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The possibilities of making the kinds of connections you want are very realistic, and many long lasting relationships and marriages have begun via online dating services, not to mention casual relationships as well if that is what you prefer. The possibilities are all right there and waiting for you, but there are a few key rules you need to know and follow in order to find your perfect date online. Download to learn The Golden Rules of Online Dating – 6 essential rules to finding the perfect online date!

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Staying In For Date Night – And Doing It Right

Married couples who dedicate a date night together once a week are reportedly much happier in their relationship than those who don’t consider it so much of a priority. It is also reported that couples who prioritise date nights (and don’t talk about finances when they’re out) have a healthier and more substantive sex life. Therefore, when aiming to break up the mundane, how you spend your date night should always vary. Going for a bike ride and stopping in the park for a picnic of nice cheeses, crackers and wine on a beautiful day will definitely keep things fresh. Yet it’s also vitally important to mix it up and keep it interesting on the occasional date night in.

 

The Pleasures Of Cooking

 

22% of couples reportedly wish their partners would cook for them more often. When a couple spends quality time in the heart of the home, they’ll often engage in conversation, creating a unique connection that wouldn’t otherwise occur. The greatest triggers for evoking memories are taste and smell, so with a well planned evening, you’re bound to create some memorable experiences. If only one person is cooking and good conversation is stoked, you should learn more about each other than you’d otherwise know. If cooking together, you’ll have the added benefit of sharing your knowledge of cooking with each other.

Touching and sharing throughout will enrich the entire experience. Sampling the ingredients together and asking for input is not only romantic, but shares in the creation of the meal and breaks down boundaries. It’s always important to create an atmosphere of equality. If the dish is a winner and all your senses are satisfied and nourished, you’ll feel more closely connected, experiencing pleasure, and the person you’re cooking for will feel intimately cared for. 87% of couples feel cooking is one of the most relationship-strengthening activities at home. Like any aspect of a relationship, that meal is so much more than the food. It’s everything that builds up to it.

 

Setting The Mood

 

Get the ambience just right. Make sure your home is clean. Bring in some romantic lighting. Light scented candles throughout the room, choosing scents whose aromas will complement the smells of your cooking. Take your time and make the evening last. Keep it interesting. Put on soft romantic music you both like. Set the table nicely, and have an elegant hors-d’oeuvre spread. Consider starting with an appetiser of figs wrapped in prosciutto with a warm croissant and a nice brie. Have a lovely bottle of wine already opened. Treat your partner as if it was your first date and you’re really trying to impress. While cooking, stir up an interesting conversation. Share funny stories or experiences they might never have heard before, and they’ll likely reciprocate. You’ll learn more about each other. Find a fun or spicy trivia site online, and play some two-person trivia. The winner wins a backrub or a foot massage.

 

Plan Out Your Intermission

 

Once your cooking is at a good stopping point and everything is prepared, take a break and go for a brief walk through the neighbourhood. Watch the sunset together, and get your blood moving. Come back and share with your partner that art book you love that they’ve never seen. Or read that romantic poem you know. Whip up some truffle oil popcorn and watch a movie. Consider a documentary that’ll stir up conversation and get you both exchanging ideas. Or listen to a podcast or old time radio mystery. Both of these ideas are good for being able to pause, allowing you some snuggle time and physical interaction. Don’t be in a rush. The whole idea is spending quality time together so as every aspect of your relationship feels nourished.

 

The Decadent Main Course And The Joy Of Dessert

 

When it’s finally time for dinner, surprise your partner with steamed artichokes with a garlic goat-butter dipping sauce with a sprinkle of saffron on the top, and oysters on the side. Nothing’s better at breaking through barriers or inhibitions then indulging in sexy, messy food that forces you to take it slow and enjoy all the dish has to offer. After dinner, dive into ripe halved pomegranates and a plate of rich broken chocolate. Chocolate contains the same chemicals that your brain creates to induce a feeling of falling in love, and thereby triggers the release of endorphins. 

After your messy dinner and dessert, finish off the evening bathing together in a sparkling clean tub. Turn the lights off, and fill the bathroom with scented candles to keep that romantic atmosphere going. Nearly half of British couples spend more time together in the bath for conversation and catching up than over dinner. All the more reason to break up the routine and create some intimate memories that go beyond the everyday mundane. Share in intimate conversation with your partner. Keep learning, and keep asking, and keep sharing. In every regard, there should be consistency in showing that you care.

 

It’s no secret that couples have a strong need to understand one another and be understood. Casting any mind reading aside, certain things should be fairly obvious. Not taking your partner for granted and not being self-centric is a pretty basic start. Remember, everyone’s favourite subject is themselves. Focus on your partner’s favourite subject. Getting to know someone for the first time isn’t hard. The getting-to-know-you questions are simple, and it’s easy to feel as if you’re standing on firm ground. But once you’ve been in a relationship with someone for a while, you have to realise that there’s an entire universe within that person. Making an effort to continue to explore the depths of your partner will lead to opening new doors between you, and encourage continual growth together. This should be what every date night boils down to, from the very first date to this next Friday night.

Signs of Bullying In A Relationship and How To Deal With It

Over 1.5 million young people were bullied in 2018, according to a survey by Ditch The Label. While bullying is mostly a school problem, it happens in relationships; from teenage ones to married couples. The sad thing is, despite being in a seemingly happy relationship that even includes special dates with your partner, you may be a victim of bullying in your relationship and you don’t know it. The mental and physical health effects of bullying are diverse and long-lasting. That’s why it’s important to explore common signs to look out for and how to deal with bullying in a relationship.

Emotional Bullying

Relationships are supposed to be fun, interesting and generally happy. Planning great moments like movie nights and dates with your partner helps maintain that spark and is generally a good thing for both your lives. However, that does not have to be the sole indicator of a happy marriage or relationship. Other minor details that your partner intentionally does could be indicators of emotional bullying and understanding them is vital. Emotional bullying is hard to identify or admit to and is easily dismissed, especially if there are happy moments. If your partner is exhibiting the following 6 signs, then that is emotional abuse.

