My partner’s ex-wife ‘stole’ my inheritance. Queensland Australia experience.

JILL* was madly in love with her new partner DAVE* and they were looking forward to their future together.

Dave had been through a recent divorce and Jill assumed everything was legally sorted out, with property and finances divided.

Her life changed when a relative died and Jill was thrilled to receive a hefty inheritance, so she and Dave bought a house together in Noosa.Qld. That’s when she decided to protect her assets, just in case her relationship with Dave ever broke down.

“By that stage I had a few properties, so I thought it was a good idea to see a lawyer to arrange a pre-nuptial agreement, just so I could protect everything in case something happened between myself and Dave,” Jill told news.com.au

“Dave told me that he and his ex-wife had a property settlement and he believed it had been formalised. He was more than happy to move ahead with me and prepare a pre-nuptial agreement, as we were both confident there was nothing to be concerned about.”

Then came the bombshell — Dave received an email from his ex-wife’s lawyer, demanding a property settlement and a substantial amount of money. It turns out the property settlement with his ex-wife had not been formalised after all.

“At first I was shocked — surely there has been a mistake? I had no idea Dave’s ex-wife could have any possible claim on any of my money. So, it was absolutely devastating when we learnt that my inheritance and other money was soon going to vanish,” Jill said.

“I’d met the love of my life, everything was going great in my world and, to top it all off, having this inheritance was another dream come true as I’ve worked so hard my whole life. Little did I know that that dream was about to come tumbling down.”

Family lawyer Marie Fedorov told news.com.au she was called in to help the couple negotiate a settlement — but Jill had no choice but to pay her partner’s ex-wife out of her own pocket.

Jill owned several investment properties which fell into the asset pool that Jim’s ex had rights over.

“Jill and Dave had just purchased a new house, which fell into the asset pool of her partner and his ex-wife as well as around $120,000 of inheritance, personal savings and superannuation,” Ms Fedorov said.

“Unfortunately there wasn’t much that we could do. If you pool your assets together with your partner, they can most certainly join the asset pool of their previous partner, if certain formalities have not already been made.”

MORE: Shocked woman finds out she owns 15 properties

MORE: It’s best not to inherit this family financial problem

Ms Fedorov said it’s wise to have a pre-nuptial agreement from the moment you become someone’s defacto (i.e. live together in a domestic arrangement).

“It’s also crucial to make sure that you formalise agreements reached, as what happened was Dave had reached agreement with his ex to divide everything up but didn’t formalise the agreement, which was what allowed the new property that he owned with Jill to fall into his property pool with his ex,” Ms Fedorov said.

Financial planner and founder of Cooper Wealth Management Felicity Cooper said while there’s a social perception that it’s the men who have to protect assets, it’s just as important for women to protect what they bring to a relationship.

A recent survey showed that women underestimate their household assets by over 25 per cent on average.

“Women need to take stock of their wealth and their value. They must also consider how their assets will be protected for their children if something were to happen to them,” Ms Cooper said.

“It may be fine to leave your assets to the father of your child but, if he remarries without the right structures in place, that wealth will become part of their asset pool and may not even exist when your children need that support.”

As for Jill, she and Dave are moving forward together despite the trauma of losing more than half a million dollars.

“I wish I had known about how important it was to really discuss finances with my new partner. We were just focusing on our new love and assumed that everything was fine. He had no hesitation in agreeing to a pre-nuptial agreement because, as far as he was concerned, his divorce was done and dusted,” Jill said.

“I just want to urge other women to be careful. Even when you’re swept up in a romance, please get good financial and legal advice.

“If only I had taken the appropriate steps, I wouldn’t be in the mess I am now. I am still with Dave and still happily in love but things would be so different if I didn’t have to hand over my cash to his ex.”

*Names have been changed.

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Henry Sapiecha

No, cheating won’t fix your marriage..Or will it???

Is infidelity a cure for your marriage problems? If you were skimming through headlines about relationship expert Esther Perel’s new book you’d be forgiven for thinking she believes so.

The Independent lead with “Cheating can make your marriage STRONGER”. Health.com and the Daily Mail concurred. Cheating is “GOOD for your marriage” according to The Sun. Even The Guardian played around the edges with “Esther Perel: The relationship guru who thinks infidelity isn’t all bad“.

The thing is, they’re all wrong. Not only does Perel believe affairs are more damaging now than ever before, she says, “I would no more recommend you have an affair than I would recommend you have cancer”.

The State of Affairs – Rethinking Infidelity follows Perel’s hugely popular TED talk on the topic. In both she explains the romantic idealism of marriage, where a spouse is supposed to be the lover, parent, trusted confidant, emotional companion and intellectual equal above all others. Infidelity is not just a betrayal of vows, it is a rejection of everything the betrayed partner believed they were in the marriage, and it can damage their very identity.

Nor is infidelity just sex. Sexting, watching porn, Facebook friendships with old lovers, dating apps, massage with a “happy ending”, desire expressed but never acted upon, all these things can fall into the category of infidelity.

And the effects, Perel says, can be catastrophic. “It is betrayal on so many levels: deceit, abandonment, rejection, humiliation – all the things love promised to protect us from.”

Depending on your definition of infidelity, anywhere from 25 to 75 per cent of people will stray from their relationships. Perel’s definition includes three key elements. One, that it is secret. Whether it’s an anonymous hook-up, an affair lasting decades, or long lunches and endless text messages, it’s secrecy and deception that makes it betrayal.

The second is an emotional element, which can still exist in seemingly emotionless acts. “There may be no feelings attached to a random f—,” she writes, “but there is plenty of meaning to the fact that it happened.” The third element is sexual alchemy, the desire and erotic frisson that commitment promises spouses have only for each other.

