Feeling Unloved?

Feeling unloved lately?  Are you someone who used to feel a lot of love in your relationship and now you feel ignored or criticized?  A lot of things could be going on in your life, or your partner’s life, that has brought you to your current situation.

I’m sure you know your partner actually loves you, but it’s normal with goings on in our lives to not have enough couple time; therefore, leaving us feeling empty and hopeless.  It’s important that you focus on feeling good about yourself first.  I know, you hear that all the time; but it’s true.  Consider this.  If you truly love yourself, you don’t need to seek approval from anybody else.  As a result, you feel less disappointed and less hurt in romantic relationships.

If life has you spiraling in different directions (whether it’s because of working different shifts, juggling children’s activities, sporting events, sleepovers, and play dates), make it a point to sit down with your partner and discuss the fact that you’re feeling unloved, unneeded, or ignored.  If you don’t take the time, or make the time, to discuss your issues with your partner, you may just be causing yourself sadness and pain that is unnecessary.

If you have spent the time trying to work things out with your partner, but still have ill feelings, consider seeking professional help.  Let the professionals at the Relationship Center of Orange County help you.  Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Find yourself arguing more than you want?

With the possible exception of trial lawyers, no one really enjoys arguing—especially when it comes to relationships. However, while arguments are bound to crop up from time to time, with a little practice and effort, you can learn to head them off at the pass.

So the next time you feel yourself or your significant other gearing up for a fight, try these three simple tips to diffuse the situation. In no time, you’ll be learning to communicate more and argue less.

1. Choose your battles. This is all about perspective. If you’ve had a bad day, recognize that you’re unusually sensitive to things like a messy house, rowdy kids or the dry cleaning your spouse forgot to pick up. So don’t just march in and start barking orders like a general. Instead, take time to unwind, decide what you’re genuinely angry about (instead of just assigning a scapegoat for your crummy day), focus on that and propose a solution you can live with.

Is the messy house constantly getting on your nerves? Suggest a family meeting to assign a few chores and get the clutter under control. Is the kids’ roughhousing giving you a headache? Ask them to play outside for a while. Are you really mad about the dry cleaning? Unless the cleaners are still open and you can make the trip yourself, it might be best to let that one go. After all, everyone makes mistakes (even you).

2. Keep your promises. Sounds simple, right? But as humans, we all sometimes let promises slip through the cracks without considering the consequences. Say it’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon and you’re out playing golf with your buddies. You promised to get home early to help your wife prepare for a big dinner party, but your friends want you to join them for a beer at the clubhouse. It seems harmless enough. Your wife probably has it all under control anyway, so what could it hurt?

In short, it could hurt a lot, because she’s counting on you. No, this doesn’t mean you have to agree to every favor that’s asked of you. It means that you should always think before you make a promise, and once it’s made, keep it.

3.  You’ve probably heard this one before, but it’s worth repeating. Just take a beat before speaking. (Even if you believe you are 100% right and what you have to say needs to be said RIGHT NOW.)

Breathe in for a count of three and out for a count of six. Do this 3 times before you speak. Or maybe go to the bathroom first. Sometimes just a quick change of scene can help you gain clarity before you speak.

Before long, these tips—choosing your battles carefully, doing what you say you’re going to do and taking a moment before speaking—will begin creating more constructive discussions and fewer destructive arguments. That’s one goal we can all agree on.

If you are tired of the way things are, then let’s get started. Contact our professional therapists at the Relationship Center of Orange County. Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Breaking the News

Do you ever see a problem coming a mile away—a potential conflict between you and your partner—and spend hours (at least in the back of your mind) worrying about it?

The good news is, it’s normal. Like kids worried about showing our parents a poor grade, we often blow things out of proportion, assuming that if we have bad news for our partner, he or she is going to have a terrible reaction.

The better news? It’s often a false concern. And the best way to deal with it is head on—and the sooner the better. Maybe you can’t find an important tax document, and April 15 is just days away. Maybe the cost for replacing your partner’s car transmission came in far higher than either of you expected and will place a strain on your budget this month. Or one of the kids knocked a crystal wine flute his mom gave you off the shelf, and now there’s a big chip on the brim.

