Couples counseling

Money and Emotions

How to Disentangle Them . . .

emotional spendingMoney and emotions are intricately linked. Most of us know the feeling of wanting to spend to make ourselves feel better after a hard day at work or after a stressful activity.

Even if we phrase it to ourselves different — “I want a manicure as a treat” or “expensive chocolates would taste good now” – the desire to have those things is linked to a desire to spend in order to care for ourselves, to reward ourselves, or to protect ourselves from stress.

Spending emotionally is only a problem when you are overspending. To some degree, everybody spends emotionally, whether it’s for a great suit to make oneself feel important or entrance to a nightclub to dance the night away.

If you’re overspending because you spend emotionally. You need to curtail it.

The first step out of the web of money and emotions is to become aware of why we might be spending when we either binge spend (rack up big purchases or a lot of little ones suddenly, for things we don’t really need) or go way over budget for the month.

First, plan a rough budget for all the necessities: rent/mortgage, food, transportation, clothes, anything else you need on a steady basis.

Second, if you binge spend or go way over budget, examine your purchases. Why did you make them? Write it down or record it on your computer. Why? Well, in order to take action, you need to define what the feelings were. You need to get it out of your head, too, and into someplace else, like a journal or an audio/video diary.

Once you know why you did something, analyze what you can do differently the next time you get a trigger like that. Ex-husband driving you crazy? Call a friend and share emotions rather than spend.

keeping relationship strongWhen a relationship finds itself in a rut, it is important to change monotonous patterns. A useful option is to attempt to mimic what the relationship was like during its earlier phases. It is specially recommended to take part in an activity that causes a surge of adrenaline. This excitement can help your partner and your relationship. Watching a scary movie, riding a roller coaster, going on vacation, or exercising together are good options. When you expect less, you get more from your partner.  However, it is important for your partner to know your top two expectations. Conflict is inevitable in any situation, but there are ways to mitigate frustration.

On average a happy couple has a 5 to 1 ratio of good experiences to bad experiences. To minimize negative feelings avoid constant fighting, keeping secrets, miscommunication, and problems with household chores. Consistent affective affirmation is useful for letting a person understand their value in your life. These are specially effective in men, since women are able to get these affirmations from other people in their lives. An affirmative action is telling your partner that “they are your best friend.”

Use communication to learn about the other person’s inner world. The ten minute rule states that one should spend at least ten minuets everyday talking about something other than family, work, obligations, or your relationship. The point of this is to get to know your partner better. In contrast to popular belief, it is okay to go to bed angry. Staying up late at night can worsen a situation. Late at night solving skills slump, and people are unlikely to fight fairly. A good night’s sleep can help you see the situation differently the next morning.

Current Culture and Commitment – What are People Truly Looking For?

Rescue Your RelationshipIn recent years there has been a popular trend for individuals to make up a list of every quality they are looking for in a partner.  These lists get revised, added to, deleted from, and sometimes ripped up in frustration by those who committed themselves to following their list but still have not been able to find a partner.

Sometimes people stop seeing someone simply because they lack one or two “qualities” that are not on the list.  But is it really a matter of just finding someone who is an exact replica of the list?  Is that what people are truly looking for?  Probably not.  How many people have met someone who fit all their criteria yet still there was no spark?  If people hope to succeed in finding what they are looking for, they need to be honest with themselves first.  If you truly are not looking for a committed relationship at this point in your life, then own it.  Be honest with others and don’t lead them to believe you are looking for commitment when you actually are not.  By not wasting their time, you also don’t waste your time getting involved with someone who wants more than what you do.

If you truly can say you are looking for a committed relationship, be open and flexible enough to look beyond your list.  Most people, when they strip away all their superfluous wants, actually just want unconditional love.  They want a partner who cares about them and who values and respects them.  Dr. Phil, a famous psychologist, often uses the terminology of being “a soft fall” for each other.  That means being willing to open up to another person and creating an intimacy that only two people can share with each other.  Does a person really want to open up to another individual and become vulnerable through intimacy if they think they can expect a scolding for not picking up their socks or because they “failed” at being a good cook?  Couples often struggle because they only look at the superficial, rather than having the maturity to look deeper at what a lasting relationship can offer.

Finding what you are really looking for, means starting with yourself.  Are you mature?  Are you forgiving?  Are you focused only on the superficial?  Do you actually like the opposite sex and are you planning to give of yourself to be their companion, or are you just looking for them to give you something?  When you are ready to give, rather than focusing on what you want to get, that is a good first step.  Don’t stop looking until you find someone who feels the same way.

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