It’s important to share quality time with your spouse.

Quality time. It’s a phrase often heard about spouses that automatically brings a smile to your face. On the other hand, quality time when you have children… many times parents (spouses) forego quality time together because everything is about the kiddos. Not good.

Have you stopped dating your spouse or having any quality time? If so, why? Quality time is very important in a marriage, especially if you have children. A strong marriage, and your children witnessing your strong marriage, is very important. Quality time can be date nights, having sex, going on a trip, or anything the two of you do, only the two of you, as a couple where you give each other your undivided attention.

So, maybe you know this is important, but don’t know what to do to have quality time. You don’t have to spend a fortune, or even any money. You can stay home. Arrange for the kiddos to have an overnight at Grandma’s house or a friend’s house, and stay home and watch a movie together. Consider the season to come up with things you can do together. For example, in winter, stay home and cuddle up for a moving, go ice skating, go driving to look at Christmas decorations. In spring, take a walk, take a bike ride, make a picnic lunch to enjoy in your backyard. In summer, fly kits, go for a bike ride, or go swimming. In fall, go on a hayride to a pumpkin patch, pick apples, go to a football game. The options are endless.

Couples need quality time in order to keep their relationship strong, exciting, and happy. You need to maintain a strong connection. If you aren’t having a date night a few times a month, you are not committed to keeping your marriage strong.

Think about seeing a couple who seems happy. Emulate them if you need to. Those people probably have great communication, touch each other often, and take time for each other. In fact, it’s a good thing to try to make at least 10 or 15 minutes a day to talk about things going on in your worlds. Show physical affection for your spouse. Physically touch keeps people connected. Always be open and honest and focus on the positive things in your marriage. Hang out with positive people and laugh, a lot.

If you find you need help dealing with staying connected, you may want to reach out and let the professionals at the Relationship Center of Orange County help you. Let us help. Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Trust Has been Broken

When someone you totally trust breaks that trust, you will find yourself wondering if you can ever trust that person again, or even if you can ever forgive that person.  It is ultimately up to you to decide if you want to dwell on the hurt or try to let it go and move forward in your relationship and with your life.  When trust is broken, especially by someone you held in high esteem, it can throw you into an emotional tizzy.

Trust can be broken after a series of events where you just can’t take one more thing with a particular person, or it can be as a result of one incident.  Either way, you can’t tell your heart how to feel when someone special broke your trust.

Hurt can scar you emotionally causing you to feel angry and betrayed.  These things are understandable; however, you shouldn’t dwell on the issue so much that you end up an emotional basketcase on the verge of a breakdown.  Depression can set in as well.  So what to do now?  Forgive.

Forgiveness.  Let go of the bitterness, even if you can’t forget.  Forgive the action and move on with your life, with or without the person who broke your trust.  Try to learn from the situation, and start down a new road toward compassion for and kindness to others.  If you are able to forgive, you will have a lower stress rate, lower blood pressure, and less hostility towards other in general.  Let it go.  Learn from it.  Move on.

Consider whether or not this specific person has ever done something previously to hurt you.  Remember that nobody is perfect.  Everybody makes mistakes, including you.  Maybe you’ve inadvertently hurt someone in the past.  Does that mean that you are not trustworthy?  Probably not.  Communication.  Communicate with the person who has hurt you.  Let them know.  See what they have to say for themselves.  Maybe it was unintentional.  Maybe it wasn’t.  But you’ll never know unless you have a conversation.

Is this person who hurt you your best friend? your spouse? your child?  Regardless, forgiveness will only come if you want to change your way of thinking.  It’s an ongoing process that will take time to change the way you feel, the way you think, or anything else that has become the “norm” for you when you think about the act that caused you so much pain.  Keep in mind, this has nothing to do with changing the person who hurt you.  Only that person can take the steps to do that.  You can only change yourself.

If you value your relationship, you may need to consider the two of you seeking professional help.  Maybe you just need a counselor to talk both of you through things to make each of you see the other’s point of view.  If the other person doesn’t want to hear of, let alone agree to, seeking professional help, go alone.  It’s never too late to make changes for a better you!  Let the professionals at the Relationship Center of Orange County help you.  Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Does Your Partner Make You Nervous

 

It might sound strange, but it happens in more relationships than you think: one partner finds themselves frequently worried about the other’s mood, commitment to the relationship, or anticipated reaction to things ranging from news that you’ve bounced a check to a proposed social engagement.

