Tara Fields was recently quoted in STYLECASTER. Read the original article here.
Ending any relationship is hard, but add to that the complicating factor of living together, and you get a seriously thorny breakup situation. I speak from experience. When my ex and I called it quits, we fought about stuff we’d never argued about before—money, possessions, and real estate—and those conversations overshadowed the already-difficult end to our years-long relationship.
“For many young couples who live together, breaking up is no different than if they were married,” says couples therapist Tara Fields, Ph.D., author of The Love Fix. “It’s easy to get distracted by fighting over things, but at the end of the day it’s important to remember that you loved this person at some point, so making a graceful exit is a better way to do your relationship justice, even if it’s in your past.”
Below, Fields details seven smart ways to keep your wits about you when splitting up with an S.O. who also happens to be your roommate.
Tara Fields was recently quoted in STYLECASTER. Read the original article here.
Few topics in life get awkward faster than money. (Except maybe talking about sex with your parents or explaining why you’re a die-hard Democrat to your 90-year-old grandmother.) People can be famously neurotic about money, whether they have a ton of it or are trying to save more. And on a first date—already a delicate, nerve-wracking situation—trying to figure out who should pay for what, and when, and how much, can be confusing and stressful.
When it comes to money etiquette in dating circa now, says couples therapist and relationship expert Tara Fields, Ph.D., author of The Love Fix, there really aren’t any hard-and-fast rules. And that’s what can make things so difficult to navigate. Everyone has different values around money—how to spend it, how to save it, and what role it plays. The most important thing is to gauge whether your values are similar, because that can help you figure out whether this is someone you should keep seeing, she says. “It’s about compatibility,” she says. “Money is important in relationships right from the get-go. It’s really symbolic of emotions and an area that can have tremendous meaning.”
Plug your ears, ladies.
Let’s get one thing straight: Even the healthiest of couples have plenty of not-so-stellar moments. So just because you’re going through a tough time doesn’t mean you’re headed for divorce. And you probably just want some advice that will actually make a difference. The bad news is that a lot of the wisdom being tossed around by friends over a hefty glass of wine isn’t exactly the best. Of course they mean well, but that doesn’t mean you should listen to it. Seriously.
“Women tend to be quick to offer their opinion, particularly when it comes to relationship advice, regardless of their expertise or state of mind,” says Laurel House, relationship expert and author of Screwing the Rules: The No-Games Guide to Love.“And while having a girlfriend as a sounding board is great and can help bring clarity to a problem, talking to the wrong people at the wrong time–and taking their insight as fact instead of opinion—can not only steer you wrong, but completely derail your marriage.”
In other words, next time you hear these words and pause to consider it as sage advice, go ahead and file ’em in the “forget it” file.
“Problem? Just don’t have sex. That’ll get his attention.”
Playing hard to get may have worked in your dating days, but research shows, unsurprisingly, that being aloof and distant when you’re in a committed, long-term relationship will make your partner think that you’re being, well, aloof and distant—and that’s a dangerous zone to be in when it comes to sex. “Denying intimacy as a way of punishment, or withholding it only to occasionally gift because he was good and deserves it is just another way of playing games,” says House, and you shouldn’t be doing that in a marriage (well, unless it’s these games). If you give sex a nasty undertone, or make it feel like it’s something he has to earn, it removes the fun, lightheartedness that a relationship needs to thrive. And remember, intimacy in the bedroom is what “allows you to be vulnerable and completely reveal yourselves to one another,” says House, so the more you withdraw from that, the more you put your relationship on ice.
“Stay together until the kids are out of the house.”
