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Lea Rose Emery

Wedding

What To Do If Your Partner Doesn't Like Your Best Friend

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There are some people in your life who you really want to get along. While a lot of emphasis is placed on your partner getting along with your family—and you getting along with your partner’s family—there’s another very important dynamic that’s often overlooked: your partner and your best friend. Often, your partner and your best friend are the two most important people in your life so, of course, you want them to like each other—you probably want them to get along with a house on fire. But it doesn’t always work that way.

There are a lot of complications when it comes to your partner getting along with your best friend. There’s a good chance your best friend has been on the scene for far longer than your partner—even if you and your partner are married or have children together. And sometimes that can create tension, your partner might feel threatened or just not really be a fan of this person you’ve known for years and years. But what do you do if your partner doesn’t like your best friend? Well, it’s all about getting to the source of the dislike. Here’s what you need to know.

Make Sure That There’s Not A Control Issue

The truth is, all of the people who you love and adore aren’t necessarily going to love and adore each other—and that’s OK. You need them to be respectful, to be open-minded, but you don’t need your partner and best friend to become BFFs—if they’re just a little lukewarm on each other, that can work out just fine. But pay attention to your partner’s response to your friend and try to work out if it’s actually an issue of just disliking them. If your partner feels threatened by your best friend, it may be that they have bigger issues—and are too possessive of you. If you get a sense that this is the case, then there’s a more foundational relationship problem.

How can you tell? Well, if your partner actually just isn’t a huge fan of your best friend, they’ll probably seem apathetic or, at worst, a little annoyed or frustrated by them. If they have a stronger reaction—if they get angry at you for spending time with them, if they are actively rude to them—then that’s really telling. If that’s the case, it says a lot about your partner—and you may need to have a larger conversation about your relationship, independence, and respect.

Try To See It From Their Point Of View

Best friendships are complicated. You may love each other one minute, drive each other nuts the next, and then makeup before you even blink. Maybe you’ve been feuding for weeks or maybe they’ve really let you down. Try to remember all of these nuances and complications when you’re trying to understand your partner’s point of view. It’s really, really hard to watch someone mistreat the person you love and, though you might not hold a grudge, your partner has probably heard you vent and be upset or hurt by your best friend from time to time. They often hear more of the difficult parts than the good parts—so it makes sense that they might be a little bristly or aggravated with this person. Try to show them why you love your best friend, rather than just using them to blow off steam.

On that note, sometimes it may be worth talking to your best friend about the issue, too—even if you don’t think they’ve done something wrong. I have totally been the stand-offish best friend—and having my friend explain that their partner is a bit shy or awkward has snapped me out of it. If your partner finds it difficult to open up to people generally, then talking to your best friend and asking them to go the extra mile can make a difference.

Set Some Boundaries For Spending Time Together

Even if your partner doesn’t like your best friend, their priority should be being a good partner to you—and that means, within reason, spending time with your bestie. That doesn’t mean you should expect them to hang out all the time and start bringing your partners around to girls’ nights (that would be weird anyway), but you should be able to explain to your partner why it’s important to you that they try to get along. And, really, your partner should respect that.

Maybe all of your couple friends get together once a month, maybe there’s a friends’ trip you want them to go, maybe it’s just a matter of being polite and asking them a few questions when they bump into each other as a part. Talk to your partner and try to work out how they can be a good partner and make your life easier, without them feeling uncomfortable. You should be able to find some middle ground.

See more: How Your Partner Feels About Your Friends Could Factor Into the Success of Your Marriage

In an ideal world, your partner and best friend will just click and the three of you can run off into the sunset—but that’s so rarely how it actually works out. Try to feel out the issue, whether it’s your partner just being shy or not really on the same page as your best friend—or whether they’re intimidated by your intimacy with your best friend and there are some control issues at play. As long as it’s an innocent case of not getting along, you should be able to talk to your partner and find some middle ground. They don’t have to love your best friend, but they do need to be a good partner to you—and that means being polite and welcoming when you need them to be.

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Wedding

How Real Women Made The First Move

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Making the first move can be incredibly intimidating—especially for women. Women are too often socialized to wait around for men to come to them and be the forward one, but not only is that incredibly heteronormative, it also can make for a pretty boring love life. In 2018, women should totally feel empowered to be honest and straightforward when they’re interested in somebody—whether it’s on a dating app, in a bar, or anywhere else. The truth is, making the first move is a bit like pulling off a Band-Aid—it can feel painful and awkward and weird the first time, but then it’s over. And the next time, it will be easier—and the time after that, it gets even easier.

And everybody has their own method for making the first move. Some women are bold, some are nervous, some are downright messy. Brides spoke to real women about how they actually work up the nerve to make the first move and there’s a lot you can learn from them. It turns out, alcohol (in moderation) and dating apps can make a huge difference. Here’s what they had to say.

Dating Apps Are Great Training Wheels

“Dating apps have literally changed my life when it comes to making the first move. I could never do it in real life, but suggesting a drink over a dating app if we’ve been talking for a bit feels 100% normal And if they ditch the conversation, I never have to meet them or run into them.”

— Rose, 30

“I only use Bumble, so I’m really used to starting the conversation now.”

— Suz, 31

A lot of people found that dating apps were a great leveler when it came to making the first move. There’s Bumble, where women have to message first, but even on other apps there seems to be a leveling effect. If you’re nervous about asking someone out or just starting a conversation, a dating app or site is a great way to try it, relatively risk-free. If they don’t respond or the conversation fizzles, you still have the whole internet to explore.

Blame It On The Alcohol

“That’s a tough call—I don’t really know how I’ve made the first move. Get really drunk? Hope for the best? I know that I’ve done it, but guess that whenever I’ve been brave enough, I’ve just made lots of eye contact and initiated a bit of touching or the leg or shoulder. It sounds kind of lame, but it feels much scarier at the time!”

— Helen, 33

“Get drunk and then when you’re waiting for the bus say, ‘Are we going to kiss or what?’ It works pretty much every time, except for when it doesn’t.

— Izzy, 33

Alcohol comes up again and again when it comes to making the first move—which is fine, as long as you’re drinking responsibility. If one or two drinks helps you relax and let the Dutch courage take hold, then you may find that you’re more likely to message that person or go up to them in a bar—or even take the date to the next level. Just everything in moderation, OK?

Just Go For It

“I don’t ever make the first move but one of my friends has two business cards. One is business and one is personal, like just her email and phone number for picking people up. Apparently guys like it because women so rarely make the first move.”

— Maria, 31

“I’m not great at making the first move, I can do everything up to that actual moment. So I can get a little touchy, be really flirty, but, when I have made the first move, it’s been kind of a mess—like I’ve launched myself at their face. But, so far, it seems to work!”

— Zoe, 31

“My gay friend from work met her wife in a bar. She was straight at the time and this girl came up to her, and said, ‘I’m great with first-timers.’ Then just walked off. She was like ‘Woah, what just happened there!?’ Turns out this girl had literally said it to every girl there! What a great way to play the odds game of repressed gays and curious bis.”

— Lauren 32

And some women just for it. Some women have no problem making the first move and, as I was surprised to learn, some of them even have actual business cards to make it happen. Once you get used to it, it doesn’t have to be so scary.

See more: How to Meet the Love of Your Life in Real Life

Making the first move can seem totally intimidating if you haven’t done it before—and if you’ve done and it’s gone badly. But there’s no point in sitting around and waiting for life to happen to you. Try making the first move and, if it doesn’t go well, there’s always somebody else out there. Once you get used to it, you’ll find it’s an empowering, exciting way to take control of your own love life. If it works for these women, there’s no reason it can’t work for you.

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How Attachment Styles Shape Our Relationships

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You hear about it all the time—one person being too clingy, one person being scared to settle down or commit. Maybe the language used is even harsher and more ignorant, like one person is “crazy” or the other “messed up.” What we’re often talking about, without even realizing it, are attachment styles. And, specifically, what happens when those attachment styles don’t line up.

You may be familiar with the basic ideas of the attachment theory of love without even realizing it. The attachment theory of love suggests that there are three different attachment styles: anxious, avoidant, and secure. The theory is that we form these attachment styles when we are very young, based on our relationship with our primary caretaker as a child—normally, our parents or more dominant parent. Understanding these attachment styles—how they develop, how they manifest, and how we can manage them—can not only help you understand your past relationships, but also help you create healthier relationships going forward. Here’s what you need to know.

The Three Styles

The three attachment styles are very different from each other—though their names give a big hint into how they affect relationships. The anxious attachment style is someone who is constantly insecure in their relationship. They fear that the person will leave, they don’t ever fully relax into the relationship, and they may even self-sabotage. They can often come across as needy, demanding, or irrational—but it comes from a deep-seated fear of being left, often stemming from a distant parental relationship from childhood. This means that they will almost always be found in a relationship—even if it’s an unhappy one.

Perhaps surprisingly, these people are most often attracted to and found in relationships with those with an avoidant attachment style. Those with avoidant styles often feel claustrophobic or overwhelmed by too much intimacy, even if they crave it—maybe because of demands placed on them in their past or an abrupt abandonment. This can lead them to pull away, suddenly and often, seemingly, without reason.

As you might have guessed, the secure attachment style is somewhere in the middle. They don’t fear being on their own—in fact, they’re quite comfortable with it. But those with secure attachment styles also don’t feel overwhelmed by relationships. Both states, being with someone or alone, feel normal and balanced, meaning that relationships often run smoothly, without the person taking their partner’s behaviors too personally. Research has shown that while 60 percent of the population falls into this category, a big chunk of people—the remaining 40 percent—are split relatively equally between attachment and avoidant styles.

