Should you give a past relationship a second chance?

You’ve finally done it. You’ve said goodbye to a relationship that didn’t feel right. Just when you’re confident that you made the right decision, a certain smell reminds you of the person. Or maybe it’s a song or a photograph. Suddenly regret creeps in. All of the positive memories flood your thoughts. Conveniently, the bad memories seem to disappear, vanishing like they never existed.

On one hand, you want to persevere through thick and thin. Perhaps there are children. Maybe finances make the situation complicated. Regardless, there are enough promising memories that you’ve developed a nagging question in the back of your mind. “What if?” you keep asking yourself. At some point, you have to be willing to say “enough is enough.” Yet how do you know when that line is crossed, the line that proves it’s time to say no to a second chance? With few exceptions, this isn’t an easy question to answer. However, there are some guidelines to use to make sure you’re making the right decision. Before you pick up the phone, read below:

You have reason to believe change is possible

You’ve been with this person for a while. If you have substantial reason to question the person’s ability to do the right thing, or credibility, or overall character, it may be time to say goodbye permanently. If this person has earned your trust and respect, however, and you believe that your partner has achieved important maturation as a result of your split, consider whether you’re both willing to put in the extra effort to make it work. If so, it may be time to rekindle the romance.

You were wrong

We all make mistakes. The end of a relationship rarely involves only one person messing up. If you can recognize your own role in the relationship’s demise, it may be time to swallow your pride, admit defeat and apologize. Own your mistakes, ask for forgiveness, and reflect on what you need to change. Then work on making the necessary changes.

There are enough rewards and benefits

Every relationship has its problems. Usually we put up with the problems because we like what we receive despite them. If your overall relationship was enjoyable, if there were more ups than downs and you feel forgiveness is possible, consider a second chance. If those ” second chances” add up to double digits, however, or if they’re having a poor impact on your physical or mental health, it’s best to move on.

When you consider the possibility of reuniting with a previous partner, there’s one important principle to follow: Take care of yourself. If that means you should forgive and work through the challenges, employ strategies to do so. On the other hand, if taking care of yourself means letting go, be honest with yourself and look toward the possibilities a new future entails.

What is next?

If you do decide to give it a second chance, a good idea is to seek couples counseling as you reunite. It is likely that, as a couple, you developed patterns of relating that didn’t work. It is possible that there are some old wounds that need healing. Please don’t make the mistake of assuming that love can conquer all – especially with an ex.

Couples counseling can help you explore what you each need from the relationship and each other. It can help you learn how to better communicate so you might avoid repeating patterns that did not work.

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

Relinquishing Control: Asking for Help From Your Spouse During the Holidays

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all those holiday tasks (or year-round) but have a difficult time relinquishing control over how your household runs, trust the trained therapists at OC Relationship Center to help you sort it out. How easy is it for you to ask for help from your spouse? For many couples, they both work full time jobs, yet, one person typically ends up doing most of the work around the house. That might be because that person wants things done a certain way, or needs to feel a sense of being in control over how the household is run. Even so, unless that person is Superwoman or Superman, it can result in a lot of stress, resentment and general unhappiness.

Sound familiar?

Giving Up Control During the Holidays

If you’re the type of person who likes things done a certain way, it can be vexing just to think of asking your husband or wife to give you a hand around the house during this time of year … but something HAS to give. Perhaps you’re planning a big party for all of your friends and family, or maybe you always bake several batches of cookies each year for your loved ones. As difficult as it might be for you to relinquish control over managing the multitude of holiday tasks on your to-do list, even the biggest “control freak” can become overwhelmed with all that’s in store this time of year. There is hope though, and you don’t have to experience that exhaustion … as long as you’re willing to give up a little bit of control. All you need to do is ask for help.

Imagine the Outcome

Just for a moment, imagine what the outcome might be if you were to ask for help from your spouse as you’re making your holiday plans. Chances are, he or she doesn’t even realize how overwhelmed you get every year, and probably thinks that staying out of your way is the best way to help you.

When you work together to make a party happen, or when your spouse pitches in to make the holidays a little easier on you, there’s a sense of teamwork there. Your relationship will inevitably become closer because you worked together. Ladies, your husbands love it when you come to them with a problem and they have the means to help you fix it. Men, your wives have a deep desire to help you with anything you might be preparing for the holidays, and they feel a great sense of purpose in being the ones you chose to ask for help.

Put the “Merry” Back Into Your Christmas

Many couples have built their relationships on the false premise that they have to take care of everything and everyone within their household, or else it won’t run smoothly. If this way of thinking is carried over into the holidays, it only causes strife and resentment. Don’t try to do it all on your own when you don’t need to. This year, why not put the “Merry” back into your Christmas season by giving yourself permission to hand off some of that responsibility to your husband or wife? Cut yourself some slack in this way and you’ll find that it will not only bring you and your partner closer, but it gives you the break you really need to relax a bit and enjoy the season more than ever before.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all those holiday tasks (or year-round) but have a difficult time relinquishing control over how your household runs, trust the trained therapists at OC Relationship Center to help you sort it out. Call us today at 949-220-3211 or book your appointment via our online calendar.

Nonverbal Communication Speaks Volumes

Let OC Relationship Center help you communicate.

Let’s imagine a couple, Tom and Sara, who have always made an effort to practice good communication skills. In their daily interactions, they regularly give each other small compliments, and always ask about things going on in each other’s lives. And when they argue, they try to remain calm, never hurling accusations or saying anything they’ll later regret.