To be clear, we’re not talking about abusive relationships here—a serious topic that deserves to be addressed in a different forum (and if you ever find yourself in that situation, by all means, seek help immediately from a counselor or other advocate). But there are other relationships in which one partner simply can’t seem to get over certain insecurities about themselves, their partner’s feelings about them or the relationship itself, and it can cloud every aspect of their lives together.

If you realize you’re regularly walking on eggshells around your partner, here are a couple of warning signs to look for:

  1. You have a tendency to hide things from your partner rather than risk having uncomfortable discussions This could be anything from making purchases you think he/she won’t approve of to spending social (if innocuous) time with persons of the opposite sex, knowing your partner might feel threatened if they knew.

    Aside from a lack of honesty—an emotional-intimacy killer if there ever was one—this puts you in the position of always worrying about being caught. As hard as it might be, you need to learn that’s it better to be up front about what you plan to buy, with whom you plan to have lunch, etc. than to create the feeling that you’re always sneaking around.

  2. It’s possible that your concerns about your spouse’s reactions to things is needlessly overblown. Maybe you had an overbearing parent who was guilty of frequent, unpredictable outbursts, and you’ve now projected your fear of that onto your current partner. Or maybe you have a naturally nervous personality. Whatever the reason, try a “fake it until you make it” approach: Start treating them—and yourself—as equal partners until you learn to believe it. Stop expecting him or her to be furious that you paid the power bill late, or that you invited his less-than-favorite friends to dinner, or even that you bought an extravagant pair of shoes that really weren’t in the budget this month. (Worse comes to worse, you could always take them back—or maybe he’ll surprise you by admitting they look so sexy on you that they’re well worth the price.)

Try thinking of it this way: You know the old cliché about being nervous in front of an audience—“Just picture them all naked”? Well, it can work one-on-one, too. I don’t mean you should picture your partner in a hot, sexy, foreplay kind of naked, but more like getting-dressed-for-the-day naked while rushing around looking for socks kind of naked. The point is, sometimes it serves you both better if you take him (or her) less seriously for a change—as a regular old human, warts and all.

You deserve to be treated as an equal, and that begins by seeing yourself as one. So remember: always be honest so you have nothing to hide; your partner is not the temperamental, fly-off-the-handle parent you might have grown up with; and your partner puts his or her pants on one leg at a time like the rest of us. The simple act of relaxing around your partner can be a real life- and relationship-changer if you make a habit of it.

If you need assistance with your relationship, contact one of our trained professionals at the Relationship Center of Orange County. Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

 

Whose retirement is it anyway?

Isn’t it one of the most romantic dreams of couples everywhere…the chance to grow old together and bask in your retirement years now that the children are grown and you’re finally free of the demands of your career?

In a word, yes. But nonetheless, like every other phase of marriage, preparing for retirement requires work, planning and communicating about each other’s expectations—which can be fun, rewarding and exciting if you approach it with flexibility and a good attitude. On the other hand, failure to talk about your plans for retirement ahead of time can lead to serious disappointment and frustration.

Retirement is a big step whether you’re single or married, so it’s probably a good idea to start by taking inventory of your personal expectations even before talking them through together. There are people who’ve taken great pains to earn, save and invest the money they’ll need to provide for their retirement years without giving much if any thought to what they actually want out of those years. Maybe those decades of nose-to-the-grindstone career dedication left little time to cultivate outside interests, and you need time to create a mental image of what you really want your retirement years to be.

Once you have a grasp on your own expectations, for many couples the harder part may be sharing those hopes and expectations with each other, and finding a way to make them work even if they initially seem to be at odds.

Maybe she wants to start a new business, while he wants to spend as much time as possible traveling to exotic locations. Or he wants to start the amateur jazz band he always dreamed of, but she wants to retire to the beach.

It’s never too soon to start talking about it. Many people begin entertaining retirement fantasies years before the time comes yet never communicate them to their partner. After all, x, y or z sounds like paradise to you; how could he or she not feel the same? But you won’t know until you ask, and if it turns out you harbor different visions, then the sooner you talk about it, the better—not only about the dreams themselves but the practical steps you’ll need to take to make them possible.

