The best relationship advice can’t always prepare you for holy matrimony.
I chose consciously to never enter a relationship where distances were involved.
What if you stopped trying to talk yourself into something that doesn’t feel right?
I did not foresee how this would go down…
Movies and television have lied to you for years.
If he’s not even trying, why are you?
Maybe it’s the term ‘best friend’ that’s the trouble.
Anyone who has ever been in a long-term relationship will tell you that they often lose their spark. Couples find themselves doing the same things over and over again. They eat the same foods, visit the same places, make love in the same old positions and over time they put less effort into their relationship than they do into raising the kids, working and just about everything else.
It’s totally understandable – life is damn hectic! Finding time for each other can be really tricky. But couples need to think of their relationship as if it were living, breathing, growing, evolving organism. Just like a plant. Without any attention they won’t survive. They’ll simply wither and die.
Obviously, no-one wants that to happen. Break-ups are difficult, painful experiences. Instead, couples want a thriving, passionate, loving partnership. So it’s just a matter of giving it the attention it needs to make that happen. Here’s a few suggestions to give you an idea of where to start:
Find time to talk and listen to each other. Not about the kids, finances or mundane day-to-day living – that stuff saps us of our life force and our libidos. Instead, talk about things that you’re passionate about, things that worry you, and the type of things that you talk to yourself about. Share all these thoughts with your partner. This will bring you much closer if they know what you’re thinking and vice-versa.
Say “I love you” every-single-day. Verbalise how important your partner is to you. Sometimes we assume they know, but in reality, they need to hear it.
Plan to have dirty weekends away. OFTEN! If you can’t afford to go away, then organise some dirty weekends at home. Switch off the technology, get the kids taken care of, walk around the house naked, and make some time just for the two of you.
Get a bucket list together of things you’d both like to see and do. Research things together and most importantly, devise a plan to make it happen!
Go out on dates with other couples. Particularly on that you find interesting and fun. It’s incredible how much you’ll discover about your partner when your’re in good company.
Include laughter into your life on a daily basis. Watch comedies, go to see live stand up and play practical jokes on each other.
Share the load. Prepare meals together, share house-hold chores and make each others life easier.
Surprise your partner. It could be with small tokens of affection or doing something special for them like organising a night out. We all know how nice it is to receive flowers or gifts for no reason.
Join a community group. Do this together to fill your lives with purpose. It could be a sport, hobby, or interest group.
Encourage each other to have a rich and fulfilling life as an individual. If your partner is a happy and satisfied person, this will lead to less relationship problems in the long run.
Do as much as you can together. And enjoy each others company. Why? The more time you spend together, the harder it will be to live without each other. This is so important during times when you argue and when you might feel as if you need some time apart. However, missing each others company and presence will ultimately reunite you.
Never lose sight of love. Never forget why you fell in love with your partner in the first place.
“Learning to love yourself, It is the greatest love of all” – Whitney Houston, Greatest Love of All
Learning to love yourself as the imperfect being you are sometimes ain’t easy to do, but do it we must for the sake of healthy personal relationships and our ability to make smart, healthy choices.
After all, if you can’t love and respect yourself, how can you expect others to do it?
And I’m not talking about vanity or narcissism, I’m talking about the kind of self-love that spurs you to make healthy life choices and treat yourself with loving kindness. Experts say developing a healthy level of self-esteem will help us to be less sensitive and more able to accept constructive criticism, express ideas in a calm way, be less dependent and more likely to have our needs met.
We’ll also inevitably be much healthier, happier humans, thus improving and strengthening our personal relationships. Maybe it’s a hard life lesson that comes in your 30s – at least, it was for me.
The minute I truly learned to be comfortable in my own skin and accept and enjoy my singleton status, I met my husband soon after.
Coincidence? I don’t think so. But it was a hard-fought lesson; instead of looking for someone to fill a void – a self-love deficit, if you will, as I had done in the past – I made the conscious decision to really work on developing my inner happiness and self-love on my solo journey.
