Sunday, November 05, 2017

Separation During the Holiday Season

People who are divorced and lost the most important relationship of their life will spend time thinking about what went wrong. Most individuals think marriage is the finish line and really it’s just the next starting line. An established couple can easily get into a rut and just drift apart from each other. Managing your expectations of marriage and the ebb and flow of passion in a long-term relationship should not place a higher importance to the history and compatibility of the couple.

Routine of life

Couples feel that if the heat isn’t blazing in their bedroom that their marriage is dull, diluted and unfulfilling. Many individuals will leave their marriage too quickly because they are intoxicated by the “sugar high” of a new relationship. The momentary high from being with someone new often blinds people to the reality of what life is after divorce, especially when children are involved.

In the book Make up, Don’t break up by Dr. Bonnie Eiker Weil states “only 7% of people who separate end up getting back together, the pain of rejection shatters so much trust. If the cheating spouse is deluded by the thrill and excitement of an affair he or she may truly believe they are no longer in love. This starts the spiral of divorce, instead of realizing that their spouse may not be rational at this moment of time.”

Commitment -vs- Lust

Lust is an important component of a relationship as that heart beating passion makes you feel alive but it can also make you impulsive. Dr. Mark Banschick psychiatrist and author of The Intelligent Divorce observes, “Lust is a binder and intimacy maker early on when you have little else holding you together. But the muscle and bone structure of a long-term relationship are formed by compatibility and history. You can’t replicate the wife being there for the father’s illness, the birth of a child and the funny moments on a Sunday morning, disappointments you’ve worked through and family birthday parties. People will miss the history if it’s just about lust.”

There are situations when the marriage isn’t able to survive the destruction of multiple affairs, addiction or abuse. Couples who work on themselves and their relationship can often hurdle their current conflict and emerge to a stable relationship to raise children and comfort each other. That’s why it is best not to make a rash decision until you’ve explored your options. Many couples will give up too quickly, especially during the holiday season when emotions can be volatile at times. It is best to seek professional help to discuss your options and determine if there is any possibility to rebuild your relationship during the season of hope.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Financial Anxiety

Americans are currently losing sleep over concerns about their financial status. Recent research from Northwestern Mutual states that nearly 23% of millennials report that financial anxiety makes them feel physically ill. The survey discloses that Americans worry about losing their job, adequate insurance and financial security during retirement. The individuals interviewed agreed that financial stress affects their relationship with a spouse or partner hourly, daily or weekly.

Financial Goals

Regardless of your income there are times in life when you fall behind in your financial responsibilities. Whether you are trying to get out of debt, save enough money to retire or pay for repairs on your home you will have to manage your financial stress. Doug Hughes a Partner and Lead Consultant of Comprehensive Financial Consultants gave the example of being 45 years old and receiving bi-weekly paychecks. Doug stated if you want to retire at 67 years old you have 572 paychecks “to pay off your mortgage, put your children through college, save for your retirement and enjoy life. This creates stress.”

Experts suggest that you build an emergency fund that would provide three to six months of income for you and your family. Even if you can only save $10 to $20 dollars a paycheck it will provide emotional security to know that your money is there for you. This cash buffer for medical care, transportation concerns or home repairs will help to reduce your stress. Many people continue to spend more than what they make which creates the cycle of “never having enough” cash flow so they resort to credit cards. Bypass this stress by purchasing items you only have the cash for or can pay off at the end of the month to avoid the finance charge. 

Financial Plan

To build a stress free financial life, start with a monthly budget. Ben Barzideh , wealth advisor at Piershal Financial Group suggests that we “start by looking at your current situation, analyze the cash flow that comes in and the cash flow leaving. Then build in some goals for the future and fill in your assets with some growth assumptions. The plan will be a blueprint for how much you will need to live comfortably now and into retirement.”

Couples and families must be mindful of managing their expenses to improve their financial health. Being mindful will help you purchase things with a decision-making process to detour impulsive purchases. People tend to spend less when they pay with cash. Current studies are reporting that when we are mindful it can benefit the brain to perform better and reduce stress and anxiety. Mindfulness is also linked to increased creativity, helping you discover solutions and solve problems. So be mindful and get a good night’s sleep, eat nutritiously and set aside thirty minutes a day to exercise to be at your optimum each day.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Finding Compatibility in Relationships

Psychologists define personality as a “collection of emotional, thought and behavioral patterns unique to a person that is consistent over time.” People tend to like others who seem similar to their own characteristics of attitude, belief, personality and attractiveness. Individuals who share similar attitudes will have less conflict in their relationships and more opportunity to validate their own opinions. Compatibility is valued in a relationship especially when we feel threatened or insecure. Knowing your personality type can help you to improve communication and interpersonal relationships. Understanding your personality strengths and weaknesses can also guide you to a career that will suit you better professionally or to a more compatible partner.

