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Kathy Marshack News

What’s Wrong with Using Alcohol to Unwind After a Hard Day at the Office?

Thursday, September 26, 2013


empty beer bottlesEvery night at about 10:30 the fighting begins until the couple gets so tired they just fall asleep. This married couple works side-by-side running their successful business, but by the end of the workday, Joan frequently wants to stop off at a bar for a drink to "unwind". Jack, in a separate car goes home, relieves the babysitter, and starts dinner. When his wife gets home, she’s relaxed and cheerful, the alcohol having taken the edge off of the day's stress. She has two more glasses of wine at dinner. As the evening progresses, Jack busies himself with settling the children down for the evening. He doesn't mind doing most of the domestic chores because he understands that Joan doesn't have as much physical stamina as he.

When it’s time to give the children a goodnight kiss, he usually finds his wife napping on the couch. A couple more drinks later, Joan is no longer cheerful, but is very irritable. Dumbfounded, Jack can’t figure out why she’s mad at him. The accusations start flying, defensive walls shoot up and the arguing escalates to unreasonable and irrational proportions.

When does relaxing with a drink turn into a problem such as this?

A recent article on CNN’s website, Does Drinking Reduce My Stess?, quotes psychology professor Kenneth Sher, head of the University of Missouri’s Alcohol, Behavior and Health laboratory, "If you're looking forward to a drink to relieve your stress, on a regular basis, that is a warning sign. There's a very strong relationship between having thoughts like, 'Alcohol helps me relax' and 'Having a few drinks makes my trouble go away' and alcohol dependency problems."

If you are using alcohol to handle your stress, you're actually adding more stress to your system. As professor Sher stated, "When you're alcohol-dependent, you're chronically stressed at a baseline level." The higher your levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, the more you need to drink to feel normal.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly 18 million Americans abuse alcohol or are alcoholic. There are also several million more adults who engage in risky drinking that could lead to alcohol problems such as binge drinking and heavy drinking on a regular basis. How do you know if you have a problem with alcohol? Start by seeing how you answer the questions on my website – Alcohol Recovery.

If you experience drinking-related problems that impact your job, relationships, health, or the law, you should seek professional help. You may want to start by speaking to your doctor but there are a variety of resources available to you. Don’t delay. The effects of alcohol abuse can be extremely serious both to you and to others. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment please contact my Portland, OR or Vancouver, WA office.

Can Life Partners Be Good Business Partners?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


life partners becoming business partnersElise and Aaron have been in a happy marriage for more than ten years. During that time, each has built a successful, professional practice. However, unexpected problems began when they moved into the same office suite. Because they’re seeing each other every day at work and at home, conflicts are happening more often. The tools they used in the past to resolve problems aren’t working anymore.

This pictures a classic problem between entrepreneurial husbands and wives. Because their expectations are so radically different, husbands and wives become confused and frustrated with a partner that they love. They wonder why they ever asked the other to work with them. Sometimes they wonder even if they should remain married.

Search for a flexible system of relating that can change with the circumstances of your life, your lives together, and the changing marketplace of your business.

As more and more couples consider entrepreneurship, it becomes painfully apparent that they must prepare for the stress that business collaboration will cause their personal relationship. Much of this stress results from couples not discussing the ramifications of working together, not preparing for the blurred boundaries and turf that arise when a spouse becomes one’s business partner. However, clarifying the work/home expectations of each spouse/business partner should be the first thing that any entrepreneurial couple does, even before spending a cent on letterhead or signing the bank loan.

Whatever your style of couple entrepreneurship (a solo proprietorship, co-entrepreneurial couple or dual-entrepreneurs) there are few models to guide you in maintaining a loving marriage and a thriving business simultaneously. It is possible to design a model unique to the two of you that really works. Begin by talking with your spouse/partner about the goals each of you has for yourselves individually in life. Then go on to discuss marital goals, family goals and finally business goals. I have a more comprehensive outline of how to do this in my book, ENTREPRENEURIAL COUPLES: Making it Work at Work and at Home. It’s now available as a Kindle edition. Why don’t you check it out?

If you need some personal guidance on how to resolve a conflict in your family business, please contact my Portland Oregon/ Vancouver, Washington office and set up an appointment.

Read more on my website – Couples in Business.

How Are Women Entrepreneurs Changing the World We Live In?

Monday, August 26, 2013


women entrepreneurs juggle home and workThe numbers of entrepreneurial women are increasing rapidly. Because women are socialized differently than men, they tend to organize and run their businesses differently, though they are no less a force on the American economy. This is changing the way America does business, AND the ways Americans do marriage and family. Let’s examine this in more depth… 

How entrepreneurial women balance home life and work life.