And if your dreams seem impossibly different, don’t give up. Now is the time to negotiate and compromise. Be creative. In the first example, maybe the wife who wants to start a business could create one that involves sourcing products from those exotic locations where he wants to travel. In the second, they could buy the beach house but keep a place in the city and negotiate how much time they plan to spend in each. That’s not to say they need to spend every waking moment together—there’s nothing wrong with pursuing separate interests, as well—but everyone should have realistic and well-defined expectations.

The bottom line is that all kinds of new possibilities are going to open up for you, but if you can’t enjoy them together, then instead of growing old together, you could find yourselves growing apart at a time when you least expected it. So when discussions get tough, remember the tremendous advantage you have over the newlyweds you once were, at another time in your life when you had so many great adventures ahead of you: You’ve already faced your share of marital conflicts and challenges and lived to tell the tale. By now, you’re old pros at this.

So remember: When it comes to retirement, dream, plan and compromise, and last but not least, enjoy. You’ve earned it.

The staff at the Relationship Center of Orange County want to help you to get along better and be happier—whether that is with yourself, your partner, at work or with your family.  Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

How to Earn Trust from Someone Who Was Hurt in the Past

One of the hardest things to do, whether it is with a partner, a friend, a parent, or someone else, is to earn trust. Even harder is earning trust from someone who was hurt in the past. Even if they were hurt by someone other than you, people who have been burnt tend to have a hard time trusting, in general. Here are some things you can do to earn the trust of someone who has been hurt in the past.

First, what is trust? Trust is a person’s integrity, honesty, and effectiveness; in one word, it’s a person’s “character”. Trust can be easily built, but it can also be easily broken. Although you may have not been the one to hurt the other person, there are ways that you can prove your trustworthiness in many different ways. In doing so, hopefully the person who has been hurt in the past will see that you are not like the other person and that you are honest and trustworthy.

Reliability – Do what you say you will do, always. This should hold true even in small things like showing up when you say you will, running the errands you say you will run, etc. Keep the number of promises to a minimum, but keep the promises you make. This will show you are dependable.

Honesty – Always tell the truth. Although that sounds like something a parent would tell a child, it is so true in every relationship. Even at times where telling a little white lie doesn’t seem too harmful, you will get much more trust by telling the truth, even when it opens the door to unpleasantness. If you tell a lie, admit it. Confess it right away. If you get caught in a lie, admit it. Don’t lie to spare somebody’s feelings or to avoid a debate. Instead, focus on the good things about the person to help cushion the blow of the pain your truthfulness might cause.

Openness – Never lie by omission, meaning not tell the whole story or any of the story in order to be vague or to spare somebody’s feeling. This will show that you have nothing to hide. As an example, imagine you had previously been engaged to someone and for whatever reason, your new boyfriend has a problem with that fact as well as a problem with your ex. This afternoon you stopped by a gas station and were pumping your gas when your ex pulled in to pump gas as well. Should you tell your new boyfriend? Absolutely. If you don’t, you are lying by omission. And what happens if your new boyfriend’s relatives were inside the store and saw you and your ex at the gas pumps? See where this is going? Always be open and never lie by omission.

Keep Secrets Shared with You by Others – Never gossip. Never talk about somebody else’s life story or problems, especially if they have shared things with you in confidence. It is never a good thing, and it will come back, full circle, and you will lose the trust of that person. It’s possible to slip sometimes, but if you do, tell the person whose confidence you broke right away.

Loyalty – This goes along with integrity and morals, which is important in any relationship. Be loyal, both when you’re with the person, and when you’re not. Trust is a no-brainer when the person knows they have your loyalty. Live by strong morals. Be objective and fair in your decision making. Have no double standards.

In the end, it is not your fault that the other person has been hurt in the past. Who hasn’t, right? If your relationship is struggling because your partner, friend, parent, or whomever can’t trust you and you have not given that person a reason to doubt your trust, that person may just not be ready for a relationship or friendship. You can’t beat yourself up over someone else’s issues. However, if you have been known to “stretch the truth”, lie by omission, or anything else that doesn’t earn others’ trust, it is your issue.