How They Affect Relationships

Avoidant and insecure attachment styles are often drawn toward each other, despite the fact that they are the least compatible. That’s because our brains try to repair old wounds through new relationships—even when it’s not good for us. “In a sense, we set ourselves up by finding partners that confirm our models,” Lisa Firestone, a clinical psychologist, writes. “If we grew up with an insecure attachment pattern, we may project or seek to duplicate similar patterns of relating as adults, even when these patterns hurt us and are not in our own self-interest.”

This means that if we developed an insecure attachment style because we had an avoidant parent, we may keep seeking out avoidant partners, even though it exacerbates our insecurities. Somewhere, we’re trying to set the first relationship right, even though it can make our lives—and our relationships—more complicated.

How You Can Manage Attachment Styles

Even if you think you fall into the secure attachment style, it’s still important to be aware of your style and how it can influence your relationships. Because it’s not just about your own style, it’s about your partner’s as well. If you can look back on your relationships and see a pattern of incompatibility in how you relate to one another and what you expect from a relationship, it may be that your attachment styles are to blame.

If this is the case, try to be mindful of your responses to issues in your relationship and how your attachment style might be at play. If you find yourself panicking that your partner isn’t happy, when there’s nothing to indicate that they are actually unhappy, take a moment and try to gain some perspective. Remember that this is an old wound, rather than something that’s actually happening now. Give yourself some room to process the old trauma, but try to separate that from the present relationship. It takes time, but if you can put your instinctive response on hold long enough to take a step back and get some perspective, that can make a huge difference.

Of course, if the attachment style seems particularly engrained or if it stems from a personal trauma that you haven’t dealt with yet, it may be worth seeking professional help. The attachment style can, in some cases, be more the symptom than the cause of your current dilemmas. Sometimes going back and dealing with the source, with the help of a therapist or counselor, is the only way forward.

See more: Signs You Need to Take a Step Back in Your Relationship

Attachment styles can explain so much about how we interact with the world—and with each other. While we may not be able to become completely in control of our attachment style overnight, but understanding how we form our attachments can be invaluable to navigating our romantic relationships. But be kind to yourself, because there are often deeper issues at play—and never hesitate to get help if you need it.

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Wedding

How Important Are Myers-Briggs Personality Types in a Relationship?

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ISTJ, ENFP, INFJ: To some people, these are just random combinations of letters. They’re the secret code to help them unlock their personality and how they relate to the world. They’re examples of Myers-Briggs personality types, also known as MBTI types. If you’re not familiar with the MBTI test, it’s a 93-question test which helps work out the dominant aspects of your personality. It will tell you whether you’re extroverted or introverted, sensing or intuitive, feeling or thinking, and judging or perceiving. In total, there are 16 personality types, some of which are more common than others.

The MBTI personality test is not just one of the most popular tests out there—it’s also one of the most well-respected. It’s used not only by people around the world to help them understand their lives, but by some employers to gauge a person’s suitability for roles. But while there are some die-hard fans, how accurate is the test—and how much does it actually affect your relationships? The truth is a little complicated, but fascinating.

How Accurate Are They?

As I mentioned, the MBTI personality test is hugely popular and some people swear that the results are so uncanny that they decide to let the test help shape their lives. If employers use it to make important decisions, if hiring managers use it to decide whether you should get a job, then it must be pretty reliable—right? Well, not everyone agrees.

“There’s just no evidence behind it,” Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, told Vox. “The characteristics measured by the test have almost no predictive power on how happy you’ll be in a situation, how you’ll perform at your job, or how happy you’ll be in your marriage.”

A large group of experts back up Grant—and think the MBTI just doesn’t stack up. Firstly, a lot of people don’t fall easily into the binaries that the test lays out, but that’s not the only weakness. In fact, on one important measure of personality assessment—reliability—MBTI has a history of falling short. In one study 50 percent of people were found to get a different MBTI result when they took the test a second time, even if it was only weeks later.

That being said, the test remains ferociously popular—so is there something to it? Despite the criticism, there has also been evidence in its favor—engineers have been shown to have fairly consistent MBTI types, an argument for using it in employment decisions. And there’s been similar evidence when it comes to romantic relationships.

How Does It Affect Your Relationships?

While some people are dubious about the powers of the MBTI test, the types have been found to help predict romantic compatibility. In fact, one study showed that if you and your partner both fall the same category of sensing/judging or intuition/feeling, there was a 70 percent chance of compatibility. And many people swear by comparing types to find your romantic compatibility when you’re dating. There are dozens and dozen of articles out there on the ultimate MBTI type matches and how each MBTI type acts in a relationship. Is it worth following their advice? The answer is up to you.

The truth is, MBTI is useful, like any personality test is useful, to understand each other in broad strokes. If your partner is generally more sensing or you are definitely an extrovert, that’s going to tell you something about it each other. But you shouldn’t take it as gospel, as the test isn’t always consistent.

The Ultimate Conversation Starter

More than anything, it serves as a great conversation starter to help you learn more about each other. If someone you’re seeing has taken the test before, you can talk about your types, what you think about them, how accurate they feel, and why—there’s so much potential to gather a wealth of information about each other in that kind of conversation. If they don’t know their type, you can both take the test and talk about it. You’ll learn so much about how they view themselves and the world around them—and that can be just as telling as the test itself. Maybe even more so. You can also check out other personality tests, like The Big Five, which have been shown to be even more predictive than MBTI. But remember, every test has its limits—and you shouldn’t let the result of a personality test control your life.

See more: Register Based on Your Myers Briggs Personality Type

The MBTI test has dominated the personality field for a long time—so much so that it’s been incorporated by many companies to make very important decisions about their employees. But it’s crucial to remember that, at the end of the day, it’s just a test. You are more than 93 questions—and the way you look at the world may change from day to day. So by all means, take the test, explore the results, and talk about it with the people you date—but you might find it more useful to listen to what they say about it, then the results themselves.

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Can You Overshare In A Relationship?

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Do couples really need to talk about everything? How much to share in a relationship is a question that’s going to be different for every couple. Even though you’ll hear over and over again that communication and honesty are the bedrock of a relationship, is there actually such a thing as too much communication? Or too much honesty?

It’s a tricky balance to find. Secrets are often bad in a relationship, but some levels of privacy can be completely acceptable. If that sounds a little confusing, it’s because it kind of is. It’s a very thin line and one that varies hugely with every couple. While one couple might talk about every detail of their day—including bodily function updates—others might have a more distant, but no less loving, communication style. As a general rule, you should always feel comfortable bringing up anything that is important to you—and you should expect that your partner will be receptive to something you feel strongly about. That being said, there are some limits. Here’s where you can cross the line into oversharing.

Will Saying This (or Not) Hurt Your Partner?

If you’re not sure whether it’s appropriate to tell your partner something sensitive, the most basic question you should ask yourself is whether or not it would hurt them. If your ex contacted you and you’re not sure if you should share that information, think about conversations you’ve had about privacy versus openness—and about whether you’d want to know the same thing. Do you get the impression that concealing this information would hurt them, or that telling them would?

The same question is true if you’re not satisfied with something in your relationship—think about whether or not something constructive can come out of saying something. For example, if you don’t love the style of necklace your partner got you for your birthday, it may not be worth saying something that’s just going to hurt their feelings. But if your sex life isn’t satisfying, you should say something—because even though you may hurt their feelings, there’s also room to improve and it’s important that the situation improves—so the benefit outweighs the cost. Give every sensitive issue thoughtful consideration before you decide whether or not to say something.

How Far Are You Into Your Relationship?

I’m a chronic oversharer—my long-term partner has to hear about every little of my day, no matter how inane or gross. But I also didn’t share every minutia with her during our first weeks or months of dating. If you want to be in constant contact or you want to share every tiny update of your life, you have to understand that, early in your relationship, that can actually be an invasion of your partner’s space. Try to read your partner—or just ask them—to work out what they’re comfortable with. Now, if you aren’t on the same page as they are, it may be that you’re just not all that compatible. But if it’s early in the relationship and they just want to take things a little more slowly, that’s something that you should respect.

Has Your Partner Said They Need Space?

Sometimes oversharing is just a clumsy way of saying that someone is communicating too much. While communication is usually a great thing, if your partner has said they need space, then it’s important that you listen to that. So if your partner has said that they need some time to think or that they want to work on being more independent, than some things that are normally social acceptable might actually cross the border into oversharing. Context is everything. While normally updates about your day might be completely fine, if they said that they need some air but you bombard them with a dozen messages about things that aren’t really important, you’re invading their privacy and their space. This is why it’s so important that you communicate enough to understand where each other’s boundaries and needs are at any given time—because context and life happening can really change things.

See more: 8 Things That Seem Like Healthy Relationship Qualities—but Really Aren’t

When In Doubt, Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Sometimes it can feel difficult to know if it’s better to border on oversharing or on secrecy—and, the truth is, it’s best to take it on a case-by-case basis. Although you should take into account all of the considerations listed above, the bottom line is you should try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Have they said they value openness? Would you be hurt if you didn’t know this? Have they said they needed space? Is this relevant?

Every couple is different and, though communication is always important, there are some things that don’t always need to be said. Keep your partner and the situation in mind and decide if telling them something sensitive is actually the right thing to do. The best you can do is try to imagine what they’d want—and, when in doubt, have a larger conversation about communication.

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Wedding

Everything You Need To Know About Breastfeeding

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There are few areas of motherhood—or of just being a woman—that are as politicized as breastfeeding. There is so much pressure on women to not only breastfeed, but to do it seamlessly, without fear or complication. But the truth is, the idea of breastfeeding is scary and confusing for a lot of women—and rightfully so. It’s something your body has never done before, it can hurt, it can feel like your child depends on it, and, on top of all of that, you have an entire society’s expectations and burden on your shoulders.

