Category Archives: Relationships

7 Things to Give Up Immediately for a Happier Marriage

You’ve said your I do’s and have happily accepted the role as loving spouse. You are determined to make this work come hell or high water. Til death do us part, right? Most importantly, you are determined to not be another divorce statistic.  You are in this for the long haul.

One year has passed and things are peachy. Two years in and things are starting to get a little shaky. You are already showing signs of concern for the years to come. Why was everything beautiful in the beginning and now not so much? What’s changing?

Chances are, you are both changing. The things you thought were cute, adorable, admirable and awesome at first are now annoying and disturbing. How is that possible? It’s not only that, other things are changing too. Let’s have a peek to see what things are moving in the wrong direction and how to get rid of them so we can live happily ever after, again.

1. You don’t always have to be right.

This may have worked when you were first dating, and then slightly into the first year of marriage but after a while this gets old. Your partner has a voice and an opinion too and chances are they had one before they met you. Let them be heard as well and keep an open mind when it comes time to discuss things. You will see, as time goes by, that their way sometimes can be a good way too. Give up your need for victory. Winning every debate or being on top of all the discussions isn’t always necessary.

2. Your contact list.

Those of you who still have some of your exes save d on your cell phones, it’s time to drop them. Right now. Not only your exes but anyone else in your life that you are pretty sure will not play a very good role in your new life. Keeping these numbers in your phone is only inviting trouble. Remember your happily ever after? That won’t work if you’re saving “Luscious Larry’s” or “Sweet candy Chrissy’s” number in your phone. Time to delete.

3. Let go of control.

Ouch. Yes I know. You’ve been a control freak all your life. How about just controlling you and your life and let your partner live their life, of course with you both happily meeting in the middle somewhere. You don’t always have to control everything. Read #1 again if you have to. Your partner has a mind and probably some really good ideas too. Let them use it. Allow them to have some freedom in this relationship too. If you don’t, watch as you slowly push them away. They will eventually cower and only want to hang with people that let them be themselves, and you aren’t one of them.

4. You don’t own anyone.

Seriously. You are your own person as is your spouse. You don’t own them so don’t treat them like a possession. Treat them like an individual and they will treat you with the same respect. Don’t let your spouse lose their individuality because of your possessiveness. Remember who you fell in love with and married. If you mold them into your prize possession, they will not be the same person anymore and things will fall apart not too long after that. Just watch.

5. Being jealous is for teenagers.

Not for two mature people who already stated their eternal vows before the judge (or God). If you were jealous going into this relationship, you got married anyway and you are still jealous, then you need to work this out ASAP. There is no place or room for jealousy in a loving trusting union. Let it go. It will only be the beginning of the end for you if you don’t deal with it soon. There is no trust where there is jealousy.

6. Stop criticizing me.

This really goes without saying for any relationship, really. You should never criticize anyone unless it’s constructive and they asked for it specifically. Other than that, it’s just bashing and being mean. You are not perfect. Neither is your spouse. You two were not perfect when you got married either. That’s not going to change anytime soon. You knew each other’s faults before you got married. Deal with them. Try showing some love and patience instead. It will help you deal with the idiosyncrasies better too.

7. Who needs a tune up?

Certainly not your spouse. Stop trying to fix them . They aren’t broken. You married them exactly the way they are because you love them, not because you thought you could fix all their faults. If that’s why you got married you better secure a divorce lawyer now. They don’t need or want you to fix them, they want you to love them just the way they are. Broken and all. Remember you’re not perfect either.

Marriage is hard work. It’s two people trying to maintain a happy household for everyone involved. Open communication is key, as is trust, faithfulness, loyalty and a good sense of humour. Never lose your identity in your marriage. Remember that’s the reason this person fell in love with you and married you in the first place. For you.

Top Reasons Why Men Lose Interest in Women

rblackbook-man-ignoring-woman11From a guy’s point of view:

Many women have the frustrating experience of going out with a guy on one or a few dates, thinking that things go very well between the two of them, and then having that guy suddenly stop calling, disappear and lose all interest in them. It is probably not a big deal when it happens with one or two guys, but if this has been your experience with men over and over for several years or longer, it is hard to not take this personally and not start believing that there is something about you that turns men off and makes those men lose interest in you. Obviously, every dating situation and every interaction between you and a particular guy is unique and different. Therefore, the reasons behind the guy losing interest in you are just as different. Having said that, there are several common reasons that a man may lose interest in you, besides the typical  “no chemistry” situation, and the other very common situation, where the guy is simply not interested in dating one woman as he is driven toward sexual novelty and variety regardless of who he meets today. The following are top 7 reasons why guys lose interest in a woman they started seeing, and what you can do to eliminate those possible causes and thus increase your ability of keeping the guy’s interest and desire to be with you:

1. Guys Lose Interest In You Because You Talk Too Much

No matter how smart a person is, if he dominates a conversation, he will boring and even tiring to the other person. I and my friends met some incredibly beautiful women over the course of our dating lives, but we simply couldn’t stand being around some of them because they wouldn’t stop talking. While it’s obvious when someone else talks a lot, it’s not nearly as noticeable when you evaluate your own conversational habits. One of my favorite ways to keep yourself in check and making sure that you don’t talk too much is making sure that you don’t talk for longer than 30 seconds in a row without letting the other person respond. I also encourage you to ask your friends whether they think you talk too much or interrupt their conversation or otherwise dominate your interaction. Insist that they be honest and not tell you what you want to hear, but instead – tell you how it is.

