When Cupid Strikes: Finding Love and Healthy Relationships from a Family Law Attorney & a Therapist
by Charla Bradshaw and Jenny Gome
Valentine’s Day is not just for lovers. Valentine’s Day is about love. It is an opportunity to show others how much we love and appreciate them. After experiencing a difficult breakup, or if you are currently unwillingly single, Valentine’s Day can be painful and depressing. If so, recognize that it’s better to be single than in an unhealthy relationship. It is a day to reflect. It is a day to hit the love reset button.
Our combined experience of family law and therapy have provided us insight for advice to move forward in your life:
- Make sure you are emotionally ready to begin a new relationship: Counseling can be a great gift for yourself, to learn why a relationship didn’t work and to avoid repeating bad relationship patterns. Counseling can help us gain personal insight, facilitate positive behavior change and improve our ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships. It can also be instrumental in helping us develop healthy coping skills, improve our decision-making process and to help us grow emotionally. We simply don’t know what we don’t know and working with a skilled therapist can help you build you emotional tool box, so that you are healthier and more prepared for the next relationship.
- Avoid patterns of the past: This is easy to say, but hard to do. The past influences decision-making: sometimes good, sometimes bad. It’s important to identify the healthy influences in the past in order to make good future decisions. A habit becomes more and more ingrained into a person with time, whether good or bad. Unhealthy patterns arise from habits that need to be broken. It’s important to evaluate past relationships and family dynamics, as we often find ourselves repeating unhealthy cycles of previous generations in our family.
- Take your time: Taking a risk and acting without careful thinking, means ignoring what may happen as a result. This is a recipe for disaster. Let your heart grieve when you’re hurt and try to hold back from rushing into new relationships, when you’re caught up in the whirlwind of new romance. A good relationship is worth the wait and the hard work it takes to build a healthy foundation. Love yourself enough to be intentional in healing from a broken relationship and in establishing a new one.
- Listen to trusted friends and family: These are the people who have your best interest at heart, so listen to their feedback about a new relationship or love interest. When you’re starting a new relationship after a bad breakup, your judgement may be a bit off, so let the people who love you and know you best, weigh in. Remember that Valentine’s Day is not just for lovers, but for those you love and that love you. Family and friends also experience your relationships, and your break-ups, so keep them in mind and close at heart.
- Obtain sound advice for marriage: Valentine’s Day is a popular day to get engaged. If you want to remarry, it is wise to consult with a family law attorney because a new marriage can affect children and your estate. It is easy to get lost in the emotion of a new relationship and ignore the things that the relationship will actually affect the most. Be intentional about being ready to start a new relationship, and be picky. Don’t rush in. Don’t be afraid to research your new partner. Hard conversations can give clarity. Never compromise.
Most of all, you are your most important Valentine. You have to love yourself before you can expect others to love you. You have to love yourself before you can love others. Remember that if you haven’t failed, you haven’t tried and healthy, happy relationships are worth it. Happy Valentine’s Day to you.