I figured that it is time to write some more articles about my personal journey; I mean what good is all the objective relationship advice and discussion if you don’t hear some of my subjective experiences. Self-realizations have to be a part of the process in order to implement change. You can have all the knowledge in the world, but it won’t do you any good if you can not put it to use.
This all began one day when I called my mom to let her know that I had some news. It went like this:
Me: “Mom, guess what?”
Me: “Jason and Jamie are getting married!” (Both good friends of mine).
Mom: “You are getting married! You and John are getting married!” (Screaming to my father). Honey, Laurie and John are getting married!”
Me: “MOM! MOM! MOM! I said Jamie and Jason are getting married.”
As I listened to my mom’s demeanor change and calm, I explained to her that John and I had broken up months ago.
I also told her that I was glad to know what excitement she would feel for a man to propose to me; even if it was a man she had yet to meet. Thank God my Dad wasn’t updating his Facebook status at the time! Why was it that every time I traveled the 2000 plus miles home, everyone wanted to know who the man in my life was? It was a typical question that made its way into conversation after conversation. I mean, maybe it was partially my fault for making my last relationship FBO (Facebook Official). Or maybe I felt uncomfortable about even being asked that question.
Whatever the reason was, it had a multitude of social and personal factors. What matters is how we react to it; it helps you discern where you are in the growing process. In the aftermath of my mom carrying on, I realized it was the first time that I acknowledged the ending of my last relationship. As I had to, once again, tell close family members and friends that I had ended yet another relationship; I began to feel the weight of what I thought would be their disappointment, but I realized it may have been my own.
So I looked back at the reasons why my other relationships had ended. I realized one common theme: that for whatever reason or another some aspect of each relationship was falling short of what I or the other person really wanted or needed in the relationship. That is the thing about dating and being in relationships with other people; we are trying to figure out what we want our best relationship to look like; the person we want to spend the rest of our life with. For some of us that happens in our 20′s, but for some of us it will be in our 30′s and on. As I get ready to turn 30 in less than a year, I welcome the idea that I have yet to find my best relationship.
During my 10 plus years of dating, if anything, I was getting much better at it. I was understanding the realities of what it takes to make a relationship healthy and long-lasting. In my mid-twenty dating, I thought I could harness change or mold the people who I was with. I now realize there is little you can do to change anyone.
The best you will get is the best that person is capable of giving you. Who they are today and the habits they have are what they will have tomorrow and forever. Everyone has faults, but if you can strengthen each other in personality and purpose in life you will find that happiness and love will thrive. So, Mom and everyone, I can not promise you wedding bells in my future, but I can promise you that I will strive to welcome it as I find true happiness and love in myself. Until then, I will be, Just one.
Do you remember back when a “crush” would call; you relished the fact that you finally got your parents to buy a cordless phone so you could take the call in your bedroom. You would yell out, “Mom, I got it,” after picking it up. Before that you would hope that the phone cord would reach far enough into the other room so you could close the door in privacy. Now all of that seemed complicated!
So if we have privacy and numerous ways to connect (social media and online dating) what makes dating so complicated now? Whether you are new to the dating scene or getting back into it after a recent break-up or divorce, dating has never been more complicated.
Dating is so complicated because:
We bring our past into it. It is sometimes unintentional but also unavoidable. Most of our grandparents and some of our parents met and married when they were between the ages of 19-23. This means that their past dating profiles were limited in comparison. In todays’ culture our break-ups and divorces stack up and make it more difficult to let our past go.
Too much freedom. The days of leaving a message at the beep are over. Text Messaging is the new way to ask or be asked out on a first date. The problem is that beginning a relationship like this makes it so impersonal.
Too much distraction. I can recall going on a few dates in which the suitor would utilize his electronic device during dinner to text or skim Facebook. Honestly, that was such a turn-off that I never went out on a second date, but some of us don’t see it right away. The distraction of smart phones becomes one that is hindering our dating lives. (And some of our relationships).
Too much talk. We become a more entitled people each generation to the next. We believe that because we graduated college someone owes us a great paying job. This sense of entitlement has carried over into our dating lives. We want someone who is going to have the full package (looks, personality, career, character, and thoughtfulness) but we are not willing to make sure we are giving the full package in return. If you complain about your 35 hour work week, don’t expect to find someone who is loyal to a job and lands a managing position after putting in 2 years of 50 hour work weeks.
You don’t pay attention to red flags. Most of the time there are hints about a person in the beginning of the dating relationship. You can pay attention to these and weed out the bad ones pretty quickly. If you have a tendency to try to look past that and find the best in people, well that is a very admirable quality, but it is not a quality to utilize in your dating life. Be smart and weed the bad out quickly.
Dating doesn’t have to be complicated. Join us tomorrow as we talk about How You Can Un-Complicate Your Dating LIfe. Don’t worry, it does not include plugging back in that landline phone.
As a relationship leaves what we know as the “honeymoon phase” both partners begin to feel less connected and more consumed with the “task” of being in a relationship. There is much to be said about the work and dedication it takes to keep a relationship or marriage connected and exciting.
Remember above all, you need two partners willing to take responsibility for themselves and work towards the same goal of improving the relationship.
