Category Archives: Relationships

Why Text Fighting Harms Relationships

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We’re all guilty of it—you glance at your phone, and think your partner has taken a certain tone, ignored you, or implied something negative when that’s often not the case. Perhaps they were in the midst of something and their curtness or lack of reply has nothing to do with you. Technology makes it easy for us to reach each other 24/7, but has it diminished our ability to truly communicate?

Mary Ann Allison, assistant professor of media studies at Hofstra University, asks her students to monitor their texts and other digital methods of communication. She notes that when the students comply and pay attention to their texts, they say things like “Wow, it’s a really different conversation when you’re talking with someone and listening to them.” The point is that we lose something vital, honest, raw and human when texting. There’s no eye contact, and no body language—we can hide behind our phones, and that’s not a good thing.

What is happening?

Recently, my partner was on the road while I was feeling lonesome miles away. I was so glad to finally text before bed one night, when our schedules aligned. However, there was radio silence in the middle of the texting exchange, and—after about 20 minutes—I became increasingly agitated that he’d left me hanging. I sent him a barrage of texts, when I should have just waited to hear back.

That led to his wondering why I was acting like a text-psycho, and it was all downhill from there. I’m not proud of my insecurities, but I am honest. When we jump to conclusions, the mind races with irrational thoughts, and we create stories based upon speculation.

What really happened?

As it turned out, a colleague needed to vent, and my guy set his phone aside in order to give them his full attention. Mind you, it was late at night and they were at a bar in another time zone, so I assumed they were partying and I felt neglected and insulted. I became reactive when I could have chosen to keep my cool.

Sometimes batteries die, or real, live people interact and phones are put down. Focusing on facts, breathing and relaxing into the moment can help with what I’m coining “lack of text anxiety.” Studies suggest that periodic text-free breaks throughout the day are a great way to restart your brain and reset frazzled emotions.

We’re all hooked!

The problem isn’t the lack of a speedy reply—it’s that we’re all so used to instantly getting a response. The minute we don’t, imaginary scenarios fly into our brains, taking over our otherwise pretty rational selves. I don’t think it’s possible to come back from where we are now, when it comes to text addiction.

I do believe that we should all work on texting less—try to take 20 minute text-free breaks two or three times a day. Turn your phone off, and tell your partner that you’re going off the grid for an hour—but just be sure to warn that you’re taking a text-timeout, so that loved ones don’t feel neglected or inclined to worry.

So, what should we do?

Like everything in relationships, it’s got to be a two-way street. Set yourselves up for healthy communication in general and voice your needs, making sure to listen to your beloved’s needs as well.

Never fight via text. If things get heated, communicate that you need to cool off, then talk in person if possible. Phone calls, FaceTime or Skype are helpful when you’re not able to meet up in person right away. Give your thumbs a break.

Hold each other, listen to each other breathing, and help keep your relationship thriving with some good old fashioned live talking, using your mouths.

8 Benefits of Showering with Your Spouse

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If the thought of showering with your spouse instantly leaves you thinking “no way!” then you may want to think again. Sudsing up with your mate has several benefits, and no, it’s not just about increasing sexual desire (although that’s certainly on the list). See for yourself why showering together is good on many fronts.

1. Boosts romance

Plain and simple, the shower is ideal for setting a romantic mood. The feeling of warm water and the pleasant scents of body washes and soaps creates a wonderful sensory experience. Add to that the close proximity of each other’s bodies and one thing can very easily lead to another. For example, instead of hurrying through your shower or focusing only on cleansing yourself while you’re in there together, consider gently caressing your spouse’s body with a soapy sponge and let your imaginations go from there.

2. Saves water

The U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Water Science School estimates that older showers without water-saving shower heads use about five gallons of water every minute, while ones with water-saving heads use approximately two gallons each minute. Averages indicate that men tend to take a nine-minute shower, while women surpass that by another 30 seconds. So, doing some basic math using this timeframe and assuming you’re using a water-saving shower head, you’re looking at 18 ½ minutes of shower time if you shower individually. At about two gallons of water used per minute in this particular example, that’s 37 gallons of water.

