Category Archives: Relationship

Handle Income Inequality in a New Relationship

Money. According to numerous studies and surveys, it’s the number-one source of conflict in romantic relationships — and also the subject we are least likely to openly talk about. There are lots of reasons why. Sometimes friction occurs because we hold incompatible financial values and goals. Other times, trust is undermined when individuals are less than honest about spending habits and debt load.

Here’s another issue: It’s increasingly common for couples to run into trouble simply because one partner earns more than the other, triggering all sorts of unexpected feelings. The partner who consistently must pick up the tab or pay the bills may find it hard to fight off resentment and judgments. On the other hand, the one who can’t contribute as much as they’d like can easily succumb to guilt, shame, and defensiveness. Both emotional extremes are toxic to healthy relationships.

Fortunately, it’s possible to dissipate financial tension before it does lasting damage. Here are five strategies for doing just that:

 

Communicate.

That’s right—talk about money, in defiance of cultural taboos. Do it sooner rather than later. Resentment and guilt don’t appear right away; they only grow with time, the secondary result of unspoken thoughts and feelings. Head them off by being honest from the get-go.

 

Create a shared definition of “worth.”

Often, trouble over income inequality arises because partners regard the “bottom line” as the only way to assess value— ignoring other, non-monetary standards. For example, schoolteachers will never earn as much as software engineers, but teachers undoubtedly play an equally vital role in society. Can you and your partner agree that some professions shouldn’t be defined by dollars alone? If not, consider re-evaluating how compatible you really are.

 

Be aware of gender bias.

In 1970, only 7 percent of American women earned more than their husbands. By 2014, the figure had jumped to 24 percent. That’s progress, but still a long way from parity. That means conflict over income inequality in a relationship is three times more likely to arise because a man out-earns a woman—a fact that can open the door to outmoded ways of thinking about gender roles in general. Don’t let money turn back the clock on your relationship.

 

Equally divide total labor.

Other statistics indicate that, even in relationships where women earn more, they are still more likely to do more of the unpaid household work than their male partner. When facing income inequality in your relationship, be sure to account for everything you and your partner contribute to your life together.

How to know that he is in Love With You

Love is a small word with huge implications. When it’s a healthy kind of love, it can help you become your best possible self and enrich your life with a new kind of happiness and meaning. When it’s unhealthy—or just not the right match—it can literally gut you, leaving you feeling broken and devastated.

The beginning stages of a relationship can be a tricky time because a man might say those infamous three words without feeling it, or he can feel it for a long time before he’s ready to say it out loud. Typically when a man loves you, it’s obvious. You don’t even have to ask because you just know it. (This article covers it really well.) The reason it can sometimes seem confusing is that men and women often experience love in different ways.

To save you the time and energy spent playing the he-loves-me-loves-me-not game, here are the five greatest signs that he definitely is in love with you:

 

He makes you a priority in his life.

When a man loves you, spending time with you and being there for you are at the top of his priority list. It doesn’t matter how busy he is, he will carve out the time you both need to feel fulfilled in your relationship. He will make sure you know that you’re special to him, that he cares about you, that your happiness matters, that being with you, and there for you, are important to him.

If you find that you have to fight for his time and attention or there is always something higher on his to-do list, you might have reason to raise an eyebrow. And sadly, if you do feel like you’re only getting leftover scraps when it comes to his attention, he most likely is not in love with you. When a man loves you, you don’t need to strategize ways of getting into his heart—it’s just there, right on the line, waiting for you to take the bait.

 

His actions are louder than his words.

You’ve heard it before, but this timeless saying is always true, especially in matters of the heart: actions speak louder than words. And this is especially true when it comes to knowing if a man loves you. Words are easy, and words can be cheap.

Love isn’t merely a feeling, it’s a verb, it comes across is actions. When a man truly loves you, he shows it. He goes out of his way to make you happy because your happiness is more important than his own, he is there for you even if it’s inconvenient for him, he sacrifices for you, he puts effort into the relationship. It’s easy to be a great and loving partner when it’s all sunshine and roses, but how does he react when things get real? That is where his true feelings lie.