It’s interesting that the last two elements are often used to excuse the first. Some cheaters will minimise the emotional involvement of sex – “it meant nothing”, while others will highlight it – “nothing happened”, and both claim there was therefore no reason to disclose.

One of the reasons modern affairs can be so traumatic is our ability to see the relationship in vivid detail. Where affairs would once have been discovered by lipstick on a collar, receipts found in a pocket or information from a third party, we can now go digging and find messages, photos, and emails showing all the expressed desires and daily interactions of a cheater. Did you think of her when you were with me? Did you tell him I could not satisfy you? Did you say the things to her you used to say to me? Did you love her more, desire her more, give her more of yourself than you gave me?

Even when we have the chance to ask those questions, hearing the answers is not the same as watching them play out in real time. This, Perel says, is genuinely traumatic. And can easily be something from which a relationship never recovers.

Staying in a marriage after infidelity can also feel more shameful for the person who did not cheat than the one who did. It isolates the betrayed partner because if they tell people about it they know they will be judged for not leaving.

Many couples do stay together after an affair. Some do not. But staying does not always mean the relationship is healed. Affairs can lock couples into a bond of guilt and fear that never goes away. The cheater may be distraught at the pain they caused their partner and children, and may feel they cannot add to it by abandoning them.

The betrayed partner can become so caught up in humiliation and fear that they cannot let go of the relationship but cannot move beyond the betrayal. Destroyed by the affair but trapped in a never-ending cycle, relationships like this can limp along for decades.

The misleading headlines about infidelity being good for a marriage come from Perel’s discussion of what couples can do to heal from infidelity. She makes it clear it is far from easy. The unfaithful partner must take responsibility for breaking trust and for rebuilding it so the burden of trusting again is not carried by the person betrayed.

It also requires a level of shared honesty and insight that many people find too difficult to manage in the aftermath of an affair.

Perel says when someone cheats on a relationship they value, it is almost never just about sex. There is often a feeling of loss and mortality underlying the need to stray, and many cheaters she talks to say they did it to feel “alive”.

Affairs are common after a bereavement or change that leaves the cheater wondering about the person they used to be before marriage, or the person they could have been without it. Passion and communication, dissipated over years of a long relationship, might feel easier to find outside it. Secrecy, emotional connection and sexual alchemy bring back feelings of vitality – being “alive” – that are too easily lost in the prosaic management of home, children and work.

It’s an explanation but not an excuse. In most cases the betrayed partner will respond with “Do you think I was happy, that I didn’t want more? But I did not cheat, why did you?” Couples who can find the answers to those questions and a way to feel alive with each other may be able to reinvigorate a relationship that was previously unfulfilling for both of them.

Infidelity, however, is not a prerequisite for this change. As Perel says of people who cheat, “if they could bring into their relationships one tenth of the boldness, the imagination and the verve that they put into their affairs, they probably would never need to see me”.

Henry Sapiecha

 

As an anthropologist, I arranged to conduct a test on my 10-year marriage

It’s been a long time since I’ve conducted a sociological experiment. Trained as an anthropologist, my usual research locations were tropical climes, not my own home.

But this time it’s personal. The subject of this experiment will be Steve, the man who’s been sleeping in my bed for the last 13 years. The one who, maybe, I might take for granted.

Last year, we renewed our 10-year wedding vows and in doing so renewed some long lost romantic spark… but, now, the day-to-day has again started to wear us down.

Within couplehood, how do we ward off the mundane and preserve its romantic core? Will kindness engender kindness? And does investment in the little things keep the most important thing alive?

Experiment Take one grumpy wife plus one long-suffering husband and see what happens when wife performs 10 secret acts of kindness over 10 days. Explore the effects on said relationship. (Caveat: in order to prevent suspicion, acts of kindness will commence in a subtle, low-key manner. Would not want to risk husband having heart attack.)

Day 1: “I love you”

Involves Three seconds. Before hubby goes to work in the morning, I say, “I love you” meaningfully. As opposed to, “Mate, you’re seriously just going to walk out of the house and leave your @#$%^&* everywhere?”

Relationship effects None.

Day 2: “If I were in your shoes…”

Involves Empathy, changing viewpoint. Everybody stars in their own movie. The human mind is preoccupied with the self. But not so when first falling in love. During courtship, the other person is the clear movie star. What would he like? How does he feel? In other words: how can I make him want me more? In long-term relationships, rather than co-starring, over time, we cast our partners in less favourable roles: servant, villain, or even worse, bit character who inspires no intense emotions either way. Today I will be the director and focus my lens on my leading man. I will practise partner empathy and try to see everything from his point of view.

Relationship effects Slightly warmer between us. He calls me “Hun.” Pardon? It’s been ages since he’s used a cutesy name like that.

Day 3: A grand gesture

Involves Thoughtfulness, planning. The romantic pulse is often dulled within the confines of monogamy. To sharpen it, never underestimate the power of a grand gesture, especially if it’s a surprise such as a weekend away or tickets to a favourite band. Hubby’s birthday is tomorrow. (Yes, I know, a convenient time to conduct my “be nice missive”). Anyway, I book a restaurant and conspire with his mother that she fly over and surprise him at his birthday dinner.

Relationship effects Husband effortlessly steps into “starring” role. Whispers to me just before falling asleep, “Thank you so much for my birthday surprise.”

Day 4: Pen a love letter

Involves Gratitude, reflection. Husband is away for work. I write him a love letter about the things I admire and value in him. To throw him off, I get the kids to write him gratitude letters, too. Before kiddies leave for school the next day, we give him our letters.

Relationship effects Underwhelming. He reads them, smiles, and chucks them on the bedside table.