Interrupts All Conversations

No relationship is perfect, and that means you will not always see eye to eye with your partner. When disagreements occur, you should aim to solve conflicts through conversation and compromise. If you find that your partner is always interrupting you when you talk, then this is emotional bullying. If you cannot have a decent and productive conversation with a feasible solution, then you are being abused.

Accusations and Blame

“If you love me, you wouldn’t…” Sound familiar? You are being emotionally abused. At the end of the day, you are different people who will select different choices given the same chances. If your partner is always manipulating you using that statement, then that is a sign. Ending every relationship hiccup with tears is also an indicator.

Punishments and Vengeful Motives

Once you disagree and quarrel, the best thing to do is usually to bring it up later when you are both calm and apologize. But with emotional abusers, you will find this is not their default method. They seek to punish you for that mistake, however minor, by either ignoring your calls, hanging up or giving you the silent treatment. In extreme cases, revenge such as going out late, withholding sex, flirting with other people, or refusing to do house chores are common.

Threatens With Suicide or Divorce

When the two methods above do not work effectively, then an emotional abuser will threaten you, especially if you try to leave. If your partner always threatens to divorce you or commit suicide, then you are in an emotionally abusive relationship. Such people also bring up the past a lot during such episodes.

Unreasonable Demands

This mostly disguises itself as concern and love but lowkey infringes on your personal freedom. According to Dr Lisa Ferentz on Psychology Today, a partner who insists you spend all your free time with them, dress in a certain way or change certain things in your life is exploiting you emotionally. When you such signs, try to talk it over with your partner to see if it can change. Otherwise, seek counseling from experts.

Isolates You from Friends and Family

This sign of relationship abuse is one of the most extreme ones and usually, you will have gone through a couple of the ones above before you get here. It starts with wanting to spend all your time with them and slowly escalates to not spending time with anyone else. If your friends are complaining they don’t see you as much and it is not out of your choice, then please reevaluate your relationship.

Dealing With Emotional Abuse

Chances are you won’t know it is happening, but knowing signs to look out for can help. Once you spot any of these emotional abuse signs in your relationship, you need to have a deep conversation about it. If one of you is angry, try taking time to cool off before attempting a solution. Counselling, mediation or therapy should also be tried if you are both willing to get rid of the toxicity in the relationship. If it cannot be salvaged, then you might want to consider leaving before it escalates further.

Financial Bullying

This type of bullying happens in marriages, or with couples who are cohabiting. In some cases, it may be coupled with emotional abuse which makes it harder to spot in the instances it is not. The easiest indicator of financial bullying is you are restricted from using or earning money. Your partner may give you a monthly allowance and chastise you for overspending even by a dollar. You have to seek permission to carry out grocery shopping and necessities especially if your partner makes more money. Stay at home spouses are more likely to experience this.

Once you spot it, have a sit down with your partner and explain how you feel about it. Insist that you also make money decisions where the family is concerned. Making a family financial budget plan with an income and report should be a combined effort. On the allowance, both of you should have a reasonable allowance whose expenditure is fully transparent.

Physical Bullying

In 2018, over 2 million people were victims of domestic violence in the U.K according to the Office of National Statistics. Physical bullying is where your partner’s aggression escalates to a physical fight that actually leaves bruises on your body. It is critical to note that either gender can inflict physical harm regardless of their size. The earliest sign is usually hurling things all over the house during a disagreement. The anger is then directed at you and may extend to pets and kids.

Leaving may take a few tries but it can be done. The first thing to do is recognize it is happening and take a stand against it. You should then report it through a helpline if it is during one of those episodes. If not, seek out help, speak to someone about it and find an exit strategy. Be sure to protect the kids first if there are any and document the abuse interactions. It sounds dramatic but it will stand up both in family and child custody courts.

Bullying is never a one-time thing. If your partner is bullying you, expect more episodes of the same with an increasing frequency. Do not let it get to the physical bullying stage if you can. Otherwise, take steps to protect yourself out of that toxic relationship. Remember, bullying has a lasting effect on both your mental and physical health. Spotting the signs could save your life, literally.

Tips and Tricks for Preparing Yourself for a Special Date

With recent research suggesting that 50% of couples will meet online by the year 2031, there’s no doubt that the world of online dating is changing. But the truth is, despite its dominance, the old and tested first meet up with your new date is always considered a great confidence booster. So, if your crush finally asked you on a date or that hot date on Tinder, how do you prepare for it? You have an important and special date coming up and you have little idea on how to go about it. If you haven’t been in the dating scene for a while, this can be quite overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. Special dates are an easy way to fan flames of love in your relationship if done correctly.

Go Beyond the Normal Skin Care Routine

Depending on the outfit you select for this special date, your appearance is still one of the first things people notice on sight. Your face should be a bestseller. If you have a working skin regimen that you follow religiously, then your skin should be all set for the big night. If not, ensure you exfoliate and moisturize in advance to get that clear skin that boosts your confidence. Men should be careful with cleaning up thoroughly to get rid of sweaty scents. Taking a head-to-toe shower is advisable. If you are a woman who is into the latest 2019 trends in makeup, you might want to try it. Do not overdo it though as it may flake if it stays for long.

Get Rid of Unwanted Hairs

You might have shaved your legs and armpits a few days ago but I bet you haven’t waxed or plucked your eyebrows for a while. For your special date, you might want to take care of that. Threading your brows gives them a definite shape that adds to your facial appeal. As a man, trim your beard to a neat length. While at it, you might want to wax as you never know where the special night might lead. It is a good thought to be prepared and even if it doesn’t work out, you still get to practice good hygiene procedures.