“One of the worst things you can do—for you, your husband, and your children—is pretend that reality is not reality,” says Tara Fields, Ph.D., licensed psychotherapist and author of The Love Fix: Repair and Restore Your Relationship Right Now. “And parents are kidding themselves if they think their children aren’t aware of what’s going on. Not to mention it can be a major burden to them if they think mom and dad are staying together for their sake.” So skip the heartache and figure out what you both really want—now. “If you both feel strongly that you don’t want your children to come from a family of divorce, instead of just sucking it up and trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes—which doesn’t help anyone—get your butts into couples therapy and really make a concerted effort to repair the relationship,” says Fields. “That way, you’ll either figure out a healthy way to resolve your issues, or you’ll know for sure that you can’t make it work. If that happens, that same therapist can also teach you how to uncouple.” Fields also says it’s important to remember that it’s not the fact that parents don’t live under the same roof anymore that scars children, but rather growing up with parents that don’t know how to resolve conflict, are distant, and use them as a personal therapist. Instead, show them that your divorce has nothing to do with them (a common fear based on your child’s developmental stage) by making it clear that you and your spouse are still a parenting team, no matter what.
“Never go to bed angry.”
It’s the first thing people wrote on the marriage advice page of your wedding guest book, and while it seems right to make up before you fall asleep, Patricia Johnson, sexuality expert and co-author of Designer Relationships, says you could just be slamming your head against a wall.”Talking is not the same thing as communicating, and doing it when you’re angry engages your logical mind, which often leads to building a case against your partner rather than connecting to fix the problem,” she says. Instead, just go to sleep (you know that’s what you really want anyway). Johnson explains that once you’ve had time to digest and rest, you’ll be in a better state of mind and have a clearer perspective about your partner, the relationship, and the issue at hand—you may even realize one of you blew a tiny problem way out of proportion when you got caught up in the heat of the moment, and it only got worse with your exhaustion. When you’re ready to talk again, she suggests focusing on the non-verbal cues first. “Look into each other’s eyes and breathe, and see if his body is positioned toward or away from you,” she says. If it’s toward you, or holding you in some way, that shows he’s open to having a meaningful discussion, too.
“You’re almost 40…you have to lower your standards.”
Please excuse us as we insert major amounts of eye rolling here. You are not a 1995 Honda Civic—you do not depreciate over time, and neither should your standards. “If someone is going to eliminate you from their ‘dating pool’ because of your age, then be happy that you can eliminate them right away, too, because clearly they’re not someone you should be with,” says Fields. “Dating later in life is not about what your standards are, but rather what your values are. What ‘s important to you now is different than what was important to you in your twenties.” So when you’re looking at whether or not someone is a potential long-term partner, you can consider things like how does he talk to his ex-wife, what are his goals in life, and how does he handle being with your children. Things that you thought mattered when you were younger—like how much money he makes—might not matter as much (because hell yes, you’re self-sufficient AF). “It’s not about lowering your standards, but figuring out what exactly your standards are,” says Fields. “And now that you’ve figured out who you are as a person, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than what you want in a partner.”
“Having a baby will definitely bring you guys closer together.”
Consider this the ultimate face-palm advice that was dished out in the 1950s that people are still listening to today. Think about it, though: Most American families need dual-incomes to make ends meet, and while bringing a baby into that picture can be joyous, it can also be extremely stressful. Not to mention getting pregnant with the idea that it’ll birth a new marriage is likely not going to work, says Peggy Sealfon, a personal development coach in Naples, Florida. “It creates a major distraction from addressing the real marital problems, which don’t go away. In fact, it’s much more likely that they’ll be exacerbated by the stress that naturally comes with caring for a child,” she says.
If a lack of nurturing is the root cause of your desire for a new addition to the family, Sealfon suggests taking on a new, potentially long-term project together that has value to the both of you. Something like a kitchen renovation helps you improve communication, dual decision-making, and working together under pressure (not to mention it puts all those House Hunters binges to good use), even if you are just dealing with colors, textures, and flooring to start. Then you can start to slowly address your relationship issues—potentially with the help of a professional—before revisiting the idea of growing your family.
“He wants you to like what he likes.”
