How to Balance Dating When You Have Kids

If you have kiddos in addition to a developing relationship, you know firsthand the challenge this can be.

Sometimes it feels like a tug-of-war match. The only thing is, you feel that if both sides don’t win, then everyone loses.

If you’re looking for some tips to help, here are a few.

Good Enough is Good Enough

The first thing to realize is that you won’t magically find the perfect, ideal balance. As bad as it sounds, you’re looking for good enough–Good enough with all its rugged edges.

This will be roughest at the start of your relationship. That’s because there should be a healthy distance of your potential mate from your children.

Because you do so much separately, either your date, children or both will feel left out at times.

You want to protect your children and rightly so.

What if they grow attached to your date faster than you do and the relationship abruptly ends?

What if you “make” your kids abruptly accept your date as a part of the family when the date hasn’t earned that honor yet?

Sometimes it will seem like one side is more of a priority. Just work at making a balance.

As the relationship progresses, this will become easier once the time is right to spend time with your significant other and children at the same time which leads us to our next point.

Just Ask Them

We all can be good at feeding “the elephant in the room.” You know, the nagging fear that your kids or date aren’t getting enough quality time. We tend to avoid touchy subjects instead of tackling them straight on.

Ironically, this usually makes more work for us in the long term.

Ask your date and kids if they’re getting enough time with you. Sometimes the responses you get will be emotionally charged and leave you scratching your head.

You’ll wonder if they are accurate assessments or just feelings. You’ll have to decide that for yourself.

But at least you won’t be playing the guessing game.

One caution with this: be prepared that you may receive an answer you don’t want.
Prepare yourself beforehand not to become angry or defensive in that case.

You want to keep lines of communication open. You also want to make sure that you don’t discourage transparency and honesty from your date or kids.

Do Things Together

If your date and children start doing things together at the proper stage in the relationship, things will gradually become easier.

As the level of commitment increases, so should the time you all spend together. At first, you’ll have to decide when to even introduce your date. Then, you’ll get to decide how to slowly include everyone.

Dating emotions can be strong. You know that already. Don’t make these decisions on the highs and lows of emotions. Ask the opinion of those closest to you or a skilled therapist.

This likely won’t give you an exact answer. But you won’t be shooting in the dark anymore. You’ll likely hit close to where you should be. 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.

3 Ways to Stop Settling for Less Than You Deserve

This subject can be a bit tricky. Taken to one extreme, we can become spoiled, privileged-thinking people that only care about our own needs.

Taken to the other extreme, we can feel like it’s bad to aim for good, meaningful and healthy things in life.

How about we cut to the chase and explore the balance between those two sides.

Non-Abusive Relationships

Let’s be up front, no one deserves that. In every single relationship, both parties hurt the other. Unfortunately, it’s bound to happen even when we make great strides at improvement.

But what is one to do when there becomes an ongoing pattern of physical, emotional or verbal abuse? “Business as usual” is not a realistic option—no one deserves to be treated like that.

Finding a competent, caring professional to help work through this can be beneficial. There are also times, for the safety of a spouse, children or both that temporary or permanent separation is the best option.

If you’re in an abusive relationship, get help as soon as possible. No one deserves that, not even your dog. You deserve love and affection—everyone does.

Follow Your Heart

When you come up to the end of your life, others aren’t going to experience your regrets. You’re the only one who will vividly feel those.

Oh, there are so many people ready to assign you to a box, though. They say, “This is who you are, this is all you’ll ever be.”

But you have your suspicions and for good reason. You don’t fit into their carefully crafted compartments. You have creative abilities and talents that must find healthy expression.

There is no one in the world like you. Act like it! Be different!

The world doesn’t need more conformists. What it most desperately needs is for you to be you—to follow your heart.

Ignore the current of conformity. Blaze your own path. And never apologize for it.

Of course, there will be naysayers along the way. But there will be those even if you conform. So, don’t bother being like everyone else. How drab that would be!

You deserve better. Painfully pick through the rubble of life to unearth the reason you were born. And once you find out, never let go of your dreams, your heart.

Everyone has dreams they must listen to and follow. Everyone deserves to follow their hearts.

Be Loved For Who You Are

Let’s wrap things up with a reminder that you deserve to be loved for who you are. Being asked to change who you fundamentally are to be deemed “lovable” is not fair practice.

If there’s something you know you need to change, then you owe it to yourself to get better. If it’s something you can’t or shouldn’t change, then don’t.

Everyone deserves to be loved for who they are, not for what others think they should be! Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Agree to Disagree

The other kindred saying to this title is “pick your battles.”

