Why What I Admire In You Also Says Something About Me

If you ask 100 different people who they admire most and why you’ll get dozens of different answers.

But did you know that what we admire in others tells us something about ourselves? And it’s not just superficial tidbits that can be unearthed through such an observation as we’ll see.

What You Admire in Friends

What you admire in friends tells you something about yourself.

Perhaps what you appreciate and admire isn’t exactly enduring. It could be simply that you’re drawn to and admire people who wear nice clothes and look a certain way. Or maybe you admire a certain socio-economic status.

Even with superficial admiration, you can learn something. We all are superficial to an extent so it doesn’t mean you’re a terrible person if you admire traits that are only “skin deep”.

But let’s dig a little further. Perhaps you admire friends who have grit. Friends who had to overcome significant adversity.

If so, it’s likely you had to persevere despite overwhelming obstacles or that you currently are doing your best to make an attempt at it. This likely causes you to appreciate music artists who make songs about overcoming obstacles and causes you to admire those artists.

Maybe you love fitness or adventure and you admire those who hold similar likes, desires and activities.

Regardless, when you discover what you admire you’ll understand yourself a lot better. These admirations aren’t mere coincidences.

Sometimes what you appreciate in someone could get you into trouble. Admiring traits that aren’t, in fact, admirable could tell you that you’ve strayed a bit from where you want to be.

The Components of Purpose

When we get into things like the greatest contribution you can make to humanity, things can get hazy.

Finding the big “why” to your existence isn’t easy for most people. Some never find it. Some compare finding this “calling” to digging it out from the rubble of a collapsed building.

To find such a purpose is frustrating and sometimes agonizing. There are a series of successes and failures along the way.

Sometimes, you may just long for someone to throw you a clue. If you want a clue in this painstaking process, stop and think about who you admire.

Could it be that you are supposed to become what you admire most in others?

No, not a re-creation of someone else. Just you at your very best.

That you are to become someone who others will admire. A signpost in the dark night of others finding their way.

So, when you look at others and admire them. Stop and take notice.

Sure, what you admire might be their hairstyle. But, then again, it could cut to the very core of who you are and who you’re supposed to become. If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

How Relationships Are Like Sports

Relationships are like sports. Image of sports balls.

Ever been on a sports team?

Did you know that your experience on a sports team can teach you a lot about how relationships work?

Here are some similarities between sports and relationships to consider.

Not a One-Man Show

Did you ever have someone on your team who thought they were the most important player? That they were better than others or privileged?

If you did, you probably weren’t full of happy thoughts towards them.

If you were the self-centered player, you may have wondered why people got frustrated and angry with you so much.

The tension happened because a sports team’s effectiveness breaks down when one person makes it all about them. Morale begins to really sag. People feel like quitting.

The same thing happens in relationships. When one person makes the relationship all about them, they consistently make selfish decisions.

They also make decisions that they think are in their best interest instead of the “team’s”. In your relationship, you really are a team.

You’ll need to put your ego and selfish desires aside even though it’s not easy. Instead, do what’s best for everyone. By doing so, you’ll do what’s best for you, too, though it may not always feel like it at the time.

You Face Many Opponents

Just like in sports, you face many opponents in relationships. In sports, a new “enemy” is always out there in a different-colored uniform from another town or city trying to conquer you. To make you lose.

Your adversaries in sports cause tension. They bring on struggle. But, with your team, you overcome them.

In your relationships, there are many rivals, too. They take more-complicated forms, though.

Your opponents may be poverty, health problems, a toxic job, the temptation to remain faithful, the death of a friend or sleeplessness. Or they may take a thousand other forms.

But one thing will always be the same. You must work together to beat back the challenger.

You must resolve to fight together. No, not fight with each other. But fight as one against anyone and anything that threatens to bring harm to your relationship.

Your Teammates Can Be Difficult

Yep. This one’s already been hit on some but is worth looking at a little closer.

As you work in the trenches on a team, at times, you grow frustrated with each other. That’s perfectly normal as tensions can be very high during stressful situations.

In your relationships, you won’t always think the other person is the best person in the world. You’ll likely even go through times you don’t want to love them.

But, eventually, you triumph over these disagreements because you’re on the same team.

It’s All Worth It in the End!

You work together to overcome difficult situations in sports. You do the same in relationships.

And as you work together in that relationship, you eventually discover something wonderful.

You find the hard times that could’ve torn you apart, instead, brought you closer together.

