Normal Couple Changes that Initially Cause Anxiety

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Normal Couple Changes that Initially Cause Anxiety

Have you been in a relationship for a while and you’re worried that you are growing apart? Normal couples go through changes that can initially cause anxiety but are in fact common and are of no actual cause for concern. So if you are afraid that your love is fading or that he or she just isn’t as attracted to you as they once were, read on to see if there is any real trouble brewing or if you are merely going through one of these transitions.  First, if you are physical together, the intensity and frequency of hopping into bed together may slow a bit once you reach that more comfortable stage. This is normal. But some people believe it means the attraction is dropping off. Two to three times a week is average for most couples. But find out what is normal for you two.

Have a conversation if you think there is a problem. And of course, couples who have been together a while need to spice things up sometimes. So recognize when you’ve fallen into a rut and figure out what needs changing, and what spicy and steamy things you’d like to explore together to keep the spark alive and take things to the next level. Have you noticed a drop off in cuddle time? How often do you cuddle? Sometimes we and are partners are on different schedules, are busy and tired at night and fall into bed exhausted, or just get used to climbing into bed and going to sleep. Why not initiate cuddling if you miss it? Do so when you two have a little time, like on the weekends. Or go to bed ten minutes earlier to get in some much needed snuggle time.

Has your texting frequency fallen off? If you used to text each other throughout the day little sweet nothings, steamy sexts, or just things that occurred that you want to share, but this phenomenon has dropped off, why not start it off again? Some couples save things to talk to each other about when they get home, or for dinner table conversation. Also, when you slip into a deeper, more comfortable phase, you don’t need the constant texting to reassure each other. So have a conversation if you feel that this is missing from your relationship. But don’t take it as a sign that the end is near. For in fact, it’s pretty normal for this to occur. When you are doing something fun, do you look for your partner? And do you feel their absence when they’re not around? This is normal in a new relationship. But as time wears on you won’t look for that person to be there every time something amazing happens. It’s a normal part of developing together.

Did you two used to do everything together and now even though you love your partner you want to experience certain hobbies, social events and other things on your own or with your friends? This is a perfectly normal sign your relationship has moved on to a more comfortable phase. Has your date planning dropped off?  That’s normal. Why not have a date night? If you used to brag about your significant other every chance you got, but found this dropping off, it’s okay. You are just used to the relationship. It’s good that you want to take a measure of where the relationship is every so often. That is normal and healthy and means you care about this relationship. Don’t stress. Instead, keep in touch with your partner. Understand who they are, their needs and desires and your own. They may change over time. People change and they either stay the same, grow together or apart. But if you are in love, communicate well, get along and care for each other there is no reason you shouldn’t grow together. For more advice read, Should We Stay Together? By Jeffry H. Larson, Ph.D.

Marriage in America Today

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Marriage in America Today

The number of people getting married is declining. Experts say the marriage rate today is lower than it was in 1880, another time when extreme differences in income affected the social landscape. Though marriage is touted in America and many societies as helping to preserve the social order, the atmosphere with which we operate is far from conducive in promoting it. In the original Gilded Age as Mark Twain called it, a new class of industrialists slashed wages and with it the prospects of workers of marrying age, mostly male factory workers. Sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin at John Hopkins University wrote that one difference today is many are choosing to cohabitate and have children without a marriage license filed away in the family home. That would never do in the 19th century. But today it’s quite common.

One problem is the gatekeepers to pop culture, the TV and movie writers, musical artists and others have failed to keep up and give us an image we can hang onto for this new state of affairs in how long-term love should be.  Zoë Heller at the New York Review of Books says films today and other cultural milieu are filled with simplistic plots and clichés about love, without delving into the complicated minutia of modern relationships and how best to navigate them. They don’t reflect what people are actually experiencing, nor do they give a strategy for which to encounter the prickly paradigm of modern love. Supporters of traditional values decry the end of marriage as it once was. But couples staying together longer show greater stability, know each other better and perhaps can best negotiate differences. The expense of a wedding, weakening norms and lack of financial benefit may result in a further decline in marriage, experts believe. On the upshot for advocates, statistics show that those who are getting married stay together longer. Also, the divorce rate has dropped dramatically. In fact, since the 1980’s, divorce has been in deep decline. 70% of those who married in the 1990s celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary today. That’s 5% higher than those who married in the 70’s and 80’s. Those who tied the knot in the new millennium have an even lower divorce rate.

According to economist Justin Wolfer at the University of Michigan, two-thirds of married couples today stay together. For those cases where divorce does occur, two-thirds of the time it’s the wife who wants it. The reason is women’s expectations for marriage have vastly changed. Gender roles in America saw a dramatic paradigm shift over the past two decades due to the Feminist movement. This in turn affected how both sexes interact with one another. Today, marriage isn’t only about raising a family or having financial support. It’s about love and partnership. People also want someone who will help lead them into personal growth. They want to grow and better themselves and they look to their partner to help them complete their metamorphosis. A lot of times, when we feel as though we are in a stale relationship and the well has gone dry, we feel it’s time to move on. The baby boomer generation remains the one with the highest rate of divorce. People are living older nowadays, and so when the children have moved out and they still have decades of life left, they want to make the most of it. That sometimes means leaving someone they no longer connect with in order to enjoy those years with someone they do. For more on this topic read, The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America Today by Andrew J. Cherlin.

