Ways to Show Love

February 10, 2015 by  
Filed under Love, Relationships

Elegant coupleValentine’s Day gives us a good opportunity to think about how you show love to those around you and how to make them feel really special. It can be difficult in our hectic lives to find space in the daily routine for a moment of reflection on how important our loved ones are to us. So this February spare a few minutes to come up with some creative ways to demonstrate your love for the ones you care about and show them you are not taking them for granted. There are many fundamental ways in which we can demonstrate our love; through respect, tolerance, appreciation and care in all we do for the important people in our lives. But there is also plenty of fun to be had from the little things which bring a smile to someone’s face and brighten their day. Here are 10 ideas for ways to make this Valentine’s Day special for the ones you love.

  1. Compliments
    Tell your partner how great they look, what a lovely smile they have or what a good job they are doing at raising the family. Then take time to thank them for their efforts too.
  2. Hugs and kisses
    You cannot beat a kiss and a cuddle to brighten anyone’s day!
  3. Give a smile
    Being warm and remembering the fun in your relationship will keep it fresh and enjoyable for you both.
  4. Fun gifts
    It does not have to be big or expensive, but choose something that shows you have thought about it and which will make your loved one smile.
  5. Give some time
    Give up a session at the gym or a day at the shopping mall to spend with your partner and use the time to do something special together.
  6. Romantic reading
    Reading to each other is a great way to share some intimate time and may be the starting point for suggestion number 7!
  7. Make time for passion
    By the end of the day we are often tired and our attention may be on issues from the day. Try to break out of work or parenting roles and make some time to express your desire and passion for each other.
  8. The romantic gesture
    It could be as simple as breakfast in bed or as grand as a mystery getaway together but do not forget to put a little romance in your relationship.
  9. Write a love letter
    In the days of instant communication it can be liberating to take some time and consider your words carefully then set them out to your lover in a letter.
  10. Make plans for your future together
    Nothing says “I’m committed to you” more than discussing openly and honestly the aspirations and hopes you have for your future together.

This February, take some time to show how you feel, build some romance into your daily lives and express your appreciation for the special people in your life. By doing this you are nurturing your relationship for the future and showing the people you care about that they are valued and loved. Who could want for more on Valentine’s Day?

Love is forever. Who needs a prenup?

November 2, 2014 by  
Filed under Love, Marriage, Relationships

Prenuptial AgreementLove 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.

Sex with the Ex

October 14, 2014 by  
Filed under Marriage

Sex with the exImagine 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

Does Real Love Exist in Cyberspace?

September 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Love, Relationships

Love Online

Can you really fall in love and maintain a relationship online? This is a hugely debated topic with many opposing opinions. The popularity of internet dating sites has become the norm for so many people seeking a relationship, and it is not only a techie thing. eHarmony, Match, ChristianMingle, OurTime, and okCupid among many others have become the mainstay of modern dating. There have been a plethora of successful relationship which was born from these sites, and there have been just as many that were not sustainable.

Often through social media, we may develop friendships/relationships with people that we have never been in their physical presence. Emotional attachment will develop, but are you a friend or a fan? According to Dictionary.com, a fan is an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer of a sport, pastime, or celebrity. It is in these moments that your mind can run away with you, and create a fantasy of a relationship. Compare the fan definition to that of a friend which is a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard. It is easy to see that being a fan, and being a friend can easily be misinterpreted. The most distinct difference between the two is the personal emotional connection. A friend is someone that you have shared distinctly personal moments or exchanges with. Yes, these exchanges can occur in cyberspace. It is very similar to the personal exchanges that can occur in a handwritten letter, simply a modern version. When you are only a fan you are lacking that intimate connection. You may “like” every post, “poke”, or even “tag” but the personal exchanges are not present.

Catfishing has been a huge topic of discussion for many online love seekers, and has even developed into a reality show. The phenomenon of “catfishing” is when internet predators fake online identities and entire social communities which are occasionally created out of malicious boredom. They may prey on easy targets of users who easily succumb to fandom online. This type of encounter (or scam) can wreak emotional havoc on person looking for a love connection online.

Social media, instant message, Skype, and texting can certainly sustain a relationship when physical togetherness isn’t possible. For example, as young adults are heading back to college, they may depend on the internet to stay connected and emotionally attached to their significant other. Seeing the other person’s face, hearing their voice, and making a visual memory of emotions over Skype or FaceTime can certainly help a long distance relationship when physical presence is not possible.

Helen Keller had a beautiful quote about love, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen of even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” That quote is a heartfelt summary of real love in cyberspace. It must be felt with the heart, the personal heart. Not lust, not fantasy, not fandom, but love, real love is the emotion that cannot be replaced by emoticons. It is a physiological response to an emotion that we feel with every ounce of ourselves. Yes, real love does exist in cyberspace, but only you can know the difference.

