A Local Love Doctor Answers Your Biggest Relationship Questions

From friends and families, to financial ambiguities, Dr. Terri Orbuch has answers
Photograph by Cybelle Codish

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, there is a number of metro Detroit couples, married and not, facing relationship problems, hindering them from embracing the holiday. After asking our readers to submit their qualms concerning their love lives, we reached out to local relationship expert, West Bloomfield-based Dr. Terri Orbuch, otherwise known as The Love Doctor. Orbuch is a distinguished professor at Oakland University and author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great and Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship. Her advice has appeared on huffingtonpost.com and cosmopolitan.com, and she has doled out guidance over her national public television special, “Secrets From the Love Doctor” on PBS. Below, Dr. Orbuch provides solutions for our readers’ relationship qualms just in time for Valentine’s Day.

How do I ensure that I do not cut out spending time with my friends when I start dating someone? — Samantha S.
When it comes to dating, it’s very common for individuals to spend more time with their partner, and less with friends. To ensure that you have a balance between both, you can do two things. First, remember that your friends are worth the extra effort, so hold on to those who have become special to you. Mark your calendar with times to see them. Pay attention to their lives by writing down and remembering what is important to them. Second, date partners who have their own social circles, as they will want to spend time with their respective friends, and encourage you to do the same. Besides, maybe your friends will fall for your partner’s friends.

Should I combine finances or keep them separate? — Carmen E.
Money is the number one source of tension in relationships. Studies show that the following can help you manage money issues in a relationship: (1) Talk regularly. Sit down with your partner monthly to have a money chat. Together, list and discuss your short- and long-term money goals for your relationship. (2) Set up spending rules or limits. For instance, establish a weekly budget and track your spending. Or, agree on a threshold amount (like $100) that you can spend without consulting one another. (3) Identify your underlying meaning of money. Too often, issues about money have little to do with money itself and more to do with control, security, self-esteem, and love.

How I do I tell my partner I want more sex? — Anonymous
How often couples have sex is based on many factors, including how satisfied the partners are with their relationship, the partners’ age, hormone levels, stress at work, current physical health, medications, depressive thoughts, and body image — just to name a few. People also differ in how often they want, need, and desire sex in order to be sexually satisfied. Once you understand that sex, at times, is a complex act, the best way to tell your partner you want more sex is to: (1) Start out with a positive comment about how much you love having sex with them, (2) tell them you love it so much that you would like to have it more often, and (3) if they don’t want more, ask them if there is anything you can change or do (e.g., romance, communication, foreplay, help with kids, support with stress) to increase their interest in sex.

What do you do if you do not really like your significant other’s family? — Aqmeri A.
A common complaint among many couples is that one partner is at odds with the other’s family. Studies show that when there is aversion, it is detrimental to the happiness of the relationship. Bear in mind that you just need to get along with them, not love them. Here are some helpful strategies for achieving neutrality: (1) Don’t try to change them, (2) accept the differences between you, (3) recognize that their behavior is typically an issue of control, and who will have the most power and influence, (4) maintain your relationship privacy and set boundaries, (5) think of getting along as a necessary aspect of relationship upkeep and perform it as a gesture of support, and (6) ask your partner for help.

How do I tell my partner I don’t like their style of dress? — Anonymous
You don’t. You can purchase new clothes for them as gifts and help add to their wardrobe as well as give them positive feedback about what you like. On top of that, you can ask them if they would like assistance in picking out clothes or shoes when shopping, along with finding the right accessories for their outfits. You can even use magazines to show what style you find attractive and fun. But a style of dress is like a person’s personality: you can facilitate small changes, but they are who they are.

Got more relationship questions? Let’s keep the conversation going.

Related: 4 Restaurants Worthy of Valentine’s Day Dinner Reservations