Career women struggle with societal values and their own internalized beliefs about what is required of the competent professional versus the good wife and mother. In order to ease the struggle to define themselves, women can opt for the traditional homemaker role and not work outside the home. However, work proves to be powerfully alluring to women. Therefore, career women have chosen other methods to resolve this struggle.

Most commonly, entrepreneurial women overwork. Instead of asking for changes from their husbands, changes in the workplace, or even changes in society, career women increase the time spent in nurturing relationships as they increase their commitment to work.

While men strive for autonomy first and learn about relationships second, women develop their sense of self first in connection with others. Therefore, a woman’s sense of worth is highly dependent on the consequences of relationships.

Entrepreneurial women use unconventional methods in business management.

Women entrepreneurs have a more relaxed style of management. This can be seen in how women entrepreneurs treat their employees, suppliers, and customers. They seem to prefer a more people-oriented style. According to Putnam's 1993 study of entrepreneurial women in Oregon, women entrepreneurs blend their personal and their business identities. They base their management of the business on relationships rather than on the development of business plans. Employees are considered friends. Family and spouse support are elements without which the woman would not consider an entrepreneurial venture. Rather than network within traditional business organizations, entrepreneurial women rely on strong personal relationships with their customers and vendors. These findings led Putnam to describe the business orientation of entrepreneurial women as a "web of interconnected relationships."

Since this is becoming the norm, why don’t you and your partner reevaluate the arrangements you’ve made, as well as the assumptions underlying those arrangements? Are there ways that you can reorganize your relationship, your business, and your personal life to create an arrangement that works better for both of you? If you’d like a third party to help sort it out, talking with a family therapist can help. Contact my office and set up an appointment in either my Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington office.

Whether to work with your spouse or not is just one of the challenges I address in my book - Entrepreneurial Couples Making it Work at Work and at Home. It’s now available on as a Kindle edition.

4 Steps to Healing Negative Emotions In Your Family Business Relationships

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


use a notepad to do these four steps to healing negative emotionsWhen you run a family business, unresolved emotions can complicate the business relationship. When you improve the parent/child relationship, your family business will be a much less stressful place in which to work. How can you do this?

To clear up the negative emotions you have with your parents or children, take a moment to do the following four steps:

Step one:

Go to a quiet place and think about what really makes you angry with your loved one. This is the time for honestly listing the flaws, mistakes, habits and traits that bother you.

Step two:

List everything you admire and are grateful for in your loved one.

Step three:

Now comes the harder part, honestly ask yourself which traits are you perpetuating in the family tradition. Feelings of guilt may make it hard for you to acknowledge your parents flaws or your own, so it might be wise to ask your spouse for input.

Step four:

Finally, make a plan of action to change the negative traits.

These four steps reveal a great deal. Because of feeling guilty and wishing to avoid blame, you may inadvertently be carrying on the same mistakes generation after generation.

The goal of each generation should be to improve, not repeat mistakes. Holding your parents accountable gives you freedom to do the same. Accountability is the answer to removing negative emotions. It does no good to keep doing the blame game. When you’re respectful in your confrontations, you can communicate how your parents/children have hurt or angered you. An essential key to being respectful is to give them the dignity of being capable of accepting responsibility for their mistakes and correcting them.

Another challenging business arrangement is working with your spouse. My book - Entrepreneurial Couples Making it Work at Work and at Home is now available on as a Kindle edition and will help you with this.

For more information, visit Entrepreneurial Life - Families in Business.

Don’t Compromise. Go for a Win-Win Solution

Thursday, August 01, 2013


negotiate a win-win solutionDo you find that most of your controversies end with both parties being satisfied with the outcome? Or do you find that someone usually ends up being resentful, which is damaging to the relationship? Whether it’s between business associates, family members or friends, how can you possibly achieve a win-win situation in controversial matters?

Letting go of the notion that good relationships are based on compromise is tough. Most of us have been taught that compromise is essential because both people can't be right. But the truth is there really are many right solutions to a problem. We tend to think our solution is the only right one because it fits our reality best.

When you aren’t "bent" on having your way, but are willing to risk a little annoyance or confusion instead of settling for a compromise, you’ll find a much more creative solution in the long run.

Just as listening is a difficult skill to master, learning the art of negotiating a win-win or no-compromise solution with another person requires a lot of effort. But the pay off is a relationship filled with respect and cooperation.

By listening you can begin to understand the other person's world or "map of reality." This is vital to developing your communication strategy. Good listening requires that you get your own ego out of the way and that you don't require the other person to think and talk as you do.

Next, listen to what the other individual is trying to tell you instead of their words. Remember that all human behavior is meaningful, but the meaning may be disguised.

