Love is forever. For many couples, love really is forever. The two meet, fall in love, get married, and build a life together. Unfortunately, every relationship does not follow that same pattern. Prenuptial agreements are out there for a reason. As necessary as a prenuptial agreement would seem to a completely logical mind, love can turn us into illogical self- paradoxes. Marriage is commitment, but also a contractual agreement when the lovable warm fuzzies are removed.
So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s going to be really hard; we’re gonna have to work at this everyday, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, everyday. You and me… everyday. ― Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook
Let’s explore this concept a bit further; commitment vs. contract. Marriage when viewed as a commitment or promise to love and care for your spouse until death do you part is what most couples imagine when planning their nuptials. It’s a promise that you will always love your spouse. This means you will love them when they are amazing, and when they are gross with morning breath.
Marriage is viewed as a legal contract by the government. In many religious texts, marriage is also referred to as a covenant. A covenant and contract are both legal binding agreements between two parties. A prenuptial agreement discussion can be very difficult with your partner because it seems insensitive. Relax; it’s just the rest of your life we are talking about.
In many states, the government already has a prenuptial agreement in place. The prenup functions much like a will. If a person dies without a will, the state will intercede and disburse the person’s property and possessions without any concern of the deceased wished. A divorce settlement could possibly happen the same way without a prenuptial agreement. Not many people would agree to gamble with their family’s financial future. Entering into a marriage without a prenup could potentially be not-so-happily ever after.
Ultimately, a prenuptial agreement gives you and your partner security much like a business agreement. For example, your fiancé may have given you his great great grandmother’s platinum art deco Harry Winston blue diamond engagement ring. This ring is worth a small fortune, but priceless to his family’s history. Yes, it may have been given to you, but is it right to gamble with the future of his family’s generational heritage in the event your marriage goes south? This can be debatable; however, it can certainly pose a very good reason to have a prenup.
Prenuptial agreements are essential for many couples, but can also be a personal preference. When a couple is ready to commit to each other for a lifetime of happiness, they should also be comfortable and confident enough in their relationship to discuss a lifetime of security. Decide what is best for both of you by discussing freely and openly, and then maintain that same level of communication for the duration of your relationship.
Imagine that you are driving a car, and you glance in your rearview mirror. The other cars, the buildings, and the streetlamps are behind you because you are moving forward. Now imagine your ex standing in the panoramic view of that rearview mirror. Because you are moving forward, the ex is in your past for a reason.
There may be times of loneliness or moments of fantasy that may have your thoughts going back to your ex. Hollywood is especially good at glamourizing the “sex with the ex” experience. Even in true stories, Hollywood always exaggerates the truth for sake of drama. Engaging in this kind of relationship can be incredibly stressful and confusing for you, your ex, and other family members. Unless there has been significant positive change, and the negative feelings have been resolved this situation should be avoided.
When uncoupling occurs, there is a period of separation and individualization that occurs. The length of the relationship is directly proportionate to individualization period. Basically meaning, it may take a while for you to “find yourself” again. When you are in this stage, the confusion of a sexual relationship with the ex will simply confuse and complicate this time of change, and may establish a negative relationship cycle. If your previous relationship resulted in no children, then there is no reason to maintain a relationship with your ex.
If children are involved in this process, it is important to maintain contact with the ex. However, establish firm boundaries, and handle the encounters much like a business partnership. Keep all conversations kid-focused, and aim for consistency. The children need both parents in their lives, and it is up to each parent to invest in that relationship with their child. It is important to set aside any negative feelings toward your ex, and do what is best for your children. It is okay to have negative feelings, but don’t allow those feelings to guide your behavior.
Use this opportunity to refresh and renew your life with new relationships and activities. There may be places that you have longed to visit, hobbies to try, or volunteering experiences that you have never had the chance to try in your previous relationship. Now is the time to try new things and meet new people to create new relationships.
You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships every day. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity. – Epicurus
There is a nasty rumor floating around out there in the advice columns, blogs, and forums. Money and sex are the top reasons that couples break up. It makes sense. Those are the two things that can make or break a relationship, right? Yes, topics of money and sex can add fuel to an already heated argument. The truth is that money and sex are not the core of relationship problems. When you take emotions out of it, this is basic problem solving. When you determine the root cause of distress in a relationship then all of the other issues will begin moving toward resolution, too. If the problem persists, the root cause of the problem was not addressed.
