistent prayer for the desired goal.
The next step will include things that seem possible and logical. For example, if you want to be a writer you probably shouldn’t quit your day job. First, you might take writing classes then get out and meet others in the publishing business, as you prepare yourself for your new writing career.
We you take these positive steps, you show Spiritual Law that you have changed your mind about success. As your prevailing belief system changes, Spiritual Law will kick in and help you achieve your dreams.
Be kind to yourself. Don’t insist everything needs to change overnight. Notice the small positive changes and encourage and praise yourself . Take your self-discovery steps, and make minor adjustments in your beliefs and behavior. Be happy along the way. Being happy actually helps. Life does not have to be a struggle.
It is true you must do the preparation and it is also true that God will support you but there is always more to learn and work to do. Getting an MBA doesn’t guarantee a fast rise in business, you must also be ready to take responsibility for the big decisions. You must lead without blame or anger. So your spiritual practice is a necessary part of your preparation for you success as well as for maintenance.
Remember you get to decide. You don’t have to get that MBA if you don’t want to. Wearing a business suit, earning a lot of money and working long hours is not success for everyone. We are free to design our success and we are also free to modify our goals as we get new information.
Know you are in touch with Unlimited Power and Unlimited Possibility. God responds to your prevailing belief system now. Aa your spiritual practice brings you clarity and new beliefs, your life changes. It takes courage to change but it gets easier, when we know God is working for us. I never achieved the high school speaker championship because that ship had sailed. However, I did speak successfully for many years after I discovered there was a Power for Good and I could use it.
That same Power is in your life. Take a pro-active approach and you will get the promotion or the new job or whatever you claim as success. Go for it.
1. Am I blaming anyone else for my trouble?
2. Do I believe I am a failure or success right now?
3. What would I like to change?
4, What would I want my increased success to look like?
(Note this post is adapted from my book, Wise Women don’t worry, Wise Women don’t sing the blues)It is available from the blog bookstore.
As a part of my morning spiritual practice, I like to re-read a few pages of the classics. I am reading Treat Yourself to Life by Dr. Raymond Charles Barker today. On page 103 he says, “The most important thing for you to know about your mind is that it can change.”
I must have read the book at least a dozen times in the past twenty-five years and on this morning the simple statement that minds can change jumps out giving me some down-home wisdom.
Think about it – it is actually the nature of the mind to change. Human thought and beliefs change all the time. When we get new information, we switch our beliefs. We think the world is flat until we learn it is round. We think children are stupid until we understand they think differently. We think women belong in the kitchen until we see what they earn in the work place.
People get interested in New Thought principles because they want something new or different so they are not essentially resistant to change. But even the most open of us sometimes hit resistance? If that happens, what do we do? Here are some tips…
Don’t complain. Refrain from telling yourself or others how difficult it is to change your mind.
Go back to basics and remind yourself that minds can change – it is what they do. This is the time to double up on your spiritual practice and thank God for any progress. All your mind needs more information.
Remind yourself of your goals. Won’t it be wonderful when you switch from fear to love? From financial struggle to prosperity? From ailing to healthy? Never give up!
If you are near a Center For Positive Living or other New Thought church you can get the support you need. They offer wonderful wisdom talks and sociable gatherings on Sundays. You can connect with others and learn about their successes. That’s the kind of information that will help you change your mind.
Consistent attention to this wisdom teaching is important. If you don’t see dramatic changes, be patient. Enlightenment comes in mini-drops for most people, including me. One day at a time, one insight at a time, and we can go far. The changes keep coming and our ability to use Infinite Power keeps increasing.
If you need help understanding and using the teaching, my book, Science of Mind Skills, gives you the basic concepts. It is laid out simply and the ideas the build on each other. There are short exercises and affirmative prayers. It is set up for independent study and you can buy it in your church bookstore or on this website.
As I look back I see that my understanding deepened in small increments and in many ways. Certain moments in my own journey stand out for me. Early on, Dr. Carol Carnes told me we don’t treat for things, we treat for the consciousness to attract and hold on to what we desire. I’ve always been grateful to her because until then, it seemed to me that people only used prayer to get a new car or better boyfriend. Dr. Carol pointed the way to a spiritual expansion that I truly desired.