No one wants to be the bearer of bad news, especially if they feel at least partially responsible. That’s not uncommon, either. Women, even those who work outside the home, seem more likely to blame themselves for household problems, but even back in the 1950s, they probably blamed themselves far too much for anything that went wrong. They might think if they had kept the crystal figure further from the edge of the shelf, or kept a better eye on where the children were playing, the accident never would have happened. Or that missing W2 tax document? Well, that was their mistake, right? But everyone misplaces papers. Everyone!

Yet—and this is the important part—whatever happens in your relationship or family, it should be a relationship of equals, and if someone makes a mistake, you should deal with it together. And the best advice is to be as upfront as possible.

For instance, technological communication gets a bad rap these days as the demise of face-to-face interaction, but especially for those who are confrontation-averse, it can be a really useful tool. It’s not appropriate for conveying deeply emotional information, but it can definitely take the teeth out of one of the aforementioned situations, which are, after all, pretty mundane. Studies have shown that one-time “crises” like broken things that come with an expensive bill cause far less emotional trauma than living with the little things like that annoying back door that never locks properly…which is another way of saying that bringing the problem of the day out into the open as soon as possible is like ripping off a bandage. Just get it over with, and try and put things in perspective.

Again, believe it or not, cellphones, emails and instant messages can make this really easy and even help put things in perspective. Send your partner a message to break the ice: “One of the crystal champagne flutes your mom gave us last year is cracked and probably ruined. I am SO sorry.” Imagine the relief you’ll feel when your partner responds, “Oh well. When’s the last time we had eight people over for a champagne toast?”

Again, sending your partner a text message about serious issues is probably inappropriate. Yet with lesser problems that you are inclined to blown out of proportion, it’s a great tool for getting away from the bad habit of “sweating the small stuff,” as the saying goes (and continues, “it’s almost always small stuff.) Your partner might get upset when things go wrong. Who doesn’t? But getting it out there can do wonders for clearing (your) air: at least you don’t have to spend your day wondering how much it’s going to bother your partner. But communication is almost always a good thing, no matter what the medium. The alternative is to cause yourself angst that’s disproportionate to the problem at hand, assuming your partner will be devastated about something he or she doesn’t even yet know about.

Again, the sooner you let out the bad news, the sooner you can get back to what matters in both of your lives. Even before you get a response for your partner you might be surprised how much better you feel, the burden taken off your mind and the more able to tackle the more important things: solving conflicts at work, coming to an agreement about price with the transmission guy, and enjoying your partner’s company in spite of what often turn out to be minor inconveniences. And remember, whatever it is, just come out and say it! That’s so much better than holding it in or keeping secrets that might not have mattered to your partner in the first place. You and your relationship are so much more important than chipped crystal. And if you need proof, just ask. Chances are that your partner will agree.

If you need help in your relationship, the staff at the Relationship Center of Orange County is here to assist you.  Call us today at (949) 430-7198  to schedule your appointment, or use are online scheduling tool.

The Impact of Debt and Bankruptcy

Are you drowning in debt? Are you struggling to pay your bills, including your mortgage? Do you have bad credit? Are creditors calling you every day? You’ve done everything you can think of, including selling some of your belongings, to make an effort to make ends meet and get the bills paid. But no matter what you do and how much you try to pay everything, it just isn’t enough. You’re only making the minimum payments on your bills, but every month a few unpaid bills remain. You feel as though you have nobody to turn to; nobody to lend a hand or give you a loan…and it’s taking its toll on your mental health and the health of your relationship.

There are several simple things you can do to try to work out a solution. Maybe something unexpected happened in your life and you just need a break. The following list offers suggestions to getting your financial life back on track.

1. Create a Budget – Make a list of your income and your expenses. Prioritize the list by placing things that absolutely have to be paid on time (mortgage or rent and car payments) at the top of the list, and continuing through to things that won’t be earth shattering if they’re not paid on time (credit card bills, cable, and phone bills). Look for ways to decrease your spending, such as buying generic brand items, skipping your trip to the coffee shop, and packing your lunches. Make an educated guess at how much you spend on those little extra each month and budget that amount to your bills.

