How to Save a Marriage

How do you save a marriage? That’s a heavy question but an answerable one.

Is your relationship going up in flames, flatlined?

There is still hope if you and your spouse don’t want to give up. New houses are built on top of the charred ground every day. Flatlined people come back to life with a new, fresh and hope-filled perspective on life.

Every day in all walks of life, things literally come back from the dead and marriages are one of those things.

Here are some quick emergency tips if your relationship has reached a tipping point.

Do Damage Control

A relationship that’s near death, is sustaining a lot of damage and fast.

Everyone starts jumping on the destruction bandwagon. It’s even common for family, friends and co-workers to join in. These people feel your hurt and want to protect you so they may tell you to ditch that “loser” otherwise known as your spouse.

The problem is, you may not be convinced this is the right choice. After all, you realize you’re being a jerk, too.

Ever hear the saying, “hurting people hurt people”?

Well, you’re living proof of that. So is your spouse.

You and your spouse are beating the crap out of each other—if not physically, at least emotionally.

You have to break the damage cycle no matter how much you want to hit back.


You have to and quick.

If you don’t, your marriage simply won’t survive.

If you feel your relationship is worth keeping, apologize and say something nice even if it feels hokey at first.

Get that snowball rolling in a positive direction instead of the opposite.

If you’re in a relationship with someone other than your spouse, that relationship needs to end immediately.

Distance yourself (at least for a while) from those who tell you to throw in the towel. Surround yourself with people committed to the restoration and success of your marriage.

After Damage Control, Start Rebuilding

It took two to tear things down and it’ll take two to rebuild.

Don’t be disillusioned into thinking this process will be quick and easy.

It won’t.

But also don’t believe for a minute that the hard work won’t be worth it.

It most certainly will.

Yes, it’s way easier to destroy a relationship than rebuild one, but it’s possible for things to get better in many cases. And the result can be a relationship that’s stronger than ever before.

If you’re both committed to making things better, you can begin the healing path together.

Set safeguards on internet and phone usage to regain trust if that’s needed.

Set goals together. Find a trusted professional to help you come up with a plan and stick to it. Don’t get discouraged if the process seems slow. Schedule time to do things together.

Just focus on small victories. Over time, those small victories will turn into big ones.

If you knew that someone you loved was stuck in a burning house and needed help, would you have the courage to rescue them?

That someone who needs to be rescued is your spouse. They need to be rescued from their own destructive tendencies and so do you.

That sounds like a good team.

Don’t you think?

If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

3 Ways to Stop Settling for Less Than You Deserve

This subject can be a bit tricky. Taken to one extreme, we can become spoiled, privileged-thinking people that only care about our own needs.

Taken to the other extreme, we can feel like it’s bad to aim for good, meaningful and healthy things in life.

How about we cut to the chase and explore the balance between those two sides.

Non-Abusive Relationships

Let’s be up front, no one deserves that. In every single relationship, both parties hurt the other. Unfortunately, it’s bound to happen even when we make great strides at improvement.

But what is one to do when there becomes an ongoing pattern of physical, emotional or verbal abuse? “Business as usual” is not a realistic option—no one deserves to be treated like that.

Finding a competent, caring professional to help work through this can be beneficial. There are also times, for the safety of a spouse, children or both that temporary or permanent separation is the best option.

If you’re in an abusive relationship, get help as soon as possible. No one deserves that, not even your dog. You deserve love and affection—everyone does.

Follow Your Heart

When you come up to the end of your life, others aren’t going to experience your regrets. You’re the only one who will vividly feel those.

Oh, there are so many people ready to assign you to a box, though. They say, “This is who you are, this is all you’ll ever be.”

But you have your suspicions and for good reason. You don’t fit into their carefully crafted compartments. You have creative abilities and talents that must find healthy expression.

There is no one in the world like you. Act like it! Be different!

The world doesn’t need more conformists. What it most desperately needs is for you to be you—to follow your heart.

Ignore the current of conformity. Blaze your own path. And never apologize for it.

Of course, there will be naysayers along the way. But there will be those even if you conform. So, don’t bother being like everyone else. How drab that would be!

