Don’t Let the Wedding Ruin Your Marriage!

When you dreamt about your wedding as a child—and maybe even later on— you probably envisioned a beautiful white dress, wedding bells ringing and smiles all around while the bouquet is being tossed. You probably didn’t picture the possibility of the stress of planning the wedding itself reaching the point where much of the joy surrounding that special day disappears and actually becomes a burden on your relationship! While wedding planning can be an exciting time for you and your family, sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re planning it in the first place. If you’re in the midst of planning your wedding, take a few minutes to remember it’s just a party and the main event happens after the honeymoon literally and perhaps figuratively ends. Don’t fall for some of the classic wedding mistakes many couples make that can wreak havoc on your relationship:

It’s a family affair-Some say a marriage is the joining of two families. This is lovely in theory; however, two families mean more opinions, agendas, and the possibility of clashing personalities. Family members can be at their worst when under the stress this can create. The priorities that exist for you and your partner can get lost when you’re trying to please too many people. To make matters worse, you might be drawn to defend your own family’s agenda, while your partner is doing the same, leading to arguments and conflict between the two of you. Remember, the wedding is a celebration of your love as a couple. If you find that you’re listening to your families more than to each other, make it essential to take some time on a regular basis to discuss what’s important to both of you for the wedding and in your relationship as it transitions to a lifelong commitment. In-laws can only be a problem here if either of you let them get between the two of you.

Getting lost in the details- Another common problem before walking down the aisle is getting too caught up in trivial details. If you’re obsessing over whether the tablecloths are eggshell or off-white, you might not be paying attention to the day-to-day nurturing your relationship needs. Just because you’ve made the decision to get married and made it past the engagement, doesn’t mean your relationship is without conflict. In reality, the best relationships are those where both partners realize the value in working on them on an ongoing basis. You may find it helpful to isolate wedding planning to a select time during the week. During other times, agree to make sure talk isn’t only wedding-related. Instead, stay connected to and focused on the other elements of each other’s lives.

Practice for the future-The stressful nature of planning a wedding gives you and your partner the opportunity to practice resolving many of the issues you will face as a couple. Learning how to compromise is essential. It’s quite rare to find two people who want the exact same things. There may need to be tradeoffs. One of you may want a band while the other wants a DJ. Maybe one partner wants a small wedding, while the other a very large one. When contemplating these differences, practice the art of compromise. For example, financial issues also come up while planning a wedding, as they are costly events. If you haven’t already, this is a good time to have a discussion about priorities when it comes to spending and saving money. If it turns out that you and your partner have very different ideas about how to handle money, the best time to address and resolve it is before the wedding!

Most of all, enjoy the day!-Entertaining out-of-towners, keeping track of your vendors and tracking the weather can be taxing. Trust me on this: When the wedding actually happens, the small details won’t really mean very much. During the reception, take a minute to step outside of the party with your new spouse and look in at the joyous occasion. Everyone is there to celebrate your love and wish you a happy and healthy future together. Most of all, don’t forget to have fun! And the best way to do this is to let your wedding day be one you look back on with positive feelings, by leaving all the trivial nonsense behind.

What Are You Waiting For? Make Changes in Your Life Today

If only you were less stressed, had more free time, felt better in general or with respect to a certain life area—what changes would now you make in your life? In my practice as a psychologist, I frequently hear people talking about waiting until they feel better, for example, to do something they’ve been wanting to; such as beginning the process of a career change or dealing with a glaring relationship issue. What do you tell yourself you’d do or change if only some ongoing state in your life were different? Perhaps you’d start dating or redo your resume, but believe that now isn’t the right time because you’re feeling down. Maybe in your case, you’d try a new hobby or take on a home project, but instead you postpone it because you’ve been feeling too anxious or overwhelmed. If any of these things resonate, ask yourself this simple question: “If not now, when?”

This is a fact: What you have the least direct control of are your feelings and emotions. What you do have control over are your behaviors, or the things you choose to do. In other words, if you wait for an emotion to change before taking some important action in your life, you could be waiting a very long time!  

