Tag Archive | secrets to marriage

Ending a Relationship (Part One)

Ending a Relationship - Five Tough Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Relationship

Five Tough Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Relationship

In all relationships there comes a time when you will come to ask questions about whether it’s time to end it or not. The hardest question of all to answer is how can you know for sure when your relationship is just not working and it may be time to get out?

To help those of you, who think you might be at that point right now, let me see if I can make it a little easier for you.

There are five really tough questions that you can ask yourself to see how close you are to that point of no return. And, while you answer these questions you also need to remind yourself of what the real truth of the situation is.

Also as you answer these questions keep in mind the definitions I spoke about in an earlier article/blog of the five keys to an enduring relationship relating to our basic needs. If you remember, they were recognition of our emotional, physical, spiritual, social and security needs.

The answers must be based on your partner’s recognition of your needs in those areas, as well as your recognition of his or her needs in those areas, and the rights of both of you to have your needs met.

  1. Would you say you behave in a way that reflects that you are in love with your partner and if so, why? And, using those same keys is your partner in love with you and why do you say that?
  1. Knowing what you now know about your relationship, would you still get involved with the same person if you had to do it all over again and why?
  1. When comparing yourself to other people in relationships do you feel that you have been cheated or have settled for second best, and why?
  1. If you could break off your relationship or get a divorce from your partner right now without any inconvenience, legal costs or embarrassment and without any undue hardship on yourself or your children, would you do it? And then why have you answered that way?
  1. How bleak are your feelings about your relationship and just how negatively do you think about yourself and your partner?

You need however, to be very careful here because when you are in a negative place, in your personal lives, you can also get caught up in the negative aspects of your relationship and forget about all the good things. You can even begin to think that it is your relationship that is at fault when the truth is it is more about you as an individual rather than you as a couple.

Look out for part two in these series of article/blog entries to learn what to do with the results of this questionnaire. If you can’t wait till my next entry you can subscribe to my mailing list. Then you will receive the free e-book that this questionnaire comes from. It’s titled “Relationships – A Couple’s Journey”.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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Creating Great Conditions for Great Sex

Creating Great Conditions for Great Sex

Great sex is vital to the continuing development of all great relationships and vice-versa; having a great relationship will ensure that the sex is also great.

Men and women often think that sexual responses and satisfaction are reflexes that automatically leap into action once the right buttons are turned on or when the light is switched off.

In truth, sexual response is most likely to occur when we have taken the time to ensure that the ‘conditions’ for sex are just right. These conditions are about what increases our sexual interest and responsiveness.

Maybe I can describe this best by using the analogy of driving a car. When I drive my car, that is; if I want to get to my destination safe, well and happy, I’ll need certain conditions to be present. I do this automatically without thinking about it, most of the time.

For example, I sit in the front seat with my hands on the steering wheel, not in the back seat or in the trunk. I keep my eyes open; I drive on the correct side of the road, not through a muddy paddock or down a cliff. When it is raining I use the wipers, when its dark I switch on the headlights. I put my feet on the pedals, using the brake to stop and the accelerator to go ahead. I use my blinkers and ensure there is petrol and oil in the car and organize a regular service. If I neglect to do any of these things I would not expect to have a good driving experience. These, then, are my conditions for a great driving experience.

Similarly, you all have your own conditions for great sex and they may be different from those of your partner. Consequently, in your relationships, it is important for you to know yourselves well enough to know what those conditions for great sex are. And, just as importantly, you also need to be curious about what conditions make sex great for your partner.

We mostly know our own conditions for great sex because of our past experiences, positive and negative. To ensure we get our conditions for great sex met then, it is essential for us to let our partners know what things really turn us on and what things really turn us off. Some of you would like to believe that your partner should just know this. But guess what? They can’t unless you tell them.

It is important to regularly check this and then, with your partner or on your own, experiment with something that may be new, to see how that might also feel for you. This is what will keep the sex not just great but novel and exciting every time you come together. And of course ditto for your partner. They say; ‘variety is the spice of life’, and in great sex, especially over the many years of a relationship it is absolutely essential.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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How to Fight Fair When You Disagree (Part Two)

A New Dance

How to Fight Fair When You Disagree - A New DanceIn my last article I wrote about some ideas I have about fighting fairly. Here are some more ideas for you.

One of my most important rules for fair fighting contains a strong resistance, even though it doesn’t always work, to defend myself, or to shut down completely.

I do this by taking whatever time I need to really, really understand as best I can what the other person is trying to say to me. Sometimes I have to put my own response aside for a moment and question the other person in the disagreement to ensure I really am as clear as I can be about what they are saying.