Eat Small Snacks Beforehand

This might sound awkward, but more often than not, eating is not usually the date. People will plan any of 22 activities for a date such as a football game, a movie or even an outdoors excursion before they think of dinner. A special date can be one of these activities or simply a dinner date. Either way, it is critical to have small snacks beforehand. They help reduce your anxiety and give you more time to concentrate on the date. However, do not eat much as the date might just be a six-course meal that you will be unable to indulge in if you are already full.

Check Your Wallet

Cash is king while you are out on a date even though you prefer your credit cards. If it was your idea to have a special date, be prepared to foot the bills regardless of your gender. While most men still prefer to pay, it has become common for women to pay too, or going Dutch on first dates. Even if you had a prior arrangement, ensure you carry extra cash for the special date as it may extend way into the night. In such an instance, having extra cash for other activities is a good idea. Carry both your cards and extra cash just in case.

Avoid Grand Surprises

Surprises are good and a little bit of mystery will make the special date even more memorable. But avoid withholding all the details of your plan. You might think it is a good idea to visit the theater or try sushi yet your date hates the theater and is allergic to sushi. Find a way to run the idea to your date without revealing your whole plan such as asking what they are allergic to.

Prepare Conversation Starters

According to Forbes, holding an interesting conversation may be a thing you can actually learn.  If you are lucky, the conversation will flow smoothly into and throughout the date. Nonetheless, it has to have a beginning point that you should plan in advance. Keep it interesting but not too intrusive. You might also want to implement turn-taking to avoid bubbling all the time and give your date the chance to initiate conversation.

Should You Sport High Heels? 

According to LiveStrong, one of the benefits of high heels is that they make you look classy and sophisticated, especially if you are out in an expensive restaurant. They are the perfect choice for a dinner date and you should wear them if you feel comfortable. However, high heels can be quite a drag if you have to spend many hours in them, especially if you opt for a walk in the park after the date or want to engage in any other outdoor activity.

Clean Your Bathroom

Special dates are known to last for more than just the dinner. If that is the case, you might want to be prepared to spend the night. Depending on whose house is nearer, you just might spend the night there. Clean your bathroom in advance as your date might be put off once they see it and call it off by morning. You do not have to thoroughly scrub it if that is not part of your cleaning schedule. Just make sure it is clean, neat and tidy.

Carry Protection 

Carrying condoms in your purse or wallet might seem presumptuous, but in the heat of the moment, it sure does come in handy. In as much as your date is the perfect person and you see yourself spending the rest of your life with them after a few tequila shots, you might want to slow down. Making a rash decision that may tie you down for the rest of your life is unfair to both of you. So, carry protection just in case the date ends in that direction. However, if that is the purpose of the special date, then, by all means, do have fun. As an extra tip, ensure you arrive on time.

Going on a special date is supposed to be fun and romantic. If planned well, such a date can create sparks between the two of you which may lead to a longer lasting relationship. Even if you are married, such a date helps you rediscover your partner and keep the love burning. Learning how to plan and prepare for your special date ensures that your love blossoms beautifully.

Why is Cruising an Ideal Way to Fan the Flames of Love?

Sexual attraction between couples is heightened when they do something different, exciting, adrenaline-inducing, according to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. This suggests that couples can benefit from travelling in a way that is different from the norm and when it comes to adventure and romance, few means of travel beat cruising. New destinations and styles of voyage mean that cruising is no longer marketed exclusively at well-to-do retirees with unlimited time on their hands. Today, cruising can involve destinations to wild jungles, pristine islands, or snake-like fjords that appeal to adventure-loving couples wishing to reconnect and rekindle the sparks of romance. Read on and discover the many features that make a sea voyage such an ideal choice when it comes to bonding with your spouse or partner.

A Night Out, Every Night

How often do you get to go to an elegant dinner with your partner – one in which you can both get dolled up to the nines, enjoy a five-course meal, and dance to live music afterwards? Cruising differs from air travel in this respect; it is an invitation to enjoy a meal out every evening, and to impress your partner while doing so. You might be surprised at some of the many shows you can enjoy on a cruise – everything from Shakespearean plays to rock shows, and hit musicals like Mamma Mia!.

Onboard Couples Spa Experiences

Many sea voyages catered for couples offer treatments meant to be enjoyed by couples together. Imagine enjoying a hot stone massage, soothing Swedish massage, or gentle anti-ageing facial, with your partner at your side. These liners have couples therapy rooms, where you can enjoy everything from acupuncture to a dip in a relaxing whirlpool. As noted in a study published in the Journal of Happiness, vacation has a profound effect on stress, enabling you to sleep better and create better resilience so you can buffer future stress when we return to work. Opting for spa treatments cuts to the chase, directly addressing tension and pain in muscles and tissues. The result is a more relaxed state – one which is more conducive when it comes to getting ‘in the mood for love’.

Cutting Down on Anxiety

Once you board your cruise ship, you can pretty much begin to unwind. All-inclusive meals, exotic cocktails, and excellent wine highlight the holiday aspect of your time off, and you can save yourselves from the anxiety of airport changes, flight transfers, and delays. Everything is taken care of – including transport to and from your ports of call, and city and adventure breaks alike are pre-planned and organised. The plethora of onboard and port activities allow you to travel at your own pace. Athletic couples and city slickers will probably be out and about at different ports almost daily, while those who simply want to chill out can take advantage of an empty ship and stay in, visiting the spa or simply lounging by the pool or taking part in onboard yoga, Tai Chi, surfing, or aerobics sessions.

Ships to Opt For

If you have decided that a cruise is right for you, then do your research beforehand to find liners that specialize in couples-centred voyages. The Caribbean Princess is home to the gorgeous Lotus Spa – with a host of couple-focused treatments – and a stunning Piazza that will make you and your lover feel like you are strolling through a quaint European village. Norwegian Bliss, meanwhile, offers al fresco dining on deck, and a luxury spa overlooking the ocean. Check out what different liners have to offer. Features such as on-deck gardens, Jacuzzis, and child-free areas are ideal. If you are bringing your children with you, there should be a plethora of kids activities and clubs on board – these areas are run by qualified personnel who will ensure your children are safe and well attended to.

