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What do you want from your relationship?

Relationship? What relationship? Well, I am talking about the relationship that you have with your spouse, your significant other, your lover, boyfriend or fiancé – whichever one applies for you.

Let me guess.

When you look around, it seems like everyone’s got it figured out.

From what you can tell, anyway.

Nobody seems to be losing any sleep over their relationship, right?

Don’t let them fool you.

If I must, I am going to be the one and pop your bubble to say – don’t judge a book by its cover.

Because

  1. Just because they look like they know what they are doing doesn’t mean they actually do.
  2. Just because they make it seem like they are getting all they want to get out of their relationship doesn’t mean that they do.
  3. Last, but not least, just because at one point in their life they thought they knew what they were doing and were getting what they needed to get out of the relationship they were in, does most definitely not mean that that’s the case right now.

 

But, you say, how do people figure it out and I can’t?

It may be time that you stop asking yourself that question  – once and for all.

And I want to help you figure out the answer.

relationship, what do you want from your realtionship?

Right here, right now.

Because, guess what?

Who is to decide what you want from your relationship?

You got it.

YOU.

And nobody else but you.

And the answer matters a great deal.

 

How do you know what you want in your relationship?

 

Sometimes, it’s easiest to look around you, look at the past (both yours and other people’s) and start by simply writing a list.

A list of what? – you ask.

A list of things, both good and bad, semi-good and semi-bad –  that you have seen happen that you knew were going to have to make the cut or others that needed to stay as far away as possible.

You are going to have to sit down, turn everything off (or put on some music that helps you be at peace and concentrate) and think about it for a moment or two.

Or spend a whole Saturday afternoon processing this.

Think about it.

You are going to have to take some time to evaluate what you learned in life.

And then start jotting things down.

Because there is NOBODY else that can provide you with that list as it applies for you.

 

Maybe you divide your page in two – and do the good old-fashioned pros and cons list.

I find that the easiest place to start with a lot of things (like when I was looking for a new office) is to start with the list of things you know you don’t want.

For me, that was easy:

  1. I didn’t want an office with no windows
  2. I didn’t want an office with a shared waiting room
  3. I didn’t want an office where I wouldn’t have the ability to replace certain pieces of furniture/update the space as I deemed professional and necessary (and awesome-looking).

And that’s just the start. I could go on. But you get the point.

 

So, it’s your turn.

Go ahead and start with that.

What do you NOT want in your relationship?

 

What are those things for you?

  • The things that you don’t want in your relationship.
  • The things that you have to put your foot down about.
  • The ones you know you cannot tolerate.
  • The things that maybe initially you thought you could totally take on but experience has taught you otherwise.

Sometimes, we figure out what we want best by realizing and figuring out what it is that we do not want.

You already know what your first two or three are, don’t you…???

Write them down.

And then, keep writing. If you hit a wall, put it down, and come back to it in a day or two.

 

  • What did you particularly like about the way that your parents treated each other?
  • Maybe it was a favorite uncle and the way that he talked to his wife.
  • Growing up in your family or now into your adulthood – What was particularly difficult to watch?
  • What was it about your last relationship that blew up in both of your faces?
  • What was it that you ended up putting down as your “must have” even though it perhaps surprised you?

 

Once you have that part figured out, turn the page over and see what that means about what you actually want in your relationship.

 

What DO you want in your relationship instead?

 

Now it’s time you write those things down.

Do it. I dare you.

 

The secret is this: Once you know that, you know exactly where and what to look for.

And do so shamelessly.

 

And let me tell you one other thing.

There is nobody walking the planet earth that can figure this out for you. (or did I say this already?)

You are the one and only person who has to figure this out on their own. The success of your present (and/or future) relationship depends on it.

So, get to work.

Because who you spend the rest of your life with matters greatly.

And how you do will too.

 

Let’s talk about money

Money

Let’s talk about money, shall we?

 

With tax day just behind us, it only seems appropriate to connect around this topic. Particularly because it is, after all, the No. 1 topic that couples avoid talking about. What did you think it was? If asked the question, most people think that the most avoided topic in marriage is, of course, sex. That’s not the case.

 

Even if you have been married just a year or two, I want you to talk and think about money. And I want you to do so because it’s significant that you both know where you stand on the question of finances. I also want you to be aware that quantity doesn’t matter at all. And, as long as you live, the question of money will be one to come up again and again, sometimes with warning and other times with none.

 

What your rule book says about money

 

People have all kinds of ideas about how money should be handled, whether or not it should be talked about at all. We walk into our relationships expecting for things to just fall into place in some sort of magic way, and when that doesn’t happen, we end up disappointed at best, frustrated at worst.

 

Did you or did you not witness any discussions around money in your family growing up? What was the general result? Was it a conversation you wanted to participate in and (perhaps) learn from or was it instead an endeavor that you wanted to run away from at all cost?

 

Whose role was it to make financial decisions? Were your parents on the same page about things most of the time or never? Do you talk about it? Do you never talk about it? Can only one person bring it up? IS it a taboo?

