Category Archives: Blog

Debt Prevention Tips for Married Couples | Marriage Counseling Michigan

debt-prevention-married-couple

Debt can seriously damage a marriage, more so than most couples realize. The stress of this financial burden weighs heavily on the household, turning small disagreements into major arguments. If you can keep debt to a minimum, you and your spouse can enjoy a better quality of life. Check out these debt prevention tips for married couples, courtesy of Perspectives Counseling Centers in Michigan.

Say No to Small Purchases

Debt doesn’t always come from big purchases. It’s the small transactions that add up in the end. That impulse buy at the checkout line or that extra cup of restaurant coffee can become a much bigger issue when compiled with other purchases. Make an effort to turn down impulse buys. The split-second satisfaction you get from them usually isn’t worth the money you lose. Save that money for something more significant, like an improvement on your house or a nice dinner as a couple. You will get much more satisfaction from that in the end.

Stop Revenge Spending

This is a common scenario in marriage counseling. “He went out and bought this, so I bought myself that.” Spouses often use money to get revenge on one another. They compete to outspend each other, but that only hurts the family in the long run. If one of you has a shopping addiction, talk about it. If you both have spending problems, talk about that as well. If you’re in marriage counseling, you can talk to your counselor about these issues. He or she will help you create a plan that minimizes stress in the household.

Save instead of Borrowing

Instead of buying a new piece of furniture on credit, save money each month for the purchase. Once you have enough money saved, watch for a sale and make your purchase. When you borrow money, you pay more for a product because of interest. Even if you get an interest-free loan, you train your brain to borrow instead of save. This could lead to costly spending habits in the future. Practice patience, and you will be able to make your purchase in no time.

Have Honest Conversations about Household Finances

You’re married, which means you should be able to trust your spouse with your financial information. Be transparent about each of your income and the household bills. In a recent study, 54% of married couples who said their relationship was ‘great’ talked about their finances on a daily or weekly basis. By comparison, only 29% of respondents in ‘okay’ or ‘in crisis’ had frequent money talks.

Ideally, you should start talking about money before marriage. This creates a healthy flow of communication for the future. If you are already married though, it’s never too late to start. Sit down with your spouse and have a serious talk about income, bills, budgeting, and long-term financial goals.  When you get on the same page about household spending, it is much easier to avoid debt as a married couple.

For additional assistance managing money and stress in a marriage, contact Perspectives Counseling Centers. Our marriage counselors in Michigan can help you overcome conflicts in your relationship and strengthen your marital bond.

How Debt Could Damage Your Marriage | Marriage Counseling Michigan

debt-marriage

Money problems are some of the biggest reasons why couples fight. Stress about paying the bills and having enough money to live on can weight down on a marriage. The effects of debt are more powerful than most people realize. Let’s take a closer look at how debt can damage your marriage, and what you can do to get out of debt.

The Side Effects of Debt

Debt = stress. It may be subtle stress day to day, or it may be major stress that hits with every monthly payment. No matter what form it takes though, it is stress. Any issues that you already have in your marriage will naturally be enhanced when you feel stressed. The stress makes it difficult for your mind to process emotions in a healthy manner, which may cause you to lash out at your spouse.

Debt is a catalyst for marital fights. Getting it under control will help you maintain peace in the household.

How to Avoid Debt before Marriage

If you can go into married without debt, that is ideal. However, that may be unavoidable in certain circumstances. You may have old medical bills or student loans to pay off that will take years to repay. In that case, make sure your spouse is aware of your debts before marriage.

Some debts are avoidable though, such as credit card bills and small personal loans. Stay away from furniture and electronics at buy here pay here retailers. Unless you pay those off in the 3-4 month same-as-cash timeframe, you’ll end up spending two to three times more to get a product there. Buy secondhand furniture, watch for big sales, or simply save up to get the items you want. The stress you’ll feel with those high monthly payments is not healthy for your future marriage.

Be mindful of your spending when it comes to the wedding. Couples spend thousands upon thousands of dollars for a single event, but that money could be going toward a house, a vehicle, or other big purchases. Keep your costs as low as possible, and avoid going into debt because of marriage.