2. Call Your Creditors – Even if you know you cannot pay your bills; perhaps you just lost your job and have no income, calling your creditors and explaining your situation may get you a payment plan agreement, waiver of late fees, or authorization to skip a payment.

3. Call or Visit Your Bank – Go to your bank and get information on consolidation loans or home-equity loans or lines of credit. But beware! These loans are secured by your home. There are pros and cons to consolidation loans. Although interest rates at much lower than credit card loans, the end result is if you end up not being able to pay your consolidation or home-equity loan, you could lose your house.

4. Think of everything – Don’t overlook things like homeowners insurance, health insurance, and health insurance. These things are vital. Do not let your coverage lapse. Get in touch with your agent and ask for suggestions on how you can save money by reducing coverage, but make sure payments for these things stay current.

5. If all else fails, you may need to consider bankruptcy. There are different types of bankruptcies; Chapter 7 bankruptcy is consider liquidation, and Chapter 13 is considered reorganization. Keep in mind though, not all debt is dischargeable, and not everyone qualifies.

Maybe you’ve considered filing bankruptcy, but you can’t get over the embarrassment and the feelings of failure. Additionally, you may not know how or where to begin. First, go over all of your bills with your spouse or partner and make a list of your creditors and the balance owed to each. Next, find a bankruptcy attorney. Make sure they come highly recommended from someone you know has worked with them in the past, or be diligent and do your research. The sooner these things are in place, the sooner you can focus on getting past the embarrassment you feel, and the sooner you will be paving your way to a solution.

Once you have these things in place, you can focus on getting back on solid ground emotionally. Embarrassment may be present; however, you don’t have to tell people about your financial situation, and you can work to improve your mental well-being. Embarrassment can be overwhelming, especially if you are concerned about the impact it of your financial situation on approval of others, such as your parents or your spouse. Additionally, maybe you can no longer afford to take mini-vacations with your friends, or go out to dinner with other couples, as often. That’s okay. That’s part of working through this issue.

Bankruptcy is a big deal, but things will turn around and life will get back to normal eventually. Good people experience unexpected events in life, and there is no shame in seeking help – both financial help AND the help of a good therapist to deal with the stress and impact it can have on your relationship. Stay focused and remember how great life can be when you don’t have the pressure of debt on your relationship, and think about things and times and people that make you happy. Your embarrassment is understandable; however, you are taking steps and making progress to change the course of your problems and looking towards a better future. The word for that is “success”, not “embarrassment”.

If you need help coping with embarrassment or are questioning your sense of self, contact the professionals at the Relationship Center of Orange County. Our staff is comprised of wonderful people who are trained to help you deal with your issues. Call 949-220-3211 today to make an appointment, or schedule online at our website. There is no need to suffer and go through this situation by yourself, or to let debt or bankruptcy damage your relationship with your spouse or partner. Many times it is helpful to talk with someone who can help you by providing a different perspective to your situation or by teaching you ways to deal with your embarrassment and get your relationship back on track.

Listen Up! For the Good of Your Relationship

Can you hear me now?
No doubt you have heard about the importance of being a good listener your entire life. However, knowing its value and doing so effectively are two completely different things. Listening, and truly hearing what your spouse or partner has to say takes skill and effort. Not being a good listener can lead to miscommunication and relationship problems. There’s always room for improvement when it comes to being a good listener, and in the long run, nothing is more important than that to maintain healthy communication in any relationship.

Pay attention
As obvious as it sounds, it is sometimes easier said than done. Sometimes your partner will want to talk when your mind is already going in a dozen different directions and focusing on the conversation feels nearly impossible. Maybe you are distracted by an important project at work, the score of a big basketball game on TV or a million other things. Whatever it is, if your attention is too compromised at that moment, speak up. Plan for a time to talk later, and then do what you need to do in order to listen well: Turn off your smart phone, computer and TV. Try to clear your head of distractions. We call this “being in the moment”—in this case, focusing on the person sitting in front of you and truly hearing what they have to say.