Imagine a nation that went to war over every petty provocation. That would be disastrous, wouldn’t it? And plenty of innocent people would get badly hurt in the process.

No one would deny there are times when a hard stance should be taken. But pushed too far, key relationships dissolve. Children become bitter towards their parents. Parents towards their children. Friends stop getting together.

There are certain things worth fighting for. Still, battle points often need to be dropped, axes buried and good will must prevail though complete understanding of the other side may not.

Is it time to agree to disagree? It could be. Here are some things to think about as you strive for an answer.

So Incredibly Different

It’s remarkable how differently people think and act. Even within the same family, members often shake their heads during tense times. How are such varied viewpoints possible within a close-knit group?

Step outside of your family and bring in different ages, races, nations, genders, childhoods and life experiences and things get way more interesting.

The first thing to remember is that this world is incredibly diverse and that isn’t about to change anytime soon. There’s no way everyone will ever fall in line and start thinking and acting exactly like we do.

Anyone who’s about to embark on a crusade to get others to think like they do at all costs is in for disappointment. Not to mention, a life strewn with wreckage of broken relationships.

Deciding on the Cost

Here’s a quick way to decide on whether to agree to disagree or to hold your ground. Picture a scale in your mind with a place to set something on two opposing sides. You can even draw a picture of this scale.

On one side, mentally place or write down the costs of dropping the conflict. On the other side, write down the cost of not giving in. After you’ve taken a close look at your results, decide on what to do.

Whichever side will cost you and others the most is generally the one you’ll want to avoid.

Most of the time, the necessary or best choice is to agree to disagree. Yet, there are times when this isn’t the best option.

We all tend to be biased toward our own preconceived ideas. Include a trusted friend into deciding what is best. This will help to bring in a more objective opinion.

In conclusion, agreeing to disagree, when done properly, is a huge way of showing you care. It’s a bold though friendly way of saying that you value a person’s friendship more than being right or pushing your own agenda. Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

How to Live a Happy and Satisfying Life

Everyone desires to be happy and to lead a satisfying life. It could even be argued that every decision that we make is done with the attempt to be happy. Although this may be the case, one thing’s for sure. Not everyone is happy or fulfilled. So how can you lead a happy and fulfilled life? That’s a question that people have asked since the dawn of time. Here are few ideas to help you get there.

Positive Perspective

The most unbearable aspect of bad things that we go through is often our perspective. Perhaps trust was breached in a relationship, you lost your job or you have an ongoing health problem. It’s easy to believe that negative life circumstances can make you unhappy. The reality is that bad circumstances can throw you on your head for a while. It is even natural to experience some sadness, but that’s not where you need to stay.

A positive or negative attitude will determine the rest. A negative attitude can injure you long after a painful life problem occurs. Negative self-talk, internally putting yourself down and bitterness will eat away at you. In contrast, a positive attitude will speak tenderly to you, heal your pain and lead to a smile.

A perfect life isn’t a prerequisite for a happy life. If that was the case, no one could be happy. Even if you only had one small negative aspect to your entire life, if you focused on that one thing, you would become miserable.

Conversely, if your life was full of mostly trouble but you focused on the good, you could become happy. Although it’s often difficult to believe at first, unhappy circumstances in your life are not the greatest barrier to you becoming happy. It is your attitude about those unpleasant problems.

Delayed Gratification

Here’s something crazy to think about. Do you realize that the surest way to be unhappy is to attempt to be happy now at all costs? Imagine what your life would be like if you only thought about making yourself happy for the moment.

For example, if you thought that eating pizza was the chief means by which you could be happy, what would happen? You could wind up very overweight, rack up large dining expenses, experience high blood pressure and lower your life expectancy.

One of the reasons we struggle so much to find happiness is that we often reach for what we think will fulfill us now instead of keeping long-term happiness in mind. This could be seen in someone who quits a job after a bad day even though the job was a good fit for them. Sometimes people seek out romantic happiness at the expense of a committed relationship. True happiness is much more than what we think will make us happy now. A truly fulfilling and happy life means aiming for long-term goals that will make us happy, too.

Wrapping It Up

Another quick way to boost your happiness is to seek the happiness of others. This could mean helping someone out who is struggling financially, offering a sincere compliment, refraining from anger with your child or staying committed to the one you love. There is nothing more like an air-tight casket than a life that helps only itself. If you make a positive difference in the life of someone else, you will find deep fulfillment!

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

Getting Along With A Parent

Struggling to get along with a parent? That isn’t much fun! Whether you just have the problem occasionally or frequently disagree, it can sometimes feel like you’re the only one in the world who has these issues.