Another time, Dr. Robert Bitzer, former President of RSI and a colleague of Dr. Ernest Holmes explained to a group that the Science of Mind Textbook wasn’t really difficult to read. He said sometimes Dr. Holmes wrote on the absolute level and other times on the relative level (our human experience). Maybe that’s a simple idea but it helped me understand what I was reading.
It is amazing how a simple statement can be easy to ignore until light strikes and the door to wisdom opens. This morning, Dr. Barker’s words lit me up! We may believe change is difficult but it is really easy. Minds change – that’s what they do.
We choose to give our mind new direction through our spiritual practice. We pay attention and set aside time to create new pathways toward a deeper understanding of how Spirit impacts our lives. We don’t need to push the river after all.
There was a time when I thought I should use will power to pray to fix my life. Up until then, my achievements mostly came through will power and hard work. I thought I had make it happen. It was really a new idea to imagine, believe and accept that God did the work.
Once we really get it that God is Love working through Spiritual Law and that Spiritual Law is responding to our prevailing belief system, we have the basic knowledge for creating a happier, healthier, wealthier and more creative and loving life. It is important to consistently deepen our understanding of that basic belief.
I am happier, more self-loving, more in awe of life, and less frightened now. Trusting God is a continuing process in my life. I write this blog because I want as many people on this planet as possible to have the wisdom that Science of Mind teaches. Learning to look at the world from a spiritual perspective is so empowering.
Our teaching is all about accepting the best and in order to do that, we must accept new information about life. We seek spiritual information from prayer, other people’s talks, workshops, classes, and eventually everywhere we look we can see the goodness of life.
I’ve been around a long time and I’m still getting new insights. I believe in continuing education and I wish everyone would continue reading and meditating and praying even if they think they know it all. Wisdom deepens. Life just gets better and better with spiritual practice and that’s why I’m writing my new book on the subject.
Spiritual practice refreshes our minds and brings us new information. Sometimes we need to release old idea before we can accept new goodness. New information is a part of the process. We cling to the old ideas out of habit or ignorance until we learn better ways. Releasing old ideas, even those we’ve held since childhood, doesn’t have to be difficult. All we need is to open up to new information.
Changing our minds is not a struggle or a puzzle. Our minds are built to change! Learning more is the most human and natural thing in the world. One of the great gifts of living in this 21st century is the knowledge that we are never stuck. Our minds will change and we stretch and grow because it is our nature. Life is a journey and the quest is for greater wisdom.
Where do I think I am I stuck?
What belief stands in the way?
Am I willing to switch it?
What’s a better belief?
A good friend started taking Science of Mind classes. She wanted to make some changes, including a happy new marriage. After a few classes, she went shopping and purchased a beautiful wedding gown. She wasn’t dating anyone, but she prayed daily and thanked God for her great marriage daily. She knew it was a “done deal”. Soon after her dress purchase, she met her perfect right husband. They’ve lived happily ever after (more than twenty years and counting) .
One of the most unusual things about affirmative prayer is that we don’t wish, dream or beg, we know. Our prayers close when we give thanks to God for doing the work. We know it works.
That’s what makes our prayer different. We never plead, we simply claim our Divine Inheritance. We speak our word, and give our claim to God, knowing that God does the work.
We pray this way because we know that we are living in God and that our minds are connected to God’s mind. God says yes to any life-affirming goal that we can imagine, believe and accept.
Our job is to imagine, believe and accept our goal both with our minds and our emotions. We realize it is already done in the mind of God. At that point, God, which is Infinite Love, acting through Spiritual Law, must bring it into form or being. It comes into what we sometimes call the “real” world.
In our beginning Science of Mind classes, we learn that God is always saying yes to our prevailing belief system. So prayer is a message to God, and God is Infinite Power, Infinite Possibility and Infinite Love. What’s more, Infinite Mind must say yes when we have thoroughly imagined, believed and accepted it. That’s how the Creative Principle works. It’s the Law!
My friend bought her dress because she believed and she got what she expected. Next time you do a prayer, ask yourself if you really believe it. If not, spend a few more minutes. Even if it takes more than one prayer, aim for total trust. Keep doing the prayer work until you see results. Sometimes there is more to be known and released before you get to the point of total belief.
