Are Secrets Okay in Marriage?
Everyone Has Secrets. But Should They Stay Secrets?
The Parent/Partner Juggling Act
Juggling Being a Spouse and a Parent is Tough. Checkout These Tips To Do it Successfully.
Make The Best of Your Breakup
Checkout These Tips to Get You Back on Your Feet and Into Another Great Relationship.
The Parent/Partner Juggling Act: Take Time For You.
Being a good parent and a good spouse also means taking time for you.
Is it Love or Love Addiction?
Love is Grand. But Love Addiction Hurts You and Your Relationship.
Every Couple Has Secrets
First of all, let me state the obvious that every couple has secrets. After all, nobody wants to tell their spouse all the dirty details of their past relationships. What good would that do? But whether or not secrets are okay in marriage depends entirely on the secret. And I have come up with two categories of secrets to help you decide whether that secret is okay or not. The categories are 1) self-protective and 2) spouse-protective.
The Two Types of Secrets and Which One is Okay.
1) Self-protective The worst of these two secrets are the secrets that fall into the self-protective category. These are the ones that you don't want to tell your spouse because they'll get you into trouble. In other words, these are things you shouldn't have done and don't want to tell your spouse because you know they'll be mad at you for it. Like when you told your spouse you were going on a work dinner but you really raised some ruckus with your friends. These are usually the secrets that damage a relationship. They damage it because you know your spouse will be mad/hurt and instead of owning up and trying to make amends for it, you hide it.
A good example of this self-protective type of secret is the closet sex addict who has several affairs but doesn't tell their spouse. They hide it to protect themselves from getting caught and facing the consequences.
2) Spouse-Protective. The secrets that fall into the the spouse-protective category are usually okay to keep hidden...usually. These are the ones that are of little consequence because you wouldn't mind if your spouse knew them but it would be hurtful to your spouse if they did. So you keep it a secret because you don't want to hurt their feelings.
The most important thing about this category of secrets is that you're not hiding anything that your partner would disapprove of. You're still being true to yourself so your spouse is in love with the real you, and the secret is of little consequence and would only be hurtful to them if they knew- so it stays a secret.
A good example of this not telling your spouse all the dirty details about your previous relationships. Those other relationships don't matter to you anymore (and don't matter to your spouse) but discussing all the dirty details may create unnecessary jealousy or resentment for your spouse. And your primary reason for not talking about it is because it will only create unnecessary feelings of worry, fear etc. so to protect your spouse from these unnecessary feelings, you choose with withhold information.
Whether or not secrets are meant to protect yourself or protect your spouse, there's one other (perhaps more important) factor to consider when deciding whether or not to keep a secret from your partner. That is whether or not the secret has any meaningful consequence .The only secrets that are okay are the ones that are inconsequential to your relationship.
If you're hiding a big secret that your spouse would be upset about or has serious implications for your spouse but you hide it from them to keep from hurting their feelings that this is not okay. An example of this would be not telling your spouse about a child you had in a previous relationship that was put up for adoption. This has serious implications for your spouse even though it may not be an issue for you anymore.
So go ahead and keep secrets from your spouse. They don't need to know what a hellraiser you were back in the day anyway. As long as you're keeping it a secret just to protect them...and as long as it has no consequence anyway.
People who are in controlling relationships say things like "This isn't him, he didn't used to be like this. He's just under a lot of stress" or "We used to have great times together but now she's just angry all the time and if I'm not careful I'm in the doghouse for who knows why". And sometimes these sorts of problems are just a temporary rough patch in the relationship. But other times, they're much deeper signs of something much more problematic .
Because no one comes out and says that they want to be controlling to you, the signs are sometimes pretty subtle. So below are 7 tell-tale signs that you're in a controlling relationship.
7 Signs You're in a Controlling Relationship
1) Intimidation. They use threats and other intimidation to get you do certain things. They say things like "If you do, you'll be sorry". Or they say things in a hostile way to let you know that they're angry and you're in trouble. They can use physical intimidation by invading your "bubble" when they talk to you or actually put their hands on you to push you, hit you, etc. These are all signs of intimidation and attempts to control you. The intent behind any intimidation is to get you to do something they want you to under with an indirect threat.
2) Emotional Abuse. This is one of the most obvious signs that you're in a controlling relationship. If they put you down a lot by calling you names or making you feel small by the way they talk to you, this is a big sign that you're being controlled. In healthy relationships, couples try to build each other up. They try to strengthen insecurities and build stronger bonds. In controlling relationships, however, your partner wants you to feel small so they have a tactical advantage over you. And they do this by verbal put downs.
