Monday, May 12, 2014

Moving In Together: Is Your Relationship Ready for the Next Level?

Guest blogger, Brooke Chaplan, offers some thoughts today about the decision to live together:
You and your partner are totally smitten with one another, and it's come time to talk about the idea of living together. They say you don't really know someone until you've lived with them, and to a degree, this is true. If you think you want to take the leap and share living space, here are a few ways you can tell if you and your relationship are ready.

 You're Practically Already Living Together

If you're spending so much time with each other, you're practically living together, then the next step will come easily. At this point, you've both already seen what the other lives like . Once you're already aware that he doesn't rinse the sink after he shaves, or that she leaves her shoes in the middle of the floor, you won't be so surprised by the other quirks you'll learn.

 You've Always Worked It Out

Paradoxically, fighting is actually an important part of a relationship. Every couple has disagreements, sometimes ugly ones, but the end results are a good indicator of your relationship's strength. If you both take steps to resolve your conflicts in a mutually satisfying way, it's much easier to maintain peace while living together. It's also important to offer reassurance after arguments. Just because you fight with someone doesn't mean you don't still love them, but it's nice to be reminded.

 Giving Up Some Independence

No relationship comes without compromise, but a slight loss of independence is what can get to some people the most. By no means should you let your partner control everything you do, but it's normal, and important, to give up a little of that freedom you knew when you were single. For a relationship to be successful, each person has to consider the feelings of the other, otherwise there will be conflict.

Lifestyle Compatibility

It's essential to take your individual lifestyles into account. If they aren't at least reasonably similar, living together is going to be rough. Differences in work and school schedules, religions, values and even aesthetic tastes can cause problems if they run afoul of your partner's habits and tastes. Fortunately, some of these are easier to remedy. If you're both collectors but have wildly differing collections, you might end up vying for space. In this case, a good compromise would be for each of you to put some of your collectibles in a storage center so there's plenty of space.


Making the choice to move in together is a big step that shouldn't be taken lightly for any couple. Besides all of the work that goes into it, you also become more emotionally invested in the relationship. Before taking the plunge, be sure you're both ready for it.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

How Important is Compromise?

I often hear people talk about how essential compromise is to a successful marriage.  While I agree that in any kind of relationship - family, friends, or with your significant other, it will be important to compromise from time to time.  But is it key to making a marriage work?  Joel F. Wade, Ph.D. and author of the book, Mastering Happiness, has some thoughts about this.

Wade says compromise is kind of like when one person wants a room painted yellow, the other wants it painted blue, and we compromise and get green. Compromise is sometimes win/win, sometimes not.  If you are compromising on a lot of things in your relationship, at some point you may feel over compromised and resentful.

Compromise isn't the driving force of a great relationship.  Rather, Dr. Wade says, a shared vision, or the idea that the two of you are a team, is more important than the ability to compromise.

Do you and your partner work as a team?  Tell us about it!

Monday, February 17, 2014

February Is the Longest Month

Those of us on the East Coast and Midwest have really felt how long February can be this year!  The calendar may say it's only 28 days, but it feels like it will go on forever.  This winter may seem especially severe to a lot of us, but actually, February is usually the month for the highest levels of depression and suicides.

The festivities of the holidays are over and summer seems so far away.  A lot of us are really starting to feel house bound and a little stir crazy!  And this can put a strain on relationships.  When you're both struggling with the short days and bleak weather, tempers can become short, we might not be as kind and considerate, and communication suffers.  What can you do?

Well, maybe it's time to get creative.  How about a winter picnic, in front of the fire?  Maybe bake some cookies and make hot cocoa.  Snuggle.  Plan your summer vacation, or your garden.  This past weekend, I bought lots of vegetable and flower seeds and got them started in a sunny window.

Remember that, long as it might seem, February will come to an end, the days will get longer, there will soon be no more snow to shovel, and the sun will shine.  In the meantime, what are some of the ways that you and your partner cope with the winter blahs?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Making a Marriage Last

Guest blogger, Brooke Chaplan, has some thoughts today on making a marriage last.  After you've read her blog, I'd love your thoughts - what would you add to Brook's list?


Make a Lasting Marriage: Tips to Preserve Your Relationship

With so many divorces happening each and every day, it is no wonder that married people worry about how they can make their relationships last. There are no secret ingredients to a long-lasting marriage. It takes love, respect, and work from both partners. Yet, there are a few tips that can help you preserve your relationship, and maintain a long, healthy marriage.