A clinical psychologist, who wishes to remain anonymous, says our level of self-love is inevitably shaped by childhood upbringing and experiences, as well as personality traits.
“Life can be difficult for someone who has low self-esteem, for example: someone who doesn’t like him/her self, judges him/herself harshly and expects bad things to happen often. Expectations of negativity can be self-fulfilling, so if you anticipate that there will be lots of criticism and stuff-ups in your life, then these things will often happen. You’ll question your own judgement and will consequently make poor decisions that lead to negative outcomes,” she says.
“Conversely, if you have a healthy level of self-esteem, you’ll be able to face the challenges and difficulties that life throws at you in a positive way. You’ll have more faith in your own choices and decisions. You’ll be able to assertively stand up for your rights without being aggressive and without allowing yourself to be taken advantage of or pushed around. You’ll feel comfortable with who you are and like yourself, so you’ll be less susceptible to depression and anxiety.”
But how do we foster such self-love and inner confidence if it’s lacking? Here are some handy expert pointers:
- Be kind to yourself. If something goes wrong, don’t beat yourself up. Ask yourself what you could have done differently and determine to do better next time.
- Avoid people who pull you down – those who are critical and negative towards you. Seek out people whose company you enjoy and in whose presence you feel good about yourself.
- Give yourself positive messages, don’t self-criticise. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself, such as: “I’m always messing up, I’ve failed again”, challenge this and change your thinking to something more positive like: “I’ve made a mistake, but what can I learn from this? How can I do better in this situation next time?”
- Learn to see difficulties as problems to be solved rather than catastrophes. Develop your problem-solving skills and you’ll have more confidence in yourself and your ability to cope with difficult situations, thereby developing your self-esteem as a result.
Of course, if this all seems too difficult to achieve on your own, seek help from a professional relationship counsellor or psychologist.
Images, in order, via www.thetruthaboutbeauty.co.uk; www.freespiritgirl.com and pixabay.com.
Raise your hand if you’re a single lady! Being single has never been better. You can be selfish, spend unlimited time your friends, less time grooming and more time in comfy clothes. Sounds good right? We’re not going to lie; there are some definite perks, but at the end of the day (and don’t deny it) we are all looking for one thing – love. As humans we are biologically programmed to find a mate and there is no shame to say we are searching for that special someone, so why are people losing their ability to fall in love? With people continuing to steer clear of traditional relationships and preferring to remain unattached, maybe its time that we start to take a long hard look at ourselves.
- Instant gratification
As our world becomes increasingly digitalised every wish is now our command. Need directions to that new café, click! How about buying those shoes you found online, click! With everything at our fingertips we have developed a society that craves instant gratification. However love isn’t something that just happens, it takes time. It is a feeling that spans a lifetime and no app or instantaneous decision can help create or facilitate love. Step away from the computer and look up from your phone and start enjoying the journey towards finding someone you love.
- We have become increasingly egocentric
Ever-heard Carly Simon’s infamous, “You’re So Vain?” Well unless you’ve been living under a rock, the lyrics focus on a self-absorbed lover and the damaging effect his manner has on the relationship. When we are in a relationship, we are a part of a team (even if it is a very small one!) and it is our job to ensure that everyone feels included. It is natural for your wants and needs to be a priority however the issue arises when your self-interest becomes all-consuming and consequently your partners needs are overlooked. We all like things done when and how we want, but a big factor to ensure you both feel appreciated is compromise. If you continually think about yourself and only partake in activities that interest you, your partner will end up board, feel unwanted and ultimately leave. You never know, devoting your time and efforts towards that special someone might just strengthen your relationship and take it to another level.
- Chasing perfection and the unattainable dream
As wonderful as those Disney movies we watched as children were, they are not realistic. Unlike Cinderella, one fabulous night on the town will not necessary offer up your future husband. And to break your heart again, all those rom-coms aren’t doing you any good either. Brad Pitt, Channing Tatum and Ryan Gosling are all one in a million and even they aren’t perfect. No matter what your expectations are, nobody will ever meet every one of them. Again we come back to compromise. They may not be a Greek god, or rolling in doe but if you look past that, you may find that they’ll impress you in hundreds of other ways.