3) Blaming. Everyone knows what blaming looks like. But blaming in a controlling is usually really subtle. Phrases like "If you didn't say that then I wouldn't have done what I did, either". These kinds of statements don't come across directly as blaming but when you look closer you realize that they are blaming you for their actions. If you hadn't done what you did, then they wouldn't have don what they did. In essence they're holding you responsible for their actions. But you are not responsible for their actions, they are. And because they can't stand to take ownership of their inappropriate behavior, they try to blame you for it.
4) Cycles of Good and Bad. If a person is always a jerk, there's no reason you'd want to stay with them. So it makes sense, then, that not all times are going to be bad with them. You'll have periods of good times, too. These may last for a few days to a few months. But in controlling relationships the good times always end and are almost inevitably followed by waves of bad times, too If you find yourself describing your relationship as "rocky" this is a big sign you're in a controlling relationship.
5) Lots of Apologizing. Of course, apologies are good for relationships. They help couples talk about past damages and heal old wounds. But if there is a lot of apologizing and very little changing this is a big sign that you're in a controlling relationship. When someone has crossed a behavioral line and does something that's wrong, they usually feel a genuine remorse for it - and will genuinely apologize. But genuine apologies come with behavior change. If you see a lot of apologizing and very little changing, that's a good sign you're in a controlling relationship.
6) Your Simple Wants are Mocked or Dismissed. Everybody has little wants in a relationship. Maybe you'd like flowers once in a while or maybe you'd like to go out with friends more once in a while. But in a controlling relationship your wants (even the little ones) are dismissed or even mocked. It's a subtle way your controlling partner tries to tell you what you should or shouldn't want
7) Isolation. From an outsider's perspective, it's not hard to see a bad relationship. Think about it, you probably saw a friend or two in a relationship they shouldn't have been in. So controlling partners are always afraid that someone will notice and tell you. So instead of risking that others will notice and try to tell you, your partner would rather isolate you so that others don't see it/ So if you used to have a lot of friends that suddenly don't come around much or if your partner doesn't like you to talk to your family so much and gets unreasonably mad when you do, this is a big sign of a controlling relationship
If You See These Signs, Please See a Counselor
These seven signs are great signs that you may be in a controlling relationship. If you see these signs and still wonder if you are in a controlling relationship or not, then rest assured that these are at least signs that your relationship is in a bad place and you need to see a counselor anyway.
I don't usually end with the recommendation to see a counselor (I feel like it's a shameless plug for my self) but in controlling relationships, or relationships where any of these symptoms are occurring, the relationship seldom gets better without some sort of therapeutic intervention.
Quality time with your children and with your partner is an investment in your relationships. Carving out other small amounts of time to recharge and focus on yourself, re-fills your own resources and enables you to return as an even better parent and partner. But sometimes, just reflecting on everything you “should” be doing can feel overwhelming. So below I'm going to show you how to put all the pieces together of this three part series.
Parenthood as Partners
Juggling being a parent and a partner can be tough but it has many benefits too. A “partner” implies that you have someone on your side. Your connection with your partner is something that can get lost in the juggling act. Quality time with your partner will recharge your relationship and keep your partnership strong.
So if you have feelings of anger, loneliness, frustration, and stress might indicate that you need to take a time out to connect with your partner. Re-connect, approach life as partners, and meet the on-going responsibilities and demands of parenthood together. Finding the time might be the hardest part. Quality time never needs to be complicated and might be going for a walk, having an adult dinner at home after the kids’ bedtime, or scheduling a lunch date while the kids are at school. Focusing and investing in your partnership will benefit your entire family.
Name Your Priorities
If I asked you what your top 3 life priorities are what would you name? I’ve found that mine consistently
revolve around family, community, and kindness. These can change over time but take a moment to reflect on this question and write down the first three things that come to mind. When you are feeling overwhelmed, look back at the words that you wrote.
The parent/partner juggling act is full of pressures and responsibilities. But it is important to sometimes stop, breathe, and reflect. Are your actions in line with your priorities? If your answer is yes then great! If not, take a minute to think about how you can re-direct your focus. Sometimes, working toward our priorities and having happy healthy relationships means there are dishes in the sink and the laundry is piled a mile high.