That a lifelong friend was the result. And that a satisfying journey was shared together. And all that happened was worth it in the end!

Are you looking to improve your relationship? Or have you struggled recently with a breakup? We’d like to help. Schedule your appointment for either couples counseling or men’s counseling using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Why Nagging Your Mate Doesn’t Work

There are plenty of lies we buy into about relationships. Let’s face it, we’re all working to get better in that area.

One tempting misconception is that nagging a mate will encourage and motivate them to change for the good.

It actually causes the opposite. Why is this? Let’s explore what nagging really is and why it doesn’t work.

What Is Nagging?

Simply put, nagging is an ongoing attempt to get someone to change but the attempt is carried out in a persistent, uncaring way.

A nagged mate feels demeaned, put down, treated like a child and attacked. This leads us to the first reason nagging doesn’t work.

Because of Human Nature

The natural human response to ongoing negative criticism is to rebel. This may be more commonly attributed to children but adults respond the same way.

A nagged mate won’t say, “You know, I finally see it. All along you were right!”

Instead, they’ll say, “You want to be mean? I can be mean too. You want to confront? Then I’ll just avoid.”

Since the nagging partner takes an adversarial role, for a nagged mate to give in to their critic would be to admit defeat. Human nature is to hold the high ground, not to grovel in this case.

Opposite Of What a Relationship Should Be

A good and healthy relationship is a shelter. It’s a safe place from the storms and “haters” of life.

When a mate is nagged, the one relationship that should be the safest and most supportive painfully becomes everything but that.

This inevitably leads to resentment, hurt feelings and anger. Some nagged mates live a miserable existence for years in this state.

Others quickly hit the eject button on a relationship like that. They search for someone who will be a safe, loving and admiring mate instead of a naysayer.

The Endless Nagging Cycle

Here’s how the downward spiral works.

One mate nags their partner. The other partner resists, avoids, becomes frustrated or angry. The nagged person begins becoming more “nag-worthy” because they don’t want to conform.

As a result, the confronter increases the amount and severity of their criticism. This causes the amount and severity of the push back from the receiver to multiply at the same time.

Over time, the nagging cycle grows stronger and more destructive. The nagger feels it necessary to nag because their mate is failing so badly.

The nagged person no longer wants anything to do with their mate who, in many cases, has become the most difficult person in their lives to deal with.

Summing It Up

Nagging isn’t fun for either mate. It’ll put both parties on the fast track to misery and greatly increase the chance of relationship failure.

Stop the nagging cycle by complementing your mate, talking openly about your struggles and by being more patient. You can also find an outside party to help you work through your frustrations in a healthy way.

You can break free from the nagging cycle one good choice at a time and experience a much higher quality of life in the process! Let us help. Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Is Your Partner the Marrying Type?

Interested in marriage but unsure if your partner will make a good marriage partner? It’s always wise to find out the answer to that question sooner than later. Bad marriages can often be avoided by doing some homework first. This will also give you greater confidence if you decide that you have a long-term keeper. Advice abounds on this topic but here are a few quick tips to help you decide if your partner is the marrying type.

Ask Your Friends

You can find out a lot by asking a friend about whether your partner is marriage material. Infatuation within a relationship is a wonderful feeling but can blind you to the truth about your partner, especially early on. The “in love feeling” can cause you to easily overlook large faults in your significant other.

Your friends live outside of these feelings and will be able to give you an honest assessment of your relationship. Whether they say “yes” or “no” to the marrying type question, listen carefully to them. It may be painful if they say “no” but it could save you from even greater pain down the road. Just remember, if they give you the thumbs down it isn’t because they are rejecting you. It’s because they care about you. They know that you have many lovable qualities and that you deserve better.

You Can’t Be Yourself

Although dating often means putting our best foot forward, it isn’t always a realistic depiction of one’s true self. Couples sometimes hold back their negative emotions and act more positive than they normally would. Those in a relationship want to give their partner every reason to like them. This can reach unhealthy levels, though.

If your partner is always trying to get you to look different, wear different clothes or change your personality to suit their desires, this is a problem. Although everyone has the need to become a better person, some partners try to change things about their significant other that aren’t bad. If your partner can’t accept you for who you are as a person, it’s a good indicator that they won’t be happy with you in a marriage relationship.