Personality types

There are several assessment tools utilized to identify different personality types. An Enneagram is a diagnostic tool to determine an individual’s emotional outlook on life.  It can also enlighten you on how other people see the world differently. The Enneagram theory believes people do not change from one personality type to another. Your personality doesn’t change after early childhood but change will occur as you understand your inner strengths and weaknesses that you’ve always had. The test identifies 9 personality types: reformer, helper, achiever, individual, investigator, loyalist, enthusiast, challenger and peacemaker.

Myers-Briggs is another personality inventory based on Carl Jung’s theory (1920’s) of psychological types. The test was developed by Isabel Briggs Meyers (1940’s) and states there are 16 different personality combinations. An individual is either extraverted or introverted, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling, judging or perceiving. There are no superior personality types.

A less scientific approach is the Ice Cream Theory by author Steff Deschenes who compares people preferences to ice cream flavors. She states that personality preferences can change with age, experiences and mood. She believes that we explore the exotic flavors when feeling adventurous to more comforting flavors when seeking solace. Some flavors like personalities are acquired tastes and others will always be our childhood favorite.


The studies are unsure of the role of personality when choosing a partner but all agree that it is a natural selection that ensures successful reproduction. A person is usually attracted to someone in their own socio-economic group, same level of intelligence and physical appearance. Sometimes you will fall in love with someone who will never return that emotion due to their own mindset and chemistry. Overtime relationships will move from physical attraction to the deeper emotional intimacy of commitment and trust.

The more you know about your partner and work to understand their behaviors the stronger your relationship will become. It’s recommended that a couple date a minimum of one year before they consider marriage. Pre-marital counseling can be an impartial way to assess a couple’s compatibility by discussing individual values, philosophy of child rearing, enjoyment of leisure activities and expectations of sharing a life. It is also important to discuss how the couple resolve’s conflict and manages their differences. Relationship skills can always be improved and that can help any two personalities discover how to get along better.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Childhood Separation Anxiety

If you are the parent of a shy or anxious child, starting the school year can be a difficult time for both of you.  The child can be excited about the concept of school but at the same time display fear of leaving the safety of their home. When the parents become aware of this fear they can become over protective or “helicopter” parents which can intensify the emotions and escalate the tension.

A step toward autonomy

It will be important for the parent or caregiver to not display their anxiety about the concern or become over protective when in social situations.  Knowing your child’s triggers and preparing them for the experience is a good step to take in helping them learn how to cope with the separation.  It is important that the parent support the child but not enable them to continue their pattern of distress.

Start with small gatherings that are structured so that your child can build on their small successes.  You could attend a story hour at the library, church function or trade childcare with a friend while you run errands.  These short absences will build trust with your child and assure them that you will return.  It will also help them to build confidence by developing social skills with their peers.

Building confidence

When you enroll your child into school you can show them where their classroom will be so that they can visualize going to school each day.  Focus on the positive aspects of returning to school and that you will be there at the end of the day to hear about the fun that they had while learning.

Most children will out grow these concerns as they establish a strong sense of self and confidence in their abilities.  Their family will always be an important place of safety through their growth and development to learn the skills for a happy childhood.  Separation anxiety affects 4 percent of children 6 to 12 years old.  If you don’t see progress after attempting these suggestions you will want to seek the advice of your pediatrician for a professional referral.         

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Fall in Love with Your Partner Again

Divorce rates are remaining steady at 50% survival rate for first marriages. Couples now ranging from fifty to sixty years of age are in the highest percentile of divorce which has doubled since the 1990’s. This age group is classified as the Baby Boomers with ages ranging from 51 to 69 years old.

Divorcees at this age have been termed as “gray divorces”.  Research indicated that many of the individuals report that they had become unhappy in their marriage and seek to fulfill their own interests and independence for the remaining time of their life. Grey divorces can create other issues for both men and women. Individuals can be less financially secure than married or widowed adults. Also, living alone at an older age can create more social isolation and other health concerns.