Listen at least as much as you talk

Another kind of distraction happens when we tune out our partner’s words because we are too busy trying coming up with our response before they’ve even finished talking.  You are prepared to interrupt at any moment, and acting on that impulse can be a death knell to constructive conversation. If you find yourself getting angry and defensive, it may be hard to let your partner even complete a sentence without jumping in with a rebuttal. Nevertheless, think of it this way: your position is more likely to be heard in return if you first let them have their say.

Don’t offer what isn’t asked for

Refrain from offering unsolicited advice—with “unsolicited” being the operative word here. Maybe your partner had a fight with a sibling, friend or colleague and just needs to vent. Even if you think they are making a mountain out of a molehill, resist the urge to be dismissive as this will feel like you don’t find what they need to talk about as valid or worthy of your time. When they’re finished, ask if they want your opinion—if so, there’s nothing wrong with giving it, as long as you are respectful (i.e. “I can see why that was hurtful to you, but my guess is he/she didn’t mean to offend you, and by tomorrow you’ll both have forgotten about it.”)

Cut them some slack

Give your partner a little time and breathing room if they’re struggling to communicate their thoughts, concerns or needs – especially if the topic is emotional or directly concerns your relationship. If you feel you are being attacked by an aggressive tone and language, say so (calmly) —but try to refrain from retaliating with angry retorts of your own. Likewise, if you feel like he or she is bringing up ancient history that is not germane to the topic at hand, say that too. However, if you can try to steer the conversation back to a more productive back-and-forth, do so. Ask specific questions like, “I know that what happened last year was very painful for you, and I apologize for that. But what’s going on today that made you feel you had to bring it up again? Is something new concerning you that we can address together now?”

Another good strategy is to repeat back to your partner what you think they are trying to express and ask if you are getting it right. Use sentences starting with, “What I hear you saying is…” This shows your partner that you are really trying to understand, gives them the chance to clarify and even helps them stay focused on their true concerns.

Follow the Golden Rule

Finally, the golden rule of communication in general is to know when it is time to call for a temporary truce. When things get too heated, effective listening goes out the window. Agree to take a break for now and revisit the subject when cooler heads prevail.

If you’re struggling to communicate effectively in your relationship, please give us at a call at or schedule an appointment via our online calendar. We at the OC Relationship Center are here to help you.

Trouble in Paradise – How to Deal With Intrusive In-Laws

Unsolicited Advice

Relationship Center of Orange CountyThe unity of marriage not only brings two individuals together, but it also blends families. While you and your spouse may have worked through the challenges of getting to know each other and how to coexist, your families may still be trying to figure out how to interact and be a part of your new chapter in life. There are plenty of marriages out there where one spouse and their in-laws are polar opposites, making it difficult for them to get along. It’s also not uncommon for cohabitating couples to have to deal with their parents’ dishing out wisdom from their years of marriage. Though the intent may be innocent, an in-law that is constantly offering unsolicited advice about what they think is best for your household can lead to tension in your relationship and, if left unresolved, could quite possibly lead to a family feud that lands your spouse square in the middle. So below you’ll find a few pointers on how you can keep your sanity while keeping the peace and allowing your in-laws to be a part of your family.

Talk with Your Spouse

Never, never, never, take matters into your own hands. Ultimately your spouse is the one who will have to deal with the backlash that might come from this feud and thus that should be the first person you talk to. Let them know that certain behaviors of their parents are starting to drive you crazy and that you need some form of resolution. In most cases you’d be surprised to find that your spouse agrees with you but just may not know how to tell their parents how to back off.

List the Problems

Does your mother-in-law tend to show up unexpectedly, citing she was “just in the neighborhood”? Does she constantly complain or make comments about the way your home is kept up? Maybe they always provide insight in marital problems and you want them to butt-out. Whatever your problems are with your in-laws, now is the time to list them so you can come up with a reasonable way to solve the problem.

