Don’t forget your girlfriends

EMILY WILSON HUSSEM

Relationships are exciting, especially in the very beginning.

I will not soon forget the excitement I felt on a day-to-day basis when I was first dating my husband. Every time he texted me something sweet and every time he called me on the phone, I felt a burst of excitement in my heart. It is easy to get carried away in the newness and excitement of a budding romance, and very easy to begin to spend most of the little free time you may get with a busy schedule with your boyfriend. And in the midst of all the excitement and butterflies, it is easy to put your friends on the back burner.

I have seen this happen more times than I can count, and I have walked away from friendships over this. It is a difficult facet of being a woman — the reality of trying to balance your relationship with your boyfriend while not forgetting your friends — or trying to wave your arms wildly (and figuratively) so that your friend with the boyfriend remembers that you exist. I believe that managing the balance of a romantic relationship and your friendships takes three important ingredients: intentionality, care and communication.

The most important thing to remember in the midst of trying to balance your friendships with your romantic relationship is that most romantic relationships do not last forever. I’m not trying to be a negative Nancy, but that is reality — most romantic relationships will end in a breakup! Some people marry from their first relationship, but many people have a few relationships before finding “the one.” This is so very important to keep in mind as you date because perhaps, like me, you have watched this unfortunate scenario play out countless times: a woman gets into a relationship and slowly stops putting time into her friendships. Her friends feel forgotten and as though she doesn’t care about them, so they begin to let go of the friendship, too. Sooner or later heartbreak hits and her boyfriend breaks up with her, and she is left with no one to turn to because she made her boyfriend her entire world. She spent every moment with him and just forgot her friends — imagine losing your boyfriend and realizing you have no friends who want to support you in your heartbreak — that is a recipe for serious sadness! Thankfully, this can be avoided!

Another important thing to remember is that both you and your friends must be realistic about what is reasonable in striking this balance between maintaining your relationship and your friendships. Your friends cannot expect that things will be the same as they were before you got into the relationship, because it simply can’t be! You also need to be realistic in the sense that yes, if you spend three weekends in a row only spending time with your boyfriend and not your friends, they will feel forgotten and set aside.

The core of all of this, in finding the balance in friendship and romance, lies in communication. Friendship is a mutual relationship where two people should have the ability and the courage to be open and honest with one another — in joys and in struggles, in fights and in working through obstacles together. Communicate your feelings. Let your friends know that you want them to communicate their feelings to you so you can learn and grow together as you navigate your relationship. If you are hurt, say so. If your friend is hurt, encourage her to say so. And if either of you are being over-sensitive and holding unrealistic expectations, you can go back to the conversation about what is realistic to expect of one another in the friendship and overcome that obstacle together.

Intentionality, care and communication. When you maintain these three ingredients in your friendships as you balance everyone you love and everyone who loves you, many misunderstandings and miscommunications will be avoided, and you will be able to journey happily together with both your boyfriend and your friends in harmony.

Emily Wilson Hussem travels the world speaking to women of all ages about their identity in Jesus Christ. She has dedicated her life to encouraging, equipping and empowering women to live in the freedom and joy they were made for. She lives in Southern California with her Dutch husband, Daniël, and son, Zion.

“3 Ways We Betray Our Partners Without Realizing It (and How to Stop)

Reestablish trust by confronting these issues sooner rather than later

By THE GOTTMAN INSTITUTE

Many of us most fear the betrayal of infidelity in our relationships, but it is actually the subtle, nonphysical, and often unnoticed betrayals that truly ruin relationships.

When partners do not choose each other day after day, trust and commitment erode away. Partners may be aware of this disloyalty to each other but dismiss it because it’s “not as bad as an affair.” This is false. Anything that violates a committed relationship’s contract of mutual trust, respect, and protection can be disastrous.

Betrayals are founded on two building blocks: deception (not revealing your true needs to avoid conflict) and a yearning for emotional connection outside the relationship. Only by confronting and taking responsibility for them can couples reestablish their trust in each other.

01. Emotional Cheating

Imagine if you attended your S.O.’s work Christmas party and met a coworker of his who you’d never heard of before. All of a sudden you realize that they’re actually quite close; she even brought a gift for him that had special meaning for just the two of them. You may know with certainty nothing physical is going on, but there’s still a betrayal happening in this scenario.

It’s very easy for platonic friends to bond in the trenches of work, day after day. Sometimes we call this person a “work wife” or “work husband.” Even friendships made at the gym or local coffee shop can threaten the bond at home.

These nonsexual relationships can lead to both parties sharing intimate details about each other’s lives. That doesn’t make it a betrayal. What makes it a betrayal is this: if your partner would be upset by the things you’ve shared or would be uncomfortable watching the interaction.

