My ONE answer to how to connect in your restaurant relationship

August 6, 2014 in Life, Relationships, Restaurant Industry, VALUES

sacred time*photo credit – Cuddles on the Couch

Before you begin, start here.

So many times the NUMBER ONE question I get asked, about how to navigate through our restaurant relationships is…

“HOW do I find time to connect when we’re on opposite schedules, live in different cities, etc…?”

Back when my chef husband was my chef fiance, I discovered the answer to this important question, almost by accident.

My then chef fiancee was just promoted from Exec Sous to Exec Chef. After YEARS of putting his time in, he finally hit the jackpot.

Executive Chef-dom.

Which came with one HUGE perk… regular days off. Sunday/Monday were his regular days off. Which mean that I knew we could plan more things on his day off, even that quick 3.5 hour (one way) trip to and from his family on a Sunday (Gotta love a less than 24 hour trip because you have to work on Monday as a 9-5′r) Regardless, I LOVED knowing that I could count on this time.

Within a few short months, I discovered a pattern. Sunday and Monday evenings, I found us doing the same things, Sundays around 9pm, we’d meet on the couch for our favorite cable network TV shows (Homeland, True Blood, I honestly can’t remember what we were watching back in 2008/09) On Monday evenings, we’d continually find ourselves discussing what we were having for dinner, him making a delicious meal (of course that I’d then be cleaning up the entire contents of our kitchen) and we’d rent a movie On Demand (this was before redbox)

Sunday and Monday evenings. Became like clockwork. When he was asked to do something that would keep him out at these times, he would naturally decline. So would I. These short periods of time became VITAL to our connecting, when I work Monday and he’s usually out with his chef friends (or riding his Harley) on Sunday afternoons. Sunday and Monday evenings became OUR time.

SACRED.

I quickly discovered that these time slots in our busy, passing through the night schedules… allowed us to connect, to catch up, to be next to each other… and because we valued our INDEPENDENCE, it was just enough time to look forward to, that didn’t have us feeling like it was too much. *Ha… we’ve been together a LONG time, we both understand that it’s about quality, not quantity, at this point of our lives*

It was this time that really helped me NOT feel AS resentful about our limited amount of time together, for the rest of the week. I really was surprised how much it helped.

I surmised that it was this time that helped us moving forward. It felt SACRED. Sorta like when I was little, and I went to church every Sunday. It was something I could count on (even if I didn’t want to go, but that’s a different story) I know my Sunday mornings were church and breakfast with my family. I knew I couldn’t DO anything until mid-Sunday afternoon. It gave me a routine I could count on.

For most of us, significant others, we THRIVE on having something to count on, routine. (It’s because we’re the planners in our restaurant relationship, am I right?) *Again, calling EXCEPTION here.

So… what does this mean for you, my dear other half?

So my answer will ALWAYS be… to the question of how to find time to connect is to FIND SACRED TIME.

It does NOT have to be an all day affair. My own guess is that a minimum of ONE HOUR of sacred time a week… WILL help you feel grounded and rooted in your restaurant relationship. Whether it is sitting and having coffee at the table, going grocery shopping together (don’t laugh, I know some of you shop with your restaurant man/woman) or making a meal together (or going out to eat even) Something that is REGULAR, REPEATABLE, and is done with the energy of being VALUABLE.

I am not one to guarantee anything – Life is full of exceptions, and uncertainty….  but I will continue to answer that finding SACRED TIME in your restaurant relationship IS the one thing that will help connect you (and I’ll go so far as to help you THRIVE) in your restaurant relationship.

OOH… and for those of you not in the same city/country -  I have one word for you…. SKYPE. (or FaceTime) How about making your sacred time a regular Skype date? I can imagine how SEEING each other, your facial expressions, the way you blush when he tells you he can’t wait to see you next time.. WILL help you both feel connected. I challenge you, in todays technology age, on not finding some sacred time on the regular. Even if it’s just 30 minutes. (shoot, even 15!)

I have a feeling a question some of you might be asking is… “HOW do I get my restaurant man/woman to commit to SACRED TIME?”

Honestly.. I don’t have an answer for you on that. What works for one restaurant relationship will NOT work for another. For us, it just naturally happened, we didn’t say “Hey, how about Sunday and Monday evenings we get together and connect?” I think we both would agree that since our son, we are both DESPERATE for a date night (we’re working on it!), even though we still meet together on Sunday evenings for our regular TV shows. It just became that we both like doing this one thing, and doing it together feels better than doing it apart.

It just happened.

That’s what sort of makes it feel SACRED. It has become something we don’t even have to talk about, or bring to our awareness. It’s burned into our routine, that not doing it.. isn’t an option.