Set Rules

Once you’ve got a list of your problems you need to come up with some rules that will keep this at bay. Be sure that you run these “rules” by your spouse to ensure that they too are on board with this. Some examples of rules you might set include:

  1. In-laws show up unannounced – request that they call before coming (or take away their spare key if they have one)
  2. In-laws don’t agree with the way you raise the children – insist that your children will follow your rules and that when they come to visit they can oblige by whatever the grandparents feel is best.
  3. In-laws criticize you to your spouse – your spouse is not to engage in those types of conversations, and remind the in-laws that though they may not like some of the things that their son or daughter-in-law may do, they need to respect your spouse AND your feelings.

Give Them Responsibilities

In most cases, in-laws are just parents that are unaware of how to let go and allow their children to become adults. One way to nip this in the bud is to make them feel valuable to your family. Give them responsibilities that might include being the official sitters when you go out on dates, or allow them to pick the children up from school a few days out of the month. This will make them feel included.

Encourage a Relationship

Sometimes parents feel “abandoned” when their children go off and live lives of their own. You can help the situation by encouraging your spouse to maintain a relationship with their parents both with the family included and also by themselves. A healthy relationship with your spouse and their parents will lighten the load of negativity the in-laws tend to throw your way.

Address Matters as Soon as They Become a Problem

Allowing intrusive behaviors to continue within your family will only create problems later on down the line. Not addressing the matter allows emotions to fester and it is usually taken out on the wrong person – your spouse. Therefore, the moment you feel something going left, pull your spouse to the side, talk it through, and then approach your in-laws.

Talk to Your In-Laws

This one might not have been what you expected but if you just talk with your in-laws you might come to find that they are unaware of their behaviors. Sometimes parents just don’t know how to not be parents anymore and believe that only they know what is best for their child. They may not mean to be invasive or mean to you, but might believe they are really helping out. Sometimes talking to them is all you need to stop the madness from occurring.

You don’t have to adore your in-laws or force a relationship that is not there, but they are your spouse’s parents and must be respected as such. By setting boundaries early on you are affirming your position within your home, and respecting their role as parents to the one you love so dear.

If you or your spouse having a hard time figuring out how to talk to the in-laws about setting boundaries, the trained counselors at the Relationship Center of Orange County can help. Give us a call today at , or schedule your appointment using our online scheduling tool. We look forward to serving you.

Keeping the Love (and Your Sanity) Alive When the Folks Move In

Here They Come

So you have moved into a home you love, you’re learning what it’s like to live with the love of your life, and the next thing you know you’re hit with the news that mom or dad (or the in laws) will be moving in! Whether due to financial reasons or health complications, it typically happens in an instant without much time to react. So what do you do?

As Time Goes On

When your parents’ move in because of financial reasons, their stay can feel somewhat rewarding in the beginning. They can babysit the kids when you need a night out or they can help out around the house, taking on some of the chores including cooking meals from time to time.  As time goes on however, you and your spouse begin to want your own space again and having your parents around all the time seems to limit your space and privacy as adults.

Call the professional counselors at the Relationship Center of Orange County.However, when caring for your parents because they are ill, it can almost seem as if you have adopted another child who must be looked after, which can weigh heavy on a marriage. In any instance, having your parents around all the time can take a toll on your relationship, and if there are not proper steps taken, you could risk damaging your marriage.