Five signs your partner’s friendship is not just innocent:

  • Has the friendship been hidden?
  • Are your questions about the friendship responded with “don’t worry” or discouragement?
  • Have you asked it to end, only to have your partner tell you no?
  • Have your boundaries been disrespected?
  • Is the friend the subject of fantasies or comments during troubled times in the relationship?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, the friendship may be too intimate. The Conflict Blueprint from Dr. John Gottman’s book What Makes Love Last? can help you talk to your partner about this issue.

02. Conditional Love

Imagine you’re ready to have children, but your husband is hesitant. You assume he’s just not ready for fatherhood yet, but you come to find that he’s actually not willing to deepen the commitment between you, which a child would inevitably do.

While this may be an extreme example, instances like this do happen and can happen on a smaller scale too. For example, when one person in a long-distance relationship is ready to move to the same city as their partner, but the other doesn’t want to take that step. Couples don’t feel supported when one partner keeps a foot out of the relationship. They don’t feel like their partner has their best interests at heart, that they have their back. When this happens, it’s not uncommon for the betrayed partner to blame a trigger (like a baby or the distance) as the real problem, when it’s actually the lack of commitment.

Sometimes a partner may pressure the other to take a next step in their relationship believing the “next level” will deepen their connection, but it’s difficult for a marriage to succeed if it is built on a vow to create a strong bond rather than the result of one. The shallowness of the bond will eventually bleed through the connection.

When couples ignore or dismiss talking about difficult issues, they are left with a shallow commitment. By using conflict as a catalyst for closeness, couples can intentionally use problems as an opportunity to discuss their goals, fears, and dreams.

03. Emotional Withdrawal

Emotional withdrawal can be something big, like choosing a work meeting over a family funeral, or it can be as small as turning away when your partner needs emotional support.

A committed relationship requires both partners to be there for each other through the life-altering traumas and everyday nuisances. That means celebrating joys and successes with your partner, too.

Everybody has different ways of expressing themselves. In a committed relationship, it is the responsibility of both partners to uncover and disclose these preferences to understand what the other requires to feel loved, protected, and supported. Think of The Five Love Languages and how important they are in making your partner feel loved.

In his research lab, Dr. Gottman discovered that happy couples turned toward each other 86 percent of the time, while unhappy couples turned towards each other only 33 percent of the time. That means unhappy couples withdraw 67 percent of the time! Emotional withdrawal sets in when bids are ignored.

To improve your emotional connection, focus on rebuilding and updating your Love Maps, cultivating a culture of admiration and fondness, and turning towards bids for attentionmore often.

Do any of the items listed above feel familiar or make you feel uneasy? If so, you may be facing a betrayal. Maybe it’s as serious as finding discomforting text messages between your partner and someone else. This list is not about who is right or wrong. Like sexual affairs, these betrayals can be overcome if you recognize the problem and repair the relationship together.”

https://verilymag.com/2016/09/betrayal-trust-relationship-problems-marriage-conflict?utm_source=Verily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=fc6a6f508a-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_09_05_10_56&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e08a3e62a0-fc6a6f508a-88942217&mc_cid=fc6a6f508a&mc_eid=0213fa0b6a

“Contemplative Dating

Relationships have never been easy, but dating in the 21st century provides its own struggles, especially for people of faith. While the culture’s narrative may be enticing, there are resources available that share how to have a deep relationship without compromising your values.

Radiant spoke about this topic with Dr. Michael DiPaolo, a clinical psychologist and certified Imago Relationship Therapist. He lives in Los Angeles with Jennie, his wife of 19 years, and their three children, along with a hyperactive dog. Dr. DiPaolo works with individuals and couples in his private practice, and he has counseled over 1,000 couples in marriage preparation through-out the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Dr. DiPaolo is a speaker, workshop presenter and retreat leader who has presented for several years at parish and archdiocesan gatherings. He is also the author of “The Impact of Multiple Childhood Trauma on Homeless Runaway Adolescents.” In this interview with Radiant, he shares some of the methods he uses with couples, such as Contemplative Dating.

Radiant: Dr. DiPaolo, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your dating strategy, Contemplative Dating. Can you tell our readers what that is?

Dr. Michael DiPaolo

Dr. Michael DiPaolo: Contemplative Dating is intentionally seeking out intimate partnership and being faithful to your core self. It’s all about maintaining your values and boundaries amidst the hook-up culture, which dominates the dating landscape.

Radiant: You share some striking statistics on your website regarding that for the first time in history, over 50% of the population is single, as well as the statistic that both men and women who have viewed pornography in the past month is now at the alarming rate of 75% or higher. Why do you think this is?

