media love: if guys were like girls

Okay, so this is completely stereotypical (click here and here to read more about gender roles) and a little offensive at times (all girls are not like that!), but ridiculously hilarious nonetheless.

just for the love of it: top 10 romantic accommodations out west

Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Website description: "Nestled in the Montecito foothills of Southern California's wine country, San Ysidro Ranch has provided a tranquil vacation destination for discriminating travelers for over a century. Guests are drawn to the Santa Barbara hideaway for its blend of natural beauty, romantic heritage and classic luxury. Myth and history mingle in the lush gardens where Vivien Leigh and Sir Laurence Olivier exchanged vows; in the setting of John and Jackie Kennedy's honeymoon retreat."
Room rates: $375+ per night

Location: Cayucos, CA
Website Description: "Located in the charming coastal community of Cayucos, California, the Cass House features five luxuriously appointed guest rooms, beautiful gardens, an intimate dining room, and views of the ocean."
Room rates: $165+ per night

Location: Cedar City, Utah
Website Description: "The past is beckoning you to come and enjoy a charming and romantic atmosphere in our enchanted Storybook cottage Bed and Breakfast in Cedar City, UT, Southern
Utah, surrounded by a lush, old-fashioned garden. A delicious full breakfast served on fine china
each morning at 8:30, typical fare with savories and sweets is quiche, fruit, home-baked breads,
juice or smoothies, coffee, tea, hot chocolate and hot cider. Lovely antique Victorian furnishings, handmade vintage linens dripping with lace and embroidery welcome you to step back in time and enjoy the enchanting and gracious pleasures of a bygone era with Olde World country charm. Our four antique-filled romantic bedchambers await you at the top of an inviting winding staircase."
Room rates: $100-150 per night

Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Website Description: "Royal Palms Resort and Spa is a romantic hideaway with the rustic splendor of a Mediterranean villa. Exotic palms, unique cacti, citrus trees and flowering shrubs surround our 119 beautiful casitas, guestrooms and villas- each appointed with a breathtaking collection of European antiques and artifacts."
Room rates: $204-255 average rate per night

Location: Taos, New Mexico
Website Description: "Inspired by Native American culture and exotic locales, El Monte Sagrado’s 84 guestrooms, suites and casitas offer a rich, tranquil environment. Behind each door is a unique and uplifting experience awaiting your discovery. Hand-painted walls, the work of local TaoseƱo artists, Kiva fireplaces and natural mountain beauty surround you while luxurious amenities rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit. Choose from 48 Taos Mountain Rooms, Casitas, or one of our breathtaking Premiere or Global Suites. Concierge service ensures a level of personalized pampering you won’t soon forget."
Room rate: $229-339 per night

Location: Northern Idaho, 31 miles east of Spokane, WA
Website Description: "With idyllic landscape, year-round activities, and its spectacular setting at the shore of one of America's most beautiful lakes, it is no wonder that Coeur d'Alene has been christened the "Playground of the Northwest".

At The Coeur d'Alene Resort we have mastered the art of relaxation. With luxurious accommodations, rejuvenating spa treatments, sumptuous cuisine, and breathtaking holiday displays, this four-star resort continues to be the destination of choice for discerning travelers worldwide."

Room rate: $149-339 per night

Location: Sisters, Oregon
Website Description: "We are not your typical hotel. Nestled in the heart of the Deschutes National Forest in Sisters, Oregon amid soaring pines, Suttle Lake Resort provides an enchanted escape. Our resort’s mountain views and pristine lake waters invite you to enjoy everything from outdoor adventures and activity to more leisurely and reflective pursuits."
Room rate: $89-499 per night with most rooms & lodges having a 2 night minimum

Location: Ashland, Oregon
Website Description: "Two blocks from OSF, luxury lodging, fine dining, award wining wine lists, scrumptious breakfasts, amazing amenities, meticulous gardens, friendly faces, warm welcomes, shopping, art galleries, spas, wineries and fun."
Room rate: $165-255 a night