The reality is that every child or young adult struggles to get along with their parents from time to time. Some friction can actually be healthy since it shows that you’re gradually becoming more independent. Ultimately, that’s exactly what both you and your parent want. As you work through these completely normal struggles, here are some things you can try to help ease the tension.

Journal Venting

Your emotions and words have great power for good and for bad. Although your parent may not show it, when you say mean things to them, it hurts them. They’ve hurt you with their words, too. Everyone feels like lashing out at people sometimes.

If you feel the urge coming on, try writing out your intense emotions in a journal instead of saying them out loud to your parent. Write out whatever you need to say even if it wouldn’t be appropriate in any other setting. After you’re done, crumple up that page in your journal and throw it away. No one will get hurt in the process and a bad argument could be avoided.

Random Act of Kindness

If you’re having a tough time with a parent, try doing something kind for them. It’s probably the last thing that you’ll initially feel like doing. Try it even if you don’t feel like it. You’ll feel good afterwards knowing that you did something kind and your parent will appreciate what you did too.

Something funny happens when you do something nice for someone you don’t feel nicely about. That person doesn’t seem as bad as they did before you did that thoughtful thing. There are many kind things you could do. Compliment your parent, water their flowers, write them a letter, bake them some cookies or do something of your choosing.

Have Fun Together

You and your parent likely have some of the same interests even though you don’t always get along. Work and school obligations can make you both forget to have fun. Find something fun that you can do together. Go shopping, take a hike, go fishing, go out to eat or whatever you want.

By doing something that you both enjoy, you’ll strengthen your relationship. Hopefully you’ll get to talk without conflict, smile, laugh and build some memories. You’ll remember that your parent isn’t that bad after all and they’ll remember the same thing about you.

Complete a Task Together

The last piece of advice was to “play” together. It’s a human need to have fun things to do. It’s also a human need, believe it or not, to “work.” It makes people feel purposeful. You can look for a job that needs done and suggest helping your parent with that task.

Although it may not be an easy job, this will help to make your relationship stronger. It’ll remind you both that you’re a team instead of rivals. You could do yardwork, organize your attic, paint a room or help to detail your parent’s car. Again, don’t worry if you don’t feel like it. Just try it anyway. Some of the greatest human achievements have happened from people doing things that they didn’t feel like doing at first.

Final Thoughts

Things may be going badly between you and your parent right now but that’s not how things have to stay. You may feel like a victim of your unpleasant situation and that you can’t do anything to improve it because you’re young. That isn’t true, though.

Some of these tips will work better for different people. If one that you try doesn’t work as well for you as you’d hoped, don’t get discouraged. Just try something else and watch your relationship with your parent improve in the process!

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

Creative Romantic Gift Ideas For The One You Love

Having a tough time deciding on a gift for that special someone? Coming up with something creative, unique and meaningful isn’t always easy. But the perfect idea is somewhere out there waiting for you. You just need to find it. With a little brainstorming and ingenuity, you’ll come through in a big way. Here are five romantic gift ideas to get the wheels turning.

Festival Fun

There’s nothing wrong with buying a gift for your significant other that’s been mass produced from Amazon or Target, for example. If you want something truly unique, though, check out a seasonal festival in your area. These events in and of themselves make for a wonderful gift since you’ll experience live music, craft stands, food and quality time together.

There usually are plenty of handcrafted items that you couldn’t buy in a store such as wood- carved pieces, pottery and jewelry. Pay extra attention to the item that catches your love’s interest more than any other and buy it for them on the spot. Better yet, secretly buy their prize and give it to them later. Your significant other will be thrilled, to say the least. This gift will not only be special because it is highly unique. It’ll be a reminder of a great memory that you shared.

Date Jar

Are you stuck in a rut when it comes to going on dates? Make up a “date jar” and give it as a gift. Write date ideas down on small pieces of paper or popsicle sticks and place them inside the jar. Be sure to include not only ideas that you would find fun, but ones that your significant other would enjoy. You can color code your date options by approximate cost. One night, you can choose a “green date” which could be your color for free dates. Perhaps “blue dates” could be in the fifty-dollar range. This gift doesn’t cost much money, shows unique interest in strengthening your relationship and will keep giving all year long.

Best Memories List

Even if you’ve only been together for a short while, you likely have built some unforgettable memories. Write down as many memories as you can think of that you enjoyed with your significant other and give your results as a gift. You can simply type or freehand them. If you want to take things to the next level, make up a photo book of your adventures together. Read your memories to your significant other for plenty of laughs and fun-filled conversation.

