The Problem with Assuming Others Are Perfect

The primary problem with believing others are perfect is that you believe a lie. And believing lies about how life works can cause you to say and do things that aren’t in your best interest or the best interest of others.

Before you go beating yourself up about doing this, first realize that virtually everyone is tempted to believe that others are perfect at times.

What are some specific problems you might experience if you falsely conclude that others are perfect? Here are some possibilities.

Discouragement

Surprised by this one? I bet not. That’s because when you assume other people you know (or apparently don’t know that well) are perfect, you look at yourself and immediately put yourself down.

You know better than anyone how many flaws you have. But you hardly have a shred of evidence about the flaws of the person you’re measuring yourself by.

You conclude that you don’t measure up and in a big way. The specific things you compare to the “perfect” person may vary widely from the perfect relationship, house, kids, career, to education and on the list goes.

But the result is predictably the same. You want to go into your room and pull the covers over your head. The sun’s shining outside as you do so. You just don’t care, though.

You wrongly assumed someone was perfect who wasn’t and drew unfair and inaccurate conclusions about yourself. You decided for the moment that you are worthless.

That’s a big mistake and couldn’t be further from the truth.

Envy and Jealousy

Besides discouragement or even depression because of the comparison game, you may experience a very different emotion: jealousy, envy and maybe even hate.

You’re over your initial discouragement and now it’s time to retaliate. It’s time to fight.

And fight you should. You should fight every temptation to label yourself with words like useless, worthless and loser.

There’s just one problem with envy, jealousy and hate. You make an unsuspecting bystander the object of your bitterness and hurt.

False ideas are your real enemy, not people.

Ironically, that same person you’re jealous of may envy you and feel like you’re perfect. After all, they see all of their own flaws. But they have zero data about you.

You May Have an Affair

You may severely damage a committed relationship by imagining someone else is “perfect.”

You may regularly tell yourself how “perfect” a different person is and how flawed your old partner is. But the time will come when you see all the flaws of your new flame for what they really are.

Those flaws may, in fact, be greater with your new partner than if you’d just stayed put.

Summing Things Up

We’re all very imperfect people. It’s easier to admit that about ourselves than others. Don’t believe the “perfect people lie.”

It will only cause you unnecessary problems. You are far more valuable than your problems and imperfections. Be the best you that you can be.

That’s what the world needs most from you—a fully alive you! 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.

The Right Way To Talk About Your Past Relationships

Depending on your past, it can be awkward to bring up previous relationships. You
may feel like you’re in a lose-lose situation when your significant other asks you.

Although doing so can be difficult, there are some practical things you can do to
share appropriately. Consider the following ideas.

Share According to Personality

There’s something many advice resources fail to mention. You’re not dealing with a
robot here but a person you love. One-size-fits-all advice may work great for one
couple and completely backfire for another.

Think about the uniqueness of your partner. How much can they handle? Maybe
they’re very sensitive when you bring up your past. Be considerate of their feelings
and need for security in your relationship.

Withholding Details

You may worry that withholding details about your past means you’re being dishonest. That isn’t necessarily the case.

Imagine if you spoke out loud everything you ever thought. You’d get yourself in
trouble in a hurry! In the same way, you need to be wise about what you share
regarding your past and how much.

Sure, you don’t want to come across as dishonest because you appear to be holding
back. But you don’t want to scare a new potential mate off early in the game either.

Share Based on Commitment

The reality is that trust needs to be earned to share the intimate details of our past.
Especially if it’s early in your relationship, you should be extra careful.

You should never feel pressured to talk about every gory detail of your past
relationships.

If you’re new to a relationship, share small things first to test the water. As your
relationship grows and trust is built, you’ll feel comfortable sharing more.

Don’t Compare

One of the most important things to avoid is comparison between your significant
other and those from past relationships.

Doing so can needlessly upset the one you love. They may feel like they can’t
measure up to your previous loves. This can cause anger and arguments that don’t
need to happen.

Your partner may even try to outdo those you were in a relationship with previously. Insecurities can come out where your partner is constantly asking you if you are still happy with them.

Although navigating the tricky issue of your past may seem daunting, with a little
practice you’ll do great. Someone who truly cares about you will stick with you
regardless of your past.

