What Your Mate Needs From You

What do we fixate on most in our relationships? The exact opposite of this title.

If we were honest, we’d admit that, much of the time, we think, “What I need from my mate” as most important to us.

But the surest way to get what you need in a relationship is to give your mate what they need. What you need will naturally flow back to you in that case.

Does this mean we should do unselfish things with selfish motives? No. Instead, it highlights how important it is to take care of our mate.

Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind as you do just that.

Listen Without Judgment

Everywhere you turn there is criticism. A lot of the criticism is true. We all have problems and shortcomings after all. But consistent criticism and judgmental tendencies from others cause people to shut down.

As a result, most people find it difficult to be honest with others. What if those we thought were trustworthy use what we tell them as ammunition against us instead of understanding better where we’re coming from?

In your relationship, your mate needs the ability to share about the messy details of their lives. They need the ability to do so without attacks and judgment.

This is crucial because attacks and judgment are everywhere. Your mate requires a safe place to share their thoughts, process shortcomings, admit fears and talk about their dreams.

This must happen without someone stepping on their thoughts and feelings and driving them into the ground.

The best thing to do is let your mate vent and share their feelings and emotions without you initially evaluating whether they are correct. Do your best to refrain from getting angry if something is said that upsets you.

If you quickly interject disagreement with how your mate processes life right away, they’ll be less inclined to be open with you in the future.

Your mate needs the ability to express their feelings and get them out. If you’re patient, you’ll be invited to offer advice or input at the right time.

The proper time to offer advice almost never means doing so in knee-jerk fashion.

Wait and then wait some more as you stay attentive. Doing so will strengthen your relationship, increase transparency and, as a result, build trust.

Your Mate Needs a Friend

Your mate needs a friend that will be there for them no matter what.

You and your mate require other friends besides the two of you. But your mate should be your best friend.

Will you get warm and fuzzy feelings every time you’re in the room together? No.

Will you constantly feel romantic thoughts towards each other? No. That will come and go.

But what you need is a fellow life journeyer who will never leave you. Who takes on the resolve to get through life together with you in the good circumstances and the bad.

Your mate needs someone who makes them a better person. That doesn’t always mean happiness. But it means something even better than happiness: purpose.

It means that, together, you work to make the world better than you found it. It means that you leave a lasting contribution that makes a positive difference.

That is where the deepest and most satisfying form of happiness can be found! Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Building the Bond in Your Relationship

Ever have a job around the house that required a repair? Perhaps, you finally decided that glue was your best bet to make the fix. However, you knew that it would take a better-than-average adhesive.

A glue stick that little kids use for crafts wasn’t going to cut it. You pulled out both guns and got the stuff you don’t want to get on your fingers. The last thing you wanted was for that glue to fail at the most inconvenient moment.

Did you know that there’s a major parallel to that analogy and relationships? A general gluing rule is that the stronger the materials you’re working with, the more powerful your glue must be. It shouldn’t surprise you then, that developing and applying “glue” in relationships requires a much stronger bond than anyone can create in a laboratory.

This involves applying the right glue but it also means that you must work hard to make sure that nothing eats away at the glue you already established.

What’s the best glue to apply? Every person is different so finding a custom-glue solution that’s best for your relationship will take some time and effort to figure out.

In our culture, we’re often over-focused on the physical aspect of a relationship. That’s an essential element but focusing only on the physical will not create a strong enough bond to keep you together over the long haul. Here are some quick ideas, though, since some of the major ingredients of relationship glue are universal.

Laugh Together

You’ve heard it more than once. “I was attracted to him or her because they made me laugh.” In effect, they were saying that it felt good to be around that person and they wanted to keep feeling good which meant spending more time with them.

Listen

Our world is flooded with talkers. It’s in short supply of listeners, though. If you learn to listen to your significant other, you’ll place yourself in a unique category and strengthen your bond.

Just a quick warning before you start, sincere listening is likely one of the most difficult things that you’ll ever do. Still, it’s completely possible and worth it.

Tough Times Together

Seriously? Absolutely. If you were ever on a sports team, you likely built some great friendships. That’s because you and your teammates worked hard together to overcome adversity. If you go through a tough time together and stick with each other anyway, you’ll develop staying power and a new, bonding respect for each other.

There are plenty of other ways to build the bond in your relationship. The more you work at it, the more successful you’ll become. In time, you’ll develop a relationship that can withstand any challenge that comes your way! Let us help. Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Avoid These 5 Statements No Matter How Angry You Are

Quite likely, we’ve all done it, yet few of us want to admit it. Our heartbeat is racing; our skin clammy; our minds dizzy with emotion. And we say it. We let the words spill out of our mouth like an undeterred waterfall. Once the words are out, we can’t take them back, just as we can’t scoop up all of the fallen water once it has rushed over the cliff. What follows often plays back in our minds much after the fact: the hurt expression on our partner’s face, the inescapable silence, usually a huge explosion of emotion.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a “How to Argue Correctly for Dummies” manual, nor is there a script to follow when tensions run high. Instead, we have to continually work at fighting fair, which means a lot of hurt feelings along the way. Despite the inevitability of an argument, though, some things should never be said. Here’s a list of five of them.

