Single Parent Dating

There’s no way around it. Single-parent dating can be a challenge.

Don’t let that discourage you, though. The ultimate goal of single-parent dating is an eventual happier life with increased stability for all. And that certainly is possible.

How so? Here are some quick tips to help you get there.

Plan Time for Everyone

The infatuation or “in-love” stage of a relationship is a blast. The temptation is to unknowingly spend all your time with your new-found potential mate.

This can lead to emotions for your children that are difficult to keep in check. They’ll likely feel they already lost one of their parents and now they’re losing you.

Fear, anger, sadness and jealousy are normal emotions for children to struggle through during just about any single-parent dating scenario at some point. If most of your time goes only into your dating relationship, your children will really struggle.

Also, if you’re not careful, you may feed into unrealistic expectations of how much time you’ll be able to devote to your potential mate in the future. You certainly don’t want to create the bad habit of neglecting your children once the relationship grows more serious.

At times, you may wonder if your kids are totally against your date. But that may not be the case at all. They just desperately NEED time with you.

So be sure to spend time with your date and children separately and, later, together when the time is right.

Your Children Are Dating Too

The reality is when you date someone when you already have kids, your potential mate has children or both, everyone’s involved in the dating process.

This means that if you can’t see a healthy fit with your date into your family, then it’s best to end the relationship sooner than later.

This also means that even if you think you’ve found “the one” there needs to be sensitivity towards your children.

Be careful about showing affection too early in a relationship around them. This could be difficult for your child to handle.

Also, realize that just as you’ll experience ups and downs in your dating relationship, so will your child.

At one point, your child may be excited about the prospect of a new family dynamic. Another time, they may be strongly opposed.

Frequently talk to and prep your child about where the relationship is going being careful only to share what is necessary.

Only include your children in activities with your date when things become more advanced. Especially young children can develop a quick attachment with your potential mate.

It could be a challenging loss if they build a relationship with your date only to see it dissolve before their eyes.

Wrapping Things Up

Sound challenging? It is.

But is it possible to have success in single-parent dating and reach a conclusion everyone’s happy with? Yes.

It’ll be work. Then again, is there really anything good that doesn’t require work?

Keep researching ways to become an all-star at single-parent dating, talk to others who’ve been through the process and consider reaching out to a trusted professional to increase your chances of success.

With the help and encouragement of others, you can do this! Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Does Your Partner Make You Nervous

 

It might sound strange, but it happens in more relationships than you think: one partner finds themselves frequently worried about the other’s mood, commitment to the relationship, or anticipated reaction to things ranging from news that you’ve bounced a check to a proposed social engagement.

To be clear, we’re not talking about abusive relationships here—a serious topic that deserves to be addressed in a different forum (and if you ever find yourself in that situation, by all means, seek help immediately from a counselor or other advocate). But there are other relationships in which one partner simply can’t seem to get over certain insecurities about themselves, their partner’s feelings about them or the relationship itself, and it can cloud every aspect of their lives together.

If you realize you’re regularly walking on eggshells around your partner, here are a couple of warning signs to look for:

  1. You have a tendency to hide things from your partner rather than risk having uncomfortable discussions This could be anything from making purchases you think he/she won’t approve of to spending social (if innocuous) time with persons of the opposite sex, knowing your partner might feel threatened if they knew.

    Aside from a lack of honesty—an emotional-intimacy killer if there ever was one—this puts you in the position of always worrying about being caught. As hard as it might be, you need to learn that’s it better to be up front about what you plan to buy, with whom you plan to have lunch, etc. than to create the feeling that you’re always sneaking around.

  2. It’s possible that your concerns about your spouse’s reactions to things is needlessly overblown. Maybe you had an overbearing parent who was guilty of frequent, unpredictable outbursts, and you’ve now projected your fear of that onto your current partner. Or maybe you have a naturally nervous personality. Whatever the reason, try a “fake it until you make it” approach: Start treating them—and yourself—as equal partners until you learn to believe it. Stop expecting him or her to be furious that you paid the power bill late, or that you invited his less-than-favorite friends to dinner, or even that you bought an extravagant pair of shoes that really weren’t in the budget this month. (Worse comes to worse, you could always take them back—or maybe he’ll surprise you by admitting they look so sexy on you that they’re well worth the price.)

Try thinking of it this way: You know the old cliché about being nervous in front of an audience—“Just picture them all naked”? Well, it can work one-on-one, too. I don’t mean you should picture your partner in a hot, sexy, foreplay kind of naked, but more like getting-dressed-for-the-day naked while rushing around looking for socks kind of naked. The point is, sometimes it serves you both better if you take him (or her) less seriously for a change—as a regular old human, warts and all.