So the best question to ask yourself is why won’t I do it now? What beliefs do you have that are holding you back and keeping you from making a  change or doing something you’ve been wanting to do?  Maybe you’re thinking “I can’t do it,” “I’ll wait until it’s easy,” or “I must be certain I won’t fail.”  Perhaps you’re believing “I must do it perfectly,” or “I need others to approve of my new life choices.”  Such beliefs, however, are not helpful. All they will do is keep you stuck in that rut.  If you don’t try taking piano lessons, you’ll never know how much playing the piano could have added to your quality of life.  If you wait until someone else pushes to you to go on a date, you may miss a potential long-term opportunity with a great person, or even just a fun night out.

The time to break out of the rut is now! So begin by choosing that one thing you’ve been waiting to accomplish and make an irrevocable commitment to start doing it now.  As a bonus, once you do what you’ve set out to, it’s very likely that the positive emotions—which are now eluding you— will follow.  Nothing can beat the rewards that come when you take control of your life and make the decision to move forward.  Today is the day to stop holding yourself   and just go for it!

So You’ve Broken Your New Year’s Resolutions…Now What?

It’s now been a few weeks since you set your goals for yourself for the upcoming year. Maybe you wanted to get in shape or eat healthier. Maybe you intended to manage some aspect of your finances better or start the process (resumes, networking, etc.) toward your next career move. If you’ve already found that your motivation to stick to those goals is waning, sure you can wait until late December and try the resolution route again for next year. But seriously, wouldn’t it be better to get focused now and ask yourself what do I really want to accomplish this year?

Now that you know what resolutions you won’t keep, which ones are you now actually ready —no, more importantly committed— to stick to and make happen for you? Make a list of the areas of your life that you feel could use some improvement or where you just don’t feel fully satisfied.  When you look at this list, which items are important enough to you to make a no nonsense commitment to change? Focus on only one or two of these things at a time. Trying to change everything all at once will practically guarantee that you’ll change nothing. Perhaps you’ve even experienced this principle already in 2013! Once you’ve identified which part of your life needs some tweaking or major change, set a few specific, reasonable and realistic goals that you are truly determined to reach. This time, think about whether you want to tell anyone else what your resolutions are. If sharing them with others helps you to reach them, tell anyone who will listen. If not, just keep them between you and yourself. In other words, it’s only your success that’s important, so use what works.


When you choose your resolutions, honor your uniqueness and never compare  yourself to others.  If your coworker or friend is going to the gym five times a week just like he or she set out to do, but you are struggling to make it there even once, it doesn’t matter.  Someone else’s goals are not necessarily realistic for you. The only truly valid comparison you can make is the one that compares yourself now, to your potential or what you can realistically become. This principle applies to any part of your life.


Next, visualize your goals.  If this area of your life were to be optimal, what specifically would it be?  What would be different now, next month, next year, in five years, 10 years, 20 years, or ultimately if you achieve the goal you are now setting?


If you find yourself getting off track, go back to this visualization.  If you truly want to accomplish the goals you have set for yourself, this image you have created of your optimal life situation with your goals met will keep you moving forward. And don’t forget – making a life change doesn’t have to happen at the beginning of the year.  You can absolutely set and reach goals for yourself to better your life at any time. However, don’t let this reality become a rationale for procrastination. Instead, remember it for the next goal and the one after that until your life is exactly what you want it to be. You have the capability to make any area of your life optimal. If you never forget that,  the possibilities are endless!

Be The Master of Your Emotions

Do you find that at times your emotions get the best of you? What do you usually do when you feel that you’re on the brink of a “meltdown”? Maybe you turn to someone else to console you or maybe you self medicate with drugs, alcohol or something less obvious like overwork. Perhaps at some point, these things no longer do the job and you’re unable to stay on your game because you’re too overwhelmed by emotions. If this is the case, maybe it’s time to learn how to bring the emotions themselves under your own control.

