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1 Marriage Advice Archives - Marriage Counseling and Couples Therapy

Marriage Advice

Disagreements about Money aren’t about Money

Posted on Jun 3, 2018

One of the biggest stressors in relationships is money. Couples will argue for hours about how to spend it and how to save it. Each person in the relationship comes to the relationship with their money script, some are savers, while others are spenders which is completely fine, but when push comes to shove, there will be disagreements, but is the argument really about money? Scenario Bill and Karen have been married for five years, they live a comfortable life, they can afford their bills, mortgage, other expenses.  They set aside money for saving, but Karen would like to save more money than they have been. Bill is more of the spender and wants to enjoy life, go out to dinner and travel. Karen enjoys living a comfortable life, but growing up poor has made her feel she should save more money for injury, sickness, and other unexpected expenses. Bill and Karen both have very different money scripts, and they are able to manage their money responsibility but Karen wants to save more and Bill wants to have more life experiences. So what do they do? Money isn’t about money.  Money can impact our identity, our self worth and our sense of security. In some  ways, money defines us. It defines our class, where we live and what we are able to afford.  I n childhood it can define whether or not we fit in with peers. We all have money scripts, some of us are more of spenders, while others are savers. Our money scripts are shaped when we are growing up, seeing how our parents spent money, saved it, or stressed out about it. If someone grows up in a well-off family, where they had what they wanted and needed provided to them, they most likely aren’t worried about money as much as someone who grew up in a family that was scraping to get by. Having both parents work multiple jobs  and doing without caused them to have a fear of scarcity, a need to save, when it comes to money. When entering a relationship, we come with money scripts, like Bill and Karen above, each grew up differently and have very different relationships with money. Karen may complain about how much Bill spends on clothes, which is coming from her childhood as they were not able to afford buying things that were not essential to survival like food and shelter. Not worrying about money comes with privilege, stability, and success and even though Karen is in a more comfortable position now financially than when she was growing up, she still holds onto the script that she is poor. When it comes to arguments about money, it is important to understand the argument isn’t about money, it is about something much deeper, and we need to understand where our partner is coming from and their relationship with money growing up. Often, arguments about money are about fear, scarcity, and uncertainty. If you and your partner are struggling to get on the same page about money, a couples therapist is an option. The therapist will help you understand where your partner is coming from, establish goals, and how to resolve future money arguments, so you can find strategies you can both be comfortable with.  ...

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Three Tips for Healthy Couple Conversations

Posted on Apr 28, 2018

Getting out of sync happens in a lot of marriages and long-term relationships, we focus on our career, and sometimes the relationship becomes less of a priority. Not to worry, we’ve listed three steps towards renewing the dialogue in your marriage to help improve communication! The dialogue in your marriage needs to be a two way conversation that requires you to listen closely and speak without judgement, criticism, blame or attack. Scenario: Matt and Erin have been married for ten years. When they married each was working entry-level jobs in marketing. Their jobs paid the bills, but Erin wanted more from her career, whereas Matt was more free spirited and didn’t want to be bogged down with too many job responsibilities. He wanted a 9-5 and to be able to leave at 5 and not worry about work. In the years after they married, Erin raised up the ranks at the marketing company she was at, and she made it to the director of marketing position. She decided to take the risk of starting her own company, the risk paid off, but it left little time for Erin and Matt to spend together and plans to start a family stalled. Erin works 10, 12 sometimes 16 hour days, including weekends and Matt is feeling frustrated that Erin continues to work long hours, leaving him feeling alone in the relationship. This scenario is typical for many couples, sometimes one partner’s career takes off, and they commit to the career and don’t recognize the impact it has on the relationship, family, and children. What do you want? What do you want from your partner? Do you want them to stop working by 8 pm and spend weekends at home with the family? Whatever it may be, remember to ask in I statements and don’t point a finger, blaming them for what they have done or not done. Often, when one partner is making their career a priority, it is to better their lives, and it does take sacrifice. Keep responses open-ended If your partner is asking you to stop working by 8 pm, respond openly and resist the urge to respond with just a no or yes. For example, Matt asked Erin “I’d love it if you stopped working by 8 pm a few nights a week, so we can go out, cook dinner at home and enjoy our time together.” Erin’s response “I understand, and I want to spend more time with you too, I’ve been thinking about hiring a part-time assistant to reduce my workload, I think ending the workday by 8 pm most weeknights will be feasible once I get an assistant on board.” Through this dialogue, you can see into how Matt and Erin are feeling, Matt wants to spend more time with his wife and Erin wants the same, but she recognizes she needs help and is planning to hire an assistant to make that happen. By keeping the questions open and responses open-ended it helps avoid the “what, why and how, which can leave answers with a no or yes, leaving each partner unhappy. Express gratitude When renewing the dialogue in your marriage, it is vital to remember to express gratitude. For example, after Matt and Erin discussed ending her workday by 8 pm, Matt responded “I am so happy you are making steps towards ending your workday by 8 pm, I appreciate it! I think it will be great for our relationship to spend more time together. I am looking forward to planning dates!” Renewing the dialogue in your marriage will take time and...