Taking time to speak to a professional may be just what you need to get through a trust issue, whether it’s your issue or somebody else. The staff at the Orange County Relationship Center are trained professionals who can help you with the problem you are facing. Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us so you can get the help you deserve and move on to brighter tomorrows.

Why it’s Important to have Date Night, or Trips without the Children

Quality time.  Just the sound of those two words makes our hearts smile.  Quality time when you have children.  The sound of that leaves many of us wishing we had some quality time with our spouses.  Still, for others, they want quality time with their spouses, but they feel guilty about scheduling a trip without the kiddos or even scheduling a date night.

Quality time is defined as spending time together while giving each other your undivided attention in a way that is important, special, or productive.  So, whether quality time with your spouse is sharing a common interest, having sex, having deep conversation, it is something that makes your relationship special and can be achieved by just having some time together, alone.  Couple times will increase the bond between you and your spouse.

You don’t have to leave your kids for two weeks while the two of you travel to a different country, although that would be heavenly!  Here are some great dates for couples needing to reconnect which are no way related to the old “dinner and a movie” theme.  Additionally, these ideas won’t break your bank accounts!

Think about the season when considering what to do or where to go for some quality time.

Winter:  You can stay indoors by a fire or do something outdoors for a date.  For instance, go ice skating or sled riding.  There will be plenty of opportunity to touching while trying to help your partner skate, catching his fall, or piling on a sled together.  Go for a walk (or drive) at night to check out holiday decorations on your street or in your town.  Have a dinner by the fireplace, or just snuggle in front of the fire with a cup of hot chocolate.  Make a snowman or have a snowball fight!  Then tend to your partner’s wounds!  Have an indoor picnic, complete with marshmallows.  If you have the means and options for someone to take care of your kiddos, rent a cabin for a romantic weekend.

Spring:  Take a walk through flower gardens or visit a greenhouse.  Go on a bike ride or a hike in the mountains. Go to a street fair or farmer’s market.  Browse all the fresh produce and flowers offered.  Go to a baseball game or have a picnic with a bottle of wine and some sandwiches.  Wait until evening and have your picnic outside, under the stars.

Summer:  Have a water balloon or water gun fight.  Make your own photo shoot in a nearby park or hiking trail.  Fly kites together.  Go canoeing or biking.  Go to the beach.  Have a picnic in your car at a scenic overlook.  Go window shopping.  Go to a drive-in movie theater.  Make out like you’re a couple of teenagers.

Fall:  Go to an orchard and pick apples together.  Go to your high-school’s football game and cheer like a teenager!  Go camping or to a fall festival of some sort.  Have a picnic with some wine and chocolate, somewhere isolated from the rest of the world, or even in your own back yard.

Couples need quality time, throughout their relationship and marriage, in order to keep the relationship exciting and to remain connected.  If you are not having at least a few dates a month, you are not doing everything you can to keep your connection strong.

There are other healthy habits that happy couples seem to portray.  Whether it’s a front or not, it makes many of us envious of what they seem to have.  When you see a couple that shares a good connection, they likely have these things in common:

Good Communication – This is the key to any great relationship.  The good thing about communication is that you share your hopes and dreams, while also being able to talk about problems in your relationship.  You can resolve issues quicker because you are already have established good communication.  As part of communicating, don’t assume you know what your other half is thinking.  Instead, ask.  Make time for talking every day, even if it’s only 10 minutes in the morning or in the evening.  This insures you know what’s going on in your partner’s life.

Hobbies/Interests – Happy couples normally have at least a few common interests.  You don’t have to convert to all of your partner’s hobbies, nor does your partner have to convert to yours.  However, having something in common, whether it be golfing, traveling, or fishing, will strengthen your relationship.

Physical Affection – Not only sex, but physically touching your partner keeps you connected.  The mere act of holding hands, cuddling, or kissing shows that your relationship is important and you care about your partner.

Positive Attitudes – Be open and honest, always, and focus on positive things in your life.  Surround yourself with other positive people and spend time laughing, a lot of time laughing.

The trick to the above listed items is to make sure you have all of these things, even when there are kiddos in your life.  You need to nurture your individual self, as well as your relationship with your partner, at all times, even after you have children.  It’s easy to get lost in the “Mommy” or “Daddy” mode.  Make sure there is always time for you as an individual, and you as a husband or a wife.  The best gift you can give to your children is for you and your spouse to have a strong relationship and a strong marriage.

