Tag Archives: marriage

Hanging Onto Love

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Although this is the first post of the new year, I’m straying from the typical calendar themes and this month I want to write about Love. After all, this blog is the place where I get to write about whatever is on my mind, and today Love is the topic.

What is it about love that drives us to seek it out? I’m not just talking about romantic love, but love in general. What is common among the various forms of love? My co-author of this blog, the fabulous Susan Hammonds-White, is a licensed counselor. She likes to say she helps “mend broken hearts,” so she’s basically an expert on love. Susan teaches about how love affects our brain chemistry, explaining that in the early stages, our brains are awash in hormones. I’m not sure if it only refers to romantic love, but let’s assume it’s the same for all types. Those early stages can be addicting, for sure. Why else are there people who seem to fall in and out of love on a regular basis? According to Susan, over time, our brains adjust and that is where real, deep, lasting attachment begins. I guess the goal is to hang on long enough to get past the “drunk with love,” stage so we can build something real.

Sometimes hanging on is built into the system. For example, when my daughter was born, I fell madly in love with her. I could not stop looking at her, holding her, drinking her in. I was, to be honest, infatuated with her. As the years pass, my love for her has grown and deepened into something even bigger and hard to explain. I’m still pretty obsessed with her, and of course she is no longer dependent on me in any way. But I honestly feel love and admiration that is real, and infinite. The early infatuation carried me through some difficult times while she was growing up. And this experience was the same for her two younger brothers. As each baby boy arrived, it felt like my heart just kept expanding. Today, my children remain the three most interesting and captivating people I know. Our love for each other helps us though good and not so good times, and bridges the gaps when we disagree.

But what keeps us longing for, searching for, and hanging onto love that is free from parental responsibility and biology? What about siblings? Of course, biology plays a role, as well as family loyalty and shared history. But we all know we don’t choose our siblings and close relationships might just be a matter of chance. Still, many of us continue to pursue love from our siblings, even when they push us away. And what about our friends? I’ve had friends through the years who I’ve tried hard to love, but I’ve had to let go of the friendship for one reason or another. I know sometimes friendships outlive their place in our lives, but it’s still painful to say goodbye to someone you’ve loved and shared really great experiences.

And now for the obvious, romantic love. I know a young couple, recently married, who are struggling to find their footing. On paper they don’t look like they’d be a good match. They have some major obstacles to work through, but they clearly love each other and want to make things work. I’m praying they hang on. I, too, was a very young bride, just 21 years old. After four years of college together, we married just before my husband went to graduate school and I went to work. It was hard. But by the time we got married, we’d spent four years getting to know each other and despite our youth and inexperience, we passed through the “drunk with love,” stage and were ready to build something real. We hung on long enough.

So, what do all these love affairs have in common? I can’t speak for everyone, obviously, but for me, love feels like home. The people I love and who love me are those with whom I am the most myself. I recently attended a family reunion with cousins I hadn’t seen in many years. In fact, it was the first time in a long time that we’ve all been together. Despite the years and the age differences between us, I felt loved, I felt seen, and I felt at home. My closest friends are those who not only like me, but who work with me through difficulties and differences to build something real. I see my children, despite some of their differences, reach toward each other for love and support. My husband and I are now moving into a new stage of life and it’s precisely because we hung on that we continue to learn from each other, to challenge each other, to comfort each other, and to love each other. To me, that is both the definition of love and of home.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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And Now This…

When the pandemic first rolled into our lives, my husband and I were still basking in the glow of a magical week long trip to Hawaii with our grown children to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. Two days from now, we will be celebrating our 42nd. The months in between have been for us, as for most people, challenging, difficult and exhausting. As individuals we have faced our fears about the virus, dealt with social isolation and met professional challenges. As a couple we have dealt with adapting to a new way of living and working together, learning to find small pleasures in becoming co-workers who are also married. Tomorrow, things shift again as my husband returns to his office, at least for now, on a part time basis. And once again, we will evolve and shift our new found daily rituals into something else.

Over the years we have weathered a lot of change. We began as teenagers and grew up through college and post college degrees, became parents, lost parents, handled financial struggles, illnesses and a cross-country move. It’s really just the stuff of life. We are more fortunate than many, less so than some. The one constant in my life has been our relationship which, while sometimes difficult, has always served to ground me and make me feel safe and loved in an uncertain world.