Sports Surprise

Does your special friend love sports? If so, make sure that your significant other has the evening, day or weekend free. Without telling them where the two of you are going, hop in your vehicle and drive to their favorite sporting event. Whether this includes football, baseball, basketball or more, you’re sure to impress the one you love. This element of surprise also works equally well for rock concerts, musicals or a trip to your favorite restaurant.

Just Because

Do you really want to surprise the one you love? Try giving them a gift that doesn’t fall on a special day such as an anniversary, Christmas, birthday or Valentine’s Day. It’s considered highly romantic to do so. This spontaneity will your shock your special friend, making them feel loved. Even something as simple as a pack of their favorite gum, some chocolates or a piece of survival camping gear such as a compass could work wonders.

Summing It Up

Ok, one last word of advice. Don’t procrastinate! The closer you get to your “deadline,” the less time that you’ll have to do something truly creative for the one you love. Start planning now so you don’t have to freak out later. If it’s too late and you’re already freaking out, don’t worry. Many lovers have come through with the perfect gift in clutch situations just like yours.

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

Committing to a Long-Distance Relationship

Long distance relationships often get a bad rap but they really shouldn’t. Do you know a few people who struck out when it came to long-distance relationships? You probably do. But then you also know plenty who couldn’t make the relationship work living right next to their significant other. Are you considering a long-distance relationship? If so, it doesn’t have to spell the end of your bond. Here are a few ways that you can make your relationship a success.

Test the Waters

Long-distance relationships are something you don’t want to just let happen. Before you go your separate ways, have a heart-to-heart talk with the person you love. This needs to be a chance for both of you to be honest about how you feel. If there are strong feelings from both sides that you want the long-distance relationship to work, then go for it. If not, you may have to reevaluate whether it’s a good idea. This may save you a lot of hurt down the road. Many long-distance relationships fail because this initial discussion doesn’t happen.

Give Each other Space

When you’re in a long-distance relationship, you have to give each other space. This seems like a contradiction. After all, you’re already separated by hundreds if not thousands of miles. There can be the tendency to try to make up for the separation by spending every waking moment with your significant other.

All of a sudden, every spare moment of your existence is spent on the cell phone, email, Skype or Facebook. This overcompensation can cause problems just like it can if you are in close quarters. Often, there’s one person in the relationship who pushes for this excessive contact. Don’t be that person.

You could cause just the opposite of what you want to happen if you’re not careful. You may push the one that you love most away. Also, excessive contact in a long-long distance relationship tends to communicate that you don’t trust them or that you’re too needy. This can turn into unhealthy control.

Plan Visits

As much as possible, plan trips to visit each other so that you have something to look forward to. Recognizing that available time and money may determine how much you can meet up, get some dates on the calendar. This will be a morale booster to you and the one you love.

In Conclusion

There have been many successful long distance relationships. It really is true that the of adversity of it can make you stronger. It’s not a reason to despair or throw in the towel. It’s an opportunity to rise to the occasion and show your significant other how committed you really are to them. It communicates to both you that regardless of what life throws, you’re not going to give up. You have grit. You have staying power and you can do it!

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

Coping with Co-dependency in Relationships

There’s a scene you may recall in Runaway Bride where Maggie (Julia Roberts) tries to determine how she likes her eggs prepared. She had spent years saying that her preference was that of her partners. In other words, if her boyfriend opted for fried eggs, so did Maggie; if her boyfriend preferred scrambled, that was suddenly Maggie’s favorite, too. She had become so wrapped up in being the person she thought people wanted her to be that she didn’t even know who she really was, or in this case, how she liked her eggs.

While relationships are naturally more complicated than choosing what goes on your plate for breakfast, the story of how Maggie thought of herself in relation to others is indicative of a much larger problem: codependency. Codependency, that feeling like you can’t exist without someone, is one of the biggest challenges many of us face in our relationships. If you’re like many others, codependency has snuck its ugly head into your life– either because you are codependent or someone you care about is codependent. Here’s a short guide to recognizing codependency and how to cope with it in relationships.

Signs you’re in a codependent relationship

You can’t live without the other person.

Sure, it seemed like a romantic notion once upon a time. However, it’s not fulfilling and it’s not sexy. It’s important to recognize your own worth and completeness independent of the other person. That way you can enjoy the other person instead of being half of someone who is incomplete without the other.

You blame others for how you feel.

We are responsible for our own feelings and experiences. It isn’t anyone else’s responsibility to make us happy, nor is it their fault if we feel sad. Focus on making yourself happy first so that others can contribute to that happiness.

You make decisions based solely on what you think others want.