I also think about what it is I want or need from them and may even put this down on paper to clarify it for myself first in an attempt to prepare myself better for the conversation.

Finally I ask the other person if they are willing to take the time needed to hear me out as well before responding to what they think they are hearing.

I also strive to take full responsibility for my feelings and so try not to blame others for what is happening for me. I always try to keep in mind that it takes ‘two to tango’, so when considering how to communicate to the other what’s going on for me I try to use “I” statements rather than “You” statements”.

To put it simply, the difference between these two kinds of statements is this; “I” statements start with an “I” and “You” statements start with a “You”.

Consequently, if someone is constantly late, the message I want to get across to them is this; “I feel angry and annoyed when you are regularly late and you haven’t called me”. This is much better than saying, “You’re always late. You make me so angry!” One is about accepting my responsibility for my feelings and the other is about blaming another for what I’m feeling. And here’s another ‘NO-NO’- Be careful of using broad generalizations like:  ‘always’ or ‘never’. Be truthful about what is actually happening.

I also make a point when I am in conflict to attempt to be objective in hearing all sides of the argument. If I can hear all sides then I am more likely to be able to work with the other person to a better outcome.

And of course, humor, used appropriately, can be helpful too. Try and take a playful attitude towards developing the skill of emotional self-control in high conflict situations. If you are able to do this then it is more likely that the other person will relax and consequently get both of you to a better ending.

If you use all of these skills, conflict will not be as difficult to manage as it first might appear, and you might get to an even more satisfactory resolution, one that leads you both to a win/win outcome, rather than a win/lose or both lose.

Of course this is not always achievable, but if you both understand the importance of finding a good resolution to your conflicts then you can expect that your partner will help you here by being considerate of your feelings and thoughts and help you to explore them as you speak about what is bothering you.

This then opens up the possibility of finding a whole ‘new dance’, and a better way to resolve conflicts that steers you away from your old ways of doing it, laying the path for a more successful outcome, knowing that you can meet your needs in a more appropriate way.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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10 Secrets to Achieving Marital Harmony

10 Secrets to Achieving Marital Harmony

Marital harmony can be achieved in a variety of ways. Sometimes it is the little things that maintain the peace in a relationship and sometimes it is more monumental decisions that can either harm or help the harmony in the household. While agreement is not always possible, it is important for the couple to realize that even during arguments it’s possible to maintain harmony. As long as you understand that disagreements are only temporary the harmony in your marriage will remain throughout all types of trials and tribulations.

  • Being aware of your partner’s likes and dislikes is one way to achieve marital harmony. This awareness allows you to operate in a way that keeps your partner’s preferences in mind. If you know what your partner likes and doesn’t like you can take precautions to not engage in an activity that will hurt your partner. Additionally, your partner will respect your consideration of their feelings. This consideration is necessary for those who wish to achieve marital harmony.
  • Sharing in the decision-making process is also critical to achieving marital harmony. This is important for a couple of reasons. First it gives the couple the opportunity to work together to make a decision and second it helps to make them both feel involved in the process. Also, if one person takes the responsibility of making decisions without consulting their partner it can lead to resentment especially if the decision turns out to be a bad one.
  • Another secret to achieving marital harmony is to work to balance your career and home life. It is easy to get caught up in your job responsibilities and to begin to allow your job to take precedence in your relationship but working hard to ensure this doesn’t happen will be beneficial to your marriage. It’s important to realize that no job is more important than your relationship. There may be times that you need to work late or on weekends but try to keep these instances to a minimum. Also, strive to not bring home your work, either physically or mentally, and allow it to encroach on your marriage. It’s acceptable to share information about your day and vent about any problems you may have had for a little while but going on and on about your job will cause problems in your marriage.
  • Any marriage is bound to have its problems and disagreements but it’s important to not let that problem linger. When disagreements arise, try working out an amicable agreement but when this is not possible sometimes you just have to agree to disagree and move on with your marriage. Remember that each morning is a new day and strive to wake up having forgotten any arguments you may have had with your spouse on the previous day. If you made your best effort to resolve the problem and were unable to reach a resolution, just let it go and start the new day out harmoniously.
  • Agreeing on financial matters is also key to achieving marital harmony. Money is one of the issues that creates the most arguments in a marriage. If both partners are aware of their current financial situation and are willing to work together to establish a budget and stick to it, you will avoid discontent related to financial matters in the marriage.
  • Perhaps an important secret to achieving marital harmony that is often overlooked is knowing your partner very well and discussing major issues before getting married. For example if you have always wanted children, it’s best to find out your partners view on children before getting married. Differences of opinion in an area such as this can doom a marriage. However, if you make sure you marry someone who agrees with you about these critical issues you will avoid having problems arise later in the marriage as these subjects come up.
  • Keeping politics and other sensitive issues out of your marriage is also important to maintaining harmony. It’s acceptable to have opposing viewpoints on issues and debate your beliefs but allowing these issues to create a major rift it your marriage is not acceptable. Two people can exist harmoniously in a marriage while holding opposing viewpoints as long as they respect each other’s opinions.
  • Allowing each other some time to be alone can also help you achieve marital harmony. It’s important to spend time together and share interests but sometimes too much time together can be stifling. It is important for each partner to have interests or hobbies that they participate in without their spouse. This time away from each other helps to maintain harmony by giving each partner a sense of individuality.
  • Being respectful of your spouse is also very important to achieving marital harmony. Couples that treat themselves and each other with respect are able to maintain a sense of civility and accord even during disagreements. This feeling of respect will help the couple to remain harmonious even in the most trying situations.
  • One last secret to achieving marital harmony is to share household chores. A couple that divides up the responsibilities in the household and strives to help each other out whenever possible will have an easy time maintaining harmony. Failure to do this, however, can be very damaging to a relationship. If you have to go as far as drawing up a list of chores and who is responsible for them, go ahead and do that. A written document illustrating who does what around the house will make it clear if one person is overburdened.