Now, imagine both of you showering at the same time where you simply wash and rinse (sorry, lingering and romantic moments not included). The 37 gallons can easily be reduced, which is good for water conservation. And it’s easy; while your spouse lathers up, wet your body under the stream of water in preparation for cleansing. Then, simply trade places; lather up while your soapy spouse rinses. You might find that your total showering time together is just over the average for one person.

3. Keeps your health in check

Although experts suggest inspecting our bodies to check for changes on a regular basis, not many of us take the time to break out a full length mirror and get to it. In the shower, close contact allows your spouse can observe things on your body that you might not easily notice on yourself. Changes in moles or the appearance of new ones, skin discolorations and rashes are some examples that could be hiding in spots like behind your knees or the middle of your back. Also, in the case of washing and touching one another, lumps or knots under the skin may be detected.

4. Fosters better communication

With nothing but a shower curtain and some steamy walls around you, you’ll likely feel more at ease when talking. While it’s not necessarily the time to bring up the topic of wanting to move to another state or make a major career change (imagine how much water that would take up!), it’s the perfect place to touch on how your day went, discuss weekend plans or bring closure to a silly argument from the night before. Sometimes, a simple change in atmosphere is all it takes to enhance communication.

5. Relieves stress

The shower helps you and your spouse enjoy quiet time so you can erase the day’s stress. Surrounded by warm, cascading water, nice scents and each other’s company, who wants to think about traffic or a particularly challenging day at work? In the shower, you can both create a private escape right in your own home; hop in the shower and don’t give bothersome events a second thought.

6. Helps you multitask

In today’s busy times, taking a shower together is something many couples opt to do in order to save time. Romance and lingering aside, if a couple simply washes and rinses together then they free up time to focus on activities that may require input or physical assistance from the other. Changing the sheets, cooking, sorting out bills and coordinating calendars are a few examples.

7. Develops your sense of humor

According to a neuroscientist who studied the effects of laughter across a variety of couples, humor is essential in fostering bonds and diffusing anger. It can allow couples to gain insight into each other’s thoughts, ease stress and strengthen a weakening relationship.

The shower is environment where all kinds of laughter can unfold if you allow yourselves to get silly together. Let some of your childlike qualities surface; considering soaping up your hair then using your hands to make a funny-looking Mohawk on your head, or using the shampoo bottle as a “microphone” while you do a naked newscast in your best serious announcer voice. Use your imagination and get some laughs going. They may also lead to some great inside jokes in the weeks to come, creating a special, private bond.

8. Increases confidence

There’s nothing like standing naked in front of your spouse to get rid of any body-consciousness you have—you can’t cover up, bolt away and hide behind a half-opened door or dart off into the next room. When you shower together, you’re both working towards getting rid of whatever body insecurities you have by showing each other your real selves—scars, stubble, stretch marks, bellies and all.

At the same time, it’s a great moment to showcase what makes you feel confident. For example, if you’re proud of your biceps or the fact that you lost weight, it’s a fun time to show off the new and improved you and boost your confidence as a result!

So go ahead and start showering with your spouse. You’ll save water, share some laughs, make sure your health is in a good place and who knows—maybe the next stop will be your bedroom. What’s to lose?

Men should marry young, smart women, say scientists

Men should marry a woman who is cleverer than they are and at least five years younger, if they want the relationship to stand the best chance of lasting, according to new research.

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Scientists tracked 1,000 couples who were either married or in serious relationships over five years and then looked for patterns among those who were still together.

They found that neither should have been divorced in the past, the man should be five or more years older and the woman should have received more education than the man.

The academics’ report, published in the European Journal of Operational Research, did say that men and women choose partners “on the basis of love, physical attraction, similarity of taste, beliefs and attitudes, and shared values”.

But it added that using “objective factors” such as age, education and cultural origin “may help reduce divorce”.

Their research suggests marital bliss for pop star Beyoncé Knowles, 33, and her husband, the rap mogul Jay-Z, who is 11 years older at 44. She is also better educated as he did not receive a high school diploma.

However while Michael Douglas, 70, is considerably older than his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, 45, the fact that he was previously divorced would count against them, the findings suggest.

The scientists, including Dr Emmanuel Fragniere of the University of Bath, found that a previous divorce lessened the chances of a relationship surviving, but this was less marked when both partners had been divorced before.