Forget jumping on his favorite sports team bandwagon—research shows that couples who learn an activity or skill that’s new to both of them have a deeper bond and sense of intimacy, says Fields. So keep the passion going and make a list of things you’d like to try—whether it’s a one-time activity or a longer-term skill doesn’t matter—and have him do the same. Then get to work on crossing things off those lists. Once a month, pick something you can experience for the first time together. “It gives you the opportunity to support each other in becoming even better people, and facing fears that you probably wouldn’t have faced otherwise,” says Fields. “You might discover a new passion at the same time, which will make you more likely to want to do it together without it feeling forced. And it reminds you of the strengths that you both bring to the relationship, so that the two of you can learn from one another.” Example: Fields says that women usually have more emotional courage than men, so him taking on something that encourages him to express his feelings more (say, through a salsa dance class) would be a big step for him while you support him along the way. Whereas men tend to have more physical courage, so you learning to mountain bike while he helps you down a steep hill is big on your end. Regardless, “the healthiest relationship is the one that’s interdependent, where you maintain your sense of me and can do things on your own, but you can also become a ‘we’ and have those shared hobbies and experiences.”
“If you’re convinced he’s cheating, question him until he confesses.”
Plain and simple, lack of trust in a relationship will erode away your connection, no matter how long you’ve been together. And as the years in your marriage pile on, it’s easy for doubt to creep in. But “unless he has proven untrustworthy in the past, incessantly questioning him, checking his phone, and showing blatant distrust is a severe case of disrespect,” explains House, and respect is one of the vital emotions men need in order to feel fulfilled in their relationships. “You run the risk of him developing the mentality of, ‘I’m already getting in trouble for it, so I may as well do it,’ and then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
If you really are concerned that he’s cheating, instead of attacking him, try having a candid talk about what attracted you to one another when you first got together, suggests House. It gives you a chance to open up emotionally about the intimacy you’re missing in the relationship, and be conversational—not accusatory—about your fears. “Express why you’re worried, along with any signals you think he might have given you, and go from there,” she says. And remember, if he did have an affair, but the two of you want to work through it, all hope is not lost. These tips can help you figure out your next steps.
“Don’t tell him that, you’ll seem crazy.”
The word “crazy” is too commonly associated with women in today’s society, and it leads women to believe that any problem in the relationship is most likely their fault, says Fields. So, logically, women refrain from truly expressing themselves in fear of being rejected. But “the point of a healthy relationship is that you are loved for your authentic self, and any time you don’t share a part of yourself with someone, you’re holding yourself back,” explains Fields. Instead, take a leap of faith and tell him how you’re really feeling—no matter what. Yes, there are ways to approach a problem in the relationship so that the conversation is a productive one, but it’s most important that you both be honest. In fact, Fields says that when you are, it’s more likely that “instead of him thinking you’re crazy, he might say, ‘Yeah, I’ve been thinking the same thing.’ Then you feel like you’re accepted for who you are, and it’s a huge sense of relief knowing that you don’t have to be scared to talk to your husband.” Now, that doesn’t mean that the two of you will agree on everything. But so long as you’re both comfortable enough to show your true feelings, you can work together to find a solution that appeals to both of you. “And, by the way, if he does say you’re crazy when you open up, then you’re with the wrong person,” she says. Noted.
Read the original article here.
More than anything, your mother loved welcoming you into the world, so it’s really no wonder that the woman who raised you is ready for another bundle of baby joy. “The birth of a grandchild brings on the next phase of life for which some women are yearning,” explains Karen Ruskin, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of Dr. Karen’s Marriage Manual.
And whether your mother wants to receive the love only a newborn baby can bring, is eager to bond with you in a new way or is concerned over her own aging, she may be putting pressure on you to procreate right now, regardless of whether you’re actually ready to have children. So if your mom wants you to become a mother too soon, here’s how to deal.
First, gently explain how you feel about having a baby and that you’re simply not ready right now. “It is imperative to communicate in a style in which you are being kind to your mother and thoughtful of how her behavior makes sense coming from her position,” says Ruskin. “Validate her feelings by communicating your understanding of her perspective and why her perspective is sensible.”
Specifically, Ruskin says, “validate in a thoughtful, kind and understanding manner your mother’s perspective by reflecting upon what she just said through your mother’s lens. Then verbalize your hope that her voice and yours can be heard so that you can have an open relationship with her in which both of your perspectives matter. Finally, share your perspective whether it is that you are not ready or some other reason.”
