Rescuing Your Most Important Relationships

Posts tagged ‘family’

Happy 4th of July!

USAToday is the day our country celebrates independence and freedom. These two words represent ideals that our country has fought many battles over, but might be in conflict when used in a romantic relationship. Healthy relationships include two partners that know that independence and freedom can be a complement to their lives, not a barrier to love. This month’s article is all about how to achieve individuality within your relationships- and still have fireworks!

Holiday Tips for Blended Families

The holidays are stressful for many people, but can be especially so for blended families. Unique families require unique solutions to their problems, so here are some tips to help navigate the holiday season and still have some good cheer.

  • Communication and planning- think of the entire holiday season, not just a couple of days. That will give you the opportunity to spread out the events so that all family members can participate. Consider that the days leading up to and after the holiday can be a part of the festivities.
  • Communicate with all family members well before the holiday, to try and avoid any last minute changes. Families and children get along better when they know what to expect, as much as possible. Be flexible on time but strict on communications.
  • Start your own traditions and rituals, blending some of the old with new. Have each child bring one idea that was meaningful to them, into the new family. Make time for all the children’s ideas to be a part of the new family tradition.
  • Put aside your ill feelings towards your ex and model some good behavior for your own children- adhere to the custody agreements, help your children with picking out gifts for their other parents and decorations for the other house. This will help them feel more in control of the situation, and give them a sense of belonging.
  • Do something different from the usual- try having appetizers and finger food instead of a full sit down dinner, open presents three days before Christmas, plan a craft or game instead of the usual movie. Being different will create a sense of fun and energy.

And if things seem to be falling apart, remember two things:

  • Don’t sweat the small stuff- life is not perfect and the holiday won’t be either, so try and relax
  • It will get easier with time- as the years pass you will have more traditions that you can count on.

Have a good Christmas!

Kelly Chicas 2011

An Eye Opening Weekend

An Eye Opening Weekend

This past weekend, my husband and I found ourselves alone, with a quiet and empty house. Our daughter had gone on a 4 day school trip, leaving us with a void that we did not expect. When we originally found out about her trip, we had thought it would be fun to have the house to ourselves, but the reality was very different. The first evening we rattled around the house, uncomfortable with the solitude and lack of activity that normally would have been taken our focus. The house felt like it had a large black hole, that my husband and I couldn’t seem to fill.  After the first evening finally passed, we realized that we had an entire weekend looming ahead. I remember thinking to myself “If this is what empty nesting is all about, we’re in trouble.”

How do you reconnect when all of a sudden, it’s just the two of you?

Moving through the transitions from family life with children back to a couple is a normal phase of relationships. But the person sleeping next to you may now seem like a total stranger, after years of being family focused. How do you reconnect with a partner when the house is quiet and the evenings lonely? Here are some tips to keep the transition an easy one.

1.      Start dreaming- you and your partner had dreams before the kids were born, when was the last time you revisited those dreams? What a perfect opportunity to begin conversing- and who knows where that will lead.

2.      Laugh- tell each other a good joke; reminisce about some funny personal times you had, get silly together. Laughter has been shown to be an extremely effective coping skill when faced with times of distress, so use it to the fullest.

3.       Create some new memories, or rejuvenate some old ones. Go out to an indie flick, take a Latin dance class and listen to some music, hike in the foothills and bring a picnic lunch. You don’t have to worry anymore about child care, babysitters, curfews or privacy, so take advantage of it.

4.      Most importantly, share your awareness and feelings with your partner. The thoughts and emotions around having a newly empty nest affect both men and women, so chances are that your partner is feeling the same way that you do. Discussing it will be another opening for communication, and good communication is the life blood of any long term relationship.

Whether you fall into, charge ahead or slowly drift into the next phase of your relationship, keep it focused on your partner. My husband and I ended up doing several things we hadn’t done in years- going out for appetizers and listening to local music, catching a farmers market and enjoying some walks. Keeping your relationship strong and vibrant takes effort, even when you may not feel like it. Go out and make a plan today that you will look forward to and enjoy!

Kelly Chicas, 2011

Book of the Month

Smart Stepfamily, The: Seven Steps to a Healthy Family

by Ron L. Deal
This book provides seven effective, achievable steps toward building a healthy marriage and a workable and peaceful stepfamily. Exploding the myth of achieving a “blended family” the book helps parents recognize the unique personality and place of each family member, honor the families of origin while establishing new traditions, and much more. Practical advice on how to make step situations work in the face of divided loyalties, marital problems, parenting differences, toxic ex-spouses, etc. With the divorce rate at 74% for second marriages with children, there’s obviously unique dynamics in a step family that couples must face along with all the other normal challenges of life and marriage. Explanations on  how to gradually move the step parent into authority at various levels. A great help for couples, parents and families who are trying to blend and create a new bond.

Olympic Spirit

The winter Olympics provided a plethora of inspiring images.  I watched an interview between sports commentator Bob Costas and Shaun White, who rocked the snowboarding world with his half pipe genius.  Shaun described his experience as, “Dreams in motion…coming true.”

Part of what makes Olympic stories so compelling is that they encompass human-interest stories.  The athletes have vibrant life-stories about what got them to the point of Olympic achievement. There are also “life-shaping memories” experienced and shared by parents, siblings, extended family, friends, teachers, coaches, supervisors, communities—all supporting the dreams of the athlete. During challenging times in life, remind yourself of the people in your corner. When personal or professional challenges weigh heavy on your heart and mind, seek affirming support from others who care about you. We hope that you consider counseling support from Albuquerque Family Counseling as one of your resources!

If there are negative patterns that have developed in your interpersonal relationships (whether with family members, an Intimate Partner, friends, colleagues at work, a supervisor) there are lessons to be learned from Olympic athletes:  Allow yourself to dream.  Give yourself permission to pursue those dreams. Remember where you started from. Perspective provides a great view. New skills can be learned. “Getting good” at anything requires practice. Achieving excellence or enhanced skills requires even more effort. Practice encompasses time, energy, dedication, training, and willingness to be vulnerable.  No one is perfect.  Embrace your human-ness!  Understanding, trust, respect, compassion, forgiveness…are wonderful ways to express care towards yourself and others.  Patience is helpful, quite necessary in actuality. Positive self-care is vital. Persevere. Nurture your individualism, yet recognize you are part of a team, a member of a broader community.

What are your dreams for your relationships?  Affirm your Olympic spirit.

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