The 5 Reasons Women Love And Deserve Flowers

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Guys, don’t try to fool yourselves into believing we don’t really like flowers, since they die anyway and all. We like them despite that — trust me.  Some of us may drop hints that allude to gifts being no huge deal, but here’s a tip: the hints are an act. We care.

Yes, we do like to be spoiled sometimes and no, the gifts don’t always need to be tangible. But seriously, aside from the I-don’t-need-these-things-to-feel-beautiful women, one cannot deny the role that flowers play in the picture. Here’s why:

1. We like that they’re “pointless.”

Some guys think that giving flowers is pointless because the flowers will eventually die. Well, guess what? That’s actually the part that we love.

Though we love the idea of a forever kind of love, we still like the idea that you can give us something ephemeral and exciting. Even if it seems that your money is being put to waste, it’s nice to know you spent it on something that will yield a guaranteed smile from us.


2. We think they reflect who we are.

Call it shallow, but many women believe that flowers reflect who we are. If you buy obviously cheap flowers, then we may believe you believe we’re cheap. We don’t need to receive flowers daily, so on the special occasions when you take the floral plunge, buy the best, freshest, most fragrant arrangement. It’s a really great way to flatter your lady.


3. We like how they stop time for a moment.

I know it may seem unproductive to you, but many of us like looking at the flowers on our bedside table, on our work desk or in the living room. We can actually spend a minute or two admiring them and smelling their fragrance. Really — they can stop time. Wouldn’t you like to be the reason behind this moment of bliss?


4. We like remembering how we received them.

The presence of your flowers sparks the memory of you when gave them, what words you used and the general loveliness of the moment. Flowers are a surefire way to grab a woman’s attention and make her continuously think of you whenever she glances at the bouquet.


5. We deserve them. Period.

We don’t care how much or little they cost. We don’t care if it you bought them from the mall or went to the fields to gather the freshest roses. It doesn’t matter. The point is that every woman deserves to be delighted by flowers — despite the fact that they die, they make us feel special — which is hopefully, what you want.

4 Things Every Man Wants In A Woman

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Are you finding it more difficult than you think it should be to find a great man and go from him just feeling “casual” about dating you to WANTING and NEEDING YOU on both a physical and emotional level?

If so, then I’m going to show you 4 “must-have” things that are needed to win the right man’s heart.

But before we get started, I want to clear the air on something important.

There are Real Men… and then there are “Boys.”

Real Men are mature and grounded on a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual level. They are on a great path and open to growing on a deeply personal level.

A Boy will become uncomfortable when he gets too close to his own emotions, or too close to a woman who truly sees him inside and out, for better and worse.

So what does a mature, REAL man want in a woman?

#1: A Real Man Wants A Woman Who Is Playful

There’s something that drives men wild and invites them into a deeper level of “connection” – play.

Men love to be active and to play. They were raised to express themselves and connect with those around them through ACTION.

Unfortunately, too many women seem to forget this and want to TALK TALK TALK their way into a man’s heart. But the fact is that men don’t “feel it” for you because of what you SAY.

It’s not the words… it’s the experience.

Do things with him – watch or play sports together, be competitive in casual games like ping pong, even add a little teasing and sarcasm here and there, and you’ll really ramp up the attraction and interest.

#2: A Real Man Wants A Woman Who Is Independent

Lots of women mistakenly believe that men are looking for a “weaker” woman who will make them feel like they are smarter and more powerful.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

REAL MEN want a woman who INSPIRES them because she has great things going on her own life. They want a woman who has her own purpose other than being in a relationship.

A man isn’t “intimidated” by independence and success. What matters to a man is that a woman still has space in her life for a great relationship and is grounded and present when she’s with him.

#3: A Real Man Wants A Woman Who Is “Emotionally Mature”

If a man feels attracted to a woman, eventually there’s going to be a situation that comes up where you and a man will see something differently and misunderstand each other.

How will you respond to this and share your feelings?

A woman who has the maturity to not blame or criticize a man for what she’s feeling, but to share her feelings in an honest and authentic way that helps a man better understand her will be attractive to a man. How a woman handles her emotions is one of the most important things men look for when deciding whether or not to get serious with a woman. If she lets her emotions get out of control, this is a big red flag to him.

#4: A Real Man Wants A Woman He’s ATTRACTED To

Men aren’t as scared of commitment and relationships as they are scared of being in a relationship with a woman where there is no passion and attraction.

