Holiday Couple’s Issues and How to Deal

It’s not unusual for us to fall in love with people who are quite different from us.

Once the initial infatuation evaporates, those differences will not only become annoying and difficult — they won’t go away. When this happens, “Why aren’t you me?” is the question that underlies our annoyance. “You don’t see things the way I do; therefore, you’re wrong. You don’t like the people I like or value the experiences I care about. Even worse, you fall asleep at football games or at concerts.”

Add holiday stresses to that tension, and the situation can play out dramatically. The way we feel outside the relationship will affect the way we feel within it, and vice versa. Whether you’ve been together since last year or for decades, high-stress periods can cause you to be more reactive and defensive. We give our partner less of a break at just the time when we really need to cut them some slack.

Generosity is key here — that, and a willingness to find ways to tolerate our differences. These efforts are what will fortify a relationship, and keep yours from falling victim to holiday anxieties. Here are a few of the major points of conflict couples face this time of year, and my strategies to handle them healthily:

1. Problem: Money and Gifts

Say you’re the type of person who wants to show your love to everyone in your family by buying thoughtful and beautiful gifts. Your partner, however, thinks Christmas is a marketing scam and is already stressed out about next year’s taxes. You want two parties: one for friends and colleagues, then a festive dinner for the extended family. He, on the other hand, wants one small potluck.

Or maybe he sees gifts as objects of love, while you see them as an unnecessary strain on an already tight budget, or a surrender to commercialism. He plans on getting you a MacBook Air, while you ask, “Do you really want a present this year? You just got some new fishing equipment this summer.”

Solution: No Surprises

That’s the first essential here. Plan in advance and come up with a budget you both can agree on. Factor in gifts, travel, and entertaining, and come up with a sum that lands in the middle: It might be more than one of you wants to spend but still less than the other would like.

Your spending limit will be a difficult decision, but it will be the only one you face on this topic. Once you settle on a dollar amount, you’re done. Agree not to complain, blame, or bring up the issue again.

One of the most common reasons people don’t like giving gifts is that they don’t feel they’re good at choosing something their partner will like. Let’s not view a gift as a measure of our partner’s love. Gift giving is an art. Some people are good at it; some aren’t. Or else they’ve developed so much anxiety about perfecting the selection process, they seldom get it right.

Reminder: Gifts Can Mean Everything to One Partner and Nothing to the Other

The solution is not to try to make your partner see it your way. It’s to see beyond your different points of view to the source of the pleasures that brought you together in the first place.

2. Problem: Family — His, Hers, Ours

A client of mine loves to invite over his big, expressive extended family, with five cousins and four siblings, for a New Year’s Eve spread. His wife tells me she feels like hiding under the table when they start telling bad jokes and seeing who can burp the loudest. For one partner, the happiest moment in the holiday season is when the doorbell rings and family and friends come in to make merry. For another, it’s when the last person leaves, and she can finally breathe.

Solution: Alternate Your Preferences

This is a fair way to accommodate your conflicting desires. When the calendar calls for “the more the merrier,” the more introverted of the two of you should feel free to take breaks, walk the dog, or spend a few minutes outside looking at the stars. At some point during the festivities, the two of you should meet alone for a five-minute connection, just to check in with each other on how it’s going. The one-on-one connection, even if it’s a hug and not a conversation, can give the quieter partner a morale boost as he or she copes with the social whirlwind.

Then alternate the following year and host only a small family gathering. This time the extroverted mate should be encouraged to go out and enjoy other social events during the season with friends or other family members.

Reminder: Nobody Is Wrong

To have these kinds of temperamental differences is fine and normal. The challenge is to make the effort to accommodate each other’s feelings and needs.

3. Problem: Traditions

Let’s say you want to keep the traditions of your family, or of your religious or cultural history, which are meaningful to you at this time of year. Your partner, however, would rather watch movies all day or play games with the kids. You love the music of the season and a big tree dressed with ornaments — the kind you decorated throughout your childhood. He remembers holidays as miserable and just wants to get through them with as little acknowledgement as possible. Or maybe he loves Christmas carols, Solstice parties, or Hanukkah candles, while you find these customs all a pointless hassle.