But if you have some big questions—and fears—about breastfeeding, you’re not alone. It’s intimidating. You’re allowed to feel intimidated. And confused. And apprehensive. Don’t feel ashamed of that. Instead, try to focus on asking the questions you want to be answered, because the more you learn, the more informed and prepared you’ll feel. Here are some frequently asked questions about breastfeeding, because it really is a whole new world.

1. How Does My Baby Latch?

Latching is complicated, because for some babies it happens really naturally, while some can take longer—and others seem to just refuse. There are various techniques that women use to help assist their babies in the latching process—including the C hold, where you place your fingers under your breast and your thumb on top, more skin-to-skin contact, or taking a shallow, warm bath with your baby. But as I said, a lot of women struggle with this, so you shouldn’t feel like you’re doing something wrong if your baby is struggling to latch—some babies just find it more foreign than others.

2. How Much And How Often?

One thing that young mothers often feel confused about is how much milk they should be producing—but there really is no “should.” If your baby is putting on weight, that’s the most important thing. The first few days you’ll produce colostrum—which is great for the baby—and then you should switch to producing milk. You should aim to feed your baby around every 2-3 hours during the day and every 4 hours at night, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. As for how long the sessions should last, there’s no “right” amount of time, though some experts recommend about 10 minutes per breast. Your baby will normally keep sucking as long as they’re hungry and then drop off. If you’re concerned about over- or under-producing, you can talk to your doctor who will help reassure you that you’re on the right track.

3. Will It Hurt?

Sometimes, yes. Often you’ll experience “latching pain” at the beginning of a feeding, but it should pass after around 20 or 30 seconds. If your baby is latching improperly and you have a “shallow latch,” that can be more problematic—and lead to bruised or cracked nipples. If this happens, try to improve the latch technique or talk to your doctor because, for the most part, you shouldn’t be experiencing much discomfort.

If you feel run-down, feverish, or if there’s pain in your breast, talk to your doctor to be sure you don’t have mastitis, an infection that can cause breast inflammation.

4. What Gear Do I Need?

This varies so much from mother to mother. Many will have a breastfeeding bra designed with easy access in mind (at the very least, be sure to avoid underwires and stick with something loose and comfortable). If you go back to work, you’ll want a good pump to help you mimic your at-home feeding schedule—but even if you stay at home, a great pump can be a good investment, helping you store up milk to keep in the freezer and also encourage milk production. A quality nipple cream or lanolin cream can also help you keep your nipples happy—and a nursing cover can be a lifesaver in public. Though, as I said, some mothers will have every piece of gear under the sun, while others will stick to a more pared-back version. It’s totally down to your means and your preferences.

5. What About Drinking?

You’ve probably heard about pumping and dumping—having a few glasses of wine and then getting rid of the milk that would be contaminated by the alcohol. But not everyone is in agreement about pumping and dumping, so this is one area where it’s important to do your research, talk to your doctor, and make your own decision.

6. How Long Should I Breastfeed?

Again, totally up to you. Some groups recommended at least a couple of months while others suggest twelve. Many mothers stop at around six months, some mothers don’t wean until the child is two or three—or even older. It’s a very personal decision, one that will depend on you and your baby.

See more: What Should New Moms Eat While Breastfeeding?

7. Do I Have To?

No. You don’t have to breastfeed and it doesn’t make you a bad mother if you don’t. If your baby doesn’t latch, if you can’t breastfeed due to work concerns, if you run into problems and have to go to an alternative—there is nothing about choosing not to breastfeed that makes you a bad mother. Ignore the pressure and the culture—this is a personal decision.

Breastfeed is such an explosive topic, but it’s crucial that you make your own decisions. Do your research but, even more importantly, don’t be afraid to ask questions and voice your fears. It’s a big decision and, if you’re intimated, that’s OK—you’re not alone. Speak up and do what’s right for you.

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Wedding

Is It OK To Unfollow Your Partner On Social Media?

Wedding in the Maldives islands, Its celebration of happiness in the middle of ocean with World class Accomodation and Food on your Holiday package, Photo by Asad

We all know that social media is bad for us—it’s competitive, it’s addictive, and it’s often not very true to life. But there’s one negative side of social media that we don’t talk about as much: the fact that it can make us act like a totally different person or, sometimes, the worst version of ourselves.

This can be especially difficult in a couple. If one partner is social media-averse, while the other updates every moment of their life, it can be grating. But it if one partner has a negative persona online, an exaggerated, almost cartoon version of themselves—showy or aggressive or just constantly putting up a fake representation—that can cause real problems. So what can you do if you hate your partner’s social media persona? Well, it starts with figuring out how much it ties into who they are as a person. Here’s what you need to know.

Can You Separate The Persona From The Person?

As much as you might hate your partner’s online persona, you can’t immediately assume that it’s something totally divorced from who they are—it’s still an extension of them. Sure, for some people social media is a necessity for their job. If you’re with a model or a journalist or a writer, they may need to use social more than you would like to help keep their work going—or maybe even as part of a contractual obligation. It can be difficult, but that’s something you need to manage.

But what if it’s not for work? Then you need to look closer. Is there anything about their online behavior that would make you worry about who they are—or makes you think less of them? It’s not just about being on it a lot, it’s about who they are when they use social media. If you find that they’re bullying or aggressive, really fake, or that they use social media so much that they ignore you in the process, you may want to consider if this is the right person to be in a relationship with.

Set Some Boundaries

If you feel like you can handle your partner’s online presence, but you just don’t like it, then you need to set some boundaries. You should feel free to make it clear that you don’t like their social media use and why—with an emphasis on how it makes you feel. Explain to them that you feel like they show off to much or that they use it inappropriately and that it makes you feel small, confused, or worried. Then explain that you won’t always be liking their posts or that you want them to stop using their phones during dinner—whatever it is that’s going to make it easier for you to deal with their online persona.

One caveat to this would be if they act like they’re single on their social media profiles—often known as “stashing.” If you feel like they’re actually promoting being single on their social media, then you need to have a much bigger conversation about why that’s happening. Sure, some people are just more private than others, but there’s a difference between being private and actively hiding your partner. Feel it out—if they get cagey and defensive, you’ll get a good sense of whether or not they’re up to no good.

If You Need To, Don’t Be Afraid Of The Unfollow Button

If you love your partner and don’t think that their unpalatable social media profile is representative of who they, feel free to unfollow or unfriend them. It may seem extreme, but it actually can help you get some headspace. It’s especially helpful if they need to use social media for work or if you feel like it’s a good outlet for them. It allows them to have their own little corner of the internet and for you to get some peace and quiet (on the internet, at the very least).

Of course, if you go this route then you’re going to want to have a conversation with your partner. They may be hurt or confused that you want to take such a big step, so explain why you think it’s good for you and for your relationship. Give them some room to be a little hurt and upset—let them ask questions—but, ultimately, you still might find that it’s the right decision for both of you.

See more: The 5 Worst Social Media Mistakes Couples Make

Social media is definitely a blessing and a curse (OK, so it’s probably more of a curse). But it doesn’t have to be the end of a relationship, even if you find your partner’s use totally infuriating. Instead, try to come up with some ways to manage your interaction with your partner’s accounts—even if that means the dreaded “unfollow” button. But if you find their usage really worrying, you may want to consider what that says about them as person. Because no matter who we are online, it’s still a part of us.

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Wedding

A Glossary Of Money Terms You and Your Significant Other Need to Know

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Becoming an adult isn’t always fun—but there’s a huge feeling of accomplishment that comes with mastering and understanding things that once seemed far too “adult” for you. And nowhere is that more apparent than in the confusing, jargon-filled world of finance and money. With your SEPs and your ETFs and your 401(k), it can feel like an alien language just designed to make you feel frustrated. But the truth is, the language is often a lot more confusing than the concept behind it.

When you break it down, a lot of finance is pretty straightforward—you make money, you pay taxes, you save money, sometimes you need to borrow it, and sometimes you lose it. If you can see past the jargon, things get a lot more clear—and you can start to take a real hold of your financial future. Don’t let the confusing language keep you away from making savvy financial decisions. Here’s a crash course in finance and a glossary of terms, so you can start to take a more active role in your financial future.

Retirement

401(k)

A 401(k) is much less complicated than the name suggests—it basically boils down to a retirement savings plan that is sponsored by your employer. Part of your pre-tax paycheck goes into the account every month and a part of what you put in is normally matched by your employer. When in doubt, talk to your HR department.

IRA

The other major retirement account you need to know about is an IRA. For some people, like the self-employed, this is their primary retirement savings opportunity—in the form of a SEP IRA. But anyone can sign up for an IRA in addition to their other retirement plans The most important distinction the traditional IRA versus a Roth IRA.

With a traditional IRA you can make contributions up to a certain limit (up to around $5,500 per year) and that amount is tax-deferred—you don’t need to pay taxes on it this year, but you will pay taxes when you cash it when you retire. A Roth IRA is the opposite, you pay taxes on the money you invest now but not when you take it out.

Investing

The Rule Of 72

The rule of 72 is actually one of the niftiest little tricks to help you understand money and saving—one that helps you estimate how long it will take your money to double. Divide 72 by your annual return rate and that gives you the number of years it will take your money to double. So if you expect to make 5 percent a year in returns, your money should double in about 14 years. (But of course, you need start saving first… and for most of us, that’s the tricky part.)

Mutual Funds And ETFs

Mutual funds are the kinds of thing you probably feel like you’ve heard your parents or grandparents talk about, without having any idea of what they actually are. Basically, they’re both ways to invest without just focusing on one stock. If you’re looking to diversify your portfolio (another buzzword you should know, which basically means just spreading things out), then these are a great way to do it—because they’re both linked to a lot of stocks at once. But while a mutual fund (the more old-school version) is passively managed and linked to a huge index of stocks, an ETF is actively managed—people choose which stocks should be included. Those are the basic differences, but be sure to do your research if you’re looking at investing.