A Relationship Without Technology

September 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Love, Relationships, Technology

Listen to your partner

“You just slip out the back, Jack. Make a new plan, Stan. You don’t need to be coy, Roy. Just get yourself free. Hop on the bus, Gus. You don’t need to discuss much. Sending a text could be best. Just drop off the key, Lee, and get yourself free.” – Paul Simon, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

Did you read those lyrics? Sending a text seems like it’s a good option when you are considering slipping on the back, Jack. Paul Simon may have been searching for the easy way out when things just got too complicated with his lover. In reality, all of these options simply come down to avoidance.

The art of communication has been consumed by the ease of technology, even in relationships. Technology is eroding our ability to live comfortably off line. The convenience of texting has hampered our ability to artfully express our emotions through conversations, whispers, or body language. We are protected in a text message, and tethered to technology. In addition, we become more available to people who we are not physically with, and maintaining more eye contact with our phone than the person sitting across the table.

There is an element of reduced intimacy in our relationships. People will frequently frown upon break-ups or sharing important news via text message. However, the frequency of sending a text is increasing because of the convenience. The text message can be the one and done. “I want to end our relationship.” Then you block the person from your phone, and the mess is wiped clean……except for the emotions. Be human, and never settle for that kind of communication.

A sacredness of time and place should be established for certain activities. If you are with the love of your life, then be with the love of your life. Be present, and don’t make them compete with a piece of technology in your hand. Listen, and take the time to hear the inflections in their voice which is always missing in text messages. Refresh, restore, and commit to the relationship that may be struggling. Then you won’t need to consider 51 ways to leave your lover.

Life Beyond the Closet Door

August 25, 2014 by  
Filed under Life, Love, Relationships

From the time I was a kid, I have never been able to understand attacks upon the gay community. There are so many qualities that make up a human being… by the time I get through with all the things that I really admire about people, what they do with their private parts is probably so low on the list that it is irrelevant.     ~Paul Newman

homosexualThere really are so many different qualities that make up a person. Values, gifts, talents are just scratching the surface. A beautiful soul, intelligent mind, and a warm heart describe so many of you that may be reading this post. When a person “comes out”, it is simply another phase in discovering more about yourself. We, as humans, are very complex, and we will continue to grow, develop, and learn about ourselves throughout our lifespan.

In the late 1970’s, Vivian Cass developed “The Cass Model of Gay and Lesbian Identity Development” in which there are six stages: identity confusion, identity comparison, identity tolerance, identity acceptance, identity pride, and identity synthesis. As a person begins to understand their sexual identity these six stages will be easily identifiable through their emotions and actions.

Accept, deny, or reject the identity is in the beginning of this theory. Naturally, this can easily progress into social isolation while comparing self to others. Eventually, it will become imperative to seek out others with the same identity, and feel a sense of belonging and connectedness. There will be many moments of questioning and seeking, but the light at the end of the tunnel is the epiphany that there is more to a person than just their sexual identity.

There are many resources available for someone coming out in today’s society. The Trevor Project  is a great resource for discovering your identity, and provides a structured guide to help process all aspects of the process. Counselors are available in schools, colleges, or even through employee assistance programs. PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) is another longstanding resource, and can connect you with meeting groups in your community. Never feel alone when seeking support and connectedness. Through the miracles of social media and the internet, our society can connect easier than ever before.

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. ~ Dr. Seuss

The Impact of Sexually Promiscuous Mothers

July 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Family, Mothers & Daughters, Parents

Impact of a promiscuous mother

Mothers are their daughters’ role model, their biological and emotional road map, the arbiter of all their relationships. ~Victoria Secunda

Victoria Secunda is a journalist, lecturer, and researcher who performed extensive research into the development of young girls who were without a strong father figure. The societal myth is that daughters need their mother for nurturing growth, and boys need their father for proper development of masculinity. Secunda’s research completely debunked this myth.

As mothers proceed as a single parent, they may experience many different romantic relationships while searching for an emotional connection to a new partner. The young daughter is constantly watching with mental notes of how to navigate adulthood. The one person that she can trust is the role model for her life, her mother. With the absence of a father figure, the young teen will begin seeking relationships similarly to her mother. A relationship of acceptance and value is most sought after. The teen discovers through sexually promiscuous activity, she can gain attention of males and be wanted because of her sexually free nature. This type of development is absolutely critical to the teen’s self-esteem and ability to lead as an adult female.

When the mother is aware of the impact of the father figure absence and her own promiscuity can have on her daughter, it becomes imperative to take action. All is not lost. The mother must identify how she values herself, and then model the same for her daughter. Like mother, like daughter as the old proverb goes. This modeling must be genuine from the mother establishing strength and independence in single motherhood. A mom is often depicted in TV sitcoms as constantly nagging the teenager until the words just linger on deaf ears because the mother is not practicing what she is preaching to her daughter. Before the eyes start rolling around in your daughter’s head, remember actions speak louder than words. When you are consistent and intentional about your relationships in your own life, this will be a powerful demonstration to your daughter. Your daughter will follow suit and understand that the body is not a wonderland; rather it is your mind. (Sorry to trash your song, John Mayer.) Beyond helping your daughter understand that the absence of a father occurred from no fault of her own, and that she is not a victim of her circumstances. Rather, she is the creator of her future relationships.

