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3 Good Habits To Strengthen Your Marriage
by Lee Hefner
How good is the quality of your marriage right now? Your answer will depend in large part on the quality of the habits you and your spouse practice.
We are all creatures of habit. Habits are those patterns of behavior that you’ve learned to the point where they are automatic and unconscious. The tone of your marriage is largely set by habitual ways you and your spouse think and behave with each other.
Have you ever stopped to really look at the habits you use in relating to your spouse? Probably not, unless someone has asked you this question before. Most of us behave on automatic pilot, without taking time to consider if we should do things differently.
Think about it. What is your automatic reaction when you disagree with something your spouse says? How does he (or she) normally respond when he gets angry with you? Do you use sarcasm or put downs? Or do you typically listen with respect, even when you disagree? Do you criticize your spouse often? Or do you focus on what he’s doing right and compliment him for it?
Whatever exactly happens in your marriage, you’ll notice that certain patterns are repeated over and over again. The habits that you and your spouse have adopted play a major role your relationship and can determine its ultimate success or failure. The good habits can affirm and sustain your marriage; bad habits can destroy it.
The good news is that even if your marriage is going downhill, or it’s not where you’d like it to be, chances are it could be improved by reevaluating the habits you and your spouse have adopted in relating to each other.
You’ve heard the saying “What goes around comes around?” In Eastern philosophy, it’s known as the Law of Karma. It basically says that you get what you sow.
This is true in a marriage as well. Regarding habits, this means that if you can identify and work on changing your own habits that cause disharmony and conflict in your marriage into ones that engender love and respect, your spouse will be more likely to respond in kind.
You can start doing three things to strengthen marriage-enriching habits:
#1. Make goodwill deposits -
The idea here is that couples have emotional “bank accounts” with each other.
Whenever you do something nice for your partner you are making a goodwill deposit with that person. But when you do something irritating you are making a goodwill withdrawal.
Deposits can be strokes of affection, a gesture of respect, an acknowledgement for something the other has done, or a sincere compliment to the other person.
#2. Chose alternate words -
When you’re angry with your spouse, substitute “I” statements for “you” statements.
For example, instead of saying “You make me furious when you come home late,” say “I get furious when I have dinner waiting and don’t know that you’re going to be late.”
“You” statements come across as more accusing and attacking. When you choose “I” statements instead, you are taking full responsibility for your feelings. You do less harm to the relationship by avoiding personal attacks on your spouse.
#3. Take responsibility for your part in any conflict -
Say the words “I’m sorry for my part in what happened” whenever you have a chance to make up after a fight.
Whatever the situation, in saying these words, you acknowledge that every argument has two sides and that each of you share the responsibility for what happens in the marriage. Humility goes a long way in patching things up.
Even if your partner doesn’t take responsibility for his (or her) part in things, set a healthy example by your actions.
The simple act of being open to changing your own habitual behavior requires courage. But the rewards can be substantial.
You may find the quality of your marriage spirals upward to heights you never imagined. And while forming better relationship habits takes some effort, the results feel so good that they become addictive.
You condition yourself and you condition the relationship itself in a way that becomes habit forming when it feels that good.
The following passage by an anonymous author expresses the enormous power of the habits in your life:
“I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half the things you do you might just as well turn over to me, and I will be able to do them quickly, correctly.
I am easily managed -- you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few lessons I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great people; and alas, of all failures as well. Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a human being. You may run me for a profit or turn me for ruin -- it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you.
Who am I? I am habit.”
For more marriage tips click here
Posted by Jessica Watts at 10:52 AM
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Why You Should Stay Together
by Cucan Pemo
While no one wants their marriage to fail, did you know that there are actually quantifiable reasons for staying with your spouse?
In case you need help deciding whether to stay married or not, here are the facts:
#1 Married people are happier
In recent studies, scientists founds that married couples suffer from less depression than their unmarried counterparts. And this even takes into consideration those couples that are living together and not married.
Being in a committed relationship with each other is not enough, but showing that commitment to friends, family, and the wedding DJ seems to make the bond all the more important.
