Drifting Apart

drifting

Drifting Apart

It stuns you when you first realize that you and your sweetie, you seemed like the perfect couple, are drifting apart. Sometimes just as perfectly as you fell for each other, as if it were only natural an event like a natural disaster, an earth shattering union over which the two of you had no control. But just as powerfully so too can each party find forces pushing them apart, and these can occur just as naturally and as inexplicably.

Sometimes we end up in a comfortable relationship that has no future. This kind of relationship has dueling emotions inside you. On the one hand you have your life goals. On the other you love this person and perhaps fear being single again and facing a big, black who-knows-what. Sometimes the fear of the unknown makes us stay in an uncomfortable situation. But the problem with that is we die a little inside for we are born to seek out our dreams. Scientists have proven that parts of the brain showing good, sound judgment shutdown when we fall in love. As the relationship progresses more and more we get to learn about our partner and deal with their shortcomings, and our own.

Once you have that down, you think you’ve got it all figured out. And you’ll live happily ever after. Or not. More likely it will be like a series of hurtles you’ll have to jump over. You’ll dodge them and do okay. Once in a while you’ll have a victory to celebrate. At other times a defeat to mourn. But when people have different priorities or if their values change, as are natural to do over time you can find the couple naturally drifting apart. The question is how far is this drift going to go? Can you relate to one another anymore? Is there trust and respect? Can you build a deep bond of connection and intimacy despite these differences? Each couple has to decide for themselves. It takes a big conversation.

Some long term couples and married couples decide to live together despite their differences. They share what they can but each also enjoy their separate lives. Others seek out a partner who fulfills all of their needs. Then there are those who try to change their lover, or spurn them for not being the person they fell in love with to begin with. Instead, talk about it. Discuss the drift. See when it occurred and why it occurred. Figure out if it makes sense to stay together and share your life together or perhaps you’ve grown too different after all. For more advice read, Help! My Spouse and I Are Drifting Apart by Dr. Bill Maier and Mitch Temple.

Why many are Scared of Love

fear of love

Why many are Scared of Love

Did you know that most divorces and breakups happen at the beginning of the year? January seeks the most separations of couples. Why is that? Speculations abound but no real reason has been pegged. It could be that people want to have a new life in the New Year. Or perhaps they see Valentine’s Day down the road and run off before it gets there. But this begs the question, why do so many breakups and divorces happen at all? One reason, lots of people are scared of an emotion that should instead empower them, love.

These fears don’t always surface at the beginning of a relationship. They may lay dormant waiting for the right trigger to bring them forth. They all come down to one thing, a fear of intimacy. And even though initially this fear is seen as a protective quality, it ultimately keeps us from the intimacy and closeness we desire most. There are lots of ways to be scared of love. See if any of these describe you or someone you know. First is fear of vulnerability. This usually happens at the beginning of a relationship. Love means letting someone else in. You are suddenly dependent upon someone else for your happiness, not just you. And this fear of vulnerability can often affect or even end a relationship, the fearful partner driving the other away.

Falling in love also brings up old scars from the past. Childhood traumas are often brought forth. Anger, resentment, neglect, rejection and fear can all resurface in conjunction of finding love in one’s life. Love can oppose our old perceptions of ourselves. We may think we’re unlovable or undeserving of love. There are those who sometimes mistake their inner critic for how they actually feel about themselves. They let those negative voices become their opinion of themselves. The inner critic is an amalgam. It is nothing but a collection of negative messages we were exposed to when we were young by our parents and others, or those which our parents felt about themselves which we internalized and made about ourselves. Other negative messages from bullies and other peers may become part of this amalgam. Eventually it gets ingrained in the individual. Falling in love, and being validated by someone who loves you, throws a wrench in that perception. And since our biggest fear is that of the unknown, the person who is loved but doesn’t feel that they deserve it doesn’t know what to do.

