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Articles By Marilyn

Articles On Relationship Issues

A Butterfly Brings My Mother Home A short story of hope and spiritual awareness.

Accepting A Gay Child can be a challenge for many. Learn tips to help.

Be Prepared: Working With A Professional SpeakerPointers on ways to make your event professional and successful.

Bullies in the Divorce Process can cause pain and loss resulting in long term problems. Learn ways to identify legal bullying in the process of creating the separation agreement and ways to assit in coping. Published at ~ Selfgrowth.com

Conflict Resolution skills can be learned.

Do I have to report this crime?  Discover your legal responsibility.

Families in Business at Home  Tips on home based business success.

Feeling Powerless to Help a Friend with Adultery  Learn skills to help a friend who is in a relationship with a cheater who is lying.

Getting Down to the Business of Writing A Book: A Step by Step Guide  This guide gives an outline of ways to begin the process of creating a book.

Is An Affair Worth the Risk?  Considerations when thinking about beginning a romance while married or in a committed relationship.

Learning to Love Yourself  Tips to show ways to develop self appreciation and boost self esteem and confidence.

Leave Your Legacy By Creating A Record Of Your Memories  Ways to tell your story so children and grandchildren will remember you the way you want to be remembered.

Lusty Ladies at Play - What Can Be Wrong?  Girls night out can be fun and it can be dangerous to you and your relationship. Tips to stay safe. 

Marriages Don't Work - In Successful Relationships, the People Work at Being Married  Lessons to improve the quality of your relationship.

Midlife - A Time of Crisis & Growth  Understand the common changes at mid life and move through them to discover new ways to be You.   

My Spouse Doesn't Understand My Business  Ways to explain that it can take several years to establish a new business.

Retirement is a Time of Change in Lifestyle and A Time of Adjustment  Ideas to consider when preparing for retirement.

Role vs. Real  Authentic living is less stressful than pretending to be someone you are not. 

Romance on the Job - Stimulating!  Is an office romance a good idea?

The Allure of Marital Infidelity: Temptation to Taste the Forbidden Fruit
Relocation for personal or work related reasons can lead to romantic encounters when feeling lonely and bored. Do affairs hurt if they are kept a secret?

Too Polite Won't Work - This is Business Networking  Marketing a business involves networking with potential clients but social skills are different than in personal situations.

When To Disclose Secret Information About Your Past New relationships challenge our ability to know how much personal information to tell an aquaintance. Learn how you can tell what you should tell.

Why Be A Volunteer? What's In It For Me?  Reasons to give your time to a worthy cause and how giving can be benificial to the giver.

You Can't Stop School Bullies
Until You Stop Adults Who Teach Them How
  Bullying exists extensively in our society so stopping abusive behaviour is a huge challenge. Learn to identify bullies and make a personal statement to increase awareness.

A Butterfly Brings My Mother Home

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, M.Ed.

Feeling the sun-warmed cement on my bare feet, I stand on the front steps of my father's home. I watch as my husband drives the car carrying our children out of the drive and into the flow of traffic. The longing to be going with them swells in my breast. They are heading to our home. There are tasks for me to do here. I welcome a time to be alone with my thoughts and churning emotions.

The warm July day flirts with my desire to lie in the sun beside the sparkling water of the backyard pool. My sense of responsibility wins out. I enter the house that I have had as a safe haven for all of my thirty eight years. There have been tears and sorrows here but also great joy.

I walk through the comfortable rooms, looking at the aftermath of a busy family weekend. The rooms that, just a few moments ago had echoed with the voices of my family are quiet. My thoughts slide back to my childhood. I recall my mother and the many months and years she had stood within these walls, with the same stillness and silence. For her, it was a silence that eventually smothered her with loneliness.

There is vacuuming and dusting to be done, dishes to wash, bathrooms to clean, and the refrigerator to wipe out. How many times had Mom done this very same thing on mornings after we had gathered around the pool, Christmas tree or dining room table in noisy camaraderie?

Mom had thoroughly taught me good organization skills and, following her pattern. Each chore is like a well rehearsed dance routine that my hands complete as my thoughts recreate my mother in my mind. Finally order is regained. As the morning slides into afternoon I decide to not stop for lunch.

I must call my sister to report the state of the groceries that I will be leaving. She will stay here when she takes over the daily hospital visits to Dad who is dying from prostrate cancer. Then I'll take a shower and dress, spend a few hours at the hospital, drive home to relieve my sitter, start the mountains of laundry I have packed into my car and prepare the dinner for my own family.

Dad's sudden illness has struck us all hard. We thought he was getting over Mom's death. He had started to travel, resumed friendships, created new ones, and was very much involved in all of our lives. We had continued to use his home for family gatherings and celebrations, creating pot-luck feasts and fun. Now, we use it as a base from which to visit him and plan his care. We agreed to keep it as Mom had done, clean, tidy and welcoming. There is comfort and security in this for all of us.

My car is loaded. I walk again through the now orderly house, checking every detail. As if called by some silent beckoning, I am seductively drawn to the back yard. In the midst of all the demands on my time and energy, I slide easily down onto a chaise lounge on the back porch. I indulged myself by lifting my legs and stretching into a comfortable position telling myself it is just for a moment. I let my mind wander open to the moment. The warmth of the sun, coupled with my tiredness, lulls me into a state of relaxation. My thoughts again returned to Mom. She would have sat in the warm July sun like this, perhaps with a book. My heart fills with sadness for my mother.

Mindlessly, I watched a bright orange and black Monarch butterfly flit from flower to flower in the garden that is a somewhat overgrown version of the one she originally planted, loved and tended. I yearn to express my long-suppressed feelings of love that I feel for my mother.

"Oh Mom! How I wish I could tell you how much I love you. I want so much to tell you I understand. You died too young!"

My mind forms a plea to the flitting butterfly.

"Please fly to the porch and sit for a moment with me as a manifestation of my mother's presence."

Within seconds, the butterfly changes its course and turns from the flowers and comes to rest on the porch railing. My entire being is filled with love and joy. The essence of my mother is present.

That feeling of peace stayed with me through the very difficult time that followed as my father died and my life took on new directions. I have a deep belief that, when we outgrow our need for our bodies, we transform and exist in a different form. We are not gone; we are changed.

Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed. is a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 30 years clinical experience. She is a consultant on personal and professional relationships. Marilyn is the author of self help memoirs on personal growth through travel. Read free chapters and reviews at Quest Publishing.

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Accepting A Gay Child

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, M.Ed.

Parents build expectations for their children before they are born. Many times these expectations are not in the conscious awareness of the parents themselves. Perhaps it is the secret wish to have a boy or girl. Some parents hope for twins! All parents want a healthy baby who will have the potential to grow into a self sufficient and well functioning adult.

Disappointment is a big part of maturing as a parent. Unfortunately, some babies are born with health issues that challenge the family structure to cope. Some problems surface months and years after the baby's birth. Adjustments are needed to accept the reality of the child you have.

Many parents discover their child is gay when their relationship with them is well developed and many expectations are set. Often the first indications are met with denial. It is hard to see what you do not want to accept.

It is common for one parent to recognize or be told about the sexual orientation of their child before the other. The more rigidly a parent is set in their point of view the harder their ability to accept something like a gay child will be for them. An open loving parent with a clear understanding that their job is to raise a child to grow up and leave them to lead their own life will find accepting the reality of their child's orientation and life choices much easier than a rigid parent.

Parents do not cause their child to be straight or gay. Accepting that this is something over which they have no control is vital. Many families are torn apart when a controlling parent refuses to accept the reality of their child's sexual preferences and abandon the son or daughter rather than open their mind to reality.

Parents who have not come to terms with some of their own thoughts and fantasies can be the most critical and damaging in their words and actions toward a gay child. It is vital for the child to understand their parent's rigid critical attitude is not really about them but about the fear the parent carries about some aspects of adult life.

Many rigid attitudes have been learned from childhood and through religious doctrines and have never been examined or clarified from an informed adult perspective. Learning to freely love is the work the rigid parent must do. It is not the child's job to convince the parent to love them.

Intolerance may result in a relationship break. Some of these breaks will force the parent's to work on a re-examination of their values. This work can lead to personal growth and relationship healing.

Tragically, some parents try to compel their child to enter marriage and produce children forcing the truth about their sexual orientation to be a family secret. In many of these cases the child will lie and say their same sex relationship was a time of experimentation and they have outgrown that. Any further indication of same sex liaisons will be met with denial.

Leading a double life filled with lies and secrets can become the norm. The outward manifestation will be that of a "normal" family unit. The straight spouse of the gay person may never guess that their life partner has this deep mystery.