Often in couples therapy, as the therapist guides the couple to drill deep into their relationship, miscommunication and not feeling valued in the relationship will surface. When a partner does not feel valued in a relationship it affects the person mentally, emotionally, physically, and sexually. When that feeling persists, the affects begin to grow driving a deep wedge into a relationship. That wedge can then be disguised as a couples sexual problems. All of us have different methods that make us feel valued in a relationship. Some people may only feel valued when they are given a gift or someone performs a service for them. Spending quality time, a tender touch, or a verbal reminder of how much they are loved can be the value method for others. Everyone is different in their relationship needs. A person is ready to grow in a relationship when their core needs are met.
Money is the other big offender that couples tend to focus on. Money is not the core of your problems. Lack of communication about how you feel secure in your finances is the core of your problem. Money is often a topic that couples fail to discuss because it may seem insensitive or cold. If you want a strong relationship, then it needs to be discussed. The more you can align your financial views with your partner, the fewer issues will surface. As you talk about your future as a couple, don’t be afraid to bring up this topic. The secret to great communication is to talk! Don’t text important conversations, forget the emails, and never rely on ESP (or ESPN!) Face to face, side by side, and together is the best way to keep your relationship moving forward in a positive direction.
Author, Gary Chapman, has a great perspective on this topic. “People do not get married planning to divorce. Divorce is the result of a lack of preparation for marriage and the failure to learn the skills of working together as teammates in an intimate relationship.” That quote is so true! “Failure to learn the skills”, is a profound phrase. Successful, fulfilling relationships require a lot of effort, and it is a skill that needs to be learned. As mentioned previously, get to the core of the relationship, and communicate your needs. In the early relationship stages, it is easy to stay in the excitement of a new relationship. To sustain that excitement, you must communicate and go deeper in your relationship….together.
It is no easy task to impart the news of an impending divorce to children, so, the first thing to do is be absolutely 100% certain that divorce is the only way go. Thereafter work on a game-plan as a cohesive parental team – mutually agreed expectations should be the name of the game. It is horribly painful for children to hear this kind of news, but if dealt with in truth, and as simply as possible, unnecessary pain can nearly always be avoided.
What is most important is that no adult or inappropriate information should be divulged or discussed. This kind of information needs to be kept between parents as it will overwhelm children, and make them feel like they should be taking sides. Nothing could be further from the truth. These children are being involved in a situation where they are helpless, and emotional comfort is key.
Keep focus on the children, and how divorce will impact their lives. Answer their questions truthfully regarding transitional changes, and note that it is definitely not cool to play the blame game. At no point should any spouse be blamed, there is very good reason for citing irreconcilable differences – because there is always two sides to a story. These stories need not concern the children when a marriage is ending.
A unified front from both parents helps children feel secure, and safe in the knowledge that no-one is really to blame. Things just happen, adults often grow apart, and this concept is easy to understand. Use neutral, productive language such as “we respect one another, and will never stop loving you, but we just don’t get along like a married couple should.” Make sure they understand that no-one, not either spouse, or anyone else is to blame.
Some experts suggest that children should only be told after the divorce agreement has been signed, and custody arrangements agreed upon. However, it is rare for a couple to continue living together once they have agreed to separate. Therefore it might not be deemed to be very transparent in particular if the children are older and can see what has been taking place. Do always make sure to tell children the news when both parents are together.
Timing is vital too. For example, it would not be fair to tell children before exam time or graduation. Although it also helps to speak to the school guidance counsellor as well as teacher, to determine when would be the best time. Intervention in the form of third party family counselling can help ease the pain, and ensure that emotional stability is maintained. Consistency, calm, and concrete information can alleviate a great deal of anxiety. Remember if a parent or parents are anxious this makes children anxious too.
While grieving for a relationship that did not work out is completely normal, it is important to be in control. The most important people in the relationship are without doubt the children. Parents need to practice restraint, and keep being the kind of parents they have always been. Accept that this responsibility towards the children is real, and always put their needs first.
Married And Faithful But Your Heart Is With Someone Else?