How to Pay off Debt during Your Marriage

Here are some quick tips for paying off debt while married:

  • Identify which debts you want to pay off first. You could use the snowball method, where you pay small debts and work up to larger ones, or you could pay off the debts that cause the most stress each month.
  • Determine who is responsible for each debt (if there are two incomes). A recent study from Fidelity Investments showed that 49% of married couples contradicted each other when identifying this responsibility. You could both work to pay off one debt quickly, or you could pay off multiple debts separately. Just make sure you have a plan.
  • Put as much money as you can toward your debt. You should still be saving a little money each month, but try to get out of debt fast. That will free up more money for future savings, and it will reduce the amount of interest that you pay.
  • Know your monthly budget and stick to it. Leave room for some fun experiences, like date nights or family outings. Make debt repayment part of your bill structure. If you need to cut back on something, like reducing your phone or cable plan, do so until your debts are eliminated.
  • Once a debt is repaid, use that monthly money to pay off another debt. If you were paying $500 a month on student loans, that money can now go to your credit cards. If you have no more small debt to pay, consider paying off your house or car faster. Once all that is done, you can put the extra money into savings every month.

The faster you get out of debt, the better you will feel. You may also use our debt prevention tips to stay out of debt in the future. Keep the stress to a minimum, and you’ll see a tremendous improvement in your relationship.

Getting through Your First Big Fight as a Married Couple

first-big-fight

We’re in the wake of wedding season, which is why all month long we’re giving out helpful tips for engaged and married couples. In today’s discussion, we want to talk about arguments, specifically the first big argument in a marriage. No matter how well you get along, you and your spouse are bound to disagree at some point. With these suggestions from our marriage counselors in Michigan, you can learn how to bounce back when that happens.

Remain Calm

You may begin panicking when the argument escalates because it’s your ‘first big fight.’ This might happen right away – on your wedding night, on your honeymoon, or in the weeks that follow. Don’t stress about the timeframe. Disagreements happen in all relationships, and it’s OK that you’re in one. Stay calm to avoid escalating the problem.

Validate Your Spouse’s Opinion

In an argument, most people focus on getting their point across. If your mind is solely locked into that philosophy though, you may be paying full attention to your spouse. Instead of trying to persuade your spouse, spend some time validating his or her opinion. Ask questions that help you understand your spouse’s point even further, and show that you can see his or her perspective. If you engage with your spouse, he or she is more likely to engage in return. That’s the start of productive conflict resolution.

Get to the Root of the Issue (It’s Most Likely STRESS)

There may be an issue below the surface that needs to be resolved. You probably aren’t mad that the dishes aren’t finished. Instead, you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of housework that needs to be done. Those dishes seem like one more task to add to a never-ending list.

Being married is not always easy, and it can be particularly stressful early on. If you can get to the root cause of your arguments, you can come up with a productive solution for them.

Find a Solution, Or Accept That There Isn’t One

Compromise with your spouse and work out a solution for the issue. If there isn’t a logical solution at hand, you may simply agree to disagree. How significant is this argument in the grand scheme of things? Is it a make or break moment, or is it just an annoyance you can get over? Not every argument has a conclusion because some aren’t worth the time or energy to conclude. If this is one of those arguments, agree to move forward.

If you have an ongoing disagreement that you need help resolving, consider talking to a marriage counselor. This person will provide a professional, unbiased perspective on the matter to guide you to a solution. Contact Perspectives Counseling Centers in Michigan to find an experienced marriage counselor near you.

How to Talk about Money before Marriage | Premarital Counseling in Michigan

money-talk

Finances are some of the biggest stressors in a marriage. Debt, bills and big purchases can all be stressful in their own way. If you are engaged and preparing for marriage, it’s important to start talking about your finances. This will better prepare you for money discussions in the future, and it will make the process less stressful as a whole.

In this guide from our Michigan premarital counseling centers, you’ll learn how to talk about money before marriage.

Be Honest about Your Debt

Most people enter a marriage with some form of debt, whether it be outstanding medical bills, student loans or otherwise. If you are planning to marry someone, you need to be honest about your debt. After you get married, the weight of that debt will fall on both your shoulders. Your future spouse needs to be prepared for that. If you do not know the current status of your debts, take a moment to figure that out. That will be an important element of the budgeting process, which we will discuss in a section below.

Be Honest about Your Income

When you started dating your significant other, you may have exaggerated about your income. Now that you’re planning for marriage, it’s time to come clean. Tell your future spouse how much money you make and how those funds are distributed throughout the month. This will give you both a clear idea of what your budget will be after marriage.

