Should You Stay or Go?

Let the counselors at the OC Relationship Center help you work through the bumps on the relationship roadSo, you have been in a committed relationship for many years, you’re bored and have considered ending the relationship and moving on with your life.  When determining whether to stay or go, you really need to ask yourself several things before pulling the plug.  Why did you enter into the relationship in the first place?  Are you looking for love?  Do you need financial security?  Is your goal to raise a family together?  Is your relationship more of a partnership?  Do you stay because being with your partner is familiar?  Do you think you don’t deserve better?  None of these reasons are wrong, but if you are considering leaving the relationship, it’s important to know why you’re there in the first place.

Remember, all relationships hit rough spots; some can be fixed and some cannot.  Life is full of choices.  We can decide where to live, where to work, and who to marry.   So, just as we can move if we don’t like where we live, or changes job if we don’t like where we work, is it just as simple to change who we love if we feel we have chosen incorrectly?  Well, actually, it is easy to get out of a marriage; probably too easy.

People who suddenly become unhappy with their spouses or partners nearly always start thinking about how much happier they would be if they were with someone else.  Is the grass always greener on the other side?  Definitely not.  Would the grass be greener if I married my high school sweetheart?  Definitely not.  Would the grass appear to be greener with somebody else right now since I don’t feel particularly happy with my current partner?  Absolutely.  Should I go?  No one can make that decision for us and before you do, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • You made a commitment and (if you are married) took a vow to remain with your spouse forever.
  • Finding someone else may make the grass appear to be greener on the other side because of the hormones felt during the beginning of an attraction. Remember, those feelings are more lust than love.
  • Every relationship has problems and issues that need to, and usually can, be worked through.

Consider that basically, there are only a few types of problems.  You need to know the type of problem you are having and whether you can work through it (or if you’re willing to work through it).  There are one-time problems that are easily solved; cyclical problems that will never go away, such as emotional needs; deal-breaker issues when one partner can’t live with something; and wounding problems that will cause one partner to disengage over time.

If your relationship is fairly new, you are probably still in the lusting stage.  If things have already gone awry so early in the relationship, you should probably go.  You haven’t even hit the “love” stage yet and if there are already problems in the “lust” stage, this relationship may not be meant for the long term.  If you have moved in with your partner, you may be noticing traits you’ve never seen before.  Maybe your significant other talks down to you and treats you like a child.  Maybe there is always an argument about every little decision, such as the color of curtains or the type of dish detergent you use.

There are a lot of things you may not know about your partner until you move forward, in time, with your relationship.  However, it’s good to know these things before you commit to a long-term relationship.  Being attracted to somebody, physically, is a different ball game than committing to them for life, especially if you find they are picky, selfish, and have no respect or regard for you and your preferences.  Small issues can be resolved with improved communication skills; however, it is foolish to think you can change somebody’s core beliefs and values.  Never stay with somebody if you only have great sexual chemistry and nothing else.  Sexual chemistry is a good thing; however, if you cannot trust this person as well, how will your future be down the road several years from now?

Consider the following things before making your decision to stay or to go.

  1. Do you and your partner communicate to resolve conflicts, or do you just ignore disagreements?
  2. Think about the consequences that come with ending your relationship.  If your partner has ever told you, “Don’t even think about leaving me,” or anything similar to that, plan your exit before telling your partner you are leaving.
  3. Imagine your life without your partner.  Does that give you a sense of relief or a sense of sadness?
  4. Have you remained true to yourself or have you given up everything you possibly could give up to keep your partner happy without receiving anything from your partner that you need?

Once you have considered all there is when choosing to stay or to go, you will ultimately have to listen to your heart and rely on your judgment.  If you are stuck in trying to decide whether you should stay or go, call the Relationship Center of Orange County to schedule an appointment with one of our trained professionals.  Being able to openly express your feelings to someone who has no stock in your relationship can be an eye-opening experience.  Call today at 949-220-3211 or use our online calendar to schedule your appointment. You deserve a great love life!

Dealing With an Emotional Affair

OC Relationship Center can helpWhat is an Emotional Affair?

Emotional affairs are more common than you might think.  Maybe it’s happened to you in the past, or it’s happening to you now.  Is having an emotional affair actually cheating on your spouse?  You bet it is.  Some people disagree that an emotional affair is the same thing as having a sexual affair; however, both are wrong.  Being closer to somebody other than your spouse on any level equates having an affair and is, therefore, cheating on your spouse.

