Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Make Fun a Priority in Your Relationship

When a couple marries they envision a life together with their best friend.  Unfortunately there are many issues that can complicate the relationship such as sex, money, trust, and fidelity. An article published in the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy report that 45- 55% of women and 50-60% of men will become involved in extramarital sex at some time during their marriage. These individuals would intentionally engage in the affair with no intention of leaving their committed relationship.
Cultural differences with marriage and monogamy
There are many published reports that paint a grim picture for a healthy marriage in our society today. The Associated Press reports that 90% of Americans believe that adultery is wrong but 50% will engage in an affair anyway. Our culture is based on the Puritanical view that the violation to wedding vows is an unforgiveable offense. The European culture assumes there will be infidelities in a marriage and allow the option of a mistress or mister.  The United States has the highest divorce rate in the world while other European countries have almost half the number of divorces due to their relaxed attitude toward monogamy.
Prioritize your marriage
Studies have found that the happiest married couples have learned how to prioritize having fun together. Having a busy work schedule, attending classes or keeping up with activities that your children are involved in can make this a difficult task. Make a list of activities that you would like to do together. Step out of your comfort zone and try new experiences like dance lessons, plays, concerts, or a cooking class where you can share your thoughts and ideas. Just spending time together isn’t enough to strengthen the relationship. Behavioral scientists report “New experiences activate the brain’s reward system, flooding it with dopamine and norepinephrine which are the same brain circuits that are ignited in early romantic love.” Couples that participated in “exciting” date nights reported a greater increase in marital satisfaction.
Protect your date nights from becoming a time to resolve conflicts. Agree to discuss your concerns at an alternative time like in the morning over breakfast or after completing evening chores. Dr. John Gottman’s research has found that “For every one disagreement, misunderstanding or hurt feeling, they need five positive, affectionate caring or fun interactions to counterbalance it.” Conflict is inevitable in long-term relationships but it can erode the relationship if concerns are used to control the partner or not resolved in a constructive manner.  Find the balance needed to actively listen to the concern presented without attacking each other in the process to finding a compromise.  Seek counseling when you feel stuck or unable to find a solution to the problem. Sometimes discussing the concern with a neutral party can help to get your relationship back on track and enjoying each other again.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Fathers and Their Children

The role of the father has become a difficult one in today’s family system.  A 2010 census reports an estimated 24.7 million children in the United States live absent from their biological father. The statistics become more alarming when 40% of these children haven’t seen their father in a year and another 26% of absent fathers live in another state. With the celebration of Father’s Day this month it may be a good time to identify the barriers that keep you from participating in your children’s life.
Single Fathers
Today one in every three homes is headed by a woman and one in every six by a man. Once the divorce is finalized research reports that it may take up to three years for a family to adjust to their new life style. This can encompass visitation, finances, employment, daycare, and relocating. Becoming a single-parent is challenging and at times overwhelming. First determine what type of support you need and then begin to establish a network. Next you should review your financial budget to reduce monthly expenses that affect your disposable income. Then determine if you qualify for state or federal assistance for food, healthcare, daycare, counseling, job training or housing. There are Federal grants available for single-parents to retrain or complete their education that will create financial stability as a long-term goal.
It will be important to create structure and routine for the children as everyone adjusts to the divorce. The single parent should delegate chores to each child that is age appropriate and that can be completed in fifteen to thirty minutes. This can be as simple as emptying the trash, loading the dishwasher, running the sweeper, taking care of the pets or doing a load of laundry. With everyone working together you will be able to reduce your stress and teach the children the responsibilities of taking care of their home.
Involved Fathers
Fathers have a unique and crucial role in child development. This nurturing bond will determine school success, healthy self-esteem, mental health and a stronger avoidance to drugs. Data reported by the Family Strengthening Policy Center in December 2005, states that children with involved fathers experience less poverty, perform better in school while completing their education. They will also display fewer behavioral problems and above average cognitive and psychosocial development.
A father should be a positive role model that can provide financial security for their children. He facilitates their moral development and assists in learning important life skills. Loving a child is more than just saying, “I love you.” It’s demonstrated in daily activities throughout their children’s lifetime. Whatever time you have to spend with your children try and become involved in their lives. You should learn the names of their best friends and the activities that they participate in. Try to take part in community activities and plan family outings to facilitate emotional bonding. You can also volunteer at their school and attend their parent/teacher conferences. During your visitation establish a routine that your children will look forward to and know that you will be spending time with them. Father’s continue to play a critical role in the development of their children whether they are living in the household or as a single-parent. Investing your time in the relationship with your children will pay dividends for many years to come.