Keeping your Friendships when Starting a New Relationship

Do you kick your friends to the curb when you are in a relationship and then expect them to be there for you when the relationship doesn’t work out?  If you do, you are treading on very thin ice.  It is easy to have tunnel vision when a relationship is first starting and to spend all your time and put all your focus on your new-found beau.  If you find yourself spending every waking minute (and every sleeping minute) with your new found love, you need to take a step back and rethink some things.

First and foremost, are you being true to yourself?  In the “la-la” phase of any relationship, it is easy to put all of your partner’s needs and happiness before you own.  But beware if this is the cycle that continues throughout a long-term relationship.  Did you stop doing things you enjoy?  Do you still have an identity?

Do you still have friends or did you kick them to the curb?  Make it a point, a priority, to spend time with your friends. Your friends were your friends prior to your relationship, and if your relationship doesn’t work out, your friends will still be your friends.  Well, maybe.  That depends if you still have time for them or not.  If your partner has a problem with you keeping your friendships intact, your partner needs to get over it and accept it.  Your friends can give you honest insight to their opinions on your new found love life.  They may be able to see warning signs that you don’t see or awesome, heartfelt things your new partner does that you are too “gaa-gaa” to notice due to the newness of the relationship.

While you and your partner may hang out with your friends, be sure to have time for your friends one-on-one as well. There is nothing sadder than someone dropping their friends because they found someone new to date or commit to.  If things go badly in your relationship, can you really expect your friends to come running to comfort you if you had no time for them during your relationship?

There is a balance that you have to create that will allow you to give to your partner while holding on to your friends, while holding on to yourself.  Commitment is not a word that only applies to your relationship with a member of the opposite sex.  You should also be committed to your friends.  If you have to schedule time with your friends, do it. Speak up for yourself.  Being in a romantic relationship is an awesome thing; however, so is friendship that stands the test of time.

Be respective of your partner’s desires to be with friends as well.  Do not live your life for anyone but yourself. And do not expect your partner to live life for anyone but himself or herself.  For real, would you do any of these things while falling head over heels in love?

  • Go for a weekend visit to another town at a friend’s request?
  • Go skydiving for the first time?
  • Spend a Saturday night with your nieces and nephews while your siblings have a date night?
  • Mow your parents’ grass on a Friday afternoon and spend the evening with them?
  • Go on a shopping trip or a fishing trip with your two best friends during a three-day weekend?

If you answer truthfully, probably not.  Why not?  These are things you probably have done many times before Mr. or Ms. Wonderful arrived on scene.  It is important to continue doing what you did prior to your new relationship.  Why? Because (and you don’t want to hear this) if it ends, you still are connected to others in your life who matter and who care about you.  If you stop doing everything you like to do and only spend time with your new love interest, you could end up alone with no support and no friends when/if it all falls apart.

The staff at the Relationship Center of Orange County can help you work through these issues and others stemming from things you do as the result of a new love interest.  Our trained professionals can give you advice and help you see the advantage of keeping strong friendships throughout your life.  Use our online tool to schedule your appointment today or call our office at (949) 430-7353 to make an appointment that fits your schedule.

Coping With Your Spouse’s Long-Term Illness

You probably know an older couple where health issues are present and one spouse has to care for the other.  Have you ever considered that accidents and illnesses can occur at any time in life and this could be something even younger couples may have to endure?  Just because you are in your 20s or 30s does not mean you are exempt from the possibility one spouse or partner contracting a long-term illness and the other needing to become that person’s caregiver.

Long-term, also referred to as chronic, illnesses include medical conditions or issues that will have to be dealt with over a long period of time, quite possibly for the rest of the ailing person’s life.  Examples of these conditions and illnesses include cancer and arthritis, as well as heart attack survivors and stroke survivors.

The First Step

The first step is to accept whatever situation you have been dealt, and realize that you may have to change many things in your life.  You may have to make small changes, or you may have to revamp every aspect of your life.  It may take a considerable amount of time to accept what is going on in your world, as well as to accept that serious changes need to be made in your life, in order for you to take care of your ailing spouse.

Here are some dos and don’ts to consider when trying to cope with your spouse’s illness or when transitioning to the role of caring for your spouse’s long-term illness.

DO realize that it is normal for all sorts of feelings to flood you and overwhelm you.