Tips on Keeping the Love (and Your Sanity) Alive in Your Marriage

  1. Talk About It – You and your spouse need to be in the habit of constant communication while your parent(s) live with you. You cannot possibly keep the marriage healthy if you are not first and foremost open with one another. Whenever you begin to feel stressed, sad, upset, or out of place it is important to express this to your partner. This way you can both help each other through your feelings.
  2. Give Mom and Dad Their Own Space – If you have a larger home you can easily create a secluded space for mom and dad. For instance, if you have a finished basement you can set up a mini apartment so that they are not consuming your entire home and have privacy of their own.
  3. Create a Private Space – Parents moving in unplanned seems like a home invasion. In order for you and your spouse to not feel “trapped” in your own home you need to create a space that is private for just the two of you. Even if this space happens to be your bedroom, you should make it an oasis for which no one else is allowed to go and you can free your mind of the day-to-day stress.
  4. Ask for Support – If you are really feeling stressed about your parents living in the home (especially when it is the result of a health complication) you should reach out to other members in your family for support. If you have other siblings, you could ask if they might help with the load of responsibilities you have taken on in caring for your parent so that you do not feel so stressed out.
  5. Get Away – Sometimes the only way to keep the love alive is to isolate yourself from the situation. Try planning a weekend getaway for just the two of you to a destination where you can relax and enjoy each other’s company uninterrupted. Ask supporting family members to help with your parents, if necessary.
  6. Date Night – Date nights are extremely important to a married couple, especially those in this type of situation. If need be, hire a sitter for your children and ask a family member to watch over your parents and get out for the evening. You would be surprised how something as simple as a dinner for two – out of the house – can make you feel much better about living day-to-day with your parents.
  7. Little Things Mean a Lot – Last but certainly not least, one of the best ways to keep the flame going in a relationship is to do the little things on the day-to-day basis. Send your spouse a loving text message, place a love note in their jacket pocket, do a chore that is usually theirs, or schedule a surprise visit to their job and take them out for lunch. The simplest things can make your spouse feel special despite the challenges you both face as a couple while having parents live with you.

With marriage comes the thick and thin, and having your parents move in with you is most certainly in the “thick” category. Rather than stress yourself out and damage your marriage, follow some of these tips to keep the love alive. Once mom and dad are back on their feet, you can mark this down as another challenge you conquered together as a team.

If you and your partner or spouse are having difficulty adjusting to having an extended family under one roof, talking to a trained counselor can help. Your family AND marriage are the most important things in your life. Let the caring therapists at the Relationship Center of Orange County help you keep both healthy and happy. Give us a call today at 949-220-3211, or schedule your appointment using our online calendar. You’ll be glad you did.

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.

How Fighting With Your Ex Impacts Your Kids

Let the conselors at the Relationship Center of Orange County help youIf you take time to think about it, it’s tough enough on kids to be the children of divorced parents.  It is difficult for them to understand that it’s okay to love both parents and to depend on both parents when they’ve chosen to end the marriage.  Worst of all, it’s terrifying for kids to witness their divorced parents fight. Some studies have even shown that divorced parents who fight in front of their kids can cause more harm than did the divorce itself.

Many people who are divorcing try to control their exes, which is altogether futile.  Others try to hurt their exes by tying up the divorce in court, subjecting their children to court appearances and exposing them to many things that should be of no concern to them.  Exes typically fight over child support, visitation, and custody agreements.  Involving your children in these conflicts and subjecting them to nasty court drama only adds to their emotional scars.  Anger and fighting only escalates the conflict.  In the end, the ones who lose are the children.

Parents who scream and fight in front of their children obviously have difficulty controlling their anger and frustration with their ex to the point that they fail to realize how damaging it can be. One should never belittle their child’s other parent in front of the child as you risk of permanently affecting your child’s self-esteem.  Children tend to blame themselves when parents split up. When you criticize your ex in front of your child, they may feel as though they are being criticized since your child is one-half of that parent as well as one-half of you.  Both parents should focus on what is best for their children and make a concerted effort to not engage in this kind of behavior.

Many times, guilt surrounding how a person acted while married plays a large part in how they act during a divorce.  Some people blame their exes instead of taking responsibility for what they have done wrong in the marriage.  Consider that last sentence if you, yourself, tend to act out and blame your ex.

Just as you would not allow your children to curse, taunt or threaten others, your doing so, especially in front of them and to their other parent, is unacceptable.  Always trying to have the last word, picking fights and threatening to go back to court over small issues sets a negative example for your children and only causes more trauma and confusion.  Parental stress affects children tremendously and if you criticize and disparage your ex around your children, it absolutely affects them negatively.  Keep your integrity and don’t lower yourself to badmouth or fight with your ex. 

