Monday, November 20, 2017
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Here's just a little primer of 7 signs of a healthy relationship.
1. Mutual Respect
If you don't have this - well, it's going to be a tough road. This doesn't mean you agree with everything your partner says or does. It does mean that you have admiration for each other, and steady undercurrent of love and trust throughout your relationship. You also have each other's back.
John Gottman, a pioneer in studying couples and marriage, could tell within minutes whether a couple was in it for the long haul or if they weren't going to make it - with startling accuracy. How could he tell? If there were any signs of contempt in the couple's interaction with each other, the relationship usually didn't make it.
Abuse, whether it is physical, verbal, or emotional, defies mutual respect in every way, shape and form. You have to have mutual respect to have a healthy relationship.
2. Arguing, Not Fighting
I've never seen a healthy couple that doesn't argue. They never fight, however - they argue. If a couple comes into my office and tells me they've never argued, something isn't quite right.
You can argue without fighting. Arguing is non-combative - you and your partner state your points of view without name-calling or raising your voice. Sometimes you agree to disagree - and that's okay. Figure out what your "non-negotiables" are - the things that you will not budge on. Now rethink that list. I like the saying "You can either be right, or married." Hopefully you and your partner's values (see #6 below) match up pretty well - that makes things much easier!
I'll do another post on how to have a healthy argument.
3. Agreement on Sex
You're both okay with how often you have sex, how you have sex, where you have sex...and there's mutual participation. Sex is not withheld as a punishment. And if you or your partner are not comfortable with an aspect of your sex life, you can talk about it openly, without criticism.
You also find time to have sex. I don't care how busy or tired the two of you are - there is always time for sex.
4. Agreement on Parenting
There are bascially three main styles of parenting:
a) Authoritarian: The rules are the rules are the rules. No exceptions.
b) Authoritative: This is what I refer to as a "Benevolent Dictatorship". There are rules, and kids can give their input, but the parents have the final say.
c) Lenient or "Lassiez-faire": There are minimal rules.
If the two of you don't agree on a parenting style, you need to talk. Also, if you differ on whether your children should be spanked or not - you need to talk.
You may have each grown up with different parenting styles - and we each tend to parent the same way we were parented. If you don't have kids yet but are thinking about it, you must, must, must have this conversation with your partner.
People can change their personality styles. A lot of that depends on # 6 (below).
5. Equality with Money
Even if one of you makes more money than the other, you both have an equal say about where your money goes. There are no "hidden accounts", and you decide together before you make large purchases.
If you are the one in charge of the bill paying, you pay the bills on time. Period. If you can't pay the bills on time, turn over that job to your partner or hire someone to do it for you.
You decide on separate accounts if sharing a joint account is getting too complicated or frustrating. Does that hurt the intimacy of a relationship? No, it actually helps your intimacy. You are no longer fighting about money.
6. Common Goals and Values
Couples with very different interests can have healthy relationships - what counts is that they share common goals and values. Couples of different religions (or non-religion) and cultural backgrounds can have healthy relationships - what makes a healthy relationship is sharing core beliefs. You may both share the belief that giving back to your community is important. You may both share the belief that extended family members are welcome to live with you at any time. Values and beliefs differ for everyone.
Common goals include intangibles like raising happy and healthy children, and tangibles like saving up for a house. You can work together on setting one-year, five-year, even ten- and twenty-year goals. Working towards something together strengthens your bond.
"Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that's a real treat." - Joanne Woodward
Enough said. Make time to have fun. Life gets too serious without receiving regular doses of humor.
Thursday, October 5, 2017
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
It is a hard thing to love a good man. A good man is not a nice man – he does not do things to be nice, he does things because he has a moral code, a set of values he prioritizes and will always do his best to make sure that his actions are in line with his own personal standards. A good man will not do the easy thing or the convenient thing, or even the thing that he wants to do; he will do what he knows to be the good thing.
He will never lie to you to spare your feelings or attend something because social constructs deem it the courteous or polite course of action, and he will in fact do many things that anger and frustrate you. But you cannot get mad at him, because after all, he is a good man.
A good man is the man who will take his ex-girlfriends call while he’s with you, because he knows that she has anxiety and would only ever call in an emergency, and he is obligated as a good man to do whatever he can to help even when it makes those around him uncomfortable.
A good man will put the wants of friends and family before his own needs, even when he recognizes that his friends and family are being manipulative or selfish, because a good man is always loyal. Worst of all, a good man will believe that his unflinching honesty about not wanting a relationship will negate his increasingly relationship-like actions, the kind of thoughtful deeds that a good man would deem necessary in any and all interactions with a female, despite the confusion they would cause.
And the lucky woman who gets to spend this time with a good man will not ever get upset, because how could anyone ever be mad at such a good man? Any woman knows that in todays world of non-relationships, to be given the gift of such open communication is a true blessing, even when it hurts.
