Tagged: marriage

To Have and To Hold

I recently attended the wedding of a great friend.  This beautiful event was supported by a spectacular venue, decorations, and charming dresses.  And most importantly, loving people.  As the event began, the pastor took her spot under an elegant wood arch aligned with flowers.  She opened with a speech to remind the audience, friends and family of our role in this matrimony.  As we listened, we became confidants.  As we watched the couple exchange vows, we became advocates for their happiness.  We were not just gathered here to witness, but to become collaborators in the entirety of this marriage journey.

We are called to provide support, to help in times of struggle, heal in times of pain and celebrate in times of joy to those of our friends who include us in their special day.  We have a part in this union and this family throughout the many years they remain married.

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This, of course, got me thinking.  I thought about all the people seated in the chairs beside me and standing near the couple.  I thought about their journey and the importance of the role I was about to play in the lives of others.

Marriage is a time for happiness and celebration.  But Marriage is most importantly a time when our selfish ways are put aside and we grow in love.  Relationships that support the marriage are essential for that growth to happen.

As I continue to read books from leaders, mentors, and professional athletes, I learn that people need direction from different avenues and various people.  We are all shaped by our families, our communities, our teachers, and our peers.  We are all snapped by our relationships.

I have been to numerous weddings throughout the past 10 years, and I had to ask myself how have I continued to support those individuals and families?

When we put on suits and ties, pretty dresses and dazzling shoes, we are not just attending one event for that relationship, but we are asked to continue to provide support and understanding for the marriage journey and each of its partners.

I was moved by the pastor engaging the attendies in the discussion to support marriage in it’s longevity.  Community is an intricate part of supporting marriages.  We can not do this alone.

 

My name is Laurie Kjelstrom, M.A.  I am a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern who is passionate about helping Marriages sustain happiness and helping families live healthy lives.  

If you are in California, please call me today for a consultation: 714-747-4393

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Am I dating “her son” or “my boyfriend?”

Have you ever dated a guy that made you swoon over the way he treated you?  He opened doors, he made sure to walk you to your car, or he brought you flowers so often you thought he owned a floral shop. You have been with this guy for only months and you begin thinking about details of a possible perfect wedding.  Nothing could stop your fantasy dream….. but then you meet his mom.

The more and more time you spend with his mom, you begin to realize that she has no intention of stepping down as the most important lady in his life. As time goes by you begin to un-plan the wedding.   Not to his discredit, as he has learned the love language of the ladies from being close to his mom.

The problem is unless his mom is willing to step out of the lead role, it will be  impossible for you to fall into the role of wife.  It is customary for a mother to protect her son.  However, when that son is ready to go out of the nest, it is vital that the mother let him go out alone.  It is important that her role is less and less as he gets closer to choosing a partner for himself.  There are many different reasons for a mother to be too attached to her son; including unhappiness in her own relationships, jealousy of other or younger women and the list goes on. It is a response and a behavior that comes from something deeper.  It is important for you to know that biologically it will be natural for the son to take the mother’s side.  As much as you can want to have a happy family, it will be near impossible until mom steps out and lets you have the leading role.  This is a difficult relationship triangle that needs to be resolved if there is going to be a successful relationship between you and your boyfriend

Family is one of the most important things in life.  I am not downplaying the strength of family, but psychology tells us that enmeshed family can create maladaptive behaviors.  We talk about how boyfriends and girlfriends need time for friends and need individual space, and the same is true for the immediate family.  Separation is important; you can have a healthy family life with your significant other when boundaries are in place throughout all relationships.

Refuse or Forgive After Infidelity

We are quick to blame one party when our partners stray and meet someone outside of the relationship.  But what about, “It takes two to tango?”  I am not suggesting that you blame one party or the other, but I am suggesting that you give them equal responsibility or equal forgiveness.  Example- You are back with the guy who cheated on you, but you refuse to talk to the girl that he cheated on you with.  Maybe it is time to refuse to talk to both of them.  Or maybe it is time to forgive both of them. 

My suggestion is that if you are continuing the relationship with your partner and trying to resolve a time of infidelity, that you forgive both parties.  Letting go of that past can be the best thing to get you and your partner to move on to a successful future.  Moving on with your partner through a time of infidelity can be a very difficult task.  However if you are refusing to forgive your partner or the situation, the best thing you can do is get out of the situation.  If you are ruminating about the infidelity, the act of the cheating, or the parties involved, and are unable to stop your bad thoughts it is time to move on.  You can not continue to analyze why this went on.  Some situations in life just don’t make any sense and you will never be able to make sense of them.

Here are some quick suggestions to move on from this difficult situation:

  • Take care of yourself.  Get back into a happy hobby.  Hang out with friends.
  • Don’t disclose your personal life.  In the times of Facebook Status, it may be easy to bash your unfaithful partner via web, but I suggest against that.
  • Don’t listen to unsolicited advice.  Everyone is going to have an opinion about what you should and should not do in a situation of infidelity.  You need friends who give you support rather than judgement.
  • Forgive everyone involved.  Forgive your partner, the other party, and yourself.  You might even have to take some responsibility in order to forgive yourself.
  • Couples therapy.  It might be good to have a neutral third-party to help you get through set-backs of the relationship and move forward.  You will be able to talk honestly about your feelings in a safe environment.

