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.

Never Appreciated

unappreciated

Never Appreciated

Do you feel that you have control over your life, but you are always getting stepped on? You go out of your way to show love, devotion, and perform grand gestures in hopes that they will be reciprocated. Instead, they turn out to be expectations. It stings the most when it’s a lover. But often those who are taken advantage of by romantic partners suffer at the hands of bosses, professors, friends and family too. If you’re never appreciated, or taken for granted more often than not, read on and you’ll know how to change it all around, and put some new direction in your life.

First, evaluate what you do for your lover and what they do for you. Writing two lists might make sense. Compare. Are you actually being taken advantage of? If your column takes up two pages with footnotes and addendums whilst theirs is barely two lines long, your lover has some explaining to do. Don’t get heated though. Instead, start to take a look at the patterns you take part in, in life. Do you get taken advantage of often, and by whom?

A lot of people are people-pleasers, so don’t feel bad. These people gain self-esteem from the gratitude of others. When they bestow their gratitude you get a bump. The problem is this person doesn’t often voice their own needs, wants and desires. No where do they feel more awkward at voicing their needs than with their partner. They secretly believe their own needs aren’t as worthy as others. But they are. So sit down with your partner and discuss how you feel with them. Tell them how hard you work on your grand gestures and how disappointed you are when they don’t reciprocate. Understand that they will be defensive. Don’t point the finger at them, or make them feel guilty. Just tell them how you feel and ask how they feel about that.

Approach it as a problem and invite them in. Have solutions outlined already. If your lover is resistant perhaps they aren’t in it for you, just for what you do for them. Assert yourself with your friends and at work too. Ask for what you want. Don’t overcompensate for past behavior. Be reasonable and ask in the right manner. But don’t back down. They may try to scare you off, but stand your ground. When you stick up for yourself others recognize it and you get respect. For more advice read the New York Times bestseller, The Disease to Please: Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome by Harriet B. Braiker, Ph.D.

Being Fully Present in Your Relationship

MINDFULNESS-RELATIONSHIPS

Being Fully Present in Your Relationship

When we get used to being with our partner we can sometimes take them for granted. We assume they’ll always be there. So we move on to our worries and stresses. We become so preoccupied with the kids or the challenges in our career that when we are eating dinner and trying to take part in meaningful dialogue, we aren’t even there. Then there is the constant distraction of our electronic devices that although convenient also become an obstacle to chitchat, discussion and intimate conversation. After a while without meaningful interaction we start to feel like roommates with our partner or spouse rather than lovers. The day-in, day-out decisions of running the household, parenting and paying the bills become the focus, and otherwise each person lives in their own separate bubble. When it comes time to interact, give your partner your undivided attention. When we aren’t fully present we aren’t showing them the love and respect they deserve. Instead, we are neglectful, albeit not on purpose. But the message we are inadvertently sending is that what is on my mind is more important than you. Misunderstandings arise when we don’t listen fully to our partner. This can lead to problems or even terrible fights. So how can we be more present with our partner?

First, make a conscious effort to focus on them and what they are saying. If there is something particularly important on your mind and you are distracted, tell them about it. Let them know how you feel and schedule another time to talk. Try and give them your undivided attention and expect the same in return. Make positive eye contact. Repeat back what they’ve said in your own words to show that you understand. When your partner or spouse seems distracted, don’t tell them or remind them of something. Wait until you have their full attention. If you are distracted and they told you something, don’t assume that they will remind you. It’s best to check with your partner in a positive manner whenever you are unsure. Regular running of the household exchanges are of course important. But they don’t help build intimacy. You two have to make time to talk on a deeper level. At the end of the day, we may be so exhausted that we just want to watch a couple of TV shows or surf the net, check our social media pages and go to bed. But that doesn’t bring you closer. Instead, clear out a little time each day to spend talking on a deeper level.  Not just, “How was your day?” But what really happened to you today? What were you thinking about? How did it make you feel?