Many marriages where there is little or no love or affection, little or no sexual sharing, with verbal, emotional and physical abuse, are really relationships with a concealed gay partner. The gay person is angry that they cannot have love and acceptance for who they truly are and despise a system that they feel forces them to live a lie in order to maintain their place in their family, work environment and society.

Learning to accept a gay child is a journey into tolerance, love and letting your child grow into being an honest adult living their life with integrity. For some it is a journey too frightening to travel. For many more it is an amazing adventure into a life filled with new options and possibilities. Accepting the help of a professional may be an option to consider as you set forth with your family.


Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed., is a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 30 years of clinical experience. She is a consultant to families and businesses on personal and professional relationships. Marilyn is also the author of self help memoirs on personal growth through travel. Read free chapters and reviews at Quest Publishing.


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Be Prepared: Working With A Professional Speaker

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, M.Ed.

The responsibility for choosing the speakers who will make a meeting or conference a valuable and dynamic event is a challenge faced regularly throughout the business community. If you are the one in your organization with this task, I offer some tips that could make the difference between a routine event or a memorable learning and growing experience.

First know what you want to accomplish then look for the speaker who is most suitable for your needs.

When calling a speaker, be prepared!

l. What is the date, time and location of your event? Is there flexibility?

Many meetings are planned before the search for a speaker begins and this could result in difficulty getting the speaker you most desire. If you make your initial call to the speaker with two or three optional dates you will have a better chance of getting a commitment.

2. What is the time available?

Professional speakers start and finish on schedule and deliver an appropriate amount of material in the allotted time. Too much material in too short a time leaves participants tired and confused. Too little information results in a bored and disinterested audience who leave the meeting lacking energy and commitment to implement the information into their lives. The time must fit the topic content to leave the participants motivated and energized.

3. What topic is required? What new information and skills do you hope to have the participants acquire ?

The clearer you can be with your expectations the better the chance that your needs will be met. Giving your speaker the benefits you hope to achieve with the individuals involved help her plan the material to best suit the situation.

4. What is the financial budget? How will this be spent?

Speakers have fees for their services. The price is influenced by the expertise of the speaker, length of the presentation, the handouts required and the size of the audience. Some speakers negotiate the cost of workbooks and handouts. Payment of travel, meals and hotel expenses is expected and can be billed after the event or sent as a retainer. Often conference planners arrange for the speakers' expenses to be charged to the conference account.

5. Is money already available or does it have to be approved?

Professional speakers require a retainer fee to hold the date. The balance is expected prior to or at the presentation. Details of payment will be spelled out in the contract provided by the speaker.

6. What audio visual equipment do you have available?

Arranging for the equipment needed by the speaker is part of the planners' job and their cost is part of budgeting. The requirements will be included in the contract and are the responsibility of the meeting planner.

7. What facilities do you have available?

A conference with many speakers often includes a hospitality suite in the hotel. Invite your speakers to use this facility prior to their presentation, especially if overnight accommodation is not provided. A few moments to prepare personally before the presentation and knowing your speaker has arrived will settle any last minute concerns. This also can give the introducing person a few moments to get acquainted with the speaker.

8. What are the names the speaker will need to know to find the right place and prepare their presentation?

An individual who greets, introduces and thanks the speaker and assists with any handouts or audio visual equipment is a treat for the speaker. Checking the microphone, lights and other equipment with the speaker will help get the event on track and avoid distracting interruptions later.

9. What feedback opportunities do you want?

Speakers often bring their own feedback sheets to gather opinions from the audience. As a planner, do you want separate evaluation forms to see if the speaker met your expectations? What information will you want from these and who is to be responsible for them?

10. Is the speaker going to sell books, CD's, tapes, posters etc.?

Some companies will not allow product sales at their meetings while others encourage it. What policy do you have about this? Be sure the speaker knows your policy.

With some careful planning you will arrange a first class event that provides the desired benefits to enhance your company's conference and meeting sessions.

Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed., is a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 30 years of clinical experience. She is a consultant to families and businesses on personal and professional relationships. She is also the author of self help memoirs on personal growth through travel. Read free chapters and reviews at Quest Publishing.

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Conflict Resolution

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, M.Ed.

Fear of conflict is common.

We are anxious when we recall past quarrels and disagreements that resulted in personal injury, either physical or emotional. We remember feeling frightened, defeated and powerless.

To avoid repeating the experience, we can become passive, agreeable or accepting. We try to please the challenger, so they do not strike out again. We believe we have some power over the other person's outbursts thinking; "If I change... things will be better."

We may withdraw from the situation, believing the problem will be solved with time. Withdrawal, not talking or avoiding contact can also be a attempt at control. Solutions are not possible with the other person absent.
Acting in these ways will not help the situation improve.

Problems need to be solved to go away. Unresolved power struggles resurface disguised in different situations.

If we verbally and physically beat on others, we have not accepted personal responsibility for our behaviour. We think others control us. Someone else "makes" me angry. We are really saying; "I do not have control over myself."

When we lash out at the ideas others present, we reveal our own anxiety. This insecurity can lead to frightening, overpowering behaviour. Conflict can only be resolved without name calling, hitting, threats of bodily harm and undermining the other person's self esteem. An atmosphere of safety is necessary.

Each person must gain control over their own behaviour. We must choose to accept responsibility for our thoughts, words and deeds. We have the power to change ourselves!

Identifying a specific problem is the first step to solving it.

Resolving a deep problem often means solving smaller superficial differences first.

We must also let go of the idea that there is always a winner and a loser. When we think we know the one "right" way, we limit our ability to negotiate. Gaining suitable results, requires a struggle to find common ground. All parties involved need to commit to solving the problems.

By sticking to the issues, using examples to make our points and communicating our wants clearly, specific areas needing resolution can be pin pointed. A desire to resolve the difference must be honestly present in each person.

Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed., is a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 30 years of clinical experience. She is a consultant to families and businesses on personal and professional relationships. Marilyn is the author of self help memoirs on personal growth through travel. Read free chapters and reviews at Quest Publishing.


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Do I have to report this crime?
I've been wronged. Is it illegal or immoral?

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, M.Ed.

Crime is a large part of the news we read and hear about every day. Hopefully we can go through our days and nights without being cast as a criminal or being the victim of one.

Witnessing a crime, hearing about one after the fact or knowing who the criminal is can present a personal dilemma. Once we become part of the legal process our loss of personal power can be frightening. Some of our fears of becoming involved with the law include;

- How much time will this take?
- Will I have to miss work?
- Is there a chance the criminal can come after me?
- Can I be charged if I don't report this?
- How much will this cost me?

The fear of incurring legal fees, loss of wages due to court appearances and becoming involved in the legal process are minor compared to the fear that the accused could retaliate. It is common within the criminal element that the expected behaviour is to claim that you heard nothing, saw nothing and know nothing. It may seem safer to turn the other way and not get involved telling ourselves this is none of my business.

Not wanting to become involved in other people's business creates a stance of isolation and the loss of community. It also provides privacy. There's a sense of personal responsibility but not social responsibility. This is very common in large cities and especially in crowded locations. We each put a barrier around ourselves to create an intimate space where we can think our own thoughts and go about our own business.

When living conditions involve overhearing what happens in our neighbours' homes and seeing through their windows, we are often privy to more information then we want to know. This involvement in other people's lives can also happen on the street, in a mall, a restaurant or even while riding the bus or driving in our car. Sometimes the question becomes;

"Is what I hear and see really a crime being committed?"

Calling 911 is meant for serious emergencies requiring the assistance of police, paramedics and firefighters. It is not meant to be used lightly for minor disputes and trivial matters. The cost of a 911 call when all three emergency personnel are dispatched is enormous. Frivolous calls can take these vital service providers away from more legitimate calls. In some areas the person calling 911 can be charged to pay for the dispatching of these expensive services. In other areas when the police are called it is their mandate to charge someone. This is not commonly known and many charges result from 911 calls that in fact we're not matters of life and death.

There's a great deal of behaviour that surrounds us every day that is immoral but not illegal.

Deciding to report something when we personally are the victim of a crime can be even more frightening than being a witness. In many situations where a person has been victimized, the fear of the ordeal within the legal system and the public exposure can be too much to face.

Questions to be considered include;

- Did my choices contribute to the crime that was committed?
- What will the criminal do to me once they know I've reported this?
- How will this impact my personal and professional relationships?
- Will I experience a further loss of control as the legal system becomes involved?
- How will this change the way people relate to me in the future?

Deciding to report a crime whether it is one that we witness or one that is committed against us is our choice. There are those that say we are morally bound to not only uphold the law but to assist the law enforcement agencies in keeping society safe. When we have been victimized, not reporting the crime allows the criminal to feel that they have the freedom to repeat the crime.