Emotional infidelity may also be referred to as an “underground or secret” love. It basically means when on party (or both) in a committed relationship such as a marriage or monogamous partnership is emotionally connected to someone else outside of the relationship. While fantasy and flirting are fun and can be the way adults play, when a crush snowballs into red flag issues, perhaps it is time to catch yourself in the act before any major harm has been done. One of the ways to do this is reconnect…hopefully even fall back in love with your partner or spouse.
We are regularly seeing articles in the news about happenings on Facebook that are ruining marriages, but Facebook (or any other social network) is not the problem, the problem is people. It is impossible for a social networking site to harm a marriage, but it is possible for careless people to harm a marriage. Inanimate software does not conspire with guilty people to wreak relationship havoc – although it might make things easier to get into these situations.
Relationships have however, been proven to be impacted by the online habits of people. They can happen in the blink of an eye, whereas emotional infidelity in an office (or other) setting, takes months or even longer to get off the ground. Everything takes place at lightning-fast speed on the World Wide Web, so the best thing to do at the start of a relationship is set some boundaries with regards to online encounters.
If it is too late for that and the damage has already been done, it is time to sit down and give pause for thought to some damage control. If this does not take place, stonewalling could be fatal. The only way to breakdown a stonewall is by communicating needs, looking at red flag areas, and the way emotional infidelity makes us feel.
We have to take into consideration the context of flirting online. These websites can re-connect one with an old flame in a matter of just a few clicks. Not only that, they allow people who may have just met once in passing also to connect. There is nothing wrong with connecting to people and giving your heart to someone online. But if you are engaging in this type of behavior while still married or in a serious relationship, this really can’t be called “right action”. There is definitely an element of betrayal, unless of course your partner is so secure and trusting that flirting online would not bother them in any way.
Basically technology has allowed people who might never risk having any kind of affair, to flirt online, and more. This does create a situation of “temptation”, and not everything that takes place online stays online. People are bolder when hiding behind a screen, and often click on send without thinking first. This might be a recipe for disaster, and it takes just a little common sense to realize that healthy ground rules should be acceptable for both partners.
Reconnecting by communicating, and talking about healthy interaction, as well as agreeing to guidelines for what feels wrong or right, makes a very good start. Where there is love there is always a way, and it is better to at least attempt to fix something that is broken than move onto something (or someone) brand new. Chances are if the situation is not rectified, then it might continue with someone new too.
There are very few married (or unmarried) couples who have not heard of the proverbial “7 Year Itch”. This titular phrase is even coined by psychologists to describe a decline in interest between couples who have been monogamous for a number of years. The words come from a romantic comedy of the same name, made in the US in 1955, starring Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell. The most iconic scene in this movie is – Monroe standing over subway grate as her white dress is blown up by the rush of hot air made by a train passing below.
Despite the blanket acceptance that many couples have that the 7 year itch is real entity, there are many very simple ways to keep love alive. No matter how many years people have been married. It takes lots of praise, affection, attention, time for rejuvenation, and of course sex.
While many experts agree to disagree around the phenomenon of the seven-year itch, there is some consensus that the arrival of children may factor. Getting them through their infant years can be quite trying. Other pundits such as Rudolph Steiner suggest that both minds and bodies, change every seven years. In fact he based an entire theory regarding human development founded on his astrology observations.
Some theories suggest that after seven “long” years of marriage, couples just don’t find one-another exciting any more. Little traits, habits and silly things that really are not that important at the start of the relationship, now become more irritating than nails on a chalkboard. We have all heard the jokes about drinking milk out of the container, leaving the toilet seat up, leaving dirty clothing on the floor and more.
Don’t for a minute believe that because this phrase might be uttered by experts, that it is a proven phenomenon. However, studies have also proven that couples do go through cycles of difficulty, most often the 3rd, 4th, 7th, and 12th year of marriage. It is noted that a more rapid decline takes place in couples with children, however, being armed with this knowledge, could be the precise knowledge required to nip any ‘itches’ in the bud.
There is absolutely no magic number to time when a marriage might fall apart. We need to be aware at all times, that we might be the next statistic in a divorce percentages survey. But there is a light at the end of what might seem like a very long and dark tunnel and it is very simple really; we have to work at it to keep marriage alive.