So, you’ve developed a strong friendship with a member of the opposite sex at your workplace.  Nothing wrong with that, is there?  No, there isn’t.  Members of the opposite sex can be best friends for a lifetime; however, it is important that both realize they can never cross the line into an intimate, romantic, sexual affair.  It’s human nature that the more time you spend with someone, the higher chance that you may be attracted to that person.  It is not worth risking your marriage in order to maintain a close relationship with a member of the opposite sex.

How does it happen?

Maybe things aren’t going well between you and your spouse.  Maybe you are overwhelmed with raising children or running to sporting events.  Maybe your spouse did something that hurt your feelings, or maybe you hardly ever see your spouse due to things you can’t control, such as opposite work schedules.  Now, suppose you work full-time in an office setting.  Maybe you have a great friendship with a coworker with whom you work well and enjoy talking with; someone you find interesting.  Emotional affairs normally start as friendships and then something happens to take it to the next level.  Maybe your hands touch when you are handing paperwork or files to that person.  Maybe you brush up against the person and feel a spark you haven’t felt with your spouse in a long time.  Maybe the smell of the person’s cologne or perfume heightens your senses.  Regardless of how it happens, you’re now in dangerous territory but you feel energized, youthful, and playful.  This is the beginning of an emotional affair.

Emotional affairs can be devastating to a marriage or any long-term committed relationship. There should never be a time that you feel more connected to anybody more than your spouse.  If this is happening to you, you need to take a step back and end the emotional affair before it turns into something more.

Making the right choice.

In order to end an emotional affair, you need to be committed to ending the relationship with the person you’ve become close to, even if it means losing a friendship, and moving forward with your spouse.  Consider these ideas and how they may apply to your situation.

  • Understand your spouse’s needs.  For example, females normally need things like affection, honesty, conversation, and family commitment, and males usually need things like admiration, sexual fulfillment, recreational companionship, and domestic support.
  • Be committed to fulfilling your spouse’s needs and telling your spouse what you need in order to be happy and satisfied in your marriage.
  • Focus your energy on communicating with your spouse and making your relationship your number one priority.

There are more direct things you can do to avoid the temptation of having an affair, such as avoiding time alone with the opposite sex and staying away from environments where affairs typically begin, such as bars and nightclubs.

If you have had an emotional affair, you and your spouse can get through it.  But it won’t be easy.  Although you are ready to be finished with the affair, be aware that your confession will only be the beginning of pain and heartbreak for your spouse.  Ask for forgiveness and work to gain your spouse’s trust.  This will probably be a difficult process and may take months, or even years, to work through.  Seeking help and support from a professional counselor who can help you work through the various stages of healing can help significantly.

When you’ve been hurt by an emotional affair.

You may have just found out that your spouse or partner is having an emotional affair.  You will likely go through many emotional stages.  You may not believe this is happening to you, but it is important not to immediately demand a divorce; you may regret it if you do.  This is the one time in your marriage where you will need to have a heart-to-heart talk, without blame, where you both decide if your marriage is worth saving.  You will both need to be committed to starting over and to doing whatever it takes to restore your trust and love.

No matter where you are in the mix, the person ending an emotional affair or the person finding out your spouse has been involved in one, the counselors at Orange County Relationship Center can help.  Our counselors are trained professionals who can help you get through this trying time in your marriage.  Contact us today at 949-220-3211, or book an appointment through our online calendar.  We are committed to working with couples to restore their love, trust, and commitment to each other.

What to Do When Your Children Command Your Attention … Constantly

OC Relationship Center help!You probably remember how excited you were the first time you saw that adorable little face. Wrapped in a pretty pink or blue blanket, and sleeping soundly, you just knew that your life would never be the same. You smiled up at your spouse and you shared a wonderful moment together that you will never forget.

However, as time went on, and as that child grew, you started to realize exactly how much different your life was going to be. Perhaps you had a few more children together, and now you’ve found yourself in a spot where your kids seem to always find a way to command your attention. Perhaps it’s even to the point where you don’t have much energy left for your relationship with your spouse at the end of the day.

This is a common problem in marriage. Many couples spend all of their energy on raising their kids, to the point where when the kids are gone, they find that they no longer even know each other. So, what do you do when your kids demand so much of your attention? How do you reconnect with each other after a long day filled with sports practices, piano lessons and dinners on the go?