I just looked up SACRED in the dictionary – the definition that stands out, among the few that are there, are

“… reverently dedicated to some person, purpose, or object.”

Dedication is I think the word that stands out. It’s about DEDICATION. And even though I don’t KNOW you, or know your restaurant man/woman specifically… I know that DEDICATION is just another word for PASSION. You wouldn’t be in this kind of relationship if you didn’t have the passion and dedication… and your man/woman wouldn’t be in the restaurant industry if he/she too… didn’t have the same.

The trick, as I would believe it to be, is to find the mutual dedication to devote to this small amount of time, each week. Whenever it is toward your relationship.

MAYBE that is the topic of conversation that leads you to this conclusion. Your relationship… your love… your… DEDICATION to each other.

I am convinced that you start using the words SACRED TIME in your conversations with your other half, and the space for just that will make itself known. Maybe it’ll take a few adjustments, but like church, you don’t go if you don’t WANT TO (okay, so many of us were forced to, including myself, but you get my drift) but the hope is that it’ll help bring your commitment to what you believe in, even closer than where it is now.

Maybe for you, you will need to “schedule” this time with him/her. Maybe because he/she is spontaneous, you can steer your schedule so that it appears to happen, to him/her, to just pop up every week… who knows. If finding a regular time in your week to connect, SACRED TIME, sounds like a viable option (honestly, I say it’s THE KEY to thriving in this difficult relationship) – then TRUST YOURSELF and your man/woman that you will find a way to make it work.

So if/when you next find yourself reading the question, whether it be here, on the Facebook page, or in The Village, about how to connect… I will always answer the same way…

Where do you and your restaurant man/woman have SACRED TIME in your relationship?? If you don’t… how can you find it??? And now.

Who is to blame? The man or the mission?

May 19, 2014 in Expectations, Life, Relationships

blame him for everything

image: Pinterest

Before you dive in, start here.

The topic that has come up lately has been who to blame…. The man (or woman) or the restaurant? (* see below)

Blame for what, you say? For a sub par level of communication skills, for not being present in their relationship, for choosing to spend off the clock hours at the restaurant (or hanging out with the staff) than to be at home, not keeping in contact (in any way) during one of their really long days, for not taking care of his/her family, choosing to sleep in vs. pitching in at home or with the kids/pets, for having no responsibility around finances at home (or at the restaurant if you own your own), for the RESISTANCE to talk about anything outside their comfort zone, that is obviously putting a strain on the relationship, basically a glazing over of what is a very important part of everyday life… LIFE.

And before I launch into what I want to say about this… as I’ve already mentioned here, there is ALWAYS an exception to every rule. So yes, there are those reading this right now who are not questioning where the cause is. In a perfect world, we would all like to strive to not have to feel this way but for many of us (including myself from time to time), find ourselves feeling frustrated, resentful and without understanding what’s REALLY going on in our restaurant men/womens heads…so it’s easy to want to find something to hold onto instead of constantly living in that confused and frustrated state.  No need to judge yourself harshly if you are trying to find a reason for his behavior… maybe if we talk about it, it will help us find helpful ways to create solutions, instead of staying in the state we frequently are.

So… where was I… oh yes, The man or the mission?

From the conversations I’ve seen,  this is NOT a black and white issue. Many of you want to blame the man and the same amount of you want to blame the restaurant. Understandably so, I find that there is a MUCH greater sensitivity to looking at the cause being the man… and SO much easier to blame the restaurant. I mean, who wants to find the cracks in the man that we have chosen to spend our lives with – SO much easier to look at the industry as the potential culprit for our lives unrest. Blaming the man somehow reaches the core of us about WHY we decided to accept this in the first place, and that is an area we definitely don’t feel comfortable treading. To touchy a subject to broach, so we default to blaming the ways in which the industry “Made him do it.”

Oh, and side note: I feel it important to say, the one topic that I’m NOT bringing up here, a VERY important one at that.. is that what WE think their missing… their perceived notion of what their “responsibilities” are, they don’t seem to even be aware of . I want to talk about that in another post….about what responsibility means, to us and to them. So for now, if you can… please read this post knowing that what I’m NOT talking about is “Don’t they know that life is about being responsible??” but that I’m WELL aware that’s a primary reason for our unhappiness (and feeling of being UNSAFE) which leads us to want to blame the man or the mission in the first place.

I’d like to actually look at both sides, I think like the “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” question, I don’t think there is a clear cut answer. I personally think they play hand in hand. I want to talk about this because whether you believe it’s the man or the mission… it might be good to give you an opportunity to adjust your stance, and find some greater peace in your restaurant relationship.

Let’s do “I think the RESTAURANT is to blame” first… or the mission, since it’s an obviously easier culprit (or is it?)