A common way women accidentally kill the attraction men might be feeling is by either trying too hard to get him to like you, or by acting like the relationship is too serious too soon.

Relax and let things happen naturally. Make sure you do and say things that interject FUN and HUMOR into your relationship from the very start.

There’s nothing more appealing to a man than a great woman who knows how to relax and have fun.

You can do this through playful teasing, flirting, humor, and being UNPREDICTIBLE (in a good way).

10 Relationship Tips You Should Never Forget

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If you’re in a relationship, intimate or platonic, that could use a little help, the tips below will come in handy…

1.  Let go of old wounds through forgiveness.

Every moment of your life you are either growing or dying – and when you are physically healthy, it’s a choice, not fate.  The art of maintaining happiness in your life and relationships relies on the fine balancing act of holding on and letting go.  Yes, sometimes people you trust (including yourself) will hurt you.  Being hurt is something you can’t avoid, but being continuously miserable is always a choice.  Forgiveness is the remedy.  You have to let go of what’s behind you before you can grasp the goodness in front of you.

2.  Come clean when you make a mistake.

An honest heart is the beginning of everything that is right with this world.  The most honorable people of all are not those who never make mistakes, but those who admit to them when they do, and then go on and do their best to right the wrongs they’ve made.  In the end, being honest might not always win you a lot of friends and lovers, but it will always keep the right ones in your life.

3.  Stop gossiping and start communicating.

A good rule of thumb:  If you can’t say it to their face, you shouldn’t say it behind their back.  As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and small minds discuss people.”  Life is much too short to waste talking about people, gossiping, and stirring up trouble that has no substance.  If you don’t know, ask. If you don’t agree, say so.  If you don’t like it, speak up.  But never judge people behind their back.

4.  Give others the space to make their own decisions.

Stop judging others by your own past.  Never act, judge, or treat people like you know them better than they know themselves.  They are living a different life than you are.  What might be good for one person may not be good for another.  What might be bad for one person might change another person’s life for the better.  Allow the people in your life to make their own mistakes and their own decisions.

5.  Do things that make YOU happy.

If you want to awaken happiness in a relationship, start by living a life that makes you happy and then radiate your happiness into your relationship.  If you want to eliminate suffering in a relationship, start by eliminating the dark and negative parts of yourself, and then radiate your positivity into your relationship.  Truly, the greatest power you have in this world is the power of your own self-transformation.  All the positive change you seek in any relationship starts with the one in the mirror.

6.  Show your loved ones your kindness in small ways every day.

Aesop once said, “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.  Always be kinder than necessary.  You never know what someone is going through.  Sometimes you have to be kind to someone, not because they’re being nice, but because you are.  Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

7.  Say less when less means more.

It takes some courage to stand up and speak; it takes even more courage to open your mind and listen.  Pay attention and be a good listener. Your ears will never get you in trouble.  The people in your life often need a listening ear more than they need a rambling voice.  And don’t listen with the intent to reply; hear what is being said with the intent to understand.  You are as beautiful as the love you give, and you are as wise as the silence you leave behind.

8.  Let your love and trust overpower your fear.

You never lose by loving; you lose by holding back.  No relationship is impossible until you refuse to give it a chance.  Love means giving someone the chance to hurt you, but trusting them not to.  Without this trust, a relationship cannot survive.  You cannot just believe what you fear from others; you have to believe in the good faith of others.  If you are ever going to have someone trust you, you must feel that you can trust them too.

9.  Accept, don’t expect.

Unconditional acceptance is something we want, but rarely ever give out.  Remember, people never do anything that is out of character.  They may do things that go against your expectations, but what people do reveals exactly who they are.  Never force your expectations on people, other than the expectation that they will be exactly who they are.  Who they are is not what they say or what you have come to expect, it is who they reveal themselves to be.  Either you accept them as they are, or you move on without them.

10.  Let the wrong ones go.

Know your worth!  When you give your time to someone who doesn’t respect you, you surrender pieces of your heart you will never get back.  All failed relationships hurt, but losing someone who doesn’t appreciate and respect you is actually a gain, not a loss.  Some people come into your life temporarily simply to teach you something.  They come and they go and they make a difference.  It’s perfectly okay that they’re not in your life anymore.  You now have more time to focus on the relationships that truly matter.

