Have a nice Valentine’s Day without breaking the bank with gift giving!

Valentine's DayValentine’s Day is galloping towards us and some people, particularly men, start getting nervous thinking about what to give that special woman in their life. Women are no different. They think men are hard to please on Valentine’s Day … not so fast.

In this time of economic woes, not everyone has money to spare and may not wish to spend too much money on this day. Well, help is on the way. Here is a list of things you can buy, or do yourself, that will make the day memorable but won’t break your bank. You don’t have to go big to have a sweet Valentine’s Day.

1 – Flowers: Instead of the costly roses, choose a beautiful bouquet for her with a variety of colors and flowers. Please make sure there are no carnations anywhere in the bouquet, however. Carnations are best left for funerals.

2 – Chocolate: Unless you know your woman or man likes chocolates, skip this one; but if you must, don’t get the pre-packaged chocolates you get at a supermarket. Next time you are at the mall, go to the local chocolate store and choose 6 of those delicious real chocolate pieces they have on display. Then, they’ll place them in a cute box and you’re ready to go. You may think it’s expensive chocolate, but they’re worth the money and will ensure that he or she will actually eat it and not simply eat one or two and throw the rest away. When the chocolate is good, you don’t need to have an entire box of chocolate. A few morsels of high-quality chocolate is good enough to enjoy.

3 – Dinner: You don’t have to go to the most famous restaurant in your town to enjoy a good dinner. Do both of you enjoy ethnic food? Usually, Thai food is pretty tasty and gentle on your wallet. Don’t like ethnic food? No problem. Don’t go out to dinner. Make him/her a lovely dinner in your home. It will cost you a lot less, and it will be appreciated because it was made by you. Don’t forget to add to the mood: soft music and candlelight are always sure to be winners.

4 – Picnic: Who doesn’t like a picnic? If it’s cold where you are, you have to be creative. Choose a place in your living room and place a tablecloth on the floor, preferably in front of a lit fireplace. If you don’t have a fireplace, then add music and candle lights. If you live in a place where the sun will be shining, lucky you. Go to a pretty park you enjoy and lay the tablecloth on the ground. Open your picnic basket and take out the goodies you both like.

5 – Perfume: Unless you know what your beloved likes, skip this one. If you must give something that has a scent to it, make sure the scent is very faint and clean. Not everyone appreciates strong and sharp scents. By keeping clean and faint, you make sure that the gift will be appreciated.  To ensure the perfume is not going to be re-gifted, try these suggestions: for a man, a nice balm or aftershave (with no alcohol in it) is nice to give. For a woman, if you are not going to give perfume, a lotion or cream will be a winner. I don’t know a woman who doesn’t like hand cream; and remember, subtle scent.

6 – Clothes: There is a lot of good clothing that can be bought for a very reasonable amount of money. If you must buy clothes, choose something that you think your beloved would look good in it and will feel comfortable wearing. Don’t do like my friend’s boyfriend who bought her a garment; and upon opening the package, she was very happy that he gave her “such a beautiful shirt.” Only later was she told that it was … err, a dress. Needless to say, she never wore it. No need to go overboard either. A beautiful shirt for a man can be very reasonable at J.Crew, for example. And one can buy a gorgeous scarf for woman for a reasonable amount as well.

If you have any personal ideas that you know for sure your beloved will like, then implement them and remember that not everyone can celebrate Valentine’s Day on the exact day. If Valentine’s Day falls during the week, make an agreement that you will celebrate either the weekend before or after. It doesn’t matter if you celebrate a few days before or after, as long as you celebrate. Not everyone has the luxury to celebrate on the exact day. My girlfriend is dating a divorced doctor who has children. Consequently, during the week is very busy for him especially if he has the children that particular day. Therefore, since they started dating, they celebrate Valentine’s Day the following weekend after he doesn’t have the children. It works. Good luck and Happy Valentine’s to you all.

Do you want to avoid a divorce? Perhaps this will help you!

Some rights reserved by State Farm Via Flickr

Some rights reserved by State Farm Via Flickr

I often scout the internet for interesting relationships stories and I came up on this one while searching Facebook. Apparently he learned when is all but too late. It is worth a reading.

Obviously, I’m not a relationship expert. But there’s something about my divorce being finalized this week that gives me perspective of things I wish I would have done different… After losing a woman that I loved, and a marriage of almost 16 years, here’s the advice I wish I would have had…

1) Never stop courting. Never stop dating. NEVER EVER take that woman for granted. When you asked her to marry you, you promised to be that man that would OWN HER HEART and to fiercely protect it. This is the most important and sacred treasure you will ever be entrusted with. SHE CHOSE YOU. Never forget that, and NEVER GET LAZY in your love.