Day 5: Tender touch

Involves Physical love. My plan is to offer husband a massage. “Want a foot rub, honey?” I’m aware that this may cause deep suspicion and blow the experiment. Admission By the time hubby gets home from airport, this is so not going to happen. The next morning, however, I practise, er, “tender touch”.

Relationship effects Husband is happy but very confused.

Day 6: Total loving

Involves Extreme patience. Not one eye roll. Not one huff. I will step over his dirty ice-cream bowl left beside the couch and say nothing. I shall bite my fiery tongue. I will practise love through actions. Is this possible? Seemingly not. I fail the mission before we’ve even had breakfast. We bicker over little things throughout the day. I will try again tomorrow.

Day 7: Day 6, take two

Fail! Again. Urggggghhh! Hypothesis: Even if there is overriding goodwill between a couple, all can be instantly undermined by the murky sea of unresolved issues. Usually, for me, this pertains to gender division; for him, wishing I’d chill out.

Relationship effects Desire within me grows… to end this stupid experiment.

Day 8: Lie in

Involves A small sacrifice. I surprise hubby by not waking him on Saturday morning. Somehow he sleeps through the kids doing Just Dance and singing Despacito on repeat.

Relationship effect He is definitely smiling more.

Day 9: Freedom

Involves Space. I suggest he go out that evening and catch up with some friends.

Relationship effects Who knows? I’m fast asleep by the time he returns home from the bar.

Day 10: The way to a man’s heart

Involves Old-fashioned wisdom. Maybe once a week, I ask the kids in the morning, “What would you like for dinner?” (Son: pizza; daughter: sadly, two-minute noodles.) Around 5pm, miraculously these items appear on the dinner table. When is the last time I asked my husband what he’d like for dinner? Honestly, it was probably BC (before children). You know what my husband gets if he’s lucky enough for me to prepare his evening meal? Salad. Yep. Or, as the more hipster among us call it, a “dragon bowl”. I’m a vegetarian, so that’s usually what I’m eating.

Note My husband has never once complained about his raw vegetable meals. Although once I did catch him emailing a picture of his dinner to his mum. Half an avocado, a small pile of kidney beans and a bouquet of spinach leaves, undressed. Hubby is going to get the shock of his life tonight when I prepare him a steak, mashed potatoes and gravy. I may even light candles. Typical. Although husband said he would be home early, he is not. So dinner ends up being served the way he’s used to getting it – cold.

Relationship effect Despite lack of heat, he appears full and content. Me, as I do the dishes afterwards, not so much.

In conclusion, during this experiment, although there were many wonderful moments, the same unresolved issues kept cropping up. To be really happy, we must dig further, beyond kindness and sweet gestures, and fix the deep underground stuff.

Over the past 10 days, my husband’s perspective and his happiness were at the forefront of my mind. When I was kinder, he was kinder. The mood between us has shifted. It’s now more playful, more patient, more loving. Marriage is not a single experiment but a long-term one that takes continuous effort from both parties.

Dance like no one’s watching? How about, love like you’ve never been married. Why not see what happens if you put your relationship to the same 10-day experiment? Feel free to write in and share your experiences.

Henry Sapiecha

Chances are we’re more likely to date someone who has an ex

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MOST people would agree choosing “the right” partner is fairly important, and a bad selection in this area can be devastating.

Most people want to attract a partner, and this involves a combination of self-promotion, and taking down the competition in order to appear to be “the right” partner.

Some of our efforts are conscious and some are unconscious.

Research has found people with relationship experience, all else being equal, tend to be more romantically desirable than people without relationship experience.

In other words, people are attracted to others who have already been “pre-selected” (or pre-approved).

We call this phenomenon “mate copying”.

Mate copying can be thought of as purchasing a product (a romantic partner) after seeing others (former partners) “use” it.

By virtue of having been in a relationship, an individual is communicating they have “desirable” romantic characteristics (these have appealed to at least one person previously) and you can be confident there is something about them that is appealing.

Do men and women mate copy?

In a sense the previous partners of a person are “endorsing” them, or attesting to their romantic competence. By doing so, they are indirectly offering relevant information about the person.

But why might this be useful? Well, if you are going to make an important decision (who to partner) you generally want a fair bit of relevant information. Knowing someone else has been chosen before is additional relevant information that will help you make your decision.

But there is a sex-difference here, and it essentially comes down to biology. There is plenty of literature supporting the idea men are largely attracted by physical qualities (physical beauty, youthfulness).

Women, however, are generally attracted to less observable characteristics (social dominance, kindness). Where men can get a fair bit of mate-relevant information from simple observation of a potential partner, women can’t, and are encouraged to look for additional information. One cheap source is knowing what other women think of a man, specifically, whether or not he is considered a good romantic prospect.

While some researchers have found evidence of mate copying in men, there is a fair bit of literature suggesting the phenomenon is quite a bit stronger among women.

One reason for this is men don’t get as much out of mate copying as women do. The information gains men achieve by knowing what other men think about a woman are marginal.

Being in a relationship is attractive … or is it?

Although you may not have heard of “mate copying”, you may have heard of “the wedding ring effect”. This broadly describes the popular(ish) belief that wearing a wedding ring makes a man desirable, because he has obviously won the romantic favour of at least one opposite-sex person (his wife), and he is willing to commit.

Given indicating a willingness to commit makes a man very attractive, and considering he is conveying a lot of positive characteristics (he’s likely a good partner, he’s willing to commit), the persistence of this belief is not surprising.

However, evidence does not support the idea married men are more desirable than single men. A big reason for this is married individuals are so much harder to attract and/or date than single individuals. Also, there are some strong moral proscriptions against pursuing a married person.