This is Life for Now
When we are living life and feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, tired, and more, it can be hard to see and remember that this is not how things will always be. This is life for now. Babies will grow, children will become more responsible, you will have more free time, and your relationship with your partner will change. By recognizing that the challenges you experience in life today are temporary and will change in time, you will lessen feelings of being trapped by circumstances. This is life for now and you have the ability to transform many things about your life and relationships, but some things will just change with time.
Be intentional with your time this week and pick one new thing you’d like to try to improve your life!
Amanda Regalia, M.A. is a marriage and family counselor and clinician for The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. Amanda specializes in working with families and children ages 5 and up. She is passionate about helping people to create practical solutions that support them in achieving their goals and improving their relationships and life
But when things don't workout, all those good feelings you once had inside go away. And instead of good feelings, you're left with feelings of sadness, anger and even bitterness. After all, you spent a lot of your time with them. You gave up a lot to be with them and you really tried to make it work. You put a lot of thought (and heart) into the relationship. For them to turn around now and breakup with you makes you sad and even angry.
But instead of lamenting the breakup, there are things you can that not only help you get over your ex, but can help you become a new and improved person. And as a new and improved person not will you no longer think about your breakup, you'll be poised and confident, ready for an even better relationship than the one you just got out of.
Tips To Come Out On Top After The Breakup
1) Stop Wondering What Went Wrong. In my office, I see a lot of clients who come to me after a divorce or after a long-time relationship and they just want to know what went wrong. They think that if they could just understand why that it would make them feel better. But the sad news is that it usually doesn't work that way. Even if they are told why, the breakup still hurts.
2) Don't Jump Back Into a Relationship Right Away. When you were dating, you gave up a lot of time to go out with your boy/girlfriend. And now that you're single, you have all that time back. There's no need to jump back into a relationship. Remember, you don't have to be in love all the time. Take your time being single and enjoy it. You have a lot more free time to do what YOU want. You might not ever get this chance again. So take advantage of it while you can.
3) Get Back In Touch With Old Friends. When you were dating, you gave up a lot of time to be with your ex. That means that you had to push aside time you would have normally spend with friends to be with your ex. But now that you're single, you have more time to rekindle with some of the old friends you haven't seen in a while. Catch up and see what's new.
4) Take Advantage of Career Opportunities. Remember when your boss asked you to go to that conference with him but you couldn't because you were doing something with your ex's family? Well, now there's nothing holding you back. Now that you're single is a great time to put in those extra hours, and extra effort to advance your career. This will put you in a great place personally and when you finally do find Mr./Mrs. Right you'll be in a good place in your career, too, so you can invest more time into them.
5) Explore New Hobbies. When you're dating someone new, you find yourself being exposed to new things, new people and new ideas. You're exposed to a new circle of friends, new past times, etc. From a therapists' point of view, this is actually good for you. It stretches you and makes you consider things you wouldn't usually consider. So now that you've broken up, you're a different person than you were before because you've been exposed to past times, etc. Instead of trying to go back to the old you, explore the new person that you are.
So go ahead and try new hobbies, go to new places to eat, etc. Not only can this be a lot of fun for you but it also makes you a more interesting and exciting person. And soon enough you'll find yourself in a great (better) relationship with someone who finds you fascinating. They should. You've done a lot to improve yourself.
My husband and I have been married for 6 years. We dated for about a year before we were engaged and things were great. But once we were engaged his mother became very meddlesome. At first I thought she just wanted to help plan the wedding. And I was happy to let her – I knew she and Brandon (my husband) were close and I thought that this would be a good chance for us to bond. But the meddling didn’t stop after the wedding.
Brandon and his mother talk every day. Whenever there’s a fight he tells her all about it. He sometimes tells her about something that’s bothering him before he even tells me. She has even called me to tell me about problems that he’s having and giving me advice how to fix it – like it’s always my fault or something. When I tell Brandon that I want to keep our problems between us he thinks I just don’t like his mother and wont’ listen to me.
We had our first child two years ago and now we’re looking to move out of our apartment into a house. He found a house 2 blocks away from his mother and wants us to move there. And so does his mother. They are both excited about it and despite my objections it seems like the two of them are moving ahead on it. How do I make it clear to him that I’m not comfortable with him and his mother’s relationship? How do I tell him I don’t want to move so close to his mother without them both getting upset?
Moving next to Mother-in-Law
Dear Moving next to Mother-in-Law,
It sounds like you've got a definite Mama's Boy on your hands. Along with my advice, I am wishing you patience and strength in dealing with the situation with Brandon and your Mother-in-Law. Because, trust me, girlfriend: You are going to need it!