About twenty years ago, another friend called me for prayer to find a new job in the big city. She’d been praying and nothing had worked so she called me. I asked her if her bags were packed. Later, when she became a Religious Minister minister, it became her favorite story and talk. The title was, “Are your bags packed? Seems she literally packed her bags after my question. Next day, the phone rang with a job offer.
The trick to effective prayer is developing a level of trust in the prayer process that enables you to move right along in the direction of your dreams. We call that opening our consciousness. Sometimes we need to begin by praying for clarity and to deepen our trust before we can budge those old beliefs.
Once we learn the basics, it’s easy to unerstand why some prayers are more effective than others. Even if we always use the same procedure, our level of belief and acceptance is quite different in different areas of our life. Some people find it easy to believe that prayer works in relationships and difficult in health or creativity. They think health is physical and “real” Or they think only “talented” people can write or sing or paint. Others discover they have layers of negative beliefs around prosperity. The idea that money issues can be resolved by affirmative prayer seems OK to one person and nonsense to another.
It is important to have a daily spiritual practice that includes prayer and reading. Classes are also very important. Your spirit practice deepens your belief in the power of affirmtive prayer and helps you release beliefs that stand in the way of success. The need for a good spiritual practice is always there. Long after you are in total agreement intellectually, you will discover some “emotional” resistance if you are honest.
If you pray for a specific issue and get nowhere for a while, consider working with a New Thought minister, counselor or practitioner. That person can help you sort out your beliefs and help you plan to release them.
If you want to try working alone, here’s one way. List the beliefs that you suspect are standing in your way. Look at what you heard about money or love in your childhood. Some beliefs, like taking your doctor as the ultimate authority or believing it is impossible to prosper in a negative economy are easy to spot. You can begin to pray to release the sabotaging negatives. You can also draw a line through your list of harmful beliefs and write affirmations as replacements.
Perhaps you need to begin by praying to be willing to release the old beliefs. Or pray for a deeper conviction of spiritual law. Don’t be afraid to start at the beginning. Be honest. There is no shame in learning something new. I used to believe I could not lose weight because I could not stay on a consistent food plan. I prayed to lose weight and discovered that I was speaking about my failure often.
I stopped saying, “I can’t”. in conversation. I didn’t talk about my weight but I prayed to lose weight. I knew my prayer was being answered when my intuition told me to work on self love. I kept praying and, one fine day, I stopped binge eating. I also stopped ordering small amounts in public because I wasn’t fooling anyone. This was all a part of my self-love, releasing shame, and self-acceptance plan.
I also began to bless the fat people I saw. I stood nude in front of the mirror and blessed myself and said, “I love you.” One fine day, my intuition kicked in again and I decided since I hated diets, I would eat what I wanted and aim for healthy foods. I kept track and aimed for 1200 calories. If I went over, I made new choices tomorrow.
This is not weight loss advice. This is an example of how prayer helped me with a problem that began in the 7th grade. It was a deep seated issue and it took a long time to see results. I eventually released 110 pounds and I also released a carload of old ideas about self-worth. It took several years and I’ve kept it off for over three years. I’m not thin but I’m out of the doctor’s DANGER box on the chart.
Learning to pray effectively is all about learning to pay attention to what you are thinking and believing and learning to trust that this teaching works. When we get to the place where we can trust enough to thank God in advance and totally believe it, then life it smoother sailing. And, if we use affirmative prayer and pay attention to our prevailing belief system, we can all get there.
Do you have goals to reach?
Do you believe prayer is powerful enough to help you?
Is it time for classes? Books? Practitioner help?
What will be your first step?
My blog readership is growing. That’s good! I have a goal I know I will reach because I am writing in integrity, love and joy. However, I sometimes think of “get popular quick schemes” and that means I’m pushing the river again. Addiction happens in peculiar ways!
No matter how much one loves a project, the joy will disappear when racing to an arbitrary goal becomes more important than the process itself. The whole point of this blog was to create something in freedom and offer it to anyone who wanted it. It is supposed to be fun.
So what does that have to do with counting numbers? I’m not working on commission or earning brownie points to get into heaven. Once again, I am reminding myself to let go and let God. I don’t ever need to struggle.
