Engagement Anxiety Dismantled – Do I Love My Fiance Enough?

They usually speak in low tones, as if they’re violating some unwritten law of an engaged person. I can hear the fear, doubt, confusion, and anxiety wrapped in each word, as well as the relief that they’ve finally found a safe place where they can discuss their real feelings. The story and subsequent questions are some version of the following (written as a woman but could just as easily be spoken by a man about his wife-to-be):

“My fiance is a great guy. He’s honest, responsible, loyal, good-looking, funny. My parents and friends love him. I’ve never felt so safe with anyone. We have the same values about kids, family, money, religion. I know I love him and he’s my best friend but… I’m not sure that I’m in love with him. Do I love him enough to marry him? How do I know that I’m not making a mistake?”

I usually know within the first fifteen minutes of a counseling session whether or not the person is making a mistake. But it often takes much longer than that for my clients to assimilate the information I offer them, work through the exercises I prescribe, and begin to dismantle their engagement anxiety so that they can transform what we think of as “cold feet” and begin to feel excited about their wedding and marriage. We typically address three key areas to facilitate this process:

1. We distinguish between red-flag relationship issues and normal engagement anxiety:

There are two kinds of fear that arise during engagements: the first is a signal that there’s a serious red-flag issue in the relationship and the second is a signal that you’re about to make the biggest commitment of your life and, yes, it’s scary. What are the red-flag issues I’m referring to? Some are very obvious: your partner has an addiction issue (alcohol, drugs, work, gambling), there are betrayal or trust issues that haven’t been healed, there are incompatibilities regarding core values like having children or religion. Other red-flag issues might be less blatant: your partner has serious control issues that he’s not willing to address, you’re young (early twenties) and aren’t ready to commit to one person, you have the feeling that your partner doesn’t really love you but is more in love with the fantasy or idea of you. There are certainly other red-flag issues, but these are the most common I encounter in my practice.

The second kind of fear is what we commonly think of as “cold feet”. Personally, I don’t like the expression cold feet because it doesn’t accurately describe what people experience during their engagement, which is a real fear. I’m not one to mince words; I call a spade a spade and when people are in transition, they’re scared. They’re scared of the unknown. They’re scared of jumping off the cliff of the familiar life and landing in new and unfamiliar territory. They’re scared of committing to one person forever. Getting married is enormously scary and to say otherwise is to avoid a basic truth about this significant life transition. So once we determine that there are no serious red-flag issues in the relationship, we work to normalize the fear and learn how to make room for it during the engagement without letting it running the show.

2. We redefine love:

Our culture has a lot of misconceptions about love, and no where do they appear more prominently than around engagements and weddings. Prior to getting engaged, my clients share that they felt positive about their partner and excited about the prospect of marrying him. But once he popped the question, suddenly she puts him, and their relationship, under a microscope and wonders: Do I love him enough? I know I love him, but am I really in love with him? And then the waterfall of buzzwords around love and marriage cascade down her brain night and day: Is he my soul mate? What if I’m settling? Do we have enough passion? Is he (my all-time favorite and the one that gets most women) the one?

Oh, dear one, if these words and phrases are causing you to question, you’re not alone! It only means it’s time to redefine what it means to love someone, to choose to marry someone, to make the conscious, daily choice to love and commit. As one of my clients astutely said: “I had to fall out of love with my fiance so I could learn about what love is and then fall in love with him all over again — this time from a healthy place. I learned that love is not a feeling but a choice.” During our bridal counseling sessions, we spend a lot of time discussing the truth about love, romance, and marriage until the fantasy is cracked open and my client is grounded in real love.

3. We explore the underlying causes of the anxiety:

The word anxiety is somewhat of a catch-all phrase that encompasses a wide spectrum of emotions from fear and terror to depression, grief and uncertainty. The crux of the Conscious Weddings Counseling Sessions – and the impetus for pioneering bridal counseling over a decade ago – is to shed light on the thoughts and feelings that typically create what we think of as wedding cold feet and engagement anxiety. These include:

o Grief about letting go of the single identity and lifestyle

o Fears about making the commitment of marrying one person

o Confusion about how to separate from family of origin

o Uncertainty about walking toward the unknown of marriage

o A recurring sense of loss about: deceased relatives, past relationships, previous transitions

In other words, oftentimes the anxiety that arises during an engagement has nothing to do with one’s partner. Once we make sure there are no red-flag issue and redefine what real love is, I help my client to remove the projection from her fiance then guide her through the underlying causes until the anxiety dissipates and she’s able to have the joyous wedding and healthy marriage of her dreams.