- Having too much choice and dating for the sake of dating
Since dating has become more acceptable within our society, the more pressure we are putting on ourselves to be involved. But just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you have to as well. As well as this, having too much fun in the bedroom could also hinder your future love life. It makes finding someone to love even more difficult and at the end of the day, if your not invested you are just wasting precious time. Finding your sole mate is not a challenge or a game, ever heard of ‘less is more’? Well this is when it applies. Although it may be exciting at the time, having an excessive amount of partners makes sex and dating a sport rather than an intimate experience.
Image via Plash.in and healthyandbeloved.com
I’d like to tell you a story. It’s a true story. A love story with a tragic ending. It’s the story of Dianne who was found dead in her home and that of her partner of more than twenty years, Jack, who was arrested for allegedly murdering her.
Now, you may ask yourselves why this story? Well, I knew Jack and Dianne before that fateful moment when cupid decided to strike his arrow in their direction. Way, way back when we were just kids and decades before Dianne was found laying lifeless in her home – and well, before Jack ended up in a pair of handcuffs.
So let me start by telling you a bit about Dianne. She was exceptionally intelligent and one of the most gentle, peace-loving souls who ever walked the planet. She had that hippy vibe going on with her serene, loving, caring nature. For work, she cared for the elderly – including my dearly departed grandmother – and she loved kids but never wanted to have any of her own.
Jack, on the other hand, was a lovable larrikin. In his late teens he’d fathered a son and you couldn’t really call him an angel. However, he did have charming good looks and a wicked sense of humor, and looking back I can understand why Dianne couldn’t help but be interested.
He was also like forbidden candy, seeing as he was a friend of Dianne’s brother. Hell bent on looking out for his little sister’s welfare, her brother tried relentlessly to separate her from his mates. Yet the minute these two crossed paths there was nothing anyone could say or do to keep them apart. That caused a few problems – quite a few problems, but the heart wants what the heart wants. So they became completely inseparable.
Over the years, Jack and Dianne kept pretty much to themselves. I’d bump into her on the odd occasion and through our conversations I sensed her entire world revolved around Jack. He was her best friend, her lover and her everything. She loved him with her entire being and if there were problems between them, she never revealed them. Dianne was a very private person.
Upon news of Dianne’s passing, it came as a shock. Rumour had it she’d died of a suspected drug overdose, yet I’d seen her 6 months prior and she looked great, everything seemed normal. Something was amiss and the fact that the coroner took almost two months to release her body was highly unusual.
There were suspicions that Dianne’s death wasn’t what it seemed. There was some speculation that Jack could have had something to do with it; he’d suffered a string of tragedies with the passing of his mother and son, and understandably people can only take so much heartache.
So when I received a text stating that Jack had been arrested for Dianne’s murder it came as a surprise, but not a total shock. The police believed something wasn’t quite right about her death so they’d been investigating for three long years. They came to the conclusion that it wasn’t a drug overdose, but a strangulation and their prime suspect was Jack.
So how did over twenty years of love and devotion end in murder? It goes to show that no-one ever really knows what goes on behind closed doors. Even though a couple remains together for decades, it doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is rosy.
The saddest fact of this whole scenario is that this story isn’t remarkable. There are thousands of stories just like this one. Every single day hundreds of people around Australia are in court facing some type of domestic violence charge, while thousands of others are in their own homes enduring it.
Now, there’s no doubt that these two loved each other – and that’s partly why domestic violence continues to be an endless battle. If we all thought with our heads instead of our hearts, no-one would endure being abused. Yet, was Dianne being abused? Nobody knows. Perhaps if she had spoken out she’d be alive and maybe, just maybe, Jack could have asked for help. Nothing good ever comes of silence, so please remember if you need help that you need to speak.