There are a lot of magazine articles and self-help books written on how to keep the spark alive in your marriage once you have children.  It’s obviously an important topic.  Like anything, it’s important to go back to the root, to the beginning.  That root would be the relationship between you and your spouse.  All couples have to work to keep the spark alive.  If you are struggling to stay connected, or have been disconnected with your spouse for far too long, realize that every relationship needs what some call the three “Ts”; namely, time, talk, and tenacity.  The three “Ts” were named as a way to easily remember them.  Some referred to these needs as, “time, communication, and determination”.  Whatever you prefer to call them, your relationship has to have these three things to thrive and persevere.

Time – Finding time for your spouse, no matter what stage of your life, is of paramount importance to making your marriage work.  This is true whether you are newlyweds, parents of toddlers, parents of teenagers, or retired people.  Finding time to be together, just the two of you, is the key to a successful marriage.

Communication – There’s that word again.  As much as this word appears in anything written about relationships, you can see the importance of communication in your marriage.  If you don’t have time to talk, how do you handle problems, work on issues, or come up with solutions to problems with your kids or in your marriage itself?

Determination –  This may be something many are missing when they are trying to work on marital issues.  Enter your marriage knowing you are both in it for the long haul.  Your marriage is not something to plan on for 5 years.  It’s something to plan on for the rest of your life.  In order to make something work for decades, you have to have determination.  You will both change as you grow and age, and you both need to realize that and respect that.  You need to commit to staying close and connected throughout your marriage, and your marriage (and your spouse!) need to be number one in your world.

Having a date night every week, every other week, once a month, or at whatever interval can fit into your schedules, will help you remain connected.  It’s imperative that you both take these date nights seriously and do not let anything interfere with your scheduled dates.  Do not sit at home and watch television, go somewhere fun, exciting, and/or romantic.  If you can afford to do this once a week, great.  If you can only afford it once a month, fine, but stick to it.  Make it a priority in your life.  Your marriage will be better for it, and your kids will be better for it because Mommy and Daddy are happy and fun again.  Face it, without having fun every now and then, our lives are just lists of tasks or things that we want to cross off our “to-do” lists.

It’s important that you do not take your spouse for granted and that your spouse not take you for granted.  If you absolutely cannot afford a sitter to have a date night, consider asking friends to switch off sitter duty every other week.  Then, you have one weekend a month that you are on a date night, and one weekend a month you are tending to your friends’ child(ren).  Having that arrangement costs nothing extra; you only have to cover the cost of your date.  If you absolutely have to stay home, do it.  But call it a date.  The additional rule for having date night at home:  Don’t fold laundry, cut the grass, or anything else that is a chore, during your date night.

If you and your spouse are having trouble knowing where to start, you may need to first go through a reconnection and look for a counselor to help you get there.  The staff at the Relationship Center of Orange County are trained professionals who can help you work through the troubled spots in your relationship and get you on the right path to reconnecting, but showing you how to communicate, make time for each other, and enjoy each other.  Call us today to schedule an appointment, or schedule your own using our online tool.  It is amazing what a little coaching can do to restart your relationship and put you back on the path to success!

Fighting in Public

If you ever watched “Seinfeld,” there’s a great episode where Jerry Seinfeld’s parents admit they can’t stand to spend time with the parents of his best friend. “They’re always fighting,” Jerry’s mother complains. “It makes us uncomfortable.”

If you don’t know the show, what makes it funny is that in fact, the couple in question—Frank and Estelle Costanza—truly do nothing but fight. Saying that they make other people uncomfortable is an understatement.

The Costanzas may be fictional sitcom characters and an exaggerated version of real couples that argue, but they do have something to teach us about arguing—specifically, arguing in public.

One of the biggest problems is that constant or charged bickering can make others uncomfortable to the point that you’ll find your circle of friends shrinking rather than widening. Maybe you’re a more private person who doesn’t care about socializing in large groups anyway, but it’s nice to keep your options open—especially when it comes to friends you enjoy as a couple.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not advocating putting on an act in front of your friends at parties to prove that you’re the happiest couple alive. That would probably backfire, anyway. Nor should you be obsessed with how others perceive your relationship. Instead, just think of social events—from intimate dinner parties to big weddings—as a good excuse to be extra courteous to each other. And who couldn’t use a good excuse for that?