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

Dealing with Finanicial Issues as a Couple

You’ve probably never really given it much thought, unless you’re among the many people in the world who use credit cards to survive.  Are you aware of how many marriages end in divorce because of financial issues?  Most likely, one or the other, buy things for which there is no money.  How?  They charge their credit cards.  They probably have at least 5 or 6 and at least half of them are maxed out.  What’s worse?  They only make minimum payments every month.  This type of debt will haunt you your entire life is this is the way you are living.  So what do you have to do to manage your debt?

There are many different ways to manage your debt, and opinions will vary based on who you speak with.  You can find a lot of different examples of debt elimination on-line.  Most financial advisors will tell you to make a list and pay off the card with the highest interest and then move on down the list.  Others will tell you to pay off the one with the lowest balance first, so you can prove to yourself that you can do it.  There is no right answer.  The bottom line is, pay off your debt using whatever system appeals to you.

If one of you is a saver and the other a spender, you will most likely be looking at a rough road at some point.  Some people who say they love their spouse, but they’re at the end of their ropes, have said they have decided to give their spouses and ultimatum, “Cut Up Your Credit Cards, or I’m leaving!”  Does that sound harsh?  Maybe so, but a lot of people are serious about this ultimatum.  They don’t want to see their credit card ratings fall, and they don’t want to live in constant, ongoing, rising debt because of credit cards.

If you think about it, marriages used to be arranged based on social status, political reasons, or economic reasons.  The recent trend, is to marry for love.  In fact, when you hear somebody talk about marrying for money, you probably feel disgusted and are turned off.  It may not be such a big mistake after all.

Here are some pointers to consider when discussing your financial standing.  Make spending choices as a team; everything from how much to spend at the grocery store each week to how many coffee drinks can be purchased a week.  That may sound silly, but if you buy coffee at a coffee shop several times a week, believe it or not, it affects your finances.  Make a rule not to use any credit card without your spouse knowing it.  Additionally, get rid of every credit card but one and make sure you are both notified of statements, purchases, and payments.

If you are young and are thinking of getting married, be sure to talk about money before you get married.  Talk about how much money you have (or don’t have), how much money you want to have, things you’d like to buy or trips you’d like to take, and when you will retire.  What?  Really?  Yes.  Getting a divorce later in life over money issues can cost you a lot more than all of your credit card debt.  It is essential to get these things in order and understand each other’s financial wants and needs before getting married.

If you or someone you love is having difficulty in their marriage due to money issues, it may be time to speak with a professional.  Reach out to the professionals at the Relationship Center of Orange County to help you.  Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

The Couple that Volunteers Together…

We hear a lot of helpful tips about ways that spending quality time together helps couples strengthen their marriage, find new, common interests and keep the relationship fresh. Trying a new hobby, meeting new friends and even just making time for regular date nights are just a few examples of ways couples can grow closer in the relationship, especially during those times when the stuff of everyday life seems to risk squeezing out any room for intimacy (and not just the bedroom kind).

But there’s another, often-overlooked activity that some couples report has done wonders for their relationship: community service.

Why? Well, for one, it often combines all of the above. Activities like volunteering at a soup kitchen, getting involved with Habitat for Humanity, participating in a clean-up project at the local nature preserve and other types of community service are great ways to meet new people while spending time together. You might even learn something new along the way. A couple I know who volunteers with Habitat for Humanity reports that their landlord adores them, because they can now do all the house repairs that used to require a visit from the handyman. That’s not exactly a predictor of relationship success, but it certainly makes things less stressful when the kitchen faucet leaks!

It’s long been shown that volunteer work promotes happiness for all people, whether they’ve involved in a relationship or not. (It’s even a great way to meet potential dates if you’re single and looking for others with common interests.) Some of the evidence as to why people benefit from helping others is anecdotal, but it makes sense. It relieves stress, breaks the rut of ruminating about your own problems and helps you see life through the eyes of others. Many regular volunteers report that it has increased their overall life satisfaction—at the end of the day, they feel they’ve done something more significant than meeting a client deadline or folding the laundry. They’ve looked outside their own lives to help someone else who really needs it, if only in the smallest of ways, while gaining a greater sense of understanding of the world around them.

No one wants to think about volunteering as a way to meet their own needs, but there’s nothing wrong with feeling better about yourself while helping others. And, when it comes back around to relationships, feeling better about yourself and gaining a new sense of confidence in your ability to be of service is probably going to make you a more pleasant person for your partner to be around.