Trust Issues

If you consistently have valid trust concerns about your significant other, it may be a good idea to put the brakes on. Do you find that your partner is flirty with others besides you, keeps in contact with old flames, or has been caught in physical relationships with others while you’ve been dating? Getting married won’t fix that problem and will likely make it worse. Have an honest discussion with the one you love about these concerns. Marriage relationships can’t survive without trust. If you can trust your partner, you may have a keeper!

In this process, it’s important to remember that sometimes even partners who are the marrying type sometimes don’t want to get married at first. It can take some time to work up to that level of commitment. In contrast, just because your partner is eager to get married, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are marriage material. If you’ve read this far, it shows that you’re serious about your relationship. That’s exactly what you need to be successful!

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

Do you have trouble communicating with your partner?

Communication is essential in any interpersonal context, whether it be with co-workers, friends, or family, but it is one of the most, if not the most, essential building block of a healthy and strong relationship with your partner. It’s important to remember that it is a two-way street and as much as you want to be heard, your partner will want you to listen. Many problems begin when we don’t take responsibility for our communication.

Sometimes it is hard to acknowledge your significant other’s point of view when you have one of your own, and making the effort to really listen and try to understand them is not only a true sign of respect, but can also keep things from being bottled up and coming out negatively in the future. We all have opinions which we are incredibly stubborn about, however when disagreements do occur; the common response is to become defensive. It is this defensiveness which subliminally tells our partners that they can no longer go to us with their issues. This will, in turn, cause undue anxiety for your partner as not being able to be as open as they want to be with their significant other can harbor resentment and create a lot of unaddressed friction.

Not all conversations are going to be easy and it’s dealing with those difficult ones which will lead to the strongest bonds. Avoidance of issues will not only prolong them, it may actually intensify their meaning in a relationship. This will signal to your partner that whatever it is that you don’t want to talk about is actually an issue you are struggling with. Again, since it is a two-way street, your partner will want you to want to come to them for emotional support. It’s that feeling of being a team and being able to handle any situation together that reinforces positive validation of the relationship.

It’s been said many times before, but one of the easiest ways to show you are listening is to pay attention to the little things. Those are the intimate details of your partner’s life that they will only usually share with you. Taking notice and addressing these and other minute details in conversation signifies that you have internalized and made them a priority in your life. Furthermore, take interest, but also know when to give your partner space. There are more ways to communicate with your partner to let them know you understand them than by talking. Sometimes it is best to let a conversation sink in than to try and force it. Confronting them when they are not ready is a surefire way to ensure that they will be defensive. Instead, either ask or wait for them to come to you. Finally, remember to be open and available to your partner if you want them to feel safe and secure.

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

You Waited Until After the Wedding to Tell me This

As you already know, there should be no secrets in romantic relationships; especially those that are moving on to matrimony. You’ve all heard the saying, “Honesty is the best policy.”  That is so true in every aspect of life, including relationships with significant others, and certainly relationships with your spouse.  Maybe something that happened in the past, prior to meeting your chosen one, is better left alone and untold.  Granted.  But what happens when there are secrets relative to money and the way one spouse or the other handles it?  What if one has accumulated a large debt that the other one knows nothing about?  What if one loves to splurge on expensive items and the other likes to know where every penny is going that leaves the wallet or checking account?  In a word, trouble.

Many people who are in financial strain show no outward signs.  People function every day and seem fine, letting nobody know that they are having money troubles.  They have a house, a car, and nice clothing, but they may be toting credit card debt in 5 or 6 digits.  Is it possible that your mate has money issues that you are unaware of?  Absolutely.

So your spouse is a shopper and you are not.  Your spouse buys expensive gifts for you to celebrate your birthday, anniversary, or just because.  You remember special days, but you don’t go all out.  Suddenly, creditors are calling about exceeded credit limits and letters are being received containing late payment notices.  Do you panic?  Of course you do, if you’re the thrifty one.

Approach it.  Don’t let it eat at you.  Ask your spouse.  Have a heart to heart conversation.  This dialog may certainly lead to arguing and trying to figure out why you didn’t know any of this before you were married.  Maybe your spouse feels entitled to spend more money than you do if you spouse makes more money.  That is no good.  Marriage is a partnership and a united give-and-get situation.  It doesn’t matter who makes more money.  So how do you fix these issues?  Here are some ideas.

First, come clean with each other.  Be sure that you and your spouse know every bit of money that is owed to a creditor, even if things were purchased before you met.  Once again, honesty is the best policy.