 

He doesn’t give up.

Even for a couple who share common interests and who are working toward the same goals, relationships are never easy. But when a man loves you, he is committed to making it work, no matter what. He doesn’t threaten to leave at the first sign or trouble. He is in it and he plans to see it through, even when it gets really tough. He is fully invested—and he wants to do whatever it takes to make your bond not only strong, but amazing.

When you love someone, quitting isn’t an option until all other options have been exhausted. You don’t just leave unless things are clearly beyond repair. If a man isn’t willing—or able—to go all in, then he’s not the right match for you.

 

He pays attention.

When we love someone, we can’t get enough. We want to know everything, to fully immerse ourselves in their story. When a guy loves you, he pay attention to everything you say and do. He sees your potential, your strengths, your weaknesses, how you experience and process the world. He’s in love with who you are as a human, not just as a partner.

This is different than a man who merely loves the way you make him feel. While this narcissistic type of love has become commonplace these days—it isn’t real. A mature, stable love is when a man loves who you are—and sure, he may feel good being with you—but that isn’t the reason he chooses to stay.

 

You feel it in your gut.

When a guy loves you, you know it. It feels like peace, it feels like home, it feels safe. You don’t wonder and worry how he feels. You don’t spend each day in the relationship like it could be your last, wondering when the proverbial other shoe will drop. You feel a calmness in knowing.

Now at the same time, some people are carrying a lot of hurt and pain and may have deeply rooted trust issues that make it impossible to ever feel secure. If this is the case, then work on it! Do whatever it takes to break through the walls surrounding you so that you can let someone else in. This is why it’s so important to be your best self before you enter into a relationship, to clear away the clutter and really see what’s in front of you.

Reasons To Date a Gardener

Gardens add so much to our daily lives—color, fragrance, spice, sustenance, and creative inspiration. Whether a tiny container garden or a vast plot of intricate designs, these spaces bring joy to those who pause to look and enjoy. Of course, it takes dedicated people to make gardens and orchards thrive . . . and the qualities these people possess with plant-life translate well to romantic relationships.

 

Here’s why:

1: They’re patient.

They know that the best things in life take time. Gardeners understand you can’t force fruit to ripen or a tulip to pop out of the ground. Likewise, they know you can’t rush a relationship into reaching its full potential.

 

2: They appreciate beauty.

Gardeners are committed to creating something beautiful. They invest their time and talents in developing something amazing from scratch. Sounds like what happens with romantic relationships.

 

3: They value uniqueness.

Given the vast array of plant species in the world, gardeners recognize the value each has to offer. They know that every person, like every plant, has unique aspects that are highly appealing.

 

4: They know the importance of giving space.

Garden plants need plenty of room to set down roots—and so do new relationships.

 

5: They encourage the best in others.

Gardeners want to help each other succeed, offering helpful tips and lots of encouragement. That generous spirit will likely flow into your relationship as well.

 

6: They know that growth requires consistent nurturing.

Likewise, a budding romance needs to be steadily cultivated and cared for.

 

7: They are eager to learn and develop.

They know that gardening—like many aspects of life—is a process of trying to improve their craft. A romantic relationship also requires two people intent on improving as individuals and lovers.

 

8: They are adaptable and flexible.

When one approach to gardening isn’t working, they’re ready to try new approaches. That’s a good perspective for relationships as well.

Always a Friend or a Fling

My advice is going to sound very boilerplate expert-lady, but bear with me for a bit.

I suggest you stop having flings. I’m not suggesting this for any moral reasons. This has nothing to do with what your grandmother would or would not approve of. I’m also not suggesting you stop having flings for any dumb market-based reasons—you know, you set yourself up as a precious commodity and therefore drive up your worth in the men of the world’s eyes. You’re not a commodity; you’re a person, and what you do behind closed doors is nobody’s business but your own.