Interview: Elliott Kalb

Elliott Kalb is a five-time Sports Emmy winner, working for NBC Sports for 15-years, and currently for HBO Sports, TNT, and CBS-Westwood One Radio Network. Known to many as Mr. Stats, he’s written two books, posted an excellent article with us and now he sits down with me to answers some questions.

Who’s been your favorite interview so far? Most surprising?

Since I’ve been promoting my books, my favorite interview has been Hall of Famer Rick Barry, who hosts a talk show on KNBR in SF. He told me that I should have ranked him 24th all time, since that was the number he always wore. I ranked him 22nd.

Over the years, I’ve had a chance to interview (or write questions for) most great athletes of the last two decades. My favorite was talking to Pat Riley about his ability to teach and motivate. I asked him if he felt he was wasting years teaching (mainly) to 12-millionaires, rather than hundreds of young people in a classroom. Riley is a tremendous interview.

What’s the most memorable sports moment you witnessed live?

Where do I begin? I produced NBC’s baseball coverage from the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where the USA team defeated a heavily favored Cuba team. I was there at the 1988 World Series, when Kirk Gibson hit a miraculous homer. I was there for each of Michael Jordan’s 35 NBA Finals games. Super Bowl XXIII, when Joe Montana led a last minute comeback. The last two Super Bowls, when the Patriots narrowly defeated the Panthers and Eagles. Game 7 of the 2003 Western Conference Finals between the Kings and Lakers. Game 7 of the 2000 Western conference Finals, when the Lakers overcame a 15-point defecit to the Trailblazers. Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. Game 7’s are almost always memorable.

Who’s your all-time sports hero?

Wilt Chamberlain was my hero growing up. I’ve been chronicling the career of Shaquille since he came into the NBA, and very proud that I was the first to write that he was the best of all time.

What’s been the harshest criticism of your “Who’s Better, Who’s Best? in Basketball” book?

That I ranked Shaq first merely to sell books.

What’s your reaction to the Congressional hearings with MLB regarding steroid use?

If Congress wanted truly to help kids (as they said) they would worry about stopping the sale of alcohol at sports events. Congress found a way to look good. Bud Selig was made to look a fool. Of course, he wants a tougher steroids policy, but his hands are tied by the players association and Don Fehr.

Who do you think will be the #1 pick in this year’s NFL Draft? Why?

I follow the NFL, the NBA, and MLB very closely. I’m afraid I don’t have the time to follow college football the same way. I do know the Niners need a quarterback, and the Dolphins need a running back.

When the next group of players is picked, who do you think should be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame?

One of the best trios of all time left the game in 2001. Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Mark McGwire. When it is their turn, I am looking forward to that. Guys like Tony Perez or the recently retired Roberto Alomar are close, but no cigar in my opinion.

Do you think gambling hurts or helps collegiate sports? Professional sports?

I love fantasy leagues, but I think they are starting to hurt sports because anytime players and/or fans care more about individual stats than team goals, it hurts the sport. No doubt pools help interest in the NCAA tournament.

Do you miss the NHL? Do you know anyone that does?

I’m afraid I’m not much of a hockey fan. I feel for the many people who make their income off of the sport, though.

Do you think professional women’s leagues like the WNBA will succeed in the long run? Why?

The women’s leagues have created a niche. It will never rival the main sports, but I am happy for those involved and the people that enjoy them.

What do Bob Costas, Cris Collinsworth, Dan Marino and Chris Carter think of TheSportsCritics.com?

They all enjoy debating the issues, so I’m sure they would like the site.

When will your book signing tour make it to Southern California?

I will be in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 14.

It’s draft time and the following people make up the draft for your sports organization. Which people are FIRST ROUND picks, which are LAST ROUND picks and which go UNDRAFTED? Why?

Barry Bonds

FIRST ROUND – Greatest baseball player of all time.