Reporting a crime takes courage. Oftentimes someone in the decision-making process considers;

- Will I be bullied by the police?
- Will I be believed?
- Will I be embarrassed?
- Will I be able to maintain emotional self control?
- Will I be sorry I did this after it is done?

Each individual must decide their own level of social responsibility, how involved in other people's business they want to become and to what level they will stick up for their own sense of being wronged. There is no single right answer. There is an answer that is right for each individual in the situation they experience. Making that choice can be difficult.


Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed., is a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist with over 30 years of clinical experience. She is a consultant to families and businesses on personal and professional relationships. Marilyn is also the author of books on personal growth through travel. Read free chapters and reviews now at Quest Publishing.

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Families in Business at Home

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed.

Many people dream of running their own business. Starting a home-based business is often the first step. In a time of downsizing and cutbacks, using the skills from previous employment in a business of one's own is a popular option.

Large companies are also recognising that the high cost of corporate offices is not always necessary and some tasks that rely heavily on computer use can be more cost effective with the employee having a home based office.

Seminars, books and franchise companies offer advice on how to set up an office. Many new business developers turn to a lawyer, accountant and bank manager for advice.

Once a business includes two members of the same family, it is a family business and is part of the estimated 60% of all companies in Canada. The involvement of a parent, spouse, child or other relative, can be a practical and economical choice. It can also cause problems that are unique to a family business.

Home based and family businesses have many advantages. These can include tax benefits, personal trust factors, lower expenses for clothing and commuting, common goals, familiarity and established patterns of working together. There can also be many pitfalls. These include the inability to separate the business from personal time and the roles played in the business may not carry over and be best for a well functioning family life. As well, conflicts from family life can spread into the business environment and cause business disruption. There may also be difficulties with different levels of commitment and energy. These can result in jealousy, and unresolved power and control issues that can undermine profit levels.

Keeping healthy family relationships and maintaining a prosperous business is a balancing act that needs skill and determination. Communicating well, managing stress, resolving conflicts and making wise decisions are all necessary.

Recognising the impact of the family on the business and the business on the family is the first step in avoiding problems. Awareness of the dynamics that are unique to this type of arrangement can create healthy families in prosperous businesses.

If problems arise, consulting with a specialist in the area of families and family business is a wise course of action. The quality of your life and livelihood may depend on it.


 Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed., is a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 30 years clinical experience. She is a consultant to families and businesses on personal and professional relationships. Marilyn is also the author of books on personal growth through travel. Read free chapters and reviews at Quest Publishing.


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Feeling Powerless to Help a Friend with Adultery

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, M.Ed.

When infidelity threatens a marriage, friends and family may feel helpless and angry. It is hard to console the tearful person who has been betrayed. Angry outbursts erupt then they may be collapsing in despair. Children are left bewildered.

You can help if you:
  • listen carefully without immediately taking sides.
  • meet immediate needs like child care and meal preparation.
  • don't promise everything will be alright. It may not be.
  • don't fuel the hurt or anger by adding your own evaluations. This couple may reconcile.
  • don't gossip.
  • don't lie for either party.
  • ask questions to help the thinking process.
  • accept that the stories will be repeated many times possibly with some changes as new information is learned.
  • encourage the couple to get professional help.
  • don't get so involved that it hurts your own family.
Many couples struggle through adultery and learn to build a stronger marriage.

They can learn to:
  • rebuild trust.
  • communicate openly.
  • identify what went wrong.
  • learn from their mistakes.
  • change their behavior.
  • laugh together again.
  • improve their physical relationship.
  • forgive.
  • set new goals.
  • build a stronger committed bond.
If the marriage is beyond salvation they eventually can:
  • redirect their lives.
  • let go of anger and resentment.
  • learn to laugh again.
  • accept some responsibility for their part in the breakdown of the marriage.
  • need less of your support.
  • grieve what they lost.
  • enjoy the good memories.
  • help their children adjust.
  • be involved in a new relationship.
  • look back with understanding of what went wrong.
  • have an adult relationship with their former spouse.

Recovery is a long process. Don't rush it! Someday you will look back and have a sense of confidence that you were a good friend in time of need. You will feel positive and powerful with your ability to walk through the difficult time. Your relationship will be deeper and stronger.

 Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed., is a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 30 years clinical experience. She is a consultant to families and businesses on personal and professional relationships. Marilyn is also the author of books on personal growth through travel. Read free chapters and reviews at Quest Publishing.

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Getting Down to the Business of Writing A Book: A Step by Step Guide

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, M.Ed.

The ideas have rolled around in your head for long enough. In making a commitment to writing your book, setting up a structure is important.

In order to set clear expectations for yourself, you must have sections or chapters listed with a general idea of what will go in each. You may not end up with the same sections you start with in your first layout so don't be too worried about what you call the chapters yet. This gives a framework.

Once a general outline has been set, create a directory in the word processing folders with the proposed title. Within that directory, have two folders: Needing Work and Completed. You can make hard copy folders and print out the chapters as they are completed ready for the first reader to run through the whole book but this is optional depending how you like to review your work as you go along.

Take each section or chapter of the outline and cut and paste it into a new document. Save each by number and title or descriptive word in Needing Work. This breaks down the task of writing a book into smaller sections.

Writing the prologue or forward is the next task. In the prologue explain why you are writing and what you hope to tell your reader. This will help focus your intent and keep the reader in mind as you tell your story. You may or may not use it in the final book and that can be decided later.

If I want to tell how betrayal tested my faith in friendship, I make a note on the outline where I will introduce the character who betrayed me and in which chapter I want to disclose when and how I discovered the betrayal. I also add which chapter or chapters I deal with the issues and include points as examples. I will include what I did to resolve the betrayal. By having the details pre sorted through the story line, actually writing each sections is easier.

Many stories do not have an epilogue. The epilogue is written to tell the reader where the story went and what they have experienced or learned. By writing one early in the process you create an ending boundary so when you review the whole story you can see if you have accomplished your goal. Incorporating the information from this summation into the various chapters can help keep the story on track.

In the final version, there may not be a prologue or an epilogue but creating one gives a target that can be useful when editing. Ask: Does my story lead from a premise to a conclusion and if not what needs to change?

Do not get bogged down editing one chapter to make it "perfect" as this is too time consuming and there will be additions and sections deleted later.

I often find a section of writing that includes intense emotion can be written in one sitting. Writing about confronting fear involves getting into the feeling and paying attention to my physical reactions as well as my thoughts and feelings. Emotional relief cannot come until I have the experience poured out. This can be exhausting emotionally. I plan a break afterward and do something completely different to change my mood. I have a treat planned as an incentive to get into the emotion but also knowledge that I will not stay trapped in the intensity, once the piece is written.

Finally I will make another folder called Finished. I will use it after all the chapters have been moved to Completed and I am ready to read and give another editing beginning to end in sequence. Sometimes I will add more detail to something I previously thought was finished or remove words if I feel it is too lengthy.

The next step is putting all the Finished chapters into one document. Then the first reader goes through the whole book and makes suggestions. This needs to be someone who loves to read and who you trust will be objective. You do not need to take all of their suggestions but consider them carefully. This leads to rewrites and changes in flow and clarity. You may have to develop a character more or remove repetitive sections.

Then the detail editor will start. This will catch many more issues that need rewriting, corrections, removal and adjustments. The seemingly never ending process will eventually lead to the content of a book. It then goes to the interior designer. This can result in more changes and many decisions about layout and spacing.

Cover design is a whole project in itself.

Then comes choosing a printer, paper, size and much more.

So get serious about the process of writing and someday you will have a book to be proud of. Then you are going to need to market your book. It is an ongoing project, so get started!

Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed., is a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 30 years clinical experience. She is a consultant to families and businesses on personal and professional relationships. Marilyn is also the author of books on personal growth through travel. Read free chapters and reviews at Quest Publishing.

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Is An Affair Worth The Risk?

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, M.Ed.

As romantic melodies surround you it is easy to feel that responsibilities are all consuming and a chance to be loved is missing. Perhaps your relationship feels tense or platonic and that wonderful "in love" feeling is gone. The idea of meeting someone whose face will light up at the site of you as you rush for passionate kisses stirs your heartbeat. You flirt with the thought of having an affair.

In my years as a marriage and family therapist I have counselled many people who are considering an affair, are in the middle of an indiscretion or trying to heal from the devastation of disclosure.

Affairs are filled with fantasy, secrets and lies. For most people the fact that someone who they trusted implicitly lied directly to their face is the deepest pain.

Monogamous relationships are based on making a deal to be faithful and honest. It is natural for healthy adults to find that they are physically, emotionally and sexually attracted to other people. It is not the feelings that cause problems, it's the behaviour that results.