It is important to not confuse harmony with agreement. Couples do not have to agree on every issue in order to have a sense of marital harmony. There are many factors that contribute to whether or not a marriage is harmonious. Some factors may be bigger than others, but they are all equally important in achieving marital harmony.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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Five Gifts Under $10 For Your Partner

Five Gifts Under $10 For Your Partner

 

A homemade coupon book is always a welcomed gift and can certainly be made for under $10.  Create coupons on your computer or by hand for services that you know your loved one will enjoy and include a small gift to go with the theme of the coupon book.  For example the man in a relationship where the couple has children could give the woman a bottle of nail polish along with coupons offering his services as a babysitter while she goes out for a manicure with a friend.  She will appreciate that you are sending her out to be pampered while you get a chance to enjoy some time with the kids. In giving this gift try to think of something your partner will appreciate but won’t splurge on for themselves.

Search the discount DVD bins for ones that are less than $10.  Believe it or not, they are available and you just might find one that would make a great gift for someone you love.  Inexpensive DVDs are often less mainstream and you could use that originality to try something new.  If your partner is always trying to get you to go dancing but you keep refusing, you might find an instructional video on flamenco dancing or square dancing.  Invite your loved one over and try following the video together.

Flowers don’t have to cost a fortune.  You may spend hundreds on red roses for Valentine’s Day but for everyday occasions or for no reason at all, you could stop by your local supermarket and pick up a bouquet of colourful wild flowers from their floral department.  Ditch the cellophane wrapper that the flowers come in and arrange them in a vase yourself or tie them with a pretty ribbon.  Pre-arranged bouquets such as these are often available for under $10.

A CD filled with songs that your loved one enjoys or that have special meaning for you as a couple makes a wonderful and inexpensive gift.  For under $10 you could easily use your computer to assemble a CD of meaningful songs.  You could even create a CD cover that conveys the message you want to send with the CD.

Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy a trip to a local National Park to hike, observe wildlife and enjoy the outdoors so surprise your partner with a day trip to the park.  Entry fees for many National Parks are under $10 and you and your loved one will have the opportunity to spend quality time together.  Pack a picnic lunch and spend the day enjoying nature and each others company.

If your loved one enjoys working out, a jump rope is a gift that you can give them for less than $10.  This inexpensive gift will not only remind them of their childhood but also demonstrate that you understand them and realize that fitness is important in their life.  An even better idea is to buy one for yourself as well and challenge your loved one to a friendly competition.

Gift giving doesn’t have to be expensive and doesn’t have to be for a specific occasion.  Surprise your partner with well thought out gifts that reflect their interests.  With a little creativity you can give your loved one a gift that shows how well you know them and they are in your thoughts every day and you don’t have to spend more than $10 to do so.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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Relationships – The Five Keys to Making Yours Super Successful

Relationships – The Five Keys to Making Yours Super Successful

Relationships – The Five Keys to Making Yours Super Successful

Once upon a time there was a young girl who, full of dreams and wide-eyed, left her home town by the coast and followed her knight in shining armor to the city. Their wedding was a spectacular affair, befitting a princess and her prince and they came to live in a castle overlooking the sea.

Years passed, and it seemed that they had everything they could want, a lavish lifestyle, with all the trappings of a young family of standing in their community, and four beautiful children to share it with.