Go over the Monthly Budget, Including Every Household Bill You Will Have

If you start your marriage off with a budget, you are far less likely to get stressed about your finances. Budgeting is part of living together. It is something you will do for the rest of your lives. Once you know your income and debts, you can better assess your monthly finances. Tally up all of your bills, including:

  • Rent/mortgage
  • Gas, electric, water, sewer, trash and other utilities
  • Food costs, including eating out and groceries
  • Car payments
  • Loan payments
  • Insurance (house insurance, car insurance, medical insurance, life insurance, etc.)
  • Fuel and transportation
  • Cable, internet and phones

If you have other expenses, such as a subscription service or an annual credit card fee, add those to the budget as well. Then use your combined monthly income to determine how much money you will have leftover each month. Use average amounts for bills that fluctuate, like your utilities. Keep estimates on the high end to make sure you have enough money each month. Create a plan for saving or paying down debts quickly, all within your means. If you notice any major issues with the budget, work together to come up with a solution.

Create a Plan for Extra Expenses (Date Nights, Clothes, and Fun Purchases)

There is nothing wrong with treating yourself. You need to have a little fun with your money every now and then. The key is learning how to make those plans without going wild with your money. If you have a small vacation coming up, you might want to eat every meal at home for a few weeks to keep costs down. In a month where your expenses are low, you might be able to splurge with a fancy dinner every Friday. Think about your budget, and plan extra expenses that fit within your means. As long as you remain honest with one another, you can avoid unnecessary debt before marriage.

Keep Your Wedding Costs Down

According to a recent study from Finder.com, 80.6% of couples borrow money for their wedding. The average amount borrowed is $3,082, which adds up to $3.48 billion throughout the country. Whether you want a small wedding or a large one, try to keep your costs as low as possible. This will minimize your debt before marriage, and it will keep the stress low in the household. You deserve to have your ‘big day,’ but you don’t have to spend a big chunk of money making it happen. Every dollar saved is one less burden later on.

Take time to fully discuss your finances before marriage so you can create a plan as a couple. If you need help along the way, talk to your premarital counselor. He or she can guide you through this and other relationship obstacles so you can set yourselves up for success.

10 Things You Can Learn after Being Cheated on: Part 2

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Continued from Part 1

Don’t Hold on When Someone Is Trying to Move on

If your spouse is trying to move on, let him or her go. You are only going to hurt yourself worse if you try to hold on to the relationship. If the other person is willing to work through the issues, great! Talk to a couples counselor and find a way to move forward together. However, if the other person no longer wants to be in the relationship, you need to let them go so you can heal and grow.

Holding a Grudge Will Hurt You More Than the Cheater

Forgiveness is an important part of the healing process. You have every right to be angry and upset, but try not to hold a grudge for long. These feelings of anger and frustration hurt you more than they hurt the other person, and you’ve already been through enough pain. Make peace with the situation and move forward in your own life.

You Didn’t Deserve to Be Cheated on

If your self-esteem is low, you may feel like you deserved to be cheated on. That is never the case. There is never a situation where someone deserves to be hurt like this. You are better than that and you deserve the be treated better than that.

Don’t Assume That Everyone Cheats

Just because someone cheated on you doesn’t mean that everyone cheats. You don’t have to “swear off men” because they’re all cheaters, and you don’t have to guard your heart forever. It’s good to be cautious, but don’t let that stop you from finding happiness in the future.

Cheating Was Not the Only Reason the Relationship Ended

You may say, “he cheated on me so we broke up,” but the infidelity was only part of the problem. Chances are there were many other issues in the relationship that caused it to fizzle before the cheating occurred. You don’t have to explain those reasons to other people, but you should acknowledge them on your own. Figure out where things went wrong and what you could have done as a couple to make them better. Then you’ll be better prepared for your next relationship.

You Are in Control of Your Own Happiness

At the end of the day, you are in charge of making yourself happy. Your happiness should not rely on another person. If your spouse was the only person/thing that made you happy, look for new hobbies and interests. Work with a counselor to overcome depression, low self-esteem, and other issues you may be facing. Learn to love yourself and find comfort in your own happiness.

 

 

 

10 Things You Can Learn after Being Cheated on

cheated-on

Being cheated on sucks. There’s no way around that. It’s natural to feel depression, angry, frustrated and confused after infidelity. Before you fall into a cycle of self-loathing though, take a moment to evaluate your situation. Something bad happened to you, but you can turn that into something good moving forward. Here are 10 life lessons you can learn after being cheated on.

Infidelity Has Nothing to Do with How You Look

Cheating has nothing to do with how you look or how much money you make. Stop thinking “I wasn’t pretty enough” or “I wasn’t good enough.” That’s just not true. Your spouse cheated because he or she was not happy in the relationship. You may actually be significantly more attractive than the other person, but that doesn’t matter. Don’t blame your appearance for the incident because it is simply not a factor.