Of course it makes sense to point the finger at the place where he seems to get into the most trouble. Not returning your phone calls or texts while he’s on the line, getting a little too close for comfort to his/hers coworkers, coming home smelling like onions and a few too many adult beverages. From what you KNOW, it’s his place of employment that he seems to easily get swept up in, and unlike hearing how things are at the office like most 9-5′rs, the stories that come out of the restaurant can almost be a cross between a soap opera and a circus.

You might probably be thinking… “But if he didn’t work at the restaurant, he would be more interested at home, his priorities, etc…” The fact that it’s not just his body but his brain, taking up permanent residence at work, that he would be more…simply AWARE that life is going on around him while he’s living in the vortex of the kitchen. (You know.. like his children who get fed and clothed each day, homework done with his almost oblivious observation. I mean, HOW does he think this happens while he is on the line everyday?)

I’m wondering…Is that REALLY the case?

It’s EASY to want to blame the restaurant, I mean they’re all the same. No matter where he/she goes.. it’s always the same story, right? You could move to another state, he could start working at another restaurant (in another position perhaps) and still within some set time… it’s like you’re living in Groundhog day of “The same as it ever was”.

Makes sense. Here’s where I am conflicted – The unwritten rules and ways of being at the restaurant have been laid down WAY BEFORE your man or woman decided to enter the culinary field. THEY didn’t create them, they willingly (whether they were aware of the degree to which they’d be involved) entered into them. They knew it wouldn’t involve standing by a water cooler, sitting in a cubicle or having to wear a tie. YES… being interested in food was their motivation but they also knew they wouldn’t have an conventional career either.

And because going into the restaurant industry involves late nights and unconventional living, it ATTRACTS people who want those things.

Even the unsavory things…. (alcohol, debauchery, etc)

Yes, it might not be easy to hear (more like read) but I feel confident that your other half knew what being in this industry involved (at least enough to still proceed) and WANTED it (or thought he/she could rise above it) and that’s what sealed the deal that this is a road they wanted to travel down. Again, there are always exceptions, but most of our restaurant men and women are fun loving, spur of the moment, live for today kinda people. It takes a person like that to handle the long hours, the intense stress of a busy dinner service and the ability to change on a dime them so successful in what they do, and what makes us so attracted to them in general.

*I mean come on.. they’re not coming home talking about how they were in a Powerpoint meeting or how they have these reports to work on…you met them talking about the exciting people they met, the interesting ingredients they used or the challenges they were able to overcome. You KNEW either in that first moment or within a relatively short period of time… what life would look like being this this man (or woman.)

In fact, you were turned on by it.

For example… I’ll turn this on myself. I can NOT turn a blind eye to the fact that I KNEW well and good that sitting at the bar and enjoying a drink after my then chef boyfriends shift was a part of his semi-regular routine. I would even sometimes meet him towards the end of his shift, enjoy his new dish and a drink, and catch up on what happened that day… it was a sexy way of connecting early on in our relationship and yet, more than a decade later… I find myself surprised and disappointed when he comes home smelling of his favorite drink. I’m upset with him about this? Is it the restaurant to blame? The restaurant didn’t make him have a drink. Should I blame my now chef husband for working at a place that has alcohol so readily available when there was a time that I enjoyed the perks myself?? *and sometimes still do.

Honestly I don’t think I can. *But I still do.

The temptations and ways of being (nocturnal, fun loving, pushed to the edge, moving fast, coordinating parties..FUN) will ALWAYS be a part of what a restaurant IS. I mean that’s why WE want to go out to eat… to relax, to enjoy ourselves, be treated well by our servers and to partake in eating delicious food. People that work at a restaurant need to be the kind of people who ENJOY doing those things for the restaurant, don’t you think?

I mean…it’s not a library.

We know what we’re getting ourselves into when we go to a library. Quiet time, searching for what we’re looking for, finding a spot to read or do our research… all during business hours. Librarys do… what they are meant to do. To stimulate our brains, to educate us, to hopefully inspire us. People who have the mentality to work in a library… work in a library. Can you blame the library and it’s primary commandment of being quiet when we want to share an exciting (read: LOUD) story with our friends? NO. We just DON’T go to the library. Probably people who work at a library ENJOY the cerebral (and quiet) mindset that is necessary, and are married to people who find that an attractive quality.

Can we blame our significant other for being ATTRACTED to (yes, even in the good and the bad) what working in a restaurant is like.. REALLY?

Now about the man (or woman)… Lets do the upside and downside of why the finger is primarily pointing at your other half.

