My Marriage Has a Third Wheel: Our Child

MY MARRIAGE HAS A THIRD WHEEL: OUR CHILD

Jancee Dunn

Jancee Dunn, left, with her daughter Sylvie and husband Tom.Creditvia Jancee Dunn

An only child can make the relationship between Mom and Dad uniquely complicated.

Here’s a typical weeknight scenario in our household: My husband, Tom, our 9-year-old daughter, Sylvie, and I feel like ordering in, and after a lengthy debate, we decide on pizza. Later, while the three of us are eating pepperoni slices and playing Bananagrams, Sylvie reminds Tom that our wedding anniversary is coming up and offhandedly mentions that my favorite flowers are peonies. After a few rounds of the game, we consider a movie. Sylvie proposes “Escape From New York,” a film that has piqued her curiosity after hearing her father repeatedly imitate Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken.

“I’ll look it up on Common Sense Media to see if it’s appropriate,” she volunteers, opening my computer. Unfortunately, she reports gravely, it’s for ages 16 and up. “‘Except for a severed head,’” Sylvie reads aloud, “‘there’s little explicit gore. An atmosphere of cynicism and darkness pervades, including a negative depiction of a U.S. President.’”

Tom points out that this sounds like his Twitter feed. But I balk at the severed head, which is a pretty big except for.

I would never have predicted that the hardest part of parenting would be that our only child would come to fully believe she is the third person in our marriage. This arrangement began roughly as soon as she learned to talk.

As family psychologists such as Dr. Carl E. Pickhardt, Ph.D., point out, only children often feel like one of the adults. As with our tripartite system of government, they view the daily running of the household as a three-way power-sharing agreement. This is an issue more parents may have to deal with, now that one-child families are gaining ground. According to a Pew Research analysis of 2015 U.S. Census Bureau data, today 18 percent of mothers at the end of their childbearing years have an only child — up from 10 percent in 1976.

Tom and I have fully enabled Sylvie to feel like one of the gang, because we go almost everywhereas a trio. We’re usually too cheap to hire babysitters, and tend to travel with Sylvie, too, as she slots fairly easily into our itineraries. As a result, Sylvie has gotten used to being included, consulted, part of our in-jokes. This is not uncommon, says social psychologist Dr. Susan Newman, Ph.D., who has spent decades studying only children — a term I loathe, as it calls to mind a kid alone in a shadowy room, whispering quietly to his sock puppet “friends.” (I think we should revive the much more sprightly “oneling,” used by 19th century author John Cole in his book “Herveiana.”)

But our efforts to “empower” our oneling and make her voice heard have begun to backfire. To paraphrase Princess Diana when asked about Camilla Parker-Bowles: There are three of us in this marriage, so it’s a bit crowded.

One reason for our fluid boundaries is physical. It’s almost impossible to maintain them in a Brooklyn apartment a realtor would euphemistically call “charming and cozy,” one with bizarrely porous doors that actually seem to amplify sound. But it’s also emotional: Tom and I, like many parents of our generation, make an effort to be open and communicative with Sylvie. (“You can tell us anything, sweetheart!”)

When I was growing up, I would never have dreamed of sharing anything remotely personal with my parents. I had two siblings, and our family dynamic was solidly Us vs. Them — my sisters and I were one unit, my folks another. I wanted a different kind of relationship with our daughter.

But one consequence of all this closeness is that our child feels insulted if Tom and I go out to dinner alone. If we’re on vacation, she balks at being “dumped,” as she puts it, in the Kids’ Club. She would be happy to Photoshop her picture into our wedding photos. If Tom and I give each other a hug, she has gotten in the habit of jumping in between us.

Jancee Dunn and her family. 
Jancee Dunn and her family. Creditvia Jancee Dunn

At least she doesn’t referee when we fight, as she did when she was smaller. A couples’ counselor put a stop to that when he advised me to put a photo of Sylvie in a drawer by my bedside table. Whenever I was about to lose my temper with Tom, he told me, I was to run to the bedroom, pull out the photo, and say to it: I know that what I’m about to do is going to cause you harm, but right now, my anger is more important to me than you are. I only had to repeat that brutal phrase a couple of times.

But Tom and I still squabble about minor stuff, like whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher — and when we do, Sylvie jumps in and takes sides. (“Mom, you did it last time.”)

As a self-flagellating parent, I was recently drawn to a book with the dire title “The Seven Common Sins of Parenting an Only Child.” Ooh, sins — what am I doing wrong? Among other iniquities — overprotection, overcompensating — Sin No. 6 resonated with me: Treating Your Child Like an Adult.

“It can become so pleasurable for parents of an only child to have a miniature adult by their side that they may lose sight of the fact that their kid needs to be a kid,” writes author Carolyn White, former editor of Only Child magazine. I read this aloud to Tom as Sylvie, nearby, perused the latest issue of Consumer Reportsready to counsel us on our next car purchase.

Sylvie may be comfortable around adults, but she is still a child, one who lacks the reasoning abilities and experience of a grown-up — so I must catch myself when I absently reply to her questions about money, or other parents, before realizing, whoops, shouldn’t have told her that.

As Newman advises, “Before you allow your child to weigh in, take a pause and ask yourself, ‘Is this really a topic or an issue that a 9-year-old should be involved in, or is this a decision for adults?’ ”

Sylvie needs time away from us to be a kid — time to act silly and make jokes about butts and drone on about the intricacies of Minecraft. She has a group of good friends, but I do see her picking up on her middle-aged parents’ habits, such as calculating how many hours of sleep she got every morning. Her posse at home is squarely in midlife, as evidenced by her choice of songs for her ninth birthday party — among them, Barbra Streisand’s LBJ-era “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” We are not the kind of posse a 9-year-old needs. Maybe she hasn’t yet subbed out her school backpack for a WNYC tote bag, but the danger is there.

And all of this coziness hurts our marriage, too. So I have to remind myself, sometimes daily, to cordon off our relationship. Our marriage has needs that deviate from my needs as an individual, as well as our needs as a family. I have to constantly ask, what would be good for the marriage? It’s important, as a couple, to have your own roster of in-jokes. It’s refreshing to drop F-bombs with impunity, and to gossip freely about other parents without having to hastily turn it into a teachable moment for your eavesdropping child about How Gossiping Is Really About Feeling Insecure About Your Own Life Choices. And it’s nice — no, essential — to go out to dinner, just the two of you, and speculate on which members of the waitstaff are sleeping with each other. You know, grown-up stuff.