Emotional infidelity is when a bond is formed with someone other than the spouse and the attraction is kept a secret. The fantasies of being with the other person, the flirtations and jokes with double meanings are the first steps down the slippery slope of adultery. The signs include;

1. mentioning the person's name often in conversations,
2. avoiding the behaviour in front of your spouse,
3. keeping your feelings a secret from coworkers, friends and family,
4. feeling guilty yet can't stop yourself from wishing it would progress further,
5. thinking and fantasizing about a romance when you're not with the person,
6. redirecting your route to pass by or meet the object of your fantasy.

This stage of infidelity is like a psychotic episode. Responsibilities tend to be forgotten, the imagination runs wild, energy is high and the thought of being discovered is usually dismissed. If confronted by someone who sees your behaviour you tell them they are imagining what they see.

Signs that indicate a cheater include;

1. picking at their spouse about inconsequential issues as a way to justify your behaviour,
2. wearing new clothing, changing hairstyle and taking extra care with makeup,
3. unexplained absences,
4. telephone calls, emails, a purse or briefcase and computer use are suddenly private,
5. daydreaming and a sense of being distracted are evident.

Many more signs can readily be detected that vary depending on the stage of the relationship. Oftentimes sex with a spouse stops when sexual activity in an affair starts.

Some marriages survive adultery, growing stronger by ensuring that there is time to be lovers not just partners in running a home and being parents. Other relationships split with bitterness and conflict over custody and support dragging on for years. Children blame the parent who had the affair even though the cause of an affair can be traced back to a change in the marriage.

A couple who agrees to have an open marriage with other sexual partners an affair may pose no risk. For most married couples an affair is a major crisis.

I advise my clients to recognize their desire for romance and to address their need with their partner to see if the relationship can be rekindled. Some relationships cannot and the couple agree to split.

Affairs turn honest people into liars, trustworthy people into cheats and devastate families. In my view, an affair is never worth the risk.


Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed., is a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 30 years clinical experience. She is a consultant to families and businesses on personal and professional relationships. Marilyn is also the author of self help memoirs on personal growth through travel. Read free chapters and reviews at Quest Publishing.


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Learning to Love Yourself

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, M.Ed.

Stand in front of a mirror and what do you see? Where does your gaze go? What inner dialogue or head talk do you hear?

Some people try not to listen to their inner voice thinking it is evidence that they are crazy. This is not true. The inner voice is guiding and directing your actions and beliefs whether or not you are listening.

As you look in the mirror do you focus on the piece of hair that goes its own way, a facial mark, a spot on your tie or the size of your nose? Are your inner words full of criticism and disapproving value judgments? Are your ears only tuned to rejecting messages? Do your eyes scan past your valuable features? Is your sensitivity level turned up high to faultfinding messages or tones of voice? Can you hear affirming words and caring messages?

The ability to look at you looking back at yourself and seeing your unique and wonderful aspects is a skill necessary for a mentally positive self-concept. Notice the warmth in your smile, the tilt of your brow or the dimple in your chin. Look for the features that are part of what those who care about you know and appreciate. Give yourself a pat on the shoulder and some encouragement.

Feel the shift in your physical posture, muscle tension and facial expression when you say critical words vs. when you say positive things to yourself.

How do you change when you think and say words that positively support and encourage you? Be attentive to these changes and you will start to be aware of some of the physical aches and pains you feel when you get stressed.

Think of several terms that you use to describe yourself. Listen to the words that you use to characterize your personal qualities. Say them out loud.

I am ...... !

Would you say these statements about yourself in public? Would you classify this as selfish and bragging! Is it more acceptable to you to be derogatory and denounce your gifts and charming qualities? Is criticism more familiar than praise?

Learning to love yourself is essential in the development of the ability to be loving with others. If you focus on your own faults you will most likely highlight the shortcomings of others.

If you do tend to center on the mistakes of others, consider what was programmed into your thinking when you were growing. Prejudice and intolerance of others reveals insecurity, rigid thinking, and fear. These are the opposite to love. Love involves opening up of our selves, heart, mind and soul.

Looking at yourself in the mirror can be a scary adventure. Seeing who is looking back, straight in the eye, confronts you with your perception of the person you have become. Do you have the courage to be honest with yourself?

God, by whatever name you use for the universal force of life, is living in the world today, and manifests in the actions of human beings. Can you see your God looking back at you? Is the God in whom you believe a God of criticism and struggle or of acceptance and love?

There is also great evil, distrust and hate alive in the world today. Violence in our society, in our homes and family relationships, reveal it.

We must cast the evil out of our lives and confront with trust and courage the values that are the core of healthy living.

Love is not placid and passive. Love is passionate and active. Each small step an individual takes, to replace lies with truth, criticism with praise, fear with love, is a step to a new way of living. Live in trust that your God's support is present in your life.

How much you are the person you want to be is determined by the way you act and react and the choices you make. When you take a risk and start to get to know yourself, you can confront the way you manifest your faith into the world. This reveals your ability to let love into your life.

Learning to love involves learning to face your self, your fears, and accepting responsibility to become the person you want to be. Your God is always there with you, like your inner dialogue, whether you are listening or not.

Being able to accept love comes when you are ready to hear loving messages from yourself and others. Are you ready? Are you listening?


Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed., is a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 30 years experience. She is a consultant to families and businesses on personal and professional relationships. Marilyn is also the author of books on personal growth through travel. Read free chapters and reviews at Quest Publishing.

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Leave Your Legacy By Creating A Record Of Your Memories

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, M.Ed.

There are many ways to record your life. One simple approach is to take photographs and write a brief description of where you were, why you were there, what you experienced and what you learned. Many people enjoy creating scrapbooks that include tokens, tickets, ribbons and more. Some people like to keep their photographs in a digital album that can be viewed from anywhere in the world. These albums can be open to the public or totally confidential accessed only by those who know the password.

Keeping a diary or a journal is also a popular way to write about your life in the present tense. Keeping a journal is a great tool for personal growth. By reading back over old entries it is easy to see how your attitudes have changed and how things you once thought were interesting no longer attract your attention. Today many people use a blog for this purpose and it can be private or public.

Keeping audio and video records are also established ways to keep memories alive. It is often what the person behind the camera notices that is the focus of attention unless there is a director or a specific list of items of what is to be recorded. This form of record keeping is particularly popular for vacations, weddings, graduations and more.

Gathering information is helpful if you want to sit down and write a memoir. Letters and postcards, appointment books and interviews of people who have been in your life are also ways to assemble information.

Putting your information in chronological order is a good next step. Using envelopes or file folders that are marked with the dates and any other information that you might want to include will help later as you write. You want to get the flow in proper order.

Once you begin to write you want to include all of the information you can remember. The pictures and letters will jog your memory. If you come to memories that you're not sure you want to share you can include a note that refers to the incident so that when you are finished your first draft you can reconsider whether or not you want to include these points.

It is often helpful to start a memoir with recollections of what you were told about your family of origin at the time of your birth. Recalling stories about your parents and grandparents and older brothers and sisters can set the stage. You want to build visions in your readers' mind. This is very much like putting the props on a stage before the actors arrive. Some people choose to start the memoirs it the present time and write the history as recollections and for that style you want introduce yourself to your reader.

It is helpful to imagine a reader when writing. Imagine a grandchild or a great grandchild wanting to research their family history and finding your memoir. Don't think of them as a child but as an adult who'd love to know what your life was like.

Some incidents in your family may be embarrassing, private, cause uncomfortable feelings or be the potential for criticism from others. While it may seem an invasion of someone's privacy if it is your recollection then it is part of your story to tell. This can often be done by saying;
"I recall hearing the story of someone who was shot" or
"When I checked the dates in the family bible there were babies conceived out of wedlock."

Family interactions with highly emotional impact are often part of family myths and secrets. These can be very powerful as people often imagine them worse than reality.

In families were tragedies have occurred secrets can also result in extreme fears and anxieties about such things as abandonment, fire, blood, allergies and more. If the truth about the story is known oftentimes the anxieties lessen and other pieces of the family puzzle fit into place.

Exposing the reason for family feuds and conflicts and understanding family health history can be very useful to people who want to have a sense of belonging within the family unit. What seems to be a tragedy or a scandal in one generation is not necessarily seen in the same light many years later.

Tell your family story! Make it real as seen through your eyes and you will leave a legacy that someday someone will cherish as a glimpse into the influences that shaped their life.


Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed., is a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 30 years clinical experience. She is a consultant to families and businesses on personal and professional relationships. Marilyn is also the author of books on personal growth through travel. Read free chapters and reviews at Quest Publishing.


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Lusty Ladies at Play - What Can Be Wrong?

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, M.Ed.