Afterthoughts

Remember, even the healthiest relationships have small flaws.  Being too black and white about the quality and health of a relationship spells trouble.  Accept the fact that there will always be difficulties present, but you can still focus on the good.  Instead of constantly looking for signs of what’s not working in your relationship, what you need to do is look for signs of what is, and then use this as a solid foundation to build upon.

Relationships: How to Deal with a Breakup

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When you enter into a relationship you can’t be certain whether it will last for a couple of weeks, months or years. There is no way of knowing for sure. How you cope if the relationship ends can be uncertain as well. You may feel relieved, sad, angry, lonely, or somewhere in between. All of these feelings are normal but there are things you can do to help you get through this time.

Common feelings or emotions post-break up:

  • Shock or surprise
  • Sadness and a feeling of loss
  • Anger – you may feel angry at your Ex or angry at yourself
  • Fear about the future and being in a relationship again
  • Loneliness – you may feel that you have no one to talk to or that no one understands what you are going through
  • Embarrassed – you may feel uncomfortable being around your Ex or her/his friends
  • Relieved that a once stressful relationship is over
  • Happy that you’re single again
All of these feelings are a normal part of coping. A break up is a loss and just like with any other loss, the person who is grieving needs time to heal. Give yourself time to get past your break-up and remind yourself that things will get better.

What can I do to cope?

There are lots of things you can do that can help you cope after a break up. The most important thing you can do is to give yourself time. If you were dating your Ex for a long time, don’t expect to feel 100% better the next day. Give your mind and heart time to get used to the change. When you feel ready, try some of the following activities and coping strategies.

  • Talk to a friend or family member – you don’t have to deal with this situation by yourself!
  • Remind yourself of all of your good qualities
  • Write a poem, song, or write a letter about your thoughts and feelings and either keep it or rip it up afterwards if that feels good!
  • Get outside – go for a walk, play a sport, ride your bike, or read a book
  • Keep your normal routine – school, work, errands, anything to help get you out of bed
  • Ignore social media – avoid posting comments about your breakup and consider deactivating your Facebook or other social media accounts at least temporarily. Later you can defriend your Ex if you’d like.
  • Start a new hobby – you might have a lot of free time now. Devote that time to a new interest. You may even find someone new who likes to do the same things as you!
  • Don’t text or call your Ex. If you feel that you need to talk to your Ex, wait at least a week or so then see if it would be appropriate to have a face to face calm conversation. If you are concerned about your safety, don’t meet with your Ex unless it is with a friend and in a public place.

What should I tell my friends?

It’s up to you whom you share your story with, however it’s a good idea to be selective about who and what you tell people. Sometimes it’s good to wait to tell others when you have sorted out your feelings and other times, it’s helpful to talk to a close friend right away. Just be sure to choose friends and family members that you trust, who can be supportive and who won’t gossip about you.

You may find that some people you talk to have good intentions to make you feel better; however they may say awkward things such as, “You’ll be better off in the long run now that you’ve split up” or “Don’t worry, you’ll meet someone else eventually,” which may not make you feel better while you are sad and lonely. Try to talk with people who understand what you are going through and who can be supportive when you feel like talking, crying or when you simply feel sad. Surround yourself with people who will help you stay distracted by doing fun things such as going to the movies or doing other activities you enjoy.

What if I’m not feeling any better or I’m starting to feel worse?

Sometimes coping with a breakup can be hard to do on your own. This is especially true if you were dating your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend for a long time or were very close with them. It could also be hard to feel better after a breakup if the relationship ended on a bad note. For example, if you broke up with your Ex because she/he cheated on you, it would be completely normal to feel surprised and/or angry. However sometimes anger can fester and grow bigger over time. You may want to consider having a conversation with your Ex to end things peacefully. It will ultimately benefit you and maybe even make it easier to move on. While it’s normal to feel upset that you were betrayed it’s not normal or okay to let that anger turn into violence. Sometimes people feel that they will never have another relationship and as a result they may use drugs and/or alcohol to mask the pain. Although it’s understandable that you may be sad or angry, neither alcohol nor drugs will ever make a situation better.

How do I know if I should talk to a counselor or therapist?