Make all spending known to each other.  Get a budget book, or any notebook, and record every expenditure; every expenditure, from the coffee drink in the morning to the drink with your friends after work.  After the trends can be seen on paper, devise a budget.

Try to set financial goals for the future; i.e., 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, and 15 years.  Where do you want to be?  Do you want to be retired?  Do you want to move across the country?  Do you want to travel?  All of that takes money (and savings).  Planning is essential.

Analyze your money, together.  Sit down together every month and pay the bills.  Reconcile checking and savings accounts, and look at credit card debt.  Being brutally honest is necessary.

Once you’ve both committed to getting your finances in order, it will take time.  You both will get angry and frustrated at times. It will be a long process.  Try to prepare for it.  Along the way, if you find you need some help dealing with how to solve your financial problems and the issues is putting a strain of your marriage, you may want to reach out and let the professionals at the Relationship Center of Orange County help you. 

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

Prevent Jealousy Between Children

No matter who you are, where you’re from, and what your background is, if you have more than one child, you’ve likely dealt with jealousy between them.  No matter how careful you are to make sure everybody is treated fairly, you’ve probably been accused by one or all of your children as “favoring” their sibling.

Nobody tries to favor one child over the other, but it can happen, just by parents inadvertently being more connected to one child than another.  For example, if you and/or your spouse and one child are outdoors-type people who love nature, boating, and swimming, and your other child is introverted and likes the arts and to read, you may be setting the stage for sibling jealousy without even knowing it.  It’s important, no…it’s vital that you show an interest in each of your child’s interests and hobbies, even if you don’t particularly like them yourself. No siblings come wired exactly alike; don’t beat yourself up on the fact that they may be extremely different.  On the other hand, there is a way to change the tension in your house from constant bickering to at least a quieter, somewhat happier space for everyone.

Do not compare your kids’ skills or grades.  For example, if you have an honor student and an average student, accept it.  Praise the honor student for the grades earned, and praise the average student for getting B’s and C’s.  Never say, “Why can’t you be more like your sister?”  Never say, “Your brother’s room isn’t this messy.”  Be there for both children.  If you constantly compare them, it’s no wonder one may think you love the other child more than you love him/her.  That’s pressure that your kids don’t need.  It’s hard enough growing up in today’s world.  When you realize your kids are different, need different things, have different ambitions, and what’s important to one may not be so important to the other, you are taking the first step to making things better for everyone involved.

Jealousy between children is normal; however, it’s the parents’ place to help the child who feels like the “victim” realize they are loved just as much as the other child.  It’s also the parents’ place to help the child who feels like the “king/queen” back off a little bit.  If parents don’t step in and realize what’s going on, many times these problems between siblings can carry on into adulthood and may last an entire lifetime.

Here are some things to consider in helping your children get over jealousy.

  1. All children need to be responsible for their own actions.  If you don’t know who started it, hold both/all of your kids responsible.
  2. Establish rules and stick to them.  One may be, if there is constant bickering all evening, they all go to their rooms an hour earlier than normal.
  3. Take something that’s important to your kids, such as electronics or the television.  Tell them if they don’t stop bickering, they lose that privilege for the rest of the evening.
  4. Always point out the good things you see your children doing, even when they’re teenagers.  Be sure to always have a comment, even if it’s just, “Thank you for taking out the trash without my having to ask you to do it.”  Or, “Your sister did well in her game tonight, and I see you did well on your book report today at school.”

Always talk about the importance of family.  For example, if you have two children, tell them that someday it may be just the two of them to look out for and support each other.  Use the “family card” frequently.  Some other things you can say are, “We are a family here.  We look out for each other.”  Remember that home is supposed to be a safe place where there is no judgement and no jealousy.  It’s a safe place for every member of the family.

Make sure you start putting the brakes on when your kids start bickering all night long.  Turn your house into a happy place where everybody wants to be; the meeting place when everybody is finished doing whatever they’re doing all day.  Set the limits for your kids when they can’t just let it go and walk away, and keep doing that over and over.  One day soon, they’ll get it.

If this issue of jealousy between your children is making you crazy and disrupting your entire household, you may want to reach out to a professional where you will be taught techniques to support open, honest relationships.  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.

From Friendship to Romance

This issue is very debateable…can a friendship turned romance survive, and if it doesn’t, will the friendship remain? Some think it can, some think it cannot. What do you think?