Paternity Leave Has Long-Lasting Benefits. So Why Don’t More American Men Take It?

PATERNITY LEAVE HAS LONG-LASTING BENEFITS. SO WHY DON’T MORE AMERICAN MEN TAKE IT?

Nathaniel Popper

Men who take leave are less likely to get divorced, and have better relationships with their children, research shows.

In 2017, my family and I began an unintended experiment, testing the effects of paternity leave.

When my first son was born in 2012, I had only recently joined The New York Times and all I got off was the week of vacation I had stored up at the time.

By the time my wife and I had our second son in 2017, the newspaper had significantly ramped up its support for new fathers, and I got 10 fully-paid weeks to spend with our growing family. For my wife and me, those first two months of life with a newborn were just as sleepless as they’d been the first time around. But there were fewer fights and less resentment, and my wife got back to her own work more quickly.

Long after I returned to the office, I noticed little differences in the way I related to my second son that seemed most easily explained by the extra time I’d spent with him. To this day he regularly calls out for me in the night in a way that my first son rarely did. And when I am with him, I feel a certain intangible sense of ease that has only come more recently with my older son. This feeling of ease, along with my growing comfort with wrangling both kids at once, have had predictably positive effects on my wife, reducing her stress levels, and making us both happier.

While I’ve always been hesitant to attribute too many of the subsequent improvements in our family life to the parental leave I took in 2017, a growing body of research suggests that paternity leave does, in fact, have far broader effects than we might have anticipated, including some which endure years after the leave period itself.

Men Who Take Paternity Leave Are Less Likely to Get Divorced

Over the last two years, Richard Petts, a sociology professor at Ball State University, and Chris Knoester, a sociology professor at Ohio State University, have co-authored a series of papers, analyzing data from long-term surveys of thousands of American families. Their research demonstrates that paternity leave provides lasting benefits, not only to relationships between fathers and their children, but also to mothers and to relationships between the parents.

In their most recent paper, published in May 2019, Dr. Petts and Dr. Knoester found that, even nine years later, children whose fathers took at least two weeks of paternity leave after they were born reported feeling closer to their fathers than children with fathers who did not take leave. In research on married parents for a forthcoming paper, the sociologists found that even relatively short periods of paternity leave caused couples’ divorce risk to drop and to remain significantly lower for as many as six years to come, even as their children reached school age.

“The big news in the U.S. is that the boost is not just in the year or two after a child’s birth,” Dr. Petts told me. “It seems to be more sustained.”

This new work on American families builds on several earlier papers, mostly from Europe, where paternity leave is more common, which found that fathers are, in the long term, more likely to remain involved in parenting and to equitably divide household chores with their partners if they take time off after their children arrive. A recent study from Swedenfound that mothers whose partners were offered flexible paid leave in the year after a child’s birth were less likely to need antibiotics and anti-anxiety medication.

Despite mounting evidence of the benefits of paid parental leave for fathers as well as mothers, occasional high-profile news about a major international company offering paternity leave, and legal wins such as the settlement in which JPMorgan Chase agreed to provide equal benefits to fathers and mothers, the expansion of paternity leave programs in the United States remains slow.

Public enthusiasm for paternity leave has been growing: A 2016 Pew Research Center study found that nearly 70 percent of Americans support some form of paid leave for new fathers. There are signs of a rapid cultural shift as well. Though, in 2014, New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy faced widespread criticism for taking three days off for the birth of his son, just four years later, basketball player Dwayne Wade was showered with support when he missed six games following his daughter’s birth in 2018.

Nevertheless, recent surveys suggest that, while most American men take some time off work after the birth or adoption of a child, most take no more than a few days’ leave.

Why Aren’t American Men Taking Leave?

There are several reasons new fathers in the United States return to work so quickly, the most obvious being the lack of a national policy mandating paid leave for all workers. The Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave, but its eligibility requirements are strict (to qualify, an employee must have worked at least 1250 hours during the 12 months before the start of the leave period, for an organization employing at least 50 people within a 75-mile radius), and many American workers do not meet them.

Even fewer American parents have access to paid family leave. Though six states — California, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Washington and Massachusetts — as well as the District of Columbia have passed paid family leave laws, their provisions vary. A March 2018 national survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that only 16 percent of workers in the United States have access to some paid family leave through private-sector employers.

And research suggests that, even when fathers do gain access to paid parental leave, they may be reluctant to take it. After California’s paid family leave law, the first such law enacted in the United States, took effect in 2004, economists Charles L. Baum and Christopher Ruhm found that the percentage of men taking time off after a child’s birth rose only modestly; the average period of parental leave taken increased by nearly five weeks for mothers, but only two to three days for fathers.

California fathers’ caution about embracing paid paternity leave wasn’t entirely irrational. Some studies do show that taking paternity leave can damage a man’s professional reputation and affect his future earning potential.

“Men who take paternity leave do tend to be stigmatized and viewed as less committed employees,” said Rebecca Glauber, a professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire.

How to Make Paternity Leave an American Norm

The successful expansion of paternity leave programs in other industrialized nations suggests that these cultural barriers can be overcome. Certain policies have been shown to be especially effective in encouraging men to take full advantage of paternity leave benefits. The adoption of a so-called “daddy quota,” for example — a use-it-or-lose-it period of paid leave earmarked for new fathers — has successfully boosted paternity leave participation rates in several Scandinavian countries. In 2006, in a departure from the rest of Canada, Quebec adopted a “daddy quota” similar to the Scandinavian model, offering five weeks of dedicated, non-transferable, government-paid leave to new fathers in the province.

Within two years, 75 percent of new fathers in Quebec were taking paternity leave, up from 22 percent before the use-it-or-lose-it “daddy quota” was implemented, according to research by Ankita Patnaik, an economist at Mathematica Policy Research in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Patnaik found that men in Quebec who’d taken the “daddy quota” continued to spend more time on household work, even one to three years after completing their paternity leave. Further, Dr. Patnaik’s research found, these fathers’ increased participation in household tasks appeared to free up their children’s mothers to pursue their own professional ambitions. One to three years after childbirth, mothers in Quebec whose partners had taken the “daddy quota” were working an hour longer per day, on average, and were 7 percent more likely to be employed full-time, Dr. Patnaik found.

Richard Petts, the Ball State University sociologist who researches the impact of paternity leave on American families, said that he did not find solid evidence that paternity leave boosts mothers’ careers, but that may simply be because American fathers take much shorter paternity leaves than their Canadian counterparts.