Sometimes you have to leave the dishes in the sink or put off laundry and spend a little couple time together. Some experts say having more sex is the answer. But a recent study found that building intimacy is far more important. When miscommunication, unfulfilled expectations and misunderstandings occur they get in the way of real intimacy, and so not only block your connection but your ability to get physical. Hurt feelings get in the way. When we are fully present with our partner, the chances of miscommunication and misunderstandings are lower. Knowing what they expect will help meet or exceed expectations and vice-versa. Mindfulness is a touchstone nowadays. This is an ancient Buddhist practice that has become trendy lately in the West. This is the art of being fully present in the here and now and appreciating each moment in all its richness. If we could practice mindfulness in our relationships they would be so much more intimate. Couples would have a deeper sense of intimacy, better sex and superior communication too. To learn more pick up a copy of, The Mindful Couple: How Acceptance and Mindfulness Can Lead You to the Love You Want by Robyn D. Walser, Ph.D. and Darrah Westrup, Ph.D.

A Beautiful Wife Leads to a Happy Marriage

Happy Couple

A Beautiful Wife Leads to a Happy Marriage

What qualities would you most associate with a blissful union? Love? Commitment? Trust? Good communication skills? Or just the wife being hot? A beautiful wife leads to a happy marriage, one study claims. Conducted by psychologist Andrea Metzer, over 450 newly married couples were tracked for four years. The question on the researcher’s minds, does having an attractive spouse lead to a happier marriage? It turned out to be true, but only for guys.

Physical attractiveness didn’t have any effect on the women directly. But the husband’s satisfaction increased his wife’s satisfaction. So indirectly it did have a positive effect. This study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. This isn’t the only study to reach this conclusion. In 2008 the Relationship Institute at UCLA did a study. Here they found that men felt lucky having married an attractive wife. This lead to a high level of marital satisfaction, as the husbands feeling lucky treated their wives well, increasing their satisfaction level too. But when the husband felt more attractive than the wife, the opposite was true. They didn’t feel the need to help her out.

Certainly, being attracted to your mate is important. There are different kinds of attraction however. And everyone finds something different attractive. But even physical attraction, though it can lead to overall satisfaction, isn’t enough to keep a marriage together. A deep bond of respect, trust, commitment and love are also necessary. Without them, many other problems will come between spouses. Though an important point, this study could also illuminate us on another issue that helps cause the demise of marriage, letting ourselves go and taking our partner for granted. Just because one is married doesn’t mean keeping ourselves up is over. Of course, we should be eating right and exercising for the benefit of our health. But we should also take proper care of ourselves so that our spouse still finds us attractive.

The marriage isn’t the end of wooing, wooing should still be an ongoing process to keep things fresh, and to keep the spark alive. Wear something nice around the house just for your spouse’s benefit. Every once in a while put on some perfume or cologne just to drive them wild. Reinvest in keeping your partner interested and attracted to you and loads of other benefits will come along. For more advice read, I Still Do: Bring back that Spark- Learn How You Can Rekindle the Flame Forever by Dr. Joshua Osenga, Ed.d.

You can hear your Spouse Better than Strangers

COUPLE-TALKING

You can hear your Spouse Better than Strangers

Sometimes it seems like you could hear your spouse’s voice anywhere, even in a crowded train station, a bomb testing zone or the demolition floor of a construction site. This may be a slight exaggeration. But the remarkable truth is you can hear your spouse better than you can strangers, at least according to a recent study. Researchers at Canada’s Queens University used couples whose ages ranged from 44 to 79. They asked these participants to read a script. These readings were recorded and played back for their spouse. But at the same time this recording played another played simultaneously. And the voice on the other recording was the same age and gender as the listener’s spouse. At certain points in the experiment they would ask the listener what their spouse was saying, while at others they asked what the stranger said. Participants could understand their own spouse’s voice far more readily than the strangers. This research was published in the journal Psychological Science.

When the stranger’s voice was listened to, the participant’s age often had an effect on whether they could make out what the stranger was saying or not. Middle aged listeners could more readily focus in on the stranger’s voice than their older counterparts. While the middle aged have an easier time tuning out their spouse, older people don’t have that luxury. It’s good to know that we can hear our spouse’s well. But are we truly listening to what they are saying? And if not, why not? Sure the stereotype is one of tuning out our spouse. But the most successful couple’s know that positive communication and active listening are the cornerstones of their success. Practice active listening with your partner. If you feel that one or another is nagging, address it. Tell them how it makes you feel. And brainstorm other ways to communicate that are less irritating to one and more effective in causing action in the other. For more advice read, How to Speak Your Spouse’s Language: Ten Easy Steps to Great Communication from One of America’s Foremost Counselors by H. Norman Wright.