Think about it: Brandon and his mother have likely had this close dynamic for his entire life. Things didn't get how they are quickly, and they aren't going to change overnight.
In the psychotherapy world, we call this mother/son relationship "enmeshment" and regard the relationship between the three of you as a triangle. (Just sharing in case you want to do some reading on how to handle these complicated dynamics.) The bottom line is simple: What is going on is unhealthy for your marriage. You have to communicate this to Brandon in a gentle but firm way. If he does not want your relationship to suffer, he is going to have to change the way he interacts with his mother. He needs to be convinced that if he has a problem with you, he needs to speak to you--not to his mother. He needs to learn to take your feelings into account and not assume you feel how you do because you don't like his mother. Explain that you'd be like this with anyone's mother.
You also have to learn how to compromise and be forgiving if he doesn't make great changes right away. I am not saying that means living two blocks away from Mama, but you can't expect a miracle. Be patient. You married Brandon and his mother--so the three of you need to figure this out so no one's relationship suffers.
Dear Moving Next To Mother In Law.
I think the best thing to do right now is put your foot down about moving next to mother-in-law. If you’re already uncomfortable about his relationship it’ll likely only get worse moving next to her. If you do decide to move there, you need to be very clear about boundaries you expect (e.g. no more than so many visits a week to/from MIL, etc).
Most of all, you need to talk to Brandon about your discomfort of moving next to his mother AND talk to him about your hurt feelings of him listening to his mother before he listens to you. Also, let him know that you feel like him and his mother make decisions on things where you feel it should be strictly between you and him to make the decisions. Just as Rachel said, tell him that it has nothing to do with his mother and that you’d feel this way if it was anybody’s mother.
Then I think you should talk to his mother, too. Instead of leaving it up to Brandon to relay the message to his mother (which he may not do very well) you can tell her directly about how you feel about their relationship interferes with your marriage. Most of the time, they’re pretty understanding. If she’s not, at least she knows how you’re feeling and will be aware of it. Then you need to tell Brandon you expect him to bring things up with you first before bringing them up with your MIL. Over time as you set boundaries, the relationship should get better and you’ll start to feel like you and Brandon are more of a team.
About Rachel: Rachel Russo is a Dating, Relationship, & Image Coach who works with marriage-minded singles and couples in NYC and throughout the US. Checkout her website at RachelRusso.com
About Aaron: Aaron Anderson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, owner of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado and writer for various websites on marriage and relationships.
5 Signs It's Over from HER Point of View
It Doesn't Have to Be Over
The most common argument that I hear from parents when I propose taking some time to themselves is that the children need them. Next ensues an explanation about the guilt felt when taking time for oneself when that time could be spent with someone who needs you. When your responsibilities include family and children, taking time to focus on yourself can feel “selfish”. But when you are mentally and emotionally exhausted from taking care of others and you no longer have the best of yourself to give, your partner and your children aren't getting the best you. And even though you're giving them time, you're not giving them much quality.
Quantity Does Not Equal Quality
Taking the time for yourself ensures that you still have something to give to others. Recharging and taking care of yourself ensures that when you’re back to focusing on others you have the energy to do so in a way that is meaningful and positive. Juggling the roles of parent and partner means you are often taking care of others, thinking of others, and planning for others. When this is your life 24/7 what does it look like? Are your interactions still meaningful and enjoyable? Are you feeling content and connected in your relationships? If your answer is yes than great! But if not, you’re like many others who are managing the consequences of not taking a time out to recharge.
Taking a time out to focus on yourself can refill, recharge, and renew you in ways physically, mentally, and emotionally. Having even just a few minutes of “me” time can re-energize you so that when you return to your loved ones, you actually have more to give than before. Returning with an ability to focus and enjoy your interactions will strengthen your bond and create a stronger connection between you and your children and your partner!
Try it Today
If this is a new idea, or maybe an old idea that you’ve never had time for you before, try taking just 15 minutes today to focus on yourself. Allow your children to have fun with and deepen their relationships with your partner, another family member, or a friend. Fifteen minutes can be enough time to take a walk/jog, read a book, exercise, take a bath, or simply sit and enjoy some quiet time. As this feels more comfortable to you, and you begin to see the benefits of focusing on yourself, allow yourself more time!
The parent/partner juggling act is hard work. But it is also meaningful, important, life altering work that deserves your best effort. Focus on yourself today and enjoy the newfound focus you have to improve the most important relationships in your life!
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