You deserve to be treated as an equal, and that begins by seeing yourself as one. So remember: always be honest so you have nothing to hide; your partner is not the temperamental, fly-off-the-handle parent you might have grown up with; and your partner puts his or her pants on one leg at a time like the rest of us. The simple act of relaxing around your partner can be a real life- and relationship-changer if you make a habit of it.

If you need assistance with your relationship, contact one of our trained professionals at the Relationship Center of Orange County. Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

 

Does it Matter Who is the Breadwinner in the Family?

In today’s world, as compared to 40 or 50 years ago, husbands are much more accepting of their wives being professionals and making money by working outside of the home. Gone are the days when men believed their wives should be home raising the kids and taking care of the house. Fast forward 30 to 40 years to the adult lives of those children who were at home with mom while dad was at work. There are still some men who think they should be the breadwinner in their family and that their wives should be home raising their children or working only part-time hours! These thoughts are due to the beliefs instilled into these men when they were young. They were home with their mothers while their fathers were working.

Today’s “society” men, however, are accustomed to women being in the working world, whether they work in construction, truck driving, the office, or the corporate world. Today’s men are even okay with the fact that many women out there make more money than they make; however, many of them admit they just don’t want one of those women to be their wife!

Some men never even look at the household finances, so they have no idea about salaries. Some only realize their wives make more money than they do when money issues arise at home or an unexpected expenses arises, forcing them to sit down with their wives and figure out a plan to get back on track.

Here are some general known facts. The gender gap between men and women is still very real. Women make only 77 cents for every dollar that men make. However, the number of women breadwinners in the world is on the rise. A little less than half of American breadwinners are mothers and wives, who make more than their husbands make.

So, why is it that men have a problem having a wife who makes more money? Some say it is because husbands have lower self-esteem, are set in their ways, are less motivated, or are less educated than their wives. Others say it is just a male ego thing and men feel inadequate if they are not the breadwinners in the family. It’s true that many women are waiting to even consider having children until they have obtained their college degrees and have their careers in place. Some women are choosing not to have children at all so that they can continue to climb in the corporate/professional ladder in their fields.

A lot of middle-aged women are on the rise to breadwinner in their families. This rise often causes a lot of tension in their marriages. This is especially true if earlier in life the husband was the breadwinner. Many of these middle-aged couples end up in counseling because of the wives’ earning and promotion potential is causing stress and strain on their relationships. So what can you do?

First, don’t apologize for making the money you make. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished in your professional life, and accept the fact that you are now the breadwinner in your family.

Be honest about your feelings about the situation. You may feel that your husband should earn more money than you earn. Accept your feelings, whatever they are, in order to stop resentment in your marriage.

Get to the bottom of your frustrations. Do you think your husband is a slacker or needs to be doing more to make more money? Do you think your husband is just fine where he is in the working world? What exactly does your husband think you should do in addition to being the breadwinner?

Make yourself see things from your husband’s point of view before sitting down for a conversation about the topic. Doing this will allow you to see things from his view.

Set aside time to talk about your issues with your husband and convey a positive attitude. The goal is to make money as a couple, as a team, not to worry about who makes more money.

Talk about your expectations of each other. If your husband’s income is lacking, maybe he could do more around the house or take care of your children. There’s more to a marriage than just financial issues. The important thing is that the needs of families are met.

Remember to do fun things together that you enjoy as a couple. This will ease tension as well. Do not participate in arguments about this topic.

The bottom line is to not let money issues destroy your marriage. Instead, use the money (“the”, not “your” or “his” or “her”) for what is needed to support your family. It doesn’t matter where it came from and who earned it. If something needs to be done, get it done without thought to whose money is paying for it or who made the money to pay for it. The family money is yours and your spouse’s money.

Yes, it does happen. Sometimes the wives who make more money let it go to their heads and start behaving differently, and acting as the alpha in the relationship. Do not convert to this type of person. Instead, try to keep things in balance. Never let your job come before your family or your marital obligations. If your husband is doing things to upset you, talk about the issues.

Husbands should not feel insecure or resentful towards their breadwinner wives. Some husbands are so insecure about their wives making more money they resort to accusations of extra-marital affairs or whenever the wives are a few minutes late arriving home, there’s hell to pay. If your wife is doing things to upset you, talk about the issues. Don’t make accusations because of your own jealousy. Get through this by talking with your spouse or you will end up in divorce. Nobody wants to be accused of things they are not doing.