Michael Jordan

FIRST ROUND – Greatest non-center to ever play in the NBA.

Pete Rose

LAST ROUND – As a manager, he bet on his own team some days, which means he bet against his team on others…that’s what I have a problem with.

Bill Parcells

FIRST ROUND – I worked with Bill and I am one of his guys. A Jersey guy. A guy he can hang with at the diner. A guy that is loyal to him, and would go through a wall for. He needles me, gets on my case, and made me work twice as hard for him as anyone else.

Jose Canseco

LAST ROUND – I wrote a better baseball book than him–an old fashioned baseball book that could have been written at any point in time…but this schmuck has the best-seller?

Kobe Bryant

LAST ROUND – I wrote in the NBA book almost two years ago, that any great perimeter player (Tracy McGrady, for instance) would have won those three titles that Kobe won. Shaq made the difference. He has proven me correct.

Bill Buckner

SECOND ROUND – I still think of him as a batting champ, an excellent hitter, and he should have been replaced for defense in the 9th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 WS.

Brett Favre

LAST ROUND – Still can’t stomach him after he let Strahan sack him intentionally for record.

Billy Martin

Very underrated manager…and as a longtime Yankees fan, he’ll always have a place in my heart.

Bobby Knight

FIRST ROUND – I like Parcells, so I like Knight. Of course. He represents so much about what is good for his sport.

Mark Cuban

FIRST ROUND – Owners I like more than him: Al Davis, the Maloof brothers. Also, although he wasn’t an owner, Pat Croce has been a friend, role model, and the real deal.

Pedro Martinez

FIRST ROUND – One of the greatest of all time. I ranked him 29th all time, and he’ll be better than Koufax if he does anything in the back end of his career.

Terrell Owens

Who’s Better, Who’s Best? I’ll take Randy Moss and Teri Hatcher over T.O. and Nicolette Sheridan.

Gringo, Dingo, Bingo, Ringo, and Ca’Chingo

Okay so, do you like the title of my article there? I thought you might, I had fun thinking it up the other day while driving, but I want to tell the story behind it. You see, our local Indian reservation, and let me tell you these folks live much better than most middle class Americans have a huge casino along the Freeway; I-10 in California. It’s a huge draw for the area and so everyone is very happy, especially the wealthy American Indians here.

Now then, they have slot machines, limited gambling, and Bingo too. They bus in people from all over for the great shows, fine dining, and just to have fun – it’s all good right? Now then, the other day, I was listening to the radio while tootling around town and one of the Indian Casinos nearby was announcing a new restaurant opening in their casino named Ca’Chin-go! That is very creative indeed, and it would lend itself well to branding and advertising campaigns.

Think about it? What’s in a name? Well, everything if you do it right, and it hardly matters what type of business you are in, it needs to be fun, descriptive, and energizing – just like Ca’Chin-go is, so “Don’t be a Dingo, Come on Over to Ca’Chin-go!” or “You Don’t Have to Sing Like Ringo, to Enjoy Yourself a Ca’Chingo!” Think of all the possibilities for jingles and advertising.

Let this be a lesson to all entrepreneurs – think about what you are doing, and plan a good brand-able name, one you can live with, one which will get headlines, and one which draws people in. Please consider all this.

Bet on the KY Win for Life – It Might Ensure Your Financial Future

What would you do if you had an extra $1,000 a week to spend? Would you take out a loan on a new car? Have your house refurbished? Buy a new TV? Take a vacation? Or do all of them, why not? If you would like to try your luck at winning $1,000 a week for the rest of your life, you can join the KY Win for Life lottery game. If you win the grand prize, you’ll receive a quarterly check of $13,000 (less the applicable taxes) for the rest of your life. And betting costs only $1.00 per game.

How do you play the KY Win for Life game? All you have to do is pick six numbers from one to forty-two in one of the play areas of the Win for Life playslip (each playslip has five play areas). Or you can ask the computer to pick six numbers for you using the Quick Pick option. The official Kentucky Lottery site also has a lucky number cruncher application for all of its lotto games that you can use to pick numbers to bet. After you’ve picked your numbers, mark how many draws you would like to play on the playslip; you can play up to 16 consecutive drawings using the same numbers. Or you can play single draws and then use your non-winning ticket to bet the same number for the next draw by presenting it to the retailer and asking to “play it again”.

