Tag Archive | relationship

Attachment Issues and Women Abandoned

If you can struggle through the first half of this movie, with its extreme versions of a woman who appears to be histrionic, you will get a second half that is much more intense and mature. This is typical with Bollywood films. They start out with characters who seem like people you have never known (unless you work in a psych hospital) because they often have bizarre personalities, overact their emotions and then there is the dancing and usually lip synching. In this film they actually added what appears to be a real singer. What I found sad was the deterioration of their society by trying to imitate western culture instead of embracing their own. However, the attachment issues are what this film is really about. Something I did not even realize until they finally brought in the psychotherapist, who was actually portrayed in a realistic and therapeutic way, to give a nod to an acceptance of psychology in a culture that does not embrace this at all (not unusual as most cultures don’t).

The therapist is played by Shah Rukh Khan, a very famous actor in India who has played everything from a person with Asperger’s to a psychotherapist. The last film I saw him in he acted like someone sniffing cocaine through the entire movie, so it was refreshing to see him in a more serious role. They actually show the psychotherapist with ethics in this film. Of course there is some suspense now and then as they try to bait you into thinking he might do something very bad. It made me tense because I am tired of seeing these disturbing portrayals of psychotherapists in the media. I even kept thinking, please, please, don’t do it. He didn’t. However, what the psychotherapist is able to uncover, with his unconventional, but appropriate, modalities are the young girl’s attachment issues.

Attachment issues occur in infancy when a child is removed from the mother and father for whatever reason. I have seen this occur with a woman who’s mother was taken from her at birth for quite some time because of the mother’s mental health issues. A young man I know had yellow jaundice and was hospitalized for a week – with mother coming in each day but for only an hour. Another young man was kidnapped at a year and a half by his father and the mother had no idea of his whereabouts. All foster babies in social services end up with attachment issues. In this movie, the girl’s father’s business goes under and the parents leave her with grandparents and go in search of work via new business deals. She writes to them daily but they never respond to her letters. Mom returns with a baby, temporarily and still does not return to take daughter back until later when her child fails miserably in school.

Thus the real concern here is mother being taken from baby or young child and the child is unsure whether they will return. As a result of this, the child develops coping mechanisms to survive. In this movie, the child sought to get attention from her parents, when they did return and she was seen as an unruly child. The parents (this is not unusual) do not take responsibility for the fact that their child is behaving as a result of their actions early on. As an adult, she is unable to attach to the men she believes she is in love with and runs away from them before they have a chance to abandon her.

Many women come to me with an inability to have healthy attachments as a result of birth trauma (or trauma as a young child). I have spoken about Narcissism on here quite a bit and this is similar but not the same. With Narcissists, the parent (s) is there but they do not form a healthy attachment to their child or they are not warm and nurturing and able to respond to the babies needs. Attachment issues can be seen in a variety of diagnoses as it really depends on how the person has interpreted the situation, their emotional intelligence level and the meanings they have placed on scenarios around them. The only constant I see is an inability to have a healthy relationship with a partner. I see unhealthy relationships with parents as well because it is hard to fix these things. The parent (s) is not in therapy. Sometimes the parent is a Narcissist, a substance user still, have mental illness, or they are ignorant to self-awareness in general because they live in denial. With foster children or adopted children, if they are able to find the biological parent, the parent is unsure how to attach to them after all these years. This causes more trauma.

In this Indian movie, “Dear Zindagi,” (2016) it appears that everything comes together within about ten sessions. This is not realistic but it is a movie and they had spent an entire hour or so showing you a histrionic woman doing things like bouncing around in her apartment so you could watch her hair twirling around (about three times there was a scene like this for several minutes). Several scenes of she and her work mates getting drunk, and the second break-up scene was very confusing because I wasn’t even clear they were in a relationship in the first place (mistake in scriptwriting or editing, who knows). In real life, it is easy for this therapist to see attachment issues but not so easy to help a person turn it around.

Childhood wounds are not as easy as having a nice conversation with your parents or bringing them flowers, as she did in this movie. It is not easy to grow up and act like an adult with your parents, when you have been behaving like a teenager around them for most of you adult life or just rejecting them completely. It is difficult when there are multiple babies from fathers and finances are more of a priority then self-awareness and healing. When a couple comes in for therapy and working on communication issues are taken over by dual self-esteem problems that are very deep and untouched. So you are not looking at a simple process. Nonetheless, I think the movie did do some good things. Show psychotherapy in a positive way – to get people to consider this as an option. It opened the door to a conversation of attachment issues, though I don’t believe they actually ever used this phrase. It became an intellectual discussion about life, even though it did not start out this way.