First, the upside. Going back to what I said earlier… there is a reason why our men and women are attracted to this type of lifestyle. These are the fly by the seat of their pants, living in the moment, and loving life people for a reason. I can’t shake the feeling that one of those reasons are their desire to do something with their hands. I see a few common threads between the chefs I know, one being the desire to take something apart and put it back together. Interestingly, my chef husband used to be a MECHANIC and it’s the SAME sort of career, just this involves food instead of car parts. To others, it’s about the science. The CHEMISTRY of the food. That’s why when I hear the word DECONSTRUCTED… I can’t help spark an image of the mad scientist, working over and over again to find the perfect formula. Finally, I liken what they do with their craft like I see a PAINTER, holding their palate full of oil paints, it takes time, dedication and focus to create a masterpiece… such is the same case of our beloveds and what lies within them to practice their passion.

That said, sitting at a desk will NOT allow our beloveds to feel like they’re doing what makes them feel mechanical, artistic and/or scientific. Most of them KNOW they’re not meant for the 9-5, to sit for 8 hours in front of a computer. They know that standing over a myriad of different ingredients is where they are meant to be.

The restaurant is just their vehicle for giving them the ability to be that mechanic, chemist or artist.

And, because we can’t take the up without the down… there are the things about the restaurant industry that ENABLES our other halves to enter into it. Like I wrote in the hard to say piece (see here), the restaurant industry is a work hard, play hard sorta business. It attracts those who want to work hard and play hard.

Okay… let’s be real, they want to be somewhere that they can work hard WHILE playing hard. Almost always at the same time.

And, just like WE NEED (again, claiming exceptions here) to feel the SAFETY of routine and predictability in our own lives, They live on the EDGE. I know my husband says “I’m a machine” when it comes to pushing himself and doing what he has to do. I know I’m NOT a machine and honestly am grateful for it, but I admire his tenacity and blazing drive to achieve his goals. I need that sometimes stubborn drive in HIM to inspire ME to move forward. (I find myself saying this, especially now as a new mama)

Do I LIKE all the things that make my man tick? Well no, but I KNOW that he doesn’t like all of my ways of doing things either. Ha ha. He doesn’t like that I’m CONSTANTLY thinking of the next step and the next step. It is, I’m SURE, like I’m always a BUZZKILL. In fact, I’ll be transparent, he regularly says, when we’re out doing something spontaneous, “Don’t ruin it.” What HE needs to have a good time (NOT thinking about the next step and the next step, is EXACTLY what makes me feel safe and therefore happy.

THAT’S WHY WE NEED EACH OTHER.

Whether he’s aware of it or not (He’s not), he needs me (to keep his next step in view) and I need him (to remind me that Life isn’t always about preparing for the next step. )

IS IT FUN? To be with someone who pushes our buttons because unconsciously we are with them because WE need the reminder?

Uh, NO.

But I think at the end of the day… I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The man (*) and the mission are both REASONS we are where we are. We are INDEPENDENT, ACHIEVEMENT SEEKING  individuals… attempting to always create BALANCE.

So, whether you focus your grievances on the man (*) or the mission… maybe you can take this moment to see how.. the reason he IS the way he/she is, WHY he works where he/she does… is exactly the reason why you are the way you are. MAYBE… just MAYBE.. there IS nothing to blame here.. but instead, to be grateful for (I know.. I’m pushing it). My prediction about you is that you’re NOT the kind of person, deep down, who likes to watch life go by (like some of the loved ones in your life do) your a risk taker (even if it’s only in your head), you have your own dreams and goals… but are sometimes too stuck in your head to make them happen.

Maybe… just maybe the man (or woman)… who loves his/her mission… helps us get out of our heads long enough to encourage us to get to where we want to be.

If we could only always remember that. Right? Damn if that’s not the tricky part.

QUESTION: Which one is your other half… mechanic, chemist or artist? I would LOVE to know!
__________________________________

* For the purposes of trying to keep it simple and catchy, the title of this post is man – versus man or woman). I KNOW there are a lot of women chefs out there in relationships with their fellow significant others, but at this point, most of what I’m hearing is about the men of this equation. Writing to my known audience.

{GUEST POST} Help! We are raising a family AND my husband is a chef!

April 24, 2014 in Family, Life

Help - Emulsified Family

Before we had kids, I of course had all the answers.  I loved kids.  They were so little and cute, sweet and cuddly, full of hugs and slobbery kisses and loved to draw you pictures and give you things they had made.

What’s not to love?  I loved them so much I taught elementary school for 11 years. Everyone said that parenting is the hardest job you’ll ever do, but really?  How hard could it be?  (Stop laughing at me.  Really.  Don’t think I can’t hear you through the computer screen.)

Then we had kids.

Yes, all the above are true.  Unfortunately, parenting doesn’t stop with the slobbery kisses and cuddling, which we so soon found out.