As the saying goes: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

Sexual fantasies are a part of a normal active imagination and playing out those fantasies can be fun. How this is done is vital to maintaining self esteem, self respect and your real life relationships.

Many men have problems accepting that women have sexual expectations, desires and fantasies. They fear their own performance will not live up to the fantasies. They feel threatened. They do not want their partner to engage in girls' nights out.

There is also a double standard with some men that it is alright for them to look at women lustfully but it is not normal for women to do the same. Lack of clear understanding and communication can needlessly cause serious problems in committed monogamous relationships. It can also hamper the development of new intimate dating relationship.

If you want to have a fun on a girls' night out:

1. Let your man know that it is about fun and fantasy.
2. Be clear about what restrictions you have for yourself.
3. Know your limits with alcohol and or drugs.
4. Don't let peer pressure get you into doing something you don't want to do.
5. Be open with your partner after the event so no one can tell stories about your behaviour that could cause you problems.

Fantasy is something that is not real and is based on a made up version or story. When women see the near naked body of an attractive male entertainer, they project their desires onto that male. When they lose sight of the fact that what they create is in fact not real, they can behave in ways that break their own moral code.

Feeling sexually aroused or hot can take blood away from the brain into the genital area. The excitement, especially if it is accompanied by alcohol or drug use, can result in poor choices. A lonely wife or sexually frustrated woman can imagine she is the one desired by the provocatively behaving male. This is a great escape from the stresses and strains of real life. It is however not reality. It can lead to a dangerous situation.


1. Truth builds trust, so tell your partner the truth.
2. Sharing fantasies evoked by the girls' night can lead to a more adventurous sexual relationship with your partner.
3. Creating a new deal about what behaviour is alright for each partner from areas of conflict can strengthen the relationship. Different couples have different tolerance levels.
4. If you feel your behaviour needs to be hidden from your husband you are probably out of line.
5. If you are fantasizing about the entertainer after the event you need to talk to someone about your ideas. It is his job to get your fantasies churning not to fulfill them.

Using fantasy to compensate for a bad relationship will not help create the quality of life you desire. Using fantasy for fun and safe enjoyment is a great stress reliever. So fuel your fantasies and enjoy! At the end of the party go back to reality refreshed by laughter, fun and friendship!

Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed., is a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 30 years clinical experience. She is a consultant to families and business on personal and professional relationships. Marilyn is also the author of books on personal growth through travel. Read free chapters and reviews at Quest Publishing.


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Marriages Don't Work - In Successful Relationships, the People Work at Being Married

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, M.Ed.

The starry eyed bride and puffed up with pride groom believe their marriage was made in heaven and trust it will work.

The client couple sit in front of the marriage counsellor and say; “Our marriage just isn't working." or "I'm not IN love anymore."

Marriages don't work but couples can work to make the style of marriage they desire. They can rekindle that IN love feeling.

Genuine marriages are based on agreements the couple make with each other. Not only do they make deals, they work to hold up their part of the responsibilities they assume. If one agrees to do the laundry and the other to handle the garbage, they accept the job and do it without having to be asked, nagged or reminded. In a well functioning marriage each partner takes their roles and responsibilities seriously.

They do not:
  1. see their partner as a parent.
  2. treat their partner disrespectfully.
  3. shrink from the practical jobs of running their home.
  4. blame their partner for their unhappiness.
  5. run home to mom or others and complain about their spouse.
They do:
  1. act like a responsible adult.
  2. speak politely with no swearing and name calling.
  3. accept it was their choice in partner.
  4. make time and have energy for sexual activities.
  5. laugh and play together.

So often when responsibility walks in the door, romance flies out the window. Romance and responsibility are opposites and every marriage needs both.

One way to work at marriage is to discuss problems with your spouse and not with someone who has no power or ability to solve the problem. Too often people turn to a family member, a friend or start a new relationship instead of clearly identifying the problem and working it through with their partner. Problems can be solved. It takes two willing partners who are committed to being married to each other. Sometimes it take professional help.


Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed., is a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 30 years of clinical experience. She is a consultant to families and business on personal and professional relationships. Marilyn is also the author of self help memoirs on personal growth through travel. Read free chapters and reviews at Quest Publishing.

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Midlife - A Time Of Crisis And Growth

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, M.Ed.

Sometimes your life moves along like a gently flowing river. You feel comfortable with who you are and you feel as if the world is unfolding as it should. Then there are times where something unforeseen occurs and you feel as if you are rushing over a cliff destined to crash on the rocks below.

There was a time when people thought adult life would proceed over the decades and you would not really have to go through too many changes. After the rapid physical growth from being a baby to an adult and all the skills you learned it appeared that being an adult was an easier time in life. With the emotional upheavals of adolescence behind you and an understandable path to develop your home, family and career, depending on your choices, it looked like clear sailing ahead.

Adult life goes through changes and stages. From becoming self sufficient as you leave your family home to all the responsibilities of creating a life of your own as a self responsible adult you will have had challenges. How you have learned to deal with change and stress will determine how you cope with the blockages and detours in your path.

As an adult you shift from focusing on your own life to choosing how you share it with others. Deciding to be married, create a family, change or leave your job, move your home, deal with your siblings and parents and which activities you choose to participate in are all part of creating your life. Will you be a stay at home parent? As your children grow will you return to paid work? Will you be a primary caregiver of your grandchildren? When your relationship encounters a blockage will you stay and work on your relationship, choose the single life or look for a new partner after the death or divorce from your first spouse?

When things don't go as you expect anger, disappointment and sadness can result. Not all of your plans will turn out the way you hoped. Issues of illness, relationship conflict, difficulties with pregnancy and parenting, financial concerns, children growing up and leaving home, unexpected deaths and health issues can all create a time of crisis.

When you feel you have no control over what is happening in your life you can feel overwhelmed. If you have learned to be assertive and know what it is you want in your life it is much easier to create the life you have dreamed about than if you have continually fit into what other people expect of you. The further you go off your intended route the greater will be the sense of crisis.

By understanding that life will have changes and challenges you can be prepared when they occur. The more flexible your outlook the easier the adjustment will be. Rigid people set in their ways have a greater chance of going into full blown crisis than those who have learned to adapt to change. Allowing yourself to flow with the current rather than flailing against the forces of change will result in an easier transition. If you have the life skills to cope with new experiences what could be a time of fear, when you feel you are unable to face the future, will transform into a time when you can grow emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.

To know your Self is to know the path that is right for you no matter what other people say.

When you understand that you make the choices in your own life you can have a sense of personal power. This means the power to think your own thoughts, set your own goals and work toward being the person you want to be. You cannot control what others think and do. You cannot control the fact that you will age. You can control your attitude.

A strong sense of Self will help you take a crisis and turn it into a learning experience. You can learn to think your own thoughts. You can learn to trust your own judgment and to make decisions about the direction you want to take.

A support network of people who care about you and are willing to assist you in times of turmoil are a vital part of turning calamity into a new way to be your Self. Good relationships with family, friends and coworkers can help. Removing toxic people who belittle abuse and are in conflict with your hopes and dreams must be removed from your team.

Responsible money management is vital to your success. Personal power comes from having adequate financial resources to live at a reasonable lifestyle.

You can assist in your own personal growth by having realistic expectations of your Self. Discover as much as you can about the times you are happy, feel fulfilled and appreciated and work to develop a strong sense of who you want to become and you will find that a change in your life, sudden or slow, can be a source of learning and personal growth.


Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed., is a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 30 years of clinical experience. She is a consultant to families and businesses on personal and professional relationships. Marilyn is also the author of books on personal growth through travel. Read free chapters and reviews at Quest Publishing.

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My Spouse Doesn't Understand My Business

How to explain to a spouse why there isn't more income.

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, M.Ed.

Starting a business or going back to business is an exciting experience filled with dreams and energy. When women make this decision at midlife it is often the result of having been out of the work force due to a layoff, a life changing experience such as a divorce or illness, or the desire to have meaningful activity that is also income producing after years of homemaking.

In a new business there will be leasehold improvements, setup and marketing costs for things like letterhead and business cards as well as equipment and furniture. Many business owners require outside financing so there are monthly loan payments to be made.

Different styles of business have different amounts of setup cost so it is important to know how long you need to work before those beginning costs are covered. Sharing this information with your life partner so they have a realistic expectation of when the real income will start is vital. Anger comes when our expectations aren't met so to avoid angry confrontations we must have realistic expectations. Paying off the startup costs can often take several years and if it is not something that is worked into the expectations for the business, stress and conflict result.

