Unveiling your emotions to your partner can be the scariest thing in the world or it can be a mighty train wreck. Having the courage and self-respect to communicate your emotions in a way that is constructive and encouraging is the key to getting your emotional needs met.
When your partner is emotionally unavailable there may be a number of different reasons, some of which, have nothing to do with you. Be careful not to be too quick to interpret and place meaning to his or her actions before you really know what is going on. With this said, one way to begin talking about your emotional needs with your partner is to first begin with your partners needs. You may ask them how’s it been going? What has been the highlight of your week? Conversational starters are the easiest questions to ask that encourage intimacy and friendship.
When your partner is emotionally available and you can’t bring yourself to present your emotional needs to your partner, you can practice expressing yourself through writing letters or expressing a simple sentence that showcases a single emotion, even giving and receiving gifts is a form of emotional expression. You may need to explore opening up a conversation simply by giving a gift, or expressing yourself a bit differently.
It isn’t uncommon for women and men to simply “not feel” all the time. It is okay to not have emotional needs that need immediate attention. But if you are further curious and would like to feel more, explore what brings you the most pleasure in your life. What are some things that make you so incredibly happy? You may find that some emotions are easier to tap into than others. Using the found emotion as a starting point, you can then ask what else is there? What does my partner do that helps me feel incredibly happy? What can I do that helps him or her fell this way?
Being clear and assertive is the more direct approach. For some though, being direct can be a turn-off and put pressure on them in wrong ways. When it comes to satisfying emotional needs and being direct, make sure you are clear and are asking something of your partner they can realistically help you to do or help you achieve. It is equally important to ensure that you are meeting your own emotional needs where your partner isn't able to assist. For example, you may find that shopping with girlfriends who will talk with you is a more satisfying experience rather than stringing him along and watching him text on the phone.
Dove-tailing off of the last example, make sure your emotional needs are within an appropriate context. Use as much of your own resources as possible to meet the emotional demands that you have, rather than depend solely on your partner. When talking about your emotional needs, broaden your awareness of what you are capable of satisfying with the resources that you have. Determine ahead of time, what could be possible for your partner to help you fulfill. Then bring them up in a way that encourages him and motivates him to request the same of you.
Being direct takes courage, exploring new expressions of communicating emotions (possibly for the first time for some) requires imagination, and communicating with self-respect so that you can give respect are all key factors for requesting satisfaction of emotional needs and even apart of the journey to becoming able to satisfy many of those needs on your own.
Finances are among the top reasons for marriages ending in divorce. Being so close to the heart and how people choose to identify themselves, money and the handling of it is not a subject to be taken lightly. Money issues and concerns are difficult to bring up and have ongoing conversations because at the surface it appears to be illusive and not in their control. Many people find themselves in a circumstance of life conversation when it comes to finances until they choose to be deliberate and intentional about their mutual and independent money related goals.
You have goals, dreams and your spouse may or may not be on board. They may or may not also enjoy and handle money quite like you do. Actually, chances are they see money quite differently than you do and you are needing to create more money conversations so that you both can thrive financially.
The first thing when it comes to creating a blossoming money conversation is to keep all solutions and answers on the table. Think of it like a brainstorming session rather than an interrogation. In a brainstorming session, all ideas are fair game and all solutions can work. It is up to you, both to sort through the good ideas and the bad ideas, to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
Determining the parameters of your money conversations will reap positive outcomes. No one spouse wants to enter a conversation about money that has no apparent beginning or end and no objective. In other words, dropping a comment about finances so that you can jump right in and solve problems is not the best strategy for the long game of financial success together. Also, having no objective or time allotment can be intimidating for a spouse who is unsure about finances or not yet mature in handling money.
Begin with setting an appropriate weekly time to have “money dates.” This can become a habit. When weekly or routine meetings are held, then progress can be made. Choose the amount of time together that you can commit to talking about your finances. Also decide on the topic you want to discuss or the problem you want to solve together. Remind each other that it is a brainstorming session, all ideas are fair game, and solutions work. It’s your opportunity to pick the best one for your mutual and independent goals.