The popular catchphrase is “getting out of your own head,” and your newfound empathy for a homeless family, a child in need of mentoring or others could even spill over and become a habit in all of your relationships—especially your spouse or partner. Simply put, anything that improves your mood and perspective is bound to improve the relationship.

Doubling the Benefit

When you do it together, a volunteer effort becomes larger than the sum of its parts. Your experiences volunteering give you something new to talk about together, which is always a good thing if you find yourself always having the same conversations about work, dinner plans and who’s going to pick up the dry cleaning—all of which will seem less important anyway when you’re thinking more about helping people in need rather than your own problems.

Still other benefits include:
A volunteer or community service project can reinforce the values you share while creating new memories together. It can also remind you of some of the common interests that might have brought you together in the first place, whether it’s an appreciation of nature, a passion for helping children with special needs, a love of animals or maybe the satisfaction of working with your hands (remember that helplessly dated rancher you bought when you were first married and worked tirelessly to turn into your dream cottage)?

If your first plan for a new volunteering project doesn’t seem to fit your goals, lifestyle or schedule, keep trying. There is no shortage of causes and projects that need your help, and trying until you find the right match can be a bonding experience in and of itself.

If you have children, consider involving them, too. Most volunteer organizations welcome the involvement of children, and it can be one of the best ways to teach your children the importance of helping others in need. It’s an-act-is-worth-a-thousand-words kind of activity that has been shown to make lifelong volunteers out of people who start young, by making even the smallest contribution. Doing it with you will reinforce the desire to help others even more.

If you need need to discuss ways to keep your relationship strong, the professionals at the Relationship Center of Orange County are here for you. Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

The Impact of Debt and Bankruptcy

Let the Relationship Center of Orange County help!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.

Bankruptcy?

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.

How Taking Care of Yourself Can Improve Your Relationship

Therapist reveals strategies used by long-term couples who have survived struggles and lived to tell the tale. Keep your relationship healthy with these tips.The newer the relationship, the more concerned people usually are about looking as attractive as possible to make the best impression.  And we all know it’s common for those who are dating to spend considerable time combing the closet for the perfect outfit or shopping for something new before a date. Women might consult girlfriends about the perfect shoes or jewelry; men might seek out date-night advice from their buddies.

So what changes once the relationship goes past the “just dating” stage? If you get married, move in together or otherwise become an established couple, it’s natural for the pressure to always put your best foot forward to dissipate with regards to how you dress for date night or what you wear around the house. It is also not uncommon to become less conscientious about keeping yourself in the best dating-stage physical shape as we become more comfortable and secure in a relationship.

In fact, a study last year conducted by Southern Methodist University showed that the more comfortable and happy people were in their relationships, the more likely they were to gain weight.

But as important as it is for couples to look beyond each other’s looks into a deeper relationship based on mutual support, shared values and respect, the ideal is for physical attraction to remain a high priority as well. In other words, there’s no reason you can’t—or shouldn’t—continue to make an effort to look your best well into even the most comfortable of relationships.

So before you relegate sexy haircuts, a body that both looks and feels great, and stylish clothes to the “Sex in the City” set, consider a few ways that taking time to pamper yourself and stay fit is as important in married life as it is while dating:

  1. You deserve it. Have kids? A stressful job? Household chores that never seem to be done? Making time for a manicure or yoga class are ways of grabbing some much-needed “me” time and reminding yourself that you’re not just a partner, parent, worker and housecleaning machine. You’re also someone who deserves to indulge in a little self-care for your own sanity. (As an added bonus, it rarely fails for one partner’s sanity to have a calming effect on the rest of the household.)
  2. It reignites the spark. When you go out of your way to look good—whether it’s wearing a new, sexy scent, a well-put-together-outfit or even new lingerie—you’re bound to catch your partner’s attention in a way that reminds them you’re not just their best buddy but their romantic partner, too.
  3. It’s flattering—to both of you. Looking great boosts your own self-esteem while showing your partner you still care about looking good for them, even if they swear up and down they love you just as much in sweatpants.
  4. It’s healthy. When it comes to staying fit, if it’s true that people are more likely to put on extra pounds when they feel secure in their relationships, that may be small comfort if it undermines their health and makes them more vulnerable to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other conditions. So if one or both of you find the numbers on the bathroom scale are climbing, work to get back to a healthier weight for the best reason of all: to enjoy a happy, healthy life together for years to come.