I’m suggesting this because, ultimately, having flings isn’t making you happy. Yes, they are great in the moment, and maybe even the potential future anxiety and heartbreak seems worth it sometimes. I get it. Sometimes you just want to take whatever bit of goodness life throws you, however fleeting. Resisting that temptation can be very hard. I know. I’ve been there.

But I think it’s worth it.

If you stop having flings, then you will never again be in the position you often find yourself in—feeling rejected after a one- (or two- or three-) night stand. Instead, you’re making clear to your friend/flirt that you’re interested in a real relationship, so it’s on him to prove he’s worthy of physical intimacy.

You say you’re smart, confident and opinionated—good. Keep that.

Any dude who can’t handle a woman who speaks her mind (which, by the way, I don’t see as a particularly “male” trait) isn’t worth the bother, as far I’m concerned.

So don’t worry about changing your inner essence, or trying to fashion yourself into the type of woman you think men want. Be the smart, confident, opinionated woman who doesn’t let men push her around. Be the smart, confident, opinionated woman who says “Sorry, I’m going to need more information before I invite you upstairs.”

Will this magically make men decide you’re someone they want to shower with romance? I don’t know, but that’s not the point. This isn’t about playing games or manipulating men. It’s about taking control. It’s about keeping your head clear of the men who aren’t worth your affection, so that you can be present for the one who is.

Behaviors to Guide You There

Your ability to stay aligned with your goal of a healthy relationship is bound to be put to the test as you navigate the highs and lows of dating. There are times when you may feel the urge to give up, crawl up on your sofa, and never date again. You could feel rejected and let down when someone you like doesn’t feel the same. You will also feel the adrenaline pumping when you meet someone new, and actually hit it off. In a nutshell, dating will test your capacity to stay present, be confident, handle anxiety, be vulnerable, and be patient.

Knowing deep down you want love and companionship, but feeling burnt out by what it takes to attain your dating goals, commonly presents an internal conflict for most single individuals. When in doubt about what to do, remind yourself you don’t have to make any major, rigid or permanent decisions on whether to give up on dating, and acknowledge that it’s natural to feel confusion and impatience when things aren’t clicking in the ways you had hoped.

If you are going to make the commitment to put yourself out there, it is important to approach your love life with a healthy and reality-based mindset and not give up prematurely. It’s about tweaking beliefs and behaviors that may interfere with dating. It’s also essential to grasp what it really means and what it ultimately takes to create the relationship of your dreams.

Below are 15 signs you are approaching dating with a healthy mindset and acting in ways that promote connection.

1. You allow yourself to take breaks from dating when necessary, but don’t give up on your relationship goals. This means having control of your impulses, and refusing to give in to urges to quit online dating after a few bad dates.

2. You do more than simply show up for dates. You engage, share, contribute, try and be present. I like to tell my clients they can go on 100 dates, but if they are not present, open and emotionally available, forming a connection will be nearly impossible.

3. You give potential partners a true chance. This may mean you go on multiple dates with the same person (even when the first date wasn’t a perfect 10) and you give yourself time to figure out how you feel about someone by taking the opportunity to get to know them better. Remind yourself you don’t have to rush to decisions.

4. You take emotional risks and allow yourself to be vulnerable. Believing being vulnerable is weak is a problematic perception. In fact, love, connection and intimacy are all based on vulnerability. Bonus: you understand that being vulnerable does not mean oversharing or moving too quickly. It is about developing trust over time.

5. You believe in authenticity. You don’t hide who you are, disown the qualities you aren’t proud of, or change who you are based on someone else’s wishes.

6. You work on yourself and participate in self-discovery and reflection. You remain open to learning about yourself as you date. You reflect on what’s working well for you and what needs improvement without shaming or judging yourself. You are willing to learn from your hardships and miserable dating experiences.

7. You are clear on the type of partner you hope to attract and the kind of relationship you aim to create. While you are open-minded about your dating life, you have a strong sense of your desires and goals.