Location: Sonoma, CA
Website Description: "Set on a hillside overlooking the Sonoma Valley, historic Beltane Ranch is surrounded by gardens, vineyards and orchards. Guests at the 1892 ranch house and cottage enjoy comfortable private accommodations as well as our private tennis court and breath-taking views. Walking trails lead past grazing horses and cattle, through the ranch's vineyards, olive orchards and the organically farmed produce gardens that supply the kitchen for each morning's breakfasts. In the heart of the wine country, nearby historic wineries, extraordinary restaurants, boutique shopping and magnificent parks and preserves provide endless opportunities for exploration and adventure."
Room rate: $150-240 a night

Location: Whitefish, Montana
Website Description: "The Duck Inn is a world-class bed and breakfast located along the river in Whitefish, Montana. Here you’ll find a unique blend of Rocky Mountain vistas, European comfort and refined romance. Whether you prefer to get out on the trail or wine and dine while admiring your surroundings, the two of you will find just what you are looking for."
Room rate: $89-$299 a night

canvas print winner!

After using to determine the winner, one lucky reader was chosen to receive a 16x20 Canvas Print! Drumroll please..........................

Brandy is the official winner of the Canvas Print from!

Congrats Brandy! All you have to do now is send your name and email address to by 5 p.m. on April 25 and then I will give your contact info to UPrinting, who will send you directions for your prize!

Not Brandy? It's okay, there will be more giveaways soon!

giveaway: 16x20 rolled canvas print!

~SORRY, BUT THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED~ is a great online resource for all of your printing essentials. From business cards to brochures, UPrinting has everything you need. UPrinting has been gracious enough to send me a 16x20 canvas print too! Thanks UPrinting! I think I'll be getting a large print of my kids to hang in the living room.

Today, UPrinting is giving away a large 16x20 canvas print to one lucky reader! Just think, you could have a gorgeous canvas print of your family, your pet, your business' logo, your friends, or anything else you can think of! You can use your own graphics, pictures, or logo.

Here are the giveaway prize details:

  • Giveaway Prize: One 16x20 Rolled Canvas Print for One Lucky Winner
  • Size: 16x20
  • Printing: Full color
  • Shipping: FREE UPS Ground Shipping
  • Eligibility: Limited to US Residents ONLY

You can learn more about UPrinting's post cards by going to their homepage, their large format poster page, or their canvas print 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, any comment.
  3. Go back to this giveaway on Jen's Love Lessons and make another comment; 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 FRIDAY April 23, 2010 @ 5:00 p.m. EST to enter. The winner will be posted on the Jen's Love Lessons homepage that night. The winner will then have until 5:00 p.m. EST on MONDAY April 26 to email me at with his or her contact information.

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

Good Luck!

repost: FREE trial sexual communication training program!

Is it difficult for you to talk
to your partner about sex?

Well, you're not alone. In fact, research has shown that many Americans have a difficult time talking to their partners about their sex lives (Marble, 1997). Some people fear being embarrassed or embarrassing their partners, while others are scared of being rejected or ruining their relationships. Still others just don't know how to start the conversation, so they never try. Let's be real, talking about sex is a very sensitive topic for most individuals. All of these fears are completely natural and expected.

These fears can partly be caused by the minimal focus our society places on communication about sex with your partner. The discussion of sexual desires is not prevalent in our everyday conversations, which leads to us having fewer examples of competent and incompetent messages to model or avoid. If you have minimal practice discussing your sexual likes and dislikes to a partner, you may feel less confident in your abilities.

Contrary to popular belief, understanding how to communicate about sex is not intuitive knowledge. Instead, being able to discuss sexual desires and issues with a partner is a skill that couples can cultivate through communication skill training.

Research-based communication skill training programs, like the one being offered here for FREE, have been shown to significantly enhance the communication skills of individuals and couples alike. The program being offered here was carefully developed by relationship researchers so that your chances of experiencing improved sexual communication skills at the close of the program are greatly increased.

You now have the opportunity to participate in a FREE trial sexual communication training program with your partner. The entire training program will be done online, so you can participate in the comfort and privacy of your own home! This trial training program is part of a study being conducted at Purdue University about sexual coaching skills. The communication training activities that you will participate in during this study focus on enhancing your ability to talk about sex with your partner but do not ask you to engage in any specific sexual activities.