If you feel so angry that you might hurt someone or so upset that you might hurt yourself, you need to tell a trusted adult, such as your health care provider. Sometimes extra support is needed and a therapist or counselor can be very helpful. It’s important to let a trust adult know if your daily routing has been affected by your breakup. For example, if you feel like you can’t stop crying, have trouble getting out of bed, miss school or work, eat a lot less or a lot more than usual, drink or use drugs to numb your pain, or feel hopeless about the future, you can talk to your primary care provider about meeting with a therapist or counselor to help you through this difficult time.

Apologizing: How to Say “I’m Sorry”

1369381172_36752Everybody makes mistakes. Sometimes you may be aware that you’ve made a bad choice and other times, your intentions may be good but you still mess up.  This is because no one is perfect.  Saying “I’m sorry” usually clears the air but sometimes it’s not that easy to admit that you’re wrong.

What does it mean to say “I’m sorry”?

Depending on the situation, saying “I’m sorry” can make things almost instantly better between you and a friend or family member. Other times it could be the beginning of many conversations with your parent(s) or guardian until they are able to trust you again.  In any situation simply saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t work unless your words and actions are sincere. Usually people feel better after they apologize because it shows the other person that you are mature, that you recognize your mistake, and that you want to make things right.

When is it appropriate to say “I’m sorry”?

Usually you will know in your heart when you should apologize. Typically you will feel badly if you said or did something that hurt someone else. You may not know that you did anything wrong right away. It may take a while for you to realize it. There are times when an apology can settle an argument or take away the hurt that you may have caused someone-even if you didn’t mean to. Examples of such times may include:

  • After breaking your curfew and staying out later than you were supposed to
  • After saying something hurtful to a friend
  • After breaking something that you borrowed from someone else
  • After telling a lie

What should I say?

Depending on the situation, you may need to simply say that you’re sorry or you may also need to explain why you did what you did. An apology might sound something like this:

  • I’m sorry. I should have come home before my curfew. Can you give me another chance? I want you to be able to trust me.
  • I’m very sorry for hurting your feelings.
  • I’m sorry. I should have been more careful when I borrowed your _____.
  • I’m not sure why I lied to you, but I want to make things right between us.

What should I say if someone says “I’m sorry” to me?

You may feel better after someone apologizes to you but you could also feel angry for a while if someone lied to you, ruined something of yours, or if someone broke their promise to you.  An apology may not always make things better, but it is a way of starting to gain closure to a situation. If someone hurt you deeply it will likely take some time for you to feel comfortable around that person again. If you accept a person’s apology, it is fine to tell them exactly that. For example, “I accept your apology. Please don’t ever lie to me again.”

What if saying I’m sorry isn’t enough?

There will be times when saying you’re sorry doesn’t necessarily make things better. It could take time for a friend to want to hang out with you again or for an adult to trust you again. You may decide to wait it out and see if things get better with time, or you may realize that it’s too complicated.  There are other times when you might apologize to someone and their reaction is very harsh, even threatening. No matter what you are apologizing for, it doesn’t mean you deserve to be the victim of someone else’s anger. If this should happen, tell a parent or a trusted adult such as a teacher, counselor, or your health care provider right away.

How Becoming Parents Can Affect Your Relationship

Expectant parents spend months preparing for the arrival of their baby. By the time they bring their little one home, they’ve taken classes, read a library’s worth of books, and bought enough onesies to fill an entire dresser. But even with all the preparation, the reality of caring for a baby can be overwhelming.

When your household grows from two to three, your relationship with your partner is bound to change. Here are some ways to get a handle on what to expect when you have your baby.

And Baby Makes Three

Before, you were a couple. Now, you’re parents. How will your day-to-day life change?

To start with the obvious, you probably won’t get enough sleep in the early months of your baby’s life. At first, your newborn may only sleep for a few hours at a time, and when your tiny bundle is up, you’re up. The resulting sleep deprivation can make you irritable and turn tasks like household chores and errands into ordeals because you have less energy and can’t concentrate. You’ll also have less time for work, for yourself, and for your partner.

Being a new parent is wonderful, but at times it can be really difficult and stressful, too. This can generate many different feelings. It’s common for new moms and dads to feel guilty when they’re not enjoying every second of being a new parent. But it’s important to remember that it’s OK to want — and need — to take a break from the baby every once in a while.