Try to be patient with the subtitles if you are not a foreign film fan like myself and give this movie a try if you can relate to the above. It is on Netflix and I think you will find it entertaining and enlightening if you can be patient through that first half.

 

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Before You Say I Do

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. Benjamin Franklin

Weddings cost an average of $26,720, according to costofawedding.com. The average cost of a divorce is $15,000-$30,000 according to a 2006 Forbes.com article. In my experience the latter figure will vary based on children, assets and EGO. The American Psychological Association reports that 40-50% of all marriages will end in divorce. Many couples wait until they are very married and very upset before they come into therapy. When there has been an affair, when there is about to be an affair, or when they are so over this person that it would take a fairy Godmother to make any difference in the relationship. With all this negativity why say I do in the first place?

On the heels of the Benjamin Franklin quote above, which I absolutely love because it sums up what I am about to say right here. Pre-Marital counseling is a must to add to that wedding budget as you will get a greater return on your investment. In fact, pre-marital counseling can be the most important money you will spend before you say I do.  Yes, it is possible that you will realize you made a mistake (but this is $15-$30,000 saved). It is also possible that you will save yourself a lot of heartache in the days after the “big day.” Here are some tips for making pre-marital counseling work.

  1. Schedule the onset of counseling at the same time you are sending your “Save the Date,” cards (six to eight months) prior to the big day. You need time to do the work and it may involve individual as well.
  2. Communicate with your therapist what your specific needs are. Even when the therapist has an agenda, make sure to let them know if they are missing something or a new issue has popped up (I always do a check-in before we begin the session). If you don’t tell the therapist, how are they supposed to know?
  3. Self-Awareness – Therapy doesn’t work if one person thinks it is the other persons fault. It takes two to tango and you have to be willing to be held accountable in counseling.
  4. Respect for the therapist and for yourself – paying for sessions on time, showing up on time, being committed to your partner and your future. Psychotherapy is a business first and a healing profession second. This is why you are coming: to get the advice, coaching, and support of a professional – not from a friend or family member.
  5. Homework is there for a reason.  To practice this new way of communicating. Don’t expect results if you are going home and behaving in the same manner.
  6. Be open to recommendations of the therapist – If there are addictions with one or both parties, couples counseling is not ready yet. If there is domestic violence a domestic violence agency should be consulted first for batterers work and counseling for the victim. If there is a history of abuse, there may be a need for individual work for that person before they are ready to begin couples. Your therapist will assess your situation and let you know what is necessary to begin.

Unmet needs from childhood are the majority of couple conflicts. Think about what you didn’t get from your parents growing up – love, nurturance, listening, guidance, a father/a mother, validation, whatever it was this is what you will look for in a partner. Unfortunately, since you aren’t really sure what this looks like, you often get exactly what you don’t want. This is because we are more comfortable with what we know and so this is what we attract. For example: someone to take care of (rather than being taking care of), or someone who just doesn’t give you the love you wish for and you are constantly struggling to attain this. Couples come in talking about small things but what is behind it is something so much larger. This has to do with expectations that have been mulling around in their head but no one has ever spoken of.

Effective communication is the key to a successful marriage. Each time I have attended one of those 50 years + type anniversary parties, they have all said the cliché phrase “communication,” when asked what made their marriage work. I have listened to couples tell me their grandparents or aunt/uncles have said the same. What this means is something that often takes people many years of mistakes to figure out. For older couples I can tell you it also means a lot of compromising along the way because they were married in a time when there was no acceptance of pre-marital counseling other than a few sessions with their spiritual leader.

When I work with couples, I am using the training I took at certified Gottman.com led seminars. These are the principles of Dr. John Gottman which are based on his years of research with couples. If you just “google search” his name you will find loads of articles, videos, interviews, photos and of course their website. His work was introduced to me long before I began my studies as a therapist and after becoming a therapist, his name came across my path once again and off I went to the advanced trainings.

