giveaway: 250 stickers!

~SORRY, BUT THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED~ is a great online resource for all of your printing needs. From business cards to brochures, UPrinting has everything you need. UPrinting has been gracious enough to send me 250 stickers for Jen's Love Lessons! Thanks UPrinting! I'm really excited about them and I can't wait until they arrive.

Today, UPrinting is giving away 250 stickers to one lucky reader! Just think, you could have 250 custom stickers for product labels, unique business cards, promotional stickers, gift tags, shipping labels for your business, or even fun prizes for your kids (you remember when you used to get gold stars for doing your chores; well wouldn't it have been cool if those stickers said your name on them)!

Here are the giveaway prize details:
  • 250 stickers/labels for one lucky winner
  • Sizes: 2" x 3.5" ; 2" x 4" ; OR 3" x 3"
  • Paper: 70lb Label Matte
  • Specifications: Full color front, blank back, 4 business day printing
  • To sweeten the pot, UPrinting is offering FREE UPS Ground shipping in the USA (Canadian residents need to pay shipping and taxes). Offer is not available to residents outside the US and Canada.
You can learn more about UPrinting's stickers by going to their homepage, their sticker printing page, and their reviews page.

Want to win? Here's how to enter:
  1. Become a fan of Jen's Love Lessons on Facebook (Already a fan? Great! Not a member of Facebook? Skip to step #3.)
  2. Find the link to THIS GIVEAWAY on my Facebook fan page and make a comment answering the following question: how you would use the 250 stickers if you won them?
  3. Go back to this giveaway on Jen's Love Lessons and make a comment about the stickers (anything will do).

All entries (comments on Facebook and on Jen's Love Lessons) will be combined based on time of entry (so technically, if you comment on both, you're increasing your odds of winning). Then, the winner will be chosen using

You have until SATURDAY OCTOBER 31, 2009 @ 11:59 p.m. EST to enter. The winner will be posted on the Jen's Love Lessons homepage on November 1, 2009. The winner will then have until 11 a.m. on November 3 to email me at with their contact information.

*All entries received after the cutoff time will be deleted prior to choosing a winner.

Good Luck!

wise love words: 10 steps to a happy, healthy remarriage

Below is a reprint of an article describing 10 steps to a happy, healthy remarriage. The author of this article, Wednesday Martin Ph.D., is also the author of the acclaimed novel Stepmonster: A new look at why real stepmothers think, feel, and act the way we do. She was also a regular contributor to the New York Post's parenting page for several years, and her work has appeared in a number of national magazines. She earned her doctorate in comparative literature from Yale and taught cultural studies and literature at Yale, the New School, and Baruch College. Martin, a stepmother for nine years, lives in New York City with her husband and their two sons.


Ten Steps to a Happy, Healthy Remarriage
By Wednesday Martin, Ph.D.,
Author of Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers

Think, Feel, and Act the Way We Do

Don't call them deadbeats. Research shows that today's fathers are spending more time with their kids than ever -- an average of nearly three and a half hours a day more than Dads did just a few decades ago. Kids and fathers alike are reaping the benefits of dad's greater commitment; more time spent together, experts say, sows the seeds of closeness. But the flipside of this trend is that it makes divorce more painful for fathers than ever before. As one man I interviewed said, "There are no words to describe the pain of not being able to tuck my kids in every night."

His dilemma is not uncommon. While dads are increasingly parenting on the front lines, custody is still more or less automatically awarded to mom. "Even when custody is technically joint, dad may get far less time with the kids," says Texas divorce lawyer Stuart Gagnon. And so they want the time they do get together to be perfect. "I don't harp on my daughter to pick up her towel since she's only here for a couple of days," one dad told me. Another said proudly, "My kids come whenever they want, and when they do, it's all about them."

It might sound good in theory (particularly if you're the kid of such a "Disney Dad"), but it can spell trouble when there's a serious romantic relationship on the horizon or in the works. For all the benefits that increased involvement confers, Uber-dads have a harder time than their fathers did when it comes to balancing their own needs and their children's. Over and over, women and men I interviewed as I researched my book Stepmonster told me of guys who felt confused, even guilty, about repartnering. "He and his kids won't let me in," women say. "I feel torn between my partner and my children," the men confide.