  • When do I get a break?
  • What do you mean all babies don’t breastfeed easily?
  • Why do I have to keep disciplining them for the same thing over and over again?  You think they would get it by now!
  • Why are they so messy?
  • What do you mean I am going to go through this entire pack of newborn diapers in just a day and a half?
  • Why do they not want to eat the meal I’ve prepared?
  • Why won’t they stop talking?

Oh the list could go on and on . . .

Now I say the above jokingly.  I did know it was going to be hard, but did not expect it to be quite as challenging as it is on a day to day basis.  My experience with kids was that they left at 3:30 pm each day.  So if it was a tough day, I at least got a break in the evening.  Your own kids never leave . . . they are with you 24/7.

While you love your children more than you could have ever imagined, you never get a day off of parenting.  Some days will be easier than others, but there will always be a sweet (or not so sweet depending on the day) little person who needs you.

I truly do love being a parent.  It’s hard to remember what my life was like 10 years ago before our first daughter was born.  I love the time I get to spend with our girls and am so grateful for the chance to be their mom.  Time goes by so much faster now that we have kids.  I really have no idea where the last 9 ½ years went . . .

So now that we’ve established how wonderful and challenging parenting is, let’s throw the schedule of a Chef into the mix.  AHHHHHHHH!!!

If your chef/husband or significant other has a schedule anything like mine does, it is full of long hours and can change at any moment!

Currently my husband is the Executive Chef at Palisade, a large fine dining restaurant in Seattle, WA.  He works between 70-80 hours a week.  I am a stay at home Mom and do a little website development and blogging while the girls are resting, sleeping, or playing nicely.  2 of our girls are in school and 1 is still home with me, anxiously awaiting Kindergarten next year.

Now fortunately, I am able to stay home full time, so whatever days my chef/husband is off, I get to see him.  We can go out and do things in the middle of the week, and actually prefer this as things are less crowded.  While his schedule makes it hard to do things with other couples and families, we make it work for us and we HAD a decent amount of time together as a family.  We even managed to find time to talk with the kids around.

Then came Kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade . . .

No longer were week days an option for us to do things as a family.  Some of our family was gone most of the day and then there was homework, dinner, baths, etc. when they got home.  Weekends are busy at the restaurant, so my chef/husband was usually working.  So that now leaves us with no day our entire family is off at the same time.  HELP!!

We have to try hard to find time to do things as family.  Advance preparation (if possible) seems to help (most days).  If I know the days my chef/husband will be off, we try to get ahead on piano and homework, so we can spend the evening together.  On his days off, I try to be as organized as possible so I don’t have to spend as much time cleaning, cooking and doing laundry.

On his days off, my chef/husband also tries to find time to do things with the girls individually.  It doesn’t happen every day, but even something as simple as playing Wii with “just Daddy” is special and they love every minute of it.  (They also tend to follow him around like he is in a parade, making it a bit tough to relax.  But that deserves a post all it’s own!)

Because of my chef/husband’s long hours, a lot of the parent responsibilities fall on me.  This can get discouraging at times.  Like we established above, parenting is hard work!  It’s not easy to be consistent with discipline and to stay on top of homework, AWANA verses, multiplication tables, teeth brushing, etc. when it’s just me most of the time.  It’s hard to ask for help when I need it, even though I know friends and family are there for support.  We all get overwhelmed as parents, especially if much of the burden is on our shoulders.  You’re not alone.

Because so much of the parenting falls to me, I find that if I don’t take time to take care of myself, my family suffers.  It’s not easy to find time to exercise and do things I enjoy that don’t involve the kids, but those things are so important!  If I’m stressed out and exhausted, there’s no way I can take care of my family.

So if you are feeling discouraged and ready to scream “Help!” remember you are not alone.

I would encourage you to communicate with your chef/husband or significant other about your frustrations and work through them together as a couple and family.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Hire a babysitter, ask a friend to watch the kids for an hour or two so you can get some rest of take a break.

And take care of yourself!  You can’t take care of others if you are an emotional wreck.  (Trust me, I’ve tried and it doesn’t work out well.)

We would love to hear your thoughts on how you manage to combine restaurant and family life.  Let’s get the conversation started in the comments below!  J

Emulsified Family

Jennifer Small is a stay at home mom and blogger who has been married to Chef Tom Small for 18 ½ years.  They have 3 children and reside in the Seattle, Washington area.

EmulsifiedFamily.com

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Tom Small | Executive Chef and Proud papa

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Silence is not an option.

July 11, 2013 in Coping, Fears, Life, Restaurant Industry

Our lives begin to end

photo credit: pinterest

before you dive in, start here.

Read this quote again, isn’t that how you feel, right now?

Isn’t that what brought you to this website? You feel like your in silence with how challenging and frustrating being in relationship with someone in the industry can be?

Can you relate to the words “Our lives begin to end….” ?