After all these years, I know myself pretty well and I know that one part of my personality part is accustomed and addicted to struggle. I call her “The Strider”. She says, “Not enough” or “It should be better,” quite often. The Strider can squeeze the fun out of any project if I am not aware of her tricks.
It is easy to slip into old ways if I am not watching. I struggled to get through college. I struggled to build a writing career. I struggled with alcohol and food and in many other things when I was younger. Truth is, I can use any goal as a piece of torture equipment if I’m not careful.
I have learned a lot about addiction and I have learned to watch out for the symptoms. Writing, for me, is particularly addictive, but I need to remember that I undertook this blog as a service to others and as a retirement hobby. In this moment, I release the need to count readers and I simply return to writing for fun. I don’t have to prove anything.
I am not alone. Work addiction of one sort or another happens to wonderful people. It sneaks up on you, even in your retirement years. In fact, so many ministers “fail retirement” that is kind of a joke.
Addictive personalities will push themselves at work, at home, on the road or in the studio. I have a good friend who was practicing yoga at age 65. She was a marvel. She could do so much, so easily, that she constantly amazed us all. We were all proud of her and she never seemed to show off or be ego driven about her expertise. She did, however, really want to stand on her head. We prayed for that in church. When she got so she could do that well, she upped the ante and wanted to stand on her head longer. One day her guru advised her, “Take the ambition out of your practice.”
When she shared that story with me, I thought, “I should take that advice myself.” Of course, I failed exercise class in the 7th grade and it didn’t bother me. I can’t bend over too well and I certainly don’t plan to stand on my head ever – at least in this lifetime. However, I do try to remember and take her teacher’s excellent advice. I do not want to be a slave to ambition. Do you?
We all know people who seem to be in a frenzy about how they are using their time and what they are or are not accomplishing. The idea of living in a frenzy doesn’t appeal to me. Does it appeal to you? Does the idea of taking the ambition out of your pursuits appeal to you? Sounds good to me.
Of course, ambition can be fine as long as we are making decisions that create a healthy, well-balanced life. But if you feel as though you are struggling to get it all done, you may want to make changes. One of the greatest gifts of our Religious Science teaching is knowing we always have a choice.
The question of how hard to work is one that touches all of us at some time or another. In our youth, our ambition may get us where we think we want to go but if we don’t balance it with loving connections to others, we become unhappy and distorted.
In our middle years, ambition takes many forms including working hard to persuade others, to train our children into our beliefs and to forge ahead in the workplace. Again, we get out of balance if we don’t take care of our bodies and our spiritual lives.
Retirement years are the biggest temptation for many of us. We have choices about how to spend our time and can very well end up staying so busy we neglect our spiritual practice and our bodies and minds. Inaction leads to disuse. Too much action leads to fatigue.
Throughout our lives, we face many questions about our goals and exactly how ambitious we should be. Should I persevere? Should I delay gratification until I get my goal? Should I pile up more money for the future? Should I keep exercising until I “feel the burn”? Should I stay in the marriage and find some way to make it work?
When you look at life’s big questions in the framework of whether or not to live for today or tomorrow, it seems as though life really is an art or dance. We each have to find our own balance. We have to make our own decisions. We have to decide how much energy to put into this or that project.
I talk to people all the time who are in a quandary about how to spend their time and money. I try to help them see they are always at choice, one way or another. There is always something we can choose to do and since balance is constant movement, there is always a need for adjustment.
Making new choices is easier than it looks. We can choose whatever is the apparent step in this moment to move us in the direction of our dreams and let God do the rest. We don’t need to torture ourselves with the past or try to control the future. We just move ahead a step at a time and enjoy life. We can feel good about what we are doing because God is good all the time.
When I get out of balance and start rushing, I remind myself to release the ambition and enjoy the process. The future will take care of itself. I have learned to envision a goal and believe in it and then give it to God to do the work. It is not necessary to struggle or worry about making it happen.
As of now, I am back in balance. This day I am simply writing what I know and sending it out with love. I know the perfect right readers will find it.
Am I struggling to make something happen?
Do I need a new balance?
What immediate choice am I able to make?
Do I want to release the ambition?