Here, then, are some guidelines for divorced dads who repartner while wondering, "Can I pull this off?" The short answer: Yes! You deserve to move forward not just as a parent but as a person. Here's how:

  1. Let go of the guilt. You're allowed to have a relationship. And it will not harm your kids. In fact, seeing dad in a healthy, happy relationship can be a powerful life lesson for the kids, reaffirming their shaky sense that lifetime partnership can work.
  2. Let go of the fear. Divorced dads are often afraid their ex-wives and their children will "punish" them for remarrying or repartnering. "It's a common anxiety, but have faith in yourself as a parent," advises therapist Martin Babits, L.C.S.W. "Yes, your ex wife might get angry and say some nasty things to the kids, like 'Daddy doesn't care about you anymore.'" Hard as it is, trust in your bond with your child while making it clear that he or she can talk to you about anything. "That way, if they have any doubts or fears, you can clear them up yourself," says Babits.
  3. Accept that it usually isn't easy. Kids and dads can become incredibly close post-divorce. That may mean more resistance to a serious girlfriend, no matter how nice she is: "Hey, she's hogging my dad!" If you expect that it's normal for your kids to be ticked about the change, you'll be less likely to blame yourself -- or your partner -- when you encounter such predictable (but trying) bumps.
  4. Ask yourself the tough questions about your parenting. Do you parent from guilt and fear? Are you permissive? Have you created a child-centric household? Might your kids even believe they have veto power over your choice of a partner.? All this sets her up to be the heavy, their opponent rather than their friend. Research shows that kids do best with authoritative parenting -- high levels of warmth and high levels of control. Shoot for that to give your kids and your partnership a leg up.
  5. While you're at it, get real about your kids. Know that if your situation is typical, they won't necessarily act in ways that make it easy for your partner to spend time with them at first. Indeed, it's only normal for your partner to become exasperated at how the kids treat her. Understanding that you kids aren't perfect during this transition will spare your partner the common snag of being the meanie who points out their flaws to you.
  6. Invite your partner to the center of the family -- pronto. One interviewee told me that, as soon as he knew he wanted to marry his girlfriend, he had to tell his teen daughter, "I love you but I also love Holly, and I won't let you be nasty to her any more." This spared everyone months of agonized fighting about whose place was where, and whose role was what.
  7. Give a "jealous" or resentful partner the benefit of the doubt. Stepfamily expert Elizabeth Church notes that stepmothers and stepmom figures often feel excluded and shut out -- because they are. Jealousy on her part is likely a sign not that she is a stepwitch, but that you have not yet invited her to take her rightful place with you at the head of the table, literally and metaphorically.
  8. Start from the ground up together. It's important to avoid what I call Barnacle Syndrome. Many well-meaning divorced dads just want to stick a partner onto their lives as they already are, without altering a thing about their own routines, family rituals, and habits. Sure, you have kids. But that doesn't mean you don't move into her place, get a new place together, or at the very least redecorate your place as a team. Acknowledge that things must change when you partner.
  9. Take time away from your kids. It's as important as the time you spend with them. You're taking the pressure off them, and teaching them that partners take care of one another, every time you do.
  10. Lose the unrealistic notion of "two firsts." Remarriages with children are tremendously vulnerable and need extra tending. The sooner you tell your kids of any age, "I love you, but Susie is here to stay and I love her too, so you can't be rude to her," the better. Nothing is more confusing to kids or more demeaning to a partner than a relationship that revolves around your children.
© 2009 Wednesday Martin, Ph.D., author of Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and Act the Way We Do

For more information please visit

breaking free: 4 male & 4 female gender role stereotypes to be aware of and possibly eliminate from your relationship

Peg and Al, Ross and Rachel, Lucy and Ricky, Homer and Marge. This may be difficult for some of you to believe, but famous television couples like these, along with other aspects of the media, have a significant impact on how we choose our mates, communicate and interact with each other, and view sex in our relationships (e.g., Buckingham & Bragg, 2003; Chernin & Fishbein, 2007; Westman, Lynch, Lewandowski, & Hunt-Carter, 2003). When in a relationship, we all use various prototypes (idealized visions of the perfect relationship) to compare to our relationship and to see if the connection with our significant other measures up. Many of the relationship prototypes we use for comparison are found in the media, which heavily rely on sex role stereotypes to determine how romantic partners will behave and what they will or will not say to one another. Sex roles can be defined as a set of behaviors and characteristics that are considered appropriate and acceptable for each sex in a given society.