Capital Gains/Losses

Capital gains and losses are important to understand, because they can be crucial to you during tax season. These are basically gains or losses that come from an investment. If you buy a house and the value goes up, the amount you made is capital gains. Similarly, if you invest in stocks and they go down, the losses that happened are capital losses. But these gains or losses aren’t “realized” until you actually sell or cash out. So if your house has been going up in value by $20,000 every year for the last five years since you bought it, it’s not until you actually sell the property that you have a $100,000 in capital gains.

Miscellaneous

FICO Score

Your FICO score is one of the things that lenders will consider when you try to borrow money—like you would for a mortgage. They look at your credit history to evaluate your loan worthiness and estimate your ability to repay. The standard FICO range goes from 300 to 850, so your score would normally fall within those parameters.

Tax Withholding

Does your tax come out your paycheck every month, while you see your friends paying up come tax season? That’s because of tax withholding. Tax withholding is basically when your employer withholds the money and gives it directly to the government, so you don’t have to worry about one big lump sum at the end of the year. Don’t remember signing up for it? It was probably a part of your W4 form, which you would have filled out when you started your job.

See more: The 6 Best Apps for First-Time Investors

Compound Interest

Compound interest goes in the miscellaneous pile because you probably learned about it math class in elementary school or high school—and then immediately forgot about it. But I saved the best for last, because compound interest helps you understand how your money multiplies. If you save $100 and get 8 percent returns, you’ll have $108 dollars at the end of a year. But the next year, you’ll also make money on those extra 8 dollars—and so and so forth. When you’re interest is earning interest, that’s when you’re money is really working for you.

There’s so much jargon in finance, that it’s easy to find it overwhelming—but if you take some time to familiarize yourself, you’ll realize it’s not as scary as you think. Then you can take your financial future into your own hands, because it’s never too late.

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Why It Can Be Dangerous For Only One Partner to Handle Finances

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It’s no surprise that many people feel uncomfortable talking about money, but new research shows that the way that many of us divvy up the financial responsibility in our relationships might be putting us at risk. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that many couples tend to handle money on a “need to know” basis. That is, one partner takes on all of the responsibility and then the other doesn’t need to worry about it, so they never really think about it again.

Now, this isn’t saying that one partner makes all of the money—although in some cases, that will be true. But here we’re talking about handling the money and the bulk of the financial responsibilities—organizing bills, budgeting, and so on.

While it might seem like common sense to have one person take on the financial responsibility—and maybe it even seems efficient—this “need to know” method creates larger problems, both for your finances and for your future. Here’s what the research found.

How We Decide Who Handles The Money

In a relationship, you would imagine that both people naturally gravitate towards what they’re good at—one person takes on more DIY, one might be better at cooking, and someone money savvy handles the finances. Well, that’s not what the research found. In fact, expertise had nothing to do with it—to a worrying degree.

According to lead researcher Adrian F. Ward of UT Austin’s McCombs School of Business, the person who tended to take responsibility for finances was the person “who hated it the least, and who was doing less other stuff for the relationship.” That’s a pretty worrying quote. It turns out, most people don’t like budgeting—which might not be a surprise—but the idea that the finances are just left to whoever isn’t doing anything else seems not very thought through.

I’m all for equal division of labor in a relationship, but finances are too important to be assigned apathetically or by default. If one of you is more disciplined, more numerate, or just better at budgeting, that should be the person leading the financial planning—it’s better for both of you in the long run.

If You Don’t Use It, You Lose It

Even though the more financially literate partner might want to take the lead in financial planning and budgeting, it shouldn’t be a one-person job. One of the most interesting and important parts of this study was that financial literacy is like a muscle—if you don’t use it, you lose it. Though it’s natural for couples to find a distribution of chores, financial literacy is important for everyone. But, if you get into a cycle where only one of you handles the money, you might not realize how that is affecting the other person over the months and years that follow.

“When relationship partners come to rely on each other in this way, they adopt specialized areas of responsibility that shape what each person knows, learns, and even notices,” the authors explained. So, over the years, you can completely lose touch with basic financial and budgeting skills that are essential.

This issue was compounded by the fact that it was normally the partner who was the least financially literate who would avoid taking on financial responsibilities in the first place, “In fact, we found that those who had offloaded more responsibility for more time— those who likely needed additional information the most—were the least likely to read it,” the authors said. So someone who was already in a more vulnerable position financially was likely to end up becoming more vulnerable over time.

See more: How To Talk To Your Partner About Their Spending

Protect Yourself

With new data showing that nearly one in three Americans take on their partner’s debt—and that they can continue to hold onto that debt after the relationship breaks down—it’s more important than ever to be financially savvy and independent. Americans take on over $11,000 of their partner’s debt on average (and most of that happening through marriage), so it’s time to start understanding how to take the reins of your own finances.

Unfortunately, that can entail admitting that not all relationships last forever. The truth is, no matter how strong a relationship seems, many, if not most, relationships end—and you need to be prepared and independent if that happens. “One of the hard things here is getting people to acknowledge that maybe they won’t be able to rely on someone forever,” Ward said. “But forcing people to come to grips with that reality may change the way they interact with financial information.”

Not all relationships last forever—and you don’t want to be in a vulnerable position if yours breaks down. Not only that, financial dependence can keep women in toxic and even abusive relationships, so having a degree of independence and financial skills is so crucial.

The way you split up the chores and responsibilities in the household probably feels completely natural, but financial literacy is different to taking out the trash or doing the dishes—it’s a skill we need to learn and keep practicing. So make sure you’re both playing a role in the financial health of your relationship, both for your finances and for your future.

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Wedding

How Relationship Stress Can Affect Your Gut Health — And How To Fix It

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Though you may be aware that relationship disagreements can have some serious effects on your stress levels and even your mental health, you probably didn’t see this side effect coming. According to a new study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, stress in your marriage can actually take a negative toll on your gut health. And as poor gut health has been linked to everything from poor digestion to memory problems to skin issues, you may want to keep the findings in mind.

The study may be small — and it will be fascinating to see if any follow-up research is done — but it seemed to show a really interesting correlation. Researchers gave couples a survey about their relationship and then had them tackle a disagreement for 20 minutes. After that, researchers drew their blood. What they found was really telling: couples who had displayed more conflict and animosity as they tried to sort out the disagreement were found to have higher levels of LPS-binding protein, which is an indicator of leaky gut syndrome. This syndrome leads to inflammation-causing bacteria being released into the body and can have a huge effect on your health — all because of relationship stress.

Even though we all know that marital disagreements can be stressful, realizing that they could actually lead to physical illness feels far more significant. “We think that this everyday marital distress — at least for some people — is causing changes in the gut that lead to inflammation and, potentially, illness,” Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, and one of the study authors said in a press release. One of the reasons that disagreements and stress in a marriage or in a relationship can have such a profound effect is that it totally reverses the role your relationship should play in your life.

Marital stress is a particularly potent stress, because your partner is typically your primary support and in a troubled marriage your partner becomes your major source of stress,” Kiecolt-Glaser said. So not only do you lose your major support network during times of a disagreement than your partner**,** the fact that your primary source of support is also the source of your stress is incredibly difficult for a lot of us to handle. Combine that with all of the negative ways stress can mess with your health and this can be a real problem.

If you feel like your relationship stress or disagreements are affecting your help, you should tackle the problem from two directions — the cause and the effect.

Start With The Relationship Stress

To treat the cause of the problem, focus on your relationship, especially your communication style. A lot of ongoing tension comes from a lack of communication about (and resolution of) existing problems. You know that horrible knot in your stomach when something is off between you and your partner, but you don’t know how to bring it up? It can feel totally torturous. So you need to tackle the problem head-on. Bring up the fact that there’s been tension, but do your best to keep it a low-conflict, low-stress conversation. Talk about how you feel, avoid accusations, and give them room to talk. Combining a candid look at what’s been bothering you with some time to reconnect — a nice date night, a bubble bath, or just some physical touching while cuddling up on the couch — can help the relationship start to repair.

And Look At Your Gut

As you’re healing your relationship, you need to heal your gut as well. There are a few really simple steps you can take that can help you restore your gut balance. Eating lots of plant-based food and fiber can help, as can avoiding heavily processed foods and other foods that can cause irritation. Another tip is to stick with healthy fats, especially extra-virgin olive oil, which is said to contain more microbe-friendly polyphenols than other cooking oils. Some people swear by fermented foods and yogurts, but be aware that the science is mixed — although they’re unlikely to do you any harm, so if you’re wild about kimchi then dive right in.

There’s also your overall health to think about. You’ll want to be extra careful and aware of what you’re eating if you’ve been on antibiotics, as they can upset the bacteria levels in your gut. And of course, general self-care and stress-reducing activities — from yoga to a spin class to meditation or a long walk — are always helpful if you’re hoping to feel more balanced and centered. Pay attention to your body and how different foods, activities, and exertion levels seem to affect your digestion. Try to take some time to rest and give your body what it needs.

See more: Can Stress Really Affect Fertility?

Relationship stress might be excruciating, but not many of us would have realized the huge knock-on effect it can have on our health — especially our gut health. And though you may want to tackle your gut issues, don’t forget that relationship stress is the source of the issue. Improve your communication skills and things should get better from there.

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Wedding

How Do You Form Friendships As An Adult?

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It’s a depressing truth that there seem to be two major times in your young adulthood when friendships go through a major shift. The first is straight out of college, when everyone relocates, settles, and starts to turn into the adults that they’ll become. The second is your late 20s or early 30s, when some people start to get married, settle down with kids, and maybe relocate to somewhere a little bit more family friendly. And even though these are totally natural shifts, they can also feel totally overwhelming because, frankly, how are you supposed to make new friends as an adult?

