Why Some Couples Skip the Valentine Gifts and Just Enjoy Each Other

Holiday gift-giving is such a rich tradition in this country that most of us can’t imagine celebrating without it. But some couples are finding that the usual round of shopping, wrapping, giving and receiving isn’t all that satisfying. And if they have children, they may feel concerned at what this frantic (and costly) says about how we express our love.

This time of year, while millions of us are anxiously running around searching for the perfect gift, often spending more than we’d planned and ending up with more stress than pleasure. The alternative is to declare the holidays a gift-free time and simply enjoy each other’s presence. There are many ways to make Valentine’s Day pleasurable without spending outrageously for dinner and roses.

For instance, one father of teen girls says he sneaks in as many long hikes as he can before the winter holidays. He and his wife enjoy cooking delicious dinners and reading out loud by the fire. Their daughters look forward to playing games, tossing the football on the lawn and relaxing with their favorite movies. It’s a cheerful, no-pressure approach to a season that is often fraught with tension and even disappointment when the “perfect plan” doesn’t work out as expected.

CHOOSING TO KEEP IT SIMPLE

This couple is embracing a practice that some call voluntary simplicity, in which we consciously choose to consume and do less. This can be a path to greater calm and satisfaction as we notice and appreciate the more subtle pleasures of the season – the look of frost on a morning windowpane or a curling column of smoke coming from our neighbor’s chimney.

The couple had noticed over the years how many of their family members struggled to keep up with the Joneses, working constantly to make payments on a big house, two brand new cars or a boat – and of course, made extravagant holiday plans to match.

They decided early in their marriage that they would minimize their wants and stick closer to their needs, which led to an agreement that birthdays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and other holidays would not involve store-bought presents. Instead, they would write poems, create something by hand or give each other an experience to savor. This might involve a delightful meal at a favorite restaurant or a sporting event.

When they had children, they looked around and saw the family scrambling to give gifts for all the kids at every holiday. They feared that they would be doing a disservice to their own kids by teaching them that this was what life was all about. So they extended the no-gift rule into their family life – and they’ve been very happy with the results. The children enjoy making and receiving homemade gifts and spending time with their parents. Which is a good reminder that the greatest give we can share with each other, no matter the season, is love, caring and attention.

CARING FOR YOUR MARRIAGE THIS SEASON

As an experienced couples counselor, I have worked with hundreds of couples at all stages of marriage. If you are experiencing pain and conflict in your relationship, especially as the holidays approach, you don’t have to go it alone. Call me today for an appointment at a time that’s convenient for you.

 

Source

Forbes Magazine

Rethinking Happier Holidays During or After Your Divorce

If you’re working your way through a divorce, the upcoming Valentine’s Day may be the last thing on your mind. So much of your energy is devoted to the details of everyday life – especially if you’ve moved to a new home or made a career change, too.

Yet even though the holidays may not seem worth a thought right now, they tend to heighten feelings of sadness, loss and failure among people who are divorcing, especially if this is the first Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas or New Year’s Eve after your marriage dissolved.

A FAMILY HOLIDAY WITHOUT FAMILY

Many people find being away from their children to be the hardest part. Custody agreements for younger children, or simply the demands of college and adult life for older ones, may keep them from getting together with us. The anguish of seeing other happy families everywhere, celebrating the season may fill you with a sense of longing for the love and stability you once had.

Adjusting to the holidays as a single person can be stressful, too. Some people visit their parents or siblings, but this choice may leave them feeling they’ve somehow gone back to childhood. Since this is exactly the time they need to feel they’re moving forward, the plan can backfire.

Another common problem is overspending in an effort to drown out the pain. If you’re thinking that a rush of holiday shopping or luxury travel will chase the blues away, you may begin the New Year with more debt, feeling lower than ever.

Even if your life isn’t exactly where you’d like it to be right now, the good news is that you can create meaningful new traditions for yourself and your family. Here are some suggestions for enjoying – rather than avoiding – the holiday season.

REFRAME YOUR THINKING

No More Holiday Blues by Dr. Wayne Dyer is an inspirational little book that offers positive suggestions in a quick-read format. “We’ve come to believe that the holiday season is really only for children [and therefore] adults must suffer through them,” Dr. Dyer writes. But, he adds, there’s no reason you can’t recapture some of the joys you experienced as a child. Choose something you loved to do – ice skating, sledding, walks in the woods – and give yourself the time to enjoy it.