The four A’s are high in the beginning of a relationship and just need tuning every so often. The four A’s are essential to improving your relationship:
Attention: In the beginning, you wanted to pay more attention to what would make that person smile and feel good. You put in work to go above and beyond; to “be cute” or let the person know you were thinking about them. We forget in the later part of the relationship how much attention is needed to keep both partners in tune.
Affection: You wanted to be close to your partner and meet their needs for affection also. Sometimes there is even a steamy part in the beginning where we can’t keep our hands off each other! It is exciting and new. Affection can be kept alive by having romantic evenings and dates paired with sexy events and reasons to get all dressed up. It is fun to see our partners in different settings on a regular basis.
Appreciation: You were thankful for the other person and having them in your life. You often vocalized or reminded them of this appreciation. Once the relationship goes on we assume the other person knows how much we care about them and that we don’t need to vocalize it anymore. However, this vocalization should continue throughout the duration of the relationship or marriage. Positive appreciation of both partners breeds positive emotions in the relationship.
Approach: The approach you took in the beginning of the relationship was different from the one you take in the middle. You were apologetic for your downfalls and open to differences. Your approach was very open-minded. You approached the beginning of your relationship with fascination and hope. In the middle, we begin to get defensive and often have trouble being as open and forgiving as we were in the beginning. Try to look at your relationship with a fresh approach each and every day.
You can improve your relationship at any point, if you are willing to work hard. It is never too late to implement the same principles that you used in the beginning of the relationship. These simple changes will help both partners to better understand one another and to bring back the happiness and love that has always been there.
What do you think your biggest relationship asset is? Let me give you some hints:
It is not your looks, as sexy as you may be. It is not your job, or your money, it is not your large house or the metals you won in sports; it is not how you romance someone.
The biggest asset in securing a relationship and keeping it is your attitude. Your attitude is something that, whether you like it or not, is going to come out at your best times and your worst times. Your attitude includes the way you evaluate yourself and the outside world around you. It makes you judge and perceive situations and people. But it also gives people insight on your personality. Your attitude will allow your partner to see how you engage in certain situations and with certain people.
Here is a list of unattractive attitudes:
- Bad attitude. Who wants to be around Pouty Pat or Sassy Sarah all the time? No one does!
- Entitlement attitude. The reality is that your entitlement attitude might get you through your teens and even college, but it will not help you secure a spouse.
- Inflexible attitude. Exceptions are important in life. A black and white view of the world will only hinder your attitude.
- Selfish attitude. Being giving shows your ability to love. If you are too busy keeping things all to yourself, sharing your life with someone will be difficult.
Your attitude will motivate you or make you fearful. Your biggest relationship asset is part of your personality, but it is the part of your personality that can be altered. Your attitude can change, but you have to work on aspects of your life in order to begin to change it.
Here are some attitudes you should adopt: hopeful, optimistic, playful, grateful, cheerful, open, and confident.
Here is how to work toward those promising attitudes:
Change your Expectations: If you want others or yourself to meet too high of expectations, you will always be disappointed which will fuel a bad attitude. Lower your expectations and make them more reasonable, this way you and others will be able to meet those expectations.
See the Glass Half Full: Change the way you look at things. Try to find the good in people, events, work and relationships. This will help shape your attitude for the better.
Your Friends: Make sure you have optimistic people surrounding you. Our attitudes brush off on one another. Being around people who have good attitudes will allow you to create one too!
The American housing market has been in a lull for some time now. At least that is what I read; I am not an expert on housing, real estate or anything of that nature. A couple of years ago, I overheard someone say, “It is a buyers’ market.” Some people conceive the market is going back up progressively; it’s all in discussion followed by action.
So what does this have to do with your marriage? Well, the marriage market is similar to the housing market. There are reports that the divorce rate is increasing and reports that it is decreasing. However the rate is null and void to the way we need to be active participants in our marriages.
Some people speculate that divorce is more prevalent when:
- It’s a 2nd or 3rd Marriage
- You and your spouse argue consistently about finances
- You co-habitat before entering into the marriage
- You live in a red state (Republican)
- Your parents are divorced
- And my personal favorite:If you live in Wayne County, Indiana, and are over 15 years old, there’s a 19.2 percent chance that you’ve been divorced.
Divorce is becoming an open forum in which many people willfully or unwillfully take part. Reasons for divorce are said to be:
- Lack of commitment
- Lack of positive interaction
- Lack of communication
- Lack of sex
- Lack of real expectations
So when our home does not have enough equity in it to sell, we stay with it. We know that the investment we made in the beginning and it has to yield the proper return for us. Why can’t we do this in marriages? Whether the housing market is up or down, if you are a home owner, you are a home owner. The housing market is boosted by the economy, which is a collective citizen task. Your marriage is boosted by what takes place in the marriage, which is a collective couple task.
Eventually the marriage will return to the value it once was, we have to try to put in work. Putting in the due diligence to make your marriage work will predict the end result. We have to be patient and trust that the process marriage takes will yield happiness later, even during difficult times.
*Sometimes getting divorced is the healthiest decision for all parties involved. I am not soliciting advice for your specific situation; I am just advising you to take time in making such a decision and seek counsel from professionals.