For my part, I came out of my own paternity leave with an easy ability to take both of the kids as soon as I was done at work, or to handle sick days when they came up. That allowed my wife to transition back to her own job more quickly, and to commit with more confidence to new projects. We are both still as overwhelmed as most other parents of little kids, but at least we feel like we’re muddling through it together.

Preparing My Family for Life Without Me

PREPARING MY FAMILY FOR LIFE WITHOUT ME

Mary Bergstrom

After eight heart attacks, a young wife and mother with an uncommon condition curates her legacy while decorating a new home.

Putting up pictures in our new house last fall, I opted for nails, not tape. My family had just relocated from California to Brooklyn, our fourth move in five years. With so much change, it had been hard to feel settled, but it was my job to try.

I wanted to create a sense of stability while my children, then 8 and 11, were still innocent enough to believe that life could be stable. I wanted to create a sense of hope while my husband, Jonathan, was still young enough to start over.

Although I was only 45, my precarious health had taught me to use time wisely. On the agenda that day was to get settled in our new home, a wide brownstone with big windows, just like I had always wanted. With light reflecting against high ivory walls, the house had a familiar feeling of peace. As Jonathan tended to the unpacking, I charged myself with decorating, a job that sounded frivolous, but I knew better.

With the children at school, I sat at the kitchen table, digging through boxes. Over the years I had taken thousands of photos, wanting to document every moment of our time together, make each one extend as far as possible. I was looking for pictures that had the power to turn bitter memories into sweet. Images that said, “I love you more than anything.” Images that whispered, “I can’t express how sorry I am to leave you.”

I headed upstairs with photos, nails and a hammer. My children had their own bedrooms, each with a window looking into the garden. I would start there and work my way through the house. By the time they got back from school, our new home would be filled with cozy memories. If I couldn’t make my family feel safe, I could at least create some level of comfort.

I flipped through options, looking for shots of us touching skin and smiling wide to convey happy intimacy, of us camping to hint at the natural cycle of life and of them with family and friends to show that love is always available.

Every day, I prepare. I take a slew of medications and supplements. I go to this doctor, that psychic. I pray. I keep nitroglycerin in my car, in my backpack, by my bed. My hospital basics are packed. After eight heart attacks, I have learned to be ready.

Jonathan ducked his head in. “How’s it going in here?”

“You scared me,” I said.

“Join the club.”

Jonathan is seven years older than me. He has a stressful job. He doesn’t take vitamins or exercise regularly. Even so, my health has been the primary focus for our entire marriage. Nothing can compete with spontaneous coronary artery dissection, an uncommon and incurable condition that has taken over my left, right and diagonal arteries. I could have a fatal heart attack tomorrow or I could not. It’s the not knowing that has made me live in the present.

“How does this look?” I said, holding a wooden frame against the wall. In the photo, my daughter is a baby asleep in my arms. I’m kissing her forehead, wrapping my sweater around her tiny body. I remember this moment and, because I have told her about it time and time again, so does she.

“It’s not just good,” he said, “it’s good enough.” Of course, he was right.

Since I had my first heart attack at 32, we have opened up to each other in ways that wouldn’t have seemed possible before. We no longer indulge in setting and not meeting expectations. We stay present and keep moving forward. We help each other get on with whatever comes next. With uncertainty, we have become confident partners.

The first time I had a heart attack, no one took me seriously. The emergency room doctors assumed I was having a panic attack. What could be wrong with the newlywed with a Pilates body?

No one paid any attention until the blood test for troponins came back positive. Troponins are proteins that are released when the heart has been damaged. Looking me up and down, they asked if I had taken cocaine.

One by one, the doctors walked away from my case, prescribing medication for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, problems I didn’t have.

We turned crisis into opportunity. The universe, we reasoned, was inviting us to live our dream life. Jonathan and I moved to China. We adopted two children. I started a business and wrote a book. Life was a glamorous adventure; I got everything I thought I wanted.

Then, eight years into that perfect life, I had another heart attack. My heart stopped for 10 seconds.

When you count them, 10 seconds isn’t long. My children can’t get their shoes on in 10 seconds. Sometimes it takes 10 seconds for me to remember where I parked the car. But 10 seconds is long enough to see what’s on the other side of life — to feel my grandpa again, to see the light, to find peace.

Those 10 seconds changed everything. After my near-death experience, we moved back to the United States. I gave up my business. I never went back to my old life. I never wanted to.

Because of my condition, I feel an urgency to help my family understand who I am and what I believe in. Shedding old ideas about work and success, I have been able to show them what matters most to me, and I have been present as they explore what matters most for themselves.

This way of life is work. It takes double doses of spirituality, optimism and pragmatism. Every day, we practice. We talk about what life would look like without me, we joke that I am the Health Queen, we pray. Their confidence is my greatest achievement. In our bubble, I’m just a mother and a partner, and for that, I’m both grateful and proud.

Over the years, we have shared more about life and what I have experienced in death. We have learned to accept what is and release what isn’t. We have had time to make plans for this life and also talk openly about wanting to be a family again in the next. After this incarnation, we hope to be hawks.

So far, our luck has stood up; I have recovered from every attack. My heart’s ability to pump blood actually increased after the last five heart attacks. Its ejection fraction went from 47 to 36 to 50. A normal range is 55 to 65. With so many unknowns, there is a lot of room for miracles.

Through the window, I saw the neighbor feeding an impressive congregation of squirrels and birds. Our dog raced to the fence. “Stop barking!” I called out. I rapped on the window to get her attention.

When I yell, my chest tightens. I sense heart attacks long before doctors can. I have learned to trust myself and so I do. I put down my tools, sat on the edge of my daughter’s bed. Heart attacks have shaken me while I was working out, house hunting, sleeping, getting ready for yoga and helping with homework. My heart makes no guarantees.

The tightening across my chest stretched like a rubber band. There was a pinching close to the defibrillator that was implanted near my heart. A new discomfort but not an attack. As soon as my heart relaxed, I returned to selecting pictures.

More than decorating, I was curating my legacy. These images would surround my family the next time I went to the hospital, and they would provide comfort if I didn’t come back. These pictures would become priceless.

“I love you from here to Paris to Ubud,” I say to my children when I put them to bed, calling out places we used to go before I anchored us closer to home. My interests don’t extend so far anymore. I stay with my children until they fall asleep, and, in the morning, they crawl into bed with us. We are so lucky. I wouldn’t give up this intimacy for anything.