PLAN AHEAD

Don’t wait until right before the holiday to make plans, especially if there are children involved. The sooner you discuss things with your ex, the easier it will be on all of you. Older children can get involved in the planning, too – giving them a sense of choice at a time they may feel they have none. If children are sad, too, and don’t want to participate in activities as they once would, the best strategy is to offer comfort and understanding. Maybe this isn’t the year to chop down a live tree in the woods or go skiing in Aspen – but there will be other years.

If you’re single, remember that this is the busiest time for friends and family. Getting in touch to arrange a get-together early can help ensure you’re not alone. However, you may choose to be solo, and in that case, it’s wise to make a spa date, reservations for dinner or at least scribble out a list of wonderful shows to binge-watch with delicious takeout at home. Having your own plans will prevent feelings of loneliness and deprivation, which can arise when you see and hear others celebrating all around you.

CREATE NEW TRADITIONS

The holidays are steeped in sentiment and tradition, which is why people who are divorcing sometimes feel left out. If you’ve always celebrated the season in a certain way, you may miss the comfort and familiarity of what you’ve left behind.

The best approach is to decide how you will celebrate in the future, realizing you can choose any ritual or routine that feels good to you. One newly single mom purchased festive new dishes and tall mugs to create a Christmas morning brunch for her children. In her past marriage, the kids had always been rushed to their grandmother’s house with little attention to breakfast – so the new ritual felt luxurious and loving.

SHIFT SOCIAL OBLIGATIONS

Knowing your limits is the key to feeling happier this season. If you can’t bring yourself to join a dinner party where you know that most of the other guests will be couples, don’t feel obliged to attend. You can invite friends and family to celebrate with you at your home instead. Or create a new “friend family” of people who, like you, may be celebrating solo this year. Whatever the size of your group, being together will increase your sense of connection and joy.

LOOKING FORWARD WITH HOPE

Whatever happens, it will help you to realize that there is nothing inherently depressing about the holidays. “If you anticipate that things will be depressing, you will rarely disappoint yourself,” Dr. Dyer writes. “You must look within yourself and resolve to have a positive attitude, regardless of the tasks that lie ahead of you, or the fullness of your holiday schedule.”

Many people find they need to talk more about what’s happening in their lives when the holidays draw closer. As an experienced couples counselor, I have worked with hundreds of couples at all stages of marriage, separation and divorce. I understand the conflicting feelings and needs you’re facing and will be happy to meet with you. We can outline a personal strategy that will help you feel more comfortable throughout the holiday season and beyond.

Source
Divorce Magazine

The Language of Love: 10 Caring Things Couples Should Say More Often

When a love relationship is new, everything feels exciting. Each date reveals something about the other person as emotions flow between the unknown and our growing feelings of adoration.

For weeks, maybe even months, we can’t get enough of our new crush. As time passes, though, these heady feelings can fade. We instinctively know how to show our partner that we care, but sometimes, we fail to express our love – especially when marriage confirms our union and makes love seem like a foregone conclusion.

This month, in honor of Valentines Day, I’d like to share 10 simple phrases that all couples should say to one another often. These expressions of love, caring and partnership are the easiest way to affirm how you feel about your spouse or partner. And as you already know, making love real is so crucial to keeping our relationships healthy and vital over time.

  1. “YOU’RE MY BEST FRIEND”

Having a BFF is one of life’s sweetest experiences. They share our laughter and inside jokes, and they’re the first one we turn to for advice and support. When we tell our partner they’re our best friend, we’re saying we trust them with our hearts – which means so much.

  1. “I AM HERE FOR YOU”

Even the most confident person needs a vote of confidence from time to time. Whether our spouse is worried about his or her career or dealing with family conflict, affirming that we’re in their corner gives them the support they need to cope successfully.

  1. “I LOVE HANGING OUT WITH YOU”

We might think, “This is so obvious!” But why not share this when you’re with your loved one? It’s so lovely to hear that of all the people on earth, you’d rather be with him or her than anyone. Saying these words will make your partner feel seen and desired.

  1. “I BELIEVE IN YOU”

We all go through periods of self-doubt. When we feel this way, a kind word from our partner can feel like a turbo-boost! If your mate is going through a rough patch, remind them how awesome they are and that you know they’ll find their way forward.

  1. “I TRUST YOU”

In a healthy relationship, we’re free to be our true selves without fear. Trust is essential for all relationships, and when we express trust, what we’re really saying is we believe our mate is capable of making good choices. Tell your loved one you trust them and watch your connection deepen.