Dr. DiPaolo: Marriage has gone from being a beginning to a culmination. Thirty years ago, people graduated from college, got a job, got married and started their life. Now they graduate from college not ready to commit — to a career or a partner. They spend their 20’s “adulting,” with marriage off the radar for many.

A great challenge here is that a whole generation is not learning how to authentically communicate or connect. Social media apps have become the medium for connecting. The ironic result is increased loneliness and anxiety for which the digital world provides a ready escape. And porn — fantasied connection — is the perfect escape.

Radiant: Tell us about the Tiger-Turtle analogy and how that corresponds to dating. It’s a great way to see the benefits of people’s unique and complementary personalities or temperaments.

Dr. DiPaolo: The Tiger-Turtle analogy is a fun way to look at our own reactivity in relationships. When we experience tension, does our energy go outward or inward? Tigers express their energy with great emotion. Turtles withdraw into their shell, constricting their energy. It’s important to remember that neither way is right or wrong — they’re just different. And yes, we tend to be attracted to someone with the opposite energy. Perhaps not surprisingly, women are the tigers in roughly 75% of relationships.

Radiant: What inspired you to become a clinical psychologist in the first place?

Dr. DiPaolo: Believe it or not, I entered Notre Dame as a physics major. It lasted one semester. The joke I like to tell is that I just flipped to the next page in the course catalog and found psychology. The more likely reason is that my mission to help people create great relationships stems from growing up in a family of divorce. Combine that with my faith-filled desire to be of service, and here I am.

Radiant: Radiant is for young women who want to embrace the unique woman that God created them to be and wholeheartedly accept the vocation that God is asking of them. According to your experience in your field, what is the greatest need you see for young women today to be aware of?

Dr. DiPaolo: Losing themselves. It’s so easy to get caught up in the fast-paced, high pressured demands of today’s world — and I think it is harder for young women as their roles are changing. The challenge is to embrace the contemplative stance. This means going inward, stripping away the ego and getting to those places of vulnerability. This is where they will find that unique woman that God created them to be.

Radiant: Can you share one of your favorite love stories you have been able to witness?

Dr. DiPaolo: Of course, my favorite love story is my marriage! But let me give you another one. It is such a privilege to prepare couples for marriage. They witness the joy and enthusiasm that a loving relationship is all about. Yet the ones that really stick out in my mind are those who have grown stronger working through their differences.

One young couple, let’s call them Joe and Christina, were a perfect example. Both highly successful and independent, they started off as a power couple — values aligned and visioning an amazing future together. As they grew closer, however, they struggled with losing their independence. Christina began to feel abandoned by Joe’s long hours, fearing his job was more important than her. Joe began to feel smothered by what he perceived as Christina’s neediness. They locked horns in a power struggle every time the issue arose.

So I taught them the Imago Dialogue — a tool to safely explore their concerns and facilitate connection. It basically teaches people to mirror what one person says, validate and empathize with what they are experiencing. This enabled each person to step back from their position. Joe learned how Christina’s father whose distance and infidelity ruptured her family. Christina learned how Joe’s work ethic was modeled after his father who drilled into him messages that failure was unacceptable.

That’s when the magic happened. Joe began checking in with Christina during his work day. Christina began expressing more support for his career. Joe would leave work on time on designated evenings when they had plans. Each was willing to stretch in order to meet the other’s needs. They grew stronger than ever. They have since started a family and still use the dialogue when differences arise.

More information about Dr. DiPaolo can be found online at www.DrMichaelD.com.

Sheryl Tirol works in film marketing and PR in Los Angeles. As a native of Chicago, she is a lifelong Cubs fan and lover of deep dish pizza.

“How Moving In Together Makes It Harder to Know If He’s the One

Don’t slide into marriage; decide if he’s the one

GALENA RHOADES

Today, most couples live together before marriage—more than 75 percent. Many people will live with different partners during their twenties and thirties, too. While it’s common, it doesn’t mean the trend is good. In fact, those who live together before they have decided and planned on marriage report less happy marriages later on and are more likely to divorce. It’s true that there may be some benefits of living together. You may discover some of the faults your partner has or learn ways that you are incompatible. But the risk for many is that you may stay with this person due to inertia even if he or she doesn’t ultimately pass your test. My colleagues at the University of Denver and I call this phenomenon “sliding versus deciding.”

Here are four reasons why living together may make it harder to know if you’ve found “the one,” plus some tips on ways to decide for yourself rather than sliding into something that’s not right for you in the long-run.