The Marriage Housing Market

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:

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.

Are You Mad at Me?

Are you mad at me, is the relationship equivalent to the kids yelling in the back of the car, are we there yet?  It is the annoying question that gets inserted when we are not sure what our partner is feeling.

For some reason, this phrase has become the go-two when we want to spark a conversation with how our significant other is feeling.  I would also venture to say that 90 percent of the time the answer is going to be “no”.  Even when the person is mad at you, literally, they will say no.  It feels like it is a trap.  It is confusing, for everyone.  The person asking the question is, more than likely, directing their feelings of inadequacy towards the other person.  Not inadequacy as a person, but inadequacy in communication.  As we partner together in relationships or marriages we go through a huge learning curve on what the other person is feeling.  Even after that curve has been met, we spend ample time getting to know the other person throughout the relationship.ips

So why even ask the question?  You are waiting for their tone and demeanor, not actually the answer to the question.  Try to wait and watch their tone and demeanor in normal conversation.  After you gather the appropriate amount of information and consider that they possibly are mad (or sad, upset, tired, preoccupied, or hundreds of other emotions that we as humans may feel), then maybe offer your listening and insert something like; Babe, how are you today?  How was work?  How was school?  All these questions provoke conversation; the person will begin to discuss the day with you and eventually some type of emotions will come out and they will also divulge who those emotions were directed at.

You are making a lot of assumptions when you even ask if a person is mad.  You are making a tremendous amount more when you insert: at me?  Of the many emotions that we can feel as humans and the thousands of people in our lives that we can feel them at; maybe we can corporately and consciously try to leave this phrase out of our relationships.

The alternative: 

In a relationship, we develop many words or actions that we only share with the other person.  It is the language that both parties make up all their own; may include sarcasm, baby talk, or funny somethings.  An example is ours (my boyfriend and me) became, “Are you sad at me?”  It was a funny way for us to develop our own way to talk to one another.  We understand that the phrase is not literal and we joke and talk between one another. Develop and alternative with your partner to replace the dreadful question, “Are You Mad at Me?”

Is Your Partner Making You Pay for Their Past Relationships?

Often in relationships we are comparing our partner to past partners and we are comparing our current relationship to our past relationships.  To avoid comparing your partner, Try This:

Always look at your partner and your relationship with fresh eyes.  Treat your partner each day as if you are meeting them for the first time.  We are often less inclined to show strangers our ‘true’ colors.  You should still be yourself in your relationship.  Being yourself is very different from acting out your built up emotions from the past to your partner.

Forgive your past.  You can’t forget your past, but letting your past partners and relationships go can help you move forward in your current relationship.  Forgive the past so it doesn’t have to come up in your present relationship.

So what if this is the other way around? What if your partner is so critical of you because of their past relationships?  What if they bring jealousy into the relationship because their ex cheated?  What if you are paying for the mistakes their ex made?

You can not change the way a person thinks.  However, you can decide how you will let someone treat you.  If your partner is constantly condemning you for situations that have not taken place in your relationship, but have in their past relationship, it is time to ask yourself if they are over the hurt from their past.  You can not be the person paying for the hurt that leaked into your relationship due to your partners inability to let it go.  There may be a transitional period for your partner to get used to you, but this should only last a couple of months.  If you continue to have a relationship with a partner that compares you to an ex or to past relationships, you should openly communicate this.  Let your partner know that you are not comfortable with the dynamic of added stress from a past you couldn’t prevent.

Baseball and Marriage

The Baseball Story

Weaver is pitching for the Angels.  Bases are loaded, no outs.  The Angels managed to get a force play at home.  Then Weaver gets two more batters out.  The game ended in a win for the Angels and a combined shutout. So whether you are a Yankees, Rangers, Angels or Twins fan- baseball has more in common with marriage than you think.  In baseball, there are so many plays and tactics that go into making it work just right.  The same goes for relationships and marriage.  You can not always predict the umpires’ call and you can not predict where you will hit the ball.

The Marriage Story

In marriages you spend as much time with your spouse, if not more, as the men who play baseball spend with their team.

You need to learn how to:

Know your position and play it well: Know your manners and temperaments in your relationship.  Your spouse is depending on you just as much as you are on them to make the marriage work.  Without each person on the team working hard, one person will end up carrying too much of the ‘team’ weight.

Be a team player: Learn how to pick your battles and let your partner win theirs.

Be open to change:  Pitchers have to change-up their pitches depending on the players on base or the ball to strike count.  Be flexible with the needs of your partner.  Know that sometimes you are going to have to be open to change.

Remember you are contracted with your spouse much longer than a baseball player is contracted. You need to learn to joke with one another like the players do in the dugout and also be able to be a team player when it is time to win that game.  In baseball, you can not win every game.  In marriage battles will happen, it’s not about the wins or loses, but how you play the game.