For more information about this AMAZING opportunity , including information about how to participate FOR FREE, click HERE to go to the study's website and read all about the program.

one of those women: overcoming the impulse to nag

I never wanted to be one of "those women." You know, one of those nagging, critical, bossy women. But since my husband and I have become parents (of twins!), my ability to not become this woman has been tested. I write and write and write on this blog about breaking free of gender role stereotypes, being positive, engaging in successful conflict interactions, and avoiding gatekeeping. But I can't even follow my own damn advice.

This dilemma that I face makes me think of something that I always tell my Interpersonal Communication students, "When it comes to being communicatively competent, in any context, you have to have the knowledge about what to do, the skills to be able to implement that knowledge, and be motivated to use your knowledge and skills. Additionally, it's also important to then actually enact the proper behavior." Even though most people probably think that I, an Interpersonal Communication scholar and Romantic Relationship researcher, should always communicate effectively in my relationship with my wonderfully patient and supportive husband, the fact of the matter is that while I usually possess knowledge, and even skills, I often fail to have enough motivation to actually initiate and hold an effective conversation. It's unfortunate, I know.

Why have I lost my motivation? Time. I don't have enough of it. And when I don't have enough time to flip through my rolodex of competent behaviors to think about what I should say, I take the easy way out. Nagging and bossing is easy. It doesn't take up a whole lot of energy.

You may feel like you're in the same boat as me. Believe me, many women are. It's an epidemic. The first step to dealing with any bad habit is to admit that one has a problem, which, by the way, has been heavily influenced by the dominant ideology. Okay...


There it is. I admitted it. Let's move on.

The next step for me, one of many ashamed nag-a-holics, is to become more motivated to use my knowledge about appropriate behavior and to implement my skills about how to engage in these conversations. In order to start this process, I think it's important to first discuss three types of motivation that have been identified by researchers (e.g., Burleson, Holmstrom, & Gilstrap, 2005). These include goal motivation, effectance motivation, and normative motivation.

Goal motivation is defined as the desire to attain a specific goal or outcome. In this specific context, I usually want my husband to do something that he is not yet doing or I want him to do something that he is already doing in a different way. In addition, I genuinely want to achieve these primary goals without hurting his feelings, demeaning him, or emasculating him, which are also goals of mine. I guess it would also be nice to achieve all of these goals while also bringing us closer together as a couple, respecting him, and making him fall even deeper in love with me than he was before (ha!). Even though I have this nice list of goals in my head, barriers to achieving these goals still exist, which is why having a lot of goal motivation is extremely important. You need to have enough desire to achieve your real goals (not your "in-the-moment" goals- you may think that you want to hurt your partner's feelings or that you want to put your partner down, but I would bet that if you took a step back and really thought about what you wanted to achieve during this interaction, making your partner- the man who you love and are fully committed to- feel devalued doesn't make the cut!). If you have this desire, you can push past those barriers (like a lack of time, energy, and/or enthusiasm) and actually use your knowledge and skills to have an effective conversation (which is usually defined as an interaction that achieves your goals).

Effectance motivation involves an individual's perception of his or her own ability to achieve the desired goal or outcome. In order to increase this type of motivation, you should brush up your communication skills and increase your knowledge about what is and what is not suitable for these types of conversations. It is also important to learn about WHY certain messages are more and less effective at achieving goals. One way to increase your knowledge and polish your skills is to learn about how to create a "let's talk" night. Seriously, having a set time once a week where you are both required to hash out one issue that you each have can definitely help alleviate your need to nag on a daily basis. How? Well, if you and your partner are able to create a safe zone for communication about difficult issues and you follow the guidelines outlined in this article on, you can openly discuss your problems and hopefully avoid the day-to-day bossiness- because hopefully your partner will listen to what you had to say on "let's talk" night and respond appropriately. To understand why achieving your real goals is important, read on. The truth of the matter is that if you nag and boss another human being around, you run the risk of developing a parent-child relationship, instead of a peer relationship, with this individual. Subsequently, this can negatively impact (1) your ability to have fun with this person (it's difficult to have fun when you're being told how you should or should not be having fun all of the time), (2) your ability to romantically love and be romantically loved by this person, and your sex life (would YOU want to have sex with someone who treated you like a parent or child?). If that's not enough motivation to change your nagging ways, I don't know what is.