For many women starting their own business at midlife is chosen because they are not employable in the workforce. This does not mean that they couldn't get a job in a fast food restaurant or with the home cleaning service. For women who once were qualified in a job category with a much higher salary this is not a viable option. Reentering the workforce as it is today is usually very different than the workforce was when she left. Hiring an older worker often means a higher salary and many companies prefer to pay a lower wage to a younger employee.

When a spouse understands why the decision to start her own business was made and agrees to support it, there is less likelihood that pressure about lack of earning will result.

Factoring in the cost of clothing, transportation, extra home support and other factors specific to what type of job the woman could actually get need to be calculated. This helps make realistic comparisons.

I have heard husbands say;

"You could be earning $40,000 a year if you got a real job

Men who are insecure in their own jobs and feel financially pressured are most likely to voice these types of concerns.

Knowing the cost of having that job, including the income tax payable, the loss of deduction by the spouse for a dependent (if applicable) and other expenses mean that the $40,000 of increased spending power would be much lower.

When a woman runs her own home based business she has business deductions and expenses that give her tax breaks depending on her type of business. These may include a percentage deduction in the home taxes, hydro and water, automobile expenses, phone charges and more. These tax savings needs to be included in discussions about the real value of the business to the household.

For those women who compare their income to a job outside the home working for someone else, conflict often arises because they keep their eye on the income figure without taking into account expenses for clothing, grooming, transportation, gifts for fellow employees and office events.

To minimize the conflict and avoid feeling defensive and protective about your business;

  1. Have a realistic expectation of what you can earn and what it will cost to earn those dollars,
  2. Know what perks you have and what contributions you make to your household because of the way you have chosen to work so you can explain them to your spouse,
  3. Keep a close eye on your expenses and be sure to budget for things like insurance that don't happen every month.
  4. Help your spouse understand why life is better because of the way you have chosen to work. This could include time flexibility, home and child supervision, expanded network of social contacts and subsidized travel.
  5. Be clear about the intention of your job. For many women it is the desire for self fulfillment and personal growth that matters more than the income.
  6. If your business is used as a tax write off against your husband's income be sure that this is something you have agreed to and know that a loss is expected.
  7. Consulting with an accountant is imperative.
  8. Make a deal with your spouse about how long work hours, evening and weekend commitments and time away from home if applicable, will be handled.

Well functioning relationships are based on negotiating a deal that both parties can live with, that can be flexible when problems arise, and that change when necessary. By sticking to the deal trust and confidence are built. The deal doesn't need to be in writing but for some people having a written contract works well.

Sometimes professional help is needed. Don't wait until problems become crises to ask for help.


Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed., is a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 30 years clinical experience. She is a consultant to families and businesses on personal and professional relationships. Marilyn is also the author of books on personal growth through travel. Read free chapters and reviews at Quest Publishing.

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Retirement Is A Time Of Change In Lifestyle And A Time Of Adjustment

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, M.Ed.

Retirement is a lifestyle people dream about. It is also a time of adjustment.

When we retire is influenced by many factors, and is not always by our own choice.

Sometimes, the time at which one member of a couple retires is different than the other. This can be a source of joy or jealousy, new beginnings or resentment and bickering.

Factors that could influence these feelings include:

  • If the retirement was a choice.
  • How the retiree enjoys unstructured time.
  • How much the retiree enjoys being finished with their work and work relationships.
  • The acceptance level of the person retired to take on more household responsibility.
  • How the one not retiring enjoys their work.
  • How flexible the couple is to make a new marital deal.
  • The couple's attitude toward their retirement years.
  • The attitude of the retiree toward the partner's work.
  • The way the couple handles finances.
Good marriages are built on:
  • making deals about responsibilities.
  • keeping the deals.
  • renegotiating the deals when events change.
  • a couple's ability to assist their partner when one gets overloaded.

Feeling overwhelmed could be due to outside influences like extra work demands, health issues, family pressures and more.

The working spouse needs to accept their work is leading to the quality of life they will both have, in the form of income, when they share retirement.

Problems must be identified to be solved. Too often people want a quick fix to major life changes. The better prepared for the change, the more flexible the attitudes and the willingness to work on keeping the relationship satisfactory for both partners, the higher the chance of a smooth transition into new roles and ways of relating as a couple.


Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed., is a Marriage and Family Therapist and a consultant to families and businesses on personal and professional relationships. She is also the author of books on personal growth through travel. Read chapters and reviews at Quest Publishing.


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Role vs. Real

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, M.Ed.

The anxiety can hit me like a punch in the stomach.

Who am I?

In this moment I feel like I am an impostor. I have all the experience and training behind me and other people trust me, yet when I look at the words written about me I wonder: "Is this really me?"

I have played a lot of roles in my life. Each seemed to have a script. Being the good daughter, sister, student, babysitter, teacher, wife, mother, therapist and more. They all had expectations put on me by others. I learned how to play the parts. I read books, took courses and listened to the expectations of the roles I played.

When I met someone who had a different set of rules for the role, I was anxious. Was I really being the "best" of whoever I was trying to be?

Lots of times I felt like I was failing. I'd become impatient or exhausted and would feel like a failure. The perfect "I" would never act like I was acting.

Awareness of the Self that I am and how this Self is different from the roles I play, can help me answer the question - who am I?

I can look at my individual potential - things with which I was born. I can ask: "What are my limits and what are my strengths?"

While some people say we are all capable of being whoever we want to be, I know that one of my fantasies, to be a helicopter pilot, is not very realistic. I perhaps could, but won't, change my sex, my height, my ethnic background and a whole lot more. I could play dumber than I am, something women are told to do to succeed, but I won't. I have been told I am too emotional. I ask: "Too emotional for whom?"

In looking at the "real" Self, I need to accept these parts of myself. I need to look at myself physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Who am I really when I am free to be Me?

Watching ourselves through what we do when we have the choice to do whatever we want, will lead us to our authentic self.
Living roles involves the expectations of others and our own expectations of ourselves. What do I expect of a good daughter of an aging parent? What makes a good wife? How does a successful business woman behave? What does she look like and what does she wear?

Role models assign us expectations. When my mother died in her 50's she left me without her role to follow. I needed to look for other examples of how to "be" a mature woman. I looked to my grandmothers and aunts. I looked to respected peers. I asked myself: "How do I want to be me?" The freedom to invent myself was overwhelming. What if I chose wrong? Couldn't someone just tell me and I could follow the script?

When I purchased a little red sporty car, I was told it was juvenile by a woman who lived her roles flawlessly. Her comments surprised me. I questioned my decision.

Crisis points demand we grow. Deciding I needed to be playful and happy was more important than living her version of the role. I must live with the consequences of my decisions and if breaking the role of a middle aged woman that others adopt had consequences, I was going to find out what they were.

I had far more comments of "cute car" than critical ones. It has been a long time and I still get a smile on my face when I climb into my latest "toy".

I do not want power over others and I do not want others to try to control me. I will not live in a role, although I find it helpful to have a whole collection of roles I can play when I want. I can shift from role to real and back again.

Understanding the difference between the roles we play and the real women we are capable of being, gives us great freedom. It gives the ability to create the lives we want.

We are also a role model for others, especially our children. In the constant demands of activities and expectations, children need to discover and hold on to, their authentic selves.
Make your life the way you'd wish your children's lives will be for them!

Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed., is a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 30 years clinical experience helping clients with their challenges. She is a consultant to families and businesses on personal and professional relationships. Marilyn is also the author of books on personal growth through travel. Read free chapters and reviews at Quest Publishing.


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Romance On The Job - Stimulating!

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed.

"I can't get him off my mind! I am afraid to admit even to my best friend, but I am becoming obsessed with my boss. The attraction is like a magnet pulling me into a void that I both crave and fear. I think I'm falling in love!"

Many successful families started with a relationship between people who met at work. Therefore, if you are looking for love, look around at the people you know and meet through your work.

While the work environment might seem "off limits" for romance, it could be the best meeting ground available.

Determining company policy about personal relationships between colleagues is wise. Some companies encourage relationships within the organization and hire family members with the belief that this creates greater loyalty. Other companies will fire both parties who engage in intimate personal relationships. Before you act, know your company policy.

Closeness often results when people are working on projects together. They focus their emotional energy and there can be excitement in these relationships. There are often shared jokes and playful teasing. Laughter is good for a sense of well being. Receiving positive attention is good for the ego. Many people spend more of their waking time in the workplace than in their homes. Similarity of attitudes breeds attraction. At work, people are usually on their best behaviour, well dressed, confident and feeling powerful. Power is sexy!

Working long hours on creative projects can be sexually stimulating. Feeling sexually charged is normal and healthy. Travelling to meetings, eating in fine restaurants and staying at classy hotels, is the perfect climate for sexual chemistry to mix and intimacy to grow. Men and women openly admit they like the charge that sexual arousal can create. This can be invigorating when life has become routine and heavy with responsibility.