When discussing having separate bank accounts after having joint bank accounts make sure to explain the benefits of both and be able to see the pros and cons of either. Caution: When making a decision to have separate bank accounts (or to even talk about it), depending on the level of trust and intimacy in a relationship, it may cause doubts around the security of your marriage. However, whether a couple has separate bank accounts or a joint account trust, security and intimacy is required for both financial conditions. Being transparent with your intentions and supportive of your spouses independent financial decisions will pave the way for a healthy conversation.
The last thing to remember when having the courage to bring up the ”money talk” is to take on the “we” attitude while listening to your spouse. Learn from the mistakes that you’ve made separately and together. Keep an open and acceptance attitude about money and your partner. Steer clear of the blame game and tread lightly while entering into a new financial circumstance with your spouse.
Now that we’re a couple, how do we handle friendships with the opposite sex? It’s a common question, especially when the relationship has begun to move toward the serious stage. Here are some guidelines for helping you to handle your outside friendships in a way that supports and encourages your romantic relationship, as opposed to weakening it or even tearing it down.
Communicate your expectations and desires:
As in so many other aspects of a relationship, it’s crucial that you communicate well about friendships with the opposite sex. Talk openly about your expectations and desires and about how you each like to address these issues. Think about your various friendships and discuss together what roles you want them to continue to play your lives.
If, for instance, you have a friendship that’s full of flirtation or sexual tension, you might decide to tone down this facet of the friendship. Or if you have a friend who is really good at encouraging you to be a healthy person or a good partner in your relationship, then you may decide to spend more time with this person.
Keep in mind, too, that some people tend to be more possessive or jealous and are uncomfortable with their partner spending time with people of the opposite sex; meanwhile, for others, this isn’t an issue as long as strong trust exists between you. If the person you’re dating feels threatened by your friendships and wants to control you and claim your full and exclusive attention, watch out. As always, it’s important that you maintain your own sense of autonomy even as you learn to join with this person you care about. These are all issues you want to discuss openly with each other.
Be protective of your relationship:
Spending time with friends is one thing, but if elements of these friendships threaten your relationship, you probably need to change some of the patterns in these friendships. Or you may need to end certain relationships entirely. If you’re serious about making things work in your dating or intimate relationship, you might need to make some hard decisions regarding some outside friendships.
This especially applies when you find yourself wanting to be less than honest with your partner. If you feel compelled to hide or shade the truth, be careful – you could be headed for a danger area. For example, you might find yourself saying, “I had lunch with some friends from work,” when you really had lunch with only this one person. This is a dangerous trend to see creeping up in your relationship, so take steps to address it as soon as you notice it. In this way, you can protect your connection, build trust, and increase the odds that your relationship will develop into something strong and deep.
Find a healthy balance:
You don’t have to choose between your commitment to your relationship and your commitment to your other friends. The key is balance. As we said before, a friendship that is likely to torpedo your relationship is a danger you should deal with right away. And that goes for any friendship, whether it’s with a member of the opposite sex or not. But as a general rule, outside friendships are good for you and are even important, as it’s not healthy to depend on one person to meet all of your needs. Friendships can feed and nurture you, making you a better individual as well as a better partner who can bring even more to your relationship.
Set ground rules:
We can’t tell you exactly what boundaries you should set regarding this area of your relationship. But it’s a good idea to establish basic principles that guide your interactions with outside people. In this way, you can maintain your external friendships but do so in a way that doesn’t threaten what you have with each other. Here are some examples to get you started thinking about these ground rules:
Be flexible and willing to change as the relationship progresses:
Again, all of the above are merely guidelines for helping you to think through how you want to handle this important area of your relationship. Don’t be rigid about these or any other “rules” you set up. Instead, recognize how important it is to be able to adapt to changing situations and relational dynamics. Over time, as your level of commitment progresses, you may want to periodically revisit your conversations regarding the roles others have in your lives. In this way, your relationship can be guided by certain principles on how to interact with people of the opposite sex while allowing you to adjust as you grow together and as your relationship evolves.