Someone Else’s Actions Do Not Define Your Self-Worth

Being cheated on does not make you a bad person. It should not cause you to question your self-worth. Your self-esteem may drop for a little while after the shock of the incident, but know that is only temporary. Someone else’s actions are theirs and theirs alone. You are a good person with a lot of positive traits. They can’t take that away from you.

You Did Not Cause Your Spouse to Cheat

Again, you are not to blame for the infidelity. You did not cause your partner to venture into another relationship. You did not create the temptation, and you did not succumb to it. This is an unfortunate circumstance, but it is not your fault.

…BUT You Could Have Worked on Your Relationship More

With the above statement in mind, it’s important to remember why people cheat in relationships. It almost always has something to do with the relationship itself. If a person does not feel validated, respected, or appreciated in a relationship, he or she may seek attention elsewhere. There was room for improvement in your relationship, whether you realized it or not. If you saw the signs and did nothing to fix them, you now know how important that is. If you did not see the problems in the relationship, you may need to adjust your perspective. You were not to blame for the infidelity, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make improvements for the future.

Continue to Part 2

Why Do People Cheat in Relationships? Couples Counseling in Michigan

why people cheat

Cheating is a deal-breaker in most relationships, but infidelity occurs in nearly one-third of all marriages. It is possible to maintain a relationship after infidelity, but not without its challenges. The best option is to prevent infidelity from occurring in the first place.

This brings up an important question – why do people cheat in relationships? What are the most common causes of infidelity? We will answer those questions and others in this couples counseling guide.

A Person’s Personality

Some people are simply more prone to cheating than others. This is not an excuse for the behavior, but it is something to keep in mind. For instance, men ten to have a higher sex drive than women because of their testosterone. Thus they are more likely to cheat than women, even though women cheat as well. Someone who has issues with commitment might cheat on their partner as a form of self-sabotage. These personality traits can be controlled with determination or individual counseling, but some people give in to their mind and body’s inherent urges.

Struggles in the Relationship

Perhaps the most common reason people cheat is because they are not happy with some element of their relationship. This may have nothing to do with sex. In fact, many people cheat when they have a happy, healthy sex life at home. The infidelity may be a way of seeking additional attention, affirmation or appreciation. If a person does not feel validated in his or her relationship, he or she may look for that validation elsewhere.

If you have felt that way in your relationship, you may consider couples counseling. This can help you work through the issues in your relationship that could lead to infidelity. A lack of trust, jealousy, codependency, poor communication or an imbalance of responsibilities can make you feel disconnected from your significant other. With couples counseling, you’ll overcome those obstacles and strengthen your bond with one another.

Strong, Persistent Temptations

Last but not least, some people are prone to cheating because of the situation they are in. If someone spends a great deal of alone time with another person at work, he or she may develop feelings for the other person. Again, this is not an excuse for infidelity. It is merely an explanation for it. There are plenty of people who are able to push through the temptations without cheating on their spouses.

If you and your significant other are interested in couples counseling in Michigan, contact one of the Perspectives Counseling Centers near you.

Getting through Post-Divorce Depression | Depression Counseling Michigan

post divorce depression

Divorce is a stressful and potentially painful process, but nearly 29,000 Michigan couples go through it every year. Whether you end your marriage amicably or you argue every step of the way, when everything is finished, you may be left with post-divorce depression. This is a major life transition, and it may take some time to fully overcome. Thankfully, there are some techniques you can use to accelerate your healing.

Here are some tips for getting through depression after divorce, courtesy of our depression counseling centers in Michigan.

Prepare for Every Stage of Grief

Depression after divorce is a lot like grief. Even though no one passed away, you still lost someone close to you. You can expect to go through all the stages of grief: denial, pain, anger and acceptance. There may be days when you’re on an emotional roller coaster – relieved one minute and crying the next. You may go from feeling angry to feeling guilty to feeling sad in rapid succession. Simply knowing that these emotions may come will help you feel better in the moment. It’s part of the process and it will get better.

Focus on the Positive Elements of This New Life Chapter

In any form of depression treatment, it’s important to focus on the positive. Take this as an opportunity to venture out of your comfort zone. Join a club, join a gym, join a singles group at church. Do something new and exciting that you would have never done in your marriage. You do not have to reinvent yourself, but you should find something to be excited about. That will cut down your feelings of depression.

Find Healthy Coping Mechanisms for Post-Divorce Depression

Depression is often accompanied by addiction. We don’t want you to fall into that trap. You may be tempted to drink, smoke or gamble to numb your feelings, but that does not fix depression. In fact, addictive behaviors actually make depression worse. Find healthy ways to cope with your depression, like exercising or spending time with close family members. Talk to a depression counselor about your feelings, and you can learn proven techniques to overcome depression day by day. You deserve happiness, and you will find that again. Our depression counseling experts in Michigan are here to help every step of the way.