Listening also requires that you be truly interested in the other person. If you are genuine, the other individual feels appreciated and tries that much harder to communicate. Even if you don't agree on something, the fact that you are making an extra effort to understand the other's reality will move you both toward a win-win solution.

Working toward a win-win solution encourages free thinking in those around you. If you have a powerful or charismatic personality, you may be able to garner obedience from others. However, you will then deny yourself the opportunity to benefit from their creativity.

It does require that you are willing to devote time. You can't give up in a huff or sacrifice your position because you are beaten down. You may be tempted to resort to intimidation for the sake of expediency, but you will risk rapport. Remember, just because someone gives in doesn't mean they agree with you. Acquiescence often leads the person to become sneaky to get their way or to be passive aggressive and dig in their heels on other issues.

If there is no solution on the horizon, table the discussion until you sleep on it. Oftentimes, this will bring the solution. You may also benefit from seeking the advice of an impartial counselor. If you’re near Portland Oregon/Vancouver, Washington, contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Want to learn more? Check out my website – Marriage Counseling Conflict and Communication.

The Three Aspects of Listening that Contribute to Good Communication

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


couple talking but true communication requires listening mostlyDoesn’t it feel good when you’ve had a meaningful exchange of thoughts and feelings with someone who really understands you? It contributes to your sense of self-worth, belonging, and security. On the other hand, it can sour your day when communication goes wrong because of misunderstandings. What determines the outcome of your conversations?

The most important part of communicating is listening. It’s been said that that’s why we have only one mouth but have two ears. You can’t assume that you understanding someone simply because you know them well or you have much in common. Not only does a person have to listen to the actual words spoken, but there’s so much more that communicates feelings and thoughts.

Communicating is an art. It’s a complex on-going process that can be done skillfully with time and real effort. Here are three tips that will help you to improve your listening skills: 

  • Listen for the meaning. Words often don’t reflect what the person really means. Become a better listener by asking yourself, "Why is he or she telling me this?" Put yourself in his or her shoes and try to discover the meaning behind the words or behavior.
  • Notice why the speaker chose you. When people communicate they unconsciously and many times consciously identify a certain person to talk with. Perhaps you have purposefully been chosen because the speaker needs a certain kind of feedback that they hope you will give.
  • Accept the meaningfulness of all communication no matter how small. Do you tend to dismiss "small talk" as unimportant? There is nothing small about. It is a quick way to build rapport and trust between people. It’s how we stay connected. Often in our busy lives we skip the small talk and get on with the agenda and, as a result, relationships suffer.

An important part of listening is truly caring about the other individual. If you are genuine, the other individual feels appreciated and tries that much harder to send you clear signals that require less translating.

If you’ve tried to develop good communication skills but you’re still experiencing difficulty, seek out the assistance of a skilled therapist. Are you near Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington? Contact my office and set up an appointment. You’ll learn life long skills that you can use to improve all of your relationships 

Learn more about communication in marriage on my website – Marriage Counseling – Conflict and Communication.

Working Moms – Create More Flexibility in Your Work Schedule

Tuesday, July 09, 2013


working moms juggling work and home life“I never miss one of my child’s ballgames.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to say that? With the busy work schedules that working couples have, especially entrepreneurial couples, it seems like it’s nearly impossible to accomplish something like that. One of the things working moms and dads regret most is that family time gets sacrificed in order to keep their job or stay in business.

In today’s world, very few women want to be stay-at-home moms. Most women prefer to have a career. However, statistics show that many are working much more than they’d really like. A recent New York Times/CBS News poll showed that only a quarter of mothers with school age children want to be working full-time if money were no object.

That’s where thinking outside the box and taking the initiative is beneficial for creating a flexible work schedule. One great alternative is working from home one day per week. That’s what one enterprising mom did. After 9 years of working full-time for her employee, she mustered up the courage to ask to work from home on Fridays. You can gain inspiration from her story in The New York Times, Coveting Not a Corner Office, but Time at Home.

Some advocate that women should seek careers of leadership positions while depending on a partner to help with the childcare, however not everyone wants to live that way. It’s important for you and your partner to figure out your work-life priorities, and then not be afraid to ask the boss if you can work in an out-of-the-ordinary way, e.g. part time or from home. True, the boss may say, “no”, but there’s a good possibility you’ll get a “yes” instead.

But what if you are the boss? Of course, if you and your partner are in business together, then you have more flexibility of how and where work is done. If you’re having trouble coming to a satisfactory arrangement for your work-life circumstances, you might benefit from talking with a family therapist. Contact my office and set up an appointment in either my Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington office.