  1. “HERE’S WHAT I ADMIRE ABOUT YOU”

Compliments are great, and hearing “I love you” is especially powerful. But giving examples of what you admire about your spouse or partner does even more for your relationship. It can be something tiny, like the cute expression s/he gets when s/he is excited about something – or something big, like the integrity s/he shows when there are conflicts at work. Paying attention to the qualities that make people wonderful is a great way to feel closer to them.

  1. “THANK YOU”

When is the last time you thanked your spouse for the simple (or not-so-simple) things s/he does to make your life easier? We get so comfortable in our partnerships that we often forget to express gratitude for what our loved ones do for us – when in fact, if all those forms of caring and support disappeared, we’d be lost. So say it. Be specific. Tell your mate what you’re thankful for and show you don’t take them for granted.

  1. “I APPRECIATE YOU”

Appreciation is the art of noticing all the qualities you enjoy about someone and making sure they feel your gratitude and respect. An easy way to get in touch with your appreciation for your mate is to try seeing him/her through fresh eyes. What have you always loved about your partner? How can you express that love in words?

  1. “EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY”

Life is filled with trials and challenges, but when we feel reassurance from someone we love, it’s easier for us to keep on going. When things get tough, hearing our spouse say, “It’s going to be all right” is the best thing in the world. It reaffirms that we’re not alone and we can rely on our partner to be there, through thick and thin.

  1. “YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL TO ME”

We don’t need to wait until our mate is all dressed up to say this. There are tender moments in every couple’s life when they see each other in a radiant light. When the sight of your loved one takes your breath away, don’t lose the moment. Tell him/her what you’re feeling. These intimate words will go a long way to keep romance alive.

FINDING YOUR WORDS IN LOVE RELATIONSHIPS

Every marriage needs care and attention to stay strong. But I can tell you, as a long-time marriage counselor working with couples in the Las Vegas area, that every couple has trouble communicating at some point in their relationship.

If you and your mate are struggling to say what you mean and maintain the closeness you both crave, couples counseling can help. I will empower you with simple strategies that will not only help you express the love you feel, but also, enable you to take on the deeper differences that may be keeping you apart.

I am here for both of you. Give me a call today to schedule a convenient time to meet.

Source
One Love

Why So Many Couples wait Until It’s too late for Marriage Counseling

Every year I see many couples that come for counseling only when they’ve reached the breaking point.

Many have been struggling for months, even years – and they’re making what they feel is a last-ditch effort to save their marriage. It fills me with sadness to see this, because even though I know there is always hope, I definitely wish they’d come to me sooner.

Marriage counseling should not be thought of as a last resort. It shouldn’t be seen as an amputation, which you do after every other possible option has been exhausted.

In fact, counseling is much less expensive and difficult than you may think. I would encourage you to see it in the same light as physical therapy: it’s something you do when you are feeling pain and you need healing.

If your body (or your relationship) is perfectly healthy, you might not need counseling. But if there has been some wound — or perhaps a slow, gradual decline in the health of your marriage — therapy is a vital tool for getting you both back on track.

COUPLES COUNSELING WITHOUT GUILT, BLAME OR SHAME

When people go for physical therapy, we don’t view them as weak. In fact, we recognize that they are doing what they need to do to get stronger. We also recognize that the physical therapist has special exercises and techniques that will help us get better.

Marriage counseling is the same. Why would we expect ourselves to know how to handle all the problems that come up in a relationship? Close as they may be, neither spouse can understand exactly what the other is thinking or feeling. Each grew up in a different environment with a different family, maybe even a different culture. This means that both of you have different expectations, behaviors, and perspectives.

Even if you are very confident and self-aware, you may struggle to see the dynamics that drive your relationship. That’s why an expert is needed — a marriage therapist.

CAN’T WE WORK THIS OUT ON OUR OWN?

Many couples that come to me explain that they were hoping they could solve their problems without professional help. This is a little like saying, “I broke my foot and I’m hoping it will heal by itself – without x-rays, a brace, cast or pain medications.”

Certainly, there are people who do heal from their wounds without a doctor’s care. Maybe they don’t want to appear weak, or they don’t want to spend money on medical visits.  But after weeks of walking on an injured foot, they find things aren’t any better. And the same is true of our closest relationships – the ones that form the foundation of our lives.

Trying to survive in a broken marriage creates even more pain for both of you. As you fight, or retreat from one another, the damage widens. You grow farther and farther away from the place where you can look at one another and say, “I love you and I respect you – I believe we can work things out.”

People resist marriage counseling because they hate to admit they’re at a loss for answers. They don’t want to appear weak. They’re fearful they may be part of “the problem,” and therefore, worried they will be blamed by the therapist or their spouse for everything wrong in the relationship.