Unfortunately, numerous problems can arise when we use these television and film relationships as prototypes in our lives. From men believing that women should keep up their appearances but that men don't have to (Think about it: Marge is more attractive than Homer, Louis is more attractive than Peter, and Wilma is more attractive than Fred. Okay, so those are all cartoons, but what about the couples on Married with Children, King of Queens, Fresh Prince of Bel-air, and Everybody Loves Raymond? The females are all beautiful and/or skinny and the men are all overweight and/or less-than-attractive.), to women believing that a wife is destined to nag everyone in her family every single day of her life (Think: Malcolm in the Middle, Desperate Housewives, & Roseanne), typical relationships found in the media create a skewed perception of what relationships in the real world should or should not be.

Even if you think that the media doesn't affect you, sex role stereotypes (which are abundant in the media) can influence the way you interact with your significant other. And, they can cause serious damage to your relationship (by way of lowered satisfaction and unnecessary conflict) if and when they take a turn for the worse and begin to consume your relationship. For instance, research has shown that the unequal division of both household labor and childcare, with women doing the bulk of the work, is thought to contribute to the reported lower martial satisfaction for women (Walzer, 2001). The first step to breaking free of some of these sex role stereotypes (especially the negative ones that can hurt your relationship) is to become aware of them. Below are 4 female sex role stereotypes and 4 male sex role stereotypes that are commonly relied on when in relationships.

Four Stereotypical Female Roles
  1. Women are supposed to nag. This has to be stopped! Bossing him around, nagging him to do things, and telling him what he should or should not be doing emasculates him and makes you look like a total bitch (sorry, but it does). He's a grown-ass adult. Roseanne is not a wife you should be emulating. Men don't need you to be their mothers. And, you will be sorry down the road when you have two kids under the age of 5 and one that's 35 going on 12. Believe me, it will suck.
  2. Women should (and can easily) manipulate men. Quit treating your man like he's stupid. In the media, men (especially husbands) are often portrayed in a not-so-intelligent manner (think: Al Bundy from Married with Children & Doug from King of Queens). This is quite unfortunate. And, it adds to our perceptions of how women are supposed to treat the men in their lives. Men are not stupid. Men are not simpleminded. Men are not easily tricked and manipulated. Treating your man like an idiot will not only perpetuate this terrible stereotype, but it will also negatively impact his self-esteem. You do not want to be responsible for that.
  3. The woman is in charge. Let go of your desire to control every aspect of the relationship and your life together. You don't need to do everything. I know, many women feel like they have to do everything, but the great news is that you don't. There's another adult in your relationship, remember? He's an adult. Like you, he's also perfectly capable of handing the bills or taking the kids to all of their after-school activities or organizing your vacation next summer or not working and staying home with the kids or even choosing the reception location for your wedding. Think about it: why would you be with him in the first place if he was incompetent? Leading the lives Marie Barone (from Everybody Loves Raymond) or June Cleaver (from Leave it to Beaver) is not the way it has to be. You can share the household duties, child-raising, and control. Really, you can.
  4. Women are supposed to mold a man. Accept your partner for who he is, not for you want him to be. Nobody is perfect. Hey, even you're not perfect. Acknowledging his flaws and liking him anyway is the definition of true love. You cannot change another human being. People have to change on their own. If you really don't like something about your partner and you can't seem to see past it, then maybe he is not the one for you. You have to be able to accept him for who he is. You will be miserable trying to make your relationship work because of who you think he will become one day.