You deserve better. Painfully pick through the rubble of life to unearth the reason you were born. And once you find out, never let go of your dreams, your heart.

Everyone has dreams they must listen to and follow. Everyone deserves to follow their hearts.

Be Loved For Who You Are

Let’s wrap things up with a reminder that you deserve to be loved for who you are. Being asked to change who you fundamentally are to be deemed “lovable” is not fair practice.

If there’s something you know you need to change, then you owe it to yourself to get better. If it’s something you can’t or shouldn’t change, then don’t.

Everyone deserves to be loved for who they are, not for what others think they should be! Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

How to Ask for More Time for Yourself

Solitude is like an all-inclusive vacation for your soul. It replenishes and rejuvenates; it allows you to breath more slowly, to hear more keenly and to think more clearly. It also helps us be better– better parents, better partners, better employees. Yet even as most of us know this, we struggle to make time to be alone. A date with ourselves. Often, one (or more) of three themes emerge when people explain why they don’t schedule time to be alone: feeling guilty, feeling selfish or not enough time. Privately, the lack of alone-time may also stem from fear.

Our externalized culture emphasizes putting ourselves out there. Extroverts are perceived as fun, friendly and overall much happier. Introverts, on the other hand, are perceived as withdrawn, conceited, sad. Neither description really captures the essence of what it means to be introverted or extroverted, of course, but we fall into these assumptions partly because our society rarely values going inward. Nonetheless, the journey into ourselves is an important one.

In honor of all those people out there who struggle to find “me” time, as well as those who have figured out that the path to success involves “me” time, we’ve identified some shortcuts to carving this time out for yourself:

Put your mind to it

Even if you’re wracked with guilt about taking time for yourself, do it. This is a situation where “fake it till you make it” applies. Recognize that you are a more giving, able person when you find some time to pursue your own passions. Sure, the kids may miss you or there may be something pressing going on at work; nevertheless, it is difficult to give your all without this important dimension to self-care.

Communicate how your relationships will improve

When asking for alone time, explain why the relationship will improve if you create space for yourself. Use phrases that open up the conversation rather than putting the other person on the defense. Instead of saying, “I need a break from you,” try, “I want to be the best person I can for you. To do so, I need time alone to think and unwind.”

Recognize the other person’s needs, too

When seeking alone time, recognize the needs of the person you’re speaking to. If the person expresses a desire for more time with you, evaluate whether you’ve truly been present lately. If the person says he/she is afraid you don’t like them anymore, reflect on whether you’re showing them love in a way they can understand.

Having “me” time allows you to appreciate and enjoy the time you’re with others more. It refreshes your outlook on life and allows you to see more clearly. Carving out time for yourself is an important way to affirm that you matter. Even if it’s a mere 15 minutes a day, strive to schedule in some time for yourself every day.

Let us help. Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Financial Infidelity: What to Do When Your Spouse is Hiding Debt?

Let the Relationship Center of Orange County help!If you’ve never thought of hiding debt as infidelity, think again.  For most, infidelity is cheating–any type of cheating, lying, etc.–in a relationship.  Lying by omission is also considered by many to be a type of infidelity.  If your spouse has been hiding large amounts of debt from you, your spouse is guilty of infidelity.

Whether this money was spent on golf, dinners, mini-vacations, or illicit items, the consequences of racking up thousands of dollars in debt is most times worse than an affair.  Um, WHAT?  Yes!  The reason is that money is involved, and it’s usually large amounts of money being spent without your knowledge.  Additionally, if a stranger racked up thousands of dollars on your credit card, you could prosecute and be forgiven for the debt by your creditors.  However, if your spouse does it, the debt also legally belongs to you.

Fixing the financial side of things

The first step is to determine where the money went and how much is owed.  To find out what was charged on joint credit cards, request your credit report.  Realize, however, that your spouse may have credit cards in his or her name only.  Ask your spouse to come clean.  Go through all of the credit card statements carefully, and prepare for the worst. You could quiet possibly find things on those statements that pertain to secret items, secret relationships, or even illicit activity.

