Couples—whether married or not—often seek me out to disentangle their overly complicated and tedious relationship. I marvel at how many couples go to great lengths to pack too much into a day or a week with too busy schedules. Then they wonder why they are stressed out and not happy with their lives.

Simplifying your relationships and your life requires sensible time management with coordinated schedules, reasonable priorities and short and long-term goals. You can profit from having discussions once or twice a week to make plans to improve your schedules and your connection.

gay couple smiling nuzzling

When you are stressed from overworking and perfectionism you won’t make progress toward a pleasurable life together. It is necessary to carve out more balance between work, children and pleasure time. This means you need time alone to wind down and agree to more healthy boundaries which facilitate more time together doing fun things—enjoying dates doing new activities, playing board games and of course making love.

Healthy boundaries simplify—rather than complicate—your existence with more joy and less stress. If your intimate other objects to boundaries, or if others frown on your relationship boundaries with others, this is an amber light for an issue to address and fix. For example, some parents expect more time and obligations from you, leaving little to no energy and time for each other. This is why we need healthy boundaries! I see too many couples who live their lives out of obligation and duty instead of desire! It does not make you happy to always cater to others. This is true for the self and the couple.

Rather than always taking your work home, you need playful leisure time with robust laughter and regular exercise and sleep. All of this reduces stress. Leaving the office early to spend more alone time, including time to make love is highly appropriate. If I had a dollar for every time I hear “I don’t have time to slow down and savor my partner” I could take a two week trip to Hawaii. You have more choices than you often envision. It helps to visualize what you want.

As a cognitive-behavioral therapist, I help individuals and couples simplify their lives with commonsense, logic, imaginative thinking and playful humor. Once you eradicate distorted thoughts based on unnecessary fear, your emotions and behavior fall in place. I also make specific suggestions to change behaviors to improve feelings and thoughts with important feedback loops.

You do not need two couples’ therapists to address communication and sexual problems. A skilled, certified sex therapist who is also a couples’ counselor is your best bet to balance your relationship with the rest of your life. I too often find couples who saw a marriage counselor who may have helped with communication issues, but not with sexual difficulties. A one stop therapist is more efficient at helping you more quickly—and for less money in the long run.

A blend of planned time together and frivolous spontaneity facilitates more joy and less anxiety and worry about getting too many things accomplished in a short time. This includes some socializing with couples and individuals who are close friends. Mutual friends and having your own friends reduces expectations that all of your desires and wants must be met in one relationship. If you expect every need to be met in one already overtaxed bond, the relationship is likely to short out just like a circuit breaker!

Saying “no” to overly demanding people helps you say yes to your real desires and needs. Enablers are rarely happy. Cherishing yourself and your relationship is definitely a smart choice. I find that many need to make more sensible choices with their partner and with others—including at work, and with extended families and friends.

Getting rid of guilt, shame and low self-esteem helps pave the way to more productive relationships with clear boundaries so we can savor our own preferences, passions and dreams.

Simplify—not complicate—your life and your relationships!

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