Staying Married for the Kids

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Don’t stay married “for the kids”.  If you can’t work through your issues, part ways in a reasonable time frame like adults.  Get counseling first, to see if you can work through things.  If not it’s better for your children to get a divorce.

Marriage Counseling Saved My Relationship

We’ve all been there–if you’re reading this you know what I mean.  You and your partner have grown apart, you’re fighting, something has gone wrong.  Perhaps there is infidelity or financial difficulties or disagreements.  Regardless of the reasons you may be struggling, relationships are FIXABLE!

It’s easy to walk away, right?  Simplest thing to do.  “I can’t do this anymore, I’m out”.  I’ve seen it a million times.  Marriages and relationships are disposable these days, and it’s sad because it doesn’t have to be that way.  There is help, but it takes time, willingness, and effort to work on the relationship.

One of the major reasons to work things out is because you have a living legacy to your selves.  Your children.

marriage counseling works

Work it out for the kids.

My experience is that it’s worth it to work it out.  Did I work it out for the kids?  Yes, partially.  But also for my own legacy.  I am a child of divorce and I do not want to pass that on to my children.  Here it is 2 years later, and we are still together.  The one thing that made the most difference was marriage counseling.  We found a therapist in Baton Rouge, and we went and worked through the problems we had.  We had it all, you name it–communication issues, financial disagreements, fighting, arguing, bickering–thank got no infidelity!  But it took a lot of work, and showing up to marriage counseling even when we didn’t want to.  It wasn’t fun!  But it did work, especially working through the things we couldn’t have done ourselves.

My relationship is precious to me, and it’s baffling that so many stresses came to bear on our love.  We got together thinking love was enough!  It’s not.  Love is not enough, it takes so much more to make a relationship work.  People are surprised to hear that.  But it is true.  We had to be able to talk about the difficult things–to learn to be vulnerable with each other.  To learn empathy.  Empathy has been a central key in changing the path we were on.  Check out this cool video:

Brene Brown makes the distinction between empathy and sympathy.  Understanding this difference made a lot of sense to me and helped my struggle to understand my spouses perspective without losing mine in the process.  We learned it wasn’t “either or”  — we could both have out opinions on things and it was okay to disagree.  We learned that differences don’t mean better or worse or right or wrong, they are just differences.  We learned that it’s okay to be angry with each other and to argue sometimes and have disagreements.  We just needed a framework within which to have these discussions where our integrity and dignity was maintained.  We’ve all heard of “fair fighting” in relationships.  Well, it’s true!  There are ways to fight fairly and to get your point across.  And, it’s nice that it doesn’t mean the END of the relationship.  Somewhere along the line I believe I had bought into the idea that if you love someone you never fight or disagree.  Boy was I wrong, and that is one of the key things counseling and therapy taught us.  It’s okay to disagree and to fight and still keep the relationship in tact.

It was difficult at first to ask for help.  My friends were like, “If you have to go to marriage counseling this soon, don’t you think that’s a sign you should never have been with him?”  People don’t get it.  It may be awkward and difficult at first to ask for help, but it’s one of the best things we ever did for our relationship.  Asking for help means being vulnerable.  You’re already struggle in your relationship, and here you go reaching out to a “stranger” for help.  Ok, awkward.  But we happened to get a fantastic therapist, and he made all the difference in our lives.  Was it easy?  No.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely.  So I guess this “follow up” post is to say that marriage counseling WORKS.  It saved my relationship, and we are still together.  We are still working though difficult things, but we are together.  And that is what counts.  Had I given up like I wanted to, I would have severely regretted it.  If you are in need of counseling, and you live in the Baton Rouge area, try marriage therapy.  It saved my marriage, and for that I am grateful beyond measure.  Working it out, meant the world to me.

Love and Relationships

Love and Relationships

People often struggle in love and relationships.  It’s not always a bad sign, it’s just the way of things.  There is no ideal or perfect marriage or relationship and conflict is basically inevitable.  I suggest that a shift in thinking is necessary to understand what relationships are really all about.  They are the arenas in which we learn about ourselves and how we love.

Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you’ve arrived!  Just because you love someone doesn’t mean it’s all going to work out or that there is some magic that will carry you off into the sunset.  This is real life, not the movies!  A certain sense of idealism is normal in relationships but it’s not all “muffin baskets and rainbows”.  Expectations of relationships and marriage have been heavily influenced by movies and society and mainstream media.  The truth is relationships take work.  There will be problems.  There will be pain.  And, sometimes relationships end!  Sometimes relationships need to end because it’s time for you (or the other person) to go down another path, and perhaps meet someone else.

Instead of clinging for dear life to an unhealthy relationship, perhaps it’s time to consider getting help OR to consider ending the relationship.  The important thing is, don’t stay in  dysfunctional relationship expecting things to magically change.  People are either ready to change, or they’re not!  And if you can’t accept your partner where they are, and they won’t get help, then it’s a pretty good sign you need to get counseling, or move on.

Why is it so difficult to end a relationship?  Maybe it seems like a failure.  Perhaps you believe you won’t be able to find anyone else.  Neither of these are true.  There are plenty of opportunities for future relationships.  Don’t marry the wrong person just because it’s convenient, or because you’re scared you won’t be able to find someone else.

Relationships are not the be-all end-all.  They are the arenas where we learn, live, and discover our true selves.  People and the relationships we have help us figure ourselves out.  Everyone we’ve been with teaches us something—what we like, what we don’t like—what we can live with and what we can’t.  When a relationship or marriage goes bad, we learn something important.

An amazing marriage quote…

An amazing marriage quote...

and it’s so true.

5 Ways to Avoid Divorce

According to most statistics, nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. This is an unfortunate fact, as both marriage and divorce are serious events that can have a profound effect on the rest of your life. If you’re looking to have a marriage that lasts, take a look at these ways you can keep your marriage happy and healthy.

#1 – Keep Some Independence

Chances are, your partner married someone who was happy, confident, and independent, with your own needs and wants. It’s important to keep that sense of independence, even after you’re married. Just because you’ve decided to share your lives together doesn’t mean you have to start enjoying the same activities and hobbies (though some overlap is natural and healthy). Spending some time apart can actually strengthen your relationship, and it gives you some interesting things to talk about when you are doing things together.

#2 – Be Thrifty

The number one thing that most couples argue and fight about is money. Take care of this early on by setting a budget for your household, and stick to it. Discuss any big purchases you’d like to make with your partner before buying anything, and in the end remember that your relationship is more important than any material item on your wish list.

#3 – Don’t Forget the Small Stuff

Once the wedding is over, it’s really easy to start letting the little things that made your courtship so much fun slide. You might be surprised, but it’s easy to let things like holding hands, paying each other compliments, and even non-sexual kissing fall by the wayside. If you want to keep your marriage healthy and happy, pay extra attention and make sure you continue doing these things. Try to have at least five small positive interactions every day. It may seem silly, but this is one of the main indicators of a happy, healthy marriage.

#4 – Be Open to Change

Let’s face it, five years from now, you and your partner won’t be the same people that you are today. Goals, personalities, hobbies – all of these things can change over time. Be willing to accept changes in your partner, and don’t try to force them to stay who they are. In the same vein, however, you shouldn’t try to change them to fit a new version of yourself, either. Accept that there are going to be some differences, and as long as those differences remain healthy, let it go.

#5 – Get Counseling

That being said, sometimes changes in your partner indicate a major shift in your relationship. If you start noticing changes that are unhealthy, or if you find you are having problems fitting in with your partner’s new visions for their life, it may be time to seek out some professional help. A qualified marriage counselor can help the two of you reconnect and figure out how to make your relationship work for the long haul. Attending sessions together will teach you important lessons about communication, and really help you reconnect with your partner.