Once that philosophy is firmly established within your household, it’s time to engage in new social relationships, and model the way for your daughter.

Truth of Money & Sex in Relationships

June 23, 2014 by  
Filed under Marriage, Money, Relationships

Young Man Carrying Woman On BackThere 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.

The Toxic Kind of Love

June 9, 2014 by  
Filed under Love, Relationships

Toxic Love“Just gonna stand there and watch me burn. Well that’s all right because I like the way it hurts. Just gonna stand there and hear me cry. Well that’s all right because I love the way you lie. I love the way you lie.” – Love the Way You Lie, Rhianna and Eminem

The essence of the toxic love relationship is completely captured in this song. A relationship of power, obsession, and lust is poisonous to our souls. Hollywood romanticizes the drama of toxic relationships, Dr. Phil tries to birth the catharsis of the toxicity for good TV ratings, and every girl thinks she wants the mystery behind Christian Grey in 50 Shades. However there is a huge difference between passionate relationships and obsessive relationships.

The passionate relationship is filled with genuine love and care for each other. An empathic connection exists that values each partner as an authentic and unique being. This is essential to forming a healthy intimacy in a relationship.

However, even the healthiest relationship can often turn toxic based on life experiences that have affected one or both partner’s self-esteem. Habitual neurological responses may automatically be activated in life without a conscious awareness. Intense emotional experiences such as, rejection, inadequacy, or abandonment in childhood can change the structure of the brain and have enduring effects in adulthood. These triggers can cause the roles of the partners to be critically affected resulting in an off balance relationship. Placing blame, avoidance, depreciation, negligence, and contempt will surface and poison the once healthy relationship. Each partner longs for the stability, love and passion of the other partner, but painfully damaged feelings place the couple firmly in the front seat of the toxic relationship rollercoaster.

According to breakthecycle.org, some of the key indicators in a toxic relationship are verbal insults, manipulation, and isolation among others. Verbal insults are often disguised in a passive aggressive manner. Belittlement, humiliation, or degrading in public may be seen as humorous, but often come with the most sting. This type of interaction is very damaging to a partner’s self-esteem and security in the relationship. Guilt is often the vehicle for manipulation. Placing guilt or blame about unpleasant circumstances can cause turmoil among partners, and then leaving no room for a solution can coerce the partner into a direction or action that is out of character. Isolation from family and friends can establish a false sense of security and dependence. This is often phrased as “wanting couple time” or “just us time” can easily lead to isolation and guilt.

Healthy relationships are built on honesty, open communication, negotiation, shared financial responsibility, respect, trust, intimacy, integrity, and physical affection. There are many other factors that can help a relationship to grow and flourish. Foundationally, each partner should remember their role, and they are an equal part of a relationship. The word “partner” can be defined as one part of a whole. Therefore, it requires two committed partners to create a whole healthy relationship.

Text Wars

June 2, 2014 by  
Filed under Relationships, Technology

Text WarsAccording to urbandictionary.com, a text war is “a phenomenon occurring between two people who are either in the beginning stages of a relationship, having no strings attached sex, or on the verge of breaking up. Involves endless texting in which the victor of the text war considers himself or herself to be in the position of power. This usually begins with “Wr r u?”, but can take many forms. The spoils of victory most likely take the form of the winner choosing the “when and where” of the next sexual encounter.”

We all know that Urban Dictionary is not the ultimate authority of the texting culture, but it’s an entertaining place to start. In reality, the text wars are all about the avoidance of expression and feelings. In today’s technological world, the art of conversation is quickly becoming lost. Texting becomes an emotional filter, allowing us a safe house to air our feelings. No matter how much care a person may put into their text, the text does not carry the same vocal emotional nuances as our natural speech. Our reactions can become very impulsive, thus placing you firmly in a digital war zone.

Gender differences in communication can also be amplified in text messaging. A simple “LOL” from a guy could be perceived as a “WTH” to a girl. DIS cn be a simpl misunderstanding, bt cn bcum a gr8 prob wen d two continue txtN ultimate creating an argument Ovr a perceived inflection of 3 letters.

Did you understand that text lingo? Here is the English translation:

This can be a simple misunderstanding, but can become a great problem when the two continue texting ultimately creating an argument over a perceived inflection of three letters.

Now can you imagine perceived emotions added to the mix simply because someone is avoiding face-to-face interaction.   Here are a few tips to help you overcome your tendency to text instead of talk:

  • Laugh out loud, for real. Laughing releases endorphins which is a feel good hormone. You will feel less anxious or stressed when you enjoy laughter. Don’t just text it, do it.
  • Listen to a voice, or use your voice. Simple vocal tone can convey happiness, anger, boredom, surprise, and a myriad of other emotions, including sarcasm. Have you ever heard someone smiling at you? It’s a wonderful encounter.
  • Play verbal ping pong, a.k.a., have a conversation. It is very easy. One person speaks, and the other responds continuing the pattern. It’s super easy, and very satisfying. You should give it a try, and before you know it you will be talking all the time.

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