3 Mistakes commonly made in a relationship.

Love is great, better than great actually. We all have a desire to experience this amazing feeling. However, even though we can’t escape heartbreak, we can learn how to better navigate relationships by truly understanding ourselves. Mistakes are inevitable, and truth be told, we learn (mostly) through our mistakes. But I want to highlight common mistakes that are often made at one point or another in our relationships.

1. Believing you are ready for one.

Remember when your parents try to tell you that guy or gal isn’t a good fit, or too grown for you? What usually happens, we never listen right….parents end up being right every time (trust their experience 😉).

I work in trauma therapy and I see people moving forward in new relationships without dealing with past trauma, such as pain and abuse, from past relationships, or even grief. Entering new relationships with past trauma is unfair to the new significant other, and also sets the relationship up for failure. (Stay tuned for my next post on this.)
When dealing with trauma, we are not always in the right place to be in a relationship. Whether it be emotionally, working hard to build your career or education,etc. Be honest with yourself before leading someone else on. If you are not stable enough, meaning you have baggage or personal situations that will get in the way of the relationship, choose YOU first!

2. Not discussing expectations.

Oooh, this is the BIG one. Have you ever broken up with a guy or girl because you were not on the same page-6 months after dating? This happens so much! We look at physical and sexual attributes of the people we date, without having true conversations about what we are looking for (long term, short term goals, relocation). These are very important conversations and often lead to the demise of a relationship.

4. Wanting to fix someone.

I have been guilty of this😑! I read somewhere a long time ago that men date women for who they are and women date men for who they have the potential to be. When you shop for a car, do you look for a fixer upper, with the potential to be great, or one that’s already in great condition? You can’t go into a relationship wanting to fix someone; you’re often left disappointed and waste years on someone to be what they showed you years earlier they were not.

Like I stated earlier, mistakes happen and that’s how we grow. But take time to learn yourself, deal with your past, and make sure you are whole before taking on new relationships.

When was your last tune up?

When was the last time you got your oil changed; its due every three months right? What about your dental appointment, every six months right? When was the last time your marriage had a tune up? We get our oil changed quarterly, teeth, bi-annually, but when was the last time you checked in with your spouse? Maybe you feel that because you still cook, clean, take care of his kids, or (fellas) work hard, bring flowers every Wednesday, buy her everything she needs. But is that enough? Maybe he’s tired of the same sex positions, maybe she’s tired of “just because” roses every third Wednesday. News flash: 🌹 “just because it’s Wednesday,” played out 4 years ago 🌹 lol.

When was the last time you asked your significant other, are you happy? Why do we just assume they are happy because we offer what we “feel” makes them happy. Did the same thing that made you happy 6 years ago, still makes your day-today? Life changes, we grow, priorities change. 6 years ago, I didn’t care about dishes because we didn’t have kids…..well now I do and if you did them from time to time, it would be amazing (for example 😜). We often assume we know our partners are happy because we may not want to face the truth that they may not be. That is the hard part, right, to actually hear of unhappiness in your household.

Below are three questions that should be asked,every few months,or bi annually at the least…..kinda like that dental appointment we never seem to miss.

1. Are you happy?

I told you all before, I love my scaling questions, as they measure for progress, when working with clients. So possibly offering it in a scaling style. For example, On a scale of 0-10, with 0 being the worst and 10 being the best, how happy are you with the way our marriage/relationship is? Numbers are great, versus saying “good,” or “I’m happy.” I’m a gal that like details, so pick a number please! Ha ha

2. What areas need improvement?

This is a great area to explore, as we often feel that when someone is not as happy as we are, or maybe even happier, first understand that we often see things differently-hence the need for this conversation.

3. What do you need from me?

Please pay attention to the response you get from this- this is a very powerful question. Sometimes a partner may not be happy in a marriage because of their own inability to manage time, unresolved personal issues, etc. They may very well just need you to keep doing what you are doing, while they put more effort into xyz. However, if he/she says “I need you to….” then work on ways to do that for the overall healthiness of your marriage.

Longevity does not equal success (I need to coin this phrase). Don’t assume what you don’t know because you fail to ask. If you don’t change your oil, it will run out and your head gasket will blow. Don’t let your marriage run without routine maintenance-or it will blow too.

Broken people can’t create a whole relationship

I love the quote “broken crayons still color.” In fact, that was one of the few names I had for this blog, until I saw others had it as well. I love this quote because it signifies resilience. Just because you are broken, does not mean you throw in the towel. You are still operational, don’t give up, you can still color. However, in relationships, I would not offer the same sentiment.

Yes, the broken crayons still color, but they are still broken, right? Often people want to enter new relationships as a means to get over the past one, not realizing the hurt, jealousy, insecurities they still harbor. Ever heard the saying “the best way to get over someone is to get under another one?” Dumbest advice ever! We expect the next person coming along to deal with the emotions, pick up the broken pieces, mend them, and prove that they are not your ex……But Why? Why bring your baggage into a new situiationship (yes, I said that) and expect us to prove ourselves, and deal with insecurities that have nothing to do with us? It is not fair, and actually, the relationship is starting off all wrong.