It can be more intimidating than it seems. As your friendships start to drift or fade out, you may want to create new friendships. But without the structure of school or college helping to bind you together, trying to form friendships as an adult is tricky. Even if you talk to a coworker every day and get along great with her, asking her for lunch can feel as scary as asking a stranger on a date—sweaty palms and all. Luckily, if you know where to look—and use a little science—you’ll find that making new friendships as an adult is completely doable. Here’s what you need to remember.

Start With What You Already Know

Firstly, if you you’re looking to make friends, start with the environments you’re already comfortable in—your job, your spin class, even your local coffee shop. Even though it can feel scary, a lot of adults are looking for friendships—so try to start up a conversation. If you have a connection or a spark, especially with someone at work, asking to go get lunch or organizing an after-work drink isn’t that big of a leap—and it happens to be how I found my roommate of four years. So next time you’re around the water cooler, spend a little more time chatting and putting out friendship feelers.

Follow The Things That You Love

Like I said, there are lots of other people out there looking for friends. If you don’t know where to start, try online Meetup groups. Whether you like comedy, comic books, rock climbing, or something really niche, there’s a group out there full of friendly people who are always happy to welcome someone new. And the best part is that pursuing your passions means you’ll have a built-in conversation topic, one that you’ll be excited to talk about.

Use Science-Backed Tips

Once you’ve figured out where to meet people, it’s time to make a connection. It starts by being a good listener. The Harvard Business Review found the great listeners are active listeners—rather than just sitting back and listening, ask questions, show that you’re engaged, and pay attention. Picking up on little details makes the other person feel heard and is a great way to make them feel comfortable and interested in spending time with you.

But it’s not just a one-way street. A study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found that oversharing can pay off—people are drawn to someone who’s willing to be open, candid, and even a little vulnerable. It doesn’t mean sharing your life story as soon as you meet someone, but being willing to crack a joke or being honest about the fact that you’re nervous can endear you to people in a hurry.

Don’t Be Afraid To Get Back In Touch

It may be that the idea of going out and meeting totally new people feels completely overwhelming—and a little forced, like friendship networking. If you feel that way, you’re definitely not alone. But there’s still a way to make new friends—by looking back at friends you already had. One study in Organization Science found that reconnecting with people you’ve lost touch with can actually be incredibly rewarding. So many people lose touch because life happens—there’s not any animosity or ill-will, you just sort of drift apart. If there’s someone who you’re feeling nostalgic for or if you realize an old friend lives nearby, don’t be afraid to reach out.

See more: 7 Ways to Keep Your Friends Close, From Your Engagement to Your Wedding—and Beyond

Follow Up

You’ve made friends—or reconnected with old ones—which is great, but you have to keep them. Research from Notre Dame has found that in order to maintain a friendship with someone, it’s good to touch base every week to two weeks—so be bold about following up. A text or a coffee every couple of weeks isn’t a big commitment, but it will help keep the ball rolling as new friendships grow. You don’t need to be totally over the top about scheduling rigid coffee dates on a weekly basis, but making sure that there’s regular contact will help the process feel more organic.

Making new friends as an adult is scary—but so many people are trying to do the same thing. Don’t be afraid to open, candid, and get in touch with people you feel a connection to, even if you haven’t spoken to them for years. Friendships shift and change, but there’s always room for new ones to develop.

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Wedding

How To Repair A Broken Relationship With Your Parents

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When we speak about relationships, we normally think in terms of romantic relationships—how to build them, how they break down, how to fix them. But as a society, we speak a lot less about what is often a more fundamental, even foundational, relationship—our relationship with our parents. Having a flawed, broken relationship with your parents isn’t unusual, but it’s almost worth taking the time to try to put it back together. “Repairing a broken relationship with your parents is always worth a shot,” relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW, tells Brides. “There are the occasional parents who are truly toxic and abusive, and those relationships are often worth severing for your own mental health. However, more often than not, there are some good parts of family relationships that are worth trying to repair.”

But rebuilding a relationship with your parents can feel like an insurmountable challenge. Any kind of broken relationship is difficult to repair, but with a parent-child relationship it’s often more nuanced—not only is it a relationship between two people with all of its own complexity, it also has the inherent complication of the growing pains that come as a children transition into adulthood.

There are so many intricate dynamics in the relationship between parents and their adult children: realizing your parents aren’t perfect; your parents accepting that you don’t have to listen to them or that they can’t help you anymore; a parent becoming dependent on you. But if you want to start to take some step to mend the relationship, here’s what you should keep in mind.

Try To Start The Dialogue With Warmth

First off, if you’re going to reach out, then you need give a feeling of openness—that you’re looking for reconciliation, rather than look for a fight. You don’t need to ignore the fact that your relationship has been rocky—in fact referencing that can help—but also make it clear you want to mend things.

“Reach out, be direct, and be warm,” Hartstein says. “Tell your parents that you feel badly about fighting and being estranged.” If your relationship has gotten to this point, there’s a good chance that some hurtful things have been said and done on both sides, so if you want your parent or parents to open themselves up to you again, then you need to create a safe space for that to happen. That will probably mean start with small gestures—a coffee, a dinner, a family gathering—and allowing you to warm up to each other over time.

Avoid Hot Button Issues—At First

Part of making a safe space means not getting right back into the argument. Now, it can be very tempting to jump in with both feet, with the attitude of, “I want us to be close again, but only once I resolve this.” It’s natural. You want to feel heard, and to feel validated. And that’s fair—but you’re not going to get it right away and you’re not going to get it by being adversarial.

“It often helps to not directly approach whatever topics have been hot buttons in the past,” Hartstein says. “Talk about areas that are common ground and not contentious at first.” If you can cultivate a strong relationship again, or at least the foundations of it, you’ll both be more receptive to the other’s point of view. Communication is always good—and you should get to the issues in time, but you need to create the fertile ground first.

By the same token, if your parents try to pick a fight or start rehashing old issues immediately, you can say to them, “I want to get to that, but I’d really prefer if we just focus on being a family for now. Let’s start small.”

See more: What to Do If You Don’t Want to Invite Your Parents to Your Wedding

Don’t Be Afraid To Seek Professional Help

Family relationships are so densely, intricately complex—they form over years and decades, with this intractable power. So, if either you or your parents can’t seem to maintain a friendly relationship but you want to improve, it may be that a professional can help you. “Chances are, your parents would also like to repair this broken relationship so they are likely to meet you halfway,” Hartstein says.” If you find that, even with the best intentions, it’s hard to have a conversation that doesn’t devolve into arguing, a few sessions with a family therapist can go a very long way.” It may feel extreme and, at times, it can make you feel intimidated and vulnerable, but having an objective, third-party referee can be invaluable.

Unless there’s abuse or toxicity, it’s almost always worth it to try to rebuild a parent relationship. The trick is to not expect catharsis and healing right away. Focus on the fact that you want to reconnect, rather than the things that drove you apart in the first place. Move slowly and with compassion—and get help if you need it.

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Real Women Share Their Biggest Money Fights

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Talking about money in a relationship is tricky—in fact, money comes up as the number one source of relationship stress in survey after survey. People have a tendency to not talk about it until it’s too late and, when they do talk about it, it’s easy to get defensive or irrational. So if you and your partner fight about money, don’t worry—you are definitely not alone.

In fact, Brides spoke to some real women to get an idea of the kind of arguments they were having with their partner over money. There are different ways financial stresses can manifest—from when there’s an inherent inequality in how much you make to when there’s just not enough money to go around, period. If you want to get a sense of the kind of fights couples are having about money, here are real women sharing their biggest money fights, because when it comes to finances, we’re not always our best selves.

When There’s A Lack Of Communication

“I literally just had my biggest money fight—and it led to us breaking up. When I was on holiday in Thailand he paid for a lot of things up front (not everything, but a lot of things), with the agreement that I’d pay him back when we got home, because I was broke that month. Even though I kept saying thank you and reminding him I’d pay him back (and I did pay for some things), I didn’t realize that he was getting more angry and resentful every time he bought anything. About a week after we got home we had a huge row—which we couldn’t get over. I got super defensive (not great, I know), but I also felt like he shouldn’t have kept saying ‘It’s fine, it’s fine, don’t worry!’ when it was clearly not fine. Basically, it broke us up.”

— Simone, 29

This was a common theme. A lot of the problems around money come from a reticence to talk about it and, when we do talk about it, not being open about how we really feel or what we’re thinking. It’s easy to see how resentment and confusion can grow. Talking about money often and incorporating into your day-to-day conversation—rather just big, difficult talks—will help make you more comfortable being honest about your finances.

When A Temporary Arrangement Becomes Less Temporary

“My fiancé (now my husband) was starting his own business, something I was very proud of. When it took longer than expected and funding ran out, I stepped up to cover all of the living costs. I paid the mortgage, bought groceries, and any little treats or splurges were on me (though there weren’t many). It was a very stressful time. I also occasionally gave him spending money. This was meant to last for six months, tops, but went on for nearly two years. This led to a lot of little money fights and then one huge one, after the business failed and he wanted to keep trying. I freaked, because I just couldn’t do it anymore. Now, he has had a great job and things are better, but I’m still slightly skeptical of his financial common sense, so I keep a close eye on things.”

— Susannah, 32

If you start helping your partner out and then it just keeps going, it can create an awkward situation. You don’t know when to pull the plug, you want to be supportive, but, slowly, the bitterness can build. If you get into a temporary arrangement—when your partner is unemployed or struggling—make sure to set some clear boundaries and make an effort to check in regularly to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand.

When There’s An Inherent Inequality

“My boyfriend and I live in a flat that his father owns—we split the bills. My boyfriend earns a lot more than me and also has super expensive tastes, so normally if he wants to go somewhere I would never pick then he foots the bill. But occasionally, he’ll get annoyed and we’ll have a blowout—it’s never one specific thing, it seems to be some combination of the fact I don’t pay rent and pay less generally. But he doesn’t pay rent either—and makes way more and wants to go to places I would never choose. I’m not on a career path to make much money and he is, so I only see this problem getting worse, but I don’t know what to do about it.

— Eliza, 30

Sometimes, one of you just makes more than the other. The best thing you do in this case is to come up with a system and stick with it. Separate accounts and a joint account can help, as you can put a set amount in the joint account for everything you do together. The amount may be a percentage of your income or any other distribution that works for you, but decide in advance and stick to it so it doesn’t feel like constant negotiation.

When There’s Just Not Enough

“Both my partner and I are budgeters—and we’re wicked good at it. Spreadsheets, envelopes—we’ve pretty much tried every money plan that we possibly could. But we’re still broke and sh*t gets hard. We don’t try to get angry with each other, because we both know the other ones tries, but when there’s not enough money, we tend to fight. Not about money, actually—it’s like we’re so on edge when there’s a new bill or we’re not sleeping enough because we’re worried about rent due or how we’re going to get home for Christmas, so then we’re just touchy about everything. I feel guilty, because I know it’s irrational and I know he does too. But it can just feel like this weight, like we get out of one month and finally breath for a second but then it’s back again.”

— Rose, 35

With all of the talk about how to manage your money and how to talk about money, it’s important not to lose sight of one key point: sometimes there just isn’t enough. It’s easy to come up with these hypothetical dynamics and goals when you have endless income, but the truth is normally far from that. If you don’t have enough money no matter what you do, let yourself off the hook a little. Of course, you should keep budgeting, keep being compassionate with each other, and keep trying—but also, know that you’re going to get stressed from time to time. Not having enough money is really, really hard—and so many of us experience it.

See more: Can Money Troubles Actually Help Your Marriage Thrive?

Money fights can totally overpower a relationship—and they arise in so many different forms. The best thing you can do is be open about your finances, talk about your different spending habits, and keep things transparent. That doesn’t mean telling the other person about every dollar you spend, it just means be transparent in an agreement and strategy you make together. When in doubt, talk it out.

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The Type Of Relationship Betrayal You Should Really Be Aware Of

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When we think of betrayal in a relationship, it’s normally in a bold, almost cinematic situation—an affair, a one night stand in the heat of a fight, maybe even walking out in the middle of the night. But the truth is, many betrayals are far more subtle—and they’re usually anything but glamorous. Sure, there’s the betrayal when you run into the arms of someone else, but there’s also the more pedestrian, day-to-day betrayal that happens when you move away from your relationship and your partner emotionally over time.

And it’s important to understand all of these different betrayals because even the most seemingly innocent forms can still slowly eat away at your relationship. Here’s what you should look out for.

Non-Physical Infidelity

Not all infidelity in a relationship is physical. There are a lot of behaviors that easily pass the benchmark for infidelity that don’t involve any touching at all—in fact, infidelity doesn’t have to have anything to do with sexual attraction or even another person. Financial infidelity is an major form of betrayal that isn’t spoken about enough. While it’s healthy to have some independence financially—and you shouldn’t feel the need to tell your partner every time you buy yourself a t-shirt or a coffee—more secretive financial behavior can be incredibly worrying. Especially if those secrets involve debts or spending that impacts your partner’s financial security or credit, it’s a breach of trust that simply isn’t OK.

Another form of non-physical infidelity, one that resembles more traditional infidelity, is emotional cheating. Developing an emotional dependency on another person, especially when that replaces your emotional connection with your partner, can be just as destructive of a betrayal as cheating. But then again, having friendships is healthy—and sometimes the line between innocent friendships and emotional infidelity can be difficult to discern.

Normally if your attracted to the person, imagine having an affair with them, or find that the connection is having a negative impact on your relationship, you’ll know that you’re dealing with an emotional affair rather than an innocuous friendship.

Other Forms Of Betrayal

There are other forms of betrayal that may not reach the level of infidelity but can certainly do a number on your relationship. Some of them are deliberate, while some of them you may not even notice yourself doing. But you need to be mindful of when you’re being disrespectful to your partner because these small betrayals have the power to erode your relationship over time.

One of those ways can be divulging personal information about your partner—specifically information that they wouldn’t want others to know. This is a difficult balance, because on the one hand you have every right to talk to your friends, blow off steam and get advice. But if it’s something so deep and personal to your partner that you know they would never want anyone else to know, then that’s something you should keep close to the chest.

One of the trickiest positions you may be put in is managing your relationship with your partner’s friends and family—this is an area where you may end up clipping into betrayal without any malicious intent, but because you’ feel stuck. For example, if you know your partner has a difficult relationship with their mother, but their mother tries to win you over or shares information about them, or drags you into a conversation where they want you to divulge personal information, you may have to work hard to respect your partner’s boundaries.

Another important group to be aware of is people who you’re attracted to or flirting with. Divulging private information about your partner or sharing secrets more generally can also cross a line, especially when it’s to someone that you’re attracted to or you know your partner dislikes. In fact, it’s often the early stages of an emotional affair.

See more: What Is Micro-Cheating—And Why It Shouldn’t Be a Thing

Betraying Any Agreements You’ve Made To Each Other

The truth is, while some betrayals are universal, every relationship is full of individual agreements you’ve made to each other. Some of them might be explicit, some of them might be tacit, but in a partnership, there are endless agreements and understanding. So if you agreed to take more time off of work but then refuse to, that is a betrayal of trust. So is taking advantage of your partner, being critical of them, and becoming complacent—because it’s a betrayal of the emotional foundations that a relationship is built on. So be aware of what your relationship has always looked like, what unstated dynamics you’ve created, and make sure that you’re respecting those expectations.

Betrayal is rarely like you see in the movies—it’s often a slow disintegration of intimacy and of trust. Knowing these other forms of betrayal can help protect your relationship because, ultimately, it’s about the trust the two of you have built.

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Wedding

How to Cope If You Feel Like You Or Your Partner Is Changing

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At the beginning of a relationship, you want to imagine that the amazing bubble you’re in will last forever. You’re completely in awe of your partner, they’re in awe of you, and your compatibility feels totally unbreakable—and maybe it is unbreakable, at least for that moment. But the truth is, nobody stays the same, which means that no relationship stays the same. But as both people in a relationship change and evolve, they don’t always evolve together—and that can be a very difficult process to accept.

The important thing to remember is that, even though you might find yourself changing or your partner changing, you don’t need to panic—your relationship can almost always survive that. You just need to figure out how to get past the growing pains. If you can keep the lines of communication open and be willing to reimagine certain aspects of your relationship, it can be an amazing opportunity for growth. Here’s how couples can cope with both of you changing over time, because if you approach it with an open mind, it can actually improve your relationship.

Remember That Both Of You Change

When you see your partner changing, it can be a jarring and even upsetting experience. Maybe they become more devoted to work, maybe they get more into yoga and mindfulness, maybe they just seem more stressed and less fun than they used to be. You start to wonder not only if they’re still the person that you fell in love with, but also if they’re still the same person who loves you. It’s easy to start feeling insecure.

But before you start to worry, take a look at yourself. You’re probably not the same person who your partner met. Remember the fact that you used to be able to party until 2 am but now you want to stay home and watch Law and Order—or that you never thought you’d want kids and now you couldn’t live without them. You’ve changed since you met your partner, but you love them just the same. So don’t see this change as something unique to them, remember that it happens to all of us.

Don’t Worry In Silence

As couples see themselves changing, it’s important to talk about those changes. It doesn’t always have to be a huge, serious conversation—you can just tease each other about how you thought you’d never go to an Ikea on a Sunday or actually enjoy it or how they’ve started skydiving to handle a midlife crisis. Reminiscing about the past and tracing how you’ve changed can be a fun bonding experience and keep you from feeling like strangers to each other. The changes didn’t happen overnight, so have a laugh and look back on how different you used to be.

That being said, if you do feel like your partner has changed in a way that’s affecting your relationship, you should feel comfortable to bring that up to them. Start a dialogue by saying what you’ve noticed and, crucially, how it makes you feel. They may not have realized how it was affecting you.

Make Sure You’re Finding Things For Yourself

If your partner has gone through a renaissance and is suddenly spending more time socializing or working out or discovering themselves, that can be a great thing for a relationship—if you’re not sitting at home twiddling your thumbs. A lot of the fear and resentment around change comes from finding yourself at a loose end or feeling abandoned. So, if one partner is finding new things that they love to do, they should encourage the other to do the same. You can both have new adventures separately, as long as you support each other and keep a strong base at home. If your partner is still being good to you, you shouldn’t make them guilty if they’re spreading their wings a little.

Keep Making Time For Each Other

If your changes over time have started to affect your day to day life—the way that you spend your time, the people you socialize with—make sure you’re still making time for each other. If your partner has discovered they love climbing and spend weekends away scaling mountains, that might be an amazing source of fulfillment and socialization for them. But you need to make sure you’re still spending time together. If you evolve in different directions that’s OK, independence can actually be a really nourishing part of a relationship, but you need to make sure that you don’t evolve into totally different spheres. Carve out time to spend just the two of you, watch your old favorite movies or go to a favorite restaurant—things that remind you why you’re so compatible.

See more: Signs You Need To Take A Step Back In Your Relationship

Know If You’re Not Longer Making Each Other Happy

Normally, change is a healthy—even beneficial—part of a relationship. But sometimes, people just do grow too far apart. If you feel like you really don’t know this person, that you don’t have anything in common, and that maybe you don’t even like who they’ve become, it may be time to reassess the relationship. It may be that their personality has changed fundamentally into someone you don’t like. If you’ve really grown that far apart, don’t be scared to find someone who can make you happy. It’s rare that you can’t find a middle ground, but sometimes you may just need to be realistic about whether you’ve just become too different.

Changing as people throughout a relationship is totally natural—and can help keep your relationship fresh as you discover new interests and passions. You just need to keep connecting to each other. Even if the superficial things and the trappings change, you’re still the people who fell in love and built a life together—and that’s more important than the small changes.

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Wedding

Signs You Need To Take A Step Back In Your Relationship

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A relationship, especially a long-term relationship, can be a tricky balance. You spend time together, you build a life together, but you still need to maintain your individual existences. It’s not unusual to have a moment when you realize that you need to take a step back — and in some cases, you need to take a whole leap back.

It might be because your partner asks you for space—which isn’t a sign that they aren’t head over heels for you or that your relationship isn’t amazing. Needing space is totally natural. But sometimes, your partner might not always ask for it — even when they need it. Maybe they’re shy or awkward — or maybe they just don’t know where to start. So you need to be aware of the signs that it’s time for you to take a step back and be a little more hands-off in your relationship, because no matter how much you love someone, you never want to suffocate them. Here’s what you need to look out for.

You’re Too Involved In Their Professional Life

No matter how close of a couple you are, you should have separate domains — work is often a private domain for each of you. Sure, you may swap stories of your day and ask each other advice, but there’s a level of separation. If you find yourself trying to drive or control their professional trajectory, asking incessant questions about their job, and having a lot of opinions on their coworkers and office, you should maybe take a step back.

You Only Socialize As A Couple

Socializing as a couple is great, but if it’s your only form of socialization then it may be that you’ve gotten a little too connected. There should still be room for both of your passions, hobbies, and friends — and that requires spending some time apart now and again. If your calendars line up perfectly, make sure that you try to shake things up and get some space.

You Tag Along Uninvited

Even more of a problem than only socializing as a couple is socializing as a couple when you weren’t invited as a couple. Some people assume that everywhere their partner is invited also includes them — because they’ve married or they’ve been together so long. But, there’s no way to say this delicately: they’re wrong*.* Look around at social events; if it wasn’t clearly built for couples then assume it was only meant for your partner. Instead of joining in, focus on growing your own experience.

You Speak For Your Partner

Some people really love being a “we” — and let’s be honest, there’s a lot to love about it. But if you’re constantly jumping in with “we” this and “we” that, make sure you and your partner are getting some “I” time, as well. If someone asks your partner a question, they should be able to answer it — even if it’s about something that involved you, too. Just because you do things together doesn’t mean you lose your individuals identities and experiences — and your partner should feel free to share them.

Your Partner Is Getting Annoyed By Little Things

When someone’s a little too hands-on, no matter how much you love them, it’s normal to reach a place where you just can’t take it anymore. If your partner is touchy or seems stressed with you, it may be that they need some space and don’t know how to ask for it. See if giving them some room improves the relationship.

You Call All Of The Shots

From where to go out for dinner to where to go on vacation, relationships are often a series of little compromises. If you find that you’re always making the choices, big and small, then you may have a bit of an overbearing hand in the relationship. Try to take a step back and give your partner a chance to be on equal footing — or else resentment can build in the long term.

See more: Why Silence Is Great For Your Relationship

You Can’t Imagine Your Life Without Them

A lot of people say that they “can’t imagine” their lives without their partner — but it’s usually as a figure of speech. In a healthy relationship, no matter how much you love your partner, no matter how devoted you are, no matter how strong your relationship is, you should still be able to image your life without them. It may be horrible or scary or even make you feel a bit sick, but you should have a sense that eventually, if something happened in your relationship, you’d be OK. If you really feel like you need this person in an innate way, then you’re too dependent. You can exist without them. If they don’t feel that, it might panic them. You need to take a step back and give your partner some space.

If you and your partner are madly in love with someone, it’s easy to see how you can want to be involved in every part of that person’s life. But your partner needs to feel independent — and they need to feel that you’re independent as well. So sometimes, taking a more hands-off approach is the best thing you can do for your relationship. It might even save it.

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Wedding

Are Your Old Relationships Affecting Your Current One?

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Some relationships stay with you longer than others. It may be a fond memory, a quirk that you picked up, or it may be something a little more difficult to deal with—baggage.

You should never feel guilty about baggage—we all have it. And, in a lot of relationships, your baggage won’t hold you back. You and your partner will both have some hang-ups from previous relationships, but you’ll find a way to talk it through and deal with it together. But sometimes, the baggage is a little heavier. You may find that you’re constantly thinking about your previous relationship or, even if you’re not actively thinking about your ex (or exes), you may find certain behaviors and mindsets are holding this relationship back. Sometimes it may be obvious what’s going, but it can also be much more subtle.

But how can you tell if you baggage is totally innocent—or if it’s actually affecting your relationship? Here are the signs to look out for.

Your Past Relationships Are On Your Mind

This is the most obvious sign that your past relationships are affecting your current one. If your exes—or one particular ex—are still taking a lot of head space, that’s definitely keeping you from fully engaging in your current relationship. You might not even realize it happening. But whether you’re angry or nostalgic, being on your mind is still a sign that you’re carrying your ex with you.

You’re Waiting For The Relationship To End

Sometimes a really bad breakup—or a really bad relationship—can leave us with a slightly nihilist view of love. You suddenly adopt the view that all love is doomed or that nothing lasts forever. Even though that may sound like just having a cynical edge, that type of mindset is bound to erode your relationship. It means that you won’t ever be fully invested or fully connected to your partner. This is an issue that you definitely want to resolve, because it will hold you back—not just in this relationship, but in any that come afterward.

You’re Suspicious Of Your Partner

This is especially true if you’ve been cheated on or had another big betrayal—you start to see things like cheating or breaches of trust as inevitable. But you can’t blame your partner for what went wrong in other relationships. If you find yourself second-guessing your partner or being paranoid about where they’ve been or who they’re with, make sure they’ve actually given you cause to be suspicious. If they haven’t, you may have some leftover issues to look at.

You’re Trying To Change Your Partner

This is one that your friends might see happening, even when you don’t. It’s amazing how much we don’t even see ourselves trying to recreate past relationships in our current ones—even when it’s obvious to everyone else. Whether you want your partner to look and behave more like your ex or you want the entire relationship to look and work more like you’re last one, you’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Every partner, every relationship is different. If you’re not ready for something different, you may not be ready to move on at all. Give yourself some time to fully process the last relationship and let the new one start fresh.

You Get Distracted During Sex

We can lie to ourselves through a lot of things—but it’s difficult to lie to yourself about what’s happening in your sex life. If you find yourself distracted during sex, you may not really be connecting with your current partner. And if you find yourself thinking about your ex during sex, well…it’s pretty obvious what the problem is there. If you’re not fully engaged with your partner during sex, you might need to think about why that is.

You’re Terrified Of Being Single

Why are you with this person? If you’re in your current relationship to help you get over your last one—or just because you’re scared to be alone—then there’s no way that your current relationship can function like it’s supposed to. Deal with your previous relationship and process it by spending some time alone. Then, once you’ve come to terms with what happened with your ex, you can move on—on your own terms.

See more: Should You Have a Closure Call With Your Ex Before the Wedding?

You And Your Ex Aren’t Friends, But You’re Still In Contact

Whether or not you can be friends with an ex is a topic of much debate—but really, that’s down to you and your partner. If, however, you’re not friends with your ex but they’re still in the picture, that’s a problem. If you’re in contact with your ex but you’re not not fully platonic, be honest with yourself about why. Even sketchy social media behavior can end up taking a toll on your relationship in the long run.

Having some baggage is totally normal—and not anything you should feel embarrassed about. But you do need to be aware if your last is affecting your current one. So if something is off in your relationship, take a long, hard work at why. You may need to deal with your last relationship before you’re ready to move onto the next one.

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Wedding

How To Keep Your Independence In A Long-Term Relationship

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Before you met your partner, you probably had a life totally outside of them. Friends, hobbies, travel—things that you thought would keep happening, even when you got into a relationship. But no matter how good your intentions are, over the course of a long-term relationship, the line between you and your partner can become blurry. If you feel like you’ve started to lose your sense of identity, don’t worry—in some ways, it’s totally natural. The longer you’re together, the more your lives become enmeshed and the more you’ve experienced as a team. It’s easy to see how you could come to feel like a unit, rather than two people.

But, no matter how much you love each other, lean on each other, and know each other, maintaining your sense of independence is crucial. If you’ve started to lose it, that’s OK—because you can get it back. It’s all about making space for yourself, physically, mentally, and emotionally, that is separate from your partner. Here’s what you need to do to maintain your independence in a relationship.

Pursue A Hobby Without Them

This is a really basic step that you can—and should—take, but it’s one that a lot of people let slide as time goes on. It’s great if you and your partner like the same things. If you like to go to plays together or workout together or play board games, that can be a great bonding opportunity in your relationship. But you also need to do things separately.

Spending time apart is good, but spending time apart pursuing something you love is even better. It helps remind you of your separate identities. But often, as time goes on, we either start doing more and more together or life gets so busy that we tend to default onto the couch with Netflix rather than chasing our hobbies and passions. So whether it’s an activity you’ve always loved or something totally new, find something that you can really sink your teeth into—that has nothing to do with your partner.

See Your Friends (Not As A Couple)

Couple socialization can be lovely, but if your entire calendar is filled up with couple time, then it’s time to rethink. Spending time with your friends on your own is so vital to your sense of well being. You need time to relax, maybe even time to vent about your partner—which is totally normal—and time to just remember who you are without them. Plus, if you have friends who are single, then you don’t want to be that friend who brings their partner everywhere and annoys everyone. Respect everyone’s need for one-on-one time.