Normative motivation concerns an individual's motivation to comply with role-specific social norms by behaving in the "correct" or generally accepted way. This is where society screws us as women. If we're following prototypical gender role stereotypes, then it's completely natural for a woman to be a nagging, bossy individual. And it's hard to break free from this stereotype. We see examples of how women should act everywhere. As I've said in a previous post, many people unfortunately "believe that a wife is destined to nag everyone in her family, every single day of her life (Think: Malcolm in the Middle, Desperate Housewives, Everybody Loves Raymond, & Roseanne)." Typical media relationships create a skewed perception of how partners should and should not communicate with one another. And, whether you like it or not, these relationships on television and in movies greatly impact how we, in turn, interact with our mates. FYI, this is NOT how it has to be. We can dispel these myths about acceptable gender behaviors right here, right now. You are not doomed to nag and I am not doomed to nag. Done.

Understanding how to increase your motivation in these three areas has the potential to really help you stop the seemingly endless boss-lady cycle. What can you do instead?
  • Implement a "let's talk" night. Among other tips (you can read all about the "let's talk" night in this article on, you want to bring up only one issue, listen, be positive, and help each other solve the problem.
  • Show your appreciation. Whenever your partner does something well, compliment him. If he, or anyone for that matter, knows that you appreciate what he is doing, he will likely continue that behavior. A little positive reinforcement goes a long way.
  • Don't do it yourself. If he said he would do it, let him do it. You will just build up resentment towards him if you take charge and just do it by yourself. Be patient and wait for him to do whatever it is that he said he would do. And then, if he still doesn't do it, bring it up on your "let's talk" night.
  • Be specific and use "I feel" language. Talk about how his actions make you feel. Instead of saying, "You are making me late for work AGAIN!", you could say, "When you make me late for work, I feel disrespected. I feel like you don't care about me or my job. What can we do to fix this?"
In past posts, I've said things like, "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). So don't do it!" I was completely right. But, it's hard to ALWAYS follow this advice. Make sure that you enhance your knowledge about what to do and say, polish your skills about how to have the conversation, and increase your motivation to actually have an effective conversation. Set aside time to talk about your problems so that they don't just keep piling up. And maybe, just maybe, you can break the mold with me and not become one of "those women."

  • Burleson, B. R., Holmstrom, A. J., & Gilstrap, C. M. (2005). “Guys can’t say that to guys”: Four experiments assessing the normative motivation account for deficiencies in the emotional support provided by men. Communication Monographs, 72, 468-501.

wise love words: interpersonal skills are essential to social life

I was recently reading a chapter in an interpersonal communication text book and was struck by the beautifully worded introduction. Brian Spitzberg and William Cupach (two very prominent names in the field of interpersonal communication) wrote an "Interpersonal Skills" chapter in Mark Knapp and John Daly's (two other prominent names in the field) 2002 book entitled Handbook of Interpersonal Communication. The introduction to this chapter basically sums up the reason why many interpersonal scholars, including myself, do what they do and love what they do. Enjoy these wise words that I happen to also love...

"Interpersonal skills are the sine qua non of social life, yet few things in life are so taken for granted. Like eating and walking, talking and interacting are part of the mundane landscape of everyday behavior. Ordinarily, we take notice of our own or someone else's interpersonal skills when they are exceptionally bad, exceptionally good, or simply not at all what we expect. The rest of the time, interpersonal skills tend to be the ground to whatever figure is the focus of our attention.

Despite the extent to which interpersonal skills occupy the status of "scenery" to our everyday experience, there are few characteristics as vital to our quality of life. Social and interpersonal skills are the means through which all human relationships are initiated, negotiated, maintained, transformed, and dissolved. They are the means through which conflicts are resolved, face is negotiated, and predicaments are managed. In short, interpersonal skills are the fulcrum upon which the levers of social life are maneuvered."

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