This past year and a half, I’ve had a LOT more time to study my husband, to listen to his Zoom calls, to observe how he moves through a day. It’s interesting to see how my spouse conducts himself at work, something I never was able to experience before now. The change in tone of voice, his body language, the way he solves problems, all things I could never know when he was at his office. I’m grateful I have been able to see this side of him as it helps me to understand what he goes through each day and why he sometimes comes home with work on his mind. I also appreciate his ability to shift gears and listen to me when I pop into his office for a quick visit or to share something about my work day.

All in all, this pandemic experience has been good for our marriage. For a bit of time we have been able to blend our lives, share small daily moments and see each other in a new way. We’ve each had to adjust and learn to share our home office, learned to set and respect new boundaries with each other and appreciate our differences. Perhaps most important is that even in a long relationship, there are unexpected challenges life throws at us and we are resilient and strong enough to weather it. He is still my best friend, my favorite person and the love of my life.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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It’s Been a Year…

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

February, 2021!  It’s so hard to believe almost a year has passed since the pandemic changed the world forever.  A year of worry.  A year of frustration.  A year of separation from my son and other cherished friends and family.  A year watching out my window.  A year adapting.  A year waiting.  A year hoping.  A year learning. 

I still wait for my turn to be vaccinated. I still worry about getting sick. I’m still frustrated about so much lost time. I still wait for the next visit with my son. I still look out my window at the changing seasons. I’m still adapting, learning, hoping, trying to look forward.

To say I am not a patient person is REALLY an understatement. From my earliest memories I recall barreling into life at full speed, always in a hurry to get to the next thing. This past year has felt like I ran smack into a wall. I know I’m not alone in this, so I’m not complaining, per se.  I’m just reflecting. Is there a deeper lesson to be learned?  The obvious is what I hear most folks are trying to do: live in the moment, be grateful, savor a slower pace.  Yeah, yeah, yeah…whatever.

Here’s what I’m learning: I am not a slowdown type of person. Yes, I am savoring the time I get to spend with my husband who is working from home and my son who is attending graduate school from home.  But most days I just want to get back out there, in it. While I have managed to continue my work and to stay in touch with many of my friends, I can’t help but grieve for all the lost time.  The days, weeks, months and now, a year, just marking time. I can’t shake the feeling that, at my age, there’s no time to waste. I still have plans, goals and things to get on with. Grateful?  Of course I am!  I’m also very aware of how fortunate I am to have a job, a comfortable home in which to stay safe with people I love and who love me.  Yes, life is good.

Now there seems to be, maybe, a speck of daylight at the end of this very long tunnel. And…I’m off!  Planning a fall vacation with friends. Thinking about dinners out, live music, sporting events and having people over. Every day is a roller coaster as I swing from despair to hope and back again. Read the news. Don’t read the news. By bedtime I am exhausted, that is until my head hits the pillow. Then as my body relaxes my mind revs up and I lay awake, sometimes for hours, until I can calm it down.

This year has shined a light on the differences between me and my husband. Where I am an extrovert, he is content to be alone. Where I experience life at full speed, he is happy with the slow and steady approach. While I rage against the frustration, his patience is both infuriating and a gift. And while I toss and turn all night, he sleeps soundly. All these differences, which used to drive me crazy, have now become my salvation. To know that in spite of it all, or maybe because of it, we continue on. I can depend on his patience, his ability to compartmentalize the pain and focus on what is in front of him. I am comforted by his strength and by his steady breathing at night. 

Lessons learned? My basic nature is what it always has been, and so it is for those around me. But in times of great challenge, we can lean into and on each other, for real.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org .

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It’s the End of the World as we Know it


For the first time in a long time, I’m out of words. Not actually unable to speak (God forbid!), but out of pithy, insightful, tightly woven phrases. I’ve cried, I’ve ranted, I’ve shared, and I’ve bared my soul to anyone and everyone who would listen. Which means to say, mostly my family who are captive with me in our little home shelter and a few close friends. And now, I’m just done. I’m done railing against the unfairness of it all. I’m done focusing on the grief. I’m done being angry about canceled plans and missed opportunities. What remains for me is sadness and the realization that the life I had, the life we all had, or hoped to have, is gone.

But, and here comes my cockeyed optimism (thanks Mom), I do believe that the crises facing humankind are offering us an opportunity. Personally, I’m refocusing my thoughts and energy on self-improvement; mental, physical and spiritual. I’m taking on challenges and setting goals for myself that I don’t think I would have even thought about before. The time I used to spend in the car or running endless errands is now mine to spend in new ways. The distractions of modern life have been stripped away leaving a void. Filling that void in meaningful ways is what I’m working on. Because the thing is, at some point still to be determined, we will emerge from this isolation into a new world. I don’t want to feel that I’ve squandered the opportunity to be fully present and to find meaning in this experience.