2. Guys Lose Interest In You Because You are Too Uptight

This girl told me once on the phone that she couldn’t meet me because her car broke down, to which I replied: “Well, that’s what happens when you let women drive.” Instead of laughing at the comment as most women would, she got angry, thought I was serious, hung up on me and later demanded an apology. Few things are bigger turn-offs and are more unattractive than a woman who is uptight, who can’t take a joke and who says “Ahh, how dare you!” instead of laughing at an inappropriate comment or a sexual innuendo and dishing one of her own. Dark humor, sarcasm and sexual comments are a spice life and love life for every interesting, ambitious guys. If you are interesting in dating and having a relationship with one, you should consider stopping to take yourself too seriously, open your mind and enjoy dark humor, rather than being intimidated by it or judge it.

3. Guys Lose Interest In You Because You Are Boring

If you don’t have much to say, and if you don’t have too many interesting thoughts and observations to share, and you don’t know how to respond to what the guy you are seeing says, thinks and believes in, you are not going to keep a great guy’s interest for very long. Boring dates feel like a torture, and no one is interested in going into one or sticking around when they realize that they have to push the conversation to simply fill the time. Surely there is no shortcut to becoming a more interesting person, but there is a great, long-term solution – you started learning more things about yourself, about your environment and the world. TV, magazines, books, meeting new people, watching different shows, and engaging in social events will give you much more material to think about and form your views on. Surely, there is a lot of junk out there on TV and in magazines, but there is also lots of good material, and it is your duty to choose and “filter” the bad stuff out. As you become a more interesting woman, this will go far beyond improving your dating life and will make you much more attractive and interesting to your friends, and co-workers, and will likely create new social and professional opportunities for you that you didn’t even think existed and were available to you.

4. Guys Lose Interest In You Because You Are an Ultra Feminist

While equality and equal rights are great, more and more women take the notion of feminism way too far. For some women showing and proving to the world that they can do and be anything a guy can is their life’s mission. Equally opportunities for women is a great concept without which no society has the right to call itself free and civilized.  However, when this equality comes at the expense of femininity and elegance – women pay a high price of becoming very unattractive to the opposite sex. It’s a fundamental law of nature that masculine, confident, attractive men are attracted to the opposite – feminine women – women who possess a feminine voice, walk, and manners. Don’t take me wrong. I would never suggest that a woman should stay home and cook and clean. This is not what it is about.

A woman can be very educated, successful and independent and still retain her femininity and be proud of being a woman. Stop hiding the fact that you are different from guys. You are and it’s good news – good for you and for men. There is a saying “Bitches get corner office.” I seriously doubt it. Part of being professional and romantically successful has always been being a lady, and being a lady and a “bitch” are mutually exclusive.

5. Guys Lose Interest In You Because You Are a Victim of Your Own Bad Dating Past

Many women have a bad relationship with a guy who is controlling and possessive at least once in their lives. Breaking up with such a guy feels like a very liberating experience – like putting more air in your lungs, like letting your tied wings go free, if you will. A woman who goes through such a bad relationship in which she submitted to the guy’s controlling and possessive nature, jumps into another extreme with the other guys that she meets later. She makes it a point to show to every guy she meets that she is not going to “obey” him and do what she wants. She will do the opposite from what the guys asks or suggests just for the sake of showing that no one can tell her what to do, and that she decides what she does for herself. This is unfortunate because it creates unnecessary problems and challenges in communication. If you believe that you create such challenges in your interaction with men, you should do your best to not let your past negative experience with a jealous guy affect your present and future interactions with men.

6. Guys Lose Interest In You Because You Are Not Great in Bed / You Are a Mediocre Sex Partner

Many women either ruin the romantic tension and the connection with the guy in bed. Few women act in a way that will make sleeping with them a great, memorable experience that the guy is eager to repeat. Some of the big turn-offs for guys are women who are either too quiet in bed (not making any sounds that would indicate their enjoyment and would look like they are bored), or those who talk too much, or say something inappropriate and irrelevant at the very wrong time. Not many women know what they are doing with their hands and their mouth when it comes to the man’s body. If a man had a mediocre experience sleeping with you for the first time, he is unlikely to want to do that again.

This might sound extreme, but there is probably no better way to learn how to be a better sex partner than by observation. Thus, you should not be afraid to rent erotic or even quality pornographic movies that will inspire you and will give you some great ideas on how to make your sexual experience more sensational and satisfying to both you and the guy. Make no mistake about it – this kind of skill is not common, and your guy, especially if he has “been around the block” will appreciate it because he knows that this is not common. Sure, you might be grossed out by some of the things you are going to see in these movies, but if you learn a thing or two out of a movie that will make your and your potential or existing partner’s sex life more exciting and fulfilling, that movie was time well spent.