A baby also can stir up surprising feelings of jealousy. Sometimes new dads get jealous because the baby takes up so much of mom’s time. Dad may feel like a third wheel, or maybe he’s jealous that he doesn’t get to spend as much time with the baby or do as much of the parenting. These feelings are completely normal when the structure of a family changes so drastically.

Moms have their own challenges to confront. Pregnancy temporarily robs them of the bodies they’re used to; a couple of extra pounds and dark circles under the eyes from late-night feedings can make a woman feel self-conscious and less attractive to her partner. Some moms also find it difficult to reconcile the image of a mother with that of a sexual woman, so they may be less interested in intimacy.

The changes brought by a baby reach beyond your immediate family as well. Suddenly, relatives and even acquaintances have endless stories and advice about child rearing. Family members may drop by unexpectedly or schedule regular visits to see your baby. Just when you have more to do than you think you can handle, all these extra people decide to stick around for dinner. Although you know they just want the best for the baby, their constant presence can make you feel even less in control of your own life and household.

Even without all the outside parenting advice, you and your partner might realize you have different approaches to parenting — one of you might be more inclined to pick up the baby whenever he or she cries while the other lets your little one cry for a while, for instance.

And trouble spots in a relationship, such as who does more work around the house, can get worse if new parents don’t sit down and talk about what’s bothering them. It is also important to remember that with parenting there is often more than one correct way to do something.

The Need for Communication and Understanding

Communication is the best tool to defuse anger and prevent arguments. Parents can get so caught up in caring for the baby that they forget to take time to talk to each other. Small annoyances grow when you don’t get them out in the open, so it’s important to make time to communicate.

Often, all it takes to clear up a misunderstanding is to see things from the other person’s point of view. For example, a new father may think that because he’s at work all day, it makes sense for the mother to take care of the baby most of the time, even when he’s home. But she may view the same situation as the father distancing himself from her and the baby just when she needs him most. In addition, mom may feel a bit more comfortable caring for the baby or feel uncomfortable letting dad do it his way. If mom is always telling dad how to care for the baby, dad may start to back away from the caregiving.

If something is bothering you, tell your partner, but make sure you do it at the right time. Starting a discussion about who left the dirty dishes in the sink when the baby is screaming to be fed will solve nothing. Instead, plan a time to sit down together after the baby is asleep. Be honest with each other, but try to maintain a sense of humor. Listen to your partner’s concerns and don’t criticize them. And keep in mind that sleep deprivation and stress can make you feel more irritable, so it may take extra effort to curb any tendency to be snappy.

Once you’ve both said what’s on your mind, work on solving the issues together by coming up with solutions you both can accept. Be willing to compromise, too. If one person can’t get home early on Wednesdays because of a staff meeting, the other can get the baby ready for bed on those nights. In exchange, the partner who gets home late on Wednesdays can take over on Thursdays.

This is also the time to “assign” baby care and household duties, like cooking, laundry, and early-morning feedings. When both partners know what’s expected of them, the household will run more smoothly.

It can be helpful to only have one parent awake at night. It may make sense to have mom get up if she is breastfeeding, then give her a break during the day to catch a nap between feedings. For others it might work better to have dad get up, or alternate nights. Discussing in advance how to handle night time awakenings can help both parents get just a little more sleep.

Handling Conflicts

When disagreements arise, make time to discuss them. If that approach simply won’t work — and you both need to clear the air right away — try to keep the argument focused on the issue that’s bothering you. Tell your partner clearly why you’re upset. If you’re vague or make your partner guess, you probably won’t resolve anything.

Figuring out how to resolve conflicts now will pay off in the end. As your children grow, situations and concerns will change, and having a good line of communication between mom and dad will help in the future.

Steer clear of generalizations like, “You’re always late.” They tend to make people defensive. Instead, try: “When you came home late yesterday, dinner was cold. I would’ve appreciated it if you’d called me to say you were running late.” This puts the emphasis on the action, not the person, so your criticism feels less like a personal attack.

It’s also unfair to use the argument as an excuse to bring up past wrongs. If you’re talking about coming home late for dinner, don’t revisit the time your partner forgot to buy milk or took a 45-minute shower while you did all the dishes. You’ll find that listening to each other and trying to understand the other person’s perspective are the best ways to make progress toward solving a problem.

