Getting to Know Your Spouse … Again!

A Routine Relationship

When you first got married, the thrill and anticipation of learning about someone new kept the flame alive. There were so many new experiences for the two of you to delve into as a couple that boredom or mundane routine was the last thing on your mind. Fast-forward a few years and what was once an exciting experience has now come close to being an “obligated responsibility”. Your life is routine, and it seems that you have learned everything there is to know about your spouse…. So now what? When you have been married 5, 10, or even 15 years to the same person, how can you learn new things about them or create new experiences?

People are Constantly Changing

Even if it seems that you know your spouse from their favorite color down to the types of foods they like to eat, there are still some things about them that you do not know or have yet to discover. The truth of the matter is that we are always changing, while those changes may not be drastic, they are changes nonetheless.

For instance, before your children came into the picture your favorite pastime might have been going out to the newest bar or club, and now that you have children your favorite pastime might be just to have a moment of silence to yourself… People change as life changes; their point of view changes as they experience new things. So, even if you’ve been with your spouse for 10 years, the opportunity to learn new things about them still exists … and below are some tips on how to do just that.

Participate in Daily Conversation

This one seems over-simplified, but communication is not something that should only be done when there is conflict or something that needs to be resolved – and sometimes this type of communication can become a habit. Talking to your spouse is how you learn more about them. You need to set aside some time each day to just sit down and talk with each other. It can be as little as 15 minutes per day discussing nothing more than how each other’s day was, but really listen. Showing interest in what the other person is going through is significant in keeping the relationship alive. It is amazing how a conversation about work could trigger a flashback of a childhood memory. True conversations can lead you to a deeper level of connection.

Try New Activities Together

The world is filled with exciting things to do so why not experience them with the one you love? Pick up a new hobby together such as cooking or dancing and allow the experience to build a deeper connection between the two of you. You might find that your husband is a great salsa dancer or that your wife is an expert at making omelets. Even if you don’t learn anything new about each other, there is something about spending time together doing something out of the ordinary that can really bring some excitement back to the marriage. You create memories that you can later connect and reflect on.

Try Each Other’s Hobbies

Well they say opposites attract. Maybe the wife is a homebody who likes reading books and going shopping while the husband is a socialite who likes to hang out at the pub or get outdoors and play sports. Have you ever tried participating in what your spouse likes? If you usually stay at home, why not get adventurous and go out with your spouse? You might find that you like it, or at least you get to see your spouse in the midst of having fun and enjoying what they like to do. Your spouse will see your willingness to sacrifice some of your time for them and do something they enjoy ,and your actions can create an even closer bond between the two of you.

Enjoy Alone Time

Are you wondering why alone time would count as a method for getting to know your spouse better? Well, if you’re always around each other, how can you ever get out and experience new things to bring back to the relationship? If your spouse never goes out and plays sports, how will he be able to share his experiences with you? If you never have time to read a book, how will you know what your favorites are? Time alone allows you to get a sense of self and also allows you to appreciate your spouse for their individuality. Time alone does not have to be months apart, even a few hours away from each other can eliminate the boredom and create more experiences, conversations, and connections for the two of you.

As you mature as individuals through your day to day life experiences it becomes more and more important to keep evolving as a couple. Getting to know each other better requires more than just being in the same space, it requires conversation and participating in new experiences both as a couple and as individuals. It can be very easy to fall into the hamster wheel of boredom and routine, but it is essential that you make a real effort to continue growing and getting to know the person you married for who they are at this moment.

Your marriage was once your most important investment. We’d like to help you keep it that way. If you are considering couples counseling, let the counselors at Orange County Relationship Center help you.  Call us today at 949-220-3211 or book your appointment via our online calendar.

Breaking the Habit of Constant Criticism

A Negative Habit

Have you ever noticed how easy it can sometimes be for people in long-term relationships to fall into the habit of picking on the little things that can irritate or criticizing things that should probably be left alone? It can happen when you’ve become comfortable after so many years together. It can also happen early on if one is a habitually hypercritical in general.  Are you guilty of treating your spouse or partner in this way? Maybe your spouse is starting to resent you or is feeling less than adequate when in your presence? Whatever the case is, controlling and critical behaviors can put a serious strain on any marriage or relationship. If this is an issue in your relationship, it’s time to break the pattern of habitual criticism and begin looking at your loved one with a renewed perspective.

Accept That You Are Being Critical

Call the professional counselors at the Relationship Center of Orange County.
Before change can begin, one has to first be willing to admit that they exhibit critical, and maybe even controlling, behaviors. Accepting and/or admitting this does not mean pointing the finger and blaming others for your behavior. You do, however, need to take a serious look at yourself and realize that your critical ways are causing a negative effect on your relationship.

Understand that Perfection is Impossible

You can hear the saying, “Nobody is perfect” repeatedly; however, many people try to maintain a “perfect” lifestyle nevertheless. In order to stop being critical of others you have to realize that perfection is unattainable, no matter how hard one tries. You need to come to the realization that you and your spouse are different people and therefore your way of doing things might be the exact opposite of how your spouse chooses to handle the same situations. Neither approach has to be “right” or “wrong” as long as the main goal is accomplished.

There is a Thin Line Between “Helping” and “Criticizing”

Many times, people are clueless that they are being critical; quite the contrary, they believe that they’re being “helpful” to their loved ones. It may very well be true that you are trying to help your spouse or partner; however, the perception that you are being overly critical could have something to do with your delivery. Maybe you’re trying to help them with time management, but instead of setting alarms and helping with a schedule, you decide to reprimand them or pick on them every time they’re late. In turn, this does not come off as “help” to your spouse, so they immediately become defensive and shut down because they feel criticized. A more acceptable approach would be to communicate your issues to your spouse and ask them about out how you can help. Take the time to talk it out.