One of the most vital components of creating a happy, healthy, and fulfilling relationship* is to become a master at setting boundaries. Simply put, boundaries are what establish the space between where we end and the other person begins.
Depending on our upbringing and past experiences, setting boundaries and relationships may be easier or more difficult. Often if we have had parents, guardians, or other people in our lives during childhood who didn’t know how to set boundaries with us, then we must learn how to set boundaries in relationships. We need to learn when it’s the proper time to set a boundary and how to find a balance in setting boundaries so that they are not too weak or too strong.
Although learning how to properly and effectively establish boundaries can be a long process, here are a few basic steps for setting boundaries in our relationships:
Step one: Recognize and acknowledge our own feelings. To set effective boundaries, we must be able to know what we are feeling. Do we feel bad when our partner or friend makes a comment we perceive to be critical? Do we feel overwhelmed or drained as a result? Checking in and recognizing how we’re feeling is vital as we will then be able to separate ourselves, our feelings, from the other person and how we are perceiving their comments.
The difficulty for many who have weak or leaky boundaries and relationships is that we have become so enmeshed, so encompassed by the other persons “stuff”, we have no idea what they are feeling. By taking the time to break away, reflect, and honestly check-in with ourselves, we are consciously making the distinct difference between ourselves and the other person.
Step two: Recognize how our boundaries have been crossed. Is the other person constantly asking to borrow money from us but has never paid us back? Do we find ourselves regularly answering their text or phone calls late at night, causing us to lose sleep? Again, do they keep making critical comments toward us? Does this person seem to always have problems with us with which we feel the need to help? Boundary recognition helps us identify where we need to firm up those limits in our relationships.
Step three: Recognize how we need to set our boundaries. Once we identify what is causing us to feel overwhelmed, drained, or simply bad, decide what we need to say to our partner or friend. For example, if they constantly borrow money from us but doesn’t pay it back, we may need to tell them that we’re not allowing them to borrow anything else until we are repaid.
Or, if it’s a friend who is texting or calling us late at night when we’re trying to sleep, maybe we want to tell them we can’t talk because we need to sleep, or we can simply stop answering altogether. If our boundary is being crossed by someone who keeps making critical comments toward us, tell them that we don’t appreciate being spoken to in this way and that we will no longer accept it. Perhaps it’s a friend who seems to always consult us for help with their problems and thus is draining our energy. It’s probably time to say something like, “Hey, I know you’re in pain, but I have some of my own stuff to do right now. Can we get together later today or tomorrow to talk?”
Step four: Become grounded. Two things often happen when boundaries and relationships have been weak: 1. There is backlash from the other person and 2. we feel guilty. For this reason, becoming grounded within ourselves is paramount. We can do this by taking the time to do some breath work or meditation, or by tuning in with our body.
Grounding meditation that involves envisioning a cord going down from our root chakra and deep into the earth may also be beneficial. Also, remember that our emotions are valid. For this reason, we are not wrong for setting our boundaries. In fact, we are taking care of ourselves, which is something we should all do above all else.
Step six: take care of ourselves. If establishing boundaries has brought up any backlash or feelings of guilt, be sure to take care of ourselves. Let’s go for a walk, exercise, or simply be out in nature. Do something to re-center ourselves, and don’t spend too much (or any) energy focusing on what happened.
Even if someone wants to talk about the drama of what happened, we don’t need go there. We can tell them that we don’t want to talk about it; otherwise, we keep the stress and fear-based thinking alive.
*While this blog overall focuses on individuals in intimate relationships, this post was written to apply for a variety of relationships.