In my personal background, I was 17 years old when I married and I was six months pregnant at the time. I was divorced a couple of years later because of abuse and addictions on their part. I later learned, while doing my thesis and again from Dr. John Gottman with his partner Dr. Neil Jacobson that I was in a marriage with a Pit Bull (When Men Batter Women: New Insights Into Ending Abusive Relationships, 1998). I have never remarried but I have been in several long-term relationships that did not last. It was a long time before it finally hit me in the head what I had been missing all along. Fortunately for you, who might be working with me, you won’t have to wait at all. The reason why I love doing work with couples is so that I may give them the advantages I never had. Experience, Education, Intuition, Insight, Holistic thought process and continuing education post-graduate school is what you will get when you come into my office.

A therapist cannot promise you miracles because it is up to you two and what you are willing to commit to working on. When my coupleS work as hard in session as they do out of session – on practicing these principles I am teaching them, I do see success. My belief is that a couple should not be married without some form of pre-marital counseling (see paragraph one).

 

Who will buy the cow when you give the milk for free?

 

Metaphors are very blunt and get to the point. Who will buy the cow when you give the milk for free? Why marry the woman when you are already having sex with her? This brilliant movie from Turkey “Kurt Seyit and Sura,” shows a young Russian girl smitten by an older dashing Turkish officer. He is from a wealthy family and works as a Lieutenant for the last Czar. She comes from a noble family. The empire is about to collapse when the two lovers meet. They fall in love and then when both of their lives are in danger, she runs off with the handsome man. Of course sex has already occurred and for years they continue to have a relationship but never marry. His father demanded he would not marry outside of the culture and now he has died. The man and woman struggle with their love. For years she begins to become a stronger woman and this becomes an issue for him. He is used to being in charge and not having people question his orders. Their relationship finally meets with an end. He is set up to marry a Turkish girl (whom he never beds until they wed) and within the week they are married. The young Russian girl is distraught, shocked and confused.  Why is it that after all these years, he marries a woman just like that? Why when she has been there for him, waited for him, ran his business for him, loved him, nurtured him, was he able to quickly change gears? This is the question that many women continue to ask themselves in today’s modern society. The story of Kurt  Seyit and Sura is based on a true story. It is the tale of so many women around the world.

Almost half of all marriages fail in today’s society. We get it all wrong. We think our historical characters were the ones who erred and we are much wiser. We believe in sex, birth control, drinking, drugs, everyone can vote and hold down jobs, we can make babies whether we are married or not, and we can marry and have relationships with whomever we want. Anything can happen in our current “Caligula,” type of society and yet, and yet, we have half of all marriages that fail – this obviously is not counting all the relationships that never marry and fail. It is not counting the countless interludes that never make it to a relationship. So what is more important is looking at couples who do succeed and never marry. It is more important to look at why this occurs.

How many of you know people who waited to have sex before they were married? What can you say about this relationship? How many of you know people who have married for over 50 years and you can, without a doubt, say that you would look up to these people for marital advice? What have you learned from these couples? I think it is equally important to talk to older women who are not married to find out their story and what they have realized as an aging woman about marriage and what lasts.

The TV series above would seem out of place in today’s society. We all have sex so why is this a problem? The male character above has loyalty to family, roots and traditions. Not too many people even know what their roots are anymore and so they are scattered and ungrounded. Knowing and being proud of your culture helps a person to have confidence, stability, security and a sense of boundaries. It is easy to respect someone who is loyal to their culture, religion and family. It is not easy when you are a young person who is out on their own for the first time and full of lust, passion and vitality that makes you believe you can conquer any obstacle that comes across your path. Young people practically beg for this to happen on an unconscious level. As a young person, misplacing values will easily lead you in the wrong direction. Sex is wonderful, it is fun, exciting, lustful, and yet it is the key to longevity when you hold it at bay. Having sex as a young woman, without the wedding, means that you are more than likely going to end up with children, more than one partner and alone in old age.

Look around you at single women, single mothers and single older women. Talk to them to find out their story. What do they wish they would have done differently, now that they know?

