Getting Serious? Be Sure to Discuss These 5 Topics Before Taking the Leap

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Dating in a "swipe right" world is much different than how your parents dated. Courtship has evolved into speed dating, dating apps, and inflated profiles. The good news is one aspect of dating hasn't changed. Discussing life-changing deal breakers before making ultimate commitments is still a best practice. If you find yourself in a semi-serious relationship and are contemplating a commitment, be sure to address these common social topics, and their financial implications before moving forward.

Having Children

Wanting or not wanting children can make or break a relationship instantly. Know your preferences and don't be afraid to engage in this conversation. Whether or not to have children can be a dynamic, life-changing decision. It also comes with a financial commitment of child-rearing costs, daycare, and tuitions. Make sure your partner shares your views.

Where to Live

If you've dreamt of country living and imagine yourself raising a family in a rural setting, you need to share this with your partner to make sure you're not committing to someone who feels just as strongly about living in the city. Where you plan to establish your family will also have financial implications. Be sure to discuss your expectations so you can prepare together how best to manage the cost of living in your dream location.

Religious Beliefs

We often avoid discussing religion when we're starting off a new relationship. However, if you're considering a long-term commitment, it's probably best to have these discussions. Aligning your moral compass with someone may be simple but adhering to a series of spiritual requirements or adopting a new faith altogether might be a deal breaker. Be candid and honest about what you expect. Religion can play a part in every aspect of life together including ceremonies, child-rearing, and obligations.

Division of Finances

Be clear about your spending decisions, setting up finances and investments. If you're adamant about maintaining your own accounts, discuss it with your partner. Maybe you both agree to make all of these financial decisions together and jointly. Don't be afraid to discuss credit scores, outstanding debts and plans for long-term savings. The more you're able to address up front, the easier the transition will be into a committed partnership.

Career Goals

Maybe your dream is to be an entrepreneur. Maybe you want to climb the corporate ladder with your firm. Maybe you don't want to work at all. Talking about your career goals and understanding your partner's career goals can uncover potential deal breakers. Career choices will also directly affect your income as a household.

Disagreeing on any of these topics doesn't necessarily constitute a breakup. It will, however, be a good indicator of shared beliefs and relationship compromise. Stick to your guns on those most important to you, but don't be afraid to negotiate others. Compromising and settling are very different. Be willing to compromise, but don't settle for someone who challenges your core beliefs. Discussing these before walking down the aisle can help eliminate a lifetime of resentment or costly separation later.

Communication Is The Key To A Healthy Sex Life

Communication and Relationships: Communication Is The Key To A Healthy Sex Life

 

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You know that feeling on Christmas morning, when you're sitting down near the tree, and you're excited because you're pretty sure your special someone got you just what you wanted? But then, as the day goes on, you realize that they didn't. Instead, they got you something that was very thoughtful, and a little insightful, but it wasn't really what you had your heart set on.

That feeling? That mix of bittersweet and disappointment that you feel sort of bad for having, but still can't shake off? There's no reason you should feel like that in your sex life. If you find that sensation creeping in, there's a sure-fire way to do away with it. It isn't a huge secret, but it can take time to get used to it.

Tell Them What You Want... It's As Simple As That

The reason you don't get the gift you want, more often than not, is a lack of communication. Maybe you think you were being clear, but if you're dropping hints hoping your significant other will follow the trail of breadcrumbs, there's no guarantee they'll reach the conclusion you wanted them to. If you want them to get to the right place, you need to post clear signs, and draw them a map.

Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to your sex life.

The problem is that a lot of us are embarrassed to talk about sex, or about what we want from sex. We think that if it isn't spontaneous, and that if it isn't born out of in-the-moment passion that it's somehow not as genuine, or that it shouldn't be as good. That thing where two people intimately know each other's wants, though? That happens in one of two ways. The first is that you're the protagonist in a romance novel, and the writer wants to make your love life seem perfect and magical. The second is that you and your partner have been together for a long time, and you've explored each other's needs, grown together, and discovered all those red buttons and secret wants.

There is no shortcut to a great sex life, but you can speed up the process by not playing coy when it comes time to retire to the bedroom (or the living room, or the kitchen, or wherever your preferred place happens to be). You just need to take a deep breath, sit down with your partner, and be open with them about what you need from them.

You Might Find Buried Treasure, If You Start Digging

Open, honest communication is scary. Even if you love your partner, and you trust them, you are leaving a very private part of yourself exposed. But if you can't be truly naked when it comes to your sex life, then when would there be a more appropriate time?

You'll find something else happens when you're direct, open, and honest with your partner, too. You end up learning that what you want might not really be all that hard to provide. Whether it's how you like to be touched, what your fantasies are, or what things you'd really prefer your partner stop doing, you're going to find those barriers that felt insurmountable are really just smoke and mirrors.

Because trying to figure out your partner's sexual wants is a lot like being a safe cracker. If you've got a good ear, the right tools, and a lot of experience, you can tell when the tumblers have dropped, and you've gotten inside. But since you want your partner to get in, not giving them the combination in the first place isn't really helping anyone.