Destinations that  Put You in a Romantic Mood

Romance is what you make of it. When you are in love, simply being away – without any distractions pulling your attention in opposite directions – is more than enough. Still, it cannot be denied that some destinations have a romantic ‘pull’ that makes it far easier to enjoy ‘that loving feeling’. One of the most popular is Bora Bora, where over-the-water bungalows, crystalline waters, and a plethora of gorgeous sealife vie for your attention. The Caribbean islands are another revered spot for lovers. Think Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, or St Barts. The Caribbean has married its reputation as an island getaway with top-notch service and luxurious resorts that are literally worlds away from the hustle and bustle of city life. In Asia, islands like Palawan in the Philippines offer small, same-day island tours in which you can discover mysterious coves, swim with turtles and schools of fish swimming by, and  enjoy the wonderful local cuisine. There is something about the feeling of warm sand beneath your feet that instantly connects you to the world outside but also instills a sensation of stillness and peace that allows you to truly comprehend how much your partner means to you.

When it comes to romantic travel, a short weekend away is wonderful, but a cruise is the stuff eternal memories are made of. The excitement of it all brings you closer to your partners, and the idea of visiting so many places in a relatively small amount of time, undoubtedly stimulates the mind and the senses. Cruises are specialised in relaxation, with top cruise liners boasting luxurious spas where voyagers can enjoy soothing massages and relaxing treatments, as well as soak up the benefits of whirlpool immersion. When you’re on a cruise, everything is prepared for you – from your bed to the cuisine. You won’t need to worry about booking tickets to the theatre in advance, either. Cruise liners offer a wealth of different types of entertainment – from red-hot musicals to soul-soothing jazz and blues. If you do take a cruise, make the most of it and enjoy the many activities offered both on- and off-board. Don’t forget to capture the moments on film, either. These shots will serve as a fabulous reminder of what is in store the next time you take to the seas with the love of your life.

Before You Cohabit: Let’s Talk Logistics, Legalities, and Finances

3.3 million households in the UK consist of cohabiting couples based on the Office of National Statistics. Cohabitation is something that has been historically controversial especially because of religious reasons and societal expectations. Yet it is now one of the fastest growing household types as more couples are moving in together for different reasons like cutting costs or taking things “to the next step”. It goes without saying that moving in with a romantic partner is a big deal and should warrant consideration especially when you are not just factoring feelings into the mix. 

Cohabiting Logistics

A lot of couples who decide to move in together can get swept away with the high of taking their relationship to the next level. They end up forgetting that they need to approach this with both feet firmly planted on the ground. Logistics plays a huge part when it comes to deciding where the couple is going to live. Potential living situations can get pretty complicated when each person has their own flat or home. Not everyone is willing to give up the space that they have worked to maintain themselves so opening up your space can be a daunting undertaking. Not to mention that it is something that involves a significant amount of planning.

It’s a conversation that you and your significant other will have to tackle early on. It is best to figure out who is moving in with whom or if getting specialised housing is necessary. Think about how the move will affect your commutes to work and if you need to sell or donate any possessions to make space for joint belongings. Consider what to do about re-routing mail to your new place. Talking about these points and many more will help give both of you a stronger idea of the logistics involved with moving in together. Strong communication will also lessen the likelihood of a cohabitation breakdown as found by University College London.

Legal Ramifications

It seems that two-thirds of cohabiting couples in the UK erroneously believe in the existence of common-law marriage as found through a survey by Resolution. Despite having a lengthy or fruitful cohabitation, the couple does not have the same rights as a legally married couple would have. Each person must be aware of their rights before they enter into a cohabiting situation. This is particularly significant when one moves into the home of another. Even if the one who moved in helps to pay the mortgage, they will have no legal claim to it.

It is ideal to explore the legalities of your decision before you go through with it. For example, you can see if drawing up a cohabitation agreement before moving in is an option. Having a frank discussion about your legal expectations about sharing a mortgage or buying things for the shared home is crucial. If you are going to rent a property from a private landlord, it is vital to clarify whose name will be on the lease. Try to see if it is possible to jointly sign on a lease so you both share equal responsibility and thus share equal rights to the rental.

Never forget that the contract with the landlord will have legal ramifications if either of you breaches it or terminates it offhand because of a breakup. Let’s say you spend several unmarried decades with each other and one of you passes. Unless there is a document that says you stand to inherit, you will have no legal rights to it. It would be wise to consult with a solicitor before moving in together so you’ll know what you’re entitled to.

Financial Smarts

Disagreements about money are one of the common roots of breakups in couples both married and unmarried. You can even say that things are harder for unmarried couples precisely because they are mostly unprotected by the law. When you move in with someone, you ultimately agree to shoulder your partner emotionally, psychologically, and – yes – financially. That is, of course, unless you both have a drawn up contract that protects your individual financial interests.

Money matters often involve finding out who pays for what expense in the household. There are those that take a percentile approach toward dividing the bills. There are those that consider the earning power of each person. Only then do they pick which financial responsibilities are theirs. If your partner is going to open up an account under their name, you will have no claim to that and the same applies to them when it comes to your finances. It is of fundamental importance to clarify how the couple is to approach any financial responsibilities in the future.

Seeking a financial set-up that both individuals are comfortable with is the goal of talking about money. While aiming to split everything 50/50 might seem ideal, it does not leave much leeway. It’s not until the couple moves in together that they get a firm idea of how much their lover spends on hobbies and other unnecessary expenses. It is unreasonable to ask a significant other to pay for half when consumption and personal expenses are not evenly split. A good idea is to avoid dealing in absolutes when it comes to money figures. Also, don’t forget to be flexible.