To stay with my family, I have tethered myself to new ways of doing things. I have stopped eating and sleeping the way I want. I have exercised more, then less, then not at all. I have learned to rely on doctors more, then less, then not at all. I have hunted for possible cures more, then less, then not at all. What matters most is already in front of me.

This heart has provided complete clarity, become a trusted instrument for focus. Fear is a distraction; love and gratitude are my true purpose. That morning, all I could do was stay clear on what matters most. I picked up the hammer and nail. I could see it come together: a house filled with happy memories, a place we could settle.

Humility in Relationships

HUMILITY IN RELATIONSHIPS

Os Hillman

“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'” – 1 Peter 5:5b

I’ll never forget the first time I discovered what a feeling was. It was in my early forties. “Surely not!” you may be thinking. Yes, it is true. Since then, I have discovered many men still live in this condition. It took an older mentor to help me understand the difference between information and a feeling.

Wives are frustrated because their husbands share information, but not their feelings. They want to know what is going on inside their man. The fact is, most men have not been taught to identify feelings, much less how to share them. It is something that men must learn to do because it is not a natural trait. If they do share their feelings, society often portrays them as weak. No man willingly wants to be portrayed as weak.

In order to become an effective friend and leader, one must learn to be vulnerable with others and develop an ability to share feelings. It is a vital step to becoming a real person with whom others can connect emotionally. This is not easy to do if your parents did not teach you to share your emotional life with others. Emotional vulnerability is especially hard for men. Author Dr. Larry Crabb states,

Men who as boys felt neglected by their dads often remain distant from their own children. The sins of fathers are passed on to children, often through the dynamic of self-protection. It hurts to be neglected, and it creates questions about our value to others. So to avoid feeling the sting of further rejection, we refuse to give that part of ourselves we fear might once again be received with indifference. When our approach to life revolves around discipline, commitment, and knowledge [which the Greek influence teaches us] but runs from feeling the hurt of unmet longings that come from a lack of deeper relationships, then our efforts to love will be marked more by required action than by liberating passion. We will be known as reliable, but not involved. Honest friends will report that they enjoy being with us, but have trouble feeling close. Even our best friends (including spouses) will feel guarded around us, a little tense and vaguely distant. It’s not uncommon for Christian leaders to have no real friends. [Larry Crabb, Inside Out (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Navpress, n.d.), 98-99.]

If this describes you, why not begin on a new journey of opening up your life to others in a way that others can see who you really are? It might be scary at first, but as you grow in this area, you will find new freedom in your life. Then, others will more readily connect with you.

Why Does Dating Get Harder When You Reach Your 20’s?

WHY DOES DATING GET HARDER WHEN YOU REACH YOUR 20’S?

Waverly Smith

You’re older and wiser. You know what you want from life. You want a relationship, but there’s none in sight. Why is dating so hard in your 20’s?

Dating through high school and college is one of the most challenging experiences. These periods mark the beginnings of love, trust, sex and heartbreak that shape the way your future-self deals with relationships for years to come. You’re finally out of school with your new adult job, and things are going great, but there are no romantic prospects in sight. What happened?

There are many emotional and situational difficulties in finding a mate as you get older. Not only has the world changed since you took a break from the dating world, but your priorities have changed, and now it seems like you’re destined to be single forever.

Reasons why dating gets harder as you get older

We’re looking at 10 reasons dating gets harder from 20 onward, and what you can do about it!

#1 You’ve become set in your ways. It’s true. The older we get, the more stubborn we become about what we do and do not like. Working through college-age relationships, while frustrating and sometimes emotionally crippling, also taught you exactly what you’re looking for in a mate, as well as all those little flaws you’re simply too old and too wise to put up with now.

However, it also causes you to become slightly jaded and less open to new types of people. Like it or not, you’ve become “old” and set in your ways, and not even Mr. Right can seem to break your stance.

#2 You have more emotional baggage. When you’re a teenager, you feel like your whole life is ahead of you. Love is blissful, life is free, people are genuine, and you have all the naivety in the world. It’s that same naivety that gives you the balls to trust in love and continue putting yourself through relationship torture for years and years. It is also during this time in our lives that we begin to develop emotional baggage.

Suddenly the way our first love hurt us sets the pattern for how we handle future relationships. By the time we’ve hit our mid-20s, 30s and 40s, our emotional and physical baggage only grows, and if you’re dating within your age range, then that would mean your potential partner has some baggage of their own, creating a sticky situation for your future relationship.

#3 It’s way harder to meet people. Ironically, once you’ve matured and feel like you’re finally ready for a serious relationship, there seems to be no avenue to find one! Once you’re outside of high school and college, your dating pool seems to shrink drastically.

The simplicity of taking a chance with that cute girl in class has now turned into you trolling the gym or your workplace for someone to date. This only gets harder as you get older, as you’re not exactly keen to go clubbing for potential partners when you have a 7AM meeting.

#4 You’ve gotten too used to casual dating. On the flip side, perhaps you’ve spent a little *too* much time in the dating world, and not enough time in the world of relationships to remember how to do it. As silly as it sounds, sometimes jumping into a relationship isn’t as easy as riding a bike, if you haven’t done it for a while.

After 3 years with my serious long term boyfriend, I suddenly felt like I had no clue how “kids” these days were pursuing each other. This can be incredibly discouraging to those trying to jump back into the dating pool, but don’t give up! It may be hard, but it sure isn’t impossible.

#5 It’s harder to meet someone with your goals. The fabulous thing about getting older is that you only become surer of what you want out of life. The only bad side? It becomes harder to meet someone who shares your life goals after college, especially when life becomes tangled with demanding jobs, children from a previous relationship, ex-wives and husbands, and other familial obligations.

#6 It’s awkward approaching someone new. While you realize you’re not in elementary school any longer, the thought of approaching someone new with the thoughts of dating can sometimes be overwhelming. This may be easier when you are still in your 20s. However when you hit your 30s, 40s, and 50s, the thought of approaching a stranger for a date becomes as uncomfortable a thought as approaching a child on your first day of school and asking: “Want to be friends?”

#7 Someone else has had a chance to shape your potential mate. Your potential new mate has already had a handful of relationships, and may even be divorced or separated, meaning they’ve had dozens of opportunities for someone else to shape their likes, dislikes, intuition, trust, and everything else in between.

This doesn’t mean your potential mate has entered a “no-go” zone. It is simply a fact of life. Still, you can’t deny how awesome it would be to have someone at least a little impressionable to roll in the hay with.

#8 Social media and cell phones have ruined our social capabilities. This is especially true of those in their 20s. The hard fact is that while technology has created a fun, diverse, and explorative spin on the current world we live in, it has also drowned our abilities to properly socialize.

