This guest article from Psych Central was written by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
All relationships have problems. And all relationships require work to keep them healthy.
According to clinical psychologist Silvina Irwin, Ph.D, even though technology keeps us connected, it also can keep us apart. “Not only is it siphoning off energy from the relationship, but it’s also an easy exit for people who tend to avoid conflict, tension, or stress in their lives,” she said. Instead of tuning into each other, partners turn to their devices and escape into cyberspace, she said.
Strategies: “Designate technology-free zones in the house and technology-free times,” Irwin said. For instance, you might decide that the dinner table and evening hours are off-limits. It also helps to figure out why you use technology, she said. “If you are stressed or there is tension in your relationship, imagine reaching out to your partner to connect, to work through issues or get support instead of your device,” she said.
2. Extended family.
Becoming a family with your partner is a big transition, according to clinical psychologist Lisa Blum, PsyD. It shifts your priorities and can produce conflict, Blum said. For instance, your husband might think you spend too much time with your mom. Or your wife might think you’re constantly helping out your parents and neglecting your home.
Strategies: First, you need to identify that this is an issue for your relationship, Blum said. When you’re talking, instead of blaming each other, admit that you’re feeling disconnected or left out, she said.
Focus on what adjustments you can make, she said. Maybe Fridays will become your date night. Maybe your husband will tell his parents that he’ll make one repair per month.
You might need to be assertive with your family in preserving these boundaries, Blum said. While it might be tough at first, remember the cost of not following through.
The changes you negotiate don’t really matter, Blum said. What matters is that you’re being heard and your needs responded to.
Money is a hot-button topic, and many times, couples simply avoid talking about finances. “The emotions tied to money often run so deep that couples are reluctant to broach the topic at all. And in today’s rocky economy and job market, couples are facing the strain of unemployment, debt, and restricted budgets more frequently than ever,” Irwin said.
Strategies: First, create a list of three or four financial goals on your own, Irwin said. Your list might include everything from swiftly paying off student loans to saving for a house. After you’re done, compare notes. “Couples are often surprised at how many of their goals line up, or how willing they are to adopt each other’s goals,” Irwin said. “Then create a list of joint goals.”
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