Alimony, Child Support and Other Financial Considerations in Divorce

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When you're getting divorced, the emotional aspect of it is probably on your mind more than the financial. You're just trying to get used to the idea of being single again. So you may not pay too much attention to the way in which the finances are arranged. However, if you don't pay attention to this aspect now, you're sure to regret it later.

Expenses Increase After a Divorce

Let's face it: two people living alone are going to spend more money than two people living together. When you only have one rent/mortgage to pay and when you're buying groceries in bulk, you're going to save money. So it's important to make sure that you're not putting yourself at a disadvantage, financially speaking.

Alimony and Child Support

Most women have to decide whether to apply for alimony and child support. Don't let your pride prevent you from doing this because you'll regret it later. You may already have a job but if your spouse was the main breadwinner, your job may not pay you as well as you need to support yourself and your kids. You're not out to fleece your ex, only to get what's needed for you and your kids to maintain a decent standard of living.

Splitting the Assets

Make sure that you know the value of any assets the two of you might own, like a house or a vacation home. You might end up selling these assets and splitting the proceeds. Or one of you might take one while the other will take the other. But if you opt not to sell, then don't settle for the asset with a lower market value. Make sure you get your half of the assets, whether you choose to liquidate them or not.

Working It Out Amicably

The best thing to do is to work things out amicably with your ex-spouse, with both lawyers present, or a mediator, if that's what you've opted to do. You don't want things to get to the point where you're fighting it out in court.

How to Communicate with a Spouse Who Plays Mind Games

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Imagine you and your spouse are discussing the cost of groceries. You are the one who buys the groceries, and you try to be frugal without sacrificing good food in the fridge. It's a gray area for you, and you would like to have your spouse's honest input. Your spouse, who pays the large bills and is used to receiving and paying out money in large sums, acts like it's a big deal to pay 25 cents more for the brand of spaghetti sauce you normally buy. In fact, you realize that when it comes to groceries, your spouse prefers to nickel and dime his way through the store. So far, you're okay with this. But then, he lets you know in a roundabout way that he wishes you spent more money so that he would feel better about spending more money on things that he buys.

How do you listen to and respect your spouse without going crazy?

Mind games can be complicated, and they can ruin good communication patterns. If your spouse seems to be implying two contradictory things at once, you may need some outside help to get your relationship back on track.

First, give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. If the issue at hand isn't urgent, then let it go. Maybe your spouse is going through a rough spot in life, and his communication became unusually mixed-up. Allow some time to pass before confronting your spouse on the issue again. Chances are, given time, the mind games will disappear and you can move forward normally.

But if they don't, don't despair. You are not going crazy, and this is not your fault. Believe in your own sanity and seek outside help. Do you have a friend you can trust to be fair? Ask her opinion. Can someone else talk to your spouse about the issue? Try that. Gentle, non-combative ways of confronting your spouse are possible. Let him know that you don't understand, and you don't appreciate the mixed messages.

Mind games can seriously frustrate a good relationship, but relationships are worth working on. Take it slow, and wisely move forward to untangle the knots.

Protect Your Financial Future by Avoiding These Break Up Pitfalls

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The first weeks of a break up are hard. It's when you battle between doing nothing and doing anything to keep your mind off your ex. Unfortunately, heartbreak can lead to bad decisions that derail your financial goals. Here are three ways to get through a break up without ruining your finances.

Say No to Shopping

No matter what the name implies, retail therapy won't remedy your hurt feelings. Instead, it can damage all the work you've done to pay off your credit cards and pad your emergency fund. Forget about reaching for material things and opt to reconnect with friends. You avoid pointless spending and invest in those who are important.

Romance the Kitchen

After a break up, you barely want to get out of bed, let alone cook a meal. Give yourself a pity day to binge on your favorite takeout, then get back in the kitchen. Find inspiration in a new, fun recipe and prepare enough food to cover your off days. Dining out stretches your budget and your waistline, so the faster you're back in the kitchen, the better.

Escape Into a New Project

It's hard to establish a firm financial foundation without income, so make sure you don't take the blues to work. Shake up your routine by volunteering to assist a co-worker or taking on a new assignment. Not only will you distract yourself from thoughts of your ex, but you also gain a resume booster.

The best way to get over a break up is to focus on yourself instead of your past relationship. A vital part of that is making sure you don't jeopardize your financial future. While money won't make you happy, no one ever cries because they have too much. In fact, your strong financial position may give you something to smile about on the rough days.

Walking On Eggshells: Talking to Loved Ones About Money

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Attempting to broach any serious conversation with a loved one can lead to major anxiety depending on the topic at hand. Over the years, it has become more accepted to have frank discussions regarding a litany of subjects that were, at one time, considered too sensitive to approach.