Check out my book - Entrepreneurial Couples Making it Work at Work and at Home that’s now available as a Kindle edition. You’ll find the true-life experiences helpful and inspiring.

Make Good Business Decisions So Your Family Has Fewer Regrets

Thursday, June 27, 2013


couple entrepreneurs make time for loveFor couple entrepreneurs, the worlds of love and work are not separate but are in dynamic interaction with each other.

Over the years I have met many adults who grew up with entrepreneurial parents and regretted it. Many have vowed never to be self-employed themselves because they felt deprived of a childhood by the demands of their parents' business. On the other hand, there are entrepreneurial parents who insist that their child become a physician or lawyer in order to avoid the hard work of entrepreneurship, when all the child wants is to follow in the parents’ footsteps.

How can an entrepreneurial couple make sure their family doesn’t regret their life and business choices? The two most important elements of making good decisions that provides a good balance for love and work are:

· The decisions you make regarding your work will have an impact on your spouse and family.
· The modeling you provide for your children today will influence them for a lifetime.

For example, copreneurs Mike and Karla, a young couple still in their twenties, were not prepared for the overnight success of their family business. Mike, a pioneer, worked long hours at the office, while Karla, a routineer, tried to juggle her responsibilities as the personnel manager and the mother of two small children. Still, the money rolled in, and Mike and Karla had plenty of desires to fulfill. They bought new cars and a boat, and built a new million-dollar house.

With a nanny to watch the children, Karla devoted even more time to the business, and so did Mike. They would care of the children each night and, without taking time for dinner themselves, would try to relax over a drink and talk. Nightly fighting became the routine. When Mike, in a fit of rage, threw a bottle of liquor at the mirrored family room wall, shattering glass all over the room, Karla realized that their lives were out of control.

Mike and Karla had a lot of work to do to restore sanity to their lives. Through their pain, they learned that work and home life are not separate, but more to the point, they learned that you cannot make one more important than the other. The lure of money and the ever-increasing demands of the business blinded them to the needs of their children, their relationship with each other, and
their own individual health.


If you are a family in business, you can learn much making the best decisions by enlisting the help of a family therapist. Contact my office if you are interested in setting up an appointment.

For more information take a look at my book, Entrepreneurial Couples Making it Work at Work and at Home. Now available on Kindle!

Keys to Problem Solving Effectively

Monday, June 17, 2013


Do you know someone who handles problems with ease? You might be attracted to their confident yet carefree attitude when it comes to conquering daily challenges. For some, this type of attitude and ability to problem solve comes naturally. For others, it can be a real struggle. If it doesn't come naturally, don't be discouraged. You can learn how to adjust and problem solve when challenges come your way. It's starts with your attitude. Once your attitude has been adjusted, then you can attack the problem.

Keys to Problem Solving:

Adjusting Your Attitude

1. Separate the negative feeling from the positive thoughts. Clearing your mind from negative thinking with give you a clean slate.

2. View the problem as an opportunity for growth.

3. Take responsibility and don't blame others. You can only control yourself.

4. Develop a strong desire to solve the problem.

Attacking the Problem

1. Identify the root cause of the problem.

2. Think, strategize, then act on the resolution.

Problem solving is a vital process to learn and implement. You may need assistance from a mental health care professional who can guide you through the steps specific to your needs. Contact my office for an appointment.

For more information, visit Personal Growth.

Entrepreneurial Couples - Focus on Your Physical Health

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Entrepreneurial life equals a busy life. Maintaining balance between the business and the family takes hard work and determination. When working with entrepreneurial couples, I encourage them to focus on five tools for accessing purposeful growth. These five areas are key to adapting to the ebb and flow of the entrepreneurial lifestyle. One of these tools is to get healthy.

Getting healthy is something we all know we should do, but can easily shove aside when the day gets busy. Why is taking care of our physical health so important? Science has proven that your eating and exercise habits profoundly affect your intellect and longevity. Isn't that what we all want? Take some time to assess your physical health and then develop a routine to correct whatever needs to be adjusted.

Here are a few simple things that could make a big impact on your health: 

  • Educate yourself about proper nutrition and physical fitness. 
  • Minimize your intake of sugar. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and whole foods. 
  • Go for a walk every day. During an evening stroll with your spouse, talk about anything but business. 
  • If you are more sports-minded, join a basketball team or tennis club. 
  • Do your own gardening and housework and build up a few unused muscles. As an added benefit, mindless work sometimes helps to drain the day's stresses and rejuvenate the creative juices for the next day. 

To learn more about my five tools for purposeful growth, pick up your own of Entrepreneurial Couples Making it Work at Work and at Home. Now available on Kindle!


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