Most American audiences hated the TV Series above. They assumed the title meant that this was a Cinderella story and everyone would end up happily ever after. European films are not about happily ever after though, they are about writing great storylines, building characters and dealing with tragedy. The male character in this storyline was a Turk in Russia, working as a soldier for the Czar, he spends the rest of his life running and hiding because anyone connected with the Czar was killed. He goes to his native country after his family is murdered and tries to find some respite there. Unfortunately, this is the same time period when the British occupied Turkey, along with the Italians and a few other powers. It was the end of the Ottoman Empire as well. Most likely he was suffering from PTSD and what works for this male character, his defense mechanism or coping skill, is that he continues to play the Lieutenant. He expects everyone around him to follow him. He leads others in attempts to strengthen the Turkish in their attempts to fight against the British (they only mention British in this TV series). As I listened to Americans crying, getting angry, talking about having depression symptoms when they saw the end of this film, I kept this in mind. I was already half way through the series and had an inkling the title was just the beginning and not the ending. I too felt sad at hearing how the ending would turn out but then I continued watching anyway. This is my fourth Turkish TV series so I have gotten used to how they turn out.

Watching the second half as a psychotherapist, I saw how the writer carefully prepared the audience for the ending. We could already see that Seyit, the male character, was holding back from marriage. We could see that Sura, the female character, was going out of her way to do whatever she could to salvage what was left. She became desperate, overcompensating, strong-willed and independent. It is natural to assume that a man would respect you for these character traits and perhaps some would. However, many males prefer to continue having to take care of the girl and aren’t so enthralled to see her become a woman; especially when they are not even married. He wanted to continue seeing her as his fairytale princess who reminded him of the past. She was becoming a survivor, a woman she could be proud of and hoped he would too but he did not.

When it comes to relationships, you must set the rules from the beginning. You must do this before you give things away. You must see that these rules have been met before you go to the next stage. For every rule that you allow to be broken, you are saying “I don’t have much respect for myself.” Yes, absolutely it is a double standard – he can do but you can’t do. We can have a modern society all that we want but on an instinctual level we are going to go for what we know makes sense. We all like rules but when we break them we have disconnect and sabotage. When we follow rules that we know are right because it is natural to us at the gut level maybe I could say at the primitive level, life runs much more smoothly. So why do we make life so difficult for ourselves? We have a big ego!! 

 

 

 

Tips for Online Dating

I’ve recently utilized one of the online dating services and have learned quite a bit about what goes on in this modern society and the world of singles. Firstly, you want to make sure you are on the right website. Since dating, hook-up and sex sites just want your money, they are not taking any time whatsoever to explain their format, give examples or basically provide you with a reason why you should want to pay them money. They all say they are free and none of them are except a couple. But who wants to be on a free website when this tells you how much the other is willing to invest in their future? Dating websites JUST want your money, they don’t care what happens after that. Be conscious of this and the choices you make. Click on Top 10 list below:

Ask Men has a really good list of Top 10 dating websites which explains the costs, what the site is really for and gives you the pros/cons. Once you read their article, click on the numbers below it to start learning about each of their picks that they chose based on their research.

TIPS

1. If you are just trying to hook-up, or have sex, don’t go on a “Dating” website. Look at the Top 10 list above and find the right one for you.

2. If you have a sexual perversion, again, don’t go to a “Dating” website. Look at the Top 10 list above and find the right one for you. A decent woman is not interested in looking at your Cross-Dressing YouTube videos.

3. Beware of Scammers – yes, they have now taken over dating websites. Look for someone who appears to be American White/Black but the text they write has tons of grammar/content mistakes that someone would not talk like if they were born here. Of course if they are honest and say “I here from Belgium,” okay but if they don’t, be leery.  I’ve heard women say they are usually living in a very small town and often mention being a Widow. If they seem to want you to Text – DO NOT. They scam you through Texting.

4. Players – Beware of men who have two email conversations with you and then say they want to meet you and DON’T or you never hear from them again. I have read Elizabeth Stone’s article “5 Sketchy Reasons Why Your Online Match Won’t Meet You In Person and What to Do About it.” You should read this too.

5. Photos – There is a lot to say so I will break it down. 

            a. Don’t take photos of yourself as a selfie – it looks ridiculous, especially when the camera is right there in the photo. I have seen people where their heads are up in the air and you mostly see their neck, a profile, their mirror, selfie’s are for kids not grown-ups looking to find a person to have a relationship with. Get a friend to take the photo and look into the camera.

            b. Don’t have a woman/man in your profile photo if you are the opposite and looking for a partner. I have seen some photos with only a woman in the photo, which at first made me think the wrong sex was sent to me. No, the guy was heavyset and too afraid to put his photo on his profile.

            c. If you have photos with kids or women/men please identify that these are your kids, grandkids, niece, etc… so that someone doesn’t think it is your young date, ex-girlfriend, or your kids when they are your grandkids.