Phone call, anyone? Instead, youths today would rather communicate impersonally via text message than actually get to hear their new crush’s voice. Ever seen a couple on a date at a restaurant, yet both of them are glued to their cell phones? Point taken.

#9 Looks have faded. You’re not getting any younger. A ridiculous thought for those in their 20s, but true for the rest. Don’t deny checking yourself out in the mirror studying your face at the sleep line that takes just *that* much longer to go away than it used to, or that one gray hair that seemed to have five friends attend its funeral.

When you’re young, shallow as it is, you feel like you can skate by on your looks to at least hook in your man and eventually make him see how awesome your personality is, too. The same goes for younger guys who subsist on beer and ramen noodles, and still look like they jumped out of a Chippendale’s ad. Now you may be finding you’re working your magic the other way around.

#10 The good ones are taken. This applies to most generations after 20. It seems all the good, cute guys who still have hair, or the smart, attractive women without children are already committed to someone else.

Don’t sweat the small stuff when it comes to finding relationships in your later years. You may be set in your ways, but you know what you want, and when you do find that special someone, they’re going to be of the highest quality, because you won’t accept any less.

Try not to dwell too much on the negatives when it comes to aging and meeting people. The process may be a little more difficult than when you were in your teens, but the result of a mature, loving relationship is totally worth the struggle.

By the time you hit your 20s, 30s, 40s and so on, finding that one guy or gal whom you can spend the rest of your life with may be tougher. But don’t lose hope! Someone out there may be thinking the exact same thing as they wait for your opportunity to meet to finally arise!

Insecurity Hurts Your Marriage. Here’s What To Do About It

INSECURITY HURTS YOUR MARRIAGE. HERE’S WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

Isabella Markert

Close to the end of my college career, I applied to an internship that I had been dreaming about, working toward, and planning on for four years. I knew it was competitive, but everything my professors, peers, and bosses said to me made it clear that I would be getting that internship. “You’re a shoo-in for this job!” they would say to me.

But the rejection email came, and it deflated me. I was depressed. It was clear that I had placed my self-worth on my abilities as a writer and editor. The rejection was a message from certified experts: You are not good enough.

My depression didn’t get to dangerous proportions, but I did struggle with motivation and energy. I would come home, sit on the couch, and do nothing until bed. My husband was a champ through it all, but that summer wasn’t great for our marriage. He did all the giving, and I did all the taking. All because my self-esteem took a major hit.

Insecurity isn’t good for marriage. Whether it’s personal insecurity or insecurity about the relationship, individuals need confidence for their marriages to thrive.

To keep your insecurities from hurting your marriage, recognize the ways insecurities can do damage, meet your spouse halfway, recognize when insecurity is more than just a feeling, and try a couple of practical exercises.

Recognize how your insecurities may be hurting your relationship

When you’re insecure, it can be tempting to think “This just affects me.” But the truth is that how you feel about yourself affects your spouse and your relationship. Here are some signs that your insecurities are hurting your marriage:

  • You struggle to fully trust your spouse. This keeps you from being totally open and honest in your relationship.
  • You believe and act on your negative thoughts about yourself. Let’s say you tell yourself you’re boring often enough that you start to believe it. Next thing you know, you prove yourself right. “It’s not that you are not allowed to judge yourself,” says Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics. “Do it, but remember as you do it to be a wise advisor, not a vicious tyrant.”
  • You compare yourself to your spouse’s exes. Never a good idea, especially since none of those relationships worked out.
  • Your spouse constantly has to reassure you. There’s nothing wrong with needing reassurance now and then, but if you constantly need validation, that’s a sign your insecurities are getting the best of you. There’s a feeling of distance in your relationship. If you’re not communicating about your insecurities, your spouse will pick up on that, whether consciously or not.
  • You read too much into what your spouse says. “You begin to read into the words of your partner in a way that reinforces the insecurities you are feeling,” says Dr. Kelsey M. Latimer, PhD, CEDS-S, assistant director of operations for Center for Discovery. “The focus of the relationship becomes about proving the feelings the person has rather than enjoying the time.”

Meet your spouse in the middle

Sometimes insecurities come because you’re afraid your spouse doesn’t appreciate the ways in which you differ. Maybe you’re fun-loving and adventure-seeking, and you worry that your spouse doesn’t think you’re serious enough. This discrepancy requires you to talk with your spouse and determine how you can meet each other halfway.

Maybe “meeting halfway” means the two of you meet weekly to discuss your finances, and then afterward you get to pick a zany restaurant to try out. But in the compromise, realize that being carefree doesn’t make you less desirable—it just makes you you!

Realize when insecurity is more than just a feeling

Let’s say you’ve noticed people aren’t laughing at your jokes as much as they used to. It would be natural to feel a little insecure about your sense of humor. You have the choice to use that feeling of insecurity to do a little self-reflection. “Sometimes, those feelings are guides,” says Gail Grace, LCSW.

Maybe you’re making it up, and your insecurity is telling you that you need to be a little kinder to yourself. Maybe people aren’t laughing at your jokes because your humor has crossed the line from witty to rude, which just isn’t like you. In this case, your insecurity is telling you that you might have some bitterness you need to work through.

The same goes for insecurity about your marriage. Maybe your insecurity is a reflection of something you need to work on personally. Or maybe you and your spouse have an obstacle that’s keeping you from trusting each other. In either case, it’s a good idea to communicate your feelings to your spouse and work through it together.

Try these exercises:

Exercise #1

“It requires more attentional effort to disengage from a negative thought process than a neutral one,” says cognitive therapist Jennice Vilhauer, PhD. So it might take a formal exercise to overcome your insecurities. Here’s the exercise Vilhauer suggests:

  1. Each night right before you go to sleep, write down three things you liked about yourself that day.
  • Read the list before you get out of bed the next morning.
  • Add three items to the list each night.
  • Repeat this sequence every day for 30 days.

“This simple-to-do but nonetheless effortful exercise essentially helps you build the strength to disengage from any negative thought stream,” she explains. “But remember: There is no benefit to your mental health in just understanding how the exercise works, just as there is no benefit to your physical health in knowing how to use a treadmill. The benefit comes from the doing.”

Exercise #2

How do you get to the point where you can feel happy for someone else without comparing their successes to yours (or to your failures)? Charlie Houpert, founder of the YouTube channel Charisma on Command, tells the story of how after he and his girlfriend broke up, he couldn’t help but compare himself to the guys he was sure she was hanging out with. He wasn’t happy she had moved on so fast, and he sure wasn’t happy for the (imagined) guys that got to spend time with her.