 

This list is not exhaustive. Please know that. I bring these questions up because it is as a direct result of these (and numerous other questions) around the topic of money that you and I have come to believe what we believe about the value of money & the communications around it. Therefore, I advise you as a couple to sit down, on a regular basis, and talk about this.

 

How much money you have is inconsequential

 

Yes, it’s true- it doesn’t matter whether you have money coming out your ears, or whether you are struggling short- or long-term financially, the amount of money that you have (or don’t have) at your disposal will not predict how successful you will be in terms of dealing with it. Whether you are trying to go at it alone or with a partner or spouse – it’s all the same.

 

So, don’t be fooled to think that because you don’t have a lot of money (or have a ton of it), this point doesn’t concern you. Because it concerns EVERYONE. I am not kidding.

 

Some would say that the happiest people have much less money than the people we would expect to be happiest. So, beware.

 

The question of money in marriage is here to stay

 

When you first met, it was talking about who pays for dinner. Remember those days? Maybe you took a few trips together – did you divide it up equally? Did one of you pay for everything?

 

When you got engaged, it was about who pays for the wedding. Who makes decisions about who pays for the wedding. And let’s not forget the honeymoon.

 

When you had your first child, you had to figure out who stays home and for how long and who stays in the work-force full-time. You had to figure out how childcare would be covered – do you have family in town? Do you want to be creative with your childcare needs? Do you have flexibility at all in any of this?

 

After that, it’s school – do we send the little ones to public school? Private school? What difference does it make? Once you get through that, it’s college. Your kids’ travel. Your own travel. And sprinkle all the little discussions about things like taxes, weekly/monthly spending, preferences, vacations, gifts, clothing, property, investments, toys (big or small) – It literally NEVER ends.

 

You get what I am saying. The topic of money in marriage is not going anywhere. As long as you are in relationship with another person, money will be a part of it in one way or another.

 

The way I look at it, if you haven’t started talking about money, it would be well worth your while. And if the first conversation doesn’t go so well, know that it’s pretty common. Practice makes perfect. And the more you know, the better you can figure this money piece our together – and the better for you both.

 

Because, in the end, don’t you both want to get along better? Be more open about things in life that matter? Be on the same side/team and act accordingly?

 

I knew it.

 

Sometimes, starting the money conversation can be complicated. Maybe it was a taboo in your family. Maybe it was for another reason. If I can help in any way, schedule an initial phone consultation and let’s see if it would make sense to work together. I love seeing couples doing things well together.

 

The Heart of a True Apology | Minneapolis Couples Counseling

Minneapolis Couples Counseling There’s lots of advice out there on how to give an apology that has lasting impact: an apology that results in a restored relationship. Whether the process requires four steps, or eight steps, one of the things that rings most true to me is the need to own your responsibility for the injury you caused the other person.

In preparation for an upcoming Marriage Retreat, I recently watched this clip from a fellow Marriage & Family counselor based in Utah. The five steps Julie outlines provide an excellent framework for apologizing:

5 Steps to a Powerful Apology

  1. own your part
  2. reflect the impact
  3. show empathy
  4. focus on them
  5. make it right

I don’t know about you, but when I look at this list, the one that really sticks in the throat is right there on the top of the list:

own. your. part.

I couldn’t agree more — all good apologies must include owning your part, but the big question we so often face is this:

HOW? How do you do that?

How do you say “I’m sorry, I know that I did [fill in the blank – AKA – that cruddy thing you did]” and leave it at that? Is it even realistic not to discuss the reasons for your actions?

It seems to me that there are two aspects to owning our part that we need to see clearly in order to be able to do just that — own our part.

First, all the rest of the steps flow out of number one.

If we don’t start with owning our part, we cannot accurately show the person that we understand the way it’s hurt them. If we don’t own our part then we won’t be able to show empathy. And so it goes for each step in the process of reconciliation.

Second, the bottom line is, an apology is about reconciling.

Part of what we need to do is reckon with the fact that an apology is about reconciling and NOT about being understood. This willingness to put the other person first and help them feel understood is at the heart of an apology that will be well-received by the person you’ve hurt.

Not only should “being understood” be saved for another conversation, but frequently the need to feel understood evaporates with reconciliation — highlighting the fact that sometimes our “need” to be understood is more about defending ourselves in a moment of conflict than about actually experiencing fundamental misunderstanding.

Every apology needs to move from owning our part to full reconciliation, but today — take some time to think about that person (you know who) with whom you recently had conflict. Imagine what it would look like to acknowledge your part and leave it at that. Period. It might just be the beginning of a wonderful new relationship.

 

If you have a relationship in mind already that this would need to be applied to, and if that relationship by chance is your husband or wife and you have no idea how to make it a success, we can help. If you would like more information about our Minneapolis couples counseling office, please contact us by scheduling a 20 min free phone consultation HERE. If you would like to know how we work with couples, we have written a thing or two about it HERE for your convenience.