Here’s an idea: heal yourself, don’t expect someone else to do it. Don’t let the new person bear the load and emotional strain that occurred before him/her? Take your time, work on yourself, not to just be better for someone else, but for a better you as well. Don’t be the broken crayon still trying to color, be the refurbished one that has been through some things, was fixed, and can color as good as before.

What Makes a Marriage Successful?

One in two marriages end in divorce, according to Psychology Today. In addition, of the 50%, two-thirds stated that their marriage could have been repaired. What are the top reasons on for divorce? Finances and communication. As a marriage and family therapist, this subject is very important to me. We often look at older couples, and wonder what the trick is. I often thought this, as well, in my early stages of marriage. After 9 years of marriage and 12 years together, I have complied a list of what it takes for a marriage to be successful. Now before I begin, I want to preface by stating three things: 1. This doesn’t mean that your marriage will be perfect everyday and from time to time, you won’t want to be in each other’s presence 😜. Marriage is work, meaning you try everyday to be the best spouse you can be, just as you try to be the best boss, co worker, or parent, but expect mistakes. 2. There are a couple of things here, I did not do, because I was neither told, nor taught the importance. So it took me some time, arguments and counseling to understand what keeps a marriage successful. Lastly, longevity does not equate success. Just because you have been married 20 years, does not mean it is successful. I know people who have been married over 25 years, and just live together, and have been living separate lives for years. However, read below for my tips.

1. Premarital Counseling<<<
many of you can say that you argue more than you have civil conversations? What about “He doesn’t understand me” or “She complains about everything? ” What if I told you that effective listening is a skill that many of us do not have. Counseling teaches you the language one another, so you can listen and respond in a way that is effective. I’ll speak more on this below. But also premarital counseling gives you the opportunity to learn all of those things that you never thought to ask. These particular counselors gives assessments that covers areas such as: finances, love language, family history, and more. Many people fail to learn the important things about their significant other that can have a significant affect on their relationship and (future) family. For example, what if she has a FICO score of 480, that may make you feel some type of way. What about if his father and grandfather both were bipolar? There is a possibility that he may be bipolar or it can translate down to your children; this is a genetic mental illness. Again, premarital counseling assists you in learning what you never thought to ask. And if you cannot afford it, there is a checklist online of questions/ conversations that should be asked before you walk doesn’t the aisle.

2. Communication<<<
s is the second leading cause of divorce. As stated above, communication is a skill. Just because we hear it, does not mean we know how to receive it. And just because we are delivering it, does not mean, we are delivering it in an effective manner. Women are often more emotional beings, whereas men are more rational. We want them to know, understand and solve our problems, without us having to open our mouths. And yes, there are times, when men know exactly what the problem is and how to fix it. However, many men that I have come across always state that “I don’t know what you don’t tell me.” So understand the others’ style of communication is imperative to growth. Here is another one…….when was the last time you asked your spouse if he/ she is happy with the way things are going? That simple question can save a marriage because we are so great at hiding things, or placing our focus elsewhere (work, kids, friends) that we assume things are great just because we are happy and fulfilled. I believe that checking in with your spouse on their level of happiness, every few months, will do wonders for your relationship.

3. Your Spouse Should be Your Best Friend<<<
, I said it!!! Some of you may not agree, and this okay. I have ladies in my life that I consider my closest friends, more like my sisters, but they will never have more of me than my spouse. Your spouse should be your number one supporter, provider and comforter. Sure, you have those friends that you yearly trips with, talk on the phone with at 7pm every night, and share precious moments with. But when you having a friendship within your marriage, which many people don’t have, conversations and overall happiness is better. It just improves the overall quality of your marriage.

4. Not Losing Yourself<<<
s could easily be number 2 or 3, because it happens at one point in every relationship. When most people go through a divorce or breakup, they wonder ” Who am I?” This is because we dedicate so much time and effort to our relationships with our spouse, children and work, we forget about the most important relationship: the one we have with ourself. We stop reading, painting, shopping with friends, or whatever it is that brought you joy, because we replaced that with making everyone else a priority. Always make time for the things that make you happy. If it is being home alone, tell him to take the kids for a few hours. If it is hitting the gym, or whatever it may be, carve out that time. You too are special, and you should not lose yourself to try and please others. Have your selfish moments, I promise they will be there when you get back.

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ther mentions:

Spirituality/Religion- Keep this at the center of your life and never lose site of it, if this is what your relationship is based on.

Finances: This is the leading cause of divorce. Discuss which financial route works best for your marriage. I know many people who keep separate accounts and it works for their marriage, and vice versa. But have those conversations often, so there are no surprises.

I am interested to learn: have any of these worked for you, or do you have anything to add?