What to Do When Your Children Command Your Attention … Constantly

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

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

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

Remember – You’re On the Same Team

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

Find a Sitter

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

Give Your Spouse the Benefit of the Doubt

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

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

Need a little help figuring out how to keep the connection strong between you and your partner while still meeting the demands of family life? Your marriage was once your most important investment. We’d like to help you keep it that way. If you are considering couples counseling, let the counselors at Orange County Relationship Center help you.  Call us today at 949-220-3211 or book your appointment via our online calendar.

Money Matters: Seeing Eye to Eye in Your Relationship

Money matters too much to handle on your own? Let the trained therapists at OC Relationship Center help.When couples first get married, one of the fundamental changes they face is suddenly sharing their lives in ways they never have before. In an ideal world, these would all be happy changes, but without a doubt, there are also difficult adjustments that come with living a life in which the decisions are no longer yours alone. And the mother of all these is learning to share decisions about money.

You may have different spending habits. When one of you is more of a spender, and the other is more of a saver, this can obviously be a source of stress. You may have different ideas about where the money should go. When you’re used to having all the say as a single person in how you handle money, learning to share, compromise and work together can be a challenge for any couple.

However, there is one fundamental decision you can make today that could make a world of difference in mitigating the problems that money causes in your day-to-day relationship: make a budget (and stick to it).

Now, I realize that’s not as simple as it sounds, because it involves confronting all the challenges I mentioned above about reconciling the differences in your wants, needs and habits (although addressing them is in and of itself a good thing). However, as soon as you make the decision to treat budgeting more as math than a power struggle, to live within your means, and have a plan that brings you more security day-to-day as well as in the long-term, you’re on your way to making your lives a lot less stressful. Here is the beautiful thing: when that happens, it frees up space in your mind and your relationship to work on some more of the fun stuff, like enjoying your time together.

This is equally important for single people, but for couples, money issues that get swept under the rug tend to morph into all kinds of different stresses that undermine your relationship while disguising themselves as problems that simply don’t need to exist. Imagine if your partner’s golf expenses, manicure bills or clothing charges—whatever they may be—became less about accusations of selfishness or carelessness and more about simple money management.

Studies have shown that major catastrophes—even financial ones—take less of a toll than the slow-burning ones that crop up over and over again, and that’s where good budgeting can make a huge difference. People with relatively large incomes and those with more modest ones are equally capable of money mismanagement. To be clear, I am not giving any specific financial advice—I’m not qualified for that and wouldn’t even pretend to be. But, I have learned from experience working with couples, or even just talking about friends, that when they’re struggling to pay an unexpected bill because they don’t have a rainy day fund, or get stuck with late fees because they overspent over the holidays, it causes a lot of stress. And in so many cases it can be avoided if you will make the commitment to plan, stick to your promises and keep open clear lines of communications about financial matters—preferably, before problems arise.

If it helps, take advantage of a neutral third party at your local bank or credit union—or even a good book about money management—as a source of impartial advice to deflate the tensions, accusations and emotions that can get in the way. The important thing to remember is that you are in this together, so use it as a way to strengthen your relationship and feel more secure.

The bottom line is that making a shared commitment to be responsible with your money can bring rewards tenfold—financially and emotionally—because the less time you waste worrying about how to pay the bills means more time and energy you have to enjoy the relationship, and that’s always a good thing.

If you’re struggling with communicating about finances and budgeting in your relationship, a couples counselor can work with you to help you understand each other better. Sometimes it takes the insight of a professional in order to see things differently, communicate and find common ground over such a touchy subject.  Please give the counselors at OC Relationship Center a call today at 949-220-3211, or book your appointment via our online calendar.

Can You Change Your Partner?

OC Relationship CenterIn square dancing, absolutely. In a relationship, it’s a bit more complicated.

When people first enter into a relationship—especially if they’re young—they usually feel like they have all the time in the world to worry about how their differences might impact a future life together. Infatuation always trumps practicality, so even the big issues like children, religion and money seem far, far off in the future. If their partner does something now that bothers them, they probably assume it’s a youthful phase.

But why would you assume that? There’s a great opening line in a novel by Louise Redd called Hangover Soup—about a married couple nearly destroyed by the husband’s alcoholism—that really hits home when I think about this: “I met my husband in college,” the narrator explains, “where it’s hard to tell who’s a true alcoholic and who’s not.” She assumed his drinking was normal for a college kid, and he’d grow out of it.