It’s not all about quantity

One of the interesting things about mate copying is that, like with many things, quality is more important than quantity. It’s known a man is much more desirable if his female partner (current or former) is highly attractive (than if she is less attractive). But we also know that while a moderate amount of relationship experience makes a man more desirable than if he has none, too much makes him really undesirable.

A study I co-authored looked at how romantically desirable a man was perceived to be, as a function of how many partners he’d had in the past four years. Men with one or two previous partners were far more desirable than men with none, but men with five were far less desirable than any of these.

This non-linear relationship might seem curious – if a bit of relationship experience is desirable, wouldn’t a lot of experience be really desirable? Well, no, and the reason probably has something to do with promiscuity.

While having had five or more previous partners is certainly far from unheard of, it may indicate the person can’t or won’t maintain a relationship for long. Maybe they have trouble committing, or maybe they are more interested in quantity. Whatever the case, they are indicating undesirable relationship qualities.

Mate copying among nonhumans has received a lot of attention in the past several decades, with numerous authors finding evidence for it in aquatic, avian and terrestrial animals. While enquiry into the existence of the phenomenon among humans began far more recently, preliminary evidence suggests it definitely exists and is an extremely powerful attraction force.

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Henry Sapiecha

18 Signs You have Found Your Life Soulmate

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Spiritually speaking, it is said that even before you were born, the name of your spiritual half has been determined. Each soul has a perfect soulmate match.

Although most people think of a soulmate as a perfect harmonious union of bliss, your true spiritual soulmate is the person who is intended to help you complete yourself.

Jerry McGuirewas right soul mates complete each other. A person is unable to complete his mission in life alone. Everyone needs someone to help them become a better person. This is not always a blissful experience.

Being in an honest, sincere, and committed soulmate relationship helps you to become a better version of yourself. You have to push yourself beyond your comfort zone, beyond your limits to find your better self.

Even though we tend to think of soul mates as a symbiotic union; soulmate relationships can be rough at the beginning. They can be like two jagged edged puzzle pieces trying to click into place. Sometimes it looks like you do not fit together at all, but soon after a little bit of twisting, turning, and flipping the pieces around, you feel the moment of the perfect click. Its a feeling deep in your soul, that says, this is the right one.

Often soulmates appear in disguise. You might not be physically attracted to each other when you first meet, but there is a mysterious force pushing you forward that tells you this is the right one for you.

You have a personal checklist of everything you want in a partner. Tall- check. Dark hair (no curls please)-check. Blondes only-check. 6 pack abs- check. Or you can be like Jerry Seinfeldwho knows his date is not the one because she eats her peas one at a time.

So, if you are brave enough to move away from your romance checklist, open your eyes and your heart to unexpected possibilities, you might just be one of the lucky ones who finds their true soul match.

You know you have found your soulmate when:

1. You just know it.

Something deep inside tells you this is the perfect one for you. Its as if there is a spiritual force pushing you to let go of everything you previously expected and to give of yourself completely.

2. You have crossed paths before.

Soulmates have met each other and a previous time. You may not have connected, but you were in the same place, at the same time. Before my husband and I met, we lived across the street from each other and worked across the street from each other. Yet we never met until the time was right.

3. Your souls meet at the right time.

Each person has to be ready to receive the soul connection. Even though my husband and I were in close proximity of each other for many years, we did not meet until the time was right for both of us. You have to be prepared to meet your soulmate. It could be that you have to go through a relationship that doesn’t work out, or that you’re not ready to ditch your perfect person checklist, but when it comes to soulmates- timing is everything.

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4. Your quiet space is a peaceful place.

Being quiet together is comforting like a fluffy down blanket on a cold winter night. Whether you are reading in the same room, or driving in the car, theres a quiet peace between you.

5. You can hear the other persons silent thoughts.

With soulmates, there is such depth to your relationship that you can feel and hear what your partner is thinking, even if it is not verbally expressed.

6. You feel each others pain.

You stand in each others shoes. You know each other so well, that the second he walks in the door, you can tell how his day was. You feel each others feelings: sadness, worry, and stress. And you share each others happiness and joy.

7. You know each others flaws and the benefits in them.

Yes, its true. Our flaws have benefits. Every trait has a positive as well as a negative side. Its the task of each person to always look for the good, even when things don’t look so good. There is usually a benefit to each flaw. Stubborn people are good decision makers. Overly organized people are great at paying bills on time.

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8. You share the same life goals.

You’re both on the same page with values, ethics, and goals. You may have a different way of reaching those goals, but you both want the same end result.

9. You’re not afraid of having a conversation.

Conversations can be challenging. Expressing concerns or attempting to make decisions is uncomfortable. Soulmates know that if they join together, they will be able to work it out.

10. You are not threatened by the need for alone time.

Whether its tennis three times a week or girls night out, you respect each others need for independence, knowing that when you get together, your time alone is special.

11. You don’t experience jealousy.

Pretty girls at the office or handsome personal trainers arent a threat to your relationship.You are secure knowing that you are the only one.

12. You respect each others differences and opinions.

You know you have different opinions. Often soulmates are polar opposite. At times this is challenging. These are the times when you are being forced to let the other person complete you. You still have your own opinion, but instead of agreeing to disagree, there is a deep level of respect for each other. You listen and honor the differences.

13. You don’t scream, curse, or threaten each other with divorce.

Of course you feel the anger. People unintentionally hurt each other. But soulmates arent nasty, hurtful, or punitive.

14. You give in because you want to make your partner happy.

Giving can often occur in unhealthy, co-dependent, or abusive relationships. But soulmates give to each other for the sole purpose of making each other happy.

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15. You know how to apologize.

Its not easy to say Im sorry or admit that you did something that hurt the person you love. Soulmates realize that their actions or words cause harm. Even if they feel justified in their point of view, if their partner was hurt by it, they can easily apologize for the harm they have caused.