If your mother persists, your reasoning falls on deaf ears or you find yourself emotionally exhausted from an ongoing and stressful discussion, you can ask your husband to speak up — but he must tread carefully. “One of the beautiful things about being in a committed, loving relationship is that in times when you’re feeling vulnerable, your partner can take a stand to protect you,” says Tara Fields, Ph.D., couples therapist and author of The Love Fix: Repair and Restore Your Relationship Right Now.
Together, you can decide on how he can best approach your mother. For example, he can lovingly say, “‘I know you love my amazing spouse as much as I do, and I treasure our relationship, but I am going to take a stand on her behalf,'” Fields says. “He’s setting a boundary and saying, ‘this topic is off limits until further notice.'”
Read the original article here.
YOU TEND TO PLAY THE VICTIM
On the flip side, looking for ways he’s wronged you is a common defense mechanism when you’re feeling hurt or frustrated. It’s all too easy to throw a pity party when he goes on a work trip, leaving you to handle the kids and house. But it’s not a constructive way to resolve the deeper feelings that are leading you to victimize yourself. In her new book The Love Fix: Repair and Restore Your Relationship Right Now, Tara Fields, Ph.D., LMFT, suggests a healthy way to release your anger: Write a letter to your partner, dumping all of your anger there. “Give yourself permission to wallow in the Land of Me, where everything is all about you,” she says. “Play the victim. Blame and shame all you want. Be as critical toward your partner as you need to be.” Then, tear it up or burn it. After this exercise, you should be more in touch with the emotions under the anger (sadness, longing, etc.), and you can have a heartfelt conversation with your husband about what led you to feel that way—in a way he can hear.
You tend to play the victim
YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO BE RIGHT
Many couples have a tough time conceding at the right moments—meaning they never learn when it’s okay to be the “loser” in an argument. For instance, if you insist you didn’t mean to be bossy when you handed him a to-do list of chores for the weekend, but he says it made him feel like your assistant, don’t argue. “Once you recognize that your buttons have been pushed and you’ve stopped to take a breath, you can ask yourself, ‘Do I need to be right? Or do I want to be a loving and supportive partner?” says Fields. Sometimes, it’s not your intentions that matter so much as the effects of your words or actions—and taking ownership of those is the key to turning a potential conflict into a constructive, even positive, interaction.
YOU’RE NOT ON THE SAME TEAM
In group settings, you don’t always have your husband’s back. Like when he wears that shirt you hate and you can’t resist making a snarky comment. No matter whom it’s in front of, the criticism hurts and it breaks the sacred, unspoken bubble of trust you have as a couple. It alienates you, showing others that you’re not a united front. Always try to be respectful, and if it’s still bothering you when you get home, bring up the issue behind closed doors. That way you can air it out sans audience—and without bruising his ego.
Read the original article here.
Ever since announcing their divorce, and subsequently depressing all of America, Jen and Ben have been seen about town still wearing their wedding rings, which has frankly made it hard for us to grieve, and a little bit confused.
Apparently they’re doing it to present a united front for the sake of their three kids, Violet, 9, Seraphina, 6, and Samuel, 3, who they have said they’re “committed to co-parenting.”
Marriage and family therapist, and author of The Love Fix: Repair and Restore Your Relationship Right Now,Dr. Tara Fields told us that Ben and Jen are doing it to send a message to the media that they’re still a team.
“They’re saying, no matter what you’re reading, we’re still a team, we’re still parents.” They’re also doing it as a reminder to their children that while their relationship with each other may have changed, the way they feel about their family has not, and never will.
Dr. Fields adds, “During a divorce, there are so many phases of grieving, and in the early stages, a couple can feel some internal ambivalence that can manifest externally. Together, a couple can say ‘let’s both decide as a team to put our rings back on’ which is a fantastic choice, especially for famous people who are vulnerable and want to protect their kids.”
“Wearing their rings is a wonderful way to say that no matter what is happening, we can still control this one element and that’s the statement they’re making to the outside world and their children.”
A source close to the couple agrees with Dr. Fields. The “insider” conferred to People, that the rings do act as a symbol for their children. “They just want their kids to be okay.”
And that’s something we can certainly stand by.