8. You heal dysfunctional patterns and old relationship wounds so you don’t repeat them. You own it and let go of blaming others for your own life circumstances. Also, you are willing to say goodbye to and end relationships with toxic people.

9. You believe in love. While you may be persuaded otherwise, if you want love, you must believe it exists.

10. You focus on feeling deserving of love even when your mind tries to convince you otherwise. If you can’t think of ten things you have to offer to a partner, start a list right now and let it grow as you reflect on your strengths, accomplishments, personality traits and values. Long story short — be confident and believe in your worthiness.

11. You ditch protective behaviors, such as playing games or drinking too much on dates. When you like someone, you go for it even though it’s scary and anxiety-producing.

12. You understand dating is more than just picking the next person to ask out or profile to message. It’s about intention and deliberate action that is in line with what you are looking for.

How They Maintain Hope While Dating

For the better portion of my 20s, I’ve been single. And not just solo, but really-really-really-want-to-be-in-a-relationship-crazy-obsessed-single-gal. It hasn’t always been a pretty experience for me, and for several years, I’d find myself completely defeated and disappointed after I went out with yet another guy who I couldn’t picture sharing my life with. Over time, I watched my self-confidence plummet, and noticed a gradual shift in my mindset: instead of being hopeful, I became bitter and angry. And though it took a stint in therapy for me to really make an improvement in how I approached the dating world, what also helped was smart tactics from my fellow friends who were also single, on how to stay positive. While there will always been evenings when I’d rather stay at home with a bottle of my favorite red blend than to take a chance on a potential partner, these hacks have helped me see the love potion bottle half-full.

Let these brilliant ideas, from single folks just like you, get you out of a rut, ASAP:

 

“I ask myself if I’d want to date any of my friends’ partners.”

“When I begin to get jealous of my friends who I think have it all together: the perfect guy who adores them, the shared one-bedroom apartment to save on rent and being able to chat about having a baby in the next year, I ask myself if I would want to date their partner. It sounds silly, but the answer is always ‘no.’ And when I put it in that respective, I remind myself that finding love is so personal and so dependent on where you are in your life and who you meet. I realize I don’t want ‘their life’ – I want my own with a partner who will love me and vice versa.” -Nicole, 32

 

“I remind myself of the perks of being single.”

“I do really want a relationship and I do date a lot to help make that happen. But when I’ve had a really long day at work or I’m just not in the mood to speak to or see anyone, I feel lucky that I can just go home, put on a face mask and tune-out the world. Or, when I want to book a random trip, I don’t have to check in with someone. When I remind myself that I should savor my single days instead of counting them, I feel rejuvenated to live my life as big as I can before a partner and babies tie me down.” -Kate, 33

 

“I stop looking at guys as dates, and see them as people.”

“Men are people, too – crazy concept, right? It took me a really long time to figure out that the pedestal I was putting men I didn’t even know was far, far too high. A friend told me to go into a date with the intention of getting to know a person, not a ‘man’ who could be my boyfriend or one day, husband. This way, I actually get to know who they are instead of thinking of them as part of a couple. It’s really helpful!” -Lauren, 28

 

“I take a week off.”

“When I feel myself getting all uptight and anxious that ‘OMG, I’ve been single for three years’ – I take it as a note from the universe to chill out and take a week off from dating. When I get into those moods, I’ll start setting up lots of dates, even with guys I’m not interested in, because my head is spinning. But now that I’ve learned how to pinpoint what I’m feeling, I’m able to stop the whirlwind and take a week off to connect with friends and myself again.” -Allie, 27

Reasons to date a zombie if you keep an open mind

‘Tis the season to run away from zombies — or date them.

If you keep an open mind, you might discover that a zombie is who you’ve been looking for all along.

(But still be careful. Date at your own risk.)