DO expect to be fearful, anxious and stressed.

DO discuss the situation with your ailing spouse, but also talk about other things. Do your best to not let the focus of your time together be the illness.

DO encourage your spouse or partner to do things they are able to do.  This will help your spouse feel useful and needed – something we ALL need.

DON’T feel embarrassed by the gamut of emotions you will be facing.

DON’T avoid talking about your concerns or your spouse’s fears – with them AND with a close friend, relative or counselor.  If you ignore it, it will not go away.

DON’T be pessimistic.  Your optimism can be a source of strength and encouragement for your spouse. Pessimism and negativity can make your spouse feel like you’re giving up on them.

DON’T resort to treating your spouse like a child or a patient.

Coping

Regardless of how committed you are and how much you embrace taking care of your spouse or partner, there will be times when you both find it very hard to cope.  If your or your spouse find it hard to deal with your feelings and emotions, you may want to seek professional help.  A trained counselor or therapist will be able to help you deal with all of the changes that are going on in your life.  A counselor can help you understand your new role and give you pointers for how to ask for help.  Additionally, it may be helpful for you to join a support group of your peers who are going through the same thing in their lives.  If nothing else, talking to others who know what you’re dealing with can help you to stop feeling isolated.

One thing people who are dealing with long-term illness sometimes overlook is the support that can be gained by allowing friends and family into your situation.  The people who love you can not only can provide support, but it can also be there to give you a break every once in a while.  Many times friends and family are willing to help with anything you and your spouse may need, but they are unsure of what things are needed or would make things easier for you, or may be afraid to ask.  Ask for what you need, whether it is for someone to sit with your ailing spouse so you can get out of the house for a bit, for someone to cook dinner once a week, or for someone to run errands you can’t find the time to run yourself.  Think about how you would be willing to help your friends and family in their times of need, and welcome their assistance and support.

Take Time for You

Another consideration is that you still need time for yourself.  Try to stay involved in activities and interests you were involved with prior to your spouse’s illness.  Keep in touch with people who are important to you, and draw strength from these relationships.  Although you may feel obligated to stop doing things other than taking care of your spouse, or guilty about taking time for yourself, it is imperative you realize that you need “you” time as well.  Taking the time to take care of yourself will lessen your stress and anxiety levels so when you are taking care of your spouse, you are doing so while being refreshed and in a more positive frame of mind.

Realize there may come a time when caring for your spouse is too much for you to handle alone.  If you can afford to hire someone to come into your home to help, do so.  Whether a cleaning service or a part-time nurse, hiring these people can really make a difference.  Realize, also, that you may need to move your spouse into a long-term care facility.

There are so many things to think about when a long-term illness becomes part of your world.  You don’t have to go through it alone.  Contact one of our skilled professionals at the Orange County Relationship Center.  Call us today at 949-220-3211, or schedule your appointment using our online calendar.  Help is only a phone call or click away.

Getting More Intimacy and Attention From Your Partner

Have You and Your Partner Grown Distant?

As the years go by, you may feel like your spouse or partner no longer feels that you are attractive or significant.  In fact, you may feel like just about everything and everybody else is far more appealing than you are in your spouse’s or partner’s world.  These other things can include work, hobbies, friends, and coworkers, to name a few.  If you are feeling a lack of connection with your spouse or partner, there are things you can do to catch their attention and make yourself more available.

What Can I Do?