7. Guys Lose Interest In You Because You Are Too Competitive and “Fiesty”

It is very common for a woman who had dated a controlling, possessive, jealous guy to try to “make up” to herself for that time that she was subjected to such treatment, by jumping into another extreme, and challenging her next partner for a reason or not reason just for the sake of showing to him over and over and he cannot control her. She will disagree on the place to eat, go out at, travel to, and do not because she doesn’t like his idea, but because she wants to demonstrate to him that he cannot control her. A strong, confident guy will be turned-off and will lose interest in such a woman quickly because to him – such an attitude is incompatible with a very notion of being feminine. If you believe that you have been trying to overcompensate for the past “subordination” in your relationships with men by being too independent and too competitive, do yourself a favor and don’t allow your past haunt your present future and don’t allow the immaturity of your past dating partners to negatively affect your dating life today.

No one can guarantee to you any kind of protection from meeting and seeing guys who will later lose interest in you. However, by paying attention to the above six possible issues that you might be having in your interactions with guys, you will dramatically improve the chances of keeping any guy’s interest and coming across as a more attractive and desirable woman.

The 5 Types of People Most Likely to Cheat

Conceptual photo of a marital infidelity

Conceptual photo of a marital infidelity

When an anonymous Reddit user live-blogged the discovery of his wife’s infidelity recently, the Internet was captivated. The user (who appeared to be in his late 20s) and his wife “Jenny” had been married for eight years before he accidentally came upon some sexually explicit text conversations between her and another man.

Instead of confronting her, he turned to the Internet to document his journey from naive cuckold to exhibitionist gumshoe seeking to catch her in the act—so as to avoid having to pay out alimony in the impending divorce.

Whether this tale is fact or fiction, we’ll never know. But I’m pretty sure that this user never thought Jenny would ever be capable of cheating. After all, no one—almost no one, anyway—goes into a relationship assuming they’ll be cheated on or that they will try a little cheating themselves.

Those assumptions don’t necessarily translate into reality. According to recent reports, married men cheat at rates anywhere from 25 to 72 percent, which suggests cheating may be as common as not cheating.

Despite these numbers, many of us never think we’ll be cheated on. I know I certainly didn’t—until it happened to me. But as surprised as I was by my partner’s infidelity, I shouldn’t have been. Most of the time, men cheat with people they already know or have relationships with. Running around with the ex-girlfriend or the secretary at work? That’s straight out of an episode of Mad Men. (In my case, it was a co-worker-turned-girlfriend-turned-ex-girlfriend.)

To avoid entangling myself with other potential cheaters, I did some subsequent research to try to answer the question: Who is most likely to cheat?

This is what I found:

  1. Heavy social media users. According to research from Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, “the more often a person uses Twitter, the more often they have relationship conflicts…culminat[ing] in cheating, breakups and divorce.” Time wasn’t a factor for these results—couples that had been together for a short time experienced the same social-media effect as couples that had been together for many years. (Previous studies have suggested similar results for heavy Facebook users, too.)
  2. Men whose age ends in 9. Researchers who analyzed data from Ashley Madison, a dating website for adults seeking extramarital flings, found that a higher percentage of men on the site were aged 29, 39, 49, or 59. In other words, men facing a milestone year in their lives seem the most prone to cheating.
  3. Someone who has already cheated. As much as we’d like to forgive and move past infidelity in our relationships, science suggests we think twice. According to research from the University of South Alabama, both men and women who are unfaithful in one relationship are more likely than others to be unfaithful in the next one.
  4. Friskier mates. According to intimacy expert Mary Jo Rapni, having a partner who is suddenly more physically affectionate with you could mean he or she is cheating. “When a man starts cheating, he becomes hyperactive sexually,” she says. Because his sex drive has been aroused, he starts craving more intimacy—and when his mistress isn’t around to satisfy his needs, his wife becomes the next best thing.
  5.  Wealthier men and poorer women. The rich men part shouldn’t be surprising: Just look at any extramarital relationship exposed in Hollywood or Washington D.C.Armed with power and money, men can become fluent in the language of illicit affairs. The surprise here is that poor women are more likely to cheat than wealthier peers. Though the explanations vary, some evolutionary biologists theorize that lower-income women cheat in hopes of moving up the genetic (or financial) ladder for the presumed benefit of their children.

How to find the balance between “me”, “you” and “us”

How to find the balance between “me”, “you” and “us”, the secret of the happy compromise.

Smiling, young couple surfing the internet on a laptop

There is always a tension in relationships between wanting to be ‘me’ and wanting to be part of a couple, ‘us’. The secret is finding the compromise that doesn’t feel like giving in instead it feels like getting somewhere!

Each person brings to their relationship a set of attitudes and beliefs; their unique perspective on the world based on their past and present experience. To become a couple we have to find ways to accommodate our differences while still holding on to our individual identities. Finding the balance between “me”, “you” and “us” is a continuing source of tension in relationships, which isn’t easy.

One piece of advice is to look at this as a journey. You might expect your partner to join you in your journey but they might not have the same expectations. This can lead to separate journeys running in parallel.  But there is a way of bringing together different perspectives; it begins with knowing enough about yourself and each other to know what you can and can’t accept. A critical element in reaching the point where both partners feel “we can” is for me to know and understand my partner enough to appreciate what they are giving up, and vice versa.

This insight will help you work out how to find your happy compromise and avoid relationship issues.