He went to see a therapist, and this is the three-step exercise the therapist recommended for when you are feeling jealous or insecure:

  1. Interrupt your thought pattern with an eye scramble. Hum a simple tune like “Happy Birthday to You” and move your eyes back and forth to the rhythm. This will get you to a neutral place.
  • Feed yourself whatever you need. Chances are that, whatever you’re feeling—less-than, abandoned, disrespected—you need to feel loved. Look at yourself in a mirror (or imagine looking at yourself in a mirror) and say, “I love you exactly as you are.” You might feel goofy because you’re talking to yourself, but it will get you in a better mood. And the more you say this to yourself, the more you’ll believe it.
  • Extend that unconditional love to the person you least want to extend it to. In Houpert’s story, he tried to imagine his girlfriend happy with someone else and feel happy for her. Then he imagined the guy she was with and was happy for him because the guy was with someone Houpert knew was so great. After extending that love, come back to the present. Rather than comparing, now you get to “look around you and see all the happiness in the world, and you get to partake in it,” Houpert says.

Becoming secure in yourself and your relationship will heal and strengthen your marriage. To overcome your insecurities, recognize the ways insecurities can do damage, meet your spouse halfway, recognize when insecurity is more than just a feeling, and try practical exercises for overcoming insecurity. Next time you face a difficulty, you and your marriage will be ready for it.

How to Ask if He’s Seeing Someone Else Minus the Awkwardness

HOW TO ASK IF HE’S SEEING SOMEONE ELSE MINUS THE AWKWARDNESS

Nicky Curtis

If you’ve dated someone for a few months, you’re now wondering how to ask if he’s seeing someone else. There’s a way to do it to minimize embarrassment.

Relationships aren’t exactly easy. Confusion abounds no matter what stage of the game you’re in. If you’re in that early stage, it can be even more mind-boggling. The problem is, most of us want to know how to ask if he’s seeing someone else.

Finding the right time to have this conversation and doing it in the right way can be extremely difficult. It’s vital that you don’t do it too soon. Timing is everything!

Finding the right time

Generally speaking, guys don’t want to be pressured into thinking about the future too soon. That might be a huge generalization, but most of the guys I’ve met fall into this category. You might be lucky enough to meet one which has his eye on the future and can’t wait to get past that awkward stage. If so, hold onto him! For most, we walk that line of confusion for a short while at least.

Getting this conversation right could be the difference between going with the flow in a more open minded way, and blowing it all too soon. Never fear, there is some very useful advice you can follow, which should calm the waters somewhat.

How to ask if he’s seeing someone else in the right way

Figuring out how to ask if he’s seeing someone else is nerve wracking, but you must keep it casual, that’s the vital part. Coming on too strong at this point will make him panic and run. Guys are like that for the most part.

Again, if you find one who can’t wait to jump into a full blown relationship, assuming that’s what you want too, great! For most of us, we should follow several unspoken rules to make this conversation far less of a panic.

The most important thing lies within you. Be sure what you want from the very start. If you want a relationship, know that and find out what he wants. If you know for certain that he doesn’t want a relationship and he wants to keep it casual for a prolonged period of time, ask yourself whether you’re happy with that.

In the past I’ve made the vital mistake of going along with it in the hope that he’ll change his mind and suddenly want a full relationship, yet almost two years on I was still going around the same hamster wheel of casual hook ups. Not something I would recommend for anyone. Knowing what you want and having a general idea of where he’s heading, and where he’s at, will help you avoid wasting time and breaking your own heart.

Once you know what you want, go with the flow for a short while and see what happens. Perhaps after the first few dates, you’ll decide that you really don’t want to take this any further. It saves you having the conversation and thinking about how to ask if he’s seeing someone else!

Assuming everything is going well, wait at least a couple of months before approaching this subject, and make sure that within those couple of months you’ve been hanging out on a regular basis, i.e. a few times per week.

Personally, I would say two months minimum of regular dates, three months if you can. The longer you leave it, the less pressurized the situation, and the higher the chances of a positive answer in your favor.

How to have the conversation

Now you know when to have the talk, we now need to cover how to ask if he’s seeing someone else in terms of what to say and how to say it. I can’t stress enough that the way you say this is more important than the words you choose.

Seriously, he’s not going to love you jumping down his throat with a demanding conversation. So, it’s vital that you not only approach this in a casual way, but you keep the tone of your voice light and cheery too.

Ease into the conversation and don’t make your meet up entirely about asking this question. Don’t jump straight in with the conversation when you first meet up. Wait a little, so he can tell that you haven’t arranged to meet up solely to interrogate him on his dating habits!

When you’re ready to do the asking, keep it light once more. Something like “Can you believe it’s been three months we’ve been seeing each other? It’s crazy how fast time goes.” That’s a generalization and a conversation starter, and he won’t suspect that you’re going somewhere with it. Then follow up with another line, again stay light, “I’m not seeing anyone else you know” and use a shrug as another casual body language aid, and then “are you?”

As you can see, casual, calm, and the shrug shows that you haven’t made this entire date about getting a serious answer to a serious question. This breezy attitude is far more likely to get him to open up and be honest, than if you sit him down and shine a light in his eyes, demanding to know answers!

Stay in the present

It’s also important that you keep everything about the here and now. Don’t let your words or your voice venture into the future. Keep it present tense. If you start bringing the future into it, you could freak him out; not always, but it’s possible.

Don’t mention what you want to happen in the future, or what you see on the horizon. You’re not a fortune teller and you have no clue what’s going to happen. All you want to know right now is whether or not he is seeing anyone else as well as you. The answer is all you need for the here and now.

Dealing with the outcome of what he says

I hope that you get the answer you want. I hope that he says “no, I’m not seeing anyone else either”… and that he means it. If you’ve been seeing each other for a while and things are going well, you’ll probably be able to tell whether or not he’s telling the truth. Don’t question it, take him at face value.

What if you don’t get a straight answer? In this case you do need to push a little. A few extra probing questions will give you a bit more information to go on. This is vital because, well, why should you waste your time at this point?

If you want this to go somewhere, you need to know he’s on the same page. If he’s still seeing other people, he’s clearly not on the same chapter as you, let alone the same page. At this point, you have permission to be a little firmer.