13 reasons to date a zombie:

1. Are you accident prone? Date a zombie and there’s little chance you’ll accidentally kill him/her.

2. Related to number 1: Everyone will understand if you kill your date.

3. Your date will be happy to see you. He might even come running.

4. If you tend to overheat in cuddling situations, a cold-blooded date will be a refreshing change.

5. You’ll be the graceful one in the relationship. And the prettiest.

6. To zombies, age is just a number. You’re alive. That’s all that matters.

7. Related to number 5: Zombies aren’t threatened by your work successes, have commitment issues or whine about your needy friends. They’re just happy you’re alive.

8. Got enemies? Are they alive? Not anymore.

9. Sick of wondering if last night’s date will call? Zombies are pursuers. You won’t have to wonder if he/she is interested.

10. Zombies are inspiring. They know what they want and they do what it takes to get it.

11. Dating a zombie is dangerous — but bad boys are sexy, right?

12. Zombies are trendy. They currently have more street cred than vampires.

13. Dinner is easy – just add brains to the ingredient list and you are good to go.

Reason to believe again on your relationship

I’ve been reading some of the articles on your web site and thought I would take a chance here.  My wife and I are in the process of getting a divorce. She is divorcing me because she claims she fell out of love with me and no longer wants to be tied down. We have 2 children ages 8 and 10.  Next week the kids are off from school for the week because of vacation. I took the week off to be with them.

The problem for me is I have to spend the majority of my time with them at my old house that I lived in with my wife and kids. I’ll be losing the home in the divorce and it hurts to stay there with the kids. I live with my father at the moment and he just doesn’t really have the room for me to take them for the entire week. My wife and I talk quite a bit about things and she is the only one that wants the divorce. I’m trying to figure out ways to be able to make the marriage still work but feel like I am fighting a losing battle. I’m hoping maybe with me being back at the house even temporarily that it may bring back some feelings for her. As I said, she just doesn’t want to be married but I can’t come up with any arguments for her to want to stay. We still have to deal with each other constantly because of the kids. What can I do to give her reason to believe in us again?

We are at the point right now where we will probably have to sell the home because neither of us can come up with enough to buy the other out of the equity in the house.  I’m torn. Part of me says why try and stay with someone that clearly doesn’t want me anymore? She claims there was never that crazy in love feeling. Yet she still wants to have sex with me on occasion and do things together with her and the kids. I did love her but now I’m like what am I fighting for anymore. Losing the house, her and the security of family life that I charish so much.

Yet there is something inside of me that wants this to work out. We’ve been discussing the relationship but she’s been pretty much content to be on her own. I can see why because I spend Tuesday night, Wednesday night, and Friday thru Saturday with the kids. I pay half of my take home pay to the household to help support her and the kids and the dogs. Plus I still have to pay for where I am staying at. She doesn’t want to lose the house and disrupt the kids anymore than they already have been but my stance on that is the kids have already been disrupted and its better to change things drastically for them now than when they get older and can’t deal with the changes as well. She won’t do counseling cause she doesn’t believe in it and I am at a loss for what to do. I don’t want to stay where I’m not wanted and I don’t feel I should lose out on everything I have worked for in the last ten + years just to make her happy and make her decision to divorce easier on her. I’m not trying to hurt the kids so how do I protect myself and them at the same time?

Divorced Singles Know for Sure

No one enters a marriage thinking they will one day get divorced. Generally, all men and women get married bright-eyed and open-hearted, believing that divorce happens to other people. But if the well-known statistic is true, nearly half of marriages end this way.

Everyone who has been through it will admit that divorce is extremely painful, stressful, and disorienting. Thankfully, many people grow and learn through the process, gaining wisdom they may not have otherwise achieved. The lessons include:

 

Healing takes time, but it will happen.

People who have experienced a hard breakup must work through their grief and pain before they can fully recover and move on. It takes effort, and it takes time. But at the end of the journey, you will be equipped to step into a brighter future.

 

Holding on only prolongs the pain.