Remember – You’re On the Same Team

Every couple should have this discussion, and they should have it more than once. You are working together in a partnership to raise your family. Avoid thinking that you’re doing it on your own while your spouse is working, or that you take care of the kids all the time while your spouse tends to his or her own needs. Instead, be in your relationship for each other. Work together, and understand the importance of giving each other a break now and then to regroup. You need to be able to rely on each other to make your family work, and as long as you remember you’re working together, your team will remain strong.

Find a Sitter

Even when finances are tight, it is still important for you to go out on dates with your spouse every once in a while. Perhaps you can’t go to a fancy restaurant. Why not pack a picnic and go to the park? Find a babysitter who will work cheap, or better yet, trade babysitting with another family who can use the time away from the kids as much as you can.

Give Your Spouse the Benefit of the Doubt

Resentment can creep into a marriage quickly, especially when one person is quick to judge or criticize the parenting techniques of the other. Ladies, if your husband is constantly putting diapers on backwards, don’t give him a lot of grief over it. Men, if your wife doesn’t always get your kids to soccer practice on time, remember how many demands she has during the course of her day. Remember, you are both trying to do the best you can for your family, so give each other the benefit of the doubt and cut each other a little slack.

Above all, take a moment each day to look into each other’s eyes and appreciate each other. Hug each other, kiss each other. Even if you don’t feel like it. Tell your spouse that you love them. Those moments are so precious, and even if you are having difficulty today, your family life is filled with blessings because of the lives you created together and the love you have for each other. Enjoy each and every one of those moments, and enjoy each other along the way.

Need a little help figuring out how to keep the connection strong between you and your partner while still meeting the demands of family life? 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.

Bah Humbug: Keeping Your Relationship Merry When Holiday Traditions Clash

When one partner’s holiday traditions clash with the other’s, misunderstanding and tension between partners can result. Therapist’s advice on how to keep your relationship merry during the holiday season.A woman we’ll call Jenny grew up in a family where celebrating holidays was halfhearted at best. Most Thanksgivings involved making a long drive to observe the holiday with her aloof grandparents and a bevy of cousins she barely knew. Christmas was met with little fanfare; there was the perfunctory tree with gifts underneath, but even then Jenny’s strongest memory was over family members grumbling disappointment under their breaths that they didn’t really get what they wanted. And when she was in high school and her parents got divorced, both traditions changed: she spent most holidays with other people’s families.

The holiday memories of Jenny’s husband, Trey, could not have been more different. He had a grandmother who seemed to live for the holidays, planning the menus and shopping for decorations and gifts up to a year in advance. Trey talks about her execution of perfect holidays so often that Jenny cringes every time his grandmother’s name was mentioned.

It’s hardly news that the holidays can be depressing for some. With so much pressure to be joyful, we often feel left out or inadequate when we don’t feel caught up in the spirit. When that discrepancy enters the home, though, it can cause a lot of misunderstanding and tension between partners with opposing expectations. In the case of Trey and Jenny, Trey tends to get caught up in the planning and decorating he hardly notices Jenny’s lack of enthusiasm. He also feels irritated by her failure to pitch in, leaving him to do all the work.

As with so many relationship conflicts, the first step toward resolution is having an open dialog. Jenny has to tell Trey that she doesn’t share his warm fuzzies about the holidays because they were never a happy time for her family growing up. She should, at the same time, be careful not to mock his enthusiasm and love of tradition; he’s just as entitled to those as she is to her bah-humbug leanings.

But then what?

When one partner has a strong sense of tradition and the other does not, one thing to be wary of is letting the more enthusiastic person take over and impose their expectations on the other. While Trey feels he’s simply doing things a “normal” family ought to do to observe the season properly, Jenny feels resentful and defensive at being forced to partake in traditions that aren’t her own.

So what to do?

In cases like Jenny and Trey’s, there are at least two routes: One is to compromise, meaning Trey, who’s the better cook anyway, takes over the menu, while she agrees to decorate the tree if she’s willing and given free reign to do it her way — imperfections and all. And when relatives swoop in to start helping with the cooking and there are literally too many cooks in the kitchen (or just too many people in the house for her comfort), she’s also allowed to sneak off to a take some alone time, no questions asked.

The second suggestion is for the couple to create new traditions of their own —those that don’t belong to either person’s childhood but that they dream up together. Maybe it’s ordering Chinese food and playing Scrabble on Christmas Eve, or taking a walk in the snow early on Christmas morning. Use your imagination. The passing of holiday traditions from one generation to the next is a beautiful thing, but so is the creation of new ones that you can begin and enjoy together as a couple.