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May Newsletter: Retiring?

Who Wants to Retire?

What we have learned over time about retirement is that people in their twenties don’t plan because they think they’ll never die. People in their thirties don’t plan because they are too busy building careers and keeping up with the Joneses. People don’t plan during their forties because they’re too busy paying off their kids’ college tuition. Most don’t start planning until their fifties, sixties, and seventies and sometimes that’s too late. It’s not too late for you. When are you going to plan? Is your plan current? Know that laws change every year and plans need to be reviewed and updated to reflect these changes.

We are pleased to announce that we’ve joined Wealth Counsel, the premier Estate Planning organization for Estate Planning Attorneys. We offer Estate Planning services to clients who are considering reviewing, renewing, or initiating their estate plan. We can draft your simple or complex will, a living trust, or a more complex and elaborate wealth transfer plan. Call us today. We are here to serve you.

On another note…

Let’s Bring Back That Loving Feeling

Dr. Mark Goulston wrote an article titled, Human Cooling, Global Warming, & Childhood Obesity, that reflects his observations of our society today. How we’ve replaced listening with lecturing, taking responsibility with excuse-making, contentment with immediate gratification, value with ROI, giving with taking. This is not true for all people, but, unfortunately, it is true for many. Why? Why have we replaced joyful laughter with laughing at others, and gratitude for our blessings with disappointment for what we lack? According to Dr. Goulston, we’ve done it because we’ve lost sight of life’s positives. We grasp at ‘stuff,’ to fill the gaping hole left behind.

The more we make excuses, blame others, react without listening, and indulge in resentments, the more likely we will consume, buy, take, and grab to fill the void. The more we listen, contemplate, give to others, and take responsibility for our actions and choices, the more complete and whole we begin to feel. Dr. Goulston recommends the following powerful exercise to anyone who wants to bring back more of those loving feelings.

1. Think of someone you are grateful to, why you are grateful to them, and the difference they have made in your life. Contact them (or a surviving family member if they have passed) and tell them. Thank them.

2. Think of someone to whom you need to apologize. Contact them and apologize. If it’s been a long time say, “This is a long overdue apology, but time slipped away and I felt too embarrassed to contact you. I’m contacting you now to tell you I ____________________. I was wrong and I am sorry.” If you use email, write in the subject line, “A long overdue apology,” which should get their attention.

This exercise will uplift you and give you a new attitude towards life. It will be easier to take care of your health and you will be able to model these positive, powerful behaviors for your children. To read Dr. Goulston’s article, click here.

Best wishes,
Ron Supancic, CFLS and Robert Borsky, Esq.
Partners at The Law Collaborative, LLP

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From Dr. Mark Goulston

Why do so many high achievers feel unfulfilled?

Terminally ill patient: I don’t think I’ve ever done anything important.

Me: What? You have a hospital named after you. You’ve created an industry and thousands of jobs.

Patient: I have all the admiration, love and respect that money can buy and that’s all it’s worth. I’m not really close to anyone… not my wife, not my ex’s, not my children from three marriages and not my friends. I always played it close to the chest and never let anyone in and now I’m paying the price. Maybe, just maybe, I out-smarted myself.

Getting to know people like the patient above can teach you a lot about life and what a good life means. Granted there are many people unlike my patient above who are able to be fulfilled by great accomplishments that benefited others even if it was at the cost of feeling close to anyone. However there are many like my patient who feel a sense of emptiness even after a life of great accomplishment.

Something that I have noticed in a number of those in the second category suffer from what I call the “Syndrome of Disavowed Yearning.”

They often come from families where dad was too busy with his job or career and mother lacked warmth. Often these were not bad parents. The dad was worried about earning a living and so was focused more on his boss or his customers and clients than his family. The mom often came from a mother who also lacked warmth (it was often a condition passed on for generations).

In the ideal situation, a child feels most solid from the inside out when there is warmth (usually from a mom) to comfort them when they are hurt or afraid or just plain lonely and “you can do it” guidance and support and coaching (usually from a dad) that can lead to confidence and courage.

If these are missing a child discovers that instead of feeling the pain from the lack of warmth and enthusiastic support, it hurts less if you disavow needing either.

People who become high achievers sublimate what would have been an aching yearning into accomplishing things. If you’re like them, even if that doesn’t fill you up from the inside out, the conditional grin of approval for what you do instead of the love and celebration for who you are can certainly distract you from the yearning.

But after many years of accomplishments, those grins of conditional love and approval wear thin and they can feel empty.

In contrast to the patient and condition above, I remember an entirely different man who I will call Mr. Cohen.

It was 4:30 in the afternoon and I had just finished doing an EKG on Mr. Cohen. Unlike everyone else living at the Jewish Home for the Aged in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, Mr. Cohen was spry and totally alert for his 87 years. As a third- year medical student with much living (and learning) ahead of me, I couldn’t understand why he was staying in this place which, well appointed as it was, still remained a last holding unit for people who were waiting to die.

I asked Mr. Cohen why he lived in this morgue when he was clearly doing so well. He gave me a patient, knowing look and explained: “Two floors below is my wife, Emma. Three years ago, she developed Alzheimer’s disease and then had a stroke on top of that. On the very best of days, which don’t occur that often, I think she might recognize me. At all other times, she’s lost.”