Accept That Only YOU Can Change YOU (and No One Else)

Maybe you’re in a relationship in which you wish that certain aspects about your partner would change or evolve. It is not uncommon for this to happen in a relationship, especially once you get through the blissful “honeymoon” stage. Whether you believe they could accomplish more at work, at home, or otherwise, you must accept that you cannot change them. It is important to understand that no matter how much you gripe, complain, nag, and criticize, a person who does not recognize or believe that they need to change will not do so. Instead, they are going to resent you for continually bringing up their flaws or shortcomings. The only person whose ways you can change for better or for worse are yours.

Understand How Your Spouse or Partner Might Feel

A simple way to put the brakes on the urge to criticize is to take a moment and put yourself in your spouse or partner’s shoes, and imagine how it must feel to be habitually criticized by the man or woman you love. Below are a few emotions that a person feels when they are constantly criticized by someone they really care about, and why:

  • Inferiority – they might begin to feel as if they don’t measure up to your standards of intelligence, common sense, etc., or that you feel they are inferior to you in some way.
  • Devalued – the more you complain about and criticize your spouse’s actions, the more they will feel that you don’t value their love or the significance of their role in the relationship.
  • Stressed – trying to please a critical person is a 24/7 job and can be very stressful. In the minds of your spouse or partner, nothing they do is going to be quite good enough to satisfy you.
  • Resentful – after a while of trying to please you, and feeling like they’ve failed, your spouse will grow tired of such treatment and then begin to resent you for trying to change them or never being satisfied with who they are.

Allowing your spouse or partner to feel this way for a prolonged period can lead to them acting out in a rebellious way. There may come a breaking point where criticism and complaining may push them to throw in the towel and do whatever makes them happy. In the worst-case scenario, this could lead to them ending the relationship.

These are just a few suggestions as to how you can get on the road to ending the pattern of habitual criticism and better appreciating your loved ones for who they are. If you are still having difficulty with criticizing or controlling habits, it may be beneficial to speak with a counselor who can work with you to pinpoint the cause of this behavior. Give the trained counselors a call at 949-220-3211, or book your appointment today via our online calendar. Remember, it takes a while to break a pattern and form new, healthy habits, but once you do, you’ll see the love and joy come back into your relationship.

Transitioning Into Retirement

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

Looking Forward To Retirement

How many people do you know who are counting down the months, weeks, or days until retirement?  If you are anywhere close to middle-aged, you probably know at least one person talking about retirement, sleeping late, staying up late, watching television, reading great books, traveling…  How many of those people do you hear talking about spending “quality time” or spending 24/7 with their spouse who has previously retired?  Many people counting down to retirement think of having no alarm clock and no “written-in-stone” schedule, but they fail to consider one thing.  Their spouse.  Their spouse who retired earlier.

Most likely, for the bulk of these people’s married lives, they were employed, had working relationships and friendships, and had other things going on during the day that kept them occupied.  Add raising children to the mix of things, and for at least 18 years, give or take, there were children to come home to, cook dinner for, and shuttle to various activities and events.  But now, it’s you and your spouse.  Wow!  How different will that be?

Make retirement an adventure

As you retire, you need to realize that you will be spending the next decade or century with your spouse, 24/7, for the most part.  Although the thought of having “quality time” with your spouse is appealing to most people, how much is enough (or too much)?  In order to make your retirement as enjoyable as possible, while keeping the peace with your spouse, here are some things to consider in order to maintain a happy home.

  • Keep trying new things – Don’t reach your retirement date and then just stay home and sit on the couch all day, every day.  Be adventurous and do new things.  This can be something as simple as an unplanned outing or as big as a trip to another country.
  • Plan for alone time – Both you and your spouse need some space.  It’s great to do things together, but everybody needs some “me” time as well – it is healthy.  Don’t try to spend 24/7 with your spouse, and don’t have a fit when your spouse needs “me” time.  Use it to your advantage as well.
  • Share the chores – Doing things around the house can fall on the spouse that is home or is working from home.  When you both are retired, divvy up chores in order to share the responsibility.
  • Maintain what is normal – Don’t suggest changing things that have been working fine.  You may have been a boss at work, but you don’t work anymore. Remember, it is an equal partnership at home.
  • Laugh (often!) – Don’t sweat the small stuff.  The ability to laugh at or with your spouse, instead of being annoyed with your spouse, is a treasure.  Lighten up!  You’re retired!  Who cares if he always walks through the kitchen with his boots on or if she always has to put hand cream on before she leaves the house!
  • Stay connected – Most likely, your kids, grandkids, other family members, friends, and neighbors will still have issues and will still be working through life’s many roadblocks.  As you get older, stress and turmoil over things you can’t control can be bad for your health.  Draw strength from each other and talk to each other when something is bothering you.  Do not bottle up emotion.

It’s true that retirement means many things, one of which is a different approach to your marriage.  Both of you need to be ready and able to give and take. This means being aware of the impact transitioning into retirement can have on both of you.  There are adjustments to be made, just as there are different choices to be made – together.

Prepare for what lies ahead

Here are some things that can happen after both spouses have retired and are now home alone, together.

  • The spouse who retired most recently can become depressed due to the extremely new routine and lack of interaction with others.
  • A spouse who was a boss can start giving orders to his spouse.
  • Conflict about whether or not to stay where you live or move somewhere else may arise.

Being aware that changes are part of retirement can make all the difference, as can entering retirement armed with a little education and the right attitude.  If you or your spouse are having a hard time adjusting now that both of you are retired, you may want to consider speaking with a counselor.  At the Orange County Relationship Center, our staff of trained professionals are committed to helping you with real-life issues.  Call us today at 949-220-3211 to schedule your appointment, or use our online tool to schedule at a time that is convenient for you.