I continuously read articles and books about relationships. Love relationships, specifically, seem to have something in common across local articles, such as the OC Register and popular relationship books like The Seven Principals for Making a Marriage Work by the Gottmans; they discuss how love helps us to live longer and healthier lives. The notion is that: the immune system is affected by stress or arguing. Couples that have less conflict tend to get sick less.
This concept makes sense when we discover that we are bound not only biologically to our immune systems but also psychologically and socially.
What this doesn’t mean is that you can blame the cold you had last week on your partner! What it does mean is that stability in a relationship can be the beginning of good psyche and overall better health. Once you get sick, your immune system is alerted and it tries to fight back. When stress levels are high, our whole being (physically and mentally) has less fight left, including our immune system. In regards to your relationship, prevention is the key. Talking about issues and communicating can prevent arguments as well as sickness.
We were designed to give into certain biological responses. Being in relationship with other people is natural. Cultivating those relationships is not as natural, and it takes work from both parties. Remember these tips to increase the love you put out and the health benefit that it will put back into you:
1. Breath. Make sure you take deep breaths throughout the day or breath regularly to increase the overall calm that your body feels. Sometimes we are not conscious to steady and regular breathing. Controlled breathing can decrease anxiety.
2. Be aware of responses. Our initial responses are often not the best ones. When someone irritates us we are quick to anger. Be aware of eliciting calm and peaceful responses. *This will take some work. Remember that the only thing you can control is your reaction.
3. Love, Love, Love. The articles I discussed before addressed being a caring and loving person as an important part of being healthy. You can increase love feelings by evoking caring in your overall life.
Try being more in tune to your “love” self.
In the relationship world, this tune plays out in real life and in the movies. Someone might let you down by claiming all the responsibility and breaking up with you by letting you know that “It’s not you, it’s me.”
But who is it really? When it comes to whose fault it is that a relationship doesn’t work out, can any one party be to blame?
When any relationship ends, whether it is a friendship or a romantic relationship, a small assessment is done. The assessment takes place by talking to friends, looking back on old relationships, and by replaying what went right or wrong during the past few months leading up to the loss of friendship or break-up. We try to find answers, but the truth is that sometimes those answers don’t exist.
We tend to think about all the bad things that happen when ending the relationship rather than having an objective idea of what the relationship looked like. Both parties contributed to the ending of the relationship in some way. It is important for you to be able to evaluate your contribution so you can be aware of it in future relationships. Never try to assess or blame the other person’s contribution; this is when we get into trouble and make a bad situation worse. Always use “I” statements instead of “You” statements.
We live in a world filled with more break-ups and breakdowns than commitment. Working hard to mend a relationship or assertiveness to make one’s life better seem like daunting tasks. We are too used to giving up being the new “norm.” I am not suggesting that you try to stay with someone who is abusive physically or mentally, but that you take the time to assess your life, your hang-ups, and your past to understand where it puts you in your relationships today.
It is easy for us to pass the buck and the blame onto someone else or to profess ourselves the blame to slip out of something. Maybe in a world filled with easy outs, it is time that we went back to fighting for the health in our relationships. It is time that we seek out professional help to overcome the barriers that lead us to struggle in romantic relationships or friendships.
A rut is defined as “a long deep track made by the repeated passages of the wheels of a vehicle.” A routine is defined as “a sequence of actions regularly followed.”
A relationship routine is agreed upon and followed by both parties. A routine makes comfort and fun available to both parties. Routines include positive features that make both parties feel good about the relationship. Routines are kept up with and both partners take time to think about one another and do little things that they know would be meaningful to the other person.
A relationship rut is created by one partner and followed by another. The pattern of repeated wear and tear begins to create tracks in the relationship. In a rut there is conflict after conflict and no partner in the relationship is left feeling good.
As a relationship leaves what we call the “honeymoon stage” both partners begin to feel less connected and more consumed with the “task” of keeping up with the relationship. This is the biggest time when a relationship can get stuck in a rut.
In the beginning of the relationship, you wanted to pay more attention to what would make your partner smile and feel good, such as leaving a note.
Try these three steps if you feel you are in a relationship rut:
Step 1: Each day ask yourself what you can do for the other person? Yes, each and every day. That may be making dinner, helping with dinner, leaving a note, or holding the person and telling them how much you love them and care about them. It can be as easy as a compliment or a romantic touch. Ask about their day, or engage in a conversation. These things remind us of the connections that we had early in the relationship. If both partners actively ask that and act on it each day, the relationship will begin to flow smoothly. It takes an active engagement in the relationship to change it.
Step 2: Positive, positive, positive. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.
Not, “I don’t like when you…..” Try “I love it when you help with the dishes.” Positive talk from both parties will create a positive environment that allows both partners to feel happy, cared for and loved. Positive-in leads to positive-out. There are times when you need to discuss certain undesirable characteristics to work through a rough patch, but talk about it then move on. Don’t stay in blame or hurt for longer than you have to.
Step 3: Play around. Try to do something spontaneous. Be playful in your relationship. Find what you have within you to create a playful relationship and environment.