He went on to tell me that Emma and he had fled the Russian revolution together, and that on more than a few occasions she had saved his life. The couple made their way to America, started a tailoring business and raised a wonderful family. “I tell my family not to visit as much as they’d like,” he said, “because I want them to make sure they enjoy their families now and because their mom and I are doing fine.”

Each day, he would wake up, go downstairs to his wife’s room, bathe her, replace the diaper she now needed, put her into a sun dress, braid her hair, have breakfast with her and then read his newspapers and books as he sat beside her.

I didn’t get it. Why was he doing this for a woman who couldn’t even recognize him? “This poor man must be eaten up with guilt,” I thought.

I suggested, presumptuously, that Mr. Cohen’s guilt would not help his wife. The old man looked at me with an amused sparkle in his eyes and shook his head at my stupidity.

“You really don’t understand, do you? This is where I want to be. Maybe someday you will understand.”

It’s been thirty five years since my visit with Mr. Cohen and I think I do finally understand. Instead of guilt, he felt joy in the presence of someone he had loved and been loved by for sixty years.

It is difficult to change from a human doing to a human being, but as I observed first hand from people who died having it all, but felt as if they had nothing, and others who had very little, but felt they had it all, it’s probably something worth the effort.

One of the best ways to bring out the human being in you is to “Just Listen.” For more of Dr. Goulston’s Usable Insight, click here.

Formula for Infidelity

Dr. Goulston gives us 4 R’s to heal a marriage that’s been hurt by infidelity:  Remorse, Restitution, Rehabilitation, Request for Forgiveness.

Remorse is not the same as regret.  When you feel regret you look back at something you’ve done and think, “Wow, that was a stupid thing to do.  Wish I could go back and do it over, but I can’t, so let’s move on.”  Regret makes people who’ve been hurt feel as if they have no right to be hurt.  When you feel remorse, you think of your past actions and feel sick, ashamed, you’d give your eye teeth to have a do-over.  But mostly?  Mostly you just can’t stand that you hurt your spouse.  Showing remorse for infidelity will help your hurt spouse feel cared for, listened to, and understood.  You can show feelings of remorse by looking into your partners eyes, listening to them talk about their feelings of pain, and by expressing the pain you feel when you witness how much your actions have hurt them.  Remorse requires courage to admit that you’ve made a terrible mistake, that your actions hurt someone you love, and that you’ll do whatever you need to do to be forgiven.

Spouses who’ve been cheated on feel as if they’ve had something stolen from them, they feel violated and taken advantage of.  They need Restitution, which literally means, the restoration of something lost or stolen.  You can help your spouse find restitution by showing remorse, and then asking them what they need from you so that they can begin to heal.  Ask your spouse what you can do to give them back what they lost.  They may say there is nothing you can do.  Be patient, give them time.

Many times when a spouse cheats, they’ve cheated because they are angry or upset or disappointed with some aspect of their marriage. Rehabilitation is an excellent way to help your partner find Restitution.  Get Rehabilitated.  Show your partner that you’ve learned how to deal with your unhappiness in a healthy way, rather than in a way that is a betrayal to them (through infidelity).  Show your partner that you are happy to have learned a new coping mechanism, and that you have confidence that you will be a trustworthy spouse from now on.

The last of the 4 R’s is Requesting Forgiveness.  Dr. Goulston says it can take between six and eighteen months for a couple to heal from infidelity.  If you’ve shown remorse, if you’ve given your partner restitution and rehabilitated yourself, you have the right to Request Forgiveness.  You deserve a second chance.  If your partner refuses to forgive you even after all 4 R’s, the problem shifts from you’re being unforgivable, to their being unforgiving.  It’s up to them to stop Holding Onto A Grudge.

For more of Dr. Goulston’s Usable Insight, click here.

When a spouse cheats

Tiger and Elin are getting a divorce, Sandra Bullock’s filing for a divorce, and Larry King is thinking about divorce.  Each of these celebrities has something in common that led to their divorces – infidelity.  But do we have to suffer through a divorce if a spouse has been unfaithful?

Dr. Mark Goulston says that when you betray someone’s trust at such a deep level, you trigger four intense reactions in them: Hurt, Hate, Hesitation To Trust and Holding Onto A Grudge (the 4 H’s).

When your spouse finds out you’ve had an affair, feelings of intense and devastating pain are triggered.  Many people feel as if they’ve been made a fool of, they feel ashamed, embarrassed, they feel anger at themselves for failing to see.  They feel as if they’ve been living in a lie, as if they are not respected or loved by their spouse.  They may become physically ill, depressed, angry or volatile.  All of these reactions are reactions to hurt.

Realizing that you’ve been lied to by your spouse, that the very person who promised to love, honor and respect you has gone behind your back and broken the vows of your marriage and then lied about it, may trigger anger so strong it can only be called hate.

The spouse who ignores their gut feelings and convinces themselves they’re being crazy, or who confronts you and believes you when you swear there’s no one else, is going to experience an enormous Hesitation to Trust.  How can they possibly lower their guard and trust again, when surely they will only be re-traumatized?

A spouse who has been cheated on will want to protect themselves against future pain.  Even if your spouse wants to get back together, it is frightening and painful to learn to trust after such a huge betrayal.  It’s much easier to Hold Onto A Grudge.  Holding Onto A Grudge allows a spouse who’s been cheated on to keep their guard up and hold it up with fortified bursts of anger.

What can you do if you or your spouse has cheated?  How can you get past the 4 H’s and heal your marriage?   Check back tomorrow to find out.