So, now that you are committed to growing up and not badmouthing, threatening, or fighting with your ex, there are many things you can do to ensure an easier transition for your kids during and after your divorce.  The following are five important things to consider

  1. Never speak negatively about your ex when your children are anywhere near enough to overhear you.  Children will eventually bond with the parent, or both parents, when they feel safe.  Your kids cannot feel safe with you if you are bashing your ex.
  2. Never ask your child to convey a message to your ex.  This puts your child in the middle of your drama, which is unfair and stressful for them.  Suck it up and communicate directly (and fairly) with your ex.
  3. Try to think of your ex as the mother or father of your children, rather than as “The Ex”.  The goal is to work together with the other parent of your children to become the best parents possible. 
  4. Remember that you chose this person earlier in your life, so this person must have some good qualifies.  Focus on those good, positive qualities, rather than on the negative ones.
  5. Never ask your children questions about what your ex is doing or grill them about who your ex is seeing or spending time with.  Grilling your children will, again, cause stress AND cause you to lose their trust. 

The best way to proceed with your ex after a divorce is for both of you to sit down and figure out the best way to proceed with raising your children in a healthy, amicable way.  Remember that any good parent puts the needs of their children above all others during such a time.  Although it may be tough at times to hold your tongue in the presence of your children, later down the road you will be glad that you did.  Your children will most likely be closer to the parent who doesn’t play games during the divorce.

The Relationship Center of Orange County has experienced counselors available to speak with your children and help them through all the phases of divorce.  Although your children may talk to you about nearly anything, it can help to put them in touch with a counselor who is not involved or attached to either parent.  Children need a confidant who will allow them to vent about both parents, without feeling judged.  Call today at 949-220-3211, or schedule an appointment via our online calendar.

The Valentine’s Day Dilemma

Let the caring counselors at the OC Relationship Center help you keep your hearts connected.

For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul. ~ Judy Garland

Valentine’s Day: Love it or hate it, you can’t avoid it. It seems the moment stores put away their Christmas merchandise, it’s replaced by aisles of Valentine cards, chocolate and heart-festooned teddy bears. Your email stuffed with reminders from your local florist urging you to get your order in early. Even kids are expected to pick up one of those ubiquitous boxes of cheap Valentines to exchange with their classmates while munching on pink-frosted cookies. The indoctrination begins early!

Maybe It’s Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Of course, crass commercialization is a common complaint about all the holidays we observe. The sense that we need to buy something in order to properly celebrate always seems to overtake the original spirit of the holiday. Valentine’s Day is a perfect example.

It’s problematic on a few other levels, as well. For one, it’s hugely annoying—if not downright offensive—to single people, who are likely to feel left out in the cold when they stop by the market on February 14 for a few groceries and find themselves confronted by dozens of procrastinators queued up in the check-out aisle clutching last-minute rose bouquets.  Moreover, is it really any more exciting for those bouquet-bearing men (and women)? When you’re buying or receiving a gift that seems mostly to serve as fulfilling an obligation that is advertised in every store window, it’s just not as special as an affectionate gesture that comes when least expected.

It’s the Thought That Counts

That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with following what can be, after all, a fun tradition of presenting a romantic gift to your partner on February 14. However, for sheer spontaneity and reminding your partner how much they mean to you, remember that Valentine’s Day comes but once a year, while thoughtful gifts, gestures and words have nothing to do with a date on the calendar.

In fact, no matter how many gifts we give to commemorate holidays, birthdays and anniversaries, I still think the “just because” gestures are by far the best. They never have to be grand or expensive—just thoughtful.

For instance:

  • ŸMake a mental note when your partner mentions a book they’re dying to read, and surprising them with it the next day.
  • ŸIf there’s something they enjoy collecting, make a point of looking for something to add to the collection whenever you’re out of town.
  • ŸWhen their favorite team wins a big game, surprise them with a commemorative t-shirt.
  • ŸBe creative. I knew a wife whose husband never stopped rooting for his college teams in spite of the fact that they were perennial losers in almost every sport they played. Yet if you asked him what his favorite gift from his wife has been, he’ll tell you that it was the team flag she gave him one year as a show of solidarity.

These gestures not only show that you’re always thinking of your partner but that you know them better than almost anyone. It shows that whatever small effort you made, you made it without any prompting at all.