To be with a good man is certainly difficult, but to then be without one is devastating. No one can fault a good man for making the logical decision to end an arrangement, especially when he is not doing it for himself. Of course a good man will always be courteous and gentle, which then makes getting over him essentially impossible.
A good man will change you; you will bask in the warmth of hours upon hours of meaningful conversation and the knowledge that your good man isn’t doing this for any other reason other than his genuine interest in you and your thoughts. And so a good man, despite his flaws and sometimes irritating habits towards goodness, has set the bar so high that no chance encounter at a local pub or conversation on tinder will feel like they can ever come close to your good man.
And since you cannot get mad at a good man, you will not be able to get over him either, and will instead sit at your desk writing a horribly clichéd piece about him so as to distract yourself from texting him on his birthday, because you don’t want that good man to feel bad for inspiring such feelings that would make you remember his birthday 4 months after your non-relationship has ended.
Feelings that he tried to keep you from having, because he is a good man, and feelings that you could not have kept from having, because he is a good man. So it is true that finding a good man is hard, but keeping one is even harder and losing one is simply impossible – impossible to deal with, impossible to accept, and certainly impossible to let go.
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
We’ve all been in enough bad relationships to know when we have something good, which makes it that much more devastating when you’re unhappy with your partner. However, if your love is something worth preserving, there’s hope. As the cliché goes, relationships, even the best and most compatible, take a lot of work. If you’re not feeling the love with your partner, here are five potential reasons why, and what you can do to change it.
1. You have unrealistic expectations.
Having high expectations for your relationship can cause you to feel dissatisfied, and, in turn, unhappy. By comparing your love story to The Notebook, you could be facing major disappointment. In light of the overly-romantic plots or over-the-top gestures often hyped in film and news media, your relationship may not seem as good as it really is. However, every relationship has different things that make it work and make a couple compatible, harmonious and happy.
If you know you know you’ve been having unrealistic expectations for you and your partner, it’s time to wise up. Instead of expecting your significant other to be romantic or on-point all the time, understand that this will never be the case. Resist the urge to compare your relationship to others’, especially ones on the silver screen. Instead, focus on the positives in your relationship and why you make such a great couple.
2. Things are becoming habitual.
Once you and your partner have started to get into a comfortable routine, it’s easy to find yourself suddenly missing the passion that used to be. If you live together, partners can start to feel more like roommates than soul mates. The loss of infatuation is a natural part of the relationship process. Still, when it feels like you’re stuck in a rut and you’ve lost your “spark,” you won’t be nearly as happy as you could be in a relationship, no matter how compatible you are.
To break up your routine, try doing something new with your partner. Take a class or learn something new together. Go on a weekend getaway, or have a special date night someplace you’ve never been before. Even doing something as small as making a new meal together can remind you of the things you love about your partner.
3. You’re over-thinking things.
If you’re one of those people who reads too much into everything, beware: your relationship may suffer. Analyzing every detail of your love life could cause you to think that the natural conflicts and imperfections that you have as a couple are worse than they really are. The same goes for reading too much into your future, individually or as a couple. Although it’s tempting to speculate, and a little analysis can be good, when over-indulged the urge to brood can cause minor problems to bloat out of proportion.
Instead of thinking about all the details of your relationship, try to look at the big picture. Think of the important aspects of your relationship and what keeps it together. This will show you that minor arguments and differences of opinion won’t ruin the whole affair, and that your relationship is strong and happy.
4. There’s a communication gap.
When the lines of communication in a relationship are strained, it can cause many problems. If you or your partner have feelings — however small — of jealousy, resentment or anger, and don’t talk about it, those emotions can build up. Without even realizing it, you could become completely unhappy in a wonderful relationship, all because of a few missed conversations.
To make sure you are as happy as possible with your partner, learn to talk about everything. Even if you know the conversation won’t be pleasant, dispel any negative feelings in a calm manner. In future, dealing with issues as they come up will help prevent negative emotions from getting out of hand and cause your relationship to grow much stronger.
5. You’re feeling stressed.
Yes, weirdly enough, the reason you may be feeling happy in your relationship could have nothing to do with your relationship at all! If you’re stressed about your work, money issues, school or any other reason, it could affect your happiness, and in turn your relationship.
To keep yourself sane and happy, try hard to de-stress. Take time each day to do something that makes you happy. Do your utmost to keep on top of outside issues, and don’t be afraid to ask your partner for help or forbearance if you’re feeling especially swamped. Identifying outside sources of stress and learning to manage stress effectively can help you and your relationship weather the storm safely.
If you know your relationship is enviable, but you’re not feeling as happy as you should be, you’re not alone. Whether it’s stress, bad communication or over-analyzing that’s making you unhappy, being aware of your relationship’s strengths and weaknesses and dealing with them effectively can help you to get your love back on track.