Isn’t THAT also true? Wasn’t there a part of you that felt like a part of you, or your relationship was about to end… because you felt “in silence” with what you are always managing, and didn’t know how to get through it?

And if you’re in it for the long haul, are you still suffering in silence?

Let’s face it… the shitty parts of this relationship can be utterly unnerving.

The days/weeks/months on our own, the lack of consideration on our restaurant man/womans part when something changes quickly during their shift, and it’s hours before we hear from them again. The inability to fully be present while they’re at home because they’re mind (and hence their eyes and fingers) are constantly checking their email on their phone? The days when you REALLY don’t want to cook when you get home from work, another day of having to figure it all out, by yourself, makes you question your decision to be in this type of relationship in the first place?

Sometimes this type of relationship just plain sucks.

Add to that, that for YEARS, there has never been an outlet for us. There has been no place to go to relate to others in the same situation, to rant, to be comforted, to be helped back up.  I honestly cannot imagine how significant others of pre-internet times got by. I once heard a pre-internet significant other sort of comfort/defend herself when I said that these types of relationships are not easy, by saying it wasn’t that bad and that there was no sense in complaining about it because there was nothing she could do about it. Gosh, how that must’ve been SO TRUE for generations of significant others who had no place to turn to, somewhere to go to feel like they weren’t crazy and when they turned to their friends/family (in 9-5′r relationships) just confirmed that there was a need to be silent about how hard it is, because noone really understood.

Talk about isolation.

You could’ve been one of those lucky significant others who lived in close proximity to your other halfs husbands and wives, girlfriends and boyfriends, and created friendships to relate to that way, but still, everyone deals with things differently and maybe how one person deals, is not quite how you would.

THANKFULLY, that’s why I created this space. So I could find you. So you could find me. So we could find each other. To release the flood gates and allow the silence of those who came before us, suffering in silence to be set free. Thankfully there are more of us who are sharing their experiences online, bringing it to the mainstream, and connecting with our fellow significant others as a place to go to when they need to remember they are not crazy or alone. 

I can feel the decades of silence pouring out in our comments, our posts in our private Facebook Group, our moments of desparation when we simply need to be seen. The outpouring has been going on since the MINUTE I launched this website on Valentines Day, 2011 and it’s not surprisingly, why those who are new to this website, find themselves relieved to find a place to feel safe to not be silent. It’s why, in June 2013, this website was seen in 103 countries.

We’re talking a GLOBAL silencing here.

That said…. The only way we are going to shift how WE see ourselves in our restaurant relationships, and how we will be able to help others in the same place is to NOT be silent anymore. 

Now, before I go on, I’m not talking about protesting on the Capital or boycotting your loved ones restaurant. No. That’s not going to help us. We need to share, when asked about what it’s like being connected to this industry, to be honest. Share your experiences, educate those who have NO IDEA. The perception is that it’s all glitz and glamour and YOU know what it’s really like. 

Why not share it?

As someone who believes that change comes from within, I felt the need to share what frustrates me because I KNOW I’m not the only one. I’m sharing my experiences, NOT because I’m brave, but because the only way I’m going to find help, is to SAY SOMETHING. The only way I’m not going to feel alone is to talk about the things that make me feel lonely.

And also, I’m not talking about BASHING the restaurant industry or our other halfs or their superior either (even though you might want to sometimes), it’s about speaking up, using your voice and even sharing how strong a person has to be to THRIVE (yes, you can use the word endure, it does feel like enduring sometimes) in this type of relationship.

Even though, there have yet to be a man come forth from their silence, I KNOW YOUR OUT THERE TOO!!! I know you’re reading this along with your fellow women significant others, who are needing to be supported. Even MEN need get their frustrations OUT!

Men, let’s break the silence!! 

And finally, and most importantly, I want to talk about the silence we feel from our restaurant man/woman NOT to speak about what’s frustrating us. I’ve heard from so many of you that your chef husbands think this website is FUNNY. Like, ha ha, amusing. I’ve actually told others what I do (I’m the creator and resident life coach of Married to a Chef, supporting significant others in the restaurant industry, because MOST people have no idea what it’s really like.) and they say “Oh how cute (or funny).”

Really? Cute?  Funny?

Of course they think it’s cute.. they have NO idea. They’re still in a deep trance that it’s all non stop VIP events, and guest appearing on some Food Network program.

It’s up to US to tell them why NO… it’s NOT CUTE.

It’s up to US to share how it’s somewhat similar to the wifes of policemen and fireman (minus the constant danger, but sometimes I wonder)

And to our restaurant men and women who want us to keep our mouths shut… to NOT speak of how challenging this type of relationship is for fear of them being judged for being an absent husband, a narcissist, an uncaring human being (I mean, wouldn’t most people think we’re being neglected with how alone we feel sometimes????)