Have sex, date nights without the children, ship them off to their grandparent for a weekend, or for the whole summer if you like. These people were good enough to bring you up, what harm can they do to your children? Basically couples need to make the extra effort required to prioritize their relationship, and do this every single day. In this instance the old proverb is right, it does take two to tango, and generally speaking when a couple dances, we women do this in high heels backwards.
Language of sex
Many people find it hard to express their most intimate feelings and desires and it can be particularly difficult when that involves sex. When a relationship moves from romance to a sexual level there is a need to move the conversation onto the next level too. If the relationship is intimate enough for you and your partner to be having sex then it should be the kind of relationship in which you can discuss your sexual needs, desires and boundaries. However, this can be difficult conversational ground for people to navigate. The expressions and language we use for sex can be hard to say out loud without feeling self conscious or as if you have suddenly stepped into an erotic novel! The important thing is to remember your partner is equally likely to find this a difficult area to deal with. If you can be supportive and not judgmental, the chances are that your conversations about sex will help your relationship become even more sexually fulfilling.
The first step to good communication about sex is building the trust between you. In a relationship where you are equals and feel secure to express your thoughts, feelings and ideas without being made to feel a fool it is possible to have an intimate conversation with confidence. Once the relationship is strong enough for you to feel that sex is on the agenda it is essential to start talking to each other about it. Initially conversations about safety, birth control and sexual health issues are necessary, before you have moved on to your specific desires and fantasies. This may seem like a passion dampener but actually if you have the honesty and openness in the relationship to have those initial conversations it is easier to talk about your personal sexual preferences in the future.
All sexual relationships, whether new or old, need to make space for conversations about what is working, and what is not, in the bedroom. New relationships involve discovering what you each enjoy. Have fun exploring the new ideas that come from two different people becoming intimate with one another and the excitement which accompanies that period of experimentation. It helps to keep an open mind and explore the trust in the relationship but always be clear if there are certain sexual acts which are an absolute no-go.
Keep the passion alive
In longer term sexual relationships it helps to remind each other from time to time of what it is you really enjoy and to try a few new things to keep the passion alive. Try to keep the spark alive by continuing to explore and grow sexually together. If something is not working be clear with your partner but try to break it to them gently. The chances are, if something is working, they will already have realized! The important thing is to maintain the conversation, try to have some fun when talking about sex and to create an environment where honesty and trust bring rewards in the bedroom.
Sex Alert! Does size really matter?
This is a question which has preoccupied men for generations! There are those who believe that size is everything and that women can only be satisfied by men with more penis than personality. Ask most women and they would disagree wholeheartedly with this view. Sometimes the best things come in small packages! The difference between men and women’s attitudes to sex may be at the root of this divergence of opinion. It is certainly true that men of all shapes and sizes enjoy fulfilling sexual relationships with their partners.
No matter what size or shape your partner is the core of a fulfilling sexual relationship is building the trust, respect and communication needed to enjoy each other physically and emotionally. Personality and a healthy relationship are central to this and so it is far more important that partners focus on building the best relationship they can rather than dwelling on questions of size or appearance. Most sexual relationships require emotional needs, desires and fantasies to be shared and enjoyed together in order for sex to be truly fulfilling. For that to work it is the communication skills, not the physical attributes, of a partner that are important.
Most people are self conscious when naked and everyone worries about their appearance or parts of their body which they believe to be less than perfect. For those with particular concerns about how their physical size might affect their sex lives it is important to be honest and open with their partner. It is likely that size is irrelevant and that the passion and intensity of a sexual relationship is the most important factor for enjoyment. Remember there are many ways to arouse and excite each other and by trying different techniques and combinations of sexual stimulation it is likely that a satisfying sexual experience will be enjoyed by you both. Be prepared to give your partner feedback and accept it in return to ensure you are both pushing the right buttons.
By talking about what you both enjoy, what you might like to try and sharing fantasies there is a whole world of sexual exploration and enjoyment to discover. Finding ways to enhance each other’s pleasure and reach new levels of satisfaction helps to build a strong sexual relationship. Play-acting fantasies, sharing books which turn you on, buying sexy lingerie for your partner and setting the mood with music, drink and candles can all make a huge contribution to your partner’s enjoyment. They are all things which are easy to do, but may require a little planning ahead. If spontaneity is more your thing then suggest sex in the morning or in the shower as a surprise. The key thing with any sexual adventure is to keep the fun and sense of exploring your sexuality together. Your partner may well surprise you with what they find enjoyable or what they are willing to try. Remember, after all, it is not how big it is but what you do with it that counts!