This issue can be very frightening and very challenging, especially if you have romantic feelings for your friend but you don’t know if your friend feels the same way about you. Tread lightly. Although some people have found true happiness by getting involved with and then marrying a former friend, some people have tried to get romantically involved with a friend, only to lose the romance, as well as the friendship. Here are some thoughts on how you can approach this issue if you have feelings but don’t know if your friend feels the same way.

Identify your feelings and emotions and be sure to distinguish between romantic feelings and platonic feelings. Men tend to feel more comfortable talking about intimate things to women. Make sure you’re not mistaking that for love.
Evaluate the benefits of telling your friend you have feelings, as well as the possibility of losing a friendship altogether.
Know that there are two possible outcomes: Risk being rejected or chance having a very strong basis for a relationship.
Once you’ve decided to make your feelings known, if the feeling is mutual, don’t move too fast. Take time to savour the romantic side of your relationship and realize your interaction is going to change.
Do everything you can to maintain the bond you shared as friends, prior to the romantic side. Remember how you spent times confiding in each other, laughing, and crying on each other’s shoulders. Realize that the best marriages are made of two people who consider themselves best friends.

If it doesn’t seem the right time to make your feelings known, continue hanging out as you normally would, but throw in a little touching. Brush a stray hair from his eyes or touch his arm when you get a chance and see if that ignites anything. Some will move forward into a “friends with benefits” relationship, but really, that is not recommended. Try to avoid that phase if at all possible. Additionally, don’t stay stuck in the zone where you want to move from friends to romance but the other person doesn’t know it. When you stay in that zone too long, you tend to do everything for the other person, but that person doesn’t go above and beyond for you because they are getting all the benefits of being in a romantic relationship without being in one!

Here is some advice on how to get out of that zone if you’ve been there too long, or if you simply don’t like being there.

Stop Being so Interested – If you value your relationship more than the other person, your relationship is imbalanced. Becoming less interested may be the first step in helping you get what you want.
Stop Being Available – Don’t be at your friend’s beck and call. Have “other plans” sometimes and make yourself scarce for a while. If your friend has a real interest in you, he will feel your absence.
Make new friends. A little jealousy never hurt. Just be sure not to “use” another guy as bait, unless you set it up that way.
Ask for Favors – Ask your friend for something you need. The more he does for you, the more he likes you. Ask for a ride somewhere or to fix something for you.

Trying some of the things listed above should raise your status in your friend’s eyes. And as hard as it seems, it is possible to dig out of the zone you may have been dwelling in for months or years. Go for what you want in a relationship. Allow space for your friend to miss you, make other friends, and see what happens. There are two passages that come to mind: “Never miss the chance to tell someone you love them,” and “If you love something set it free. If it comes back, it’s yours, if it doesn’t, it never was.”

If you are feeling overwhelmed by your current status with your friend or need to talk about relationships in general or the chances of messing up a great friendship, the staff at the Relationship Center of Orange County can help. Our counselors are trained professionals who would be happy to spend some time with you. Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

The Surprising Power of Empathy

When your spouse doesn’t get a hoped-for promotion, your best friend suffers the loss of a parent, your child feels rejected because she’s not invited to a classmate’s party…whenever a loved one is hurting, chances are, you’re hurting too. You want to make it all better, but you can’t. You might even feel it would be easier to suffer the loss yourself rather than see your loved one go through pain.

That’s probably not possible, either. However, the little-known secret is that there is a way to turn this into an opportunity to strengthen your relationship. It’s called empathy—such a simple thing, yet it goes so far.

To begin with, a person in pain needs to know they are not alone. When bad things happen, a sense of isolation is a natural byproduct. Cognitively, your spouse, friend or child knows he or she is not the only person who’s ever been in this situation before, but at the moment it sure can feel that way. Sharing your own painful experiences can go a long way toward showing you care, easing that sense of isolation, and reminding your loved one of the proverbial wisdom that this, too, shall pass.

Maybe you were also passed over for that great job you were sure you’d get, but later you found an even better one. Maybe your own mom passed away a few years ago, and while you still miss her, you’ve learned to find comfort by sharing stories about her with your kids or making her favorite recipes for family celebrations. Or in high school, maybe you were the only one of your friends without a date to the freshman dance, but…(insert your own happy ending here). The point is that when a person is hurting, it can feel like the end of the world. But if you’ve been through hard times of your own—who among us hasn’t?—and lived to tell the tale, suddenly you’re living proof that it’s not.