 Keep Communication Open

Open communication means more than just talking to your partner each day. You have to be honest in that communication, and make sure your wants and needs are clear. Real communication cannot take place in a few minutes on the phone, while feeding the kids dinner, or through text messages. If you don't like talking to your partner, or don't feel that it is important enough to demand your time, then there is an issue that needs to be explored and resolved.

Share Time

Life can be busy, especially if you have kids. Therefore, it is vital that married couples take time for themselves, and enjoy spending time together. Spending time together can help couples reconnect, and remember that connection that brought them together in the first place. It is important for couples to share time together doing activities they both enjoy. Find time for you and your spouse to connect one on one, whether it's a long shopping trip together, or a nice dinner once a week.

 Add Some Spice

When life seems dull and repetitive, marriage can feel the same way. To make the marriage last, a couple has to figure out ways to spice up life. This might mean taking a romantic vacation together, or trying something new in the bedroom. You might even try taking a class together. When you learn together, you will be able to connect and have fun, making memories to last a lifetime.

Maintain Independence

Each partner in a marriage must maintain some degree of independence to make the marriage work for the long run. Partners who become too clingy, or couples who can't seem to detach themselves from each other often have real issues that must be solved. Individual partners must have their own interests, hobbies, and meaningful work to keep them happy. Do what is best for you, and make sure your spouse feels valued as an individual. This will help the both of you stay afloat when you need to take a break from each other.

Seeking Advice

When a marriage seems to be in trouble, couples cannot immediately abandon ship. One idea is to seek advice from a therapist or marriage counselor. Marriages sometimes need new energy breathed into them, and quitting before giving the marriage a chance is not always the answer.

Couples must understand that all marriages have low points and high points. The trick is to hang on to each other through the tough times.

“Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives in Los Lunas. New Mexico where she writes, runs, and hikes. In her research of this article she found Valerie M. Little Law Corporation can offer legal advice when marriages are in trouble, that might help couples see things in a new way. Contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.”

Monday, February 3, 2014


Here on the East Coast, we've been slammed more than usual this winter, with snow and ice storms that close schools, and in some cases, even cities.  When you suddenly have an unexpected "free" day, it's a great time to have some quality relationship time.

If you have kids, that may mean building snow people to represent everyone in your family.  Or maybe going sledding or having a snowball fight!  If you're like me, and prefer to stay warm and dry, what about a fire in the fireplace and hot cocoa?  It's a great time to put away the cell phones and computers and really take the opportunity to CONNECT with each other.  Play some games, bake cookies, finish that project when everyone's home to pitch in.

And if you're a couple without kids at home - well isn't this exactly what "afternoon delight" is about?  We get so caught up in our hectic day to day lives.  If you have a chance to get an unexpected bonus day, take it as an opportunity to nurture your relationship.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The New Year and Divorce

Did you know that more divorces are filed in February than any other month?  Why would that be?

The holidays are over and once more, they didn't live up to your hopes.  Maybe you thought that somehow some of the magic would be recaptured during that time, but it just didn't happen.  Maybe you had mentally given yourself until the end of the year for things to change.  Or maybe you just wanted to get through the holidays and not ruin them for the kids, before going to see a lawyer.

For these reasons, and I'm sure many more, the New Year is the beginning of the divorce process for many couples.  Usually January is spent meeting with and selecting an attorney, and the actual filing happens in February.

How did it get to this point?  Guest blogger, Brionna Kennedy, has written about it:

The Top Five Reasons for Divorce and How to Prevent them


Divorce is never an easy thing to go through. Often, even the most level-headed and compatible couples find themselves contemplating a call to a divorce lawyer. Here are a few of the top reasons listed for getting a divorce, and how to avoid them.

 1. Finances

Money is the number one source of stress for married couples. When one partner thinks the other is taking advantage of the finances, it feels like your livelihood is threatened. To combat this is, you must engage in constant communication about your financial situation. Make agreements about what each of you contributes, and consult a lawyer and financial counselor before any major purchases.

2. Cheating

Infidelity is another reason for leaving a marriage. People cheat for a lot of reasons: emotional detachment, lack of intimacy, pure selfishness. You can avoid this by maintaining regular emotional and physical closeness with your partner, in addition to regular counseling to keep your marriage healthy. There are many ways to avoid this outcome. By maintaining a strong relationship you will feel close and bonded to your partner.

 3. Stress

Once kids and balancing schedules come into the picture, stress skyrockets. This builds up until you've had just about enough and need to leave the marriage. You can solve this by carving a little time for yourself, and a little time for yourselves as a couple, to decompress and do something you enjoy. Building time management skills is a big help, too.