Solution: Take the Time to Hear Each Other

Then ask yourself this question: “What could I do to make my partner happy?” Empathy and kindness are important here, because this is the way to make room for both of you.

Reminder: Your Differences Are an Opportunity to Create New Traditions

You can combine the things you love to build memories designed by and for the two of you. You might even agree to adopt some elements from the season’s varied festivities to build a holiday celebration of your own. Take a walk in the snow, visit the zoo, have a candlelit dinner, just the two of you, and exchange cards.

Every couple has intractable differences. Most couples face conflict on a host of universal issues: money, sex, holidays, gifts, families, housework, etc. The most effective response is to decide that your partner isn’t wrong simply because he or she is different from you. Instead, look for ways to collaborate. Care more about meeting their needs than your own.

This attitude of goodwill is guaranteed to put you far along the road toward a deeply happy marriage and partnership. The holidays are an opportunity to practice strategies and skills that will help your relationship thrive all year. The difference between couples who fail and those who succeed is less about the quality or number of conflicts they face and more about how they respond to them.

Curated by Erbe
Original Article

In and Out of the Same Relationship? Here Are the Most Important Take Aways!

According to research, the majority of people have been in an on-again/off-again relationship at some point in their life.

The 2009 study published in Personal Relationships found that 60 percent of people have, at least at some point in their life, been with someone, broke up with them, then ended up with them again — and maybe again and again and again. It’s a pattern that can be difficult to wiggle out of once it becomes a habit, even if it’s quite clear that you’re completely wrong for each other.

The problem with these relationships is that they’re not just potentially unhealthy, but they can be toxic as hell. Although things may seem fine when you’re back together, all that constant breaking up and the roller coaster of it all, takes a toll, emotionally, psychologically, and even physically. There’s also the fact that, at least according to research, these types of relationships eventually end up coming to an end and not on a very pretty note either.

But while that’s the case, not all is lost. There are some things you can learn from on-again/off-again relationships, even if you don’t realize it until after the fact. Here are nine lessons these relationships have to teach us.

1. People Rarely Change

While it might not be something you want to hear, human beings are, in general, creatures of habit. It’s not that we don’t want to change or better ourselves by cleaning up some of our messy behavior, but we’re just not that great at it. It’s not a personality flaw, as much as it’s human being flaw.

2. You Don’t Know How To Feel Secure

When you’re in a relationship that is on-again/off-again, it’s hard to feel confident with not just what you have with your partner, but in how you feel about yourself. There’s a lot of second-guessing going on and it stems from the fact that your romantic relationship always feels like it’s hanging in balance and you could lose it at any given moment.

3. You Realize It’s Hard To Move On

If every time you break up with your partner, you end up with them weeks or months later, how are you supposed to move on to either someone new or give yourself time to heal? You can’t. You become to addicted to the pattern and too dependent on that person, assuming that the cycle will go on forever.

4. The Drama Isn’t It Worth

So. Not. Worth. It. Think about it: Do you really want to spend the rest of your life going through a breakup with the same person every few months for the rest of your life? You’ll look like you’re 80 when you’re only 40, because of the stress it takes on your life.

5. Old Problems Eventually Come Up

When you’re in an on-again/off-again relationship, you realize that not only do people never (or at least rarely) change, but since that’s the case, the problems that plague your relationship are likely to come up every single time you get back together. Why? Because you two haven’t changed enough to prevent them from popping up again.

6. It Really Confuses The Senses

You’re together. You’re apart. You’re crying because you’ve broken up and are sure you’ll never love again. Then you’re back together. And you’re happy. And you’re skipping through the streets. Then you break up again and you’re crying on the floor. But wait — did they just text? OK; so maybe you’ll be skipping in the streets by tomorrow again. Do you feel confused? Well, you should.

7. There’s Probably A Very Good Reason You Keep Breaking Up

The reasons why people break up runs the gamut. Sometimes love dies, sometimes you realize you’re growing in opposite directions, or maybe one of you cheated, or one of you wants to join the Peace Corps. No matter the reason for the split, you broke up for a reason, so there’s really no point and going through it all again.