Good Relationships Lead to Personal Growth

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Good Relationships Lead to Personal Growth

Positive relationships are good for our health. That’s no surprise. We’ve been hearing that for a long time. Happily married people live longer, are healthier and wealthier. In fact, a person’s relationship is the single most important factor in determining mortality. Two researchers, Brooke C. Feeney of Carnegie Mellon University and Nancy L. Collins of the University of California, have discovered some ways that good relationships can also lead to personal growth. The two most important factors are helping use to cope with adversity and helping us to pursue our goals, and other opportunities that cause growth. Good, healthy, strong relationships help those that inhabit them reach their objectives and pursue their dreams. The first person we usually turn to for comfort, and perhaps seek advice from would be our spouse, or significant other. Feeney and Collins liken this process to a home knocked over by a violent storm. The next house erected in its place should be far sturdier. If one person is having a problem establishing themselves for instance their partner may help them to feel more confident. This confidence will help them interact with others, their social networks will become more vibrant and more opportunities will arrive.

Our partner can help us to see what our strengths are. They can help us relieve stress and put things in perspective. Our partner can also help us learn new skills that can help you survive and even thrive at work, school or one’s life passion. Those who are supportive can become a “launching function.” They help their partner pursue their goals. They show them the positive aspects, help them to see opportunities, prepare them to face new challenges, and help them to celebrate victory or to cope with defeat. Feeney and Collins found eight specific ways in which a supportive relationship helps.  Our emotional state improves. Acceptance of one’s self increases and resilience expands. We are better able to perceive and interpret events. Our supportive partners help motivate us toward goals, help us to cope, adapt to new situations and improve our psychological and immune functioning. Positive relationships steer us away from unhealthy lifestyles that may sap our strength, hurt our bodies or minds, not to mention our reputation and mood. Lastly, supportive relationships help people to learn how to trust, feel close to someone and feel loved, positive vibes that carry over in other types of relationships.

So how can you make your relationship more supportive? The best way to do that is to become more supportive yourself. Learn how to listen carefully, be able to accept and understand your partner’s perspective, control your emotions and provide the type of support that will help your partner, and make them feel good. Use your resources. These can be tangible resources like money to say buy your lover a new outfit for an interview. Or they can be intangible ones like compassion, patience and understanding, providing emotional support. Being able to understand your lover’s needs and meet them will motivate them to do the same for you. At the same time, you will want to make sure that you will be able to make your own needs known. Clear communication is pivotal. Reciprocate to show you support them and appreciate the support they give. Then a virtuous cycle can commence, where you both constantly initiate and receive support. Don’t overtax your lover however. If they have many demands at this time, you could be a catalyst in them spreading themselves too thin. You need someone you can rely on. But a strong social network to draw from is important too. To build a supportive relationship, you must first know how to effectively communicate. This is in many cases the hardest skill for couples to develop. If you and your partner need to work on this, pick up a copy of the book, Communication in a Relationship: Top tips on how to improve your communication skills to build a long lasting, loving relationship by Lyn Hunt.

Why all Relationships are Valuable

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Why all Relationships are Valuable

Sometimes a relationship ends and we can’t help but feel that it was all just a huge waste of time. We invested so much in the person and the relationship and now we decry the loss of all that time and energy. It’s only natural to feel this way. But if you can take a step back and look at your love life as a continuum and a progression, you’ll see that all relationships teach us something valuable. There are lots of lessons to be learned that you can apply to your new relationships. Not only can it teach us about love, but even greater than that, a breakup is one of the most useful tools for teaching us about ourselves. Any relationship, if reflected upon in the right manner, can show you areas where you need improvement. Here are some things to think about after a relationship has ended. First, reflect on what didn’t work here. What was the crux of the issue that tore you two apart? You can use it as material for reflection so that next time you will have a better shot at making things work. Now we can see more clearly what love actually is and what it should be.

You can so easily perceive now what traits you don’t want inhabiting your relationship, things that previously you were more apt to put up with. Anger, jealousy, substance abuse, neglect, an inability to communicate and more may have been at issue. If you have one or some of these issues you can work on them. Or you can work to avoid a mate who has one or many of these. Then move to refine your search and what qualities you require in a mate. You can understand more clearly what type of behavior doesn’t work well with your personality, and what you will and will not put up with. If we look closely we notice that each new relationship entered into has certain elements that are the same. Your patterns of behavior are the same or similar or you are attracted to the same type of person. We can learn from these patterns. Nothing promotes growth better than examining our behavior in a relationship and how that behavior contributed to its end. Of course it may be ultimately the other person’s fault. But it takes two to tango. It is truly a rare breakup indeed where one person is completely at fault for everything. If you cannot isolate your own negative behaviors you are doomed to repeat them.

