A relationship is a growing living unit. It is constantly evolving and adjusting to the people in it even if the subtle daily changes go unnoticed- as they often do. What we look at the relationship changing is often largely the individuals in the relationship having changed. We grow in change every day, but over the years these subtle unnoticeable changes culminate into major differences. The needs of the individuals in the relationship evolve as they grow from where each of them were at the time that they met to who they are in the present and will be in the future. This is why it is so important for couples to continue to stay in touch with each other- so that as they grow they are growing together.
You have to keep the romance. Keep the spice in the relationship. As couples get into the comfort of everyday life it’s easier for that romantic feeling to be set aside. While the comfort of the relationship is nice, the need to feel that excitement and affection that is experienced in the earlier days is still there. Individuals who are not in long term relationships can experience that elevated high each time they meet a new person, but a person in a long term relationship does not have the excitement of the first dates and first kisses to look forward to. Their highs (and lows) are more level and steady, which makes it more important that there is constant infusion of these higher points. Doing so also helps with reducing the need to look for this elsewhere.
Dating your spouse (future spouse, significant other, whatever you call eachother) is important at every stage of the relationship. At the beginning you are dating and getting to know and falling for each other. Every year as you each grow you still need to do this to stay on that same trajectory. By the time you have been together for a good while (7-10 years) you have two people who are significantly different from the two who met, making it critical at this time that you really focus on knowing and loving each other as your new selves. When kids enter the picture it becomes easier couples to drift apart while seaming connected as the children become the rubber band that is keeping them connected as they drift. This is one reason that so many couples find themselves separating in their empty-nesting stage.
1. Be deliberate about it.
Date nights keep things exciting, especially after children enter the picture. Many couples find themselves in situations where it’s always about the kids or something to do with t hem. Date night gives them an opportunity to intentionally leave the children out. When this is not planned and things come up the couple gets set aside. When it is planned, arrange for all the things that can come up to make sure you have that time for and with each other. While date night can culminate with sex, because it is often more difficult to set a time to really go out on a date I recommend that couples set intimacy schedule as well, which will likely be more frequent than actual date nights. It’s great for busy couples who often find themselves too tired by the end of the day. Whether a couple is doing well or they are experiencing relationship issues I still recommend it as part of setting aside time for each other. Since people respond more effectively to things that are in writing, be sure to add these to your calendar. So having couple time on the calendar ensures that it is added to the priority list and gets taken care of. Ideally the couple would determine how many times they want to intimate, and identify the ideal days and times to make this happen. In addition to scheduling it in their calendar, they will also be doing things throughout the day that will make that portion of the day better. Couples who have done this have noticed that they make more efforts to nurture their relationship. Couples who have done this have found that their partners dress sexier, are more affectionate, and do more cozy little things on intimacy days. In a way, they are setting the mood and end up making the day itself a form of foreplay. Couples have that to look forward to together, as opposed to one person hoping that tonight will be the night and then falling asleep disappointed. It should not kill the romance because the goal is to increase the romance. Couples can do things throughout the day that build up the romance. Even when there is a schedule in place, moments of spontaneity should not be ignored. Just because you have scheduled 2 intimacy nights a week, if an opportunity presents on a different afternoon, you can still take advantage of that. If the kids are out and the moment feels right- go for it! That can be a bonus, but not a replacement of one of the scheduled days.
2. Plan Your Dates & Prioritize Your Dates
Whether you plan them together or take turns planning for each other, make sure you plan activities for your dates. Having a plan prevents lull and confusion that could come up when you set the time and don’t know what to do with it. Plan things that are fun and new. Thing such as ice skating in a park, a gallery opening or even backyard camping for a night. Your dates don’t need to be things that are costly- you can plan simple and free things that you will enjoy. A day at the beach, evening in the park- anything will work as long as you both enjoy it. You can also look at your community calendars for ideas and events that are going on nearby that you can partake in.
Planning also helps keep your date a priority. Many couples schedule dates but still allow life to get in the way. Once a date is scheduled, add it to your calendar just like you do all other important appointments. Mark the time unavailable just as you would if it was a meeting with your boss or your biggest client. Scheduled dates should only be missed in case of a true emergency- Like Johnny’s in the hospital- not Johnny got a booboo. When a scheduled date has to be missed, it should be rescheduled right away. Treat the time and commitment to your relationship with the same high level of importance that is placed on your most important career or other responsibilities.
3. Be Fully present
When you are on a date, it’s important that you leave the kids behind mentally as well. That means that they should not be all that is talked about. This is a time to focus on each other and your relationship. Issues involving the kids should be addressed when you are at home. Set aside time to have those discussions and come up with solutions. Where there are differences, I recommend not taking the conversation to the bedroom so as to not bring tension into that sacred space. You can still talk after the children go to bed- just pick a different part of the home.
Set phones and other gadgets aside. If you have children at home you can set a signal that will let you know that there is an emergency (ie: call 2 times back to back) that way if you hear your phone vibrating you don’t have to check it every time. Be sure to clarify what constitutes an emergency such as after you call 911, and discourage the constant calling for things that can wait until you get home.
4. Appreciate & Express It
When you enter a relationship and get comfortable, people have a tendency to switch to expectation mode, where you may see some of the things that your spouse does as part of the deal. You may say thank you, but you don’t make as big a deal about it anymore because it’s part of their duties. Go back to that time at the beginning when you called your new sweetie the next day to thank them for how good last night was.