#2 Married couples are more productive
While the case could be made that two people can always get more done than one, married couples seem to enjoy exploring their interests more than singles and unmarried couples.
Maybe it's because you've set up long term goals and thinking that guides you through the day to day, or maybe it could be because you're both challenging each other to be better - in either case, married couples just seem to get more done.
#3 Married couples learn better
Studies have shown that married couples tend to retain new knowledge longer than single or married couples. It would seem that the calmer state of the brain is more conducive to learning.
And since you have someone to remind you of what you've forgotten, it's a lot easier to keep those important facts in your head.
#4 Married couples are less stressed
When you have someone that is constantly supporting you and cares about how you're doing, this support system helps to buoy you in times of stress. Being able to laugh with each other and help each other helps the stressful times seem all the less, well, stressful.
#5 Married couples are healthier overall
Because of the reduced stress and increased support system, married couples tend to have fewer health problems than their unmarried counterparts. They have fewer colds and other minor illnesses. Without the constant strain of a commitment that's sort of hazy, married couples can fight off germs and bacteria.
#6 Married couples live longer
With the increased health and ability to ward off stress, married couples tend to live longer than their unmarried counterparts. Married couples are more long term thinking and this allows them to have a more positive outlook on life and whatever is thrown at them. Even couples with long term illnesses or other stressors seem to be able to live longer than is normal.
#7 Married couples are richer
Of course, having two people in any relationship will make a couple richer, but married couples are more diligent about planning for long term goals which can lead to more stable financial results. They invest together, plan together, work together to create a retirement that will allow them to enjoy each other's company long into the twilight of their lives.
#8 Married couples fight smarter
No couple is without fights or disagreements, but married couples have a more relaxed approach about getting past arguments and getting over them. The long term commitment allows them to realize that not everything is as important 'right now' as it seems, and that most problems can blow over without too much incident.
#9 Married couples have better sex
While stereotypes might have you believe otherwise, married couples truly do have a more varied an enjoyable sex life. They tend to experiment to keep things exciting and they are focused more on the pleasure of their partner than of themselves.
#10 Married couples are more fit
Married couples have a built in workout partner and someone who will help them watch what they eat. This support system leads to an overall better outlook on fitness and health, which leads to a fitter lifestyle. Though slips in eating and exercise can affect both partners, it's much more likely that married couples will get back up from their discretions and find the support to regain control of their health.
Being married isn't just the dream of the white wedding; it's what happens after the guests leave and the wrapping paper has been thrown away.
To read more marriage tips click here.
Posted by Jessica Watts at 1:42 PM
Photo by: CaptureThem
Caring for Children Means Meeting Each Other's Needs
by Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D.
Children desperately need parents who stay married to each other, and love each other. Their future depends on it. Yet, their parents are very likely to lose their love for each other after they arrive, because they forget why they married.
They didn't marry to raise children -- they married to meet each other's intimate emotional needs. And the presence of children tends to make them think that they don't have time and energy to meet those needs anymore. When that happens, they lose their primary motive to be married -- their love for each other.
A man and woman usually decide to marry because they have formed a very successful romantic relationship -- they are in love with each other and are meeting each other's intimate emotional needs. They want to make that romantic relationship last a lifetime, so they marry. At the time, they are optimistic about keeping their love for each other alive, and they don't expect anything to threaten that love -- least of all, children. But if they were to understand how their love was created, and how it is sustained, they would immediately see why children are such a risk.
The two essential ingredients of a romantic relationship -- being in love and meeting intimate emotional needs -- are inseparable. A man and woman love each other because they meet each other's intimate emotional needs, and they meet each other's intimate emotional needs because they love each other. If either one of those factors suffers, the other suffers as well. That's why it's relatively difficult to keep a romantic relationship on track -- it's very fragile.
If living conditions make the meeting of intimate emotional needs more difficult or even impossible to provide, the love a couple has for each other is at risk. They usually don't see their loss of love coming, because they think their love is based on chemistry (they are made for each other) or their willingness to be in love (their love for each other is a decision) -- factors they think guarantee a lifetime of love. But what really sustains love in marriage is neither of those. It is their effectiveness in meeting each other's intimate emotional needs.