Steps for change

  • Be the model for change.  If you believe your partner is not loving, understanding or appreciative of your concerns then model those behaviors for your partner. You will get what you give in a relationship.
  • Own your 100 percent. Own your part of the problem that occurs in the relationship and then take the necessary steps to correct them.
  • Initiate sexual contact.  If you want a more passionate sex life then initiate the contact with your partner and work to make that happen.
  • Talk about your needs in a positive manner.  Stop the blame game and speak to your partner in “I” messages. Explain your needs and work together to resolve them.

Be adventurous

You can be the agent of change by taking the initiative to stay connected to your partner. As a couple, you could take turns making plans for a date night.  Sit down together and make a list of new experiences you would like to try together. When you are together try not to focus only on your day to day stressors. Discuss what dream and short-term goals you would like to accomplish individually and as a couple. Relationships are a constant work in progress.  It doesn’t get easier, you just need to be more creative.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

How Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Relationships

Sleep deprivation is a common occurrence in today’s fast paced culture of get it all done today! This pressure can make us extend our work day leaving us with less time to sleep. Studies have proven that 95% of human beings need to get anywhere from six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Sleep is needed to regenerate our body and brain to function optimally. After an extended period of time of juggling work-time and personal time on minimal sleep, you will see a strain on your personal and professional relationships.

Sleep deprivation

Being sleep deprived makes a difficult day seem even worse. There’s no energy to complete the mountain of tasks waiting for you. Without appropriate rest your neurons may begin to malfunction making you feel depressed, irritable, and more sensitive to stress. Physically you may notice headaches, muscle aches, memory lapses, and increased blood pressure.

A new study completed by the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine reports that sleeplessness can also affect marital relationships. This seems to be a bigger concern for women than for men. Dr. Wendy Troxel the study’s lead researcher explains,” the findings suggest a wife’s prolonged inability to sleep predicts her own and her husband’s marital interactions, which tend to be more negative and less positive. Women are generally more expressive and tend to drive the emotional climate of a couple’s relationship. Men are more likely to repress their feelings or not be aware or tuned into the climate of change taking place.”


When you are unable to sleep experts suggest that you get out of bed and sit in a chair to read or do some other quiet activity. As you get sleepy, go back to bed and use a relaxation technique to fall asleep. Your bedroom should be a haven for resting and intimacy so that it doesn’t become another environment for work related activities that would stimulate the brain.

After a poor night’s rest you should keep your body active during the day even though you are feeling tired. This should help to ensure a better rest the following night. Strenuous exercise in the late afternoon seems to promote a more restful sleep. Also performing gentle stretches before bed, a warm bath, music and intimacy can help release the melatonin needed for a good night’s sleep.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Adapting to Change

The world around us is constantly changing and life is measured by the milestones of change. We are in varying states of transition as we adapt to our evolution of life. There is birth, death, divorce, careers and daily changes with schedules, friendships, children and the needs of the family as we age. Anticipating change can become a natural part of life and an opportunity for personal growth.  Learning how to accept change can decrease your stress, worry, and physical or mental duress.

Phases of change

As children our parents protected us from change as it was associated with loss. Understanding that change can be a positive concept will open your mind to the possibility of the transition you are facing. Learning to accept change is an acquired skill because it is a challenge to your old belief system. It can cause a break from your routine or shift your priorities to create a complete transformation to your lifestyle. This can generate a range of emotions from fear of the unknown to anxiety, anger or even excitement.

Professional and Engineering Projects (PEP) is a consulting company that will help organizations modify their structure to produce growth. They believe there are five stages of change that we progress through. There is shock, denial, depression, insight, and learning. Once you receive the initial shock of what the change will mean to you the negativity and resistance will occupy your thoughts. You will not want to leave your “comfort zone” and attempt to avoid making the necessary adjustments. Depression is the turning point to acceptance as you realize the options are limited. Insight will bring you the vision of what needs to be reorganized for success. The learning will then evolve with the change of attitude and belief system.

Success of adapting to change

Learning the skill of accepting change will help you to face all challenges and emerge from them stronger, wiser and more self-confident. Allow yourself the time to process your options. Try to modify any black and white thinking by finding a compromise when possible. Then self-check your resistance, as you establish goals to move forward. Act or behave how you visual the transformation and begin to celebrate your small victories of accomplishments. Having the appropriate coping skills can increase your happiness in all areas of your life and relationships. Moving forward can give you a sense of order and purpose to life. This can allow you to perceive tomorrow as a new day of possibilities.