OF COURSE THEY WANT US TO KEEP QUIET!

While this is their passion, this is a BUSINESS. They want to keep their jobs, keep their dreams, keep their reputation intact… so OF COURSE they don’t want us coming in and saying “Well, actually, my husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend DOESN’T walk on water.”  while their eyes bug out because you might reveal their innermost secret.

THEY’RE NOT PERFECT!! THEY’RE STILL FIGURING SHIT OUT AND MAKING MISTAKES ALONG THE WAY!!!

*Sorry for the strong language in this post, but I feel it’s necessary.

They didn’t create the unwritten rules of this industry. The glorified “Chefs are Gods, they do no wrong.” rule that they willingly bought into and we are all mandated to keep the myth going. Try to cut them some slack (TRY) that I’m sure that in some little way, they wish it could be different too. I’ve mentioned before, this is a well oiled machine that’s been running a LONG time… they either hold onto what keeps it going… or they will inevitably be thrown off.  We have the power to make a subtle shift by sharing our experiences and beginning to share a new paradigm. The “I love being married to a chef and it’s NOT because of why you think.” paradox. :)

Let me ask you a question… Have you ever thought that in my postings… that I have publically BASHED my husband?

I want to say no. I am talking about such a broad stroke, that these scenarios, our frustrations can be discussed with chefs, with those in the restaurant industry around the WORLD. This is a UNIVERSAL experience we are all having with some small specifics thrown in. We are all more alike than different.

That’s another reason why staying quiet will NEVER help anyone else. Even if it’s someone on the other side of the globe from where you are.

YOU can help your fellow significant others. Start by speaking out, not by publically revealing your other halfs flaws (even if they’re most likely something at least 1000 of us can relate to) but put your teacher hat on and EDUCATE when you speak.

You just might make the difference between someone who is REALLY struggling to find the way… and leaving them to suffer in silence.

YOU found your voice here… now it’s your chance to pay it forward.

SILENCE IS NO LONGER AN OPTION.  

*One way to speak up… be a guest poster here. SEE HERE.

 *Another way is to contribute to our mission and get the perks of being a part of your larger, global Village. SEE HERE.

*Finally, another way is to create a local meetup group of significant others so you can meet with and release some of that pent up frustration you have inside. Trust me, it really helps to see someone in person in order to feel like you’re not crazy for feeling the way you do. (If you do create something like this, let me know, and I’ll promote it.)

The one unknowing that keeps us trapped in our lives.

June 5, 2013 in Life

Hes not perfect you arent either Bob Marley

photo credit: Pinterest

Before you dive in, start here.

BEFORE I DIVE IN, I want to say – I know it’s been a while since I’ve written. Please forgive me. I’ve been wading through the waters of first trimester exhaustion and morning sickness. (Hubby and I are expecting November 6th-ish) For the good part of March, April and May… I was not able to get my brain to focus on much. Thankfully, I feel my energy, focus and therefore my renewed passion for our plight, returning with a vengence.

Interestingly,  in this pause,  it’s become ‘hit me upside my head’ clear that there is one thing that most to ALL of us don’t understand about our lives that keeps us feeling powerless, out of control, and at the whim of everyone elses decisions. This unknowing prevents us from feeling happy, knowing what to do next, and because we don’t understand, we end up sitting on our hands, feeling doubt and loneliness and end up doing nothing. I’ve seen it with clients, TIME AND TIME AGAIN and even in my own life.. it’s almost like we really do not even know we have a a WELL of amazing information we know to help us guide our lives.

I’m talking about knowing WHAT DOES AND DOESN’T WORK FOR YOU.

Do you even know that it’s up to YOU to figure out what does and doesn’t work for you? It’s NOT your parents job, your siblings job, your educators job or even your restaurant man/womans job to figure out what works FOR YOU, but for some reason that I honestly cannot fully grasp, we all don’t live out of what does or doesn’t work for us.

We don’t even know that we CAN make decisions based on what does or doesn’t work for us.

For instance -  in our everyday lives, there are PLENTY of things we KNOW we do or do not like.. that we are not willing to budge on.

  • Know that you are not an early morning person?
  • Know that you don’t like horror movies?
  • Know that you won’t be skydiving anytime soon?
  • Know that you do not like tomatoes on your ham sandwich?

That is what you KNOW about yourself.. and instinctively you make decisions based on the fact that you know this information.  You don’t question these things you KNOW… you just work around them. You don’t feel bad about these things… you just do (or don’t do) them based on what you really KNOW about what you want.

But for some reason… we don’t make decisions based on what we KNOW works (or doesn’t work) in our relationships, our friendships and the bigger, life altering decisions.