Intimate emotional needs can only be met when a couple are able to give each other their undivided attention, and when children become part of their lives, they lose the privacy that undivided attention requires. Job requirements that are considered necessary to support children can also take undivided attention away from couples. The pressure of family life, with so many wants and limited available resources, is yet another factor that makes undivided attention elusive.
When opportunity for undivided attention is taken from a couple, the meeting of intimate emotional needs is no longer possible. And when the meeting of intimate emotional needs is no longer possible, the love a man and woman have for each other withers and dies. And when their love for each other is gone, the risk of divorce is extremely high.
Couples marry because they think their romantic relationship will continue throughout their lives. And it would, if they were to continue meeting each other's intimate emotional needs. But as soon as their children arrive, there is a very high likelihood that their romantic relationship will end, because they cannot find time to give each other undivided attention. And with the end of their romantic relationship, their marriage is at risk.
Children do not require parent's attention 24 hours a day. Nor do they suffer when parents are giving each other their undivided attention. It's not the child's fault that parents neglect each other when children arrive -- it's the parent's fault when they decide that their children need so much of their time, they have not time left for each other. But the truth is that couples have time for both their children and each other, if they schedule their time wisely.
The solution to this problem in marriage is remarkably simple. It doesn't require entirely new skills, or a remaking of a couple's ability to care for each other. All it takes is going back to what it was that created the love a couple has for each other in the first place -- heartfelt affection, intimate conversation, recreational companionship, and sexual fulfillment. These intimate emotional needs, above all else, must be met in marriage if a romantic relationship is to be sustained.
As long as a husband and wife take the time to meet these needs for each other every week of their lives, they will never lose the passion that they had the moment they were married. But it takes time to meet these needs, and it takes privacy. They cannot be met with children running around your feet. Couples rarely understand this important fact.
If I were to give you $1,000,000 to stay in love for 10 years after your children arrived, and I had a fool-proof way of determining if you were actually in love, how would you make sure you had the money at the end of the ten years?
Even if you had never read anything I've written on the subject, I'm sure you would begin by carving time out of every week to make sure you met each other's emotional needs. Because you already know that it would greatly increase the chances of your being in love with each other after 10 years. You already know how your love for each other was created -- you gave each other your undivided attention when you were dating. You were always affectionate with each other; you would talk to each other the way lovers talk, you would spend your recreational time together, and you were both sexually attracted to each other, and responded to that attraction.
If $1,000,000 was conditional on your being in love after 10 years with children, you would create a plan that would give you enough privacy, and enough time, to stay emotionally connected throughout those ten years.
Now let me tell you something that may not have occurred to you.
If you are not in love with each other after 10 years with children, you are very likely to lose $1,000,000 during the rest of your life in the form of costs incurred due to divorce. The cost of a lifetime of lost income, lost savings and investments, lost health, lost support from an extended family, and the cost of the divorce itself is just the beginning of the losses that can be enumerated by those who have figured these things out (Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage, pp 110-125).
In other words, you will have about $1,000,000 more to spend than you would have had, if you can simply stay married for the rest of your lives. And the only way to guarantee that your lives will be spent together is to guarantee your love for each other.
But the economic advantage of a lifelong marriage is not nearly as important as the positive effect it has on children. The greatest contribution that parents can make to their children's happiness and success is to love each other for life. If parents love their children, and want the best for their children, they must do everything possible to preserve their romantic relationship. That means caring for each other must be their highest priority -- they must meet each other's intimate emotional needs. It's not a choice between caring for each other and caring for children. The reality is that if you want to truly care for your children, you must care for each other.
For more marriage tips click here.
Posted by Jessica Watts at 12:39 PM
Photo by: CRASH-candy
Know What Men Really Want
by Bob Grant, L.P.C
Actually, it's pretty simple but most women have the hardest time understanding a man. Deep inside the heart of every man is a secret wish to be trusted. How many times have men said to their wives, "If you would just trust me."