After a relationship ends there tends to be a change in one’s self-respect. It can be shored up or degraded depending upon the outcome and what has occurred. A relationship can show you where and how to apply your self-respect. If we allow ourselves to be taken advantage of, our relationship will inevitably show us that this is a poor choice, for all involved, and the relationship in total. If you allow yourself to be taken advantage of, your self-esteem degrades, the other person’s respect falls and the balance of power is knocked off kilter. It’s important that we assert ourselves. Our relationship is one place where we establish ourselves, where we negotiate, where we speak up for ourselves, show our value and learn to discuss things and talk about our needs, hopes, dreams and desires and how to fulfill them. It you are shut up and your needs and desires are not allowed to be communicated then this relationship is not for you.

Grief is never fun. But it is one of the biggest catalysts to personal growth. Throughout our lives we continually confront the cycles of beginning and ending. With love it seems particularly painful when it ends. But this cycle is no different than the others that occur in life. Loss is to be expected at the end of any relationship, whether you were sad to see it go, or relieved. We feel deeply connected with and identify with those whom we love deeply. Some people try to pull away from grief. It’s important to let yourself grieve and not paper over your feelings or pretend like everything is okay. Instead, allow yourself to grieve in a healthy way. Find someone you are close with to talk to. Do some soul searching. Make plans. Use this experience to fuel a personal transformation.  Each loss, though painful, teaches us to love ourselves more. We become more confident, mature, knowledgeable and self-aware. Remember that a relationship is a mirror. Nothing will reflect back on you or help you to see yourself more clearly like one. When we come up with a way to overcome our obstacles, we will find ourselves in the right relationship, one that is healthy and satisfying. For more help on getting back on your feet after a breakup read, Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person by Sherrie Campbell, Ph.D.

The Person You Should Marry

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The Person You Should Marry

If you want to avoid divorce it’s important to know what kind of person you should marry, should marriage be your aim. Certainly it all starts with the most difficult thing in the world to define and isolate; chemistry. No one can deny that this element is vitally important. Still, there are certain traits you need to have in a mate for a marriage to be healthy, fulfilling and dynamic long-term.  With these traits in mind you can keep your love life on track and rate potential mates in a practical and realistic way. Make sure your mate has a sense of humor. Marriage is a lot of work. You need someone you can laugh with, or else you might kill each other. It’s important you get each other’s sense of humor. You don’t want their jokes going over your head or vice-versa. Some people veil anger and resentment in humor, presenting it as sarcasm or through passive-aggressive behavior. Do not end up with someone who does this. It is a form of emotional violence. It will wear you down. Instead get someone you can talk openly and directly with, someone who has both of your best interests at heart.

Make sure the person cares what you think. Your opinions and feelings matter. Are they sincere? Caring and loving? Does this person support you and hold you up? Or do they compete with you and hold you back? Consider carefully. For most people today it’s important for their mate to help them achieve their goals, and help them feel a sense of development and personal growth. You want someone that helps you through this world, not someone weighing you down. Does this person think for themselves? Do they have passion, initiative and drive? What are your conversations like? Do you have a lot to talk about? Marriage is going to be a lot of dinners, breakfasts and everything in between. Having amazing conversations is one of the sweet blessed joys of marriage. Without it you will be missing out on so much. Are you accepted for who you truly are in this relationship? Every person is a unique individual who must be respected and given their space to grow and thrive. Does your partner give you that? Clingy or co-dependent relationships are not healthy. Is your lover open or closed? Do they share wide swaths of their history freely or is there still a lot you don’t know about them? You should be careful if they are secretive. One of the most important parts of a long-term relationship is being able to open up to one another.

A marriage should be between two individuals who love themselves and who they are, and love each other so much they want to be together. Each person should have their own passions, goals, career, circle of friends and more. If one person depends upon the other for all interaction it can drain the other and drag them down. Do you respect each other? Do you admire one another? These are so important. You can’t love someone you don’t respect. How is their ego? Someone who lacks modesty or humility can wear you out. What is the emotional maturity level like? There is nothing more embarrassing than a full grown person throwing a temper tantrum. If they are responsive, motivated and mature then they are a good fit. What is there romantic history like? If they have a long road behind them of failed relationships they take not even an iota of responsibility for, chances are you are in for a rough ride. Of course this kind of information has to unfold over time as one feels more and more comfortable divulging such information. If your mate freely talks about their past loves and what became of them, then perhaps this is a keeper. Just try to remember to inhabit these same positive qualities to your mate. For more on this topic be sure to read, How to Select the Right Mate: The Hidden Forces That Determine Who You Will Marry by D.L. Hughes.