01. Living together makes it harder to break up.

This fact sounds obvious, but we don’t think about it when we sign a new lease together. I’ve been studying relationships, particularly cohabitation, for the past eighteen years. My research with more than 1,200 people in their twenties and thirties shows that moving in together increases your chances of staying together, but it doesn’t increase how committed or interested you feel. It increases the number of constraints in a relationship—things that may make you stuck or make it hard to disentangle—like pooling finances, adopting a pet, co-mingling kitchenware, or buying furniture together. But there isn’t a corresponding increase in how much you want to marry your partner.

If you or your partner aren’t sure that you want to commit to this relationship, don’t take on constraints that make a break up harder (and therefore less likely) and messier. It will be hard to know if he or she is the one in the context of all of these constraints. You don’t want your decision to be based on whether breaking up is just too much work.

02. For most couples, living together increases discord.

Research shows that living together is associated with more conflict than either dating or being married. The reason for this is that while living together, couples deal with the same issues dating couples commonly face (time spent together, friends, jealousy, commitment) as well as issues common to married couples (household contributions, money, in-laws, raising children). These married-couple issues are easier to deal with when there is already a long-term commitment to the future—like there is in marriage. Living together defies the typical evolution of couple issues and may make it seem like there is more conflict in a relationship than there would be otherwise.

Living together might also make a couple conflict averse to the larger issues that matter for marriage, which can lead to greater conflict down the road. As one woman shared at Verilyin the past about her cohabiting relationship:

“One evening, for example, it became apparent that he and I did not share the same values regarding working motherhood. I was completely aghast at the things he said to me that night; I felt like I had gotten the wind knocked out of me. Who was this man that I was living with and how could this be his expectations for our—my—future? But I didn’t say anything. I had class the next day, dinner to clean up, homework to do, and I just could not face such a serious conversation with no place to retreat to in case it went poorly. In a non-cohabitating situation, I probably would have broken up with him right then—it was that bad—or at least taken time to seriously reevaluate our relationship. But I did neither of those things. I told myself that I could maybe change his mind sometime in the future and left it there. We went to sleep that night as usual. This situation played itself out over and over again. These silences grew into unacknowledged mutual grudges that lived ominously under the surface until a disruption in our lives brought them to the surface.”

This woman’s experience demonstrates how living with a romantic partner can affect your ability to respond to large relationship issues the way you would if you were discerning the relationship from different living quarters.

03. Living together may instill a break-up mentality that can hurt later marriage.

Oftentimes, partners move in together with ideas about how they will split up furniture, books, finances, and pets in the event of a breakup. This mentality can make it harder to fully commit later on because it becomes habit to think about what the end of the relationship will be like. Early research in this field has shown that living together made marriage seems less attractive. Making a decision to marry and spend a lifetime with someone means giving up these plans for “what if.”

If “what if” is engrained from the beginning of living together, it may be more difficult to change that thinking, even after marrying. Surviving the inevitable stress in marriage takes both partners being firmly committed to making it work. Thriving in those times takes a commitment to learning from experiences together. But by living together already, both parties have likely developed a thought pattern of “what if this doesn’t work out,” thinking you could just move out and move on, which can undermine that sense of commitment that is essential to a thriving marriage, and that most women seeking marriage want.

04. Living together can hurt your chance of determining if you’re truly compatible.

Living together isn’t a very proactive approach to testing out your compatibility. More telling would be to plan activities with your partner in different settings and with different people. What is your partner like with his or her family? With your friends vs. his/her friends? How does he/she act at work?

Consider planning low-cost, low-commitment projects together. If you’re considering marrying a person, you’d be wise to learn what it will be like to work together. You’ll essentially be running a small corporation together when you’re married. You’ll manage your income together, run a household, do renovations, call plumbers, garden, have babies, raise children, support one another through health problems—many, many tasks. Before you take on these job responsibilities together, it’s wise to get a window on what it will be like to face challenges together.

Some small projects you could consider are:

  • Plan and take a short day trip. Doing so involves several of these areas but doesn’t have to mean a long-term commitment.
  • Learn about relationships together. Read a book, take a class, attend a retreat. Put effort into your relationship to see how you both react.
  • Try a new sport or hobby together. Do you have similar interests? How do you do together under the stress doing something new?
  • Babysittogether. What is it like to parent together? What topics come up for discussion when you spend time with children?
  • Ask for feedback from friends or family you trust. What do others who know you well see? Ask them to ask you the hard questions—and be open to their feedback.

If your goal is to decide if you’ve found “the one,” and not to slide into a long-term, ill-fitted relationship, try these tips. It might not be as common as cohabiting, But research shows that consciously deciding—rather than sliding—is more likely to lead to happier ever afters.”