 4. Ennui

Ennui, or boredom, can be a death knell to marriage. You have to keep things interesting or they get old. This means regular dates, periodic reconnecting, and constant communication. It takes a lot of effort, but ennui is completely preventable if you want to stay in the marriage. If you do, the effort is well worth it. The closeness and security you can feel from a fully committed relationship is something you can find no other place. It is worth the time and effort it requires.

 5. Lack of Preparation

Some people simply aren't ready to be married. Either they're too young, or they moved too fast, or they were afraid of growing old alone. The only way to combat this is to make a serious decision about your partner. Is he or she the one you want to spend your life with? If so, contact a marriage counselor to see what can be done. Counselors have many different ideas and ways to help you work though any issues you might be experiencing.

There are times when a divorce can be avoided, and if both partners are willing to make necessary changes, a reconciliation can be successful. If saving the marriage isn't possible and divorce is imminent, there are many different choices and paths to proceed down. If there are children involved, make sure to keep them at the front of your mind. Don't let other feelings take over. Make sure they feel loved and cared for above everything else.
Brionna Kennedy is native to the Pacific Northwest, growing up in Washington, then moving down to Oregon for college. She enjoys writing on fashion and business, but any subject will do, she loves to learn about new topics. When she isn't writing, she lives for the outdoors. Oregon has been the perfect setting to indulge her love of kayaking, rock climbing, and hiking. When researching for this article she took a lot of info from Kelsos, The Law Firm, Newcastle natives use them as a trusted resource.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Paying Attention to Your Relationships

As I stated in my New Years' post, it's important to think about where you want to focus your attention in the new year.  Obviously, your primary relationship deserves a significant portion of that attention, although often, it is exactly what we tend to let slide. 

I realize that jobs and kids and chores and personal care can all take away from this important task, but I think if you approach it as "quality over quantity," you'll accomplish the job.

Guest blogger, Tricia Borren, makes some suggestions in her post, below, but they might not be practical, affordable, or even desirable for some of you.  We all have different ideas about what is "special."  Sometimes just a couple hours alone with your partner taking a drive, having a picnic, or grabbing a soup and salad are all that are required.

This should be time to really talk - about your hopes and dreams, your concerns and frustrations, what's working for you (both individually and as a couple), and what's not.  It's a time for uninterrupted SHARING of your time and attention with your partner.

I suggest doing this once a week, if at all possible.  Have a "date night."  If cost is a factor, maybe you and another couple could trade babysitting nights - you have their kids on Tuesday, and they take yours for your Thursday date nights.  And remember, quality does not have to be expensive.  A long walk or a burger and beer are fine, as long as you are PRESENT for each other.

And, for special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries, you might want to try some of Tricia's ideas:

Escaping the Kids: Everything You Need for a Romantic Night Away

While it is a beautiful experience, parenthood can also be quite overwhelming. There are so many responsibilities involved in raising a child. These responsibilities often distract parents from spending quality time with one another. This can lead to major problems in the relationship, such as feelings of neglect. Fortunately, there are ways for parents to rekindle the magic. Here are four helpful tips for planning a romantic evening away from the kids.

Schedule a Babysitter

Before you can run off into the sunset, you must first take care of the kids. One helpful tip would be to hire someone to watch the kids for the evening. Be sure to make arrangements in advance in order to avoid any last minute disasters. It would also be wise to ask a friend or family member. This will allow more time away from home.

A Fancy Restaurant
Home-cooked meals are fine, but there are times when we need someone else to do the work. Both you and your partner can appreciate a dinner where neither has to do the cooking or cleaning. Make reservations at a nice restaurant. Because these moments are so rare, try to splurge a bit on the locations and meal selection. It will be a real treat for you and your partner.

A Nice Hotel
After such a romantic escape, it may be difficult to end it so quickly. Instead, the two of you can hide away at a lovely hotel for the night. Order champagne and flowers to create the right atmosphere. Request an in-room massage for the ultimate in relaxation and pampering. You may also want room service, in case you work up an appetite.

After giving so much for your children, it is natural to want to do something for yourself. Every parent could benefit from some adult time every once in a while. In fact, a little spontaneity could be good for your relationship. Use this night to rediscover the reasons why you first fell in love. Of course, this will take serious planning. However, if it brings you closer as a couple, then it will be worth the effort.
Tricia Borren
Mother and Blogger
Beverly Hills, CA