Keep it semi-light at this point, but get the answer you need. Something like “I just think after this amount of time we should be at least exclusive.” You also have to think about your sexual health here too. If he’s seeing other people, does that mean he’s sleeping with others too? Are you being careful? These are things you need to know.

Understanding how to ask if he’s seeing someone else might be full of pitfalls, but it’s the only way to get the answers you need. Time to take charge of your own dating life. 

How setting healthy boundaries in dating leads to a healthy relationship

HOW SETTING HEALTHY BOUNDARIES IN DATING LEADS TO A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP

Kyle Benson

When it comes to dating, I need you to understand that how you set boundaries and your level of honesty sets the stage for the quality of the relationship.

For example, in one of my unhealthy past relationships I would notice behavior (deleting texts from other males, lying, and more) in my partner that made me very insecure. After numerous failed attempts to increase the security (trust and commitment), I told myself to “ignore her behavior.” 

As Dr. Gottman’s research highlights, “adaptation to negativity [and insecurity] is dysfunctional.” While negativity happens in even stable marriages (remember the 5 positive to 1 negative interaction ratio), in connected couples it gets repaired. When a red flag is shown, it gets addressed, boundaries are put up, and the relationship improves. Dr. Gottman goes on to say that, in marriages that work, partners notice even lower levels of negativity in the relationship and take action on it.

As I highlight in my interview with Madeline Charles in The Irresistible Woman, a FREE Expert Interview Series and Gift Giveaway, honesty and healthy boundaries are vital to finding a healthy relationship.

Honesty means honoring your needs and finding a partner who will work with you to meet those needs as you meet theirs. It also means being realistic and knowing, as Esther Perel often highlights, that your partner cannot accommodate you 100% of the time or fulfill every single one of your needs. The key determining factor of the success of the relationship long-term is your willingness to bring up your needs in a gentle and honest way (Hint: “I” statements + a positive, actionable recipe for success) and your potential partner’s willingness to work with you to find a win-win solution.

This starts by knowing yourself and your needs. Unfortunately, many of us are taught that our needs are “too much” and so our blueprint for love convinces us to seek someone who validates this belief system. Since our self-esteem is low, we often “settle” for bread crumbs of love. I know I did. And with low self-esteem, it makes it difficult to be honest about your needs and put up healthy boundaries. It’s not uncommon for someone to tolerate really unhealthy behavior so they don’t have to be “alone.” Sadly, this mindset doesn’t lead to a healthy, happy, and fulfilling relationship where your significant other and you support each other on becoming the best couple and individuals you can be.

My Wife Wants to Open the Relationship. Is Our Marriage Over?

MY WIFE WANTS TO OPEN THE RELATIONSHIP. IS OUR MARRIAGE OVER?

Cheryl Fraser

Jamie slumps on my therapy couch, his head in his hands. “My wife says her attraction to me has waned. She asked me if we can open our relationship, but that’s not something I want. What do I do?” 

As a psychologist and sex therapist, I work in the world of sex and intimacy every day. I consider my job as a psychotherapist, author, and educator especially important because we don’t talk about sex enough–even with our partners. 

There is so much mystery and shame around exploring our sexuality. I’ve heard dozens of spouses confide that they don’t feel passion for their mate anymore. They bravely share their fantasies about finding sexual excitement in new ways. So I’m eager to help Jamie understand the challenges of long-term love and explore how he and his partner might move forward.

Even though his wife’s concerns have thrown him into a panic, I reassure him that sexual desire disconnect is a common problem in long-term love.  His wife, like many people, longs for the easy excitement and horniness she felt when they were dating. 

In the beginning, attraction comes easily. Lust is a biological cocktail of dopamine, oxytocin, hopes, and expectations garnished with a giant splash of novelty. And it’s powerful. When we’re drunk on love the object of our affection grabs us like a rottweiler does a squeaky stuffed toy.

His wife used to daydream about him and feel a delicious sense of thrill. Sexual arousal flushed her body during a business meeting. The passion was visceral, and it felt fantastic. 

But after a while novelty wanes, the relationship settles down, and the erotic is replaced by the every day. I call this Marriage Incorporated: two people love each other but their relationship becomes a business instead of a romance. Kids, careers, soccer practice, tax returns, and peeing with the door open. They do everything together but each other. 

Sex falls way down the priority list. And when they do make love, it’s pretty boring. The typical sexual encounter in a long-term relationship is less than seven minutes from nudge to snore. Last week, one patient told me when her wife wants sex, she asks, “Is your mouthguard in yet?” So much for romance! 

What’s more, the infrequent sex may lead to orgasm but it’s devoid of passion, creativity, and sizzle. There are no surprises in the predictable routine of “nipple, nipple, crotch, goodnight.” 

And gee whiz, one day couples realize they’re not attracted to their mate. Marriage Inc. has replaced Passion Inc. 

Here’s what Jamie’s wife did right.  She started the conversation about attraction, passion, and their sex life. This is the best-case scenario. She didn’t cheat. 

Sneaking around for secret sex is a common way that a partner who has lost attraction recreates sexual thrill. Because even though 95% of people in ongoing relationships state they want sexual exclusivity, reported infidelity rates range from 20-50%.

So research on sex, desire, and monogamy challenges us to face the facts. Wanting monogamy is one thing—actually creating sustainable passion is another. It’s more normal than you think someone to fantasize about sex outside their relationship. 

But instead of having an affair Jamie’s wife is proposing an open relationship, or consensual non monogamy (CNM). The details are worked out by each couple, but the basic idea is simple: partners openly agree to engage in sexual exploration with other people while staying emotionally exclusive. 

While he may be shocked that his wife is floating the idea, approximately 4% of North Americans are in a CNM relationship, and up to a quarter of men and women report being willing to at least consider engaging in this alternate relationship model. 

As difficult as it is, together they are starting to face the facts, which is what I hope all couples with sexual desire disconnect will do. His wife longs for more sexual passion but she doesn’t want to leave the marriage. She thinks new experiences will satisfy her. And they might, but only for a while. Novelty, by definition, doesn’t last. 

So if we need novelty to “make us” attracted, we have to keep seeking new partners, new thrills, or new taboos. So what can you do about it?

Talking honestly about these big—and very threatening—feelings and ideas is a brave and intimate act. And it can be a pivot point to a far more satisfying relationship. But not an open relationship. Because Jamie wants monogamy. And that’s okay. 

As with any sexual behavior, don’t agree to something you don’t want. As a sex therapist I am not opposed to open relationships on a philosophical level, but in real life, this model doesn’t work for most couples. In my clinical experience, even when the terms are negotiated and both partners are on board, jealousy, guilt, and unresolved relationship issues often tear couples apart in an agonizing failed experiment.

