Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ask Kelli: Getting Motivated to Make a Needed Change

by Kelli Miller

Dear Kelli,

My husband and I have grown apart. It’s obvious, but we’re both still acting as if everything is normal. I know we need to bite the bullet and have a conversation but I think we’re both afraid. We’ve fallen out of love -- at least I have. Why am I so afraid to have this conversation?

Fallen Out of It

Dear Fallen Out of It,

You’re afraid because this isn’t what you pictured. No one gets married thinking they will end up falling out of love. You’re afraid because no one likes to have a conversation that is awkward or one that you think will hurt the other person. And you’re probably afraid because you’ve grown comfortable. You didn’t say how long you’ve been married but I’m assuming it’s at least several years. You get into a pattern, a way of life. It’s hard to change all that, even if you know it will lead to better things.

But the longer you wait, the harder it will be. The sooner you have this tough conversation the quicker you can start your new life. And although you are afraid, that doesn’t mean you aren’t ready. It’s like a band-aid at this point. It’s going to hurt, but the sooner you rip it off, the sooner you’ll recover from this pain.

Why live another day being unhappy? Have the conversation. Today.

All the best,


Dear Kelli,

I have a huge fear of disapproval. I want to do everything right, I want everyone to love me. It sounds crazy, I know, but it’s the truth. What can I do?

Approve of Me!

Dear Approve of Me,

It doesn’t sound crazy, it's actually fairly common. People who are constantly seeking approval often didn’t get enough of it as a kid. So now you are trying to get it as an adult. It makes sense. The great news is that you are aware of it and want to work on it.

I’d definitely suggest working with a therapist, because it sounds to me as if there are deeper issues that I can’t help you with in just a few paragraphs. This is something bigger and something you do want to uncover, so you can feel more at peace with yourself.

In the meantime, however, I can suggest a few helpful tips:

1) Write a list of your strengths and keep in where you can see it (your mirror, car, etc.) It will be a constant reminder for you, and this way you can get approval from yourself!
2) Volunteer. It builds self-esteem and gives you perspective on what's important in life.
3) Write out your job history and what you accomplished at each job. This again will be a reminder that you are competent and can succeed.
4) Check out some books on self-esteem and the need for validation.

All the best,


Dear Kelli,

I know I should work out. Aargh. But I just can’t. How on earth can I seek motivation?

Happy to Be Fat

Dear Happy to be Fat,

The only true way for you to be motivated to work out is to really want it. From your signature name, “Happy to Be Fat” I’m wondering if you really want to make the change. What will you get out of working out? My first suggestion is to compile a list of the reasons you want to work out. An example would be:

1) To lose weight
2) To feel better
3) To increase my endorphins
4) To lower my risk of heart disease

Keep that list near you so you always have a reminder of why you are doing this. It helps on the days you just don’t feel like doing it.

I’d keep your goals small to start. You want to be realistic. So you don’t want to think “I’ll lose 30 pounds in a month!” Maybe a better thought would be, “I’ll walk 2 times this week. Next week I’ll walk 3 times, etc.” Write these goals down as well.

I’d also make this process as easy as possible. That means keeping your workout clothes readily available. If you choose to work out in the morning, put them next to bed and have your sneakers there, too. If you choose to do it after work, keep them in your car.

Choose a great workout mix. It will help keep you energized.

Finally, reward yourself with small gifts. If you work out your desired number of hours per week, reward yourself with a massage, manicure, or movie.

All the best,


Kelli Miller, MSW is a therapist, author, and radio personality. Miller was a featured expert for SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 198, the co-host for the TV show Love and Money: The Advice Show, and the advice columnist for Playboy U, and the author of Professor Kelli’s Guide to Finding a Husband. Ask Kelli is published on All Life is Local and the Cleveland Park Listserv on Wednesdays.

Kelli welcomes your comments below.  Have a question? You can write to Kelli at advice (at) fastmail (dot) net or via Twitter @askkelli.Your name and email address will be kept confidential.


  1. Shocked and SaddenedFebruary 9, 2011 at 4:51 PM

    Re: "Fallen Out of It"

    What? These folks are toldsupposed to get their talk over with and simply move on to their "new life" -- with no suggestion for marriage counseling to talk things over together in the presence of a neutral third party?

    Quite frankly, I'm kinda shocked at the lack of that as being part of the advice, but perhaps I just find it all the more sad that folks are so quick to throw in the towel without seeking any outside help first to see if there's anything they can do to mend their marriage.

  2. "Shocked and Saddened"February 9, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    P.S. I just read this column and my comment to my husband. He said something I think is worth sharing:

    "You never just rip off a band-aid. You don't let the band-aid become part of the problem. Simply ripping it off re-opens a wound that's partially healed. You need to go through a process of first soaking the band-aid and very gently and carefully removing it. And, that's what counseling would do, even if the end result is a divorce. Because at least in that scenario, the parties would have reached that point having had some TLC from a counselor in the process. Otherwise those folks may end up finalizing this relationship and moving to the next possibly more wounded than they were before."

  3. I'm assuming that there was more to this question than was in this short version. I was sort of reading between the lines and figured there would have been an original longer letter with more about the loss of feeling in the marriage, and why there's nothing left for a counselor to try to revive. There's no mention of kids or anything at all that still connects them to each other. Maybe these assumptions aren't warranted. But I went to a lecture once by an advice columnist and she said the letters she gets are often pages and pages long, with lots of details that she can't include in the one-paragraph condensed version that goes in the published column. Anyway, ever since then I've taken to assuming that the columnist has more to go on when giving her advice.