Although compromise is an important part of any relationship, one person’s needs shouldn’t continually take precedence over another person’s. If you find yourself repeatedly making decisions for the betterment of others, it may be time to question the intention behind your words and actions. Make decisions for yourself and communicate your needs to others.

You don’t feel free.

If you live in fear, adhering to rules and constrictions on behalf of another person, you aren’t experiencing the freedom that love should bring. Remind yourself that you are entitled to your own feelings and opinions, and that you get to choose how to live your life.

Initially, it may seem as though the codependent person is doing all of the giving and the other person is doing all of the taking. A mistaken assumption is that codependency means selflessness. However, codependency creates an unhealthy and difficult situation for both partners, and both partners need help to overcome this vicious cycle.

We are here for you. Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Are you a Manipulative Control Freak?

There will never be a relationship that is perfect.  At some point in time one or the other person will annoy, hurt, or agitate the other.  It’s human nature.  So, what is a person to do that is being annoyed, hurt, or agitated by the other?  Nag?  Stop talking?  Leave?  No, no, and no.  What do most people do?  They nag the person who is on their last nerve.

Nagging is not something that will produce a positive change or result to a problem; in fact, nagging may make it worse.  Nagging is when a person repeatedly finds fault with someone or complains in an unforgiving manner with the intention of causing displeasure or embarrassment to another person.  This act can cause the person being nagged to be upset, to shut you out, or to become angry.

Nagging is unhealthy for many reasons.  First and foremost, nagging seems to indicate dominance and comes off as everything you say is supposed to be done by the other person because you are in charge.  Really?  Along with dominance comes resentment, negativeness, and criticism.  Are these really the things you want going on in your relationships?  The more you nag, the more your significant other will shut you out.  Nagging is done by manipulative, controlling people.  If this is something you practice regularly, it can be very damaging to your relationships.  Nagging relates to what is wrong with your partner, making your partner feel inadequate.  Inadequacy creates hostility.  It’s a never-ending circle.

Take a good look at the conversations you have with your spouse.  If your spouse has accused you of nagging, or if you know you nag, you need to stop.  It’s doubtful that you married your spouse to make yourself superior in the relationship.  Communication is everything in any relationship.  The sooner you stop nagging, the better your marriage has of standing the test of time.  Here’s how.

Just stop.  Easier said than done?  Okay, choose to stop by toning it down until you can get a grip and find another alternative to nagging.  Determine if whatever you’re nagging about is worth destroying your relationship.  Knowing you can only change yourself, choose to stop nagging so you aren’t damaging your spouse’s self-esteem and causing turbulence in your marriage.  Realize all the negativity that will be removed from your relationship if you stop nagging; i.e., resentment, dominance, criticism, hostility, etc.  The list goes on and on.  Wouldn’t you rather have a marriage based on trust, commitment, compliments, and emotional harmony?  Of course you would.

Overcoming nagging can take a long time, but is well worth the effort.  Once nagging is completely out of the picture, your marriage can develop into a loving, partnership.  If you are working hard in order to change your behavior but are still struggling after some time, you may find you need some help dealing with how to stop nagging.  This is when 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.

Dealing with Anger Issues

Are you angry? If so, are you angry often? Do you know how to identify anger and the signs that might appear? If you feel angry often, your face may get hot, your heart rate may increase, you may grit your teeth, or you may even make fists without being aware you are doing it. Uncontrollable anger can lead to problems not only with your health, such as stomach ulcers and heart disease. It can also lead to problems in your relationships, with your friends, your family, and/or with your spouse. Try to identify the fact that you are feeling angry and take control of it before it takes control of your health or ruins your relationships. Sounds easy, right? Well, it’s not.

First, you have to realize when you’re angry and try to calm yourself down. You may lessen the physical signs of anger by practicing deep breathing exercises, taking a walk, or just removing yourself from the area before you act on your anger. Think before you speak. Hurtful words can come out of your mouth and be directed towards the most important people in your life before you even know what you said. Once you say something, you can’t take it back. Practice collecting your thoughts before you say anything. Think of all the good people or things or accomplishments in your life. Is it really worth being so angry that you want to destroy those things? After an episode of anger, don’t hold grudges. Chances are, if you insulted someone, they insulted you too. Forget about it. Apologize and let it go. Hopefully the other person can do the same. If this can happen, you’re on the right path to making a change in your behavior.

If your anger seems to become a trait that every single person you know relates to their relationship with you, or if you feel hopeless or helpless after an anger outbreak, you should probably consider seeking counseling. If you are causing conversations to turn into out of control exchanges and the outbreaks cause you deep regret, it can lead to depression and sadness.

This is when you may want to reach out and 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.