“Here we go again”

For maximum effect, this should be accompanied by an eye roll and an exaggerated sigh. If your partner has brought up a concern, it is probably because something needs to be discussed, not because one person desires a fight. Discounting the other person’s needs is a surefire way to shut them down next time, thereby discouraging them from working toward solutions in the future.

“I want a divorce/I want to break up.”

No matter how much you feel it at the moment, let your emotions subside so you can clear your head and determine if a separation is truly wanted. These words are hard to take back and often lead to a lack of confidence in the other person.

“Look, now you’ve made the kids cry.”

Before it gets to this point, just STOP. Saying hurtful things in front of children is a no-win situation. Bringing them into the argument or using them as leverage is equally detrimental. If you do slip and argue in front of them, make sure they see the resolution as well.

“You ALWAYS…You NEVER…”

Regardless of how these phrases end, it won’t be good. More, it won’t be accurate. Using these words shows a complete lack of confidence and encourages your partner to fulfill your statement. It also allows them to easily dismiss whatever you’ve said because they know (and so do you) that they likely don’t always do it, nor do they never do it.

“Why can’t you be more like ____?”

Avoid comparing your partner to someone else, male or female. Most everyone seems perfect and desirable from the outside, yet comes with their own set of imperfections.

No article or class can repair your relationship without your serious effort. If you’ve made these statements, or others that are equally as damaging, ask for forgiveness. These statements aren’t a sign of the end, but they are a sign that work is needed.

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

The “D” Bomb: What if your partner wants a divorce…and you don’t?

When you are surprised by a divorceContemplating a divorce is one of the most painful decisions a couple will ever face, and it only gets harder when the desire to leave is one-sided. In most cases, the partner who wants the divorce has been heading in that direction for some time while the other has been keeping their head in the sand—out of avoidance, refusal to acknowledge one’s own role in the problems, or other reasons.

Still when they finally hear the words “I want a divorce,” they may feel like they’ve been hit by a truck—no matter how long the truck has been headed straight for them.

If your partner wants a divorce and you don’t, the first thing you need to understand is that the time is over for waiting and hoping. It’s time to be proactive and deal with the situation. That means keeping your cool (as much as possible), honestly owning up to mistakes you’ve made while taking serious steps to repair them, and also accepting that you are not in full control. You can do your best, but you can’t coax, guilt-trip or bully your spouse into staying. Again, he or she has not come to this decision lightly and isn’t going to change it lightly, either.

That said, here are some more specific tips for handling this painful challenge in your life:

  1. Make sure you have someone to talk to who has no agenda other than your happiness. Sometimes relatives and friends want to force you to take drastic measures, maybe out of anger at your spouse or protectiveness towards you. Their intentions are good, but their perspective may not be so helpful. After all, they aren’t living in your marriage. You need to find someone you trust to be both caring but objective. Considering a professional counselor would definitely be a wise option.
  2. Even if you are really really confused and upset, please try to resist groveling, begging or asking more than three times, “Why?” In my experience, when someone wants out of a relationship, it is rarely one specific thing. If they cannot tell you when you originally ask, they may not really understand it themselves. Continuing to ask (even though of course you want the answer!) isn’t going to get you an answer you want or can understand. It’s also possible that you already strongly suspect the answer…but you’re hoping for a different one. This is not a productive exercise.
  3. Be honest about the state of your relationship. Many people in this situation are afraid that by validating their mate’s dire assessment of the marriage, they’ll be putting the final nail in the coffin. But pretending that he or she is overreacting or that you’re just going through a bad spell is not going to help, either. Your mate may or may not be eager to talk it through right now, but the least you can do is acknowledge that you know how serious things have gotten. They need to know that you hear and understand their feelings. Rather than a tacit agreement to divorce, it can be a means to rebuild common ground that’s been dangerously missing for some time.
  4. Take some time and identify how you have been as a partner. This is not a time for self-flagellation but honest reflection. When you and your mate have acted out at your worst, how do you act? How does that measure up to the behavior and communications of the partner you most want to be? Consider this, again, not as a way to beat yourself up but to ground yourself in new behaviors you can be proud of.
  5. Apologize. You’re going through a lot of conflicting emotions right now, and no doubt one of them is anger. That can make it hard to apologize for ways you may have contributed to the marital breakdown. Swallow your pride and do it anyway, because it is a critical step in any attempt at reconciliation.That includes some honest soul-searching to truly own up to ways you have hurt your spouse and finding ways to show them you understand the harm you have caused. One book I highly recommend on this subject is “The Five Languages of Apology” by Gary Chapman.
  6. When we are hurt, it is like there is a bear trap on our foot and we are ready to lash out and do whatever it takes to stop hurting. Resist the temptation to take actions that may feel good for a minute but cause you greater problems in the long run. Whether you and your partner are able to reconcile or end up going your separate ways, this is going to be a long process, and you’re doing yourself as well as your partner a disservice if you make it worse than it has to be.Make sure any actions you take from here on out are ones you will be proud of when you look back years from now.
  7. Even when you do not feel like it, try as hard as you can to take care of yourself and your daily needs. Eat. Take a shower. Get your frustration out with exercise. You cannot make good decisions (or be a good partner) if you are not taking care of yourself first. And though humility may be an important part of attempting to heal the marriage, you also need to feel competent and strong to think and behave clearly. It’s not only in your best interest, but it’s another important element of trying to save your marriage. The last thing you want is for your spouse to think you’re falling to pieces, which is less likely to garner sympathy at this point than give him or her another reason to run.
  8. Ask your mate calmly if he/she would consider counseling. There are different types of counseling for couples that we do at OC Relationship Center. One is discernment counseling: “Where do we go from here?” This is when two people are trying to decide if they want in the relationship or want out. It consists of about five sessions where we look at the issues and come to a decision. The couple will either decide the relationship is over, and we can help them end it with grace and dignity, or the couple will decide that the relationship isn’t bad enough to leave but not very good either. In the latter case, we can enter into couples counseling. This is where we help each person to be happier and get their needs met, resolve underlying conflicts and improve communications skills.