            d. Don’t do goofy photos because it makes you look like a moron. It is one of those “you had to be there,” moments and well, we don’t get it. Present yourself in a mature manner or try-out for a comedy club instead.

            e. Men love to do “I am a man” photos which show them popping wheelies, running in Ironman, working out in their basement etc…  This makes me think of a little boy looking for a mommy who will allow them to play. Think how you would feel if you saw a woman turning a cartwheel  or doing the splits, in a ballet pose or bouncing on a trampoline. There are pictures that say “Looking for a fellow skier, skydiver, rock climber,” and photos that say “My main priority in life is playing.”

           f. Photos of Nature??? Even if you are a photographer, women are interested in seeing you, not what you see in life. My first thought is, why are they afraid to show me themselves? Showing a photo of your home or backyard isn’t really that great either unless you are an interior decorator or landscape artist. You can say in your profile that you own a home.  If you were gay and knew how to make a stunning looking house, that is showcase ready, that is one thing but if you were gay you wouldn’t be on a heterosexual dating site. Looking at a dull house or a brown colored grass yard isn’t what a woman is going to get psyched about.

             g. Multiple photos of the same. It is not very clever to show two-three of the exact same photo.  Also, if you aren’t capable of posting them right side up, then don’t.

             h. Sexualized photos – If you have these types of photos, you really need to be on a sex/hook-up site not a dating website.

            i. Dress like a man who wants to find a woman – Don’t expect if you show photos of yourself dressed like a slob or in a rock concert T-shirt that you are going to get a sexy lady wanting to go out with you. If you don’t know how to dress nicely, pick up GQ magazine or another stylish men’s magazine  to see how you can upgrade your style a bit. Birds of a feather flock together. You want a decent person, act like a decent person.

             j. Don’t put a photo on there that has your text attached to it. SCAMMER!! If you can’t afford the dating service go to a free website that really is free.           

6. I am out of your league! Don’t see a pretty girl and go crazy sending emails to every single one to see who will bite. Emails that start out “Hey Beautiful,” or ” Hi Princess,” or “Hi Sexy,” don’t get a woman excited. This is bar room talk and meant for the bar and a beer, not a serious person looking for a man.

7. Read the profile – If it says “Looking for a God Fearing man,” then don’t send an email if you are an Atheist or some other thought process. Religion is important to people, especially when they say this. I saw quite a few profiles that said “If you voted for Trump, we aren’t a match.”  These are pretty strong words but weed people out that will waste their time. So pay attention. People take time to write profiles for a reason.

8. Be honest – Seriously. When someone meets you in person, it will be obvious that you are not “Athletic and Toned.” If you are a cheap skate and have no intentions of paying for the woman, don’t wait to go on a date to suddenly look up in the sky when it is time to buy the tickets for the movie. Put on your profile – I only do Dutch on dates. Please don’t insult women by saying you are a feminist. That is such a low blow and it only means you are cheap, not a feminist. If a woman is a feminist and big on doing Dutch, this will be made clear by her, so you need to be honest too.

9. Steer clear of online dating websites that don’t let you see photos immediately or make you pay extra after you have paid the bill to see them (very dishonest). A mutual attraction begins when you look into someone’s face. I live in Ohio, lots and lots of really, really, nice, great, men here. Unfortunately, I am not attracted to every single one of them. It is not what a person looks like either but the energy that is emitted from their photo. You are attracted to it or you are not.

10. If you say “let’s meet in person,” then you are expected to do just that. It is called integrity. Don’t brag about being a professional on your profile and then say one thing and mean another.

11. Coffee Meetings – these are meant to be a way to single out if there is chemistry, conversation, begin to build if there is. It is not a marriage proposal so don’t get so egotistical about this and fear the first date.

Guys, you are the reason why dating websites get a bad name – for the most part. I have talked to many women who have been on these websites, read articles, etc… Don’t ruin it for the good guys. Don’t ruin it for us women. No one who is on a serious dating website wants to be played, spend money on your Nigerian adventure, or be told “Lets meet” and then your never heard from again. It wastes everyone’s time and energy. Don’t be so egotistical to think a woman is dying to meet you, she is afraid too. We are all on dating websites because we are tired of trying to meet a person live, the old fashioned way. No one wants to meet at bars, except if they are an alcoholic. So be mature, have some integrity and be a real man who embodies these rules. A real man wouldn’t show photos of himself popping wheelies or in a baseball cap w/a beer bottle (unless you are looking for an alcoholic). A real man would show a professional, well-groomed, clean appearance that would make a woman get excited. No one gets excited to see a man in a t-shirt, beer belly, baseball cap, sunglasses, hoodie, pants pulled down, gold teeth, etc… you get the picture. Women are looking for a responsible, well-behaved, mature professional man. I have talked to women in the inner city and even they are not looking for gold teeth and pants pulled down. They are too smart for that!