Look To Your Future

Right now it would not be surprising if the couple feels like they are for keeps. Naturally, that’s how a majority of couples who have just brought up moving in together feel. The truth of the matter is there really is no telling what sort of future they will have individually and as a couple. That is why it is critical for each to cast a safety net for their own individual interests. Talking about legalities and finances may not be the most romantic topic to discuss but it is necessary in order to lay a strong foundation for the two people in that very relationship. If these are topics that you cannot broach to your partner at this time, it is important to ask yourself if this is a decision that you are still comfortable on making.

 

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Romancing Your Partner while Travelling

We know that people who go on vacations are more productive at work and more likely to get promoted, but are they also happier in their romantic relationships? A study review published in the Journal of Travel Research found that travel has several benefits for families, relationships, and individuals. Holidays are a reminder of the fact that although some things change when you have been married for many years, your enjoyment of each other and your love, can be stronger than ever if you just take the time to enjoy each other with no pressures of work or other commitments. If you and your partner could use a few days away, discovering new sights and learning more about each other, learning about just a few benefits of holidays may inspire you. Does booking a week away to one of the world’s most romantic cities appeal?

Building Beautiful Memories

When you think back on the highs and lows of your relationships, the best moments are probably centered on travel. As noted in a Study by Shaw, Havitz, and Delemere, holidays build tighter bonds because they provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and create memories that are cherished years later. As noted by one participant to their study, investing in a holiday makes sense because you are in essence buying into beautiful memories, not just material things that don’t mean as much when you look back on meaningful moments of your life.

The Effect of Holidays on Relationships

Research by Newman and Newman has found that spending more leisure time together is linked to a lower probability of divorce. Another study by Gilbert and Abdullah, undertaken on over 6,000 people, found that those who took at least four consecutive days off to travel, enjoyed greater wellbeing and happiness. A third study by Hoopes and Lounsbury found that going on holiday increased a couple’s satisfaction once they were back home. Some countries have taken notice of the psychological importance of vacations. Malaysia, for instance, introduced a Second Honeymoon Program in 2010, offering couples who were considering divorce an island getaway where they would enjoy counselling as well as enough time to enjoy the paradisiacal setting together. People argue less and enjoy greater intimacy when they are on their vacation, than in daily life.

Holidays Reduce Stress and Promote Peace in a Relationship

Many studies have shown that holidays are important, particularly when you have a high-stress lifestyle or when, as a couple, you have been through the stress of illness. A study conducted recently by the American Psychological Association found that vacations significantly lower stress levels because they take remove us from the activities and environments that cause worry and anxiety. Holidays ensure we have less headaches and backaches, which puts us into ‘the mood for love’. They also enable us to sleep better, so we feel more alert and are better able to give our full attention to our partner. Simply sleeping poorly or tossing and turning frequently at night can increase our stress levels, so a holiday is a good way to cut both stress and poor sleep hygiene in the bud.

Choosing a Romantic Getaway

Paradisiacal islands and mountainside resorts often spring to mind when we think of a romantic holiday, but if you are a city lover at heart, a buzzing city like New York, with its romantic nightclubs, rooftop terrace restaurants, and meaningful monuments (does the Empire State ring any bells?), has all the ingredients it takes to wine and dine your partner in style. Because New York is so expansive, it offers a plethora of romantic activities, including a picnic at Central Park, a visit to the Hayden Planetarium, or a visit to the Diamond District. Other cities on the top of the romance list include Paris, Sydney, and Venice. Whether you are catching a show at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, walking along the beach in Sydney, or taking a gondola ride in Venice, chances are, you will feel fortunate that you are enjoying all these sites with someone you love.

Making Time for a Nature Escape

If you do choose a city escape, try to find a beautiful green area or seaside part of the area you are visiting, to add a little dose of romance to what will undoubtedly already be an unforgettable trip. Researchers in Finland (Liisa Tyrvainen of the Finnish Forest Institute) recently measured people’s wellbeing in three different environments: busy city parks, urban streetscapes, and wild forests. In their study, participants were asked to take a 15-break in these areas. They found that those who had visited the city parks and forests, felt psychologically restored. These feelings were slightly heightened in a forest setting but interestingly, even being in an urban green area had powerful restorative effects. Another study by scientists at Stanford University, meanwhile, found that walking in a city park lifted the mood, working memory, and attention. Once again, it is evident that by working on our own stress levels, we can give our best self to our partner. Therefore, if you do opt for a city break, consider giving priority to cities with a beach, nearby forests, or numerous green areas in which to relax after a hectic day sightseeing.

If you would love to surprise your partner or spouse with a special gift, a holiday may just be one of the best investments you can make. As mentioned above, material things (a designer outfit, killer pair of shoes, or even an elegant piece of jewellery) don’t really form part of our memory when we recall special moments with our loved one. Holidays don’t have to be expensive, or involve a plane ride and fancy hotels. You don’t even have to leave your city or state to disconnect with your partner. Taking a quick city or nature  break for a weekend can help reduce stress and arguments, improve your mood, and make you more aware of/attentive to your loved one.

Adapting to Life Changes in Marriage

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that over 300,000 marriages take place each year in England and Wales. With divorce rates at just 8.9 per 1000 married couples, more of these partnerships are staying together. That is not to say that marriage has gotten any easier, however. Successfully sharing your life with a long term partner requires flexibility. Inevitably, life brings change. The ability to adapt and take on new roles within the relationship can make all the difference in being able to successfully maintain it, forever.

Sharing Finances 

For many, marriage is the first time to experience shared finances. Especially as the average age of people marrying is on the rise, these working adults have already learned the basics of personal financial responsibility. Car payments, bank accounts, rent, savings and debt are nothing new. However, having joint bank accounts, entering into debt together, and managing a household budget can be the first stressor in a marriage.