Four Stereotypical Male Roles
  1. A man should find a super-model wife. I'm not sure how much more clear I can be when I say that contrary to what you see on television and in the movies, ALL WOMEN ARE NOT BEAUTY QUEENS. Real women in the real world do not look like Megan Fox or Angelina Jolie. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of gorgeous women in the real world. I guess I just want you to realize that the relationships you see on television (where the woman is hot and the man is, well, not) are not indicative of relationships in real life. Most people are happy with significant others who are of similar attractiveness to themselves. So, quit looking for Gabrielle Solis (Desperate Housewives), Lorelai Gilmore (Gilmore Girls), or Elena Delgado (Without a Trace).
  2. Men are not emotional or expressive. This is an extremely unfortunate stereotype. Men, you are not cold-hearted, dispassionate, detached individuals (think: Al Bundy from Married with Children or Tony from The Sopranos). You have feelings. You are sensitive. Sadly, there's just a lot of social pressure on you to not express yourself. It's okay. You can tell us how you feel. You even show us how you feel. It's okay, really.
  3. The man is in charge. Like many women, you also need to learn to let go of your desire to control every aspect of the relationship and your life together. When you committed yourself to your significant other, you two became part of the same team. Equal parts of the same team. There's no captain here. You don't need to make all of the decisions yourself, especially the big ones. The media often shows men making huge (and small) decisions without ever consulting their mates (think: Bill Henrickson on Big Love or Tony from The Sopranos). Making decisions together will empower your mate, take some of the weight off of your shoulders, and strengthen the bond that the two of you share.
  4. The man should be the sole provider. This male stereotype is slowly disappearing, but there is still a lot of work to do. Men, if your wife or girlfriend works more often or makes more money than you, it does not make you any less of a man. As long as you contribute to the relationship in other ways (ex- household duties, childcare, etc.), you are just as valuable to your relationship as your wife or girlfriend is. It only becomes a problem when you don't work as often as your wife and you don't contribute in other ways. Moving towards a more equal relationship with your significant other will greatly increase you and your partner's satisfaction. You don't need to be the sole provider and your wife does not need to be the primary caregiver. If you each can learn to share both worlds, both of your lives could be a lot easier. Check out this article on equal parenting for some insight on this topic.

What can you do about all of this? Well, like I mentioned previously, the first step in any 12-step program is to recognize that there is a problem. Be cognizant of your behaviors as you're enacting them. Also, be mindful of certain situations that cause you to behave in these stereotypical ways. Once you've accepted that you play one or more of these cliche sex roles, you can start developing your goals for change. What do you want your new life to look like? Begin thinking about what you can do to achieve your goals. Then, modify your behaviors. You can do this by eliminating the negative behaviors you used to enact and incorporating new positive behaviors in their place. Since it generally takes about 21 days (or 3 weeks) to break an undesirable habit or to create a desirable one, you should remove your old actions and insert new ones EVERYDAY for AT LEAST 3 full weeks (For a more detailed discussion of breaking a habit click HERE, HERE, and HERE).

Related Love Lesson Posts:

  • Buckingham, D., & Bragg, S. (2003). Young people, media, and personal relationships.
  • Chernin, A. R., & Fishbein, M. (2007, May). The association between adolescents' exposure to romantic-themed media and the endorsement of unrealistic beliefs about romantic relationships. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association. San Francisco, CA.
  • Westman, A. S., Lynch, T. J., Lewandowski, L., & Hunt-Carter, E. (2003). Students' use of mass media for ideas about romantic relationships was influenced by by perceived realism of presentation and parental happiness. Psychological Reports, 92, 1116- 1118.

just for the love of it: top 10 love songs

1. "1, 2, 3, 4" by the Plain White T's
I really love this Plain White T's song, but this version by AJ and Jenny is my favorite.

2. "I only have eyes for you" by the Flamingos

3. "By your side" by Sade

4. "Unchained melody" by the Righteous

5. "The nearness of you" by Ella Fitzgerald

6. "The way I am" by Ingrid Michaelson
Click HERE to watch the video on youtube.