There are three things you will need to realize.  Your spouse needs to stop spending, the issue needs to be addressed, and the debt has to be paid.  You will need to make a repayment plan. Even though you didn’t cause this mess, it’s yours, and it will affect your credit score.

Have your spouse sell anything they bought while racking up this debt and put that money toward the debt.  Insist they get a part-time job or work overtime, and put all that money toward the debt.  It may be a good idea to consider credit counseling. Depending on the amount of the debit, some people in this situation may even consider bankruptcy.  Either way, cut up the credit cards, make a budget and reduce spending until the last credit card balance is zero.

Working on your relationship

Get counseling.  This racking up of credit card debt is a red flag that your marriage is not in sync.  Make time for discussions and talk about this issue, as well as the life you want in the end.  Few relationships can survive this type of betrayal without counseling.  If you’re intent is to say together, see a professional.  This is especially important if there is an addiction involved – gambling, illicit substances or compulsive shopping are all realistic possibilities in this situation.

Other suggestions …

  • Follow an intense plan to get out of debt.  This will require an incredible commitment by both of you.
  • Be unified.  If your children are of appropriate age, let them know there are some changes being made and how it will affect them.
  • Show leadership.
  • Set goals, and celebrate when you meet them.
  • Commit to a future of change when it comes to using credit cards.
  • Involve your children so they can see what it’s like to struggle and to lay the groundwork for them to not fall into the same trap.

If your spouse or partner has come clean about debt that you didn’t even know existed, and you choose to stay in your marriage or relationship, let the counselors at the Relationship Center of Orange County help you.  It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it in the end. Give us a call today at 949-220-3211, or book your appointment using our online scheduling tool. It’s time to make things better.

The Sociability Gap: When Social Butterfly Meets Homebody

Let the counselors at OC Relationship Center help you see eye to eye.If you have ever found yourself complaining that you and your partner disagree about what defines a good time, you’re not alone. Often, one person in the relationship is more extroverted than the other—more excited about going to parties, inviting people to dinner, making new friends and so on. The more introverted partner, meanwhile, may be happier to stay home, go out for a quiet night with just the two of you, or stick with a close circle of friends…newcomers need not apply.

This can be frustrating for both. The extrovert often feels their social life is being stunted because their partner won’t join them in the things they want to do. The introvert feels pressured and blamed just for being who they are.

Of course, when you stop to think about it, there are plenty of traits that make you different from each other; there’s nothing wrong with that. You’re a dog person; your partner loves cats. You love to ski; your partner’s toes freeze the moment they hit the slopes. The point is that you’ve probably found ways to work through other differences, so why make this one a deal breaker?

The first step to take when your “sociability gap” rears its head is to try and neutralize the conversation. Imagine you want to go to a big dinner party your friend is throwing, and your partner would rather do just about anything else. No one is right or wrong, so avoid getting angry or letting it escalate into something bigger. Statements like “You never want to do anything!” or “Of course I don’t want to go—your friends are so boring!” are over-generalizations and counterproductive.

Instead, try to stay positive and focus on the issue at hand. There are more options than you think:

  • You could go to the party by yourself—without resentment—and simply enjoy your friends, while your partner does something they would enjoy instead, like calling a close buddy to go for a beer or staying in to watch a good movie.
  • Both of you could go to the party for a while but agree to leave when your partner is ready (preferably after dinner, but maybe before the host breaks out the Cognac).
  • When all else fails, just inquire about the guest list—maybe a friend your partner would enjoy seeing is planning to attend. Stranger things have happened. In any event, each of you needs to feel heard and respected so that whatever compromise you make is fair to both.

One caveat: If one partner promises to do something that is important to the other, they need to stick to their word. It’s easy (even for an introvert) to agree to attend something that seems far in the future—until the time actually arrives, along with a bad case of RSVP regret. But backing out at the last minute undermines trust, and that’s a lot more damaging than having to spend an evening at the symphony when you’d rather be home cozied up with the dog, your remote control and a pizza.

The goal is to prioritize, compromise and strive for balance. If he’s willing to go to your office Christmas party with you, maybe another night you stay home and watch the big game with him (even if football’s not really your thing). If you’re hosting a dinner party at your place, make sure to invite people you both want to include.