Keep it simple and sweet. Don’t go into long monologues because the more you put on there the easier it is to weed you out. If you say too much, it is easy for a woman to see things she won’t have in common with you.

Dating websites are meant to be ways to meet people and it is hoped that someone will take their time to get to know you and if you seem interesting ask to meet you somewhere in public and then see what happens next. Act like a responsible, mature, professional man with integrity and you will find the right person to share your life with (since that is what you keep stating in your profile). Otherwise save your money and sit at home watching football.

 

 

No Caretaker Needed in a Healthy Relationship

Many times people talk about being a caretaker in their relationship. They want to change their partner. They aren’t doing enough in the relationship. I try to turn this around by asking a simple question, “Are they worrying this much about you? Do they feel they are not doing enough in the relationship? Do they feel a need to take care of you?” Often the answer is going to be no. When there is a caretaker in the relationship, this means the couple has fallen apart and now someone is desperately trying to pick up the pieces and salvage what is left. There is no unity or a sense of “we,” in a couple, if only one person is dedicated to the partnership. In this case you have two individuals going in separate directions. If you are trying to be someone’s caretaker, it is probably time to end the relationship.

When two people meet and take the time to get to know one another, not by jumping in bed and declaring they are soul mates, instead they begin toward a healthy relationship that is fueled by conversation rather than sex. This does not mean there is no sex or passion as many people tend to confuse. It means that you are interested in what each other has to say and you respect one another’s opinions. It means that when you have a difference of opinion you are still able to be respectful of your partner. It means that you allow the other person a voice.  It means that you know and respect each other’s boundaries. It means that you share the same values and beliefs. When these things occur then you begin to explore intimacy and it is so much the better because you have generated a lot of excitement for your partner. Does anyone really love to have sex with someone that does not have respect for them? Or can you be passionate about someone you can’t even have a conversation with? An orgasm is a waste of time if you are then sobbing into your pillow once your partner has fallen asleep (or worse, left to go home). If you are just out to have sex, that is one thing but be clear what you want in life. Whatever you choose, make sure you can live with your choices, don’t make it the other person’s problem (also, be clear about your choice up front). If he/she doesn’t agree with you, then they aren’t willing to play your game, it doesn’t make them wrong. It is not okay to set up vulnerable people.

Conversation doesn’t mean that you have told your partner your deep dark secrets and so now they owe you. Your partner isn’t your therapist and there is a difference between sharing childhood abuse or family drama vs. sharing who you are, right now. What is more important in a relationship building process is that you talk about the type of person you are. For example: what motivates you, what do you enjoy doing in your leisure time, what type of friends do you have, what are your goals for the future? A new relationship is not going to understand how to handle the trauma in your past until they have a solid foundation with you. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t come clean on mental health issues. For example: “I don’t drink, I am a recovering alcoholic.” That sentence is a mouthful. It already covers the meaning of I don’t drink. This doesn’t open the door to re-telling how you hit bottom and what your last 10 years have been like on the bottle or being sober. It could mean this though if your partner says “I am too,” and then proceeds to ask “How did you do it.” If they don’t, leave it and be comfortable that you have gotten this part off your chest. Never lie to anyone about anything but save the therapy conversation for a rainy day when your partner asks. Saying too much too soon is a sure way to end a relationship. This is because someone is being set up to be a caretaker and many times people are willing and this spells disaster. You are beginning the process by saying “I need help,” instead of saying “I am ready to share my life with someone.”