But fourteen years later, the young girl, now grown and much wiser, looked for more from her relationship than it seemed her husband was able to give her. So she ended the relationship and created a life as a single mum raising her children on her own until, with a very new understanding of relationships, she did meet her true knight in shining armor, a relationship that has now been enduring for twenty years and from which this woman, now much older, has drawn so much that she passes her learnings on happily to all those who come into her life.

She no longer sees herself as a princess but as a woman, and now a real woman.” And as all good fairy tales should end: She lived happily ever after.

This is actually my story, but it could be anyone’s. And what I have learned, that I now understand to be the keys to a successful relationship, is not so extraordinary that they are unachievable.

In fact, these keys are common to every one of us. If, in your relationships, these keys can be satisfied, then you will be truly able to live the ‘fairytale’, that so many only ever dream of, and get to ‘happily ever after’.

All of these keys refer to a need within us. If the needs are met then the door will be opened to a truly enduring relationship.

So here are the five basic needs:

  • Emotional needs
    Emotional needs include things like the need to feel, and to be told that you are loved and cherished just for whom you are … that you are a priority in someone’s life and that you are accepted flaws and all.
  • Physical needs
    Physical needs comprise the need to be touched and to be able to touch another. It also includes being, hugged, kissed and feeling loved and to have a rewarding sexual connection with another.
  • Spiritual needs
    Spiritual needs consist of the belief that your spiritual journey is supported by your partner, or by someone else significant to you, without judgment as well as a need to know, and feel, that your individual beliefs and differences are respected, if not shared.
  • Social needs
    Social needs have to do with all of the things that bring other people into your lives together with a shared enjoyment of that.
  • Security needs
    Security needs is about knowing that someone and maybe especially your partner will always be there for you, in good times as well as in times of distress, and that person will always be a “soft place” on which to fall when you need someone the most.

If we recognize these needs in ourselves, as well as in others, and accept our right to have these needs fulfilled, then we can all have the opportunity of creating and having a truly magical relationship.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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How to Decide Whether Or Not to End a Relationship

How to Decide Whether Or Not to End a Relationship

 

So often I meet with couples who are on the brink of separation. It seems that even while there might still be a skerrick of hope they don’t know what to do about it and decide to separate because they simply can’t see any other way out.

Here is one question that came to me recently that follows this line.

“I have been married for ten years. In the tenth anniversary month, we are in the process of splitsville. One thing we both agree with is that the challenges “do not appear insurmountable”. But guess what, we just have not been able to crack. … No outings, limited intimacy living like roommates. At the moment we are getting ready for court, we are on the brink, what do we do, given that there is a sliver of hope?”

Deciding whether or not to end a relationship is just as hard as being left. Although you may be very dissatisfied or wonder if you have any love left, you may be reluctant to really make a break.

Tormenting yourself over whether or not to continue the relationship may interfere with looking at the changes you need to make in yourself. Don’t count on a new partner to take away any underlying insecurity you might have.

Before making the final decision to stay or leave, consider the following:

Do not expect yourself to feel love for your partner when you are feeling resentful. These two emotions are virtually incompatible. If you are feeling resentful at all you deal with that first. If you can’t talk to your partner about this just yet, speak to a professional Counsellor first to defuse it before it becomes too big to manage and it overwhelms you.

Imagine yourself living with your partner on even days and living apart on odd days. Contemplate what it feels like in each of these scenarios to test whether it feels more right to be together or to be separate.

Do not let anyone pressure you into a decision. Only you can make the correct choice for you. If you are not ready to make it just yet then it’s best to pause making any decision until you are ready. It might mean that your partner will make their own decision to separate in the meanwhile and if this happens you will have to accept the consequences.

I teach my clients a strategy which I call “Traffic Light”. Red stands for ‘stop’. So when you need to make a decision, or you are being asked to do something which you are not sure about, stop whatever you are doing and take some time to think about what is happening. This is represented by the yellow light; slow down and be prepared to take careful and well thought through action. Green stands for ‘go’. Take the action that has been well thought through and is the best action to take for the situation you are in.

Discover how you allow yourself to be a victim by talking to friends or a Counsellor. You will not stop feeling resentful until you stop giving up your power. You can control your life and what you think, do and say and know that if you take the time to consider your situation carefully you will make the right decision.

Identify one change you are going to make in yourself to develop your decision-making skill. Make this change consistently until you sense that you are no longer acting like a victim.

Make a final decision only after making these necessary changes in yourself. This will give you a much better sense of what you need to do next.

Often people, by their inaction, stay in relationships far too long often until they have no love left. If this sounds a bit like you take action now. Don’t let the situation go until you get to that point of resentment. And if there is any hope at all make a commitment right now to do whatever you need to do to really give this relationship the best chance you can give it.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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