Relationship Help & Love Advice
When you're looking for relationship help, you'll often take advice from the strangest sources.
Type in “relationship advice” on your computer and you'll see adds for Dr. Phil's programs, relationship e-books, and love psychics.
While I could argue whether Dr. Phil or the love psychic will give better advice, I bet you could find better counselors than either.
And while the romance ebook out there probably exists that helps, I suggest you avoid anything that offers a sales pitch, such as “ALL CAPITAL LETTERS” and excessive use of terms like “#1”, “the best”, “special offer”, or the color yellow on their homepage.
Solving Relationship Problems
It's better to listen to sound, reasonable advice which isn't trying to sell you their latest self-help book or astrological package. You have a number of resources you can draw on, both in your circle of friends, in your community, and even in your own home. Go online to read additional advice if you need to. Buy a textbook on relationship counseling, if you need to. But exhaust the following resources before you get too exotic in your search.
Stop Arguing, You Two
Maybe the two of you don't have the time or money for trained counseling right now. If so, set up a few ground rules in your relationship. Agree to start respecting each other more often and agree to stop arguing (at least for a length of time). Sign a truce and give one another a little peace. When you start lowering the stress level and raising the respect levels, amazing things can happen.
If calling an end to arguments sounds unrealistic in your case, then stop arguing in front of other people, especially your kids. Don't undermine each other's authority. In front of adults, don't undermine each other's self-respect. In fact, don't say anything negative about your love partner. Act like you're a professional sports team and everyone else in life is the media. Keep everything “in-house”. This doesn't mean issues don't get resolved–they just don't get aired to the public.
This is a stop-gap measure that may only get at one of the symptoms of the problem, but once you stop disrespecting each other and start respecting each other's moods and feelings, you'll feel the stress levels reduce. Maybe then you can start to talk like rational adults and start resolving some of the real issues.
Get Advice from a Friend
Find a friend or family member whom you love, respect, and trust. Ask this person for real advice about your relationship, giving them enough details to reach an informed opinion.
When I say “real advice”, I mean just that. I'm not talking about you venting, where you tell your friends and advisor your problems in the hopes of getting sympathy. When I say “enough details”, I mean giving information, then shutting up and not getting defensive when they start to talk. The idea is for you to listen, not to talk. Remember, one half of good communication is listening to the other person.
One additional word of advice when talking to friends and family about this: if you have someone you vent to, this is probably not the person to get relationship advice from. Whenever you get frustrated and complain about your romantic partner, they are only hearing one side of the story. You go to them for sympathy and emotional support, not real advice. They have essentially learned about the worst side of your relationship and, specifically, your girlfriend or boyfriend. You've filled them with relationship propoganda. So when you ask them about their opinions about your relationship, they have a distorted view and are almost certain to tell you to get out. In that situation, you would and I would.
Instead, find a friend whom you love and respect and know doesn't have a close emotional investment in the relationship, then give them enough information (not propoganda) to inform them where your relationship stands. It helps if they have seen the two of you together, but don't have a deep personal relationship with the other person in the relationship, because they may have observations that can help. It also helps if they have more experience in relationships than you do.
Talk to a Relationship Counselor
I've given this advice before and I'll give it again. If the two of you have decided that you love one another, but it's not working out (but both want it to), talk to a trained relationship counselor to get assistance in saving your relationship. Most communities have relationship advisors who give free or inexpensive relationship support.
The relationship counselor has taken psychology and sociology courses and has been trained in techniques proven to work. They can act as mediator to whatever issues the two of you have and mediator in disputes the two of you are having. Most importantly, romance counselors can teach you methods so the two of you can work on improving your communication skills, your empathy for one another, and your problem resolution methods. Going to an advice counselor is getting instruction in how to be in a healthy relationship.
When I say “healthy relationship”, that's what I mean. Certain relationships are never going to get better.
If you're in an abusive relationship, get out immediately. The abusive partner isn't almost certain to go on abusing you and here's why: they have severe feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, or anger that makes it difficult, if not impossible, not to be abusive. The person has psychological issues that manifest as violence. Because the abusive partner has deep-seated feelings of inferiority, they can't be in a healthy relationship.
You might think the man who bullies you intellectually and plays games with you emotionally couldn't possibly have low self-esteem, but it's true in most case. (You'll find exceptions, but those people are probably sociopaths who don't feel emotions the way you and I do.) He is so afraid you'll leave him that he tries to systematically destroy your pride and self-esteem, hoping you'll stay with him. Whether it's emotional or physical abuse, he's trying to control you through fear, intimidation, and negative reinforcement. Break out of the cycle.
If you're in an abusive romance, you need to know that you deserve better. You're a thinking, feeling human being and you deserve respect, love, and nurturing. If you don't have respect in a relationship, all the love on your part won't make it work. Get out and find a love partner who won't terrorize you. They exist and you can find them.
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