2) PROTECT YOUR OWN HEART. Just as you committed to being the protector of her heart, you must guard your own with the same vigilance. Love yourself fully, love the world openly, but there is a special place in your heart where no one must enter except for your wife. Keep that space always ready to receive her and invite her in, and refuse to let anyone or anything else enter there.

3) FALL IN LOVE OVER and OVER and OVER again. You will constantly change. You’re not the same people you were when you got married, and in five years you will not be the same person you are today. Change will come, and in that you have to re-choose each other everyday. SHE DOESN’T HAVE TO STAY WITH YOU, and if you don’t take care of her heart, she may give that heart to someone else or seal you out completely, and you may never be able to get it back. Always fight to win her love just as you did when you were courting her.

4) ALWAYS SEE THE BEST in her. Focus only on what you love. What you focus on will expand. If you focus on what bugs you, all you will see is reasons to be bugged. If you focus on what you love, you can’t help but be consumed by love. Focus to the point where you can no longer see anything but love, and you know without a doubt that you are the luckiest man on earth to be have this woman as your wife.

5) IT’S NOT YOUR JOB TO CHANGE OR FIX HER… your job is to love her as she is with no expectation of her ever changing. And if she changes, love what she becomes, whether it’s what you wanted or not.

6) TAKE FULL ACCOUNTABILITY for your own emotions: It’s not your wife’s job to make you happy, and she CAN’T make you sad. You are responsible for finding your own happiness, and through that your joy will spill over into your relationship and your love.

7) NEVER BLAME your wife If YOU get frustrated or angry at her, it is only because it is triggering something inside of YOU. They are YOUR emotions, and your responsibility. When you feel those feelings take time to get present and to look within and understand what it is inside of YOU that is asking to be healed. You were attracted to this woman because she was the person best suited to trigger all of your childhood wounds in the most painful way so that you could heal them… when you heal yourself, you will no longer be triggered by her, and you will wonder why you ever were.

Allow your woman to JUST BE. When she’s sad or upset, it’s not your job to fix it, it’s your job to HOLD HER and let her know it’s ok. Let her know that you hear her, and that she’s important and that you are that pillar on which she can always lean. The feminine spirit is about change and emotion and like a storm her emotions will roll in and out, and as you remain strong and unjudging she will trust you and open her soul to you… DON’T RUN-AWAY WHEN SHE’S UPSET. Stand present and strong and let her know you aren’t going anywhere. Listen to what she is really saying behind the words and emotion.

9) BE SILLY… don’t take yourself so damn seriously. Laugh. And make her laugh. Laughter makes everything else easier.

10) FILL HER SOUL EVERYDAY… learn her love languages and the specific ways that she feels important and validated and CHERISHED. Ask her to create a list of 10 THINGS that make her feel loved and memorize those things and make it a priority everyday to make her feel like a queen.

11) BE PRESENT. Give her not only your time, but your focus, your attention and your soul. Do whatever it takes to clear your head so that when you are with her you are fully WITH HER. Treat her as you would your most valuable client. She is.

12) BE WILLING TO TAKE HER SEXUALLY, to carry her away in the power of your masculine presence, to consume her and devour her with your strength, and to penetrate her to the deepest levels of her soul. Let her melt into her feminine softness as she knows she can trust you fully.

13) DON’T BE AN IDIOT…. And don’t be afraid of being one either. You will make mistakes and so will she. Try not to make too big of mistakes, and learn from the ones you do make. You’re not supposed to be perfect, just try to not be too stupid.

14) GIVE HER SPACE… The woman is so good at giving and giving, and sometimes she will need to be reminded to take time to nurture herself. Sometimes she will need to fly from your branches to go and find what feeds her soul, and if you give her that space she will come back with new songs to sing…. (okay, getting a little too poetic here, but you get the point. Tell her to take time for herself, ESPECIALLY after you have kids. She needs that space to renew and get re-centered, and to find herself after she gets lost in serving you, the kids and the world.)

15) BE VULNERABLE… you don’t have to have it all together. Be willing to share your fears and feelings, and quick to acknowledge your mistakes.

16) BE FULLY TRANSPARENT. If you want to have trust you must be willing to share EVERYTHING… Especially those things you don’t want to share. It takes courage to fully love, to fully open your heart and let her in when you don’t know i she will like what she finds… Part of that courage is allowing her to love you completely, your darkness as well as your light. DROP THE MASK… If you feel like you need to wear a mask around her, and show up perfect all the time, you will never experience the full dimension of what love can be.