38 Ways To Really Show Up In Your Relationship

happycoupleDo you show up in your relationships? Are you really, truly there for your partner, with full presence and commitment? Or do you show up simply by being physically available?

If so, you may think you are “there” for your partner, though you’re missing in spirit. Odds are, you’re giving the relationship as much as you have time and energy for, but are treating your relationship as another “to-do” item in your life. Or maybe you’re just there because you don’t want to be alone.

Regardless of the reason behind your emotional unavailability, you’ve failed to show up authentically, and your relationships have likely been short-lived and unfulfilling as a result.

Here’s the good news: if you’re truly looking to be in a committed and satisfying relationship, you can do better. Here are 38 ways to show up authentically and with full presence in your next relationship.

1. Say what you feel.

Let your partner in on what you’re feeling with directness and transparency, or else they’ll never know. You can’t hide your feelings and expect connection.

2. Show up when you say you will.

Stop being a flake. Show up on time. Little gestures of staying true to your word accrue significance over time; though unfortunately, so do instances of flakiness. Choose to build your partner’s trust.

3. Be authentically you.

There’s no reason to act like somebody you’re not. Your partner will know soon enough your true personality and character, even if you think your attempt to impress them will lead to greater connection. Live a life based on your values and principles, not an “act” for your partner.

4. Show compassion to yourself, your partner and to others.

Extend kindness, empathy and understanding for your partner instead of judgment and demands. That’s what love is all about. Practice compassion with yourself, friends and family members too. The more practice you have, the more love, grace and ease you’ll feel in all facets of your life. That’s a great foundation off which to build more connection in your relationship.

5. Let go of the small stuff.

Small things tend to be big things unless you learn to see the small things for what they are. Let go of minor irritations and keep the big picture in mind. Communicate how you feel but don’t harp on it.

6. Be considerate.

Think of your partner ahead of time. If you’re at the grocery store and see there’s a special on their favorite kind of apple or fancy cheese, pick some up as a tiny surprise. Do something thoughtful for them each day.

7. Be kind in whatever way is available to you.

Kindness is a practice, and is especially important when you’re not feeling your best. But make a choice to consistently treat your partner with love and respect. Open the door. Pick up the tab sometimes. Offer to chat if your partner is upset at night, even if you’re tired.

8. Open your heart

Cultivate bliss in your heart center, whether that be through meditation, yoga or whatever kind of practice gets you in touch with a sense of something larger and more profound. Physical activity resonates with some. Journal writing does more so with others. Whatever it is, do something that makes you tap into your well of love within. Then, vibrate this love from within toward your partner.

9. Make plans!

Have a plan for the date or the weekend. Decide where to go and when. It shows thoughtfulness and care.

10. Surprise your partner.

Flowers. A small gift. A hug from behind. Just be spontaneous and do something that wasn’t expected.

11. Cut out your annoying behavior.

You know what gets on your partner’s nerves. Be more mindful and considerate by being more aware of annoying habits and behaviors.

12. Don’t issue ultimatums.

You win wars with ultimatums, not love. Don’t back a person up to a corner, threaten to hurt them or threaten to end the relationship.

13. Focus on one relationship at a time.

Research shows multitasking doesn’t work with your life and it likely doesn’t work with relationships. Focus your efforts on the person who most fulfills you and you can potential with.

14. Be present during tense conversations.

Listen. Observe. Pay attention. Ask questions. Care.

15. Be genuine in how you express your emotions.

Say what you’re feeling — not what you think will sound good. Take actions from the heart, not to gain something.

16. Explore how you can be helpful, even if you’re not being asked.

Look for ways to help, care or share with your partner. They may not always reach out about what they need from you, even if you are close or have been together a long time.

17. Do the work.

Relationships go up and down. Be willing to work through the rough patches and the hard times.

18. Consciously create time for each other.

It may sound unromantic to have to schedule time to see your partner with the same deliberateness you’d schedule a meeting. But the truth is that we are all busy, and you have to make time to see each other. Prioritize your relationship in your calendar and create space for it in your life.

19. Adjust your behavior and attitude as much as you need to.

If something isn’t working, find out what does. Talk about it.

20. Make improvements

If something is going “OK”, see what you can do to make it better. Ask.

21. Strive to do better

If you fail at something today, try again tomorrow. The same holds true in relationship dynamics. Strive to get better each day.

22. Give more than you gave yesterday.

Find ways to give more, love more, share more, connect more.

23. Don’t keep score

You’re not trying to get ahead or win — you’re trying to find a compatible partner for life. You win when love wins.

24. Respect yourself

Value yourself and work on yourself. Be aware when others try to take advantage of you.

25. Dress up for your partner

Not to impress them. Dress up to show them you care about your relationship.

26. Recognize the power of persistence.

Stay persistent when the road gets rough.

27. Share the housework.

No one likes to do it. Sharing the housework will help keep your place clean and keep you both happy.

28. Stay positive, even if it feels slightly forced sometimes.

No one likes negativity, pessimism or adopting an “end-of-the-world” mindset. Even on days when you feel really glum, try not to overwhelm your partner with a daily dose of what’s wrong in your life, your neighborhood and in the world. If you need to take a little space from them, do so — and simply explain that you don’t want to weigh them down.

29. Be encouraging.

Encourage dreams, habits, goals, happiness, exercise, good sleep, a good diet, peace, perseverance, compromise and love.