Above all, they do not want to acknowledge that they’re terrified by the prospect of divorce.

GIVING YOURSELVES PERMISSION TO GET PROFESSIONAL HELP

Rest assured that your fears and misgivings are natural. The same way we don’t look forward to having the doctor look at our fractured foot, we don’t really want to dive into the issues that may be tearing our relationship apart.

But walking forward without mutual love and trust can only lead to deeper hurt.

All of us need a doctor when we’re sick, a guide when we’re lost, or a friend when we’re lonely. And we need a therapist when our emotional lives and relationships are not what they should be.

Marriage counseling can help you in ways you may not be able to imagine yet. So do yourself and your partner a loving, caring favor. Reach out now, not later. As a long-time counselor for hundreds of couples near Las Vegas, I can assure you that it’s the healthiest move you can possibly make.

 

Source

Good Therapy

As the New Year Arrives, How Do You Feel About Your Relationship?

As we ring in a new decade, most of us will make resolutions based on what we want to improve about ourselves. For example, we may decide this is the year we’ll finally get in shape, stop smoking or save more money for retirement.

But what if we focused instead on the quality of our relationships?

Consider how important your life mate is to you. The happier you are with one another, the better your daily life will be – not just now, but in the years ahead as well. This is why it’s wise to invest time and energy in making your relationship the best it can possibly be.

Whether you’re married, engaged or simply committed to a shared life, there are many ways you can strengthen the bond between you. Here are 6 suggestions that marriage and family therapists recommend for all couples.

 

LISTEN WITH YOUR HEART

All too often, we listen to others with the intent to reply. We think about what we will say when it’s our turn to talk. This sounds reasonable, but in truth, it means we aren’t practicing the kind of deep listening that leads to greater understanding of our loved ones.

When your partner speaks, open yourself to his or her point of view. Listen for details and nuances that reflect how s/he really feels about the subject. This is especially crucial if you find yourself arguing over a particular issue. If you do not try to understand where your partner is coming from, you are very likely to face the same arguments over and over again because neither of you has any idea where the other is coming from.

You don’t have to agree with everything your partner says. But you must make an effort to create the understanding that opens the door to fair negotiation.

 

TELL YOUR PARTNER HOW MUCH S/HE MEANS TO YOU

“I love you” is one of the most powerful phrases in the English language. It means you are sharing the strongest and most enduring emotion in the world with someone who means everything to you.

Couples say those words to each other often, as they should. But if saying “I love you” becomes a reflexive habit rather than a sincere statement, something precious is lost. Instead, take time to tell your partner exactly why you cherish him or her. Explain how coming home to her smiling face makes a tough day easier to bear. Or how his integrity in caring for family members makes you feel proud. Giving examples of your love ensures that it will be fully felt by your partner.

 

LAUGH ABOUT IT

Laughter really is the best medicine. Having more funny moments together is a great way to improve your relationship with your significant other. Couples who have been interviewed about their long and successful marriages often say that laughter kept them together. Enjoying a light moment with your partner relieves stress and turns big challenges into positive memories. Having a sense of humor relieves everyday tension, making decisions easier and preventing unnecessary conflicts.

 

SOLVE PROBLEMS BY REMEMBERING PAST SUCCESSES

Sometimes the best solutions are easy to find because we’ve actually been here before. Let’s say you are facing a difficult choice that must be made soon, and you’re both feeling overwhelmed. Can you think back to a time when you stumbled upon the answers you needed? Or you fought your way through doubt and figured out the next steps? Feel free to go all the way back to childhood if you want. Whether you brainstorm together or work separately, then share ideas later, the simple act of remembering times you’ve overcome adversity will create optimistic outlook you both need to face the future together.

 

DON’T LET DIGITAL DEVICES COME BETWEEN YOU

Electronics are everywhere in the modern world. They can be very helpful, but they also have the potential to derail our lives.

Therapists are noticing that smartphones, tablets and other digital devices are interfering with our sleep patterns and grabbing our attention when we should be focusing on our loved ones. Marriage experts say they are seeing more and more issues caused by these.

To keep digital communication from haunting your relationship, set some basic guidelines. For example, you might ban cell phone usage at the table or decide that social media is off limits on date night. You might also agree to ignore phone calls, emails and texts that come in after a certain hour. Most importantly, turn off your phones at night to avoid keeping each other awake all night.