So, here are some things I’m tackling. On the physical front my family and I are embarking on a health experiment, one designed to help us fine tune our nutritional needs. I’m also building strength with a personal trainer. Yes, I’ve been working with her for a couple of years now, but I’m pushing myself harder, working out on our porch and getting a hard sweat. Mentally I’m working more on my professional writing, pushing myself to dig deeper in the stories I write for the newspaper I edit. Spiritually I’m reading more about things that make me uncomfortable and challenge some old assumptions that have limited my thinking. I’m working on quieting my mind through meditation. And with much of my family all home, some old roles and behaviors are evolving as we navigate living and working together. And once again, I have my summer vegetable garden, but this year expanded to a larger space and some new experiments.

Well, I guess I did have a lot to say this month. Who knew? I will close with one last thing. Tomorrow my husband and I will celebrate our 41st wedding anniversary. I know, that makes us seem ancient. We have lived a lifetime together, beginning on that very first day of freshman orientation. We were so young, still just teenagers. The fact is, we finished raising each other. Last year we vacationed with our children in Hawaii. One evening after dinner, standing under a canopy overlooking the beach, out of the rain, my husband pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket on which he’d written his thoughts about our years together. Yes, this reserved, quiet guy who doesn’t communicate his feelings well, wrote the following (excerpted): “As one should expect, our life together has not been a bed of roses. We’ve had successes and setbacks and weathered a good many storms. We have learned that when you love someone, you do not love them all the time in exactly the same way. Some of the things we worried about turned out not to matter at all. What really mattered was our love. This one constant in our lives has grown stronger and I thank you for the joy you’ve given me during these 40 years together. Whatever the future may hold for us, we will always have our love. It is enough.” Yes, my darling husband, even during this sad, frightening, garbage fire of a year, our love is enough. Happy Anniversary.

Stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask.


About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org .

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!


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Birthday Lessons and (Final) Summer in My Garden


Latest harvest


Two beds prepped and ready for Fall

I just celebrated my birthday and, like most people with summer birthdays, it was underwhelming.  I’m not complaining, or ungrateful, but I confess my younger self gets pretty needy around the day.  When I was younger, I always felt left out of the classroom celebrations and parties usually had to be postponed until later in the month when my friends returned from camp and vacations.  As a young mother, of course my birthday was eclipsed by my son’s, just three weeks later.  I used to feel pretty sorry for myself.  There was a TV show a few years back called, “The New Girl,” that featured a young woman and her roommates living in a loft somewhere in L.A.  In one episode, the main character, Jess, explained that she liked to spend her birthday alone at the movies.  That way, the day passed quickly and she wasn’t disappointed by the lack of attention.  I often felt the same way, just wanting the day to be over.

These days, I work to manage my expectations.  It’s just another day of life, thankfully, and everyone has a birthday, so no big accomplishment, really.  But I do look forward to receiving a card from my children and maybe a gift from my husband.  He’s not great in the gift giving department, but he’s working on it.  This year in fact, he gave me an incredibly thoughtful gift.  Rather than shopping for yet another piece of jewelry or other trinket he found something that was personal to me.  He researched and found two really special books on gardening.  I’ve spent hours poring over these books, getting ideas and learning more about the hobby that has grown on me slowly.  I’ve been planning my Fall and Winter vegetables and thinking about expanding our little urban backyard next Spring.  We’ll see how much I can execute these plans.

For now, I’m enjoying the process and feeling grateful that I have a spouse who is also willing to take chances and learn new things about himself and about me.

My Summer garden has had a shorter season than I’d hoped.  But I’ve had the largest harvest yet, and the vegetables have been delicious.  The other day, I spent a few hours tearing out the cucumbers and squash and cleaning out the bed where the onions never did take.  I still have tomatoes, eggplants, bell peppers and jalapenos for days!  All in all, it’s been a successful summer in my garden.  And yesterday I planted some lettuce, kale, brussels sprouts and cabbage that will hopefully yield some fresh greens this Fall and Winter.  Fingers crossed and on to the new season!


Waiting for these beauties


Fall greens ahead


More Fall greens

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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The Other Side of the Couch:  Gratitude – It Works


GratitudeGratitude.  Who knew that the act of giving thanks had such profound effects on so many things? The act of being grateful on a regular basis has been shown to diminish cortisol levels in the body by a significant amount and to increase variability in heart rate coherence patterns, both of which are an indication of lowered stress levels (McCraty and colleagues, 1998).