The media is full of images of the ‘dream man’. If you believe the movies then all women are looking for a tall, muscular, beer swigging, big earning man with twinkly eyes and a sexy smile. In reality, men of all shapes and sizes with different personalities, strengths and incomes make great partners. Most people will admit that there is very little chance of finding a man who fits all their ideal criteria. However, there are usually a few criteria that are considered essential and less likely to be subject to compromise. Unfortunately, as society becomes more focused on external factors like how good looking someone is or what car they drive, it can become harder to remember the really important criteria like trustworthiness and fidelity when looking for a man.
See the person inside
For any relationship to spark into life a certain amount of physical attraction is needed, so physical appearance is certainly not irrelevant. Most people make a judgment based on a person’s appearance within a few seconds of meeting them so it is disingenuous to suggest looks are not important. However once an initial attraction has sparked, the process of getting to know someone should guide whether they are a good potential partner. It is hard not to let looks, charm, power or money influence your view of a man but it is very important to see beyond those things to the person underneath. If you have a clear idea of the intrinsic qualities you are looking for in a partner it may be a surprise what kind of ‘package’ that man comes in!
Personality on top
Everyone is looking for a different set of characteristics in their dream relationship but some qualities are pretty universal. For a relationship to be successful and fulfilling it is essential that you trust, respect and can communicate effectively with your partner. The personality traits which enable you to build a relationship like that will be different for everyone. Some people need opposite but complimentary personalities for a good partnership, others work better with likeminded folk who live life in a similar way.
Whatever the personality and package that your potential partner comes with, it is important to remember that all relationships require patience, good listening and communicating, consideration of each other and trust. At the start of a new relationship each partner should feel confident that the romance is going at a pace that suits both of you and that you can share moments of fun and sexiness but also some of the tougher emotional moments. If the new man in your life does not look like an action hero, drive a sports car or manage a multinational company it really does not matter as long as he makes you happy and treats you with the respect and loyalty you deserve.
Some people feel it is time for marriage and wish to make a public statement of commitment, before their partner is ready. This can be due to a wide range of different issues, values and beliefs. However, it can be difficult for both partners to know how to deal with the issue of marriage, without damaging the relationship, when they hold differing views on the pace of the journey towards making a lifetime commitment. Since marriage involves combining two people’s perspectives on key relationship issues it is essential to have ironed out common interests and goals before talking about rings, bridal wear and other wedding details. Important issues around money, sex, religious values, family and the role of marriage in modern society should be discussed before spending time gazing at engagement rings in the hope a disinterested partner ‘gets the hint’!
If the relationship is solid, built on trust and mutual respect, it should be natural that a discussion will take place about when, and if, marriage is right for you. When both partners have explored the important issues within the relationship and found common ground and respect for each other’s views it will be easier to have a conversation about marriage. Once a solid foundation is in place both partners are likely to let each other know if they feel ready for marriage so it is necessary to be patient. Some people take longer than others to feel comfortable with making a lifetime commitment.
It is important not to set an ultimatum. Marriage is something that should be a joint decision and a shared aspiration for both partners. There is no point emotionally blackmailing a partner into marriage as it is simply a recipe for an expensive divorce later. However, people who feel marriage before children is a very important issue should be very clear with their partner about that. Likewise if there is a short amount of time available in which to start a family, due to age or medical concerns, then be honest and open about the need for marriage first, if that is an important issue.
In a relationship where one partner has been waiting for a long time to be presented with a ring and proposal, it is important to be realistic about why it is taking a long time and pay attention to any relationship red flags. Is there an underlying reason why marriage has not been proposed? Does the relationship really have a solid base of trust, honesty and shared goals? If there are problems in the relationship, it is far better to address them before getting married, it may lead to some tough choices but it is always better to be honest with yourself and each other. If waiting for a marriage proposal is taking too much time be proactive, take a break and go out and find exactly what you are looking for. Remember if it is ‘meant to be‘ two loving people will find their way back together and build a relationship that is strong enough for the long run.