16. You would marry each other again.

You know this is the one and only one for you. Even through the tough times, you would choose your partner again. You feel a sense of pride in your partner.

17. You complete each other.

Yes, I’m sorry to say it but, your partner fills in your blanks. No person is perfect. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Soulmates complete each other. Its the yin and yang of perfect harmony. One person may be the extrovert, while one is the introvert. One may be social, while the other a homebody. Soulmates are often opposite that are attracted to a person who has their missing pieces.

18.Being in each others arms washes away all your stress, worries, and anxiety.

There is no place you would rather be at the end of the day but in each others arms. If you had a rough day filled with disagreements, a fight with your boss or if you missed the train, whatever happened is gone the second you cuddle up together. There is a warmth in your heart, an inner peace you can feel. No words need to be spoken. All that exists is the silent, blissful union of two souls together. Two souls that were meant to be together eternally.

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Henry Sapiecha

CHEATING SPOUSES DO IT MAYBE FOR THESE 6 REASONS

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There is probably no worse feeling in a relationship than suspecting or knowing that your partner is being unfaithful. The cold fingers of dread that creep up your spine and start to squeeze your heart so hard that it disintegrates into a thousand pieces.

Some might think I’m being dramatic, but for those who have felt it, you will know it’s an understatement of the wave of emotions that can hit us when we find out the person we loved and trusted has betrayed us. And with the boom of technology and social media, it seems that we have even more ways our relationships can be threatened these days.

Of course, relationships break down because for a variety of reasons and issues, but I’m focusing on why someone is capable of throwing everything away for a moment of passion with another?

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Here are six possible reasons why people cheat:

1. Insecurity

Being unfaithful can often be the result of a person feeling very insecure within themselves. Whether they suffer from low self-esteem, depression or have past issues they haven’t dealt with, it can all manifest in a way that is detrimental to themselves and their relationships.

When people are insecure, they often cause drama in their life without even meaning to do so. However, more often than not they will use their fears or state of mind as an excuse for their behaviour and play the role of the victim (even though they clearly were the one in the wrong). So, don’t kid yourself… no matter how low or insecure they feel, they are still responsible for their actions, and what they have done is not justifiable.

2. Fear of commitment

For some people, being committed to someone means that they then have a certain expectation placed upon them which they feel they can’t live up to. They might see being in a monogamous relationship as an end of fun and freedom, or that you will, in some way, expect them to be more than they are.

Being in a committed relationship can also make people feel vulnerable, because it will essentially require a lot more of oneself than a one-night stand and it has a whole lot more consequences than a non-committed relationship.

3. They feel neglected

Your partner needs attention, romance and to feel loved and appreciated. Life can get busy, especially with children, work, cleaning and everything else, but the moment we start letting our priorities get out of order is the moment we start to invite temptation and issues into our relationship.

Your actions and words have the power to build your partner up or tear them down. They will also indicate what you think of your spouse and where your relationship lies on your priority list. No one likes to feel neglected and unappreciated as it can breed bitterness and resentment.

4. Needs are no longer being met

It’s not rocket science, nor is it a news flash: Men are physical and need sex, and women need affection and attention. This isn’t about having to be physically intimate with your partner every single day, because if that’s what they want then I’m afraid there is an even bigger issue at hand. *cough*

Regular intercourse will, however, help to create and keep that close intimate bond between you and it will satisfy his natural urges and needs, which, in turn, usually makes him a more desirable and loving partner.

Men also need to be aware that a woman needs to feel loved, romanced and valued, as well as physically fulfilled.

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5. They love the chase

There will be people that are only in it for the thrill, and these are the ones who usually have a track record of the ‘hit and run’ method: they hit your heart — and your booty — hard and then run as soon as things become too serious and complicated. This person doesn’t want to commit because that represents the end of fun. Instead they get their kicks out of pursuing and chasing someone new and once they have caught them, they will instinctively look for another soon after to offer them the buzz they are after.

6. They have fallen out of love or feel your relationship has become complacent

Love is not just a feeling, it’s an action that needs to happen daily regardless of the situation or emotions you are feeling at the time. It’s no secret that you’ve got to work hard at your relationship so that it doesn’t become stale, one-sided or loveless.

Partners can and will cheat if they have fallen out of love or feel like their relationship has died. Does it make it excusable? No. Understandable perhaps, but at any rate, if a someone feels the need to have an affair after being faithful for a long time then clearly there were problems going on long before the act itself.

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Henry Sapiecha

Love without marriage: Meet the couples shunning ‘I do’

A growing number of couples in committed long-term relationships are very consciously choosing not to get married.

Emily Cooper and her partner of eight years Ben Morrell announced to their families they would not get married image www.mylove-au.com

Emily Cooper and her partner of eight years Ben Morrell announced to their families they would not get married, to manage expectations. 

When Emily Cooper and her boyfriend of eight years Ben Morrell flew home one Christmas to Sydney’s northern beaches they had an announcement to make. “We’ve decided not to get married,” Emily told her family and close friends.

“Although it seemed a little strange, we purposefully told them in order to manage their expectations,” the 29-year-old virtual assistant recalls. “I’ve always said getting married was not for me.”

Ben had already broken the news to his English family during a weekend in Amsterdam. “I told them that if we say ‘we have some news’ in the future it is more likely to be a baby than a wedding!”