 

WHEN YOU’RE STRUGGLING, GET THE HELP YOU NEED

Every relationship needs care and attention in order to thrive. There are times when an experienced therapist can make all the difference – helping you rebuild the trust and closeness that may have eroded bit by bit, simply due to the stresses of everyday life.

I am ready to help you and your partner begin the New Year in a loving and positive way. Give me a call today to schedule a convenient time to meet.

 

Source

Fox 13 Now

Study Reveals 7 Factors That Predict Which Married Couples Will Stay Together

Researchers at Emory University have surveyed couples to learn more about what helps a new marriage begin on the right foot – and what makes it last.

Their study, titled “A Diamond is Forever and Other Fairy Tales,” examines facets of marriage such as the financial investment couples make when they marry and how long they’ve been dating before they tie the knot. The study is based on the experiences of 3,000 Americans who have been married at least once – and it offers 7 suggestions for couples who want their relationships to thrive.

 

  1. DON’T MARRY FOR WEALTH OR LOOKS.

Couples were 18% more likely to divorce if they married for money and 40% more likely if they chose a mate based on looks alone. Since beauty is fleeting and fortunes rise and fall, these qualities are shaky ground on which to base a commitment we hope will last for decades, if not a lifetime.

 

  1. DON’T RUSH INTO MARRIAGE.

Researchers found that the longer couples had been dating before they got married, the likelier they were to stay together. It seems that knowing each other well helps us deal with the ups and downs of everyday life – stresses that couples who’ve only been together a few weeks or months may not have faced.

 

  1. A BIG CELEBRATION MAY MEAN A LONGER, HAPPIER UNION.

This doesn’t mean you should invite all your distant cousins just to boost the guest list! But researchers found that couples who had 200 or more guests at their weddings were 92% less likely to get divorced. This may reflect the value of social support in facing the challenges of married life.

 

  1. DON’T SPEND A FORTUNE ON YOUR WEDDING.

Interestingly enough, the more money you spend on your special day, the higher your chances of ending up in divorce court, the study revealed. This suggests that the desire for a lavish ceremony isn’t always enough to build a strong, lasting relationship.

 

  1. ONCE YOU’RE MARRIED, STAY ON TOP OF FINANCES.

Couples who struggled to make ends meet were more likely to part with their spouses. Those who had a comfortable income – somewhere between $50,000 and $125,000 – were 39% to 42% less likely to end their marriages.

 

  1. PURSUE A SPIRITUAL LIFE TOGETHER.

Couples who have a regular spiritual practice – for example, attending a house of worship together — were 46% less likely to end their marriages. Those who attended only occasionally were 10% more likely to divorce. This suggests that a regular faith practice is a healthy habit for relationships. The way you worship, of course, is up to you – and there are many spiritual practices such as yoga, meditation and religious study that can enrich your life together.

 

  1. DON’T SKIP THE HONEYMOON.

Couples who rushed back to their regularly scheduled lives right after getting married were more likely to divorce later. Those who took a honeymoon – even a “staycation” just to catch up on much-needed rest – were 41% less likely to split.

As a seasoned marriage therapist, I would suggest that you develop a honeymoon habit. This means taking a complete break from work, family and other demands at least once a year and giving your marriage the full attention it deserves. It’s a practice that will pay rich dividends over time.

 

STAYING TOGETHER, WHATEVER COMES YOUR WAY

Every relationship needs care and attention in order to thrive. There are times when an experienced therapist can make all the difference – helping you overcome the conflicts that arise and maintaining the close, loving bond you both want and need.

If you are struggling right now, don’t wait to seek out the professional help you need. Give me a call to schedule a conversation soon.


Source

IJR.com

What Modern Commitment Means for Couples

When you first got together, what did the word “commitment” mean to you?

It’s a multifaceted concept, and if you got married decades ago, you may not have thought much about it. Many of us took our vows without reflecting much on the pledge we were making. That’s because marriage was generally seen as a given – not a choice we made after mulling a full range of options.

If you’re a member of Gen X or younger, you may have heard the notion that you and everyone your age is afraid of commitment. I don’t agree. Instead, I think couples of all ages now view commitment as something very serious that is negotiated and renegotiated over time.

DOING “SLOW LOVE”

One study shows that younger couples hope to create balanced relationships governed by mutual respect, whether or not they marry. They came of age in a time when marriages were becoming more fluid, with both parents working. Many endured the divorce of their parents and then lived with one or more new couples who eventually married or split up.

If this describes you, then you may wonder if it’s even possible to have an enduring marriage with mutual trust. This means you might feel unready to jump right in – preferring what many couples therapists are calling “slow love.”

