Doctor Karen Phillip has been a family psychotherapist for 15 years and in that time has seen it all and heard it all. As an experienced relationship expert, Dr. Phillip highlights there is a pattern as to why couple fights and consequently break up. “Over the last decade, I've found that so many of the same issues keep presenting themselves.”
Love is not enough to keep a couple together forever, despite what Hollywood says. Phillip suggests addressing the subject of contention before it leads to the end of a union. Here is a list to help guide couples to a happier and successful life together.
It takes three years.
According to research, it takes three years to really know the person you’re with. Dr. Phillip warns that people tend to rush into things while everything appears to be perfect or during what a lot of people call the “honeymoon stage.”
She says our true feelings about the in-laws are the last to show. “We should be waiting at least 12 months, otherwise the façade is still there,” says Phillip.
Discuss your position on having children.
It is important to for you and your mate to express your position on children. This should be discussed before you decide to be with your partner for the rest of your lives.
Dr. Phillip states, “within the first two years, it’s important to unpack where each person stands with things like children and a whole range of other issues.”
Issues with in-laws.
Talking about the in-laws can be like walking on eggshells. When discussing your loved one’s parents, remember that there is a specific way of doing it.
Recognizing that your partner, “loves their parents unconditionally,” and may not share your same observations. Avoid saying things like, “how could you let them do that?” This might just save you a lot of pain and frustration in your relationship.
What is considered cheating on social media?
Dr. Phillip admits discussing the acceptable perimeters of social media is something that did not exist 10 years ago. She encourages transparency: couples can share their passwords and be allowed to see each other’s phones at any given time.
Furthermore, identify what is considered cheating. Could a private conversation on Facebook be appropriate if your partner was there? If you answer no, you know what should not be done.
The toilet seat lid.
This is an argument Dr. Phillip hears a lot about. Her solution is pretty straight forward. “I insist that the seat and lid remain down – bacteria spreads when you flush and the lid is up so it is a simple solution.”
Caring about hygiene and keeping airborne bacteria at bay is an easy way for everyone to be happy and healthy.
The way men and women view sex and intimacy is completely different. In fact, couples should sit down and have a heart-to-heart every year.
Dr. Phillip finds that 99% of the time, “he wants more sex than she’s willing to give him.”
“I tell them that foreplay starts at 6am when you open your eyes. The alarm goes off, you get dressed, have breakfast, don’t talk much, maybe text about dinner arrangements, have dinner, then hop in bed and bam, he is ready to go – but she is thinking “well, you’ve ignored me all day and now you expect this,” says Phillip.
“Where he is turned on at the sight of her in the shower, she isn’t – she gets turned on by the foreplay that starts at 6am where he considers her, helps her, talks about her day and asks her how she feels – THAT is foreplay to a woman.”
Changing name after marriage.
Despite more women keeping their maiden name after marriage, men still feel offended when their wives do not take their last name.
This is another important issue that should be addressed sooner than later. Discuss why it’s important to her and him as opposed to dismissing each other’s points of view.
Having a joint bank account.
Discussing finances is an ever-delicate subject but one that has to be out in the open. “This topic is one of the biggest deal breakers,” she says. She cautions that a married couples that divide bills and even dinner is just a couple acting like a married couple.
She encourages for joint accounts. “Put aside $100 or so a week to do what you want with or buy gifts with but keep bills and payments in the one account.”
Not arguing in front of in-laws.
In-laws do not need to know or be around the two of you when you argue. Parents are biased, they will always take the side of their children “because they’ve made them – so they want to make sure that the person they have chosen is the absolute best person they can be with and the best person to raise their grandchild.”
Be honest with your partner but don’t share too much. Be transparent “about what you think, how you feel, your desires, goals, fears and values.” Dr. Phillip says those are the things that define us.
Although, there is no need to go into details about affairs and past sexual partners. If it’s going to make your significant other feel insecure, leave it alone.
Saying I love you.
Start using the phrase, “I love you” more often. Dr. Phillip admits that it’s easy to forget these three words in your everyday language.
She says that when people cannot remember the last time they expressed their affection to their partner, it’s a problem. Furthermore, it’s important you know what qualities and virtues you admire about your other half.
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