Many men wonder why it seems so difficult for their wives to do something so seemingly simple. The answer stems from the physiological differences between the sexes.
It begins at birth when little boys are given a distinct physical advantage over little girls by having higher levels of testosterone. With testosterone comes the physical strength to both defend themselves from danger and/or run away from a threat.
Most little girls don't have that ability. They don't have the strength to defend themselves in a physically fight when they feel threatened. If a boy trusts someone who in turn hurts him, he can always defend himself physically (or try to).
Little girls don't have that physical option of power. Since a person can only trust from a position of strength, those same little girls will grow up into women who naturally have a more difficult time "trusting" when they feel vulnerable.
So men, when you ask the woman of your choice to simply "trust you," it's not that she can't, she's just more vulnerable than you. If you want her to trust you, she needs something that will help develop that trust.
Perhaps even a tool or gesture that she can "count on" until that trust with you is established. Thankfully this tool already exists and is known by every woman. What cultivates trust in a woman is a man who consistently keeps his word.
Making a promise is meaningless if there is no follow through. Unfortunately, many women trust men too quickly and are stunned when their boyfriend breaks up with them after they discover that he wasn't as romantic, loving or perfect as they were led to believe. Once this happens they often desperate to get him back."
A woman needs to SEE her man fulfill his promises not just hear his pledge because seeing is always more powerful than hearing.
Allow me to illustrate. Imagine someone told you that I was the meanest person they had ever met. For months all you heard was how terrible I treated my family and friends.
Then one day you met me and during the course of our meeting you begin to notice that I didn't seem to be as horrible as you were led to believe. I actually appeared to be rather pleasant.
Would you change your entire opinion about me from one visit? Probably not! However, if you saw me respond consistently with kindness and humility over a period of weeks, your opinion of me would begin to change.
A paradox has just been established. The kindness you have seen in me for the last few weeks does not match what you have heard about me. All the rumors of how mean I am begin to fade into darkness because of my consistent actions.
Over time what you see will replace most if not all of your concerns about my character. Men, when the woman you love sees your words lining up with your actions, trust will naturally follow. When you don't keep your word it causes your wife/girlfriend to become fearful.
From her perspective, she has entrusted you with her Heart and WANTS to trust you. She simply needs your help in giving you what you want.
To read more tips from Bob Grant click here.
Posted by Jessica Watts at 10:57 AM
Photo by: garethmooney
Help Avoid Marital Separation through Better Communication
by Nancy Wasson
Are you considering marriage counseling to try to get back your wife or husband before your marriage crashes?
If so, you're not alone. In many troubled marriages, the downward slide to marital separation and divorce can be traced to communication problems in the relationship.
Can you relate to this?
When communication issues are a challenge for couples, it's not unusual for the mates to stay in perpetual frustration in an unhappy marriage. It's common for such unhappy spouses to feel unappreciated and misunderstood by their partner.
How to Stop Marital Separation in this Situation
When unexpressed feelings pile up and begin to poison the relationship, it may be time to consider going to a marriage counselor. You may be wondering how a trained expert can improve your relationship.
A little-known fact is that a good therapist can help you understand that when you repress your anger, it will usually emerge later, often after something trivial has upset you or your mate.
Is it challenging for you and your spouse to have a normal conversation
without one of you leaving the room before a conflict is settled? The emotionally-charged buttons that your mate presses in you may make you want to get away in order to avoid your uncomfortable emotions and reactions.
If you want to communicate better with your spouse, you'll find that you must be fully attentive and present in the moment to have the best chance of success. It means that you have to commit to truly hear and listen. And you have to hear not just with your ears but you must listen also with your heart.
Your goal is to get rid of any communication obstacles or blocks that stop you and your spouse from growing and maturing in intimacy and understanding.
How Do Communcation Blocks Lead to Marital Separation?
So what are communication blocks and how can they lead to marriage separation?