 The money discussion seems to have remained the steadfast untouchable topic among some. However, open and honest discussion about money issues with friends and family doesn't have to be an uncomfortable chore.   Here are some easy-to-follow tips on opening up the lines of communication about money with those nearest and dearest to you.

  1. Start Slow - You may want to ease into the money conversation, especially with regards to older family members who may not be as open to frank money discussions. Maybe bring up a recent news item that is topical and could lead to a deeper discussion about money matters. 
  2. Remember You Are Not Alone - Money stress and worries are very common. It may surprise you to find that issues you are grappling with are issues for those you love as well. Finding common ground can help the discussion stay friendly and useful for all involved. 
  3. Stay on Point - When discussing something as personal as finances, it can be easy to veer off topic or begin to accuse or object. You may find that breaking the talk up into smaller talks held over a longer period of time is more effective. 
  4. Comparison is the Thief of Joy - Try to avoid comparing your financial situation with that of your loved one. We all have our own stories and we may be only receiving one side. Focus on your own situation in the midst of money discussions. If your discussion is one of concern or an attempt to help your loved one, try to remain focused on their current financial fitness and your role as listener.

  The goal in any potentially awkward discussion is to remain focused, calm, and reasonable. This is important even in the face of a discussion partner who may not always approach things the same way. If a discussion begins to go "south" it is probably best to take a step back and attempt to address the issue at a later date.   Money discussions do not have to leave a bad taste in anyone's mouth. If you concentrate on the purpose behind the discussion and the connections you have (and want to maintain) with those involved in the conversation, the result can be win-win for everyone.

Building Bricks: Understanding how Trust Works

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Trust is hard to define as a concept, yet it's something that we can feel. If you trust someone, you feel comfortable around them. You listen to what they say and expect them to listen to you when you have something to say.

In short, you are benefitting from an "investment" you made with someone in the past.

That investment could have been chipping in on dinner when you ran out of money, sharing a secret, or giving advice. Whatever it was, this "investment" is an action that connects two people. (Trust can also be established by what a person we don't know also. Or example, I can trust that a man with a doctor's uniform in a hospital knows about medicine versus a man dressed as a clown.)

This "investment" is what makes relationships work. It begins when one person does something for someone else. Humans are pattern-seeking animals, and when we see the pattern of "This person always helps me out" in someone we assume that the person will continue their behavior in the future.

Breaking Bricks: What Happens When Trust is Broken

In the same way, that trust is built and reinforced, brick by brick, trust can be lost. That being said, losing trust can occur much faster than gaining it. Losing trust involves dishonoring the investment made in a relationship.

This happens because trust is such a valuable investment. Violating that investment hurts more because of the emotional connection involved. This can happen in all sort of ways from being unintentionally disrespectful to intentionally being mean or rude.

Once broken, trust takes a long time to rebuild. Imagine removing a brick from a brick wall. It takes a lot more effort to remove that brick than to put it in place, right?

Trustworthiness: What Makes People Trust You

As shared above, trust is an investment. It's also an emotional and mental connection that is built over time. In order to for us to be open to that initial investment, there must be certain signals. The person we're looking to trust must have something of value that we're looking for.

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These signals are actions that signal a person might be worth trusting. Such signals can include attentiveness, a willingness to trust us, mutual respect, authenticity, and transparency. People that display these traits (bonus points if you show more than one trait!) are more likely to be considered trustworthy.

Couples and Trust: 3 Pointers to Making the Connection

Having a good relationship as a couple is all about trust.  In fact, trust in a relationship should involve deeper and deeper levels of trust. As your relationship matures and evolves, there will be challenges to this process of developing trust. The couple that can successfully navigate through those challenges are the ones who survive.

Three recommendations that can help your relationship develop this kind of "tough" trust include:

  • Invest in the positive before you make a withdrawal: If you consider trust like an "investment", there will be times when you need to make a withdrawal. You might need to say something difficult or comfortable that could affect your relationship. If you're already built investment through positive actions, your relationship should be able to handle it.
  • Revisit your past. If your relationship is going through a "rough patch", it can be hard to think beyond it. One way to break out of that mindset is by revisiting the past. Take some time to watch old videos or look at old pictures with you as a couple. Reimagine what was going through your mind. Going back could be a rekindle your trust going forward.
  • Start small. Whenever trust is broken in a relationship, you don't want to ignore it. You want to do three things: resolve, forgive, and rebuild. Realize that this can take time, so start off with small relationship rebuilding efforts. Starting the day with "Good morning" instead of rehashing yesterday's ongoing argument is one way you might do this.

Trust: Hard to Build (or Rebuild), Worth the Investment

Trust is a complex and touchy subject because it involves the most personal aspects of ourselves. When we trust someone, we are leaving ourselves vulnerable. The person we trust could return or ignore our offer of trust. They could manipulate it.

Yet, trust is worth that risk. Without that risk, we don't get the reward. Without being vulnerable, we cannot become truly comfortable. Without opening up, we remain closed. That is why the investment known as "trust" is so powerful. Trust that is built is much more powerful than trust that is never built.