Slow love gives us time to have many lovers, including friends with benefits, even live with different partners before we consider marriage. This is the way we can address our fears and learn directly from our experiences of commitment in all its different forms. It doesn’t mean we’ll never marry. It means we want more self-understanding and relationship experience first.

RENEWING YOUR COMMITMENT OVER TIME

Whether you’re young and wondering about marriage or eyeing a second or even third union, it helps to think of commitment as an ongoing thing. Some couples can identify the rough patches that caused them to recommit to each other in a big way. I believe that the happiest couples realize they need to renew their love and commitment to one another every day.

Keep in mind that you cannot foresee all the tough times you will face in your marriage. This means being ready to go deeper with your partner – essentially bringing more love, energy, and commitment to the situation as challenges rise up.

It’s all right to be cautious in thinking about commitment. Listening to people who tell you that you “should be ready” will only make it harder for you to hear your own authentic voice.

At the same time, if you let your fears take over, you might miss out on the joy and strength gained from being in a committed relationship. So listen to yourself and each other, and help each other through the fears. We all have them, and it’s so much easier when we take them on together.

As an experienced couple’s counselor, I have worked with hundreds of couples who were seeking answers about marriage, love, and commitment. Working with a seasoned therapist can enrich your conversation and create a new sense of closeness and mutual support.

If you’d like to discuss commitment or any other issue in your relationship, get in touch with me today.

Source

Psychology Today

When Your Family Doesn’t Like Your Spouse: 7 Tips for Keeping the Peace

When the people you love most in the world don’t get along, it can be tremendously painful. If you’re feeling caught between the family you grew up in and the family you’ve created with your spouse or partner – with or without children of your own – you know exactly what I’m talking about.

You feel loyalty to your parents, siblings and other relatives. You feel love and concern for your partner and kids. This puts you in the middle, especially if your family openly criticizes your spouse or gives the “cold shoulder” whenever you get together.

 STEPS FOR HANDLING THE CONFLICT IN A POSITIVE WAY

Fortunately, there are ways you can support your spouse with strategies that will keep the peace while making sure everyone has a voice. While your partner and your family may never have a perfect relationship, you can minimize conflict and keep things respectful. Follow these 7 steps to manage the situation more effectively.

  1. DON’T IGNORE THE SITUATION. If your spouse has complained to you about your family, you need to address the issue right away. Ignoring or delaying will only cause resentment, which can harm your relationship.

 

  1. TALK TO YOUR FAMILY WITHOUT YOUR PARTNER PRESENT. Bring your concerns directly to family members on behalf of your spouse. You know your own family dynamics best – so you can create an atmosphere that lets them air their feelings and observations. Do this in person or by phone so you can listen closely. Keep in mind that your family may have no idea that their behavior has hurt your spouse.

 

  1. ADVOCATE FOR YOUR PARTNER. Explain how s/he sees things. Share your partner’s feelings and give any background that helps your family understand what’s going on from his/her point of view. For example, “Joe felt hurt when you said he was a bad father for not taking paternity leave. Did you know his employer frowns on dads who take time off? Right or wrong, that’s his situation … and I think we should support him.”

 

  1. LISTEN TO YOUR FAMILY’S VIEWS. Find out if there’s an issue you haven’t addressed with your partner. S/he may not be an innocent party to the problem, which means you will need to discuss what your spouse does and says in reaction to your family, too. Fairness demands that you hear both sides of the story.

 

  1. USE “I” STATEMENTS TO AVOID BLAME AND DEFENSIVENESS. When discussing your concerns, keep the focus on what you and your spouse feel. Don’t assume anything about your family’s inner-thinking and attitudes. Point to behavior in clear, non-judgmental terms. Instead of saying, “You were rude to Sarah last night at dinner,” try saying, “Sarah felt excluded from the conversation at dinner. We noticed that you tend to talk over her when she tries to speak.”

 

  1. FOR FUTURE GET-TOGETHERS, HAVE CONVERSATION STARTERS READY. After you’ve opened up about past conflicts, there may be feelings of awkwardness. Go to the next gathering with ideas to help people relax and get comfortable again.

 

  1. HAVE AN EXIT STRATEGY. If family gatherings continue to feel stressful, tell your family what time you’re planning to leave when you arrive. “We need to head out by noon to pick a friend up from the airport.” Have a secret signal your spouse can use if things become overwhelming and s/he needs to bow out.

 

CREATING THE LOVING FAMILY YOU WANT TO HAVE

As an experienced couples counselor, I have helped hundreds of married and committed couples deal with family conflicts. If you’re struggling to find answers and need expert support, reach out to me today.