  • Be Present – Be present in your relationship, always.  Maybe the two of you fell in love and everything felt perfect, leading you to believe that you would remain together forever in perfect harmony.  Keep in mind, not everybody experiences an instant connection, and not everybody is lucky to maintain an intense closeness as time passes. It takes effort and focus to stay connected.
  • Make Eye Contact – You’ve probably heard that the eyes are the windows to the soul.  It is imperative to make and maintain eye contact with your partner.  When you look into your spouse’s eyes from across a room, you’re actually being intimate.  Eye contact is an important part of socializing and is an integral part in creating any intimate relationship.  Not only does eye contact show you are interested and attentive to the conversation; it also shows trust and understanding, as well as openness and emotional connection.
  • Be Physical – Touching the one you love not only feels good; it also increases the “love hormone” called oxytocin.  This hormone is important to any romantic relationship and is the reaction to being touched, not only by having sex, but by holding hands, hugging, or touching feet. Be flirtatious and touch their arm or knee when having a conversation.
  • Be Interested – Pay attention to your spouse by listening to what is being said and by noticing body language.  In order to do this, 100 percent, you have to tune everything else out, and listen to what your spouse is saying.  Commit to listen actively when your spouse is talking.  When you spouse speaks, make eye contact and be silent while taking in everything that is being said.  When you do speak, be sure to be supportive and courteous, which will show you are understanding the dialog, as well as interested in the topic of conversation.
  • Be Emotionally Present – Share the intimate details of what is going on in your daily life. Tell them why you were excited or let down by that situation at work or with a friend; let them in on the little details of your day.  This will help build a more intimate connection.  Being emotionally present proves to your spouse or partner that they are valued, appreciated, and special.  Many times, these feelings will be returned to you.  Being vulnerable goes along with trusting that your spouse or partner actually accepts the real you.
  • Love Unconditionally – Always accept your spouse or partner for who they are, as they are.  Never try to change something about them; even something as minor as the way they wear their hair or the fact that they always wear t-shirts when you’d rather they dressed up a bit more.  Being able to accept the small things is a good indicator that you will be able to accept the larger things such as learning about your partner’s dreams, goals, and feelings without being judgmental or dismissive.
  • Laugh, A Lot – Laugh together; have a great time together. Reminisce about funny moments in your life; watch TV shows or movies that crack you up.  Laughter is contagious.  When you hear somebody laughing, it is natural for you to want to laugh as well.  People who laugh a lot have less stress in their lives.
  • Schedule Together Time – Schedule time together each and every day, for at least 10 to 15 minutes.  This can be before dinner, over coffee after dinner, first thing in the morning, or in the evening, just before bed.  Focus on each other without interruption. Also, schedule time away together, without the kids.  Have a date night at least once per month, and a date weekend (overnight) at least twice per year.

If you have made an effort to be more available to your spouse or partner and things are still not improving, you will need to have a heart-to-heart talk.  However, it is important you know what you want before you start ranting and raving about issues in your marriage or relationship.  It’s important that you know the difference between your wants and your needs.

If talking it out doesn’t improve your situation, you and your spouse or partner may want to consider speaking with a professional.  The counselors at Orange County Relationship Center are trained specialists who can help you work through your relationship issues.  Call the Orange County Relationship Center today at (949) 430-7353 to schedule an appointment or schedule your appointment using our online tool.  It may be the best phone call or the best step you ever made in the interest of saving your marriage or getting your relationship back on track.

Is Marriage Good for Your Health?

 

A Healthy Decision

Part of the traditional marriage vows indicate a partner’s willingness to remain together in sickness and in health.  So, could getting married to remain healthy as good of a reason to tie the knot as love?  Many researchers over the years have reported that marriage is good for your health and that healthy married people are less likely to die at the same rate as unmarried people.  More recent research agreed that marriage is, in fact, a positive move, up until the point that a person’s health begins declining.

A 20-year study showed healthy, unmarried people were about 75 percent more likely to have died than married people.  So, what does that really mean?  At a glance, it seems that marriage encourages people to be healthy due to having a purpose in life; that purpose being that they are depended upon in a relationship by their partner.  It makes you wonder if love fades, then, at the same rate as health fades.  Some people think that married people are less likely to report having failing health than singles are.  On many occasions, it seems that by the time a married person reports their health problems, they may already be very close to the end of their life.

Let’s look at all of this in another way.  Obviously, those who are in a good, positive marriage will most likely be in better health, if only due to being happy without much drama or stress in their lives.  So, that being said, it makes you wonder if men and women show the same health-related advantages as a result of being married.  For men, it appears that the happier their marriage, the higher their survival rate.  For example, married men who had to undergo heart surgery were more than twice as likely than unmarried men to be alive 10 to 15 years later.  For women, the status of their marriage is even more important.  Women who are very satisfied with their marriages increase their survival rate almost four times of that of their unmarried counterparts.

It seems that there really is a connection between love and happiness.  Married people are likely to be happy with life compared to those who are single, living together, separated, divorced, or widowed.  Also worth noting, a good marriage is better for your quality of life than a high-paying job.  Married people are less depressed and having fewer mental issues than singles as well. This is likely because of trust in the marriage and the ability to talk about things with your spouse, knowing you will not be judged.  There are studies that show mental health increases substantially for marrieds and deteriorates substantially for divorcees or those who are separated.  More statistics indicate that marrieds also have lower blood pressure, lower stress levels, and better immune systems.