30. Don’t compare her to your ex.

It’s not helpful or productive to compare your current partner to your ex. You are no longer with your ex for a reason — so why continue to bring your past into your present?

31. Don’t compare your partner to a fairy tale character who isn’t real.

Fairy tales are simply that — fictional stories that are the works of an author’s imagination. No one is perfect or flawless. A guy who loves you and shows up for you is rather dreamy!

32. Start every day with a clean slate.

Let today’s battles and fights die today. Let the imperfections of today pass. Tomorrow is a new day. Start over.

33. Never use the words “never” or “always” during a conflict.

Harsh words and extreme language doesn’t bring you closer together — it only pushes you further apart. Watch the words you use with each other, because globalizing language is not productive and will only exacerbate the conflict.

34. Prioritize your partner in your daily life.

You have a hundred things to do each day. Put your partner on the to-do list. Make sure you push them up to the top 5 to-do items in your life. You don’t have to do much — show up with your undivided attention.

35. Have your partner’s back, especially when other people aren’t being supportive.

Be supportive when others are not. Be encouraging when others are not. Be there when no one else is.

36. Write love notes to each other.

It’s tough to say, but love that’s not mentioned is easily forgotten. So make an effort to remind each other that you love each other. Say it out loud, put it in writing.

37. Keep the romance alive.

Put some effort into romancing him or her. Turn something ordinary into something special. Light a candle, a lamp, incense sticks …

38. Know when to call it quits.

Keep working on your relationship … that is, until you feel like it’s no longer working. If you’ve been at it for years without any changes, find the courage to call it quits. Sometimes, letting go is the best thing you can do.

A great relationship takes more than showing up — it requires showing up as who you are, a willingness to work through the challenges and being fully present for your partner.

Don’t just call it in. Put in some effort to really show up in your next relationship. The more you put into your relationships, the more you’ll get out of it.

7 Keys to Long-Term Relationship Success

happy-woman-cooking-with-boyfriend

Most of us want to meet and settle down with the “right” person, and most of us want such a relationship to last. Yet 53% of marriages in the U.S., 48% in Canada, 47% in the U.K., and 43% in Australia end in divorce. What are some of the most important ideas when it comes to making your love last? Below are seven keys to long-term relationship success.

1. Do You Trust Your Partner?

 Trust is the first and perhaps most important predictor of long-term relational success. Without trust, none of the other six keys that follow will have much meaning. Ask yourself the following questions: In general, is your partner reliable and dependable? Can you count on your partner as the “rock” in your life? What about you for your partner?

For some, trust is a complicated matter. Some people trust blindly, while others have trust issues. Evaluate your partner’s trustworthiness based not upon unproven promises or wishful thinking, but on a strong overall record of dependability.

2. Are You and Your Partner Compatible in the Dimensions of Intimacy?

Authors Ronald Adler and Russell Proctor II identified four ways with which we can feel closely connected with our significant other. The four dimensions of intimacy are: Physical, Emotional, Intellectual, and Shared Activates.

Here’s a quick exercise to check you and your partner’s compatibility in intimacy. List the four dimensions as follows:

_______________________________________________________

Partner A    Partner B

Physical

Emotional

Intellectual

Shared Activities

_______________________________________________________

Next to each dimension, rank whether this is a “Must” have, “Should” have, or “Could” have for you in your romantic relationship.

After answering for yourself, next ask your partner to rank, or on your own put down how you think your partner would prioritize. The more “must-must” and “must-should” combinations between you and your partner, the greater the possibility of an intimate relationship. Since relationships are not static, a couple may evolve in the dimensions of intimacy. Understanding one another’s priorities, and connecting in ways that are important to both partners help ensure long-term relational success.

 

3. What Type of Person Shows Up Within You in this Relationship?

Consider the friends in your life. Do different friends bring out different sides of you? Maybe you’re more reserved with one and more rambunctious with another. Perhaps you’re patient with some and quarrel with others. A friend may trigger your higher or lower tendencies.

Just as a friend can elicit a particular side of you, so does your partner. Consider the following questions: Does my better self show up when I’m with my partner? Does my worse self show up when I’m with my partner? Perhaps it’s a combination of both? If so, what situations tend to bring out a particular side of me? Fundamentally, do I like myself in this relationship?

Your honest answers to these questions offer important clues to the long-term health and happiness of your relationship.

 

4. Does Your Partner’s Communication Lift You Up or Bring You Down?

Dr. John Gottman of the University of Washington, a foremost expert on couple studies, concluded after over twenty years of research that the single, best predictor of divorce is when one or both partners show contempt in the relationship.

Contempt, the opposite of respect, is often expressed via negative judgment, criticism, or sarcasm regarding the worth of an individual. In communication studies, this is known as being “tough on the person, soft on the issue.” An effective communicator knows how to separate the person from the issue (or behavior), and be soft on the person and firm on the issue. An ineffective communicator will do the opposite – he or she will literally “get personal” by attacking the person, while minimizing or ignoring the issue.

Ask yourself the following: Does your partner’s communication lift you up, or bring you down? Is your partner’s communication with you “soft on the person, firm on the issue,” or the other way around? What about your communication with your partner?