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Therapy, Everyone’s Doing It!

Posted on Apr 22, 2018

Long gone are the days where people feel ashamed and stigmatized for going to therapy. Therapy is no longer just for people with serious emotional issues.  Your neighbor down the street, your colleagues, even your doctors go to therapy. We all face life situations that are difficult to handle alone.  Therapy is a place to explore ongoing issues in your life and a place where you can focus 100% on yourself, practice self-care and work through pressing issues related to your career, family, friends, and balancing it all. You might not know that therapists are also excellent life coaches!  If you’re just needing some direction, support or accountability, your therapist does not have to go deep into your issues if you just want coaching. Here are some thing that therapy can offer: Unbiased Support: Having a support system is vital when maintaining life and mental health balance. Let’s be honest for a moment, friends and family are biased, and we sometimes disclose information about our relationships or other issues that can become problematic later on. In therapy, you don’t need a filter, you can say what you want and talk about how your partner, mom or boss made you feel during your last conversation without it coming back to you. We’ve all been there when we disclose personal, private information to our friend about our partner and it somehow comes back to you and can cause embarrassment for you or your partner. Save those conversations for therapy! Work out some heavy stuff:  Maybe you are struggling with an eating disorder or experienced a traumatic event that you are not ready to talk about to your loved ones but know you need to work on it or talk to someone because you are struggling emotionally to keep it all in. Therapy is a safe space for you to talk about the struggles that keep you up at night and how to cope and work on them. Your therapist will be able to talk through these issues with you, suggest coping skills, ways to practice self-care and over time experience less panic, anxiety or depression related to what you were first struggling with. Therapy is a tool that used correctly can help you better deal and cope with life’s most significant challenges, but for it to be successful, you have to commit and be open to the process. Our mental and physical health are equally important, and each needs time, care and attention. We have no problem going to the doctor when we have a sprained ankle, so we should feel the same when our mental health is a little off to call up our therapist and schedule a session. There is nothing wrong with taking care of your mental health. There is no reason to be ashamed, but you don’t have to wear a sign on your forehead either.  Therapy even if you’re doing coaching with your therapist is always confidential  ...