To schedule an appointment with a depression counselor in Michigan, call (248) 244-8644.

Why You Shouldn’t Hold a Grudge | Adult Counseling in Plymouth, MI

hold a grudge

Forgiveness is hard to receive and even harder to give. No matter how you’ve been hurt, it can be hard to let go of anger. This is especially true after a major event of mistrust, like infidelity or a long-spanning lie.

Holding onto a grudge is not good for your mental or physical health. It affects your sleep, your thinking, your reasoning, and your productivity levels. Let’s look at some reasons why you shouldn’t hold a grudge and what you can do to move forward with your life.

You’re Hurting Yourself More Than the Other Person

The grudge hurts you much more than it hurts the other person. The recipient may not even realize you’re still angry with him or her. If you’re holding a grudge over someone you no longer talk to, you are the person most affected by it. They’ve moved on, and it’s time you do the same.

You cannot afford to rent space in your own head. In other words, you cannot let any person or situation take up valuable space in your mind. Let go of the grudge so you can make room for pleasant members in the future.

The Grudge May Impact Other Relationships in Your Life

Your anger may not be limited to the target recipient. In fact, there is a good change you will take your frustration out on someone you love. This may lead to more arguments in your life or decreased productivity at work. At that point, the grudge has taken control – you are no longer in charge of the situation. By letting go, you can reclaim the throne and remain in charge of your own happiness.

Finding Closure and Letting Go

Finding closure is not always easy. That’s why you have a grudge in the first place. It starts by making peace with the situation. Analyze what went wrong, what could have been done to change it (if anything), and what you can learn from the experience. Rise from the ashes by learning a life lesson about something you will or will not do in the future. Then acknowledge that there is nothing you can do to change the past, and commit to moving forward in your life.

The best way to work through these emotions is with a counselor or therapist. We have several counselors who specialize in adult counseling, depression counseling, trauma counseling, and more. Contact Perspectives Counseling Centers in Plymouth, MI to learn more about how you can benefit from adult counseling.

Stress Management for Children

Stress Management for Children

If you were to tell someone that you were “stressed out,” the other person may not think twice about trying to understand where you were coming from. Kids under 12 years of age may not get this level of understanding about their stress because many deem their lives as too “easy” to get distressed to that degree.  It is important to understand that kids this age do deal with varying levels of distress in their lives, to where they need to give it attention. Kids will experience psychological and physical symptoms of distress that they may not be capable of handling just yet, because they are young and inexperienced with doing so. That is why it is necessary for youth to learn positive coping skills at this point in their lives.

Why is Stress Management Important for Kids?

Managing stress is something to pay attention to due to children’s developmental level. Their brains and behaviors are not fully developed yet to handle distress that comes into their lives. They experience a “fight or flight” response like adults do, but they are not knowledgeable enough to always handle their stress in constructive ways. Therefore, it is appropriate to have stress management skills taught to kids so that they are able to handle distress later on in their lives. It is appropriate so that kids learn how to build resiliency through the tougher challenges that life will bring, so that they can react in proportion to the intensity of the events that they experience.

As adults, we have the ability to positively shape the way in which our kids handle day to day stress. We can coach them on using stress reduction techniques as we would with any other set of skills. We have the opportunity to model the usage of positive coping skills in their presence, while encouraging them to do the same through praise and recognition. If we do these things consistently with our children, then that gives them the best chance to handle their distress. This is the philosophy that is emphasized through the walls of Perspectives.

How Perspectives Can Help

Perspectives of Troy Counseling Centers has a great number of child therapists on staff that are skilled at teaching positive coping skills to kids to help them deal with distress in their lives. This is done through individual therapy, as well as groups and workshops like Stress Busters, which is a five hour workshop in which coping skills are worked on with children ages 8-12 years old. The child therapists that are on staff at Perspectives are well-trained at communicating with children about stress so they can understand at their own developmental level. Parents are welcomed as a part of the treatment process in order to reinforce the skills that are being taught at home. Different treatment modalities can be utilized by our staff to help kids with stress management, including cognitive behavioral therapy and solution focused behavioral therapy. While these are common methods to help with this sort of issue, we as a staff also believe in helping a child based on their own individual needs.

If you or someone you know could benefit from anxiety therapy or the Stress Busters Workshop for Kids, call Perspectives Counseling Centers at 248-244-8644.