If your relationship suffers from ineffective communication, the good news is that as long as you and your partner are willing, improvements can be learned quickly and put to use immediately.

5. How do You and Your Partner Deal with Conflict in the Relationship?

Couples with poor conflict resolution skills typically engage in Fight, Flight, or Freeze behaviors. They fight and stay mad, sometimes holding grudges for years. They flight and avoid important issues by sweeping them under the rug. Or, after endless arguments with no resolution in sight, they freeze emotionally and shut down. Someone who freezes in a relationship typically goes through the motions on the outside, but has stopped caring on the inside.

Successful couples have the ability to solve problems and let it go. They focus on taking care of the issue rather than attacking the person. Even when angry, they find ways to be upset and stay close at the same time. Once the matter is resolved, they forgive and forget. Most importantly, successful couples have the ability to learn and grow through their interpersonal difficulties. Like fine wine, their relationship improves with age and gets better over time.

 

6. How do You and Your Partner Handle External Adversity and Crisis Together?

One of the traits of highly successful and enduring relationships is the partners’ ability to stand together in the face of external challenges. A true test of a relationship is whether two people have each others’ back when times are tough. 

Consider these questions:  Do external adversity and crisis bring you and your partner closer together, or pull you farther apart? In difficult life circumstances, do you and your partner act like adults or children? Can you and your partner share the bad times, or only enjoy the good times? As Adler and Proctor II state, “Companions who have endured physical challenges together… form a bond that can last a lifetime.”

7. Do You Have Compatible Financial Values?

Numerous studies have identified disagreements over finances as one of the top reasons couples seek marital counseling, as well as one of the top reasons for divorce. According to Jeffrey Dew of the National Marriage Project, “Couples who reported disagreeing about finances once a week were over 30 percent more likely to divorce over time than couples who reported disagreeing about finances a few times per month.”

Differences in financial values often appear early in a relationship. For example, who pays for the first date? What about the second date? And the third? Is your partner happy when you give a thoughtful but non-monetary birthday gift, or will he or she feel disappointed because you didn’t purchase something? Additional questions to consider include: Is your partner generally happy with what he or she owns, or is there a constant, insatiable desire to always acquire more? Are you and your partner able to solve financial difficulties and differences as a team?

Formulating with your partner a viable financial plan, paying attention to patterns of financial discontent, initiating conversations early to resolve differences, and seeking financial or couples counseling when needed are some of the keys to maintaining financial peace.

In closing, whether you’re single, dating, or in a committed relationship, these seven keys to long-term relationship success may serve as a “check-up” of your relational health and well-being. With self-honesty, openness, and a desire to grow, you can significantly increase the possibility of not only having a wonderful partner in life, but making the love last. To grow old with your life mate, knowing that in each other’s warm embrace you have found Home.

What Isn’t a Healthy Relationship?

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Relationships that are not healthy are based on power and control, not equality and respect. In the early stages of anabusive relationship, you may not think the unhealthy behaviors are a big deal. However, possessiveness, insults, jealous accusations, yelling, humiliation, pulling hair, pushing or other negative, abusive behaviors, are — at their root — exertions of power and control. Remember that abuse is always a choice and you deserve to be respected. There is no excuse for abuse of any kind.

If you think your relationship is unhealthy, it’s important to think about your safety now. Consider these points as you move forward:

  • Understand that a person can only change if they want to. You can’t force your partner to alter their behavior if they don’t believe they’re wrong.
  • Focus on your own needs. Are you taking care of yourself? Your wellness is always important. Watch your stress levels, take time to be with friends, get enough sleep. If you find that your relationship is draining you, consider ending it.
  • Connect with your support systems. Often, abusers try to isolate their partners. Talk to your friends, family members, teachers and others to make sure you’re getting the emotional support you need. Remember, our advocates are always ready to talk if you need a listening ear.
  • Think about breaking up. Remember that you deserve to feel safe and accepted in your relationship.

Even though you cannot change your partner, you can make changes in your own life to stay safe. Consider leaving your partner before the abuse gets worse. Whether you decide to leave or stay, make sure to use our safety planning tips to stay safe. Remember, you have many options — including obtaining a domestic violence restraining order. Laws vary from state to state so chat with a peer advocate to learn more.

The Biology of a Broken Heart—and How to Bounce Back

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Many of us have been there: hearing the words, “It’s not you, it’s me,” or, “Maybe we should just be friends.” Others have dealt with the death of a loved one or role model. And while each end to a relationship is unique (to be sure, a breakup and a lost life are drastically different experiences), one feeling is common: heartbreak. Unfortunately no Band-Aid can heal this one.

Heartbreak Really Does Hurt—The Need-to-Know

Heartbreak is a term used to describe crushing grief, anguish, and distress, often due to the pains and strains of love. The experience of heartbreak can be so intense that some scientists suggest it feels the same as physical pain. In one study, people showed similar brain activity when they viewed a photo of a former love and when they felt extreme heat on their arm.

Heartbreak can be so intense that some scientists suggest it feels the same as physical pain.

In fact, it might even be true that people can die of a broken heart. Early bereavement (the period of mourning after a death) is associated with increased blood pressure and heart rate, which can raise cardiovascular risk . Another study of people who recently lost their spouse found the stress involved with mourning upped the risk of dying from a heart attack by 20 to 35 percent. Looks like heartbreak really can hurt the human heart.