Some people fear inevitable pain from the elation of love. That the breakup will hurt just as bad as the love now feels. But how do you know that it won’t work out? Lastly, some people fear that the other person loves them more than they love that person. They’re afraid that this dynamic will never change. Love changes over time and moment to moment. Do not fear love. Let it be a transformative force in your life, not a blast that forces you to crouch but an updraft that makes you soar. For more advice read, Love Me, Don’t Leave Me: Overcoming Fear of Abandonment & Building Lasting, Loving Relationships by Michelle Skeen, PsyD.

Should You Stay with Someone Who Doesn’t Want to Get Married?

long term

Should You Stay with Someone Who Doesn’t Want to Get Married?

Sometimes you are at a point in a relationship where you are so in love, everything seems perfect. You and your partner have been together for quite some time and you are expecting things to progress. But when you broach the idea of marriage, the other person gets anxious or defensive. Perhaps they don’t believe in marriage. Maybe they’ve been down that road before. Or maybe you get a noncommittal “we’ll be married, someday” without a hard date to count on. If you are with someone who is eluding your efforts to get married, or just says they don’t believe in it, while you do, what do you do? You could hand them an ultimatum, either marry me or I will find someone who will. But that usually doesn’t end well. Should you stay with someone who doesn’t want to get married? That depends on a number of factors. First, are they against marriage in total or just marrying you? If the relationship is mutually beneficial, warm, open, loving and stable but marriage is against your partner’s personal philosophy then you can negotiate and come to some sort of compromise. If this person is just biding their time with you until someone better comes along then this person is not the one for you.

Another important thing to do is to search your feelings about marriage. Why is it that you feel as though you need to get married? For some, it has something to do with their culture or religion. Others are being pressured by a family member. It could be something you have always dreamed of. Or it might be because all of your friends have gotten married. Start to uncover what your real feelings are about getting married and why you feel that way. It will give you a better perspective on why it is so important to you and how to address the issue. If you just want to walk down the aisle, have a great reception and be the center of attention, think of the aftermath. You are supposed to spend decades of life with this person, living side-by-side. So you want to make sure your desire to get married is genuine. Then consider the person themselves. Is this who you really want to spend the rest of your life with? Do they love you? Are they supportive? What’s the communication situation like? How is the sex? If you were both thrown into a crisis situation together, would your relationship make it through? You don’t want to set yourself up for divorce.

Don’t just wait around for a proposal and brood. That will never make it happen. If you’ve still decided this person is right for you, discuss all the insights that you’ve come to with your partner. Don’t pressure them with an ultimatum. They will probably pull away from you. That won’t get you anywhere. Instead, slowly get your partner used to the notion. Introduce things subtly and make the idea seem like theirs. British psychologist Anjula Mutanda says to ask your partner, “If we were to get married, what would be your ideal way of doing it?” Agree with their answer and make it sound as if you are very impressed. Keep subtly moving things along like this and see if you get anywhere. If you want to take a more straightforward approach, sit them down in a comfortable place when you are both in a good mood. Make sure it is free of distractions. Compliment your partner and tell them what they’ve done right and what personality traits you adore about them. Tell them how close you feel to them and how much the relationship means to you. Let them know the reasons why you want to spend the rest of your life with them. Explain to them in a calm manner why marriage is so important to you and why you want that person to be them. Tell them you aren’t pressuring them or giving them an ultimatum. Let them know that you can make each other so happy. And then give them time to think about your thoughts and feelings and let the matter drop. Don’t blame. Don’t be defensive. Instead, use a positive, complimentary and romantic approach. If they still refuse to marry you, you’ll have to be ready to either move on or settle for not ever being married. But if they really love you and you were meant to be together, you two will find a way forward. For tips on being extremely persuasive in your quest read, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini.