Intentional action is needed to confirm to yourself–and potential new partners–that you’ve made a clean break with the past. You will always have memories and experiences that surface at various times, but failing to emotionally let go of your ex or the life you had will hinder you from finding joy and new love.

 

Every meaningful relationship brings risk and rewards.

After a painful breakup, you might feel that the risks of dating are too big and the rewards too small. It’s true that every romantic relationship carries the danger of heartache–but when you find the right person in the future, the benefits will far outweigh any risks.

 

A painful breakup will make you grateful when you find a great love.

Once the dust settles after a rough split, people usually realize what they had been missing from the relationship and how much things had gone awry. When you find a wonderful new love and a healthy relationship, you’ll be more grateful than ever before.

 

“Failure” is often a step forward.

When you are open and intentional about learning from your relational demise, you can develop into a far better person. Every lesson learned is one that makes you more ready to handle real love when it comes along.

 

Personal growth is a lifelong endeavor.

Many people emerge from a tough breakup eager to get back into the dating market and find a new (better) partner. But what these people need most of all is time to work on themselves, determine what went wrong, and develop personal qualities that would ensure a fulfilling, lasting relationship next time around.

 

Gratitude is the antidote for all kinds of pain.

Experiencing the end of a serious relationship can leave people embittered and angry. Practicing intentional gratitude shifts us toward a healthy perspective. A life characterized by genuine gratitude brings so many benefits—emotional health, inner peace, stronger relationships, and less anxiety.

Truly Compatible And Why That Matters

For many people hoping and seeking lasting love, trying to crack the code of “compatibility” is just as likely to create confusion as clarity. That’s because, for all the tidy checklists and online quizzes meant to gauge a couple’s compatibility, in reality, it’s a complex interplay between psychology, biology, and a host of intangibles that resist easy characterization.

Does that mean compatibility is overrated as a cornerstone of healthy relationships? Definitely not.

But neither is compatibility a simple series of boxes you check off and forget about. It turns out your key “must-haves” and “can’t-stands” can line up quite well — and you still rub each other the wrong way. You may both be avid skiers, but if you can’t amicably decide where to go on your next vacation, then “compatibility” in that respect counts for very little.

It’s important to remind yourself alignment will never be perfect, and success ultimately depends on how you handle remaining differences. It’s about your temperament, disposition, and attitude — whether you are able to believe the best about each other, support each other even when disagreeing, and allow your values to grow and change when necessary. Where those qualities are concerned, compatibility is not something you have, it’s something you make — together.

As you consider the following domains of compatibility, think about how each can be approached with love, compassion, understanding, and flexibility. Here are six core categories to examine, to be sure you start with a baseline of important shared values with a prospective life partner:

 

Lifestyle.

A host of things fall under this umbrella — from eating habits to hygiene to your respective attitudes about substance use. If your idea of a perfect weekend is popcorn and old movies on the sofa, and your partner pushes you to join her in the mosh pits of the city’s punk rock clubs, you may be headed for trouble. On the other hand, you may still be compatible if you can give each other the freedom to enjoy your differences apart.

 

Finances.

Of all the goals you will set and work toward together, money management is arguably the most important. That’s because, in one way or another, it touches practically everything else. Do you need to talk bank accounts on the first date? Of course not. But within the first few weeks, it’s important to get even a basic understanding of your potential partners’s financial picture and outlook.

 

Politics and religion.

A defining characteristic of an inclusive, democratic society is the ability to calmly consider all points of view. In a romantic relationship, however, some issues are likely to produce divisions too wide to span. Be honest from the beginning about your potentially polarizing beliefs.

 

Family and children.

By far the biggest, most important, and most demanding project you’ll undertake together is having and raising children. Long before the first child arrives, make sure you can agree on key parenting values and goals.

 

Intelligence.

This is not to say you must always think alike, but that you should be able to think with similar tools of education and reasoning at your disposal. A divide will inevitably open in a relationship when one partner feels consistently outsmarted and outgunned in conversation.