Work place romance may be wonderful but it can also destroy careers. Secret meetings and communications can sap energy and resources that could be better used for constructive work. Jealousy and gossip can destroy chances for advancement. The traditional belief that women get promoted when they sleep with the boss still prevails. Many women have been hurt deeply when their boss moves on to his next target or when they find out he has more than one lover.

You have moved from a friendly working relationship when:
  • there is sexual contact,
  • the relationship is a secret,
  • you feel guilty or afraid in the relationship,
  • fantasies take mental time and energy.

In a platonic relationship, these behaviours are not present.

Be aware of your feelings and acknowledge they are normal human emotions. Take responsibility for your decisions and actions. You are not powerless! Just because you feel the attraction, you do not have to act on it. You can defuse it.

To avoid an intimate relationship avoid some of the situations that create the intimacy. Boundaries need to be built to maintain a professional standard of conduct. Let your feelings cool.

  • meeting privately, after hours or over lunch,
  • personal E-mail and fax notes,
  • endearments on voice mail,
  • lingering glances,
  • touching,
  • keeping your feelings a secret, tell a trusted friend,
  • creating fantasies.

Mature people recognise they have the choice to develop an office romance or to avoid it. Consider the consequences both personally and professionally before you decide to find romance at work.


Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed., is a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 30 years experience helping clients with their relationship challenges. She is a consultant to families and business on personal and professional relationships. Marilyn is also the author of books on personal growth through travel. Read free chapters and reviews at Quest Publishing.



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The Allure Of Marital Infidelity: Temptation To Taste The Forbidden Fruit

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed.

Moving to another country can result in missing all that has been familiar, while facing the challenges of adapting to a new environment. Sharing the experience and feelings with someone new can create intimacy that often leads to emotional and physical infidelity. Why does this happen and what are the consequences?

With over twenty-five years experience as a registered marriage and family therapist, I have worked with individuals and couples where a relationship outside the confines of a monogamous committed relationship has been an issue causing great pain. Trust is shattered and what started out as something quite innocent ends in emotional and financial devastation.

"I never thought it would all become public."

The availability of global communication in an instant means news anywhere can travel everywhere.

"I never dreamed it could ruin my career."

Some companies have policies forbidding office romances and demanding honesty, integrity and reliability of it's employees. Infidelity is seen as a breach of judgment, a betrayal of trust and a black mark on the employee. Know your company policy.

"It was so far away, how did everyone ever find out?"

People who are angry and feel betrayed usually want to strike out and want to hurt the person who is behind their pain. Emotions often over ride judgment. Without ever suspecting their angry outburst could result in a job loss and financial ruin for everyone involved. Some people even try to get a person fired for infidelity. It is seen as a weakness in character for many.

Relocation of One Partner for Short Term Work

When a contract position or assignment to another country is such that relocation of the couple or family is not realistic there can be dangers of marital infidelity.

Many people who face living alone try to cope by putting on a happy front and playing the role expected in the new country. This can result in emotional exhaustion. Keeping up one's guard is tiring. Once in the privacy of their own living space when they can let down their guard, loneliness and fear of fitting in can be overwhelming. Tears may be common for some. This is normal and part of relieving stress. It also creates a sense of desire to be held, comforted and consoled. It can lead to finding a willing stranger to ease the pain.

"I thought a sexual encounter would help me feel less lonely. Now the guilt is killing me."

The more a person is used to sharing their life with significant others the more the loneliness and insecurity will be prevalent. Questions about what to wear, where to shop, challenges with a new language and colloquial phrases can be a constant nagging concern that somehow they just aren't good enough. Insecurity can lead to self doubt and stress. Constantly comparing how things are in the new location to what they are used to at home, keeps the stress level high and fuels the fear of not adapting. This type of reaction tends to overtake people who were insecure, have difficulty adapting to change and need personal reassurance. This can also make them vulnerable to a romantic encounter that they would never consider at home.

Finding someone who is empathetic, understanding and with whom they can share their feelings can start out as something innocent. There is something special about someone with whom we shared our selves. It can however soon turn into an emotional dependence and eventually become sexualized.

"I thought we were just friends until we touched. The chemistry was just so strong."

Lust feels like chemistry. It grows in our gut and spreads to our genitals and drains both the blood and common sense from our brains. It is not a sign of true love, finding our soul mate or fate. It is a chemical reaction within that can lead to poor decisions. Adding alcohol and or drugs can make the ability to form a good judgment worse.

There are people who frequent places particularly to target the people who are obviously new and insecure and who will build a sense of trust just to enjoy a short romantic and sexual relationship. These people will make promises and build fantasies but are often already married, passing through or on time limited assignments.

I have worked with couples where it has obviously been an opportunity for the pursuer who took advantage of the vulnerable new person in town. Healing the humiliation for the victim and finding the sympathy and empathy in their spouse can be a long and difficult journey. Rebuilding trust is challenging. For many couples it can be done. Professional assistance can help the healing.

Sometimes it's the spouse of the person working in a foreign land who has difficulty adjusting. The usual routines of life can be boring. Trying to understand the turmoil and anxiety in phone calls from far away and emails can be difficult. With too much time on their hand they can find their thoughts taking them places that lead to temptations.

Good listening skills are important to help the travelling spouse protect themselves. Sometimes the concerns can sound petty. Often the spouse at home cannot understand their partners frustrations as they feel the new adventure is glamorous and much more exciting than their mundane home responsibilities. It can also be a time of jealousy and resentment, fear and insecurity for the one at home. This can leave this person vulnerable to an emotional connection with a friend, co-worker, neighbour or new acquaintance.

Good communication and recognition of the long range commitment this couple has made to each other is vital to keep their connection as lovers and life partners. Honesty is also important to maintain trust.

Another occasion where there is the opportunity to meet people is on trips to and from home. Sharing feelings, including the sense of boredom and isolation that can occur with relocation, can result in the beginnings of an intimate relationship. It is the sense of feeling understood that starts the connection. I have had many clients who started infidelities with people they met on planes and at airports. Some predators seek potential individuals for illicit affairs and being pursued can be seductive and exciting. It can also have devastating consequences.

Relocation of the Couple or Family

If both members of the couple or the entire family has moved, and family members can share the new experiences and insecurities through discussions, mutual support can be given. This increases intimacy within the couple or family and acts like a blockade to infidelities.

When one spouse is working long hours and trying to adapt in the business environment and the other is left to create the home and adjust to new surroundings, their challenges can be quite different. The greater their ability to share and really understand and support the other the higher their intimacy and the less likely their relationship will be threatened.

With relocation some people dive into the new culture wanting to dress and live as if they have always belonged to the new society. Some jobs demand this. This can also happen if the working spouse has made many trips to the new location so feels more acclimatized to the culture or knows the language well. These people can appear overconfident focusing on the challenges and uniqueness of the experience offered and there is no experience of missing home. If their spouse is insecure, homesick and having difficulty adjusting the chance of finding an empathetic connection with a new acquaintance increases. Like minded people often are attracted to each other as if by some magical force.

A man who travels with his wife and chooses to be the primary child care giver can associate with wives and mothers at the park, school activities and in conversation over the children that can lead to intimate relationships while their spouse is distracted with work.

Some Signs of Potential Danger

1. A change in the level or absence of sharing daily activities and feelings.
2. Long periods of time that are unexplained or avoided.
3. Introduction of a new name or too often mentioning of a new friend.
4. Broken promises about meeting, calling or emailing.
5. Terms of endearment are changed or missing.
6. Talk of new activities and interests that seem unusual.
7. A gut reaction that something has changed.

What Can Be Done

1. Commit to being faithful and keep communication with your spouse open.
2. Share temptations with your spouse so issues of loneliness and isolation can be addressed.
3. Become involved in community activities to keep associations with other adults where the focus is on an activity.
4. Avoid activities that promote romantic fantasies like singles bars.
5. Block flirtations and don't flirt.
6. Stay aware of feelings and personal reactions.
7. Share temptations with a trusted other and ask them to help with situations where you might be vulnerable.
8. Relieve your own sexual frustrations.
9. Look at the BIG picture so long range goals are kept in focus.
10. Renew your commitment to be monogamous with your spouse.
11. Get professional help if temptations threaten.
12. Be aware that adultery, emotional and physical infidelity, will drastically change your self view and your life.

Building a loving trusting relationship takes work but the rewards can last a lifetime.

Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed., is a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 30 years experience helping clients with their personal and professional relationships. Marilyn is the author of books on personal growth through travel. Read free chapters and reviews now at Quest Publishing.

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Too Polite Won't Work-This Is Business Networking

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed.