Meanwhile, there’s another, lasting complication that comes from taking your disagreements public: People might begin to assume your relationship is in trouble, and the repercussions can reverberate. They take sides. They give you unsolicited advice—usually well-meaning, sometimes uninformed, never professional. In other words, if you have a problem with your partner or spouse that you need to discuss, choose carefully in whom you confide, and how. If you feel you aren’t getting anywhere discussing problems with your partner or spouse, a trained counselor is always a safe choice when it comes to discussing the relationship. The person seated next to you over after-dinner cocktails at a party? Not so much. Shows of public hostility tend to invite juicy gossip as well as genuine concern.

By fighting in public, you are essentially inviting people to judge and weigh in on your private life whether you mean to or not. And again, advice from observers can be good or it can be bad, but too often it only feeds into your own concerns about the relationship without a healthy sense of perspective that you can hardly expect an innocent bystander to provide.

We all have those nights—and sometimes weeks and months—of difficult times or even outright hostility in the relationship. When you’re going through one of those times, here are a few things to consider:

If you don’t feel up to participating in a social event, don’t. This can be challenging when one partner is closer to the people throwing a party or than the other and therefore has more reasons to go. It’s not a terrible thing to go alone—but you still have to be aware of your state of mind. If you and your partner have a terrible fight and then you head out on your own to see friends, you might be tempted to overshare and regret it later. It’s hard to take back strong feelings you’ve expressed because they felt genuine at the time. In the morning you might have a more nuanced view of things, but whomever you’ve confided in will only know what you told them.

If you feel it’s important to make an appearance at an event together in spite of an argument you’re having, agree to a temporary truce—and to cut out as soon as possible if need be. “Susan isn’t feeling well” clears the way pretty quickly (and may not be far from the truth) if you need to make an exit before you lose the energy to be civil.

Again, it’s not about putting on an act, but mitigating the damages if you have to go out publically when you’re not feeling too charitable about each other at the moment. It’s not constructive, and in fact can be very damaging, to air your grievances in the heat of the moment, where they might last in other’s memories even longer than your own. And when the healing begins, the last thing you want are constant reminders of an argument you’re trying to put behind you.

We at the Relationship Center of Orange County are here to help you.  Call today or schedule an appointment using our online scheduling tool.

Do You Have a Workplace “Spouse”?

More than friends?

Building close relationships are inevitable—even necessary—in the workplace, where collaboration and mutual respect are important for success. Like it or not, the workplace is also often where we spend more of our waking hours than just about anywhere else, and we spend more time with coworkers than we do with our spouses or partners. Moreover, when you find a colleague with whom you work especially well—someone who is the yin to your professional yang—it is natural for you to become more than just coworkers: you are allies and friends. Pop psychology has even invented a new term for it: “the work spouse.”

You don’t have to be a therapist to know that becoming close to a colleague can potentially lead to becoming more than just friends. One needs to be aware of the danger signs, especially if they’re already in a committed relationship (with someone outside the office, that is). To be clear, it is possible to work closely with a person of the opposite sex without crossing the line into intimacy or a full-blown affair. The key is setting boundaries and sticking to them.
Setting boundaries

The first rule is never to rely exclusively on the other party to maintain professional boundaries. Too often, people fall into inappropriate relationships with coworkers and later claim they never saw it coming. In truth, the signs were most likely there all along: he/she leans in a little too close to show you something on the computer screen; increasingly offers to walk you to the car when you’ve been working late; asks if you care to stop for a drink at the pub across the street to continue brainstorming on a big project. If these things happen on a regular basis, it is honestly a bit naïve to continue assuming he or she “doesn’t see me in that way.” And if they are not sticking to professional boundaries, then it is imperative that you take the lead in doing so.

If you do pick up signs of flirtatious behavior, it’s best to address it directly, even if it feels a little uncomfortable. You can say something like, “Greg, this feels really awkward, because I really value our working relationship and I might very well be wrong. But sometimes I feel like our work relationship is getting a little too cozy, and I want to make sure neither of us gets the wrong idea.” This gives your colleague a clear message while allowing him or her to save face.