Couples need to commit to talking about their feelings around this issue, as well as any other issue that may be causing heartburn in their marriage. Talk, talk, talk, and talk some more. Come up with a plan on how to get past the issues at hand and return to working as a team for the enrichment of your family. The focus should always be on your marriage, loving and supporting each other through anything and everything that arises. Getting caught up in your career is not just a man thing. A lot of times people lose their identity to their career. Remember, you are more than a person with a career. You are a spouse, a mother or father, a son or daughter, a sister or brother, and so forth.

The key to getting past the issue of who makes the most money is communication. Talk about your finances. Make a list of your earnings and your expenses, as a family; not separately. Review this list as one or both of you receive raises, promotions, and/or bonuses. Be sure that the household expenses, family expenses, are paid each month. If salaries are close, split it down the middle. If one of you makes about one-third of what the other makes, pay the respective percentage. It isn’t that hard to understand that you are a family, a unit, a oneness. There is no more “I”, “mine”, or “yours” when it comes to money.

Men are typically embarrassed by the situation of making less money than their spouses. Wives really could put their husbands at ease in this case. Let him know you think nothing less of him. Tell him you see it as combined income, for the needs and wants of your family. Tell him you are fine with the situation. Remind him that the tables were turned earlier in your marriage, if that is the case.

If nothing else helps you see this issue differently, try this. Look around you. Look around the country. Unemployment rates are skyrocketing, people are out of jobs or have completely lost their jobs. You are being selfish and uncompassionate by complaining that your wife makes more money than you. Who cares who makes the most money? Seriously. Have some compassion. Be proud of your breadwinner wife. She is being rewarded for being smart! There are people all around you, in your state, your city, maybe even your neighborhood who are far less as fortunate as you. Be thankful! Be thankful that you and your wife both have jobs and make decent money. Get over yourself!

When all else fails, seek counseling. You may not be able to get through these issues yourself without professional help. You may be surprised at the benefit of you and your spouse talking to a trained professional about issues surrounding money. Call the Relationship Center of Orange County  today and schedule an appointment, or use our online tool to schedule an appointment. Our counselors are trained professionals who can help you get through this difficult time. It may be the best call you’ve ever made.

How to Get through a Breakup

Most of us have been through at least one breakup in our lives that was absolutely devastating.  Whether you see it coming or you have no idea things were that bad, a breakup can wreak havoc on our emotions.  Many people compare experiencing a breakup to feeling majorly depressed, like someone died, like sadness will never leave, or like you lost an arm or a leg.  All of these emotions are perfectly natural; however, you need to learn how to deal with the hand that was dealt to you and move on.

After the initial shock, which can encompass uncontrollable crying, dreams and nightmares about your ex, wondering if you should call them, trying to call their friends to ask who they’re seeing now, etc., things will start to get back to normal. As time goes by and your heart begins to mend, you need to figure out how to process the loss, figure out what went wrong, and how to move forward with your life.

When going through a breakup with someone whom you have spent many years in a relationship, it can feel like you have no friends and nowhere to go.  Many times this is because of the fact you probably spent all of your free time with this person who has chosen to no longer be in your life.  If you are going through a divorce, it can be even worse because in addition to building your life around the person who just broke your heart, you may feel like a failure to the people you need most right now.  You may feel awkward around your parents, especially if they spent thousands of dollars on your wedding, or your friends, because likely your friends are his friends, or even your children (if you have them) because you have always taught them that marriage is sacred and is forever.

You will likely still feel sad at times, especially if you hear a song that was “your song”, or reminds you of somewhere the two of you were at a happier time in your relationship.  You will still sometimes miss the comfort you felt from your partner or spouse, their touch, their support in hard times, and just the safeness you felt in their presence.  You will suddenly see a lot of people who look like your ex, a lot of cars that look like his or hers, and will notice that almost everybody wears the same cologne or perfume as his or hers.

Time will heal your heart.  You can count on it.  What’s important is that you can learn what happened in your relationship or marriage, and learn what to avoid next time.  It’s crucial to learn from the past so you can ensure you know what you need in a relationship and don’t make the same mistakes.  It takes two to contribute to a relationship that goes sour.  As much as many people want to blame the other, a failing relationship is rarely one sided.  Be sure to look at what you did to contribute to the failure, and pledge to learn from your mistakes as you move on to other relationships.