Your Action Plan

As studies confirm the biological basis to love, there may eventually be a treatment for heartbreak. Until then, follow these basic techniques for coping with the pain of a lost love. We reached out to Athena Staik, Ph.D., LMFT and Julie S. Lerner, Psy.D. for professional advice on mending a broken heart.

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The Takeaway

There’s no denying the pain of a broken heart, but luckily there areways to cope with one. Whether you’re going through a breakup or grieving the loss of a loved one, honesty, compassion, social support, and self-care can go a long way toward easing the pain.

Are You or Your Partner Addicted to Drama?

We are all familiar with chemical addictions to intoxicating substances such as alcohol or cocaine. Sex, work and internet use are also frequently mentioned as aspects of life that can be used addictively.

The least recognized addiction in our society, however, may be the addiction to drama which manifests in so many relationships. While drama is a legitimate category of cinema and theater, as an addictive process in relationships it refers to an ongoing dysfunctional need to continually recreate unsafe and unhealthy emotional intensity in one’s relationships.

What is the attraction to drama? The drama addict is hooked on the adrenaline rush of relationships and people that appear wildly exciting in their intensity. But don’t confuse these ”exciting” qualities with love: lots of intense conflict, punctuated with yelling, screaming, throwing things, as well as verbal and physical abuse; frequent dramatic breakups and passionate makeups; ongoing lying and cheating; withholding of truth; betrayal of trust; emotional and/or physical affairs; spying on each other; poor or non-existent boundaries; and racing from the height of ecstasy to the pit of despair in an out-of-control emotional roller coaster.

Drama addiction is so supported and even honored in our media that it has become transparent for many people. Portrayals of relationships in the movies and soap operas often involve a degree of lying, deception, affairs and general dysfunction in far greater proportion than exists in real lives.

This is precisely what happens in relationships characterized by drama addiction. People in these relationships have very little capacity for empathic sharing and selfless companionship, both of which are essential qualities in genuine love. Dramatic love relationships are essentially self-serving and when the person can no longer supply the necessary ”high,” they are abandoned. In the end, the people involved feel isolated, alone, their emotional needs unmet. But they quickly move on, to find the next trigger for their addiction and to distract and numb themselves from the pain and emptiness inside.

When someone feels a need to continually create drama in their lives and relationships, this is often a compensation for an underlying emptiness or depression in their lives. Often such people have not yet connected with their true life purpose or inner aliveness. In fact, they may only feel alive when they get that familiar adrenaline rush that lets them know they have created another messy situation. Other people who create dramatic relationships may have successfully dealt with other addictions and have transferred their need for excitement and intensity to relationships.

If you recognize yourself as a drama addict, examine the types of relationships you have created in the present and past. Did you mistake intensity or need or lust or drama for love? What did you do to promote the drama? How did you handle conflict in yourself and your partner? What information did you withhold? What provoking remarks or behavior did you engage in?

If you come from drama in your family, your brain is preset to resonate with feelings of chemistry and infatuation with someone from a similar background. Once you understand that what you thought was love is really drama addiction, your journey of healing and path to genuine love can begin. Slow down and de-intensify your next relationship. Be honest with yourself and your partner. Recognize that true love is not a consistently intense feeling but rather a series of actions, hundreds and thousands of small repeated kindnesses, many of which may not be as dramatic or intoxicating as running out of your home and slamming the door at 3 am during a fight. But the cumulative effect of these repeated kindnesses is a powerful, deep, reciprocal loving connection, where you can truly get – and give – the love your heart most deeply yearns for. And that is ultimately the most exciting love of all.

When he’s afraid of marriage

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You met your dream man. You want to marry this prince on his white horse and have a string of babies with him. The only problem is that he doesn’t know it!

Why men are frightened when they hear wedding bells?
There are thousands of women who date men who don’t even believe in marriage. You might be asking yourself the question of whether he would ever be able to completely devote them to you or are they just going to break your heart?

Some women have been waiting years for Mr. Right to pop the question. For years she devoted herself to him and one day she just hears that he’s had enough. A few months later he gets married to another woman?

It is natural for men to be scared. If you know that he wants a wife at his side one day, you can try and out what it is that he’s afraid of and work on that to strengthen your relationship.

Why does commitment terrify men? He is probably scared that:

He’ll lose his independence. Even though he loves you completely, he does not want to be around you 24/7. If you give him his freedom, and he doesn’t have to plead for an ‘off’-night, he will appreciate you more.

You’ll want to change him. Men don’t want to be changed. If you have a problem, talk to him, but don’t moan in his ears.

You would change and no longer be the fun, loving girl you used to be. He wants to be your hero, but he doesn’t want to be responsible for your happiness. Show him that you are happy and he only contributes to that happiness.

He would have to report back to you on whatever he does. What terrifies him is that he would have to report to you about his finances and time. Trust him, unless you have a good reason not to.

Your relationship might get boring. You will get comfortable in a long term relationship and start to paint your toenails in front of him. But don’t get comfortable too soon. Keep him interested in you.

He would not have a say. If you start telling him how nice it was to have met him and how nice your life is going to be together, he will run!