Meanwhile, you can and should avoid situations that invite blurred lines. Avoid allowing work-related parties—or worse, business trips—to become ways of carrying your office camaraderie over into new settings. Instead, use these as chances for you to get to know your other coworkers for a change. More importantly, if drinks are being served, alcohol, which lowers your inhibitions, is the last thing you want to introduce into your relationship with your “work spouse.”

Finally, though it might seem counter-intuitive, avoid running to your partner at the first inkling that a close work relationship might be moving into dangerous territory. Again, your first line of defense should be a firm “Thanks but no thanks,” which will usually suffice. If it does not, you probably have a real harassment problem on your hands that needs to be addressed through a supervisor. But short of that, a full confession to your partner that a coworker is getting too close for comfort really accomplishes nothing other than creating unnecessary jealousy—unless that’s what you want, in which case you may have relationship problems tat you need to address in a more direct way than reminding your partner that he or she is not the only one out ther who finds you attractive.

Instead, have the confidence to draw and enforce workplace boundaries on your own. Doing so will help you maintain healthy self-respect, positive working relationships with colleagues and it’s a skill that will serve your relationship well in many contexts for years to come.

If you find yourself in a situation where you feel the need to establish boundaries with a “work spouse”, but you are having difficulty doing so, the insight of an unbiased, trained professional may be of help. The Relationship Center of Orange County offers individual counseling, as well as couples therapy, which might be just what you need to boost your courage and find the right words to do so. Call us today at 949-220-3211 to schedule your appointment, or book using our online calendar. We’re here to help!

Dating after Divorce

Relationship Center of Orange County

Dating again-

No matter how long a divorce has been in the making, the idea of actually dating again is going to feel a bit surreal, at least in the beginning. It’s been years or maybe decades since you’ve socialized romantically with anyone other than your ex; chances are, you never expected to do so again.

So where—and when—do you start?

The first order of business is simply to take your time. Divorce is an enormous adjustment, almost akin to mourning the death of a loved one. You need time to grieve, heal and get back on your feet emotionally. Some say this can take up to two years, but everyone is different and the only healthy timetable is the one that works for YOU. It also depends on the circumstances and your frame of mind. If the divorce was relatively amicable, you might be ready sooner than someone who feels bitter or betrayed by the breakup of the marriage.

Your expectations will also come into play. If you just want to get out and enjoy meeting new people in general, or find someone with whom to share an occasional movie or dinner, that’s one thing. But, if you feel driven to go out and find the next Mr. or Mrs. Right because you are uncomfortable being alone, you’re probably not yet ready to enter into another relationship yet and fear of being alone is not a place from where one makes the wisest decisions about relationships. It’s better to spend more time first getting acquainted with your post-divorce self—who you are, and can become as you start to move forward.

Whenever it does feel right to start dating again, there are two very important things to keep in mind: If you have children, they come first

Your kids have already been through a lot in the divorce, even under the best of circumstances, so proceed with caution to make sure your new foray into the dating world does not hurt or confuse them. The simplest tip is not to introduce them to men or women you are only casually dating, lest they expend needless energy sizing up potential suitors. Even if you think a relationship is becoming serious, proceed with caution: if your children like this person and develop their own expectations of where the relationship is headed—and what role your new suitor might play in their life—they’ll only suffer more if the relationship does not work out.

Regardless of if or when you introduce your dates to your kids, this is also a time to be mindful about how you speak of your ex. Showing respect for your children’s mother or father—no matter how well or poorly you’re getting along with them at the time—is always best for the sake of your kids. When you are seeing other people, it’s even more important.

Learn from your past

Remember how you said to your friends, as the marriage was headed south, “If only I knew then (when we got married) what I know now…” Well, this is your chance. You do know more now. Chances are you have matured immeasurably and have a much better understanding of what you want (and don’t want), and need, from a relationship. Use that knowledge to make decisions about your new relationships going forward. Learn from past mistakes, and allow this transition to be a period of growth.

Think about some of the problems that undermined your marriage and what contributed to them: Did you tend to undermine your own self-worth? Did you often say what you thought your partner wanted to hear rather than what you really thought? On the other hand, were you on the opposite end of the spectrum, tending to domineer your ex to the detriment of the relationship? Either way, you might benefit from some time in therapy to understand these aspects of your behavior and how they affect relationships before entering into a new one.