Don’t just say the rote “I love you”. Take care to notice and pay specific compliments. Remember how you responded when she opened the door when you picked her up for a date? Or maybe the way you looked at him when he took his shirt off? You need to remind your partner that you still see and feel some of these things- even if there are a few more curves or bulges which can make that need even greater.
5. Court and Flirt
Do the things that say “I think you’re hot”. Remember way back when men and women used to take time to write loving letters to each other. As long as the mail system still works those little things are still grate options. Send a love letter to your mate and just hide in a corner to see the facial expressions that come as your letter is read. It’s worth much more than the 49₵ stamp- It’s priceless. Pick a flower outside or pick up a card while at the store. These little things go a long way. Take time to flirt. Your spouse has no more first dates or first kisses to look forward to, but you can give a little taste of it. Now there are other options that can add to playful flirtation with your mate. E-mails that pop up on the phone in the middle of the day. Flirtext, a cleaner version of sexting where you can talk about some “grown folk stuff” but not so racy that if your phone got lost you’d be panicking. Rated PG to maybe even a little R but this should ONLY be ON PERSONAL PHONES. DO NOT SEND THESE MESSAGES TO COMPANY ISSUED PHONES.
Spontaneous moments like an unexpected lunch date or meeting up after work to ride home together are also nice. The key maintaining lasting relationships is to treat your life together as though you are looking you have your spouse to say yes again.
Being a caregiver or part of a support network for someone with a mental illness can be difficult at times. While the focus is usually on the identified patient, the caregivers and support networks also have their own needs for resources which should be addressed. Taking care of oneself is as important as taking care of others.
Unlike the flue or a fever, people don’t generally wake up one morning with a full blown mental illness. Symptoms of mental illness have a way of gradually working their way into the person’s life. The illness may not be noticeable at first, and even when it becomes so, many people are not ready to accept it. Still and especially in those beginning stages, a strong support systems is important. Even when the person is very likely to withdraw or push others away, this is a time that they truly need a strong support system and the resilience and commitment in family and friends really count so they can be there.
While we are still working on learning the cause of most mental illnesses, there are a few things that we can continue to do to maintain good mental health.
Some behaviors such as:
- Taking care of your body- Making sure you are eating and sleeping well and getting exercise
- Engaging in life affirming activities and managing stress
- Taking care of and continuing to develop your mind
- Taking in active role in life
- eliminating negativity (things, situations and people)
can be very helpful in helping you keep some mental health conditions at a better distance.
Despite its prevalence in our communities, Mental Illness remains hushed and stigmatized. Much of this is due to misconceptions and lack of knowledge. Learn five things that are not not true of mental illness.
Many adults now diagnosed with ADD/ADHD were once children whose needs for services was missed. Now as adults they have the diagnosis to help put a name to what they have been experiencing, but the is still a need to implement changes to help them manage the symptoms and make adjustments help them learn excel.
Every adult with ADD/ADHD should have
- A psychiatrist
- A therapist
- An accountability partner
- A strong schedule/Plan/Organization system
In recent years, many people have adopted, accepted or acquiesced to the use of various mental illnesses to define or describe unacceptable behaviors. It’s fine that you don’t want to call your friend a jerk, but why should people with mental illness bear the burden of being associated with them.
Certain illnesses such as bipolar disorder, mental retardation have been so unfairly used in place of words like stupid, idiot. People describe behaviors as psychotic instead of rude, erratic, aggressive or plain old jerky. We don’t associate negative behaviors with physical ailments, and the same should apply to mental ailments. You don’t say someone is a heart attack when they say something ridiculous, so why would anyone think it’s acceptable to say that they are mentally retarded. If you won’t say your jerky friend is a tumor, why would be suitable to say freely that he’s bipolar.
People who suffer from mental illnesses have enough of their own troubles to deal with. They don’t to be lumped in with the rude, the ignorant or the uncaring jerks of the world. So next time you need to define a behavior, please use your words correctly. Call someone a stupid idiot or a rude jerk if they deserve it, but don’t offend people with mental illnesses by putting them in the same category.
It is reported that 1 in 4 Americans suffer from a mental illness every year. These include depression, a disease that impacts 10% of Americans every year. There are many ways of addressing or treating depression, including
Doing nothing– Which does not help. It really just gives the disease time and opportunity to get stronger and gain an even more debilitating impact.
Medication– People often get prescriptions from family physicians for antidepressants. While antidepressants help with the symptoms they don’t address the core issues and the relief they provide can cease when the medication is discontinued.
Talk Therapy– Helps in providing longer term results and helps client develop coping skill to deal with the disease as well as managing symptoms. Because it is a learning process, it can take a couple of sessions for clients to really start to see feel the results.
Combination of Medication and Talk Therapy– This method combines the benefits of both methods while each one cancels out the drawbacks of the other. Research have found this to be the most effective method for treating depression.
Is depression different from being sad? Absolutely! Sadness can be a symptom of depression but the presence of one does not necessarily mean the other is present.
How come more suicides are not caught and presented? When signs are noticed, people often do act, but the signs of suicidal intent, if they are present, are often not clear indications of the intent. There are some signs that can open the way to asking the questions. When these signs are noticed, the question should be asked.