Renowned marriage researcher Dr. John Gottsman did a study showing that fully 69 percent of issues that couples disagree on early in marriage are not resolved later in marriage. It seems a fair guess that the odds get worse for couples who’ve been together for years.

So what do you do when disagreements over one another’s habits or behaviors reach the boiling point? Here are a few pieces of advice I often give my clients:

  1. Clearly tell your partner (as if he or she hasn’t already heard it a million times, but still) what you wish he/she would do differently, and how you feel it would improve the relationship. Then just ask them if that’s likely to happen—and whatever their answer, take them at their word. It may not be what you want to hear, but at least it gives you a chance to move forward with clear expectations.
  2. At the same time, however, compromise is a beautiful thing. State the major areas in which you think you could be happier in the relationship, and ask your partner if they’re willing to change at least one or two of them. Be sure this is a two-way street, however: your partner should come up with his or her own list, and your willingness to change one or two of the things that bother them might make them more willing to meet you halfway.

This practice also offers the added incentive of helping you prioritize what really matters and what doesn’t. If you’re biggest complaints are (1) the dirty socks you’re constantly picking up, (2) their unwillingness to attend church or synagogue more than once a year, and (3) their nightly habit of stopping for drinks on the way home…well, for most people, the dirty socks start to look pretty insignificant. You can’t change everything, so you might as well go for the important ones.

  1. Be as specific as possible. If you’re always complaining about the state of the office and he hears, “I need you to really clean out the office before my mother visits this weekend,” he may imagine that you expect him to wash the baseboards, dust the diplomas and alphabetize the books, when all you really wanted was for him to go over the desk and put all his papers in neat piles. When you ask for someone to change something that doesn’t come naturally to them, they’re far more willing to comply if you can explain exactly what you’re looking for
  2. Finally—and you probably know this one, but it bears repeating—remember the timeless “serenity prayer”: “Grant me the courage to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

Whenever reasonable and possible, accept your partner for who they are and find a way to focus on the person you love, warts and all.

Have You Stopped Dating Your Spouse?

Date your spouse, get back in touch with your love.We see it all the time – two people meet each other and fall in love. They go out on hundreds, if not thousands of dates. Suddenly they’re spending more time with each other than they spend with anyone else. They decide to get married, and on that day, they’ve never been so happy.

A few years go by. A few babies are born. Before long, the children are the focus of everything they do. They invest their time and their money in their children’s happiness, so much so, that they never think about investing in each other and in their marriage.

Time flies, and before they know it, the children have grown up and gone off to college, started new careers, or started their own families. The couple is left alone. However, they’re shocked to find out that they no longer even know the person they’ve spent the last twenty years being married to.

Does this sound familiar?

The Spike in Divorce Statistics

In the last twenty years, the divorce rate in the United States among couples who are fifty years old and older has doubled. Experts believe that this is because people become so focused on their children, their careers, and paying bills, that they stop focusing on what their spouses need. There is also something to be said about the fact that, for both men and women, something changes once the wedding is over.

For men, it might be a matter of no longer needing to overcome the challenge of having the woman he loves as his wife. Sometimes, men can grow complacent in marriage, especially when there is no bigger goal to work toward.

For women, it might be a matter of impending responsibility to manage and take care of a family. Now more than ever, women are making more money working outside the home. However, they’re also still “in charge” of making sure the laundry is done, the vacuum gets run, and the kids have healthy lunches for school. When all of these responsibilities come together, it can make for one frantic schedule.

Quite often, these mindshifts mean that less focus is placed on maintaining a healthy, happy marriage.

The Importance of Dating

Continuing to date your husband or wife, even after you’ve gotten married, is what keeps your friendship alive. Strong marriages are built on solid friendships, not on romantic love. However, romantic love is often a natural by-product of a solid friendship. Wherever you put your time and your money is where your heart is.

When is the last time you took your spouse out on a date? Even if you would have trouble fitting date night into your budget, choose activities that don’t cost much, or anything at all. Going on a walk together, sharing a picnic lunch in the park, and taking a drive to the lake are all really good ideas.

We’re confident that once you begin dating your spouse again, you’ll reawaken all of those feelings you thought were gone. Your marriage was once your most important investment. We’d like to help you keep it that way. If you are considering couples counseling, let the counselors at Orange County Relationship Center help you. Call us today at 949-220-3211 or book your appointment via our online calendar.