Source

WikiHow

How Couples Can Handle Differences in Sexual Desire

Just about any marriage can go through times when one partner is less interested in sex than the other. Often, this is a short-term concern that relates to stress in other areas of life. All it signifies is that one of you is more distracted or tired than usual, thanks to a sudden change in schedule – anything from end-of-year work cycles to a health crisis in the family.

Challenges like these can leave your partner exhausted, wanting nothing more than sleep or a night in front of the TV. And while sexual dry spells usually end when stress levels return to normal, a prolonged disinterest in sex can definitely hurt your relationship. Not only do differences in desire stir up resentment and self-doubt, but they may also leave you wondering if this is the first step toward a sexless marriage.

That fear, as it turns out, is entirely valid. According to a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, fewer people are having regular sex these days – whether or not they have a spouse or steady partner. So it’s wise to address any threat to your sex life as a real concern.

HOW LONG IS TOO LONG FOR MARRIED COUPLES?

There is no rule that defines how long a dry spell should be before you both get worried about it. This can depend on your age, how long you’ve been together and what your sex life has been in the past.

Ultimately, if a dry spell is causing palpable tension or is attacking the confidence of one or both of you, it’s time to take things seriously.

Of course, that can be more difficult than it sounds. Unless both partners are willing to engage in open communication, discussing your diminished sex life may dredge up feelings of guilt, anger, blame, or embarrassment. This can block your ability to find a comfortable solution to the problem.

REALIZE THAT THERE ARE MANY POTENTIAL CAUSES

There are steps you can take to address the problem lovingly. Start by skipping any assumptions you may have made about why your partner does not appear to want more sex. Realize that loss of sexual interest can be caused by stress, depression, erectile dysfunction, hormone imbalances, genital pain, chronic illness, medications, low self-esteem – not to mention the emotional issues that exist in other areas of your relationship.

With a list that long, you can see that the problem may involve any number of factors. So the more drastic thoughts you may be having – for example, that your partner is having an affair or doesn’t desire you anymore – may be totally unfounded.

Even more importantly, you need to understand the difference between these three states:

  • Low libido, which is the loss of sexual desire
  • Hypoactive desire, which means the absence of sexual fantasies
  • Sexual dysfunction, which is the inability to have sex, which usually triggers feelings of guilt

Each of these conditions can have physical and psychological causes, but all are treated in a different way. By knowing the difference, you can approach the problem more objectively and fairly, protecting your partner from blame and shame.

HOW TO OPEN A LOVING, COMPASSIONATE CONVERSATION

When approaching your spouse about sexual issues, make sure you’re not in the bedroom. This is the place where both of you feel exposed and vulnerable. Instead, find a place you can speak privately but feel confident and comfortable.

Make every effort to be sensitive to your partner’s feelings, with no hint of blame. While you want to be honest about your worries, place your thoughts in the context of love and concern instead of painting your spouse as the cause of problems you are suffering. That last bit of territory is where worry can turn into blame.

If your partner is able to pinpoint a problem such as work stress or exhaustion, work together to find a solution. Focus on small changes you can both make and seek medical help if needed. Do not be shy about suggesting marriage counseling. Therapy can be great for learning stress management skills, and also may help you uncover issues such as anxiety or depression.

If your partner doesn’t know the cause but acknowledges that you do have a problem, suggest a physical exam with the family doctor. Low libido is often the result of an undiagnosed medical condition such as low testosterone, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, or diabetes. It can also be caused by antidepressants, birth control pills, and certain prostate medications.

If your partner shuts down or is shy about discussing the issue, don’t take it personally – but don’t give up. You will need to continue to seek solutions, even if your loved one is reluctant at first.

Remember that this is not about one of you failing the other. It is simply that you both need to take ownership of the problem as a couple. By taking the lead (and suggesting couples counseling if needed), you can bring the issue into the light, which will ultimately strengthen your relationship.

It is important to remember that solving any problem within your marriage is a process, not a single event. Take your time, be patient, and, if needed, seek therapy to ensure your self-esteem and confidence remain intact.

As an experienced couples counselor, I have helped hundreds of married and committed couples address differences in sexual desire. If you’re struggling to find answers and need expert support, reach out to me today.

Source

Verywell Mind

Married to Your Careers? Resolving Conflicts Between Work and Life

Balancing a demanding job with the needs of your partner is an everyday challenge for millions of us. And while many of us feel that our loved ones work far more than they should, we acknowledge that careers are important – both for financial and personal reasons.