And this is where the added benefit comes in: You’ve opened the lines of communication, which so critical to building and maintaining healthy relationships. You’re not just trying to make loved ones feel better and show you care, you’re learning to understand them a little better at the same time—and they’re learning to understand you better, too. And in the process you’ve made them more comfortable sharing their feelings with you in the future.

Finally, remember that empathy has little to do with giving advice, and even less to do with trying to minimize whatever it is they’re going through. (“You think that’s bad? Well, let me tell you about the time…”) As uncomfortable as it might be, they need time to experience their feelings, so express your empathy but also give them the space they need. That way, if and when they want to talk some more, you can talk through it together and come out with a stronger relationship in the end.

The professionals at the Relationship Center of Orange County can help you get your relationship back on track.Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.   We look forward to connecting with you.

 

Listen Up

Many couples already understand that listening to each other is critical to building and maintaining a good relationship. On the other hand, too often they equate “listening” with simply remaining quiet while the other person speaks. In their own head they might be thinking, “Oh, I’ve heard all this before.” Maybe they’re busy thinking of the best response before their partner is even done talking. For that matter, their mind might be wandering to plans for a round of golf this weekend. That doesn’t make someone a bad person, but if their partner is genuinely trying to convey something that’s important to them, or to the relationship – it’s a lost opportunity to understand a problem or concern that a partner or spouse really wants to convey. They appear to be listening, but instead they’re analyzing, strategizing, or simply hoping whatever concern or frustration they’re partner is verbalizing will go away.

So what does it mean to really listen?

  • It helps, for starters, to put the shoe on the other foot. When you’re talking about something that’s on your mind, wouldn’t you want to know your partner was truly paying attention to your words, especially if you’re expressing a true need, a meaningful thought or just wanting them to understand you a little better? Some people complain that their partner “never talks to them” and fear they never really know what their partner is thinking. If yours wants to talk, try not to take that for granted.
  • If the reason you find yourself tuning out is because you feel your partner is being self-absorbed and does not reciprocate by showing interest in your needs, share that thought—but do so carefully and respectfully. Try saying things like, “I really want to hear how you’re feeling, but in truth, I’m having a hard time right now too. I want to make sure I have a chance to talk as well.” Strike a deal, as silly as it might sound, that you’ll take equal turns expressing your thoughts.
  • Ask a lot of questions. It not only shows that you’re interested, it helps you understand what the other person is really trying to say. Few of us are born as gifted communicators, and asking questions can help your partner clarify their thoughts while helping you understand better. A common therapy tip is to ask your partner if you’ve heard correctly what they’re trying to communicate: “What I think I hear you saying is…” We’re not all born as gifted listeners, either, and many misconceptions arise out of simply misunderstanding what the other person is saying. When you repeat back what you think you’re hearing, it gives your partner the opportunity to clear up those misconceptions, which can be critical: Maybe you think you’re being falsely accused of something, or that your partner has expectations you’re not meeting. It’s important that you understand exactly what your partner is asking for. Anything less undermines the point of communicating in the first place.
  • Try not to “top the story.” If your partner needs to talk about a hurtful experience at work or wherever it might be, telling them you’ve been in similar situations often helps—but sometimes it doesn’t. Sensitivity is key. There’s a difference between empathy, as in “You know, I felt that way once when…” and dismissal, as in “That happens to everybody (and you should get over it).”

Understand that your partner is experiencing a fresh hurt, frustration or moment of self-doubt. The worst thing you can do is give your partner the impression that his or her problems are “nothing” compared to those of others, including your own.

  • Ask what you can do to help. This might be the most important advice I can give. Don’t make assumptions. Your partner might not want any help at all; some tend to assume that when someone vents about a problem, it means they’re asking for advice, which might not be the case. They just want to share what they’re going through.

On the other hand, if the problem involves the relationship itself, you need to listen and respond with as much clarity as possible. Are they expressing something specific they’d like to change about the relationship? Is this something you’re willing to do? If not, why? What compromises can you reach?

Don’t get me wrong: listening can be hard work, no matter how much we love our partner or spouse. But following these tips can help clarify the discussions and ultimately benefit the relationship in unexpected ways.

If you are experiencing communication problems in your relationship and need help, please give us at a call at  (949) 430-7218 or schedule an appointment via our online calendar. We at the Relationship Center of Orange County are here to help you.