Only then will you be ready to test the waters and enjoy the benefits of starting new relationships with your eyes wide open. Post-divorce relationships that are approached after a reasonable time and with a healthy attitude will benefit from the knowledge gained from past mistakes. Don’t let it go to waste!

If you have been through a divorce and need help transitioning into the next phase of your life—including dating again—please give us at a call at 949-220-3211 or schedule an appointment via our online calendar. We at the Relationship Center of Orange County are here to help you.

When Your Spouse Loses a Parent

Call the professional counselors at the Relationship Center of Orange County.

Helping Your Spouse

One of the most difficult losses that anyone will likely experience in their lifetime is the loss of a parent. If you’ve never experienced this type of loss, helping your spouse get through it can be arduous. Most don’t have the words to say or try to rush them through the grieving process, which only prolongs recovery. When equipped with the right tools and support, you can help your spouse get through to brighter days.

Five Stages of Grief and How to Help

Not everyone goes through all five of these stages, and they may not go through them in any sequential order. It may also take more time to get through these stages than others. Below you will find a description of these stages and tips on how to help them cope through each one.

Stage 1: Denial (Isolation)

When your spouse initially finds out about the death of their parent, they will most likely try to deny that the situation occurred. This is very normal and is often how our minds rationalize these strong, overwhelming feelings. This is the best way for the mind to defend itself against the real emotion and shock that come afterwards.

What You Can Do: During the initial shock stages, there may not be much that you can do to console your spouse. This is partially because in their minds they have numbed it out and they’re doing their best to just not think about it. Try to be extra-aware of how they are acting and may be feeling, and simply be there for your spouse however they might need you to be. Whether that means holding them while they cry, listening to their rationalizations, or just sitting in silence.

Stage 2: Anger

At this point reality starts to kick in and this is when the real emotions will emerge. The emotions are so unbearable that the brain deflects from being vulnerable and thus becomes filled with anger. Unfortunately the anger that is displayed can be directed at anyone or anything, and in some cases can even be directed toward the deceased. While your spouse understands no one is to blame, this is how the brain rationalizes the emotions they are feeling.

What You Can Do: During this time your opinion or what you think your spouse should be doing is best kept to yourself. Do not personalize it and make yourself the victim of their emotions. Instead, follow your spouse’s lead. If they want to talk, listen; if they need space, give it to them, and when they get angry allow them to feel that emotion.

Stage 3: Bargaining

Typically after they’ve gotten past the anger, they try to regain control of their emotions and thus begin a “blame game”. For instance if the parent died of a terminal illness they will say, “If I had noticed the signs earlier, maybe they would be alive”. The blame does not always have to be on your spouse as it’s common to point the finger at others during this stage.

What You Can Do: Listen and allow them to rationalize what they are feeling. At this point in the grief process, telling them that it was not their fault or there was nothing anyone can do will fall upon deaf ears and in some cases can cause unnecessary arguments.

Stage 4: Depression

During this point of mourning your spouse is allowing all of his/her emotions to come to the forefront. They begin feeling guilty, vulnerable, angry, and sad on any given day and this can turn into depression.

What You Can Do: Now it is time to offer kind words of encouragement. Let your spouse know that you are there for them and that brighter days are ahead. Also, as they are depressed, it will help if you can take on some of the daily chores and things that used to be their responsibilities. Allow them to focus their time and energy on healing as much as you can.

Step 5: Acceptance

This step may take months or even years to get to and, unfortunately, some never get there. At this point their emotions have been sorted, reality has set in, and they are accepting the fact that their parent is no longer there.

What You Can Do: As they begin to get back to a sense of normalcy, talk with them on a day to day basis about how they’re feeling. Try bringing up fond memories and stories about their parent(s) and connect with them again.

It is important to point out that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. It can take your spouse a few weeks, months, or even years to work through the pain. If you begin to notice that they are headed down the path to depression or just can’t move past their loss, consider reaching out to a trained counselor for help. The caring therapists at the Relationship Center of Orange County can help you both understand each other, get past the loss and move on to happier days. Please call us today at (949) 430-7132 , or schedule your appointment using our online calendar. We look forward to serving you.