With the right attitude and healthy respect, personality contrasts don’t need to be sticking points. They can be wonderful assets in a relationship when you appreciate that you have different—even complementary—strengths instead of fretting over your differences.

If you and your partner are having difficulty seeing eye to eye on such an issue, consider seeking the assistance of a relationship counselor who can work with you to help you understand each other better. Sometimes it takes the insight of a professional in order to see things from another perspective. Let the counselors at the Orange County Relationship Center help. Call us at 949-220-3211, or book your appointment online today.

Are Your Communication Styles Out of Sync?

Let OC Relationship Center help you sort out your communication styles.A woman we’ll call Emily once confided that she felt a sense of relief in the morning when her husband, Brad, left for work. The problem began with the fact that they functioned on very different schedules. He was a morning person, getting up early to prepare for his day and consume (as she jokingly estimates) about three pots of coffee. By the time Emily—who preferred to sleep until the last minute before it was time to get the kids ready for school—was awake, he was wired on caffeine and was primed to talk, pontificate, or even lecture about politics, things going on at his job or whatever else he was focused on that morning. Emily was the most convenient target.

The result? A sleepy, de-caffeinated Emily—who was not primed to talk about anything yet, much less world events—felt like she was being assaulted with morning tirades and expected to respond. At that hour, all she could really think about was fixing breakfast for the kids.

Moreover—and here is the key point—she simply was not, on a personal level, as interested in some of his pet topics as she was. Even in the evening when he came home, some of the same issues would resurface. He was fascinated by the rapid development of faster and smarter computers. He had strong political leanings. A schoolteacher, he was frustrated about public policies in education that he felt weren’t best for the kids he taught. The list went on, and when Emily looked bored (because, admittedly, she sometimes was), he grew frustrated.

Couples, even the most compatible among us, cannot be expected to agree—or feel equally passionate about—all topics, so their problem was not all that unusual, but nor was the solution all that complicated. One day, Emily simply tried to explain to Brad that she agreed with pretty much everything he said about politics, etc. (though she also admitted that her interest in computer technology was almost nil). It’s just that she didn’t feel as strongly about them and had different ways of expressing her opinions. She added that the morning rants in particular felt like an assault on her senses.

At first Brad felt hurt and accused her of being disinterested in the world around her, but she encouraged him to find friends and colleagues with similar beliefs or even get involved in local politics—a win-win, because he could try and take action about the things he believed in while finding new outlets for his passionate feelings about them.

In a healthy relationship, your partner is often your go-to person to hear your frustrations, beliefs and observations about what’s going on inside and outside your personal life. But it often doesn’t work for them to be the only outlet—especially when they’re passions don’t perfectly align.

As for their difference in schedule preferences, that was the easiest to solve. Emily admitted to being guilty of doing the opposite: tending to choose the latest possible hour, when Brad was ready to go to bed, to bring up issues about the kids’ schools, a leak in the roof, or whatever happened to be on her mind. Both agreed to accept that Emily was not eager to talk before 7 a.m., and Brad was done for the day by 10:30 at night.

Respecting that you have different communications styles (as well as circadian rhythms), and working to find other people who share your zeal about different issues can take a lot of pressure of your partner and relationship, so instead of focusing on your differences, you can celebrate them while focusing on what you do share in common.

When Baby Makes Three

Let OC Relationship Center help you deal with the hurdles of new parenthood.Babies create seismic changes in your life. Sleep deprivation in the first few months can turn you and your spouse or partner into irritable zombies—a stark contrast to the smiling, stylish young couple with lots of time for weekend outings that you were in the not-so-distant past. There’s more housework than ever, and you have a lot less energy to tackle it. You might be worried about money if one of you stays home with the baby. Suddenly you’re living on one salary instead of two, or if both return to work, there are childcare expenses to factor in.

And intimacy? Well, that seems to be out the window—even when the baby is blissfully sleeping, it’s easier said than done just to forget all the stress and fatigue, flip a switch and swing into action.