Jo Bassett and Andrew Gillette with their two children, Isabella and Nathaniel, say marriage would not change their commitment image www.mylove-au.com

Jo Bassett and Andrew Gillette with their two children, Isabella and Nathaniel, say marriage would not change their commitment. Photo: Supplied

Three months ago Emily and Ben welcomed a son, Sullivan – and no one has said anything to them about having a baby and not being married. “It hasn’t appeared to be an issue for anyone we know,” Emily says.
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Like Emily and Ben, a growing number of couples in committed long-term relationships who have children (or intend to) and share a home and finances, are very consciously choosing not to say I do.
Women driving change

Sixteen per cent of Australian couples now live in a de facto relationship, according to the latest census, up from 10 per cent fifteen years ago. The proportion of cohabiting couples who are unmarried and have children has risen from 4 per cent to 11 per cent.

Yet while Beyonce extols men to “put a ring on it” it’s actually women who are driving this massive social change.

They’re not hardline feminazis raging against a patriarchal institution but bright, practical, independent women who can’t see what difference a wedding would make to the security and stability of their partnership.

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Educated, making their own money and enjoying sexual freedom, these women are proud their social status is no longer tied to their marital status.

“The liberation of women includes the idea that women are free to make choices about everything – including fertility and cohabitation – that their own mothers did not feel free to make,” social researcher Hugh Mackay notes.

“That stereotype [of women desperate to marry] is completely wrong. Overwhelmingly women are taking the power of making that decision themselves.”

It might be because they’d prefer to spend their money on a house than “the big day”, they’ve been burnt in the past by divorce, or because they don’t have any religious beliefs which necessitate a blessing of their union. Many women say they just don’t need a marriage certificate to validate their relationship.

“I’ve always been a bit nonplussed about marriage,” Emily Cooper says. “I know we’re going to be together forever, we love each other, we’re one 100 per cent committed. We own property together, all our finances are shared. Even if we were married it would be a very similar situation in our day-to-day lives.”
Lesson learnt is ‘keep your options open’

Mackay says couples increasingly don’t want their relationship entangled in the church or state, and he believes there is an element of commitment-phobia in the rise of de facto relationships.

“People who have grown up in the last 30 years have experienced a very revolutionary period,” he says. “They’re the offspring of the most divorced generation, they’ve lived through a lot of economic uncertainty, the gender revolution is continuing. The lesson they’ve learnt is ‘keep your options open’.”

But Lyn Fletcher from Relationships Australia argues few de facto couples are together “for the fun of it” or to see if it works out. “There is a level of engagement, commitment and permanency in their relationships that they expect to continue. It’s not about marriage being wrong, it’s about what else does marriage give you that de facto doesn’t?”

Ben Morrell admits it was tough for him to decide not to get married. “Before I met Emily I definitely assumed I would get married. I come from a Christian family and I guess I presumed it would be the status quo.”

The couple went back and forth on the marriage question for a year. It helped that they had just moved to the “neutral territory” of Singapore for work.

“We didn’t have the influence of family and friends and society,” Emily says. “It gave us time to reflect on it, what do we really want – rather than what is everyone else doing. We had to be really open and honest with each other.”

Eventually Ben realised that if marriage was supposed to be “the ultimate commitment and compromise” he couldn’t pressure Emily into it.

“Forcing Emily to do something one way without consideration for her views seems illogical,” he explains. “To me it’s so much more important that I am with the right person [than being married].”

Now Ben can see the benefits of their choice. “It’s cheaper! Seriously, it seems some people are on pause, saving hard for two years for one day and waiting to ‘start’ their life together. It’s also [good] to think that we haven’t just gone with arguably the easier route and got married for the sake of it. I’m proud of that.”
‘Born out of wedlock’ now an anachronism

Although 53 per cent of Australian adults are in a registered marriage, according to the Bureau of Statistics, the crude marriage rate has fallen from 9.3 marriages per 1000 people in 1970 to 5.2 marriages per 1000 people in 2014.

Half a century ago children born outside of marriage were classified as “illegitimate”, and shotgun weddings or forced adoptions were common to avoid the shame of being an unmarried mother. A woman relied upon a man for financial security and couples who shacked up without marrying were “living in sin”.

In 1960 only 5 per cent of babies were born outside marriage, rising to 12 per cent in 1980. The term “born out of wedlock” has become an anachronism in the 21st century, with a third of children born outside marriage in 2011.

While this figure includes babies born to single mothers, Australian Institute of Family Studies researcher Lixia Qu says most of the growth is due to the increasing number of couples opting to have children within de facto relationships.

Living in Asia has made Emily Cooper and Ben Morrell realise how accepted de facto relationships are in Australia. Here government forms include a de facto box you can tick, couples who have been living together for more than two years have rights to each other’s property, and the Family Court treats de facto parents exactly the same as married parents.

“As a woman there is a whole new feminist movement which makes it fine [not to be married],” Emily observes. “It used to be that you’d have no social standing if you weren’t married. I’m happy people don’t judge you like that these days. We’re lucky we live in a Western society where we can do what we want to do and not be dictated to by whoever.”

With one in three marriages breaking now down , the experience of divorce has sullied some couples’ views of marriage. Whether their parents split up when they were little, or their own marriage didn’t last, they’re well aware a marriage certificate doesn’t future-proof a relationship.
A testament to trust and commitment

When her marriage ended after four years, Vicki Stirling decided she wouldn’t walk down the aisle again. “I felt marriage didn’t mean anything anymore,” she says. “Relationships break down whether you’re married or not.”

The 41-year-old fashion and lifestyle business consultant made this “perfectly clear” to Sebastien Verrier when their relationship blossomed after meeting at a work conference in Malta. While Vicki believes the Catholic-raised Frenchman had grown up expecting he would marry, Sebastien says marriage was not that important to him because his parents divorced when he was ten.

The couple have been together for nine years and now live in Melbourne’s Brunswick with their five-year-old son Isaac and 13-year-old Millie from Vicki’s previous marriage.