Ultimately there’s only that much you can do from your side. Even if you do everything right, he might still dodge jewellery stores.

What do you do if your man just really doesn’t want to get married? It often happens that women fall in love with a wonderful man who is just not into marriage.

If ‘happily ever after” has always been in your future plans, you are in a difficult position. Do you move on to someone who is willing to get married? Do you have to work harder to make him marry you, or do you wait patiently? It appears to depend on many things, and men who don’t want to take that big step falls under three categories:

Firstly, there are those who want to get married, but need to make extra sure it is the right one, and will wait for the right time. Secondly, there are those with commitment phobia who never want to get married. Thirdly, there are those who want to get married, only later and not with you! The last group also consist of two different groups: the group that talks and those that don’t. Most of these fall under the last group. This doesn’t provide you with any conclusion and you have to guess which type he is.

Which approach do you have to follow?

Tough Love (for men that can’t get to marriage)

In her book, Getting to I do (HarperCollins Publishers), Patricia Allen states that before you say something to your boyfriend like the following: “I understand that you don’t want to get married and that is fine, but I need it, so if you feel that you can’t marry me then we should rather end this relationship” you have to make sure you’ll be fine if the relationship does end.  She alleges that men take an average eight weeks to decide. If he doesn’t phone you within this time period, forget about him, he’s not coming back.

Women need to seek a man that tends to her needs and desires, not one that suppresses them. She has to love herself more than the man that doesn’t meet her requirements.

Patricia argues that this is not an ultimatum, but a decision not to settle for less than you deserve. If a girl wants to get married, her man needs to understand that and she needs to give him time to make that decision. The ultimatum is only when you suspect or he said that he never wants to get married or that you are not a part of his future plans.

Sobriety (about the man that’s going to leave you or marry another woman)

Steven Carte and Julia Sokol they state in one of their articles that men who suffer from incurable commitment issues reveal some characteristics. They have a history of short relationships and all these excuses for not finding the right woman yet. They claim that there are still loads of time to find the right one and often use their favourite words “One day…”. They move on quite quickly from relationships and will usually stop at nothing to get they girl they’re trying to control. They are charming and romantic and really show their love, they can because they know the relationship is not going to last.

They usually play the tempting seductive game. They don’t give themselves to the relationship but can’t leave it either. Both options leave them feeling suffocated. They love the chase but don’t care much for the catch.  Requests for respect seem like a tall order and makes them rebellious. They place their work, friends and family in different compartments and think of excuses why this girl can not meet them. They don’t like planning, it takes commitment and these men are unreliable.

Researchers suggest that before you jump into bed with a man with commitment issues, make sure you know his relationship history and walk away when he shows these characteristics. If you are already involved with this man, make sure you set the pace and not him. Stay independent and know that your love is not going to change him. By giving him space, you might stand a chance. Don’t make excuses for him; determine if he would be capable of changing.

Patience (with the man that wants to get married, just not now)

Gillian Reynolds writes in his Ezine article (www.ezinearticles.com) that a man with commitment issues needs to be handled carefully. It doesn’t matter what he says, he will probably want to get married some day. If you want him to ask you one day, avoid conversations about marriage. If he said it once, that he wants to get married, that’s enough. Don’t hint for it or tell him how happy your married friends are. The more you pressure him in this direction, the more he will distance himself from it.

If your boyfriend is unsure, don’t open up all your emotions to him. Be subtle and hold some emotions back.  Be less available and organise girls’ activities. The aim is not to make him jealous or to play hard to get, so don’t invite men. He just has to know that you can enjoy live without him and the chances that you can slip through his fingers are good. This will make him think twice about what he wants out of life.

Sometimes it is not healthy to stay in a relationship which isn’t good for you. To walk away means you stop setting hopeless expectations. Writer Yangki Christine Akiteng says: “I think most people just give up too easily”. This is the sad truth of our modern society. We think that relationships come in organised neat packages with instructions. “Add a bit of sex and live happily ever after.” Most people don’t realise that relationships take work and effort.

For women who jump from one relationship to another it is just as easy to end it if things don’t go their way. Think your situation through. If you know things will never change, it might be time to go.

REMEMBER THE FOLLOWING:

1.    Love yourself. If you can’t love yourself, how do you expect someone else to love you?
2.    Know your role. Both of you have an important and irreplaceable roles in the relationship.
3.    Be emotionally stable. A drama queen is exhausting.
4.    Keep your dates exciting. If he enjoys being with you, he would want to keep you.
5.    Show your love with style, a particular look and soft kiss, not inappropriate clinging behaviour.
6.    Glow. If what’s going on in your heart shows on your face, he would melt.
7.    Love him unconditionally. It’s a choice not a feeling.
8.    Argue when it’s necessary. Discuss your issues properly without bringing up things in the past.
9.    Respect him. If you flirt with other men, don’t expect a ring from him.
10.    Know what you want in a husband and make that clear to him in a subtle way.
11.    Stay the person he once fell in love with.
12.    Be the best person that you can be. Emphasize your positive qualities, talents and interests.
13.    Expect good things and believe that you will find your dream man.
14.    Stay exciting. Practise a new type of sport, travel . . . keep your life interesting.
15.    Be positive, fearless and enjoy life.
16.    Be honest from day one.