If one of you works far more than the other, your relationship can suffer. The career-focused partner may feel tired when s/he arrives home, and unwilling to discuss the issue. The other partner may feel hurt, angry and resentful, yet feel powerless to create positive change on his or her own.

Naturally, every relationship and every individual career is different, so we can’t point to solutions that will work for everyone. However, there are some insights that can help most couples begin an open conversation about work and life priorities. Here are some steps you can take when career commitments seem to be hurting your relationship.

TAKE A HARD LOOK AT YOUR PRIORITIES

If you’re the one who works more, step back and think about what matters most to you. Whatever you may think your values are, your calendar may tell a different story. Can you look at your recent schedule and honestly say you have set aside enough time for your spouse and your relationship?

The honest answer may be that work truly has been the #1 priority. This means your partner is forced to accept whatever scraps of time and attention you can spare after investing your best at work.

On the other hand, you may have placed a higher premium on family, health and your own personal life – which is a sharp contrast with your spouse’s priorities. It isn’t uncommon for one partner to spend an inordinate amount of time with children and family while another pursues a fast-paced career, but this pattern may lead to a gradual breakdown in the closeness you once shared as a couple.

If you genuinely care about spending time with your loved one, you must make it a specific goal. It isn’t enough to simply respond to pressure from your mate. If it isn’t your personal priority, you’ll never stick with it, so you need to be honest with yourself above all.

As a marriage therapist, I’ve found that overwork sometimes has positive motives. For example, one spouse may feel s/he is building a future for the family by working hard to earn more money. To some, not being able to support others financially means not being able to love them well. Keeping this perspective in mind will help you extend compassion to yourself or your partner as you work on the issues together.

TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT YOUR EXPECTATIONS

Conflicts often occur because each partner wants and expects something different. If one is happy with the existing work-life balance, s/he may be totally unaware that the other is feeling neglected.

Don’t assume that your spouse is fine with things simply because you are. Ask how s/he is feeling about the issue, especially if your work hours and commitments differ. Welcome an ongoing conversation to make sure you are in sync – and if job responsibilities change, make certain you discuss how this will affect your relationship.

If there’s a gap in your expectations, it may mean your partner has a higher need for quality time in order to feel cared for and loved. Alternatively, it may mean there are everyday issues that claim too much of your time.

Maybe you can commit to a 30-minute conversation each evening, a phone chat during your commute home or a weekly date night. If practical issues are getting in the way, look for easier ways to get laundry, housecleaning and errands done to make more time for each other.

If you can afford the extra expense, it may be better to pay someone to ease these routine burdens than to fight about them. The only time this won’t work is if your partner finds special meaning in handling daily chores. If, for example, s/he feels you are being thoughtful and loving when you unload the dishwasher, do it!

ADOPT HEALTHY ROUTINES

Many couples worry that falling into established patterns is a sign their relationship has gotten boring or lost all its spontaneity. Sometimes that’s true. But the fact that your partner travels almost every week or doesn’t make it home for dinner every night isn’t a sure sign you’re headed for divorce court. It may simply mean there’s a predictable pattern, and that may be just fine.

However, when one partner loses control of his or her work schedule, there may be a breach of trust. Every relationship needs some consistency, and every partner deserves some reliability. Without it, partners may begin to feel they can’t count on the one person they should be able to rely on most.

These may seem like trivial matters when one of you is grappling with a work crisis. But relationships aren’t broken in one swift stroke. They erode slowly over time. Every time you make a commitment and then break it, you’re chiseling away at that underlying trust.

So consider agreeing on basic routines that benefit both of you. For example, you may agree to eat breakfast together before heading to work, or putting your devices away on Sundays. The agreements themselves aren’t as important as the fact that they are voluntary and meaningful for both of you.

Keep in mind, too, that there’s no such thing as a perfect score. If s/he makes it home earlier some nights a week (but not all), celebrate that and let go of the others. If s/he’s improving but let you down once, express your disappointment but be forgiving. This can be tough when there’s a long history of disappointment, but it can teach you vulnerability where you both need it most.

WHEN TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP

Working through differences that involve careers and personal time can be difficult. Many couples find themselves fighting as each one blames the other for issues that have built up over time. When discussions turn into repeated arguments, it’s time to find a couples therapist who can create a safe, objective space for you to examine the issues and find shared solutions.

As an experienced marriage counselor, I have helped hundreds of couples address work-life balance issues and I am happy to help you, too. Reach out to me today to schedule a counseling appointment.

Source

Fast Company