Welcome to the third installment of “Know Your Partner”. In this series war are talking about questions you and your partner should discuss before you move in together, get married or have kids. These questions will help you find your partner’s “musts”. To read more about “musts”, check out Know Your Partner: Musts. In the last post in the series, we listed questions about relationships, every day life, family background and friends. This post covers questions about appearance, work, money and health.
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Last week, we talked about how every person has “musts”, things they absolutely cannot live without. It is important for each person in a couple to know their partner’s “musts” before they decide to move in together, to get married or to have kids. This week, I thought I would give you a list of questions to help you along your journey. This list includes questions about relationships, everyday life, family background and friends.
This list is very important to use in different relationship situations:
Before moving in with someone.
Before deciding to have kids.
On anniversaries – in order to update each other about the ways we have changed.
When experiencing relationship conflict.
Before making the decision to break up a partnership.
There are a few rules to remember when asking these questions. This will make the question and answer process more effective and successful:
Any relationship is a form of agreement between two or more people. The deeper the relationship, the more things you will need to agree on for your relationship to stay positive. Some relationships, like marriage and having children together, are more important than others. They have a huge impact on our lives and our futures. I call them love agreements.
Love agreements will change over time. Just how they change will depend on the circumstances. Each person changes within themselves and their agreements with each other change accordingly. For couples, it is very important for each side to make sure they are “sailing in the same direction”. While each of them may change in different ways, together, they want to be going the same way. If one wants to sail north and the other’s greatest desire is to sail south, then their relationship will suffer. One or both of them will have to compromise.
When we talk about relationships, the word compromise pops up as a desired outcome. I think compromise is important, but I also believe that some compromises cannot last for very long. They are often the source of conflict and can cause much heartache.
Read Know Your Partner: Musts »
In my last post, I Learned it From the Best we talked about how influential parenting is for a child’s future. In the long term, some things parents do are positive and some are negative. But which ones are positive? Which parenting styles are good for your children? In this post, I want to go into detail about the importance of consistency – the value of giving consistent rewards, punishments, attention and praise.
In early childhood, parenting in general gives children a toolkit of skills and beliefs they can take with them. It helps them deal with the challenges that life puts in their paths. If parents give their child positive, useful tools, then they are well equipped for the future. Things like praise and attention give confidence. On the other hand, parents who give their children bad habits and poor attitudes are setting them up for struggle. Addictive behaviors and poor eating habits are examples of unhelpful tools.
Since this is a parenting blog with a focus on personal development, we normally post tips and advice that parents can use to improve their own lives and the life of their children. But today’s post will be a bit different.
Today, I want to tell you about some things that happened to me with my own kids and to appeal to both mothers and fathers to do the best you can to raise your children in balance and harmony, including giving them enough time with their father.
This week, we watched the movie “Brave”. I cried at the end (I will not spoil it for you). After the movie, it occurred to me that scenes in which parents and children realize how important they are to each other (sometimes when it is too late) make me cry every time. Maybe this is part of my inspiration for today.
Our family has lived in a good number of places around the world and has visited many others. In all of them, fathers mostly go to work in the morning, leaving their children with their mothers, and come back in the evening tired, stressed, preoccupied and unaware of what their family has gone through during the day.
This used to be my life too. For 15 years, I worked for large companies, spent long hours commuting, stayed late at work “just to finish something on time” and even traveled on business. Among our friends, I actually spent the least amount of time on the road or at work and the most amount of time at home, but for the most part, I was “missing in action” as far as my family was concerned.
I remember still thinking about work every Saturday morning and starting to relax and enjoy my family time around midday. I remember being on call, limiting family travel to the maximum response distance, carrying a mobile phone with me at all times and anxiously expecting it to ring. I remember having to give 8 extra days during a certain month so that my employer would allow me to take 8 days off to travel overseas with my family and finally get our Australian permanent residence. That was literally double time in that month, eating into my meals and sleep and gobbling up all of my weekends.
Read Fathering Goodness »
Marriage, like other relationships, requires two people with a special connection between them. There are many reasons why marriages do not last long and one of the reasons is falling into the “right” trap.
When I see couples during their relationship coaching program, the “right” trap is always there. It is not always spoken, but it underlies a lot of the conflicts. One of the partners or both of them have a strong feeling about their “rightfulness” and they cannot let it go. The problem is not just thinking that they are right, but believing the “right thing” exists, because when they sort out the first conflict by putting pressure and giving up, they get a confirmation of their “rightness” and they expect the next time to be the same – one is right and the other one gives up – a recipe for disaster.
Mira and Chris came for relationship coaching because Mira was convinced she was right and Chris was wrong. It happens a lot that one person does the booking and it sounds like this:
“Chris, why are you here?”
“Mira asked me to come”.
It was a very honest answer and it helped me find out who was seeing themselves as the “right” one in that relationship.
“OK, Mira, so why are you here?”
“I need you to explain to Chris…”
I knew that was another “right” trap.
First, I need to explain that our relationship coaching program is not mediation. It is meant to help the couple find their strengths and use them to renew their love and build their relationship on a mature and respectful foundation. If you want to get help in your relationship so the therapist can tell your partner he/she is wrong, you are trapped.
Read The "Right" Trap »
In part 1 of Save Your Marriage, I gave you 3 simple steps to stop your divorce and save your marriage. This week, I thought some marriage and divorce statistics would give you insight into what happens in the reality of relationships.
Eye-opening marriage and divorce statistics:
As a daughter to parents who are still married and a long-time partner to my beloved boyfriend, I was very surprised to read some of the statistics about marriage and divorce. Yes, I have many clients thinking of divorce, but when they come for coaching, they are in “solution mode”, which makes it easier for them to find their love again.
I believe the marriage situation has reached a level of social disaster.
This week, I went to my young daughter’s school with a group of other mothers to celebrate the teacher’s wedding. On the card from all the families in the class, I wrote “Happy wedding day”, but I did not think it was the right blessing.
You see, my wedding day was not a happy day at all (too much family politics), but it did not change the fact that Gal and I have been together for over 27 years and are still very much in love. In my head, a happy wedding day is no guarantee for a happy marriage and I am sad for it. I would certainly like it to be a sign for the years to come, but it is not.
Relationships require work. Having a loving relationship requires the couple to fall in love with each other again every day! Anniversaries are celebrations of this love, only without the big crowd. It is amazing that the world marriage statistics show that only rare couples reach their 30th wedding anniversary. I think it is about time we changed this (and I suggest we start right away).
Read Weddings, Love and Marriage »
Questions from a reader:
“I am invited to my ex-boyfriend’s wedding and I have to go. Do you have good tips to handle the situation?”
If you no longer have feelings for him – cool! Go have fun at his wedding. But I guess since you have asked the question, you do have feelings for him…
Read My Ex’s Wedding »
I met Mike at a café. He was very tall and good looking. He had just left home after 11 years of marriage and said “I hate her” 30 times in one meeting. He wanted to know if I could help him. “I’ve been to counselling, but that didn’t work”, he said to me.
He wanted to divorce and did not know how to go about it. He talked about making this a smooth separation and about finding a new partner. “I’m a one woman man”, he said. I liked it. Working with so many couples seconds before they divorce, at least infidelity was not the reason in this case.
Mike had already arranged the paperwork with his lawyer. “I’m going to divorce her”, he said at the end of the first session.
In many cases, coaching is like being an investigator. At the end of the first session, I sat in the café, writing all the pieces of the puzzle I had gathered from Mike.
Read The Story of Mike »