Making it Work

Obviously, there are other things about marriage to consider.  Marriage will not sustain itself.  It takes a lot of work and commitment to maintain a wonderful, happy relationship.  No marriage goes from start to finish without problems along the way.  If you are having problems, such as arguing, not talking at all, or you or your spouse are experiencing low self-esteem, you should seek professional help.  In order to maintain a healthy, lovely marriage, it is important to go back to the basics.  No doubt you have heard or read all of these things many times before, but it bears repeating that all of these things are the basics for living in a healthy marriage.

Communicate – For any relationship, including marriage, communication is the key to healthy relationships.  Poor communication leads to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and other problems.

Be Positive – Negativity weakens a marriage and will eventually damage it if you are not careful.

Have Sex – Sex is a vital part of a healthy marriage.  Remember to hug, kiss, hold hands, and talk.  It isn’t hard to fall into the cycle of feeling more like roommates than husband and wife.

Understanding and Respect – Understand the way your spouse likes to be loved.  Respect your spouse, and show you appreciate your spouse by staying thank you often.  Show appreciation to your spouse as often as possible.

Quality Time – Make it a priority to spend time together as a couple in love.  This is especially important once children enter your world.  If you have to, schedule time for a date on your calendars and take turns choosing where you will go or what you will do on your date.  Do this at least once a month; once a week is preferable.

Get Help when Needed – The most important piece of advice is this: Realize that there are trying times in any marriage, and accept the fact that there may be times when you and your spouse need to seek professional help to get you through a crossroads.  People change, situations change, and relationships change.  What you do not want to happen is to turn into a couple who share a space with no emotional attachment.

The most important consideration is the quality of your marriage.  Many different researches have concluded that a happy marriage can add a number of years to your life.  Marriage is an important factor to think about, all while making sure to treat your spouse with respect.  So, any way you look at it, a strong marriage really is something worth working for.

If you are having issues in your marriage that you cannot seem to work through on your own, as a couple, it is time to seek professional help.  Let the trained counselors at the Orange County Relationship Center help you through the rough times so you can maintain a positive relationship with your spouse.  Call us today at 949-220-3211, or schedule an appointment online.

Forgiveness Following Infidelity

OC Relationship Center can helpInfidelity is one of the most damaging things that can occur within a marriage. Each year, countless divorces occur because one spouse has had an affair, and the couple was not able to put the broken pieces of their marriage back together again. However, there are also those couples who choose to work on their marriages. How do you know if your marriage is worth saving? And, how do you begin to fix it when it seems so broken?

Should You Stay Or Should You Go?

That is the question on everyone’s mind when they find out that their spouse has cheated on them. Fight or flight? Only you can determine whether or not you want to invest the time and energy into healing your marriage. However, if there is any part of you that does, we recommend giving it a chance to mend. Forgiveness is possible, and many couples have forgiven infidelity and have gone on to live together in wedded bliss for the rest of their lives.

What Should You Expect?

What you shouldn’t expect is to wake up tomorrow morning and find out that everything is just fine. You shouldn’t expect the pain to go away overnight. You’ve been dealt a hard blow, and it will take some time to get over the pain you feel.

Give yourself the time you need. You will go through the entire gamut of emotions as you work through your feelings and begin to heal. One day, you will be incredibly sad, and everything will make you cry. The next day, you’ll be terribly angry at the world, and even more so at your spouse for putting you through this pain. Some days, you’ll feel numb, unable to feel anything at all.

All of these responses are perfectly normal, and they’re to be expected. However, give yourself the time you need to experience them and work through them. They are your pathway toward wholeness once again.

Help Is Available

If you find that you are having a difficult time working through your feelings by yourself, or if you’re not sure if you want to save your marriage, it helps to have a third party to talk to to help sort out your feelings. Help is available, and this isn’t a journey you have to take by yourself. By reaching out, you’re taking the first of many steps toward putting the pieces of your marriage back together again. Please give the licensed therapists at OC Relationship Center a call today at 949-220-3211 or book your appointment online. We are here to help you.