8. The Makeup Sex Isn’t Worth It In The Long Run

Yes, makeup sex is great! But there’s only so many times you can break up, have makeup sex, only to break up again, for more makeup sex. It sounds good in theory, but more than anything, it’s exhausting.

9. You Don’t Have Time For This Bullsh*t

You really don’t! If someone can be with you, then be without you, then be with you again… and so on and on, that’s not what you need or deserve. You want someone who can commit and is in it to win it; not someone who thinks you’re their personal yo-yo.

Curated by Erbe
Original Article

To Barter or Not to Barter for Sex

“The idea that anyone can just turn sex off and on for their partner when there may be a reduced or insufficient connection, is absolutely ludicrous.”

ON LAST night’s episode of the Seven Year Switch, Channel Seven’s reality dating show where unhappy couples swap partners, one couple was given some pretty dodgy relationship advice.

Jason and Michelle have been together for seven years – they have four-year-old son and an eight-month old daughter – but they haven’t had sex in 17 months.

During an exercise with the show’s therapist Peter Charleston, Michelle watches a video of herself having an argument with Jason.

The fight covers all bases: She wants help with the kids, she thinks he works too much, he wants sex, she doesn’t want to have sex.

“Michelle, what if you tried to appeal to Jason by talking about something that he will listen to — something that’s important to him,” suggests Mr Charleston. “Think about it as a bargaining tool. What bargaining tool do you have?”

Michelle immediately blurts out, “sex”, and is told to use Jason’s desire for sex to her advantage.
But withholding or offering up sex to get what you want – be it a home cooked meal, an unpacked dishwasher, or actual human interaction – is not a great idea, says Matt Tilley, a clinical professional fellow from Curtin University’s Department of Sexology.

“I wouldn’t support a strategy of bargaining. I would look at the root cause of the dissatisfaction in the relationship to see how the lack of sex could be resolved,” Mr Tilley told

“The idea that anyone can just turn sex off and on for their partner when there may be a reduced or insufficient connection, is absolutely ludicrous.”

Relationship 911: Unpacking Shame

The ways we perceive the actions of others reflect how we see ourselves. I knew I had a problem with shame because of how I’d been treating my partner.

It began innocently enough.

“Are you really going to eat all of that?” I’d ask playfully, as if monitoring his eating would negate my own cravings.

“You did what in high school?” I’d gasp, appalled at whatever crazy anecdote came up. As if I were Mother Theresa.

I was looking at his past under the same negative microscope with which I judged my own. This served to confirm my belief that my mistakes made me a bad person.

Shame was deeply rooted in my relationship history, but I covered it with false bravado, impulsiveness and deflection. Subconsciously, I kept focus away from my own negative qualities by looking for them in others. Even in those I loved.

At the time, I saw this as a positive behavior. I would point to something I saw as a fault in my lover, then actively assert myself in “helping” him fix it. I thought that this made me a good partner. But in truth, I was anything but.

I didn’t know how to love someone without trying to improve him or her somehow – even if my words said otherwise, and even if I didn’t really want to change them. I couldn’t help myself. Judgment, blame and shame were all that I knew, even when life was good.

“Blame is [a] defensive cover-up for shame. Blame maintains the balance in a dysfunctional system when control has broken down.” – John Bradshaw, Healing the Shame that Binds You

I could say that I developed these habits because of my religious upbringing, where love came with conditions. Or I could blame my actions on past relationships, because they all seemed to have been dysfunctional in this way. But to actually solve the problem, I would have to look at the common denominator in these factors: me.

I didn’t know how to love myself without pretense or perfectionism. And because I didn’t take the time to admit this before I entered the relationship, it took a big toll on my partner. I was ruining my life, without even realizing it.

At the time, I was convinced that I was in the right. I believed that caring for people in spite of their shortcomings was the same as unconditional love. The very foundation of my relationships had been poisoned by shame. I acted defensively by default, manifesting of my own deepest fears. I truly loved my partner, but I was doing it wrong.

It took a great deal of therapy, self-reflection and rock bottom moments for me to finally have the guts to look in the mirror and acknowledge the fearful person staring back at me.