Although there are many ways to manage your finances as a couple, it is not unusual for one person in the partnership to take on the task of budgeting, managing the accounts, and paying the bills. Open communication about money, as in all things, is necessary for the health of the relationship. Without it, one person may start feeling uncomfortable with the arrangement, especially if there is an imbalance in the income being brought into the household.

It is not as easy as it may seem to think in terms of “our” money rather than “yours” and “mine.” Consider having both joint and personal accounts to avoid this source of conflict. Joint accounts can be used to cover household expenses like housing, utilities, and groceries while personal accounts cover things like clothes, nights out with friends, and trips to the salon or barber.

Becoming Parents

When a couple decides to start a family it marks a massive transition for the relationship. The new and ever changing responsibilities of caring for a child are immense and hugely time consuming. As each person takes on the role of parent, their role in the relationship also changes.

Married couples with children find it difficult to devote time to nurturing their relationship. The Economic and Social Research Council conducted a mixed method psychosocial study on enduring love. They found that parents engage in less relationship maintenance than their childless counterparts. The time spent doing parenting related tasks and activities leaves little time for other things. When children are very young, a parent’s focus and energy is overwhelmingly spent on the child. Parents are left feeling tired and drained with nothing left to give to their spouse.

Couples will have a greater chance of long term success if they commit to spending regular time with one another as a couple, not as parents. A set date night  with the help of a family member or childminder can do wonders for keeping a couple connected. Little things can be done on a daily basis to show care and thought for your partner. Making their tea in the morning or sending a sweet text in the middle of a work day is a small gesture that can have a big long term impact.

Illness and Caretaking

As time moves on one or both of the people in a marriage may find themselves in the role of caretaker. This can come about in different ways.  A parent of the couple or one of the people in the couple themselves becomes chronically ill and requires everyday care. Whether caring for a sick parent or spouse, this change is an emotional and taxing phase for all involved.

Caregiving takes a big emotional toll on a person. The caretaker has to come to terms with the fact that someone they love dearly is sick. Fear, uncertainty, and sadness can become all consuming. Boredom, frustration, and hopelessness are not at all uncommon. Seeking out help and support is crucial during this time. Having someone to talk openly and honestly with, whether a friend, family member, or professional, is critical to emotional well being.

Practically speaking, a caretaker should not attempt to go it alone. Outside help, even if for only a few hours a week, can give the caretaker a regular necessary reprieve. For those in need, social assistance is available from the NHS by requesting a needs assessment. For short periods of time, for running errands or attending personal appointments, the ill loved one can be left alone. Providing the loved one with communication tools that can help the carer and cared for feel more secure in leaving for these short excursions.

Empty Nest or Retirement

When couples move from being full time workers, parents, or both to being empty nesters or retirees, life as a couple, once again, transforms. Schedules are suddenly more open. Spaces are available that were once filled with children and work obligations. This can be disorienting for a couple. They may feel like they have nothing to talk about or focus on. It requires an adjustment and attention to reconnect or keep the relationship strong in this new dynamic.

Identifying areas of interest that are shared but have never been explored is a great place to start. This gives a freshness and spark to the relationship and can be very fulfilling and exciting. This new found time is a gift and choosing to spend some of it in a passionate pursuit with your spouse is invaluable to the health of the relationship.

Giving your spouse freedom to pursue personal interests or to simply spend time alone is an equally positive way to nurture your relationship during this stage. It is healthy and natural for both parties to a relationship to have interests that are solely their own. Supporting one another in individual pursuits and allowing each other to spend time away can actually bring them closer.

If we are lucky, life is long. Choosing to spend it in a relationship can be the most rewarding experience of one’s life. It is not without its set of challenges but each partner can adapt and support each other through all of life’s changing roles.

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The Rise of the Blended Family in the UK

In the UK as is many other countries, divorce, separation, and repartnering are the norm, with many welcoming children from their partner’s former relationship into their home to live together as a family. The latest report from the Office for National Statistics recorded over half a million blended families with dependent children in England and Wales, with 28% of these families having three or more children. Without a doubt, walking the fine line between parent and friend can be challenging for parents of new blended families, and it is vital for spouses or partners to manage their situation with a sound and united strategy, working as a team to ensure the health and happiness of every person living in their home.

What are Some Problems that Blended Families can Encounter?

Parentline Plus, a hotline for parents with family issues, reported receiving over 14,000 calls in a single year from step parents with stepfamily issues. Research by psychologist, Lisa Doodson of Regent’s University London found that stepmothers had significantly higher levels of anxiety and depression than biological mothers, as well as a weaker support structure. Common problems can include a lack of time (parents find that they now have to spread the little time they may have between more children); sibling rivalry (children may find it hard to get along with their step siblings or compete for their parents’ attention, fearful that they will be loved less now that they are not living with both biological parents); and territorial issues (children can find it hard to have to share bedrooms, bathrooms, toys, etc. There can be initial difficulties establishing territory and limits). Parents can also struggle to get twice as many kids to get to after-school activities and lessons, while work and other personal and social demands.

Adaptation Takes Time

Research shows that it can take blended families at least four years to adjust to their new arrangement. Therefore, if you feel frustrated or powerless when it comes to managing so much change, know that it takes time to get to know your stepchildren and to negotiate the many rules and routines that may differ considerably from your own. Be patient and use humour to diffuse tense situations, and use tried-and-tested conflict resolution skills to reduce tension and focus on issues that arise, looking to solve these issues one by one. As time passes, you will start to appreciate the benefits that being part of a blended family can bring to your life. Things may be a bit more chaotic than they used to be, but they can also be more entertaining and the presence of more rather than less people in a household can actually be a source of support in terms of time, chores, company, and other essential life factors.