Warning Signs on the Road to Divorce

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Warning Signs on the Road to Divorce

A marriage is like a car. If you invest time and effort into it, show it the proper affection, listen to it when you hear a problem and honestly try to fix it, you’ll have a great one that will last. But if you ignore the warning signs you’ll be sitting in the passenger seat of a tow truck on the road to couple’s therapy, separation or even divorce before you know it.

Most people get married without the slightest notion of what it takes to sustain a marriage and what the indicators of divorce are. Here are some warning signs. Do some soul searching and see if you or your relationship is suffering from one of these. Have you ever dreamt of life without your spouse? Once in a while is one thing. But if you find yourself doing it more often than not, it’s time to seek out couple’s counseling or marriage therapy. Talk to your spouse about it. It won’t be a nice conversation. But if you love them you owe it to them, and yourself to let them know how you feel. Ask if they’ve been feeling the same way. What issues or problems are you two not addressing that is contributing to this phenomenon? What solutions can be posited to solve them?

Our next warning sign is when bad things about a marriage overwhelm the good things. When couples have issues that go unaddressed, they don’t just go away. They fester under the surface until they become an enormous problem. Or they may surface as a conveyor belt of problems until you are both exhausted. Instead, find ways to nip problems in the bud, or counteract them before they occur. Don’t let them fester too long or perhaps it will be too late to fix them. Remember that communication is not only a way to make a connection. It helps soothe us when we’re stressed and bonds us to our partner. If you hold back on sharing your thoughts or feelings, for fear of retaliation or physical or verbal abuse, you are not in a good relationship. You need to extricate yourself.

Does one of you get overly defensive when a certain subject or issue is brought up? If your spouse does this, it may be the very issue you need to address. It may also mean the problem might have reached a fever pitch. If you or your spouse clams up, dismisses needs of the other or criticizes one another’s values these are signs that the relationship is in serious trouble. Do you feel all alone in solving the marriages problems? Seek counseling because this is the canary in the coal mine for your marriage. For more advice read, Marriage Help: How I Fixed My Marriage and Fell in Love All over Again by Corine Channell.

Your Romantic Style

ATTACHMENT-STYLE

Your Romantic Style

Lots of people don’t know their relationship style, but it affects almost every aspect of your romantic relationships from how you select a mate to how you break up. Your romantic style, or style of attachment as it’s called in psychology, can help you understand yourself better and how you relate to another in a relationship. If you come to understand your style of attachment you can see what positive and negative effects it has on your relationships. Initially, our style of attachment is formed in childhood. But it’s an outline. It develops over time. Our attachment style speaks to how we interpret our needs and go about getting them met. There are many different attachment styles. See which one fits you and other people you know.

The first is secure attachment. This type is secure in relationships. They saw their parents as a sanctuary which they could venture out from to explore their world. This type supports a distressed partner and feels connected and secure in their adult relationships. This is an honest relationship with openness and support. There is an equality of power shared in this model. They provide their partners with a true sense of safety and display real acts of love.

The next type is the anxious preoccupied style of attachment. This style feels insecure and constantly seeks validation from their partner. They want their partner to complete or save them. This is the needy type that clings to their significant other. The anxious preoccupied type are often victims of a self-induced vicious circle. Their insecurity leads to clingy behavior that drives their partner away, validating their “See s/he doesn’t really love me” feeling underlying it all.

The next type is dismissive avoidant attachment. These people need emotional distance from their partner. This type wants to appear independent. They may come off as self-absorbed and overly worried about their own comfort. This semi-independence is a mental fixation. But in reality they need to connect and bond just like everyone else. This person puts less importance on the relationship and in fact pushes their significant other away. This person can shut down emotionally if pushed to open up.

The last type is the fearful avoidant attachment style. This person doesn’t want to be too far nor too close to their partner. They try to put their feelings aside but can’t. These people have episodes where they are overcome by their own emotions. They can be moody, mixed up and unpredictable. They believe you need people to have your needs met, but if you let them get too close they’ll hurt you. To learn more about different romantic styles and how they impact relationships, read the book, Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT.