by Serena Wadhwa Psy.D., LCPC, CADC
FAIRYTALE: Some couples just seem to have the perfect marriage, so I often compare my relationship to theirs
and end up feeling like it doesn’t measure up. Why don’t I have that “perfect marriage?”
REALITY: It’s easy to believe that the public magical moments we see of a marriage are all of what that marriage
has. However, no marriage, no matter how enchanting it seems, is perfect. Each marriage has its ups and downs
and it’s important to recognize that each partner is a real individual with different goals, dreams, situations, issues,
and not a made up fantasy. All marriages do have magical moments; it’s working towards creating more of them
that’s important. It’s important not to compare your marriage to someone else’s because each situation is different.
You don’t know what that couple’s marriage is like in the privacy of their own home. You may not even know the
real reasons why the marriage occurred. When you compare your marriage to someone else’s, you are denying
yourself the opportunity to see the reality of your own situation.
We cannot magically want something to occur in our reality without some work on our part. Look at what aspects
of your marriage are you comparing. For example, if you are comparing the romance in your marriage to the
romance in your friend’s marriage, what is it about her romance that you want more of in your marriage? Once you
determine what specifically you want more of (surprises, candlelight dinners, dates, etc.) you can begin developing
a plan to get it. If you want more magical moments, talk with your partner about what these magical moments are
and how the two of you can go about creating them.
FAIRYTALE: We won’t have any money issues because we know that’s not the most important factor in a lasting
marriage. So why is it that seems to be all we argue about?
REALITY: All of us have an idealized version of our fairy tale wedding. We want it to be perfect and everything
else that goes with it, including the marriage. We want to believe that once we have that fairy tale wedding, spared
no expense, there is nothing more we need to do. Yet some believe that the more money invested in the wedding,
the more it means that each partner is invested in the marriage. This is an erroneous belief. Sparing no expense for
a wedding does little in planning the marriage itself. Money does become one of the most frequently argued about
topics in marriages. After the ceremony itself, the bills are still left to be paid. This can cause frustration, stress, and
arguments between individuals who love each other to the death. The reality is that if you are not investing in the
marriage, chances are you’ll hit more that your share of rough patches. It doesn’t have to be the poisoned apple
that puts your marriage to sleep, but the point is, you need to focus on planning the marriage more than planning
the wedding. No magic wand can get you out of a rut, no matter how much you wish for it.
FAIRYTALE: I know that getting married will fulfill every need, desire, wish and fantasy that I have.
REALITY: No one person fulfills all of someone’s desires, needs and wishes. Even for Cinderella, she needed
certain mice to be the horses and other mice to be the coachmen. No one mouse could do all that. Snow White
had seven different dwarfs that had their individual functions. No one dwarf could do all that. It works the same way
for individuals. We can’t expect one person to take on all that responsibility. This is why it’s important to have a
good support circle of friends and family, as each person can fulfill something you need. For example, you may
have one friend that you can talk to about certain issues, but there is another friend that’s the fun one when you
want to hang out and relax. The same is true of your spouse. While your spouse is the primary person you may turn
to, he/she cannot be the only person you have. It may create an unhealthy relationship. It’s important to keep in
mind that while Prince Charming can perhaps read minds, your spouse cannot. If you need or want something, let it
be known. Communication is an important skill in a good marriage.
FAIRYTALE: Married people have less satisfying sex lives, and less sex, than single people.
REALITY: According to a national study, the reality is that married individuals have better and more satisfying sex
than do singles and unmarried couples. In fact, there are numerous benefits for married individuals than for those
who are single. Research indicated that married couples (provided they have married the “right person”) have better
psychological health, live longer, may make more money, and experience less domestic violence. In a long-term
commitment, most individuals want to please their partners, as it contributes to the satisfaction experienced. In
marriage, there is a higher level of commitment and a greater sense of trust and security. These factors contribute
to the higher levels of sexual satisfaction.
FAIRYTALE: Cohabitation is just like marriage, but without “the piece of paper.”
REALITY: While we may wishfully believe that cohabiting is similar to being married, this is not true. What some
research indicates, is that those who cohabitate experience increased levels of marital unhappiness and possible
divorce than those who do not cohabitate before marriage. Part of what may contribute to this is that when a couple
gets “the piece of paper” there is a stronger commitment and investment that occurs. Each individual is more
invested in keeping the marriage healthy. There is also more thought given to the partner’s input, thoughts, wants,
when any major decision is being made. In cohabitation, this is not necessarily the case. Couples who live together
but have not gone that extra step to solidify the relationship, usually do not give equal consideration to their partner
when major decisions occur. There is still some psychological separation that exists, without “that piece of paper.”
Additionally, research indicates that the benefits of cohabitation, while better than for those who are single, do not
reach the benefits that couples who are married experience.
The perfect gifts to say “I Love You” for Valentine’s Day
We’re helping you find the perfect Valentines Day gift for everyone in your life. Who says ladies are the only one’s who want a V day gift? From urban chic sneakers for him, to luxe gifts for her, EBONY.com’s All Red Everything Valentine’s Day has got you covered!
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-Compiled by Melanie Yvette Martin with Camille Kail
Each year millions of shoppers struggle to pick the perfect gift without going over their budget.
Restaurant gift cards have been growing steadily each year in popularity for the winter holiday season. A gift card is a flexible present that honors the recipient’s ability to pick their own perfect item. This has made it one of the most given and most wanted items. While gift cards were once limited to relationships that weren’t very close, you can now give these cards or certificates to spouses and children. Instead of trying to guess what they need based on their interests, you can simply hand over a pre-paid card that allows them to make the choice.
According to the National Restaurant Association, about 32 percent of consumers receive a gift card as a gift over the holiday season. Restaurant gift cards are one of the most popular types to give. Since the recession has had a freezing effect on the dining habits of many Americans, a restaurant gift card allows the recipient to enjoy a nice dinner without worrying about picking up the tab. This is part of a greater trend of interest in experience based gifts rather than giving goods. Experiences have a longer effect on your mood, and can be far less expensive than a new watch or television set for the buyer.
Almost all major chains offer a gift certificate or prepaid card option, including Red Lobster, T.G.I. Friday’s and Outback Steakhouse. Local, independent restaurants also offer these options because they know that it brings in guaranteed business.
Media portrayals of families tend to show them either highly dysfunctional or unrealistically perfect. Of course, neither is generally accurate in terms of showing normal, and healthy, families.
Despite this, a healthy family is not only possible, but essential, in order to better survive and thrive in other areas of your lives.
So how do you go about building a stronger, healthier family?
Step 1. Help promote respect, honor differences and establish a no-losers policy where every family member has a voice in how to best resolve family conflicts and problems.
Step 2. Find ways to share life experiences together and play together. Once a week, enjoy a night of playing board games. Plan a visit to an amusement park. Families who are close and healthier tend to share a committment to spending quality time with each other.
Step 3. Establish and respect healthy boundaries. Boundaries help people to understand what they are and are not responsible for in the various aspects of their lives. For example, allowing your children to experience the natural consequences of their actions can help them to understand that, while they are not responsible for the actions of others, they are responsible for their own choices.
Step 4. Help encourage a healthier family lifestyle by embracing basic healthy habits every day, such as eating healthy meals, exercising, visiting the doctor regularly, practicing great hygiene habits and getting enough sleep.
With some patience and determination, a healthier, happier family can be your reality.