I’m convinced thats because we don’t even know what works for us with these bigger topics and don’t know that like tomatoes, scary movies and waking up early.. we are able to make decisions based on what we already know about ourselves.

Where did this unknowing come from? Of course it’s easy to say it comes from conditioning, our parents beliefs on us, mixed with our own desire to “fit in”, we have sort of silenced the part of us that KNOWS WHAT WE WANT but thinks we can’t POSSIBLY get it. *even more, definitely think we don’t DESERVE it.

I came to this conclusion after talking with a coach friend of mine about how… when I say…

“YEA, THAT DOESN’T WORK FOR ME.”

I feel SO empowered. I felt like I wanted to run through my life, kinda like going through the clothes in my closet, purging the things that I knew that no longer FIT ME.

BUT theres the rub – I don’t give away the clothes that no longer fit me… I keep them. I keep them WAY too long. I think about all the “What ifs”, and “When I”‘s and daydream about when it will be what I want it to be. All this time WASTED with NO ROOM for new clothes in my closet.

WHY? Because a little mix of parental conditioning “What if you can fit into those jeans one day, don’t be wasteful.” and a LOT of my own belief that if I let go of it, means I was not strong enough to accomplish what those smaller jeans represent. Self control. Disipline. Taking action.

It is a daily reminder of how I’m not good enough. And so there they sit… collecting dust. Secretly I WANT those old jeans around to remind me how I’m not worth what I REALLY want, which is to be thinner, running again, and making exercise a greater priority in my life.

But when I actually go through with getting rid of doesn’t work for me… despite that twinge of old messaging that says “But what if…” I will feel BETTER and my closet will have more room for what DOES work for me now.

Sound familiar?

You might be thinking… “SO WHAT does this have to do with my restaurant relationship?”

Well… What in your restaurant relationship IS OR ISN’T working for you? Do you even know? If you’re in the dating part of the Evolution of your relationship, and you are still figuring out if you want to take the leap, do you even know what YOU WANT and don’t want in a relationship IN GENERAL?

Like… the question ALL dating significant others should ask themselves NOW…. “Does being alone alot, on the weekends and on holidays WORK FOR ME?”

The sooner you ask this question and really trust the answer  you get (and act out of it).. the BETTER OFF YOU’LL BE.

Odds are you already know the answer to that question but are resisting that knowing based out of the “What ifs”.

And what if you’re already married, and when things change in his/her schedule, or your schedule… do you KNOW what does and doesn’t work for you or do you just keep sitting in the dark, feeling like you don’t have a choice. 

OF COURSE YOU HAVE A CHOICE. That’s the thing.. I don’t think we realize we DO know what we want and when we do… we don’t express it.  (and even if we do, it doesn’t have the POWER of saying that you know what does/doesn’t work for you.. so of course he/she doesn’t take you seriously. Note to myself here. :)

For instance:

  • Know that you don’t like it when your other half doesn’t text you after being at work for 12 hours?
  • How about when they sleep ALL day on their ONLY day off… How does that work for you?
  • What about when they decide to cook something at home and leave ALL the dishes for you to clean?
  • How do you feel about their choice to grab a drink after work, instead of coming home? *Especially if it’s more than one night in a row.

I BETCHA you know if that does or doesn’t work for you but instead of saying it doesn’t work for you… it just feels like one more thing that doesn’t make your relationship work. Instead of telling him/her “You know, this going out, having a few more drinks than I”m comfortable with, and then driving DOES NOT WORK FOR ME” feels differently than to just start yelling at him or feeling like your opinion doesn’t matter.

TRY IT – Say, (with a firm voice) “YEA, THAT DOESN’T WORK FOR ME.”

Feels good, right? *I know it does.

Okay, it also might FEEL a bit defiant but that’s why I know it’s GOOD FOR US. It’s challenging that old conditioning saying we are not supposed to know (or get) what we want. Keep doing it, that defiant feeling will diminish as you get more comfortable with it.

DARE you to say it out loud a few times.. and then say it WHENEVER you are faced with a choice.

  • Staying up late again because he’s now decided he’s going to work late?  – YEA, THAT DOESN’T WORK FOR ME.
  • Taking the kids to the inlaws on an already busy weekend?  – YEA, THAT DOESN’T WORK FOR ME.
  • Hosting the next book club gathering?  – “YEA, THAT DOESN’T WORK FOR ME.”

This phrase basically empowers you to LIVE from our innermost knowing. It sort of throws out the excuses about why it COULD work for you, even though we know deep down that it doesn’t and only allows for ONE CLEAR PATH of what does… or doesn’t.

GIVE IT A TRY – We KNOW what we want and what we don’t want, it’s time we give ourselves permission to EXPRESS IT.