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Have These Discussions Before You Marry

Posted on Apr 15, 2018

Are you and your partner thinking about tying the knot? For couples that are engaged or thinking about getting married, it is essential to be on the same page with your partner. Listed are five questions for conversations that are necessary to have. The questions are intended to get you thinking about married life, how you envision your future, and how to handle challenges that will arise during the marriage. What do you imagine the relationship will be like down the road?   This is a loaded question that can be interpreted a few different ways, but it is important to learn about how your partner envisions their ideal marriage. Is one partner going to stay home to raise children? Do you want to have children? Do you want to buy a house? Do you both value working? For this question, provide detail of a day in the life of your ideal marriage, right down to household responsibilities and childcare- this will give you and your partner a view into your ideal marriage and life. What are your sexual expectations? For couples that have sex before marriage, this is a question that may already be worked out. Even if it is something that has worked out, it is an excellent time to talk about how often each partner would like to have sex, how sex will change with work stress, children and so on. Also, if you or your partner have some unexplored fantasies, this is a good time to talk about it! How is money going to be handled? Finances are a touchy subject for many people, part of the reason being is because a lot of people were not raised to talk about money. Going into a marriage, it is important for each partner to be aware of each other’s debts, have an idea of their salary, spending habits if they are a saver vs. spender and so on. In addition to being aware of their financial status, it is essential to talk about future money challenges- what if one spouse loses their job, or wants to start a business how will it be handled? What are your deal breakers? Going into a marriage it is vital to understand what your partner’s deal breakers are. Deal breakers may include- cheating, being irresponsible with money, and doing things that are untrustworthy. Do you share the same values and morals? This extends to religion, faith, and spirituality. If one partner wants to raise their children with a specific religion or no religion, it is important to be on the same page and be honest about your faith.   These questions are to help you understand your partner better. If you are struggling with getting on the same page about values or money before your wedding, it is a suggestion to seek couples counseling or premarital counseling. Having an outside, neutral person to help you and your partner work out these issues will help to set-up your marriage for success!  ...

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Put Play in Your Relationship

Posted on Apr 8, 2018

Having a partner, you can play and share new activities with will help your relationship grow! Through play, you will each learn something new about one another and experience play through their eyes. What are you waiting for? Go play!

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Questions That Deepen Your Relationship

Posted on Apr 1, 2018

  When you first started dating your partner, you both were most likely full of questions; it seemed as if you would never run out of questions. As the months and years go by and the initial excitement of a new relationship settles into daily living, we stop asking questions. We get it, it is only natural as you settle into daily living.  You know your partner’s favorite foods, their quirks, and regular schedule, life becomes more routine. Questions are important; they can bring some excitement back into your relationship and further develop bonds of trust and intimacy! We know what you may be thinking, how can asking my partner questions bring excitement back to our relationship? Trust us; the following five questions are questions you most likely have not thought about asking your partner as they may provoke feelings of uneasiness. With uneasiness comes growth and a deeper connection to your partner. So what do you have to lose? Grab your partner for 10 minutes and ask them a few of the following questions! What are your needs, and how can I do a better job at meeting them? Try to get information about solutions instead of asking them to focus on what doesn’t work. Maybe you are not speaking their love language,  get specific information about what behaviors speak love to them.  In our support circle, friends family, and colleagues- who do you think has the best relationship and why? An insightful question that may elicit their wants and needs. Often, if someone in the relationship struggles with communication their needs, recognizing it in other couples is a way for them to communicate it. They may say they like that their parents are affectionate, ask them if they would like more affection. What do you love about being together? A simple, but deeply meaningful question. As time goes on, what we love about being in a relationship with our partner may change and that is okay. What keeps you awake at night that you have not shared with me? Maybe your partner has been stressed about money for a few months after the loss of a job, or they could be questioning the next steps in the relationship, or their dream of pursuing a different profession is keeping them up at night. Accept their answer or lack of one without judgement or criticism, stay open and listen. How can we improve our sex life? All healthy relationships require fun, and sex is a fun way to connect and explore fantasies with your partner and develop deeper bonds of intimacy. Maybe they want to try sex toys or role play, whatever it may be, allow them to explore their fantasies without shame.  Asking your partner questions that are meaningful can deepen your bond and develop more trust in the relationship when your partner can be 100% transparent with their answers. Stay open and listen to what your partner says when talking, their answers may surprise you!...

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