Following social rules for politeness does not get new business. While some of the rules for polite communication should be maintained, being open to changing those rules to suit the business situation will be more productive. Business manners must be more assertive than those used in social situations.

Waiting until someone asks about what the business does, rather than proudly talking about what products and services are offered, might be polite, but when attending a networking function, building a network of people with whom business relationships can be established is the goal.

When Networking:
  • Be prepared with business cards, flyers, brochures etc.
  • Have your name tag easy to read.
  • Wear something with pockets to keep your cards handy.
  • Smile!
  • Know what makes a great client and clearly tell others.
  • Act and talk confidently.
  • Tell others what your business focus is.
  • Speak about skills and successes.
  • Share where the products or services are available.
  • Ask for the type of business referrals most wanted.
  • Use "I want" messages.
  • Move about the room.
  • Do not chat with the people from your own company.
  • Offer business cards and promotional material.
  • Accept the promotional material offered by others.
  • Ask people to pass on your name to others who they might know.
  • Be prepared to talk about fees, prices and charges.
  • Leave your fear of rejection at home.

Everyone knows someone who knows someone who needs your services. Let a lot of people know what you have to offer and look for others who are offering what you want. Making connections is about creating a successful business.


Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed., is a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 30 years assisting clients with their personal and professional relationships. Marilyn is the author of self help memoirs on personal growth through travel. Read free chapters and reviews now at Quest Publishing.


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When To Disclose Secret Information About Your Past

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, M.Ed.

It is a rare woman who doesn't have secrets. The information may be so personal that you have never shared it with anyone. Perhaps there is something about you that is only known by a very few. The hidden information may be the source of shame or guilt or be something you just want to keep private. Why would you ever tell?

There are times in life when sharing personal information helps relieve suffering, educates others or builds intimacy. When people know someone understands what they are feeling and the challenges they faced the burden can become lighter. While your personal choice may be to hold your information inside, the act of sharing your experience with someone you trust can help work through regrets and assist others in their lives.

Support from family, friends and therapy groups offer help for women who have;

1. committed a crime,
2. been sexually molested,
3. had an abortion,
4. given birth to a baby as a teen,
5. attempted suicide,
6. spent time in jail,
7. been beaten by a spouse,
8. spent money they can't afford,
9. had sex with a friend's boyfriend or spouse.

Sharing secrets can ease the feelings of fear of discovery and the sense of isolation that often accompanies secrets. By understanding that you are not alone in your struggles you can discover coping skills and new ways of understanding what happened.

Subconscious awareness of issues that may be denied in order to live an orderly life can be triggered by a movie or television program, a news item or situation with family or friends. Their situation can bring the buried incident to conscious awareness and the associated emotions can come flooding out. For many women this experience has been identified as a mental health problem and medications to reduce the anxiety have been prescribed. This is also a time when digging into the past and telling about the experiences can be part of a personal shift into living life with a new sense of freedom and self acceptance.

Many women who were pregnant before they were married have daughters who also become pregnant outside of marriage. People who betray their marriage vows often have had parents who had extra marital sexual encounters. While the information is not always acknowledged at a conscious level the subconscious is a wealth of information that when tapped can produce insight for change. Undisclosed incest repeats down generations and can be stopped with disclosure and support within the family and the community to hold perpetrators accountable.

Know it is time to share your secret when;

1. it repeats in your mind as a recurring theme causing distress,
2. you want to stop an abuser,
3. the secret seems like old news based on values you no longer hold,
4. knowing your secret can help others,
5. living with someone who believes you are someone different than your truth and you want an open honest relationship,
6. the time feels right to you.

Be careful who you trust! If in doubt about disclosure, contact a professional therapist where confidentiality is assured. Be prepared to apologize and make restitution if you wronged someone. Sharing can promote deep inner healing.

Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed., is a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 30 years clinical experience assisting clients with their personal and professional relationships. Marilyn is the author of books on personal growth through travel. Read free chapters and reviews now at Quest Publishing.

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Why Be A Volunteer? What's In It For Me?

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, M.Ed.

What is in it for me, to volunteer my time and energy?

Volunteering allows me to be part of a group of respected, well meaning people who serve others. In my volunteer work, I find like minded people who share my vision to be part of a happier well functioning community. Personal relationships don't work, people work at having good relationships. Giving is part of working on a relationship.

When I started volunteering, I was intimidated at the wealth of skills and abilities among the volunteers. I met many hard working people doing meaningful work. I also found appreciation for my skills. There was a great sense of conviviality, lots of laughs and stories galore. When I thought I couldn't manage the work load, I found amazing support from other volunteers. I came to realize it was partly my sense of independence and as an eldest daughter my characteristic of taking on too much and not wanting to ask for help.

Every part of life asks us to make an investment in time and often money. Where we invest determines how our life evolves. My investment in volunteering has included:

- being on a board,
- attending meetings and conferences,
- driving and shopping with and for others,
- reading, writing and distributing literature,
- stuffing envelopes,
- making phone calls,
- canvassing,
- managing fund raising events,
- selling at fundraisers,
- listening to the frustration of others and offering support and advice,
- presenting at meetings and conferences,
- much more.

What do I get from volunteering depends on what I give. Being a volunteer has enriched my life by bringing satisfaction when goals are reached, introducing me to new and interesting people, giving me opportunities to learn new skills and helping me have a sense of being a part of the solution to the problems in life. I cannot imagine my life without the wonderful experiences I have had as a volunteer.

Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed., is a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 30 years helping clients with their personal and professional relationships. Marilyn is the author of books on personal growth through travel. Read free chapters and reviews now at Quest Publishing.

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You Can't Stop School Bullies
Until You Stop Adults Who Teach Them How

By Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed.

Children who are bullied need to know they are not the problem. Bullying is about the bully needing to feel powerful. They believe their wants are more important than anyone else's. They have learned to be abusers.

Bullying always involves
- Intimidation through specific tactics meant to instill fear
- Threats of emotional, physical and psychological harm
- Discrimination by accusing the victim of being inferior or wrong
- Isolation of the victim from others who may give support.

We must help the victims. This can be done by;
- Listening to their stories of life at school
- Watching for changes in behaviour, especially from happy to fearful
- Observing their play and listening to how they interact with others
- Asking about any indications that hint at being afraid or avoiding people or places.

You are looking for fear of the school yard, anxiety about who will be in their class, talk of having no friends, worry about their teacher's treatment of them and in general a focus on feeling safe rather than excited to be able to learn and grow.
We can identify bullies by;
- Watching the way they talk to and about other children
- Observing the way their parents speak to them
- Look at who their friends are and the interaction between them
- Paying attention to the types of games they play and TV programs they prefer.

Signs include belittling and name calling, talk of "getting" other people, a superior attitude with lack of care and empathy for others and forming groups where the group acts aggressively against siblings, younger children or members of a race, religion or sexual orientation. Bullies often present as confident and popular so people believe they are not the cause of the problem.

Parents must hold school officials accountable to stop abusive behaviour on the school yard and in the classroom. The first place to look is at the principals and teachers who bully students.

Every school year parents work to keep their children out of certain teacher's classes because those teachers are bullies. It is often the parents who are least involved in their children's lives whose children get the abusive teachers.

Too often children are seen as the problem, their aches and pains and reluctance to go to school are looked at but not the classroom environment.
- Parents can work together.
- Get supportive people to work as a group to hold bullies accountable.
- Avoid TV programs that show bullies in action.
- Be Self aware of tactics you may use to get your way
- Watch the way others speak to your child and confront abuse.

People who bully are usually going about their lives confident that the victim's physical and emotional reactions were because they are too sensitive, not mentally well and author of their own misfortune.

Bullies have usually been bullied. They are afraid of appearing weak or fearful. They need to tell their story of who has bullied them and how that behaviour has influenced their life to break the chain. It may be a parent, sibling, grandparent, friend, neighbour, role model on television, religious leader or teacher. Legal tactics include bullying as do many other forms of business interaction. Many workplaces are filled with bullies. War is bullying to the extreme.

There are lifelong repercussions of bullying that effect the way a person functions in their home and in society. Bullying causes a loss in self confidence, hinders achievement, disrupts routines, brings fear into the lives of parents and children, prevents parents from protecting their children out of their own fear and leads to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

Accountability involves forgiveness. Bullies need to,
- Hear the impact of their behaviour on their victim
- Be willing to accept responsibility for the harm they have done
- Compensate the victim
- Apologize

Society must evolve to a point where bullies are held accountable and their behaviour is seen as unacceptable if we are to ever live in peace as people, nations and globally.


Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed., is a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 30 years assisting clients with their personal and professional relationships. Marilyn is the author of books on personal growth through travel. Read free chapters and reviews now at Quest Publishing.

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