But what if he can become the new partner she seeks? Instead of opening their marriage to other people, what if they open their marriage to each other?

If his wife is willing to play ball, I suggested he commit to changing their relationship from the inside out and vow to re-ignite desire, attraction, and sexual thrill with each other. Since almost all of us want monogamy, but passion fades with familiarity, the challenge is to make monogamy hot again.

Five Tips to Make Monogamy Hot Again

Bring Buddha into the bedroom
Mindful sex makes the familiar exciting again because attraction is all in your head. When you nibble a delicious chocolate truffle, you enjoy it fully here and now, even though you’ve had hundreds of chocolates before. Why? Because paying attention to this truffle with mindfulness makes the familiar experience fresh, alive, and sensory-each chocolate tastes new and interesting. 

You can create erotic novelty the same way by getting your head into bed. Research shows that mindfulness practice increases sexual desire, arousal, and satisfaction.Instead of kissing someone new, kiss your same old partner for the very first time in this moment. When you are mindful of lips, tongue, heat, and breath, excitement can surge, and this kiss feels new and exciting. Experience the thrill you used to feel, one kiss, one breath, at a time. Pleasure is available right now, with the one you are with.

Treat sex like exercise 
Just do it. Sure, in the lustful dating days spontaneous desire swept you away and you tumbled into bed like a pair of mating otters. But in long-term relationship, it helps to schedule sex. Just like you do with the gym, commit to your sexual workouts, get going even when you don’t feel like it, and afterward you will always be glad you did.

Make a weekly sex date and no matter how tired you are, or how compelling the couch and Netflix seem, honor your commitment to your passionate life. Couples who make love on schedule often discover they start having sex in between sex dates—it’s as though their sexual fitness increases.

Have gourmet sex
Complacency and laziness lead to boring sex. Many of us forget the vast possibilities for sensual exploration that two bodies multiplied by five senses offer us. When is the last time you licked the back of your partner’s knees, or blew gently on their neck?

The erotic menu is vast. So stop relying on fast food. Shake up the old routine of “nipple, nipple, crotch, goodnight.” Get creative and curious and vow to surprise each other with a lingering five course sensory feast. Give each other a slow, erotic, sensual massage, or visit a love shop and get some sexy toys to bring the play back into foreplay. 

Explore your dark sexual energy
When a person seeks an affair or open relationship, they are longing for the excitement of the taboo. And let’s face it—taboo is sexy. We all have what I call “dark sexual energy.” This is the raw, primal aspect of our sexual desire. But often we hide this side of our sexual self from our partner. So, instead of denying this part of your eroticism, take a risk and share it with your mate. Tell them, in explicit detail, one of your secret fantasies. 

Now there is a difference between fantasy and reality, so you may not choose to act this scenario out, but it can be highly arousing to expose our deepest sexual desires to our beloved. And explore something new—visit a fetish party together dressed in leather and lace, or have a quickie in the spare bedroom at your boss’s dinner party. Create excitement with sexy scenarios. Kick Marriage Inc. in the butt and re-ignite the fire of lust.

Expand your orgasms with tantric sex
The typical climax orgasm lasts for 7 seconds for men and 21 seconds for women. Imagine extending that to minutes, and beyond. If regular orgasm is a firecracker, tantric orgasm is a bonfire. You can learn to play with your sexual arousal by changing how you breathe, connecting more deeply with your partner while you make love, and staying intently conscious at orgasm (instead of swooning into fantasy or zoning out).  

Read my book or take a course in tantric sex. With practice, you can experience orgasm all over your body and have multiple waves of pleasure. Put the OM into Oh My.

What to Expect After the Wedding

WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER THE WEDDING

sheqoz

Love in the Air:

Love is beautiful and the best gift anyone can give and receive. When two people decide they are compatible enough to spend the rest of their lives together, they commit as husband and wife. They make wonderful future plans and begin their journey right after the wedding.

The beginning of a happy union

What to Expect:

In this journey, there are things to love and hate about each other, rules to be agreed upon, which will govern the new relationship. Although the good times will always outdo the grays, there will be moments of insecurity. Whereas most people might think infidelity is the only giant to be overcome, there are more frequent hurdles to overcome.

Committing to a marriage is more than just fidelity. It  involves standing together through thick and thin. Accepting each other’s weaknesses that were not noticeable before exchanging the vows, laughing and sometimes crying together.

Reality in Marriage:

Things really change after the honeymoon. In the awakening into reality, many give up thinking there’s someone better out there for them. The fact is, nothing in life grows overnight. Marriage isn’t an exception here. Every good thing under the sky takes time to build.

There will be days your husband/wife will want to be alone. That doesn’t mean she/he has stopped loving you. Everyone needs some alone time to quiet their mind. It is healthy and necessary for a happy relationship. The best you can do is allow them the space.

Simple decisions will become almost difficult. In marriage, they say two become one. Well, this is easier said than done. It is not easy to blend two completely different personalities – not with each partner expecting the other to become more of what they fantasized.

You don’t get to choose your living room color by yourself. If you had a certain pattern on your spending habits, you cannot continue the same. Everything must meet right in the middle of both your choices. You basically do away with the freedom to make major decisions.

Important Considerations:


It is normal to disagree in marriage

This is where balance is very important because if one feels over-powered, they are more than likely to seek other options. You’ve heard people having a big wedding only to divorce a few months or years later. That happens because of unrealistic expectations which couples have when they exchange their vows.

No matter how compatible you are with each other, there will definitely be days when you will experience conflicts. In such situations, you must learn how to maturely deal with disagreements before they get out of hand.

It is unrealistic to expect things to always flow smoothly. You will experience small and, sometimes, huge cracks along the pavement. If you are committed to making your marriage work, forgiveness, patience and apologies are very important.

Avoid Breaking Up:

I believe most divorces are due to arrogance of one or both partners. When nobody is willing to take responsibility for their mistake and work toward being a better person, a marriage union turns into a roller coaster of unsolved issues, leaving both partners wanting out.

To keep and grow a healthy relationship, discuss issues with your partner as they arise and watch very carefully the words coming out of your mouth. Careless use of words can break a relationship to a point of no repair. If you listen more and speak less everything will work out very well because it gives you time to think and choose what to say.

Things can get a little bit rocky during the first years of marriage. Learning to adjust into the commitment and giving away most of the freedom is the biggest culprit. With patience, however, everything starts settling down.

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