During the draws, which are held every Wednesday and Saturday, six numbers will be drawn for the winning combination. Then a seventh, Free Ball number will be drawn. If your ticket matches all six numbers in the winning combination, you’ve won the grand prize. However, if you’ve only gotten five numbers plus the Free Ball number, then you’ve won $1,000 a week for a year or a total cash prize of $52,000. There are also consolation prizes you can win if you match four up to three numbers, and the prizes will be bigger if one of the numbers you match is the Free Ball number.

To find out if you’ve won, you can watch the live draws held at 11 pm Eastern Time/10 pm standard time on Kentucky Lottery network stations such as WKRP Cincinnati, Louisville the CW and Lexington the CW KYT. You can also listen to draws on participating local radio stations, look for the results in local newspapers and posted at Kentucky Win for Life outlets, or you can visit the Kentucky Lottery website where you can search the site for specific numbers and dates to see if you’ve won in the past.

Once you’ve won, make sure to sign the back of the ticket as proof of ownership and to make sure that no one else can claim your prize in case you lose it. Winning tickets can be validated the morning after the winning draw. You can claim major prizes at the Kentucky Lottery Headquarters in Louisville, KY while smaller prizes $25.000 and below can be claimed at regional offices, prizes $5,000 and below at authorized cashing agents and prizes $600 and below at Win for Life outlets. Note that all prizes must be claimed within six months (180 days) from the winning draw date.

Texas Hold ‘Em Poker – Can You Beat a Bot?

When I first started to learn the game of chess, I bought a cheap chess playing computer from Radio Shack. I was pretty good at the novice level, but when I moved the setting up a notch or two, I soon realized just how poorly I really played. I never won a game. That was 30 years ago. Computers have come a long way since then.

I mention this because it ties in with an article I recently read about a poker playing Bot. (A poker bot is computer program written to play online poker.) Before I get into that, let me tell you about an experience I had several years ago. A gentleman stopped by my computer store one morning and asked me if I could get him the fastest computer on the market. Then he told me that when an even faster one comes along, he’d buy that one too.

I asked him what he was going to use it for (So I’d know how to set it up.) and he was very hesitant in answering me. Finally, he invited me to his house, saying it would be easier for him to show me than to explain what he was doing.

When I got there, I found two computers setting side by side. One was state-of-the-art, the other was just an average system. After much him-hawing, he finally told me that he was making a ton of money playing Backgammon on the Internet. I thought he was kidding, but he wasn’t.

Here’s what he was doing. He was entering high-stakes online Backgammon tournaments that paid big bucks to the winner. He had an edge. He had purchased a world class Backgammon program and was running it on the “fast” computer while he played the tournament on the slower computer. He would duplicate the ‘live’ game, move by move on the “fast” system, and it would analyze the board positions and tell him what move to make next. Because time was at a premium, he needed the fastest computer he could get to do the analysis. I was amazed.

In the last few years, Texas Hold’em, not Backgammon has become the game of choice. It’s estimated that as many as 2 million Texas Hold’em players ante up online each month. The PPA (Poker Players Alliance) has over 1,000,000 registered members in the United States. I’d guess that most of these players figure their odds of winning online are about the same as they would be if they were playing in a physical casino. That may not be the case.

One problem when doing anything on the Internet is that you can never be sure of who or “what” you might be doing it with. That’s true with chat lines, messaging services, and now, even fellow poker players. There are poker bots you can purchase on-line that are specifically programed to play ‘limit’ Texas Hold’em. They analyze the game in real time. They know the ‘percentage of winning’ as the hand unfolds. They don’t get tired and make mistakes, they play using the most powerful poker strategies available including pot-odds, and they need ‘no’ human intervention at all. Some of them can even play up to eight tables at the same time.

Bots are outlawed in almost every online casino. But because they are so hard to detect, my guess is…many of them are playing right now and the other players at the table have no clue as to what they’re up against! Remembering my experience with the chess computer…I doubt I’d stand a chance against a poker bot. Not in the long run. Of course, they don’t win all the time. There’s still a lot of luck involved in any card game. But if I were a betting man, I’m afraid I’d have to bet on the bot.