7. "Have I told you lately that I love you" by Rod Stewart
I know it's a bit cheesy (many of these choices are), but I love it!

8. "Hero" by Enrique Iglesias
Click HERE to see the music video on youtube.

9. "Love me tender" by Elvis

10. "I knew I loved you" by Savage Garden
Click HERE to see the music video on youtube.

Okay, so these may not be the top 10 love songs of all time, but they're some of
my favorites. What are your fav love songs?

wise love words: 10 things we don't want to hear in bed

Okay, so I'm not exactly sure how wise these love words are, but they're definitely interesting. Cosmopolitan Magazine posted these two online articles that list 10 things that men and 10 things that women don't want to hear in bed. From "is it in yet?" to "who's your daddy?," these two articles are highly amusing, fairly stereotypical, and somewhat educational. Check them out and let me know what you think.
Click HERE for the 10 things that women don't want to hear in bed and HERE for the 10 things that men don't want to hear in bed.

Click HERE to all of my "wise love words" posts.

breaking up is hard to do: how to effectively end your relationship

Jack: hey :-)
Jill: whats up?
Jack: um... i wanted to talk to you about something
Jill: yeah?
Jack: i think we should start seeing other people
Jill: OMG what!
Jack: i mean, we can still hang out.
Jill: whatever, UR such a jerk! i can't believe UR breaking up with me over text! A-hole!

Have you ever been broken up with? Have you ever had to initiate the breaking up? Whether you're the dumper or the dumpee, ending a relationship is a difficult communicative task for most individuals to complete. (And by the way, whoever decided that texting was an acceptable way to break things off? News flash: it's not acceptable. Anywhere. In the entire world. Ah, but I digress.)

The truth of the matter is that in general, people are pretty bad at delivering bad news, especially of the 'breaking-up' persuasion. From changing your facebook status to "single" and hoping that your soon-to-be-ex-partner notices to disappearing without a trace or without any explanation about why the relationship is over, we've all either been guilty of committing one of these dreadful relationship-ending acts or been the victim of these appalling crimes against love. So, if you're in a relationship that just isn't cutting it or if you know someone who is about to break up with their old flame, read this post so that you know how to effectively break up when the time comes.

According to Burleson (2008), there are two main steps to effective break-ups:
  1. Determine your goals. Ask yourself: What do I want to accomplish regarding our current relationship? What type of relationship do I want to have with my former partner in the future (after the break-up)? How do I want to see myself and have others see me? And yes, you should actually write down the answers to these questions. Articulating your goals is a vital first step to effective communication in any context. Once you have clearly identified your goals for the break-up, you can begin to choose the strategy that best suits your needs.
  2. Determine your strategy. Your choice should be based on which strategy will help you achieve your goals. Again, you want to write these out. Create messages for your partner using a few different strategies before choosing the "final" one. You may want to use just one strategy or a mix of a few.

Termination strategies can be direct, which tend to be face-to-face and explicit in nature, or indirect, which employ more implicit forms of communication like hinting, "beating around the bush", various forms of nonverbal communication, emails, or text messages (Baxter, 1982; 1984). Below are eight relationship termination strategies identified by researcher Leslie Baxter (1984):