Building a Strategy

Before you begin to live as a blended family, it is important to time to discuss routines and rules with your new spouse or partner. Uniformity must prevail in a home if there is to be peace in a blended family. Therefore, some feel it is logical to ask new children arriving into the home to adapt to established routines, bedtimes, etc. This isn’t to say that your spouse’s considerations don’t matter. During your discussion, you might decide that some changes will be profitable for everyone in the family. Equality should prevail, but you should not feel like you don’t have the right to establish norms in your home.

 

Deciding on Conflict Resolution Norms

When norms for conflict aren’t established, arguments can quickly escalate. It is important that once children are mature enough to understand and learn conflict resolution skills, that conflict resolution skills be learned, to make for  peaceful, purposeful communication within your blended family. At a family meeting, you can explain to kids why using the right language is important. For instance, language such as “You always” or “You never” should be avoided, because they put the listener on the defensive and veer the discussion away from the actual problem you are trying to fix. The ultimate aim is for step siblings to see the family unit as a team. This way, conflicts can be seen as an opportunity to achieve outcomes rather than to ‘beat the opponent’.

Adding a Dash of Understanding

Be prepared for your stepchildren to utter, at some point during your life together, “You can’t tell me what to do, you’re not my mom/dad.” Understand that when they say this, they are essentially telling you they are hurting, they are finding it hard to adapt, and they may miss their old home structure with their biological parents. For some kids, discussing conflicts should be left for when the situation is calmer. Take the time you need to clear your mind when you feel like you are frustrated. Go for a walk, do some deep breathing, or meditate for a few moments, coming back to your stepchild when the tension has diffused a little. Explain that you are not trying to replace their parent, but that as an adult in the home, you need to establish ground rules across the board, for all kids living with you. When you speak to them, use humour and warmth to help them feel loved rather than chastised. A warm embrace and a smile can go a long way towards helping children understand that there is nothing personal about rules; they simply need to be set for the household to run as smoothly as possible.

If you are about to start a blended family living arrangement, it is important to be realistic and expect a few teething problems, both on your part and those of your existing and new kids. You and your partner can reduce the likelihood of conflict by agreeing on ground rules and explaining them together to your children in a family meeting. Be prepared for a few territorial fights and tears at first, but be resistant, don’t give in, and always stress the importance of approaching problems as a family. Take complaints as a sign your new kids may need a little reassurance and extra time and attention and do your best to give them as much support as they need. Once rules, schedules, and bedroom arrangements are set, you can start enjoying the diversity and fun involved in living together, seeing conflict as an opportunity to learn more about your biological and step children, but also about yourself.

Moving In Together? Here’s Everything You Need To Talk About Before The Big Day

If you’ve been seeing your significant other for a while and all is well in your relationship, the next step may involve living together. In the UK, more people than ever are cohabiting before getting married, and a survey has revealed that living in a couple is the most popular living arrangement for those aged 16 and over. Moving in together may be one of the best ways to strengthen your bond, and it could potentially be a financially sound move. However, living together presents a few challenges, both relationship and money-wise, and there are things that you and your partner need to consider before the big day. To keep the love alive and to ensure that all goes well between you and your SO, here’s everything you need to talk about before moving in.

When should you move in?

Is there such a thing as the right time to start living together? In a Bridebook poll in 2017 which involved 4,000 British couples, it was revealed that the average couple dated for 17 months before moving in together. Bridebook’s founder, Hamish Shephard, said that the findings indicate that living together before tying the knot can “clearly be very positive steps to finding ‘the one’ and having a fantastic long-lasting marriage.”

Although the survey shows that most pairs wait at least a year before making the next step, identifying the ideal timeline for moving in together can be difficult—each relationship is different, after all. But you can take a good look at your relationship to find cues whether it’s the right time to cohabitate. Experts say that once you and your significant other understand and are willing to live with each other’s habits, then that’s a good sign that you can consider moving in. Being open and comfortable talking about money and finances is also a positive sign.

My place or yours?

Another thing to consider before moving in is where you’ll live. Should your partner move into your place, or should you be the one to relocate? When it comes to sharing a place, ultimately, the best thing that you and your SO could do is look for the best option that would make sense for your lifestyle and budget. For instance, if your partner owns a home and you’re renting, then it may be better for you to move into your loved one’s place. However, if your place is located near you and your SO’s respective places of work, then it may make more sense for your partner to move into your flat.

There’s also a matter of space—who currently lives in a place that can comfortably accommodate two adults? If you have the bigger home and the extra closet space, then your partner may want to move into your place. As for buying a new home together, it may be prudent to hold off on investing in a shared property until you decide to get married. Not only will it be less complicated, but it saves both of you from the trouble and heartache of dividing possessions and the home should the relationship not work out in the end.

My aesthetic vs your style

If you and your partner share the same taste in interior design, then you may skip this part. But if your SO prefers a traditional style while you lean towards an edgy and modern aesthetic, then you may have to sit down and talk about how you can compromise on this matter. A home should reflect both of your sensibilities, so finding out how to combine the best of both worlds is your best bet so both of you can enjoy and appreciate the decor. The best thing that you can do is to hire a professional interior designer who can successfully put together elements from each of your preferred styles. If money is a little tight, make a project out of it with your partner and learn to compromise and find a balance. This means that if your partner wants traditional furniture in the living room, then you can have an edgy and sleek fireplace and a state-of-the-art home entertainment system in the same space.

Having “the talk”

Talking about finances and paying bills may not be the most romantic things that you can do with your partner. You may not even look forward to having the money talk with your loved one as it can get awkward or uncomfortable. However, it’s one of the most important things that you should do to have a healthy relationship. Experts say that being honest and open about your finances can improve the trust and quality  in your relationship. Moreover, it reduces the chances of having big financial problems in the future.