In addition to improvement of personal health, expressing gratitude has recently been shown to have a clear protective effect on relationships.  In a study that recently appeared in the journal “Personal Relationships,” results indicated that expressions of gratitude helped relationships in measurable ways.

“Feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you directly influences how you feel about your marriage, how committed you are to it, and your belief that it will last,” says study co-author Ted Futris.

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, one of the best things we can do for ourselves and for our relationships is to engage in a daily practice of gratitude.  This can be done in a number of different ways.  Taking stock of the day, focusing before you go to sleep on five things for which you are grateful is one way.  Writing them down seems to help anchor the experience.  Notice how your body feels when you focus on things for which you are grateful – many people experience a sense of relaxing on the inside, perhaps a feeling of warmth.  These steps can be personally helpful in alleviating stress.

Expressing gratitude to others seems to be remarkably helpful in keeping relationships on an even keel.  Making a daily practice of expressing appreciation and gratitude to your partner, children, friends, and business associates really does make relationships better.  I recommend to the couples with whom I work that thinking about, looking for, and expressing thanks on a daily basis is an incredibly powerful tool that can keep your relationship connected.  Give it a try.  You will be glad you did.

Happy Day of Thanksgiving!


McCraty, R., Barrios-Choplin, B., Rozman, D., Atkinson, M. & Watkins, A. (1998). The impact of a new emotional self-management program on stress, emotions, heart rate variability, DHEA and cortisol. Integrative Physiological & Behavioral Science, 32, 151-70.

Barton et.al, Linking Financial Distress to Marital Quality:  The Intermediary Roles of Demand/Withdraw and Spousal Gratitude Expressions, Personal Relationships, 22, (2015), 536-549.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP:

Susan is a communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, and proud native Nashvillian. She has been in private practice for over 30 years. As she says, “I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts.”  Contact Susan at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!


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How to Stay Married – Kindness is the Key

My husband and I are pushing 30 years together…and it hasn’t always been a walk in the park. As a Certified Imago Therapist and a Professional Counselor, you’d think that I, of all people, would know how to keep a marriage alive and thriving, but guess what…therapists have to work at things, too. NO marriage, no human relationship, really, thrives without what I consider to be one key element: Kindness. If I assume that my husband’s intentions are good, and if I do my best to act, myself, out of genuine care for his best interests, many small problems just fall away.  If both of us are able to do this – to act out of intention rather than reactivity, the struggles of relationship become much smaller. I found a wonderful article that I want to share today by Lydia Netzer, an author and blogger.  The link to her post is below.  Lydia has some great things to say about staying married.  Take a look!


What one word would describe what it has taken for you to stay in relationship?  I would love to hear from you.


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Mother of the Bride

Bride Holding Bouquet








The day is coming soon, the day my only daughter will walk down that aisle into the arms of a young man who will promise to love her, care for her, “for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part”…and I am bewildered by the wild swings my emotions are taking in these days leading up to this event.  It’s not the planning.  She is actually firmly in charge of all that and has clear ideas and strong organizational skills.  It’s not any kind of mother-daughter conflict.  It’s not even that we (my husband and I) don’t trust this young man and believe he will do all in his power to make her happy.

What I am experiencing is a kind of shame-faced wish to stop time.  As parents we pour our love and care and support into our children, hoping and praying for a life full of joy.  And then when the time comes, and it is time for them to fly away into that dreamed-of life…we have to say goodbye.

I know that these feelings are not necessarily rational…it’s probably not the last time we will eat dinner together, just the three of us, or the last time we will go on a trip together…yet these days have a tremendously bittersweet edge.  The focus of her life has changed, and we’re not so central to it anymore.  The irony of all this is that I, myself, am a Professional Counselor, helping others to deal with life transitions.  It’s hard no matter where you come from.

I will face that day with all the grace I can muster.  I will cry (I already cry at commercials, so I don’t have a prayer that day.)  And I will welcome her husband into our lives as a son.  I will accept the changes in our relationship that are inevitable.  I will learn to love him.  But I will always miss my little girl.

Tips for Dealing with “Good” Transitions:

  1. Don’t be too hard on yourself…even if it’s a wonderful event, it’s still a change.
  1. Allow yourself to feel what you feel.  It doesn’t help to tell yourself you “should” feel a certain way if you don’t.
  1. Find support.  Talk to your spouse, a best friend, a counselor (!).  Sometimes writing about it helps.
  1. Plan something special for yourself after the event.  The week after might be a big let-down…so have something on the books – a massage, a day trip, a visit to a museum – something just for you.

Above all, be gentle with yourself.  You deserve as much care as anyone else does.


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