  1. Withdrawal: reducing frequency of contact and intimacy through the use of various avoidance behaviors. Essentially, this is where you start to avoid the other person. You could quit answering your phone, stop seeing him or her as often, cease answering emails from your partner, evade your mate at social gatherings, or completely disappear.
  2. Pseudo-de-escalation: telling your mate that you'd like a different kind of relationship when you actually want to end the relationship. Something like, "I think we should just be friends" or "Maybe we should have an open relationship." This strategy is called 'pseudo' because people who use it usually don't want to just reduce closeness or de-escalate. Instead, they usually want to end the relationship. People use this strategy so that they can avoid directly terminating the relationship.
  3. Cost escalation: increasing the costs in a relationship. This is where you become increasingly rude, abusive, inconsiderate, or combative so that your partner won't want to be in the relationship anymore. You could also become more demanding of your partner's time or require that your partner do things that he or she does not want to do in order to push him or her away. You basically force the other person to break up with you.
  4. Fait accompli: explicitly stating that the relationship is over without allowing your partner to talk about your decision. You say it's over and that there isn't any room for discussion or compromise. People who use this strategy don't usually give any reason or justification for the break-up; they just end it.
  5. State of the relationship talk: explicitly stating that you are dissatisfied with the relationship and want it to end. This usually occurs during a mutual discussion about the relationship's problems and why it has to end.
  6. Fading away: an implicit understanding of the relationship's end. Here, one or both partners may just fade away with little talk about how, when, or why the relationship is over.
  7. Attributional conflict: engaging in conflict about why the end of the relationship is inevitable. This is where you argue over whether the relationship should end or continue, but about why the relationship is not working out. For example, couples may intensely argue over whether their lack of intimacy or their surplus of conflict is causing the relationship to end. Subsequently, this conflict usually causes the relationship to be over.
  8. Negotiated farewell: explicitly discussing the end of a relationship in a civil manner without conflict, malice, or resistance. Here, partners generally agree that the relationship shouldn't continue and that they should part ways.

Baxter (1984) found that the most common termination strategies are indirect like withdrawal, pseudo-de-escalation, cost escalation, and fading away. Unfortunately, indirect strategies are not always the most sensitive, thoughtful, or caring ways to end a relationship. Indirect strategies can be hurtful when the person being broken up with finally realizes what's going on. Don't get me wrong, direct strategies are not always the best choice either. For instance, fait accompli and attributional conflict can be quite aggressive and down right mean at times. Overall, the negotiated farewell strategy is likely the most tactful and respectful way to end your romance.

BUT! There's a big BUT here! Depending on your goals, negotiating a farewell with your partner may not always be the best way to go. Think back to your answers to those questions posed earlier in this post: What do you want to accomplish regarding your current relationship? What type of relationship do you want to have with your former partner in the future (after the break-up)? How do you want to see yourself and have others see you? The answers to all three of these questions will influence your choice of strategy. For instance, if you want to end your relationship immediately, to never speak with your future ex-partner again, to seriously hurt his or her feelings, and to have other people see you as a mean, heartless individual, then you may choose withdrawal or fait accompli. Both would allow you to attain your goals. So, think about your goals, and choose a strategy that will help you achieve them.

Let's say you want to end your relationship in a more civil manner and on a more pleasant note. Maybe you actually want to remain friends with your future ex after the break-up, or maybe you've been with that person for years and you don't want to severely hurt him or her, or maybe you're just a nice person. Below is some breaking-up etiquette for people like you.
  • DO talk to your mate face-to-face about how you feel
  • DON'T break things off over a text message, on the phone, or on facebook
  • DO tell our partner what's bothering you about the relationship
  • DON'T ignore your partner until he or she gets the clue
  • DO be respectful of his or her feelings- be empathetic
  • DON'T rant and rave about how they're not good enough for you or how they ruined the relationship
  • DO acknowledge the good times
  • DON'T focus the entire conversation on what went wrong
  • DO encourage your partner to find a relationship that works and is healthy
  • DON'T state that he or she is a terrible relationship partner
Hopefully, these codes of conduct will make your relationship dissolution a more satisfying experience for the both of you.

Maybe you're in a relationship that is full of criticism and conflict, or maybe you took the Romantic Potential Survey, the Trust Survey, or the Commitment Readiness Survey and realized that your relationship just isn't going anywhere, or maybe you're in a relationship that isn't working out but somehow you can't seem to break things off. If there's no hope for the future, use the tips from this post to effectively break-up with your mate. Because, as we all know, breaking up is hard to do.

Related Love Lesson posts:

  • Baxter, L. (1982). Strategies for ending relationships: Two studies. Western Journal of Speech Communication, 46, 223-241.
  • Baxter, L. (1984). Trajectories of relationship disengagement. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 1, 29-48.
  • Burleson, B. R. (2008). Personal communication.

new design!

Bear with me for a couple of days while I rearrange things. The completed new blog is on its way!
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