These are great habits that can go a long way toward keeping a relationship strong. What many couples don’t realize, however, is that the best verbal communication skills can be undermined by a bad habit they may not even be aware of: poor nonverbal communication.

Let’s say Tom is in charge of bringing the garbage cans in from the curb on trash-collection days, but he regularly forgets. One night Sara has to work late, drives home tired and grumpy, and when she arrives the first thing she sees is that pair of garbage cans still at the curb. Angrily, she hauls them back to the house herself and approaches Tom. She explains how frustrated she feels that he never seems to remember that one pesky chore. He shrugs and apologizes, adding that he was really tired when he got home, and it must have slipped his mind. Even angrier now—after all, she’s the one who had to work late—Sara rolls her eyes, sighs heavily and then struggles for the right words. “Thank you for apologizing,” she says in a voice that betrays a hint of sarcasm. “I know you don’t mean to do it. But please remember in the future.”

Do you see what happened? When Sara complained about the garbage cans, he literally shrugged it off even as he apologized. She then essentially rejected his apology with a condescending roll of her eyes. As a result, the rest of the evening is tense; the issue hasn’t really been put to bed at all.

The point is that no matter how carefully you choose your words, body language matters too—a lot.

Things like glaring, shaking your head while the other person talks, or crossing your arms tightly across your chest can express that you’re more focused on your own feelings than hearing the other person out.

On the positive side, however, things like literally putting down what you’re doing when your partner is trying to talk, making eye contact, and touching your partner gently on the shoulder can go along way toward easing conflicts. The same is true even when things are going well—stopping and looking at your partner to wish them a good day when you leave in the morning sometimes goes farther than a hasty “I love you!” shouted as an afterthought when you’re halfway out the door.

There are countless more examples of effective vs. ineffective nonverbal communication, but the first step is just to be aware of it. When you’re talking with your partner, take care that the signals you’re sending are what you really hope to convey.

One trap you want to avoid is developing a pattern of giving off dismissive, angry or condescending nonverbal cues while trying to mask the building tension with polite language. In the example above, Sara’s eye-rolling may indicate that deep down she believes Tom is selfish and unwilling to do his share around the house. Tom, meanwhile, may secretly think Sara is always trying to boss him around, and his shrug is a way of showing that he resents her perceived nagging.

This can definitely be an indication that a relationship is headed for trouble. The absence of verbal arguments might tell one story, but your nonverbal cues are telling another.

Again, just being aware of your body language can go a long way towards improving communications, defusing potential fights and enhancing words of affection. If you think the problem runs deeper than that, however, and you find that words are failing you in your quest for a healthy relationship, please give OC Relationship Center a call at 949-220-3211 or book your appointment via our online calendar. Our licensed counselors are here for you.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

A friend (we’ll call her “Leslie”) recalls the simplest, but most poignant, words anyone ever spoke to her about the pain of a relationship breaking up.

She and an old friend (“Greg”) had been good friends in high school and recently reconnected over the Internet. Though they lived in different parts of the country, they managed to see each other several times over the better part of a year, and before long she felt very much in love. But between their respective careers and children from prior marriages, uprooting their lives to be together did not feel like the right choice for either of them, and they decided to end the relationship. She knew it the best decision. But that didn’t make it hurt any less.

She remembers the last morning she spent with Greg. He had an early flight and she was barely awake as he gathered his bags and got ready to go, and she felt her eyes beginning to well up as he came to sit beside her and say goodbye for the last time.

“It’s so hard,” she said, fighting back tears.

He looked at her and replied, quietly, “It’s supposed to be hard.”

It could have come across as callous, but for Leslie, it felt like an affirmation that the breakup was hard for him, too. More than that, it reminded her what we all need to hear in the midst of heartbreak—that the pain is one hundred percent normal.

Just as no two relationships are exactly alike, all breakups are painful in different ways. No matter who initiates it, a whole range of emotions may come along for the ride—anger, sadness, loneliness, regret, or even fear that you’ll never get over it or find another person to love. You’re experiencing a significant life change—you identified yourself as a couple, with everything that comes along with that, and now you aren’t. You need time to feel sad about that.

It’s so important in the face of heartbreak to be gentle with yourself and respect the normalcy of your feelings. Amid whatever swirling of emotions you’re experiencing, now is not the time to make any major life decisions or changes (or even small ones; no matter how tempting it is to hold a ceremonial burning of the gorgeous dress you wore the day he broke it off, chances are it won’t make you feel any better…and believe it or not, one day you’re going to want that dress back

That’s not to say you should just lock yourself in a closet and wait to feel better, either. The relationship may be over, but your life is still very much there—your family and friends who support you, and your job or other responsibilities that require your attention (and can offer much-welcome distractions). Sooner rather than later, you’ll notice that all the things you used to enjoy, whether it’s mountain biking, a great day on the golf course, a well-made meal or just a beautiful spring day, are still there too. It is possible to grieve the loss and enjoy life’s small pleasures at the same time.

However, if you do find that your heartbreak is impacting your day-to-day living—not being able to sleep, for instance, or a loss of appetite—consider talking to a therapist to help you organize your thoughts and feel more in control. Needing a little extra help from an impartial professional is perfectly normal, too. It’s just another part of taking time to take care of yourself. And we all deserve that, whether we’re suffering from heartbreak or not.

You deserve to have a great love life.  Let’s see if we can make yours better.Our Orange County relationship counseling services looks forward to connecting with you.