Finally, if your mate doesn’t want to come to counseling, we offer “couples counseling for one” -individual counseling to help you see what you might do to repair the relationship or to deal with all the emotions you’re facing. You want to make sure that you are clear to make decisions that are in your best interest.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at 949-220-3211 or book an appointment online now at www.OCRelationshipCenter.com.

Wives and mothers-in-law: friends or rivals?

When Michelle Obama’s mother moved into the White House along with the First Couple to help care for her young granddaughters, it provided easy fodder for late-night comics. The premise was that having Obama’s mother-in-law—any mother-in-law—living in the house is a man’s worst nightmare.

In most people’s experience, however, it’s more common for wives to butt heads with their in-laws than for men. There are a lot of sound reasons for this. For one, women are more likely to have experience setting boundaries with their own mothers, a holdover from teenage years when they spent a lot of anguished energy trying to establish their independence and sense of separateness from their moms. This is not necessarily true of boys, who may be blindsided as married men when their wives resent that his mom is always dropping by to give helpful hints about the “right” way to load the dishwasher.

Of course, wife/mother-in-law issues can run a lot deeper than housekeeping. One of the most serious issues a wife and her mother-in-law clash over is childraising. If his mother was a stay-at-home mom, she might disapprove of her daughter-in-law’s choice to continue her career after the kids are born, or vice versa.

Meanwhile, the husband feels caught in the middle. He wants to be loyal to his wife but he feels a deep connection to his mother as well; psychologically speaking, she was his first love long before his wife entered the picture. Choosing sides between his wife and mother is not a place he wants to be, and that’s when it can become not just a wife/mother-in-law problem but a marriage problem.

So what’s a couple to do? First you talk about it as man and wife. This may not always go smoothly, but if you can at least get the issues on the table, you’ll better understand each other’s gripes, fears and hoped-for outcomes. It’s a start. Second, he needs to show his wife that he’s on her side and be firm with his mom—telling her, for instance, that while they love Thanksgiving at her house, his wife has been dying to host it at yours this year. Better yet, put on a united front and he tell her you both want to have it at your house. He should try and make her feel as wanted and included as possible but stand his ground, even if she acts hurt.

Third, wives and mothers-in-law should communicate directly with each other when problems arise. If your mother-in-law criticizes the rules you’ve set for the kids, the place of worship you attend or the color you painted the living room, don’t always run to your husband to complain. Simply tell her that these are decisions you’ve made as a family, although you respect that she would do things differently. In truth, it’s only fair to respect her feelings; if she has deeply rooted feelings about religion, how children should be raised (or heck, even interior decorating), she may be genuinely disappointed her to see her husband’s new family living in a way that differs from her expectations. However, she owes you the same respect, and if you stand firm, she may learn to hold her tongue. If possible, look for areas where you do have common interests so you can at least change the subject when points of contention arise.

If friendship is out of the question—and face it, you are in some ways rivals for the same man’s affection—then try at least for civility. The next time you feel the tension rising, remember this famous quote attributed to Mother Teresa: “Peace begins with a smile.”

Make your married life more meaningful. Our Orange County relationship counseling services can definitely help you. We look forward to connecting with you.