Sebastien jokes the couple would be “no good” at being married. “There is a pressure that sometimes comes with being married,” Vicki says, who remembers how her mother told her it was her “duty” to stay with her ex-husband even though she was no longer happy. “We don’t need that. We’ve got a good partnership.”

Many de facto couples believe they work harder at their relationship precisely because they’re not married, and argue their de facto status is a testament to their level of trust and commitment.

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“We have to make more of an effort to keep loving each other [because] there is not a piece of paper linking us together,” Sebastien says. Vicki agrees: “When we do go through hard times – and we do – there is nothing else apart from our relationship keeping us together. It’s not because we’re married.”

A de facto relationship is up to five times more likely than a marriage to end within five years, according to the AIFS. “Mentally and emotionally de facto feels different to marriage, which is why it can feel somewhat easier to walk away,” Hugh Mackay says.
Kids ‘like a line in the sand’

Forty per cent of de facto couples expect to get married in the future, and the arrival of children often pushes them to take that step. Yet some couples say having children solidified their commitment to their de facto status.

“When we had kids it was like a line in the sand was drawn,” 44-year-old life coach Jo Bassett recalls.

“It was like ‘I’m really committed to this man and this family’. I realised it’s very important mum and dad stay together. I’m not mucking around now, it’s really serious now what we’re doing.”

Jo Bassett and Andrew Gillette met on the NSW central coast in their late teens, and have been a couple for 20 years. Jo believes not being married engenders a sense of freedom of choice.

“There is an element that we are choosing to stay together, maybe there is a freshness,” she says. “At first I’m choosing to be with you because I love and adore you. When that starts to fade and look a bit tarnished, I’m choosing to be with you because of this family we are creating together.”

Andrew will often say “We share our house, we share the kids, we share our debt. What else is there?”

Their ten year-old daughter Isabella and nine year-old son Nathaniel sometimes ask their parents when they’re going to get married. “I say ‘mum and dad love you, really nothing would change’,” Jo explains. “This is their reality, they’ve got a pretty good one. Mum and dad are together, we don’t fight very often, there is a lot of love.”

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Relationships Australia’s Lyn Fletcher says most children wouldn’t be aware of whether their parents were married or de facto. “The most important thing to them is that mum and dad are a constant in their life, they have a sound relationship and they can depend on them. It’s not their legal status.”

Despite the growing prevalence of de facto relationships, couples say they’re still treated as a curiosity by some people. “People say ‘you guys should get married, you’d made a cute couple’. It’s like ‘are we not a cute couple now?’,” Vicki Stirling says.

“Sometimes I want to call them on it – ‘why did you feel you had to get married? Don’t you trust your relationship?’ We don’t need a piece of paper to say we’ll be together forever.”

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Henry Sapiecha

 

How to keep your relationship alive

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Tips for building a lasting relationship. 

Though we wish it wasn’t so, relationships aren’t like they seem in the movies.

Instead, they are often hard. They require work and are sometimes messy.

Love is a fundamental part of staying together but, relationship specialist Christina Spaccavento says it “isn’t the only factor that keeps a relationship healthy.”

Here’s seven tips from the experts for keeping your relationship alive.

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Communication

The saying communication is key, is popular advice for a reason: because it works.

Spaccavento says, “Poor communication skills can destroy a relationship and it is often due to misunderstanding.”

Individuals have their own style of communicating and Gary Chapman’s, The 5 Love Languages is a great place to start understanding your partner’s communication style.

Avoid the blame game

It might be great having your partner as a scapegoat to blame all of your problems on, but Spaccavento doesn’t recommend it.

“Once we enter into a union with someone, it is essential to understand that we have entered a dynamic. So each person is likely to trigger the other one’s stuff,” she said.

“By owning and working through your own stuff you remove blame from your partner as well as improve your own ability to accept the differences of your partner.”

Invest in your relationship

Similar to sex, relationships should be viewed like you would anything else you are interested in such as a “mutual hobby”.

Spaccavento said, “Invest in your relationship like you would anything else you are passionate about and interested in.

“This means seeing it as a living, breathing organism that needs your time, energy and nurturing for it to flourish.”

Celebrating your wins together

Celebrating the positives together is a really important aspect of keeping a relationship alive.

In her book, For Better: How the Surprising Science of Happy Couples Can Help Your Marriage Succeed, New York Times writer Tara Parker-Pope wrote: “It’s not enough that your partner knows that you take pride in his or her accomplishments. You have to show it. Making a fuss over the small, good things that happen every day can boost the health of your marriage.”

Similarly, Spaccavento says, “When you get together with someone, you become a team, so sharing your wins is a beautiful way to include your partner and share your joy together.”

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Be mindful of the role technology plays in your relationship

Phubbing: the act of snubbing someone in favour of a mobile phone. It’s so common, there’s even a website created to spread awareness about the act. New research published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior found more than 46 per cent of participants had been phubbed by their partner.

Study co-author James A. Roberts told Yahoo Health, “We found that the ones that reported higher partner phubbing fought more with their partner and were less satisfied with their relationship than those who reported less phubbing.”

Taking into consideration your technology use and the impact it has on your partner is essential. “Having some ground rules around duration and location of technology usage is a great idea so that both partners can stay present and connected with each other,” says Spaccavento.

Don’t expect your spouse to make you happy

The only person responsible for your happiness is you.

“It sounds cheesy,” says Spaccavento. “But happiness really does come from within.”

For anyone struggling to find happiness, she recommends working with a qualified therapist to resolve any “happiness blockers.”

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Don’t take your partner for granted

As a result of busy lives, whether it’s because of kids, extended family or your career, partners can sometimes take a back seat.

Trained couples and family therapist for Relationship Australia Matt Garrett says, “Acknowledging the commitment you’ve made to the other person and why” is important.

“You can do that on your own, but it really is about letting the other person know that they are in your mind.”