If you happen to argue in front of an older baby or child, make sure he or she sees you make up, too. That way, your child learns that fights don’t mean that people no longer love each other — this is an important part of your child’s own impression of conflict resolution.

Finding Time Together

Even though your baby has made you a family of three, the two of you still need time together as a couple to keep that relationship strong. Because your lives are busier now, the best way to find that time is to plan for it. Try to make a regular weekly “date” — schedule a sitter and head out to dinner or a movie. If you don’t want to or can’t leave the baby with a sitter just yet, make a special dinner at home after you put the baby to bed.

Staying up after the baby is sleeping can also give you time to connect daily. Strive for at least 20 minutes a day to talk and share feelings; you can do this while you wash the dishes together or as you get ready for bed. On the weekends, get out of the house and do something as a family, like visiting a museum or a park. Even daily family walks when you get home from work let you grab a little time together while your baby enjoys a ride in the stroller.

The most important thing is to use your creativity to find a way to spend time together that works for you, whether that means meeting for lunch while a willing grandparent watches the baby or playing a game of cards before bed. Remember that one of the best gifts that you can give your child is a good relationship with each other.

Tips for New Parents

As you enter this new stage of life as a family, staying focused on what really matters will help you through the rough spots, especially in the first few months. It may bother you that you didn’t have time to make the bed, but overall, that’s not too important. The more flexible you can be about what gets done when, the more relaxed and in control you’ll feel.

To keep you both on track with the chores that have to be accomplished, make a list of each partner’s duties and post it on the refrigerator. For those tasks that are more draining, like nighttime feedings, take turns whenever you can. If you both help out, then one of you won’t wind up feeling resentful because you have to do all the work.

Be sure to notice what’s going right, too. Praise yourself and your partner for managing yet another round of feedings, diaper changes, and baby entertaining. All new parents need to hear about what they’re doing well, remembering that each parent may do things slightly differently. The goal is a happy, healthy family.

And try to be aware of each other’s emotions and needs. If your partner has had a particularly stressful day, offer to take the baby so your partner can soak in the tub, watch a favorite TV show, or read a book for half an hour.

Above all, enjoy the time with your new arrival — your little one will grow up faster than you realize.

Are you in a healthy relationship?

A healthy relationship makes you feel good about yourself and your partner. You have fun together and you and your partner can be yourselves. All relationships are different, but healthy relationships share at least five things in common – the S.H.A.R.E. qualities.

  1. Safety: In a healthy relationship, you feel safe. You don’t have to worry that your partner will harm you physically or emotionally, and you aren’t tempted to harm them. You can change your mind about something – like having sex – without being afraid of how your partner will respond.
  2. Honesty: You don’t hide anything important from your partner, and can say what you think without fear of being ridiculed. You can admit to being wrong, and you resolve disagreements by talking honestly.
  3. Acceptance: You accept each other as you are. You appreciate your partner’s unique qualities, such as shyness or spaceyness, and don’t try to “fix” them. If you don’t like your partner’s qualities, you shouldn’t be with that person.
  4. Respect: You think highly of each other. You do not feel superior or inferior to your partner in important ways. You respect each other’s right to have separate opinions and ideas.
  5. Enjoyment: A good relationship is not just about how two people treat each other – it also has to be enjoyable. (If it’s not enjoyable, why bother?) In a healthy relationship, you feel energized and alive in your partner’s presence. You can play and laugh together. You have fun.

The opposite of a healthy relationship is an abusive relationship. Abusive relationships revolve around control, fear, and lack of respect. Usually, one partner has control while the other cowers in resentment or fear. Abusive relationships can involve threats, name-calling, blaming, guilt-tripping, jealous questioning, and outright violence.

If you suspect you’re in an abusive relationship, there’s a good chance you are. Perhaps you know deep down that you’d be better off without the relationship but are afraid to leave it. You may depend on your partner’s income, you may fear being on your own, or you may rationalize the relationship as “better than nothing.” In the long run, however, an abusive relationship does far more damage to your self-esteem than the absence of a relationship (and the opportunity to find a healthy one).

You may think you have no options, but you almost certainly do. A social worker and/or counsellor can help you map out a strategy for leaving an abusive relationship and getting your own life back on track. Your doctor or local/regional sexual clinic can steer you toward appropriate counselling services.