Who best to receive marital advice from, than the woman who has seen couples at their worst? Judge Lynn Toler, TV's Divorce Court host and Judge.
The following is her unique and incomparable relationship advice to help couples through the most difficult and challenging times in their relationships, as well as “warning signs” to watch for in an unhealthy relationship:
Possessiveness = Act of Love?
Toler commented about the beginnings of a new relationship, as there is the rush of love and often strong physical desire.
In unhealthy relationships, this desire becomes all-consuming, and the resulting possessiveness is seen as proof of intense love. The guy wants to consume the girl because of his own insecurities, and the girl wants to be consumed as she has a strong need for unconditional love and attention from a man...any man. It does not matter who the man is, or how he treats her after awhile, as long as she has this sense of feeling wanted. Toler noted that these women on her TV show are so accustomed to being consumed and possessed by someone else, that they often go back to their husbands even after Divorce Court proceedings conclude.
In healthy relationships, the intensity lessens a bit to a more sustainable level, as each person is more comfortable living as not only a couple, but also as individuals, each with unique interests and goals.
The best way to know how a man will treat a woman? Observe how he treats the other women in his life (mother, sisters, cousins). Does he exude any of the warning signs of a potential unhealthy mate: hot tempered or does not take “no” well (dismissed as “passionate”), jealous when you are with friends (dismissed as “misses being with me!”). These are signs of a person who sees you as an object, not as the special woman you are.
What are you spending your time on in the relationship: arguing, disagreeing, fighting? How much time are these negative attributes taking up? Priority check: is this what you originally intended? Is this what you wanted out of a relationship?
It is important to occasionally step away from what you're doing and make sure you are still heading in the direction you originally intended to go. Make sure you're clearly seeing what you've got, and make sure you still want what you've got!
Look Outside Your Marriage
Get support outside of your marriage. Find someone on your side who does not continue to take away your power by making decisions for you, but supports you in the decisions you make by providing genuine feedback and information that is not sugar-coated.
Expect Great Things
Define clearly acceptable behavior towards you. Don't assume or expect bare minimums from anyone in your life; particularly someone you are actively choosing to be your partner. If you are in an extremely unhealthy relationship, make small changes at a time. You can absolutely expect to be treated better; hopefully you expect to be treated with love and admiration.
Find your Passion
Women in relationships without intimacy or passion feel, well, passionless. Find your passion about life! Live a full, passionate life, and do not wait for a man to provide it to you. To be a passionate person, you must decide to account for your own actions and not be diminished by one person. Do things you love, the things that bring you joy. Be around people who support your high self-esteem. Garner joy and sense of worth beyond the guy in your life.
Become an Emotional Genius
All of the effort in the world can't stop an inevitable break-up or divorce. Relationships are becoming about "winning" and not "losing", even if the relationship is not meant to be. Women are desperately holding onto a relationship, as it has defined them for so long, and their self-esteem is wrapped up in the “not losing”. In Toler's book, My Mother's Rules: A Practical Guide to Becoming an Emotional Genius, she said that an important skill we do not learn is how to lose, and in this learning you gain essential skills in becoming emotionally “well-practiced”.
Choose your Direction.
Be achievement-oriented, not boy-oriented. You have places to go. Women in troubled relationships feel that their choices and self-esteem are plummeting. They feel trapped. What is wrong? They are defining themselves by this guy. Whichever one they have, they are defined by this person. Women can learn to begin defining themselves differently; not only as a part of a relationship.
Relationship Blues? Get Amused!
In the wise words of Toler, “there are very few things in life that are not just a little bit funny.” Relationships are too serious! Learn to get some pleasure out of your failings, and the whole world will be easier to take. Distress is part of life. A sense of humor is invaluable when things aren't going well.
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Good ideas, but having gone through it once and now contemplating a second marriage, what I would love to see is the destigmatization of the "pre-nup". I'm in NJ and the law on pre-nuptial agreements is so basic, Pre-Nuptial Agreements in NJ, yet NO ONE I know takes advantage of this protection because of how it will be perceived. It might not divorce-proof your marriage, but I am thinking of it more like marriage life insurance!!August 11, 2011 - 2:18pm