For busy couples Garrett suggests “carving out time” together. “It doesn’t happen automatically so you have to sit down and work out when that time is with no distractions where you prioritise that relationship.”

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Henry Sapiecha

15 COMMONLY OVERLOOKED RED FLAG SIGNS IN A RELATIONSHIP

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Anyone who has ever been in a relationship is most likely familiar with the little (and major) red flags that often come along with the territory.

You’ve probably been warned by everyone from your grandmother to Oprah about red flags in romantic relationships. Relationships, and the dating process, can be tricky. And navigating the sometimes stormy waters of love, and trying to determine if your partner is a catch, can be quite challenging.

How do they treat service staff? How do they react when you ask for a little space? Are they cruel to their mother? Do they pick their nose in public?

Have you ever met someone and wished you had a crystal ball to see into the future? We certainly do. It would save a ton of heartache and wasted energy. When we’re excited about a relationship, it’s easy to overlook the red flags that at least need to be explored. Of course, some red flags are more serious than others.

The longer you choose to pretend there’s nothing wrong, you’re going to continue subjecting yourself to unnecessary pain and suffering. When not addressed early on, then 4 weeks, 4 months or 4 years into the relationship you’ll be faced with a crisis and most likely left saying, “I had no idea they were so controlling/emotionally abusive/arrogant/manipulative…”

If any of these red flags are prevalent in your current relationship, it’s probably time you stop ignoring them and run for the hills.

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1…Bad Days

When you start having more bad days than good, that’s a wrap.

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2…Overly Dependent

Your significant other is dependent on you to be happy or entertained.

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3…Half-Truths

When they tell “half-truths” — they tell you the part of the story that answers your question but leave out the part that would “make you upset.”

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4…Priorities

They consistently make you their last priority, or simply an afterthought. Conversely, if you become their only priority and everything else is an afterthought.

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5…Passwords

They password protect everything.

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6…Scorekeeping

Keeping score is a behavior that will quickly unravel any relationship.

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7…Bringing You Down

When she/he puts you down in front of others.

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8…Ultimatums

Using ultimatums to get their way instead of compromising.

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9…Secrets

Any time the relationship needs to be kept secret, there is a problem in there somewhere.

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10…Independence

Both of you must be comfortable doing separate things in the same room

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11…Separation

When they don’t want you to be friends with their friends, or vice versa.

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12…Past Relationships

In the beginning stages, they constantly complain about their ex. It isn’t easy to build a new relationship on the ashes of an old one.

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13…Text Messages

You text your lover and never really get a response in a reasonable amount of time, but when they are with you, they are constantly on their phone.

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14…Family and Friends

All of your friends, or your trusted family members, hate your boyfriend/girlfriend.

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15…Responsibility

They never apologize or take responsibility for bad behavior.

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Henry Sapiecha

Conversations To Have Before You Get Married

Couple playing in water at sunset
Couple playing in water at sunset

You know exactly what they’re thinking with the glimpse of an eye, have weird personal jokes together and literally, have zero clue what you did before they came into your life — yep, you’re in love — and the future has never looked so bright.

However, without getting all Grinchy on you, there are certain conversations you should have before locking that love down.

According to leading relationship expert Dr Karen Phillip, and author of new book, OMG We’re Getting Married – 7 Essential things to know before we say I Do, increasingly, couples are finding themselves at breaking point — post-marriage — as a result of not discussing important issues before tying the knot and having children.

“There is this assumption, because a couple is so in love and know each other so well, that they are on the same page, but it is incredibly important to talk about your finances, career goals and whether you want kids plus a whole range of other things before getting married,” said Phillip.

Surprising, right? That a couple wouldn’t talk about the prospect of kids before getting married. But according to Phillip it is more common than we think.

The same goes for finances. “I see couples who have been married for over 10 years, that still don’t know what the other earns,” Phillip said.

So, why the silence?

“We’re marrying later, we’ve been very independent all our lives — it’s been your own money, your own career and your own goals — but when you become a couple, that all changes and what you spend affects the other person — and that’s something people struggle to accept and understand,” she said.

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Phillip advises discussions around finance should begin when you start living together.

“Not only should you disclose what you’re earning but also what you’ve spent — so any debts — because once you’re married, whatever financial problems your partner gets into, well, you own half of them,” she said.

Phillip said a joint account is a good idea for things like bills, groceries and social outings while still depositing a small amount of money into your own private account for yourself.

And when it comes to kids, whether marriage is on the cards or not, having the conversation — and revisiting it regularly is imperative.

“It’s not simply about how many you want, and how many years apart they will be, but you should also be discussing parenting style, whether the child will be baptised and who will be the main parent,” Phillip said.

If your career is going to escalate, who is going to be the first point of call at daycare or school and also, can you afford to put the kids into daycare if you are both going back to work?

Observing how your partner’s family interacts with each other will also give you an idea of what kind of parent they’ll be.

“Whether they’re complacent, firm, loving or dismissive — that teaches you a lot about the parent you’re going to have by your side,” she said.

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And rather than assuming your partner is a mind reader, communication needs to continually evolve which in turn, will hopefully improve your relationship.

“Couples need to have date nights pre and post children. It’s usually only during these times, when you’re sitting alone with your partner over dinner, without any distractions like social media or the television, that you’re able to talk,” she said.

It’s here when there’s an opportunity to really pay attention to how the other person is feeling and what they’re thinking about.

“Couples who are a bit more logical might even list down what they plan to talk about to see where the other person is at. Sometimes you find that you are thinking differently about something,” Phillip said.

And if you’re able to do that regularly, without the infringement of friends around you all the time or social media always in your hand, the risk of future disagreements about the bigger issues will decrease.

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Henry Sapiecha