17) NEVER STOP GROWING TOGETHER… The stagnant pond breeds malaria, the flowing stream is always fresh and cool. Atrophy is the natural process when you stop working a muscle, just as it is if you stop working on your relationship. Find common goals, dreams and visions to work towards.

18) DON’T WORRY ABOUT MONEY. Money is a game, find ways to work together as a team to win it. It never helps when teammates fight. Figure out ways to leverage both persons strength to win.

19) FORGIVE IMMEDIATELY and focus on the future rather than carrying weight from the past. Don’t let your history hold you hostage. Holding onto past mistakes that either you or she makes, is like a heavy anchor to your marriage and will hold you back. FORGIVENESS IS FREEDOM. Cut the anchor loose and always choose love.

20) ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. In the end, this is the only advice you need. If this is the guiding principle through which all your choices is governed, there is nothing that will threaten the happiness of your marriage. Love will always endure.

In the end MARRIAGE isn’t about Happily ever after. It’s about work. And a commitment to grow together and a willingness to continually invest in creating something that can endure eternity. Through that work, the happiness will come.

Marriage is life, and it will bring ups and downs. Embracing all of the cycles and learning to learn from and love each experience will bring the strength and perspective to keep building, one brick at a time.

These are lessons I learned the hard way. These are lessons I learned too late.

But these are lessons I am learning and committed in carrying forward. Truth is, I LOVED being married, and in time, I will get married again, and when I do, I will build it with a foundation that will endure any storm and any amount of time.

If you are reading this and find wisdom in my pain, share it those those young husbands whose hearts are still full of hope, and with those couples you may know who may have forgotten how to love. One of those men may be like I was, and in these hard earned lessons perhaps something will awaken in him and he will learn to be the man his lady has been waiting for.

The woman that told him ‘I do’, and trusted her life with him, has been waiting for this man to step up.

If you are reading this and your marriage isn’t what you want it to be, take 100% responsibility for YOUR PART in marriage, regardless of where your spouse is at, and commit to applying these lessons while there is time.

MEN- THIS IS YOUR CHARGE : Commit to being an EPIC LOVER. There is no greater challenge, and no greater prize. Your woman deserves that from you.

Be the type of husband your wife can’t help but brag about.



The Best Cities for Single Women

Online DatingThe editorial staff at ASW’s SMALLMAGAZINE  wrote the best top ten cities in the world for single women. These are their picks!

10. Tokyo, Japan

Better educated, wider travelled and higher earning than ever before, ladies here aren’t rushing into marriage or children any time soon. Nicknamed the parasite singles by the older guard and blamed for the shrinking population, they’re advancing their careers and letting men know that the kimonos are off. Just not literally. Moving here means avoiding the crush of Spring weddings, an abundance of single men looking for a lady to say yes, and all the trappings of a group of friends with disposable income. If that sounds like your cup of miso, Tokyo’s where to go.

9. San Francisco, California

The most number of cupcake shops per capita in the US and the second lowest obesity rate. Clearly climbing all those hills transforms you into ’that girl with the glutes’ even with a devil’s food addiction. And the city is bursting with single men. Granted 15% of those can be struck from the list of potentials immediately – given the flourishing gay community – but that party-hard posse make perfect wingmen in the meantime. Plus Mount Tamalpais State Park, with 6300 acres of wild grasslands, is just 20 miles away and provides a speedy escape from the ding of the trolley bell.

8. Zurich, Switzerland

A fast-paced financial centre in a quaint package. You’ll find pristine streets, pathologically punctual public transport, urban sailing on Lake Zurich, and close proximity to the Alps and some of the world’s best ski resorts. If you’re looking for a trendy hipster with tattoos and skinny jeans, look elsewhere, but if the suited and slick upwardly mobile are your (Gucci) bag, try the city where everything runs like clockwork.

7. New York, New York

Nail spas on every corner, brunch being very much a thing and generous pay packets (it’s home to 40 Fortune 500 HQs), the city is a haven for the single woman. The men are international, ambitious and reliably forward, and the social scene is easier to navigate than many other big cities as the transient locals are always looking for new friends. But be warned: while the NY dating scene is thriving and you’ll never have the same night – or man for that matter – twice if you don’t want to, the male:female ratio is unfairly skewed in the men’s favour. And you’re competing with a whole country’s worth of women wanting to make it big in fashion. What we mean is: prepare to feel inadequate on the regular.