Image via 7-themes.com
I’m sure we’d all save ourselves a lot of arguments if women just understood men a little more and vice-a-versa. Seriously, the opposite sex can be so frustrating! What we need to remember is that men don’t think or behave like women, and women tend not to think or behave like men. Maybe that’s the root cause of the frustration.
I can think of a couple of examples of this and one in particular relates to blokes and health care. Any woman who has ever tried to get a man to see a doctor will probably understand exactly what I mean. What’s more, the matter gets even more complicated if the medical issue relates to their ‘manhood’. Sorry guys, but you know it’s true.
As a result of men dodging the GP, they generally have a life span less than that of women. The proof is right there in front of us – in nursing homes filled with widowed or single ladies. This is directly related to the fact that women seek health care when they need it. Men, on the other hand, are a bit lax in this area.
Interestingly, however, women can – and do –take a mans lack of effort to seek medical advice personally. This is especially true if the man is a partner or lover. Why women do this all boils down to a mans behavioural display of respect and worth. Not quite sure what I’m on about? Here, I’ll give you an example.
A woman went to the doctor and found out that she’d contracted an STI, so she rang her lover and told him. They’d been in a relationship for quite a while, but it was pretty rocky. Their feelings were strong and there was a lot of chemistry between them, so the only solution was a friends with benefits arrangement every now and then.
Instead of being concerned for her welfare or apologetic for this unfortunate matter, initially he point blank refused to admit that he could have passed it along. After some time he calmed down about it and told her that he’d had it sorted. Yet, a week or two later she found out the hard way that he hadn’t.
The result of behaviour
This easily fixed medical problem became a relationship issue of trust and respect. After constant nagging she felt like he didn’t care about her or have any respect for her because it didn’t happen just once, but several times over the years. So out of sheer frustration, hurt and disappointment, her only way to respond in the end was to cut ties with him.
Said man was totally perplexed by what was happening. He was clueless that she felt disrespected or deceived. It certainly wasn’t his intention. In his head he thought: “So I didn’t make an appointment. Far out woman, what’s the big deal?” Yet the big deal was that his behaviour basically showed her that he didn’t care enough about her to be honest with her or care about her needs.
Now, this isn’t an isolated case. I know several men who will wait until the nagging, not the medical issue, becomes unbearable before they see a doctor. Yes, it’s frustrating as all hell and women don’t understand why men do it.
One thing I do know for sure: they don’t do it to intentionally or to infuriate the women in their lives. In fact, men don’t realise that some of their medical problems affect their women so greatly. Snoring is another prime example. Most men will put off that appointment until they can’t take anymore nagging, she threatens to end their relationship, or she does end it.
So what’s a girl to do?
Nagging isn’t the answer, ladies. If your man has a medical issue that needs addressing and in which he keeps putting off, you have two options. Firstly, you can make an appointment yourself and drag the man along. Don’t wait for them to do it because that could take months or even years – and by then you will be going stir crazy! They may put up a bit of resistance along the way, but if you’ve been struggling with the medical issue they are avoiding, it’s well worth the effort.
Option two is to do what the lady in the example did; she adjusted her behaviour in response to his. In this case, she stopped seeing him. So if it’s his snoring that is driving you bonkers, it may mean sleeping in a spare room or sending him to the lounge until you have proof that he’s made an attempt to fix it.
I know this may sound harsh, but we’re talking about one of the biggest battle of the sexes here. The key thing to remember is that actions do speak louder than words. If your man is avoiding the doctor and the medical issue is affecting you then act, don’t nag.
Trust me, either option will be a viable solution and will save you the constant hassle of nagging. Plus, it will get his medical issue sorted a heck of a lot faster and could add a few years to his life. By the way, one last word of advice here: you won’t be thanked for helping him seek medical help, so don’t expect gratitude. If anything, he will think he’s doing you a favour. Ahhh, men. No wonder they are so frustrating!
Image via pixgood.com