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Marriage and Relationships – Do’s And Don’ts

The Need to Feel Loved

The desire for a soulmate and longing to be in a relationship are instinctive, hardwired needs that we all have. To be loved, desired and admired with all of our imperfections and flaws, sounds so romantic, doesn’t it? Most little girls dream of becoming princesses anxiously anticipating their prince charming to sweep them off their feet with gallant behavior, good manners and financial security.  Similarly, men typically desire an appealing, sexy yet smart, funny but not obnoxious, overall well-put together woman who will make for a loving partner.  And while each side of the relationship looks into these, and many other “must haves”, often people dismiss the fact that relationships can be quite difficult and at times, make us question our reasons for participating in them. Vowing to be with someone in “good and bad, health and sickness” is easier said than done – simply check the most recent divorce rates. Many couples hit a standstill when they face difficulties and indeed, there’s no faster way to test a relationship with its carefully imagined “picture perfect” ideal than the frustrations of day-to-day life. Couples these day prefer to live together rather than tying the knot, and the reasons are many.

The Do’s And Don’ts In Relationships 

Identifying and exploring the cause of a couple’s uneasiness often brings meaningful insight into the state of the relationship. A variety of situations can present themselves:

  • Lack of communicationIt sounds like cliche but it’s true. People have expectations, sometimes realistic, often times not. When there’s not a two-way line of communication problems will arise. You don’t want to burden your loved one with the issues you’re dealing with so you keep quiet? That’s great and that may seem kind to spare your loved one the anxiety you’re experiencing only he/she may interpret your well meaning intentions as a lack of attention, withdrawal from the family unit and having trust inadequacies.
  • Dating or marrying “an ideal” – This is a definite No – No. During my clinical practice, I have had the opportunity to work with couples who have pursued relationships with unrealistic expectations of their significant other. The problem with this approach is that people are not stagnant – we don’t see them as they are when we are in love. Additionally, people don’t remain the same, they change – sometimes rapidly, sometimes more slowly. In other words we all undergo a metamorphosis with time! The prince charming from our fairy tale may actually turn into an ugly frog with time.
  • Inability to accept criticismThere’s nothing worse than when one side is consistently critical of the other but is unable to accept even the slightest feedback. Both men and women can be guilty of this behavior. The results of such persistent criticism amounts to a life of hell for the other person. Manipulation in pursuit of one sided reward, verbal and emotional abuse stemming from such behavior is a relationship killer. So by all means Do Not Do This.
  • Finances  – Although money doesn’t buy you happiness, short finances are one of the primary reasons for quarrels and fights among couples. Relationships can encounter differing situations when it comes to their financial well-being – one of the individuals not providing or trying to provide enough for the family unit or overdoing it due to fear of being poor. And while the second option seems like the better of the two evils, working hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month may improve your finances, but could also wedge a space between you and your love one. “You said you were not going to work this weekend”, ” You always have to work”, “You never have time for me”  – sound familiar? Try making the time, communicate and share your dreams, goals and inspirations. Both individuals working towards a common goal can overcome the frustrations along the way.
  • Cheating – It falls into the “Don’t Do” category. Not just the physical but also the emotional damage caused by cheating can cause self-doubt, trust issues, co-dependency issues, and the list go on. Honesty and openness although difficult is way better compared to lies and deceit.
  • Faith/ Spirituality/ Religion –  When love and passion hit, everything else seems insignificant, only to appear later like an elephant in the room. The world has become a small village yet, couples often realize that their religious or spiritual  upbringing is in strong contrast to that of their significant other. Love can and does overcome many things in life, but sometimes differing core beliefs can seem to be an insurmountable obstacle. With a willing heart however; communication, love, patience and willingness to understand the “other’s” perspective, these challenges can be resolved.

For these and more helpful suggestions, please feel free to drop us a line, follow us on Facebook and Instagram, share our comment and comment. Freedom Counseling offers assistance for individuals and couples in need of counseling. If you feel now is the right time and you’re ready, feel free to schedule your next appointment.

Looking Forward to Thanksgiving Dinner with the Family?

Is the approaching holiday weekend stressing you out?

Guess what? You are not the only one! And no, I’m not talking about the extra pounds gained from the oven-baked turkey your mom prepared, or the stuffing, mash potatoes and let’s not forget, your aunt’s amazing apple pie you’ve been dying for. We all know the pounds are coming, but cant help looking forward to the food! No, I’m not taking about the meal and the drinks! What I have in mind is something else entirely, and that is the anxiety of seeing family members who may not have been your biggest friends or supporters.

You know who I’m talking about, right? I mean those family members who have to, and I mean just have to say the most irritating, often inappropriate “words of wisdom” while lecturing you as to why your life is not measuring up to your cousin Joe. Bingo you say, and that make me crazy!

So what to do? Thanksgiving is this week… Make a game plan!

First things first! Be aware of your feelings. Mindfulness is always helpful and is often needed to decrease your level of nervousness. Remember, anxiety often tends to provide panic type symptoms – you become sure that something horrible will happen, you won’t act appropriate, etc. etc. Sometimes anxiety can be so overwhelming that an individual can become incapacitated to the point that they can’t even process the upcoming “disaster”. You think your parents won’t get along with your in-laws… Guess what? Maybe you’re right, maybe you’re not. But one thing is for certain: if your anxiety is through the roof, your spouse will surely notice it, your parents will notice it too, and everyone’s behavior will change for the worse. Everyone will be on edge, and most likely no one will have fun.

You need to relax

I know it’s a cliche, and you’ve heard it about a million times but it’s true. Take a deep breath, and let go! And then do it again. Actually, try breathing slowly for a while. Inhale and exhale. Several things will begin to happen:  your muscles, all tensed and contracted a minute ago, will slowly ease. Your feelings of panic and that “all hell will break loose” will also subdue. Instead of a flurry of thoughts entering your mind simultaneously,  you will slowly start to develop a strategy… perhaps generate a list of relevant talking points for dinner conversation (just remember to avoid politics at all cost!).

You can even “role play” different situations: in your mind and/or with a friend

Odd you may think. Well, think again. Imagine you’re going to a job interview. You most likely will rehearse several Q&As before you show up in front of that 5 person panel you were told about on the phone interview. It’s basically the same thing. Yes, it’s sad that you have to role play a potentially tense or confrontational conversation with your family, but remember – you are trying to get through this holiday. Stay focused! Embrace the awkwardness of the role play and practice.

By doing this, you can anticipate and prepare for almost anything. Yes, topics such as no current boyfriend/girlfriend? (“What happened with that nice guy/gal you dated a while back?”),  not married yet… no kids!!?? (“Why yes, aunt Lydia, I have postponed marriage/ kids at this time. I’m focusing my attention on my career so I’m not broke when I turn 65”). And let’s not forget the old favorite of how you didn’t follow your parents’ hope for your career (“You work in a gallery?”).  These topics should be first on your list. I repeat: prepare and rehearse, rehearse and prepare.

And who knows? You might actually enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend after all. And if all else fails, remember this: the last suggestion of this article: you can always make the extra trip to the kitchen for that pie! :0

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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