Okay, now for the good news: raising a baby can also bring you closer than ever before if you approach it as a team. Here are a few of the secrets you need to know:

    1. If you talk to your partner about the stress you’re feeling—while taking care to reassure her that you love the baby more than you ever imagined possible—you might be relieved to learn that you’re both experiencing a lot of the same things. When the baby screams inconsolably for an hour, when it seems you’re changing soiled crib sheets for the third time today, when you can’t remember the last time you sat down to watch a half-hour sitcom, much less a movie…yes, your partner feels all that too.  Don’t assume women, for instance, have magic maternal instincts that make it easier for her. If anything, the only difference is that she might feel guiltier about having those feelings, so voicing them yourself and reminding her that it’s normal might help her feel better while reinforcing the sense that you’re in this together.


    1. If you find yourselves fighting over the growing list of chores, stop. Make lists of what needs to be done every day, decide what’s reasonable for each person to do every day, and stick to it. The key word is “reasonable.” If you need to lower the bar a bit on what passes for household organization during the early years, remember that (1) only a crazy person would expect new parents to have a spotless home and (2) complaining to your wife that you can’t find a matching pair of socks in your drawer…when she’s exhausted and hasn’t found time to take a shower in three days…is not constructive.


  1. Go on dates. No doubt you’ve heard this one before, but it is so important. It’s not easy at first; it helps a lot if you have parents in town to pitch in, but if not, ask around for a reliable sitter and make plans to go out for a few hours of alone time. While we’re at it, here’s another tip: discuss any baby-related topics you’d like to get out of the way before you leave—even the fun ones, like showing her the newest baby pictures on your iPhone. Then you can commit to spending this time together not as parents but husband and wife.

It’s easy to forget how important it is to nurture your relationship with your partner or spouse when the baby is screaming, covered in strained peas and looks at you like you’re a miserable failure (at least that’s what it sometimes feels like). It takes effort and a commitment to remember to care for yourselves and your relationship, but maintaining a healthy relationship is the most important gift you’ll ever give your child.

A relationship counselor can help you and your partner figure out how to balance it all while keeping your relationship strong – a wise investment in your growing family. 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.


Investing in Your Marriage

Invest in your marriage!After a while, many of us begin to lose interest in the relationship that is supposed to be the most important one to us – our marriage! It’s a common theme that weaves its way through many couples’ relationships, making marriage seem more like a chore than a gift. However, the secret to marital happiness is investing in your marriage, right from the beginning.

Perhaps you’ve never heard of this, and you’re wondering how it’s done. Here are a few ways that you can begin to invest yourself more fully in your marriage, right now.

    • Flirt with each other – Remember the days when you were dating? You hardly ever stopped flirting with each other. Flirting is so much fun, and it makes the other person feel great. For some reason, though, many married couples stop flirting after they get married. Start again today!
    • Read a book together – If you’re fortunate enough to have similar tastes, you can pick a book that you both love. If not, perhaps you can take turns delving into each other’s interests. Books stimulate conversation, which is why reading together is a great way to invest in your marriage.
    • Go to bed together – If you’re in the habit of going to bed at different times, unless a work schedule gets in the way, it’s time to nip this in the bud right now. Not only is bedtime the perfect time for intimacy, but it’s often a time when you can take a few minutes to reconnect with each other after a long day.
    • Make sex a priority – For many couples, exhaustion sets in after a few years of marriage. Sex takes a backseat to sleep, and the relationship suffers. Even though your career might be taking off, and the kids are driving you crazy, you still need to make time to fulfill each other’s physical needs.
    • Encourage friendships with other people – Men, your wife should feel like it’s OK for her to plan a girls’ night out every once in a while. Women, your husband should be encouraged to go fishing or bowling with his friends. We need these relationships as a part of our lives, and when you support them for your spouse, you’re really investing in your relationship with each other.

Can you think of any other ways that you could be investing in your marriage? Try a few of these, or come up with some of your own. You’ll find that when you do, you enrich the time you get to spend together, and your marriage grows sweeter by the day.

Remember, you were head over heels in love with your spouse at one time and 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.