Two people can have a healthy relationship, even if they have had a hell of a life. First, they need to get into therapy and deal with this trauma. No, (1) you can’t fix it yourself and (2) a relationship is not your therapist. Love will not save you from a dad who harmed you in some way or your mental health condition. Love is not really happening if you are merely trying to save someone. That is your ego saying to you “If I love them enough…” Ego and love are an oxymoron. Second, you have to know what you want in life. It isn’t as simple as “I want a nice Christian…” Lots of religious people have been known to be abusive, alcoholic, drug addicts, and just plain jerks. But guess what, they thought they were a good Christian person or whatever religion because they were in denial about their vice or issue of concern. You have to really be grounded in what you do want from a person and what to look for when you see it. Be careful with admiring role models. You don’t really know what they are really like behind closed doors. Thirdly, you have to know how to present yourself when you meet this person. This doesn’t mean you find out that you have shared values on a first date, have a great conversation about it and then jump into bed. Again, you are not soul mates. You are just horny and happened to meet someone who was too. A person who gives up their body too easily is going to be seen as someone who has no self-respect. Sure, they slept with you too but that doesn’t mean they should now be in a commitment with you. You can’t blame the other party in a situation like this either.  If you both do choose to fall into a relationship and move in, etc… etc… don’t be surprised when it falls apart after the honeymoon is over.

Be a person who is the person you state that you are. Act like a professional when you get to know someone. This doesn’t mean you can’t flirt but have some patience. Don’t take them into your home right away. Don’t even drive with them (which will make the situation much easier). Keep your dates personal and in the field (vs. at home). Get to know their families and friends but again, be cautious about how much to say about the family or friends. Don’t set your partner up before they have even gotten a chance to get to know them. Be sparse with details. For example: My dad can be a bit controlling with my mom or my brother and I are not really close. Instead of saying “My dad has been in and out of jail three times now for domestic violence,” or “My brother molested me when we were kids.” A partner who is respectful of you is not going to choose sides and say “Well, he sure seemed like a good guy to me.” This is because a healthy partner would understand that you have a better grip on your family members than they do.

Now, how about someone who is reading this and did seem to do all the right things in the beginning but ended up in a bad place nonetheless? A healthy relationship has to work at continuing down this path and this means that you continue working together as a team throughout your lifetime together. If someone starts going off on their own, as in picks up the bottle, has an affair, becomes abusive, then the relationship is no longer a healthy relationship.  A healthy relationship is one where no one “takes their eye off the ball,” so to speak. Yes, it is hard work but so is owning a horse, living on a farm, keeping your luxury car in good shape, or running a business. If you don’t look out for either of these things, they will die or fall apart. It is no different with a relationship.

To recap, a healthy relationship that is nurtured over time is one where you (quoting the Gottman method directly now) – have started with trust and commitment and then:

  1. Get to know one another’s world,
  2. Share fondness and admiration,
  3. Turn toward instead of away,
  4. Keep a positive perspective,
  5. Manage your conflict by a. find relevance in what each of you have to say, b. self-soothing, c. dialogue about problems,
  6. Make each other’s life dreams come true; and
  7. Create shared meaning.

If you want to learn more about a healthy relationship, I recommend reading “The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work,” by Dr. John Gottman and Nan Silver. I also recommend reading “The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts,” by Judith S. Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee. If you want to meet someone to have this relationship with then be patient, set your boundaries, trust your instincts, know what you want and then, when you meet this person, take your time to get to know them. To be on the safe side, wait a few months before becoming intimate, don’t move in until you have spent at least a year getting to know them and only then, move in for love not convenience. Don’t move forward at all if you have any doubts whatsoever – they won’t change with a bigger commitment.  Finally, only get married because you love someone and the two of you have gone over your idea of what being married means and can agree on this. I definitely recommend pre-marital counseling with a therapist or at your place of worship. Don’t have children until you have gotten married and have waited at least 3-5 years. Children don’t need desperate parents. They need parents who have nurtured their relationship as a married couple and are again clear (and have discussed) that it is the right time to move forward.

A good business plan is necessary to have a successful company. Once the doors are open you have to keep on top of your firm by having good communication with all of your employees, from top to bottom. The business is not YOU, it is all of them plus your product and your customers. Each year you have to continue to look back as well as focus on the future. What do you need to do differently in order to continue this success in the changing times?

A relationship requires a plan too. You can’t just run out there and start a partnership. Take your time, focus on what it is you want and then don’t second guess yourself. Get back together each year and re-commit yourselves to the year ahead. If there have been problems, tackle them head on. Don’t wait ten years to then decide to see a therapist. Continue to create new goals for each year and help support each other in making these dreams a reality.  A cute person is not so cute when they turn out to be someone who you knew was wrong from the beginning. A cute person that you have gotten to know and taken your time to build a relationship with becomes very handsome and more interesting over time.