How to Stop Worrying About Stress, Sex, and Money
Nathalie DionHow to Unwind
Q: Weekends are for relaxing, but I always feel so stressed on Fridays. Help!
A: Between chores and social obligations, weekends can feel as jam-packed as any workweek. If Friday afternoon brings feelings of dread instead of relief, its time to hit the pause button.
Answer this: How are you spending your weekends? Are they fun? Nourishing? Restful? If not, try letting some things go. So what if your sinks are less than spotless or you miss one of your kids soccer games? Having some breathing room is at least as important.
Recently a client of mine made a list of 50 things that she was going to do in this, her 50th, year. One was to take a weekend writers workshop. The Friday she was supposed to go, she realized that while she really wanted to take the workshop, what she wanted even more was to stay home and do nothing. Not only did she cancel, but she decided that giving herself downtime deserved to be at the top of her list of must-dos!
When I feel overbooked, I give myself a Pillow Princess Day. I stay in bed with a book all day, getting up only to forage in the kitchen. And, yes, I do it with kids and a husband clamoring for my attention. I tell them Ill be able to love them better if I take time for myself. And you know what? Its true!
Q: I get so annoyed when someone doesnt do a job rightlike when a co-worker has to redo a report or my husband forgets to buy something on the grocery list. Am I overreacting?
A: In a word, yes. But dont feel badmany of us suffer from this form of “never-make-a-mistake-itis.” What helps is to put the situation in perspective. When something happens that annoys you, ask yourself, “In the grand scheme of life, how important is this really?” Youll find that usually, its not as life-or-death as it seems. Of course, if what happened is truly a big deal, then perhaps it is worth getting upset about. Otherwise, try not to sweat the small stuff.
Heres another way to feel less annoyed: stop and remember what matters most to you. For instance, “Its important that I have a loving relationship with my husband and not be a nag.” This inner dialogue will help you keep your cool when he comes back from the store without the milk he was supposed to get. You may feel a smidge of annoyance, but at least you wont express it and turn an only-human mistake into a big fight.
Five things to cross off your to-do list right now
Cmonyou know there are things that youll never get to. Well, heres permission to dump a few. Treat yourself to a massage with the time youre saving!
- Find the perfect birthday present for my BFF. Take her to lunch, watch her kids, or take her for a pedicure insteadthese are gifts you know shell love, and you can avoid the mall.
- Answer all the e-mails Ive been meaning to get to. If youve got unopened e-mails from more than a couple of months, forget em. Nothing that old is relevant.
- Make cupcakes for the school bake sale. Yes, cupcakes from scratch are great, but will anyone complain if you pick them up from the grocery store?
- Pay the bills. Well, you need to set up auto-matic online payments from your bank before you cross this one off. But just think: youll never accidentally miss a payment again.
- Have drinks with co-workers. Networking is important, but saying no now and then so you can chill at home is an absolute must.
Next Page: Sex [ pagebreak ]
Fantasizing, Sex in the Shower, and the Big 'O'
By Lori Buckley, PsyD, CST
Q: Is it safe to have sex in the shower?
A: Sure, sex in the shower is safe from a health standpoint. But before you hop in, there are two main concerns you want to think about: lubrication and stability. Water actually has a surprising drying effect when it comes to your own lubrication, making sex uncomfortable. So you want to be sufficiently aroused by foreplay before getting under the spray. It also helps to use a silicone-based lubricant (like K-Y INTRIGUE, Premium Personal Lubricant, $18.99; Drugstore.com), which may be messy in the bedroom but is perfect for the shower because its water repellent.
The second thing to consider is the slippery tub, which can cause you or your partner to lose balance and fall, twist ankles, etc. You both have to keep your feet planted during intercourse. Try bending over slightly and having your partner enter you from behind.
But you dont even have to do the deed to have fun together in the shower. Washing, kissing, and exploring your bodies in the water is very sensual and arousing. And sex on a fluffy bathroom rug can be the perfect ending to a shower scene.
Q: Is it really possible for a woman to have multiple orgasms?
A: Yes, yes, yes! One of the perks of being a woman is that we dont have the same refractory periodor time it takes to recover from an orgasmthat men do. So its easier for us to come more than once. The key is to experiment with self-stimulation first and figure out what works for you, then let your partner in on the fun. Just remember that after an orgasm, there is a lot of intense sensitivity due to increased blood flow, so its best to let this feeling subsidewithout losing the momentumbefore trying again.
Once youre experiencing multiple orgasms on your own, tell your partner what gets you going. Just as an example, clitoral stimulation through touching and oral sex are good ways to keep the arousal going. One other thing that you can do to up your odds: strengthen your pelvic-floor muscles with Kegel exercises. Begin by tightly squeezing and fully releasing your PC (pubococcygeus) muscle 10 times. (The easiest way to find and isolate this muscle? Stop your flow of urine next time you go to the bathroom.)
Do three sets, with a 10- to 30-second break in between, two times a day. As you begin to strengthen your pelvic floor, hold your squeeze for longer. You can do this while watching commercials, waiting at red lightsnobody will know. Expect to feel results where it counts in about three or four weeks.
Q: Is it OK to fantasize about other guys during sex with my husband? I feel like Im cheating.
A: This is totally normal and can actually be good for your sex life. Youre not cheating on your husband with Hugh Jackman; youre simply enjoying a fantasy, which helps make your love life even hotter.
Besides, if this was considered cheating, most of us would be guilty! As long as youre not thinking about the scenario nonstop, or letting it interfere with real intimacy in your relationship, youre fine.
You told us what always gets you in the mood:
35% A glass of wine
33% Seeing my man naked
22% A long, hot bath
10% Having the kids stay at grandmas!
Lights on time!
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Next Page: Money [ pagebreak ]
Household Employees and Credit Card Benefits
By Lynnette Khalfani-Cox
Q: We use the same babysitter on a regular basis, but shes only part-time. Should we be paying taxes on her earnings?
A: It depends. If your babysitter is an independent contractorsuch as a neighbor who comes by to help outor if shes under 18, youre not legally responsible for paying taxes no matter how many hours she works (contractors are responsible for paying their own taxes).
However, if shes really a household employee (the IRS loosely defines this as someone whose work you have full control over) and you paid her more than $1,700 in 2009, you are legally required to pay the following annually: FICA (Social Security and Medicare taxes), which are 7.65 percent of gross wages; Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA), which is 0.8 percent or less of gross wages; and state employment and disability insur-ance taxes, where applicable.
As her employer, you also should collect from her and send to the proper authorities her Social Security tax, Medicare taxes, as well as quarterly wage statements. The rules can get confusing, though, so its best to consult your certified public accountant (CPA) or financial adviser before you make any moves. You can also find more information in “Hiring Household Employees” at IRS.gov.
Credit cards with benefits
These days, we could all use a card that stretches our money farther. So which ones have really great rewards programs? Here are three that I like, found through CardRatings.com. None charge an annual fee, though you do need good to excellent credit to apply (all information is current as of press time). One important note: rewards cards tend to have slightly higher interest rates than regular credit cards, so theyre a good deal only if you pay off your balance in full every month.