6. Paris, France

Take an art course, go to the opera, cycle around with a baguette and brie in your basket – the cliché activities for a lady in Paris are endless and easily achievable. As for the men: they’re frequently perfectly groomed and be-cuff-linked, plus they value their women as much as their quality of life. The laughable 35-hour workweek is glorious enough in itself, but the increasingly neglected art of chivalry is very much alive as well.

5. Austin, Texas

This offbeat Texan town has been described as the capital for creative singles. It boasts high quality, low cost accommodation, and for those with entrepreneurial aspirations, was ranked best city to begin your career, due to a supportive venture capital environment. And on top of year-round sunshine, according to a Marie Claire survey, the single man to single woman ratio is 12:10. We’ll take those odds.

4. Milan, Italy

Fine wines, fashion and unabashedly persistent men: Milan seems to have it all. Nicknamed the New York of Europe, it has the liveliest job market in the country, energy-efficient and government-funded urban regeneration programs and a welcoming social scene, primarily made up of well-tailored men with slick haircuts. Talk about having your panna-cotta and eating it too.

3. Melbourne, Australia

Named the world’s most livable city by the Economist, Melbourne is distinguished by its cultural and artistic scene. But what makes it a secret woman’s paradise is the inexplicable discrepancy between the attractiveness of the sexes. It’s not uncommon to see a bronzed column of man wander by with an somewhat average woman on his arm. One who decided to ditch the beach and eat meat pies instead. We’re not claiming that this is the case across the board, but looking around the impeccably groomed ladies of Manhattan, we’ll take our chances in Melbourne.

2. Stockholm, Sweden

Sweden is the first ranked egalitarian country in the world
Alternated paid maternity leave, unisex bathrooms (minimizing excruciating ladies lines), equal TV airtime for male and female sport, and the creation of the first female friendly car, which includes a dent in the headrest for ponytails. Plus, according to one study Swedish men do more housework than anywhere else. So if you dream of settling down with a Scando who can simultaneously serve a Smorgasbord and give a Swedish massage: Stockholm’s got them in stock.

1. Shanghai, China

If you want to get statistical in finding a man (and let’s face it, if you’ve tried online dating, you already have), consider this: in 2020 there are predicted to be 24 million single men in China. Given Shanghai’s cosmopolitan nature and increasing number of multinational corporations, guys are flocking here. And there’s little not to love: ballroom dancing on the street, champagne brunches, even 24hr street teddy bear vendors for low-cost cuddling. And if the dating game grows tiresome, head to People’s Square Marriage Market on a Saturday to meet a mate.

Newly married wife doesn’t want to put out

*Jack, from Russian Hill, said that he dated his wife for one year before getting married and she used to be a great lover right before marriage. They have been married for about one and a half years now; but for the past 11 months sex has been rare and far in between. Every time he wants to get “close” to her, it turns into a begging session. When she finally concedes, she just lays there as if she’s doing him a favor. Jack wants to know what he can tell her that will help her go back to the way she used to be in bed and add a little more frequency than once a month. He said he loves her and doesn’t want to say anything that may hurt her feelings.

Answer: Jack “ma man”, since you don’t want to hurt her feelings, then, please don’t say anything and stay in your quasi-almost-non-existent, pseudo intimacy kind of marriage. Make sure not to complain about it either. Let HER continuing hurting YOUR feelings since you don’t want to hurt hers.

Now, if one day you decide to have the courage to face the problem in your marriage, then by all means, open your mouth and talk frankly with her and tell her that you didn’t marry her, or anybody, so you could live like that. Explain to her that having reasonable sex, wanting to make love to your spouse, is part of the marriage vows you two took; and any MAN or WOMAN who doesn’t fulfill that part is neglecting his/her part unless a health problem is present.

Spouses who sexually neglect their partners then come up with the “oh, you hurt my feelings” card when the other partner brings it up, are being manipulative and a bad spouse. When you talk to your wife about this and she brings this card up, do not allow yourself to be manipulated like that. Face it and talk about the situation until you bring a resolution to it.

If your situation doesn’t improve, then you have a decision to make. You didn’t mention kids, so I’m going to assume there are none and since you’re childless, the decision should not be that hard. One thing though, if your love for her is greater than your need to have sex, then welcome to monk-hood, because that’s where you’ll be heading. If the sex is almost non-existent now, I’ll give you one to two years before it stops altogether; but at least you will not have hurt her feelings. Hope you got my sarcasm.