Watch Your Language

Language is important—and the words you choose can often reveal a lot about your mindset. You may have noticed that some couples, the ones who tend to be more codependent or attached at the hip, tend to use the word “we”—a lot. Sure, if you’re saying “we” went on vacation or “we” tried a great restaurant, that’s a totally appropriate use of the word. But if you always use “we”—”we want”, “we think”, “we’re very excited”—then that’s really telling. Try to reclaim your “I”. You and your partner are separate people and, even if your thoughts are in alignment, it doesn’t mean that you’re having the same thoughts. Even by just using the word “I” more than the word “we,” you’ll keep that sense of identity alive.

Try Making More Space For You

If you’re lucky, you may be able to make some literal space for you—a separate room, nook, or closet that’s your own. If you don’t have that luxury, look at other ways you can create your own space. Maybe you can make some extra money through a side hustle that’s just for you to have fun with. Maybe you can schedule a bath date with yourself once a week when you commandeer the bathroom and go full-on rose petal and bubble extravagance. As much as hobbies and friends are great, carving out something that’s all you—solitary, independent you—can be incredibly healthy.

See more: The Secret To A Really Great Marriage? Acting Single

Talk, Talk, Talk

It may seem counterintuitive that more talking with your partner can help you achieve independence, but communication is everything. If you want to keep your separate identities alive, then both you and your partner need to be on board. Let your partner know that keeping your independence—or getting it back—is important to you and something you want to pursue. If they see how much it means to you (and hopefully they also want to keep that independence alive) you can both make a conscious effort in how you arrange your lives and divide your tasks. You can start booking more alone time, friend time, and hobby time into your lives, while working together to make it happen.

Some people drop their independence right away when they get into a relationship, while for others it’s a slow slide over time. Make sure that you don’t get complacent and lose sight of your own personality and identity. Having your own independence will make you a better partner and a happier, more fulfilled person—and that’s something your partner should get behind.

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Wedding

How To Get A Friendship Back On Its Feet After Wedding Planning Drama

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Breakups, fights, arguments—we often assume that life’s major disagreements are always between you and a partner. But the truth is, a friendship fight—or even a friend breakup—can be devastating, sometimes even more so than with a partner. Often our friends have been in our lives not just for years, but decades. It’s not unusual to know them for far longer than we know our partners or even our spouses. And when things go wrong, they can go very, very wrong.

It’s a difficult truth, but it’s not unusual for the stress of wedding planning to put a wedge between friends. Sometimes it’s just the frustration and anxiety of feeling overwhelmed that leads you to not be your best self, sometimes it’s a friend that’s not supportive or even jealous. But, if it’s a long and important friendship, then you shouldn’t let it break down because of wedding planning. If you’ve had a fight with a friend and you don’t feel very good about it, it’s time to see if the friendship can be saved—and if it’s worth saving. It might be a tough journey, but here’s where you get started.

Be Willing To Admit Your Role

The first step is to think about why the friendship broke down—and what role you played in that. Even if your friend was being irrational, selfish, difficult, or all three, it’s never just a one-way street. Maybe you didn’t see the pain that they were in or maybe you were too tied up in your own wedding planning to realize what was going wrong in their life, so you didn’t give them the sensitivity they deserved. You shouldn’t assume all of the responsibility—it takes two to tango, after all—but if you want the friendship to have a chance of moving forward then you’re going to have to own up to your part in the breakdown.

Think About What You Want Going Forward

If you’re ready to put the friendship back together, you need to decide how you want that to look. Do you want things to go back to how they were? Do you want your friend to have more respect for your boundaries or to be more aware of your needs? Do you want to move into the friendship slowly and let things rebuild over time? You’re not going to be able to set all of the ground rules—both of you need to put their relationship back together—but you can think about what you want so you can help open up a dialogue.

Have the Difficult, Honest Conversation

When you’re trying to get over a relationship breakdown—whether it’s a romantic relationship or a friendship—at some point you need to have one of those tough conversations. You need to lay it all out there, and you need to hear them out. It’s going to be awkward, emotional, and at times pretty unbearable. But it’s the only way things can get better.

And no matter how angry you are with your friend, spouting off a list of attacks and character assassinations isn’t going to help. Focus on “I” statements: how things came across to you, how it felt when your relationship broke down, how you feel now. And, just as much as you want to say your piece, you’re going to have to let them say theirs, too—and be a receptive audience. Try not to get defensive and just listen.

Don’t Force Anything

Depending on how big the fight was and how much the relationship has broken down, you may not be able to go back to normal right away. In fact, you may not be able to go back to normal for a long time. If you were totally enmeshed in your wedding stress and your friend feels neglected, they may not want to let you in again, right away. That’s OK. Be open to taking it slow. You may find that your relationship rebuilds in a stronger, more authentic way if you let it happen a little at a time.

See more: 7 Ways to Keep Your Friends Close, From Your Engagement to Your Wedding—and Beyond

Be Open To Letting It Go

If someone has been in your life for 5, 10, or 20 years, the idea of letting a friendship go can be almost impossible to imagine. But, if you try to restart the friendship and either they’re not willing or it just doesn’t’ seem to fit, you may need to be open to the idea of letting it go. People change and, ideally, friendships evolve with them—but it doesn’t always work that way. Maybe the tension during your wedding was because you’ve become two very different people, or maybe you can’t put the friendship back together because you’re actually just not good for each other anymore. It can be a huge thing to admit—and letting a significant friendship end can be as bad as any breakup. But if it’s right for both of you, you need to let it happen—just make sure you give yourself some time to grieve.

Wedding planning—and weddings themselves—leave tensions high and connections feeling frayed. Unfortunately, it’s often our friendships that take the hit. If your friendship has broken down, then make sure to be honest with yourself and your friend as you try to put it back together. If you are candid, compassionate, and willing to move slowly, you may be able to put the friendship back together and even in a stronger place than it was before. And if you can’t? Well, it may be a sign that you’re just too different now. And that’s OK, too.

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Wedding

How To Achieve Work-Life Balance When You Both Have Demanding Jobs

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Sometimes, life happens. A lot of the time when people talk about making your relationship work, they almost describe it like the two of you live in a vacuum with endless time, energy, and resources to devote toward each other and toward making your relationship strong. But life rarely looks like that. You might have family stress, you might have money stress. And, more often than now, work stress has a way of getting the best of us.

Our jobs are where we spend so much of our time. Yes, most people have a 40-hour work week, but at high-level and demanding jobs—or if you’re working two jobs to make ends meet—you can easily end up almost doubling the number. And when you’re working 60, 70, or even 80 hours a week, then where does your relationship fit in? It’s not easy. Plus, if both of you have demanding work schedules, you’re going to have to be even more careful to keep the relationship going. But it can be done. Here’s how to balance your life when you both have demanding careers, because your relationship needs some TLC—but so do you.

Scheduling Is Your Friend

Sure, when you both have demanding jobs then it may not always be possible to stick to a schedule. Last-minute deadlines, late meetings, and a million and one other issues can raise their ugly heads. But a schedule gives you a foundation, it gives you an outline to work with. Try to schedule in time together (and time for yourselves) every single week. Even if you don’t always manage to stick to the schedule, having something to work toward can keep you from getting complacent and letting your relationship suffer. You should keep your goals in mind, so you’re working toward them—even when you can’t reach always reach them.

Set Soft And Hard Boundaries

More and more, work has a way of creeping into every nook and cranny of our lives. You can’t control what your boss demands or expects of you, but you can control how you handle those expectations. So try to create some boundaries. Have one set of hard boundaries that can’t be broken—no work emails in bed or no checking your phone during date night, whatever feels like a priority to you as a couple. Then, you can have some soft boundaries that you try to adhere to, but are a bit more flexible. Try not to check your work emails on Sundays, try not to work late three nights in a row. Look at your schedules and see where you can take back a little bit of control.

Keep The Communication Going

When two people are busy and stressed, it’s easy for one (or both) of them to start feeling overlooked or resentful. You feel like you’re the only one picking up toilet paper from the store after a long day, they feel like they are the only person who’s done laundry in weeks. So keep the communication open—and keep being grateful for each other. Tell your partner that you appreciate them and try to notice when they’re going to extra mile. If you’re struggling with your workload or feeling neglected, talk about that, too. It’s too easy to get all wrapped up in own little soap opera, especially when our job is monopolizing one. But if you’re communicating, you can work as a team—you can pick up the slack for one another, support one another when things get particularly difficult. Keep connecting and keep talking.

Don’t Forget About The Rest Of Your Life

Sometimes when life stress hits, it’s easy to get an almost bunker mentality—you go to work, if you’re lucky you get some time with your partner, and then you… go to work again. Nothing exists outside of the bubble. But a life isn’t built on a job and a relationship alone. Make sure that you make an effort to keep up the rest of your life, as well. Seeing friends, getting in some exercise, seeing the actual sun once in a while—whatever it is that you need to keep your wellbeing and mental health strong, try to prioritize it. Although it can feel selfish, it’s actually good for the people around you. You’ll be a better partner—and even a better employee—if you manage to fit in some nourishing self-care and get some headspace.

See more: 4 Tips for Maintaining a Sex Life and Work Life Balance

Let Yourself Off The Hook

The truth is, if you both have really demanding careers then there are going to be some tricky moments. Maybe you have some dream version of yourself where, no matter how busy you both are, you put on your dancing shoes and hit the town once a week without fail. But some weeks, you both may be so fried that binge watching something hilarious and mindless is your only option. Be realistic—and give yourselves a break once in a while. If you become obsessed with having the “perfect” relationship, that will just create another pressure that weighs down on you. Instead, let yourself off the hook if you just need some R&R.

Work-life balance is always tough—and it’s even tougher if both of you have demanding jobs. Do your best and, no matter what, keep the communication open. You want to feel like you’re on the same team, not competing to see who can be more stressed. If you work together, you’ll fight little pockets of space for your relationship—and for yourselves.

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