The good news is it’s never too late to start learning some skills to nurture yourself when you’re feeling under the gun or overly emotional. When you’re feeling distressed, and too consumed by a problem, it can be quite difficult to come up with a solution to make things better or at the very least get yourself feeling better about things. For those times, it can be extremely helpful to make a list that can become your own custom “toolbox” of ways to help yourself that you know will work for you.

During those times , you might want to try “activating your senses” as sources of comfort. For example, you can tap into your sense of touch by wrapping yourself up in a comfy blanket, cuddling with a pet, or snuggling up with a large body pillow and enjoy the feeling of being embraced. Maybe you can listen to a favorite song or the sounds of nature, focusing on the positive feelings you associate with those sounds or treat yourself to a soothing cup of tea to provide yourself feelings of warmth and comfort. As you do this, focus on taking in the different smells and savoring each sip. Even lighting a candle with a calming aroma can indulge your senses, which can help bring you to a place that feels more stable, grounded, and secure.

Another effective strategy is to imagine that you’re in a completely safe place; such as a beach, a lake or somewhere else that perhaps exists only on your imagination. Imagine in detail what it’s like to be in this safe, calm place. Focus on what you can see, hear, and feel. As you take in this image, allow your stress to fade away as the feelings of calm arise.   Once you have created this place in your mind, it’s a place you can easily return to whenever you’d like a feeling of calm or peace.

Your emotions don’t have to get your way! That’s the best news. The trick is to realize that you can gain mastery over your emotions rather than it being the other way around. As you discover more of your own techniques to sooth yourself effectively, add them to your list. Then put them to work when you need them the most.

It’s Passion That Blurs the Lines Separating Work and Play

According to Forbes, in 2012 only 50% of adults reported being satisfied with their jobs. Job dissatisfaction can greatly increase levels of anxiety, depression and stress. If this speaks to you, there are a variety of reasons why you may be dissatisfied with your job— ranging from disappointment with salary to feeling unchallenged in your work environment. In a difficult economic climate, it can be frightening or overwhelming to think about making a change. However, the good news is that finding the job you love, or loving the job you have may be within reach, because the main resources you need to achieve happiness in your career —or any other part of your life for that matter—reside within you.

As a psychologist, I have seen with great consistency that those who are committed to doing what they’re passionate about, find that money and opportunity follow. Thus, it’s important to connect with what your passion is, so that you can decide if your current job has the potential to allow your passion to flourish and expand. If not, it may be time to look within yourself and take the time to explore job and career options that will truly capitalize on your talents and passions.

With a career that’s personally gratifying, motivation comes from within you. Financial status, recognition, praise, and approval are certainly great, but no longer the driving forces responsible for your satisfaction.

If changing your job feels too frightening or is not possible at the current time, there may be ways to turn your current job into your dream job for now, or at least one you can tolerate while thinking about making a change. Once you’ve connected with what it is you’re missing, it will be easier to search for ways to make it happen for you. Examine your current job from a place of childlike curiosity. What opportunities for growth are available that you have not yet taken? Who can you connect with to enrich your daily experience? Are there creative ways to use your talents to do your job? Are there any obstacles, which contribute to your sense of unfulfillment that can be removed? If you ask these questions and still come up blank, a career or job change may be in order.

If you are ready for a career change, use those resources within yourself to think outside the box. For example, look to the ways in which you play (hobbies, pleasurable activities and interests) to begin connecting with what you truly enjoy. What activities allow you to feel best about yourself? If you had all of the time and money you could ever possibly need, what would you do then with your life? Asking yourself these “what do I really want?” themed questions will allow you to be more creative in identifying a career path to pursue that will be in line with your personal passions.

Recognize that no two people have the same talents and desires. Looking within yourself rather than outside of yourself will help you find many ways to blur the lines that separate work and play. Your inner resources are available to you twenty-four hours a day. With your commitment and a few strategies to access them, you —or anyone for that matter—can be living a life governed by your passions very quickly!

When the work that you do is the work that you love, not only will it come easier to you, but you will feel more aligned with your purpose as well as more satisfied, engaged, fulfilled, and inspired in your daily life.