So how do you have “the talk” with your partner? The first thing is to determine your household expenses. This may involve rent, association dues, utilities, and groceries. Some people think that splitting the cost evenly is the right thing to do, however, this only works if you and your partner are earning the same—or close to the same—amount of money on a regular basis. If your partner is earning considerably less than you, then it may be difficult for your SO to pay their half. If this is the case, you can cover the bigger expenses, such as the rent, electricity, and water bill, then perhaps your partner can cover the groceries and the cost of your cable or Internet.

For personal expenses such as clothes, salon visits, and haircuts, each of you should be responsible for this and take care of your respective purchases. Also, don’t expect your partner to pay your credit card bills or insurance—you should take care of that on your own, the same way you always had before moving in.

Keeping the romance alive while living together

Living together makes you privy to all your partner’s habits and quirks, and you may discover something new each day about each other. But even though you’re living in the same space, it’s crucial to keep the spark alive to ensure a happy relationship. Make quality time for each other—remember that living together doesn’t mean that you’re spending lots of time together every day. Continue to go on date nights and flirt with each other. If it’s been a tough month, by all means, stay in, but make your meal a romantic one by lighting candles and playing soft music. Going the extra mile even though you’re living together is always worth it if you’re doing it for the person you love.

By being open, honest, and having the willingness to compromise, you and your partner can have a happy relationship while living under the same roof. As time goes by, there may be ups and downs as you continue to discover new things about each other, but be reminded that no matter what, it’s the love—and not the house—that binds you together.

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Top Tips To Finding Love After A Divorce Or The Death Of A Spouse

“Love recognizes no barriers, it jumps hurdles, leaps fences, and penetrate walls to arrive at its destination, full of hope,” quotes Maya Angelou. While real love, as described by Angelou, keeps marriages strong, sometimes divorce is the healthiest options for couples. Besides separation, the other common and more natural way that marriages end is through death. Losing a spouse to death changes the world around you and subjects you to sorrow and grief. You may experience guilt for being the one who is alive or get mad at your deceased partner for leaving you. But should you live like that forever, or should you move on?

The 18th-century writer Samuel Johnson defined remarriage as ‘the triumph of hope over experience.’ This can be perceived as a cynical statement to mean that if you have been married once, you ought to know better than to remarry. But his witticism also expresses a more positive and more profound truth about the human nature that we are all hopeful species especially when it comes to fulfilling the most basic human need: to love and be loved. So, why not be hopeful?

Ask a lot of questions

A date relates to an interview because you are actively trying to learn more about the person to see if they are a good match for you. Many people get nervous during dates, and as a result, they end up talking too much about themselves. Instead, you should compose yourself and try to learn something about your date as well. Knowing the other person is crucial, hence you should not hurry up down the aisle with them, even if you were in love before your divorce. This is because your relationship is on an entirely different footing; it is no longer a secretive affair which in most cases scraps off most of the excitement.

Don’t talk much about your ex-partner

One thing that your date does not want to hear is how your former partner was a jerk or was not adhering to your agreement. If you dwell too much on the negatives from your past relationship, you will most likely never hear from them again. Therefore, you should try to concentrate as much as possible on the present and the future. In case your divorce comes up, keep it brief, shallow and resist from cursing. Some of the words you should refrain from include depressed, devastated, heartbroken, bitter and deadbeat.

Love yourself

“Does the person bring the best in me?” Do I like myself when around this person?” these questions emphasize whether your date is a good fit for you. If you are dating a person who makes you feel bad about yourself, you might find that everything you do is inclined towards making them love you more, and on most occasions, they cannot. Instead of trying to make such a situation work, accept that they are not the one and that you need to move on for your well-being.

Don’t talk much about kids

Your children are your pride and joy, and they are in most cases, a significant part of your life. In this line, your date is not with you to talk about them the entire time but to know you and what defines you when you are not a parent. Similarly, when people find love after divorce, they often want their kids to dive and join in the happiness. They do not realize that children might require more time to adjust. Therefore, you should not hasten to introduce your children in a bid to solidify the bond. It is vital to understand that just because you are dating your soulmate, it does not mean that your kids feel connected to those of your partner. As such, don’t force them to spend time with each other but give everyone time to accept the new arrangement.

Be understanding

Put in mind that divorcees shuffle a lot of issues including kids, job, and more. Dating as a divorcee is significantly different than when you were younger. Therefore, issues like last minute rainchecks, kids despising you and your partner’s ex being rude to you are typical scenarios to expect. In addition, there might be days they fail to talk to you, and though they might not manage to see you as often as you want, it is essential to remain calm and understanding; those are just the constraints of dating after divorce or death of a spouse.

Find Yourself

A bit of time to yourself after losing your spouse, through whichever means, allows you to reflect and get to know yourself again. You may not feel like you’ve lost yourself but when you’ve been part of a relationship for a long time, you can lose some sense of yourself as an individual. Give yourself time to breathe, reflect on your own wants and needs and get to know yourself. You can rethink your sense of style, your ambitions in life and where you hope to spend your later years, even with a new partner.

How long to wait

Whether your previous marriage ended with death or divorce, you need time to recover. You have gone through a significant life transition and you ought to get in touch with your emotions before indulging in another serious commitment. Also, for divorcees, try to understand what went amiss, and if you find yourself laying 100% of the blame on your ex, you may not be entirely realistic. Until you have acknowledged your role in the separation, you are likely in danger of repeating the same mistake. In fact, a period of self-examination is vital. Also, therapy might be helpful as it clears off any emotional baggage so that you do not drag it into your next marriage.

After a divorce, no one scores 100% in dating and remarriage because the past always sticks with you to a certain degree. Remarried couples will always have to deal with issues from previous marriages. However, openness, honesty, patience and mutual support are the keys to a successful remarriage. The good news is that the union is more likely to be successful because partners are more experienced and more mature than they previously were. It might not be fair to term remarriage as the ‘triumph of hope over experience’; it could be that very experience you have gained that grants you a reason to remain strong and hopeful.