May times, women tend to believe that there is a true fairytale in store for them but it is impossible to have a fairytale relationship or marriage.  That’s why they’re called “tales”.  Everybody knows that certain chemicals come to life during the initial state of falling in love.  The key word is “initial”.  In the real world, being close to your partner or spouse is a wonderful thing, but it takes work.  In the real world, there are jobs to go to, a house to tend to, bills to pay, children to raise, groceries to get, grass to mow, and all the other things that make up the “real world”.  If you are looking for a fairytale relationship or marriage, you are only fooling yourself.

Here are some things to consider when going through a breakup.

1.    Focus on the positive things in your life.  Maybe you have great kids, a great relationship with your parents and/or siblings, a good bill of health, or a good job.  Be thankful for the good things in your life, and think of those things every time you start feeling down and out about your failed relationship.

2.    Keep yourself busy.  If you have to go grocery shopping every night for whatever you are making for dinner, do it.  Be sure to fill your days and nights with activities, so when you go to bed, you are tired enough to sleep.  This will take care of the tossing and turning that normally comes along with broken hearts.

3.    Maybe most importantly, live in the present.  In other words, after you figure out what went wrong and how you contributed to what went wrong, don’t dwell on it.  Live in the present.

4.    Surround yourself with positive people and people who are important to you.  Try to see yourself as those people see you.  Remember to thank the people who are always there for you, whether you rely on them for a shoulder to lean on or they are the “constants” in your life, no matter what path you are on at any given moment.

Lastly, if getting through a breakup is really dragging you down and you can’t seem to find a way to cope, the counselors at OC Relationship Center can help you.  Call us today at (949) 430-7198 to schedule your appointment, or schedule your appointment online.

Talk it Out – Getting the Timing Right

How often have you had something on your mind that you needed to discuss with your partner, but the right time just never seemed to present itself?

It’s a common problem. The topics that we put off are always the challenging ones. Maybe you have bad news to deliver, something is troubling you about your relationship, or you want to make a change that you don’t expect your partner to be very happy about. Whatever it is, it’s natural to avoid it in the name of waiting for the ideal moment.

Of course, that could mean you’ll be waiting an awfully long time, because there’s really no such thing as the “perfect” time for a difficult discussion.

The good news is that your heart is in the right place. You know it would be a mistake to broach a touchy subject when your partner is tired and stressed out, or when the kids are within earshot . Still, don’t wait forever, or you may find that whatever’s bothering you stays bottled up until the worst possible time, and you blurt it because you’ve reached the height of frustration. Instead, plan for the right time. But how? Well, here are a few suggestions…

Follow Your Instincts

Before planning a serious discussion about what’s on your mind, do a gut check. While in most cases letting things fester only makes them worse, if you’ve been particularly stressed out and finding yourself overreacting to situations that otherwise wouldn’t bother you, you might want to wait a day or two and see how you feel before broaching a problem that today seems catastrophic. Some things may blow over on their own once you’ve had a chance to calm down. However, if your gut tells you this is going to keep bothering you until you’ve talked it through, by all means, do so.

SEt the Stage

Get a sitter and go to a favorite restaurant, take a scenic evening walk or whatever you especially enjoy doing as a couple. The benefits are obvious: The kids won’t be around to distract you, and the change of scenery will probably put both of you in a good frame of mind. There is one caveat: you must advise your partner ahead of time that you have something serious you want to discuss. The last thing you want to do is make him or her feel they’ve walked into a trap.

Be Prepared

Think ahead of time about what you want to say. It doesn’t mean you need you write a script, but you do want to make sure your main concerns or wishes are heard and taken seriously. At the same time, approach the discussion prepared to listen and keep an open mind.

Similarly, be prepared for your partner to disagree or even react angrily to what you have to say. Often we fear this will happen—why else would we be avoiding the topic in the first place?—only to find that our partner has been thinking the same thing themselves. But not always. If your partner doesn’t respond the way you were hoping, try and keep talking—calmly, rationally and respectfully—until you can reach a mutually satisfying compromise. However, if you or your partner becomes so emotional or angry that the conversation is no longer productive, be prepared to take a break and maybe table the subject until the next day.

Put it on Ice – Temporarily

If you can stop before things get really heated, maybe you can change course and go do something fun where there’s no talking required…like going to that movie you’ve been dying to see. You might not yet have resolved anything, but you’ll have made a start, which is often half the battle.

If you need help talking through a difficult subject—or want to improve your communication skills as a couple—please give us at a call at 949-220-3211 or schedule an appointment via our online calendar. We at the Relationship Center of Orange County are here to help you.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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