Communication blocks are the things that you do, through your words and actions, that prevent you from connecting at a deep level with someone else. Several examples of things you may be doing that block communication in your marriage are:
* You roll your eyes and look exasperated or resigned when your husband or wife talks;
* You sigh loudly and deeply when your mate is sharing an opinion;
* You look at a clock or at your watch repeatedly;
* You don't stop whatever you're doing when your partner wants to have serious conversation with you;
* You don't make eye contact and give your spouse your complete attention;
* You use the time while your spouse is speaking to think about things unrelated to what your partner is saying
Marital Separation Is Not Necessarily Inevitable
If you can you relate to any of any of these symptoms in your marriage, don't despair. You've just taken the first positive step forward by recognizing what you need to change to improve your marriage.
And the truth is, even if you are in the middle of a marriage crisis, you may still stop divorce and get back your wife or husband by taking the right actions.
And you will discover that this realization is priceless! Armed with this new knowledge and the help you'll receive from marital counseling, you can now take steps to avoid the marriage problems that lead so many couples to a broken marriage.
When you think about it, a simple realization like that can change your life, can 't it?
To read more marriage tips by Nancy Wasson click here.
Posted by Jessica Watts at 11:43 AM
Photo by: Philip Casey
Top 5 Tips on Staying Together
by Michael Webb
Thinking of Tying The Knot? Did you know that love does NOT conquer all?
You see, often people get married with the idea that their “chemistry” or undying love for each other will keep them together forever.
However, with almost 50% of marriages ending in divorce these days, it’s obvious that this isn’t the case. Therefore, it pays to know a few little secrets before getting married.
Here are 5 tips that help keep couples together long after tying the knot:
TIP#1 -- CONTINUE DATING
Over the years, people often drift apart or relationships and marriages become stale because couples fail to do new and special things together.
That's why going on new and refreshing dates is so important. In fact, there is something about “dating” that creates a sense of magic in a relationship and can even bring relationships out of a rut.
While on a date, you also put more effort into your appearance, have more uninterrupted time to communicate on a deeper level and are naturally drawn closer together.
Stuck for ideas? Spend the day at the aquarium, zoo, museum, carnival, bookstore, beach or park.
TIP#2 -- DELAY IS OFTEN BETTER
It’s a well-documented statistic that couples who have dated for a year or longer before marriage have a significantly lower rate of divorce than those who married after a short dating period.
A year of dating gives time for many emotions to surface and many character traits to be discovered. You may adore someone in the spring, but despise him or her in the winter.
Asking someone for his or her hand in marriage on the third date isn't romantic. It's gambling.
TIP#3 -- ALWAYS EXPRESS YOUR LOVE
Oftentimes, as a relationship matures, partners tend to stop praising each other because they 'assume' their partner already knows what they're thinking.
When in reality, a day should never go by without you praising your partner. Compliment them on their cooking, reaffirm that they're the greatest person in the world or tell them they’re a wonderful role model. If you want to be loved and romanced by your sweetheart, love and romance them first. When they're feeling loved, it is much easier to love in return.
Are you a super supporter of what your mate does and says? So do you cheer them on and praise them constantly? Or do they constantly hear boos or silence?
TIP#4 -- TAKE TIME TO UNDERSTAND YOUR PARTNER
Couples with the most problems are often the ones that say, "I just don't understand him/her."
So let me ask you: How knowledgeable are you about your mate's profession or the degree they are pursuing? Do you know anything about his or her family heritage? Are you able to have a meaningful conversation about her cross-stitch hobby or his interest in rugby? If you are a man, do you fully understand what women experience during PMS or menopause?
You don't need to be identical, but make an effort to learn about the things that interest your partner in life and you'll grow closer as a result.
TIP#5 -- ANSWER THE *BIG* QUESTIONS
Does your partner want kids? Do you both want careers? Do they have a history of spending their way into debt? Do they go to church?
In my opinion, the biggest reason almost half of marriages end in divorce is because couples fail to ask each other the right questions BEFORE they get married.
I guess people think they'll be able to change their spouses after marriage and everything will be better. Wrong. If you fail to sit down and discuss finances, religion, sex, housing, your future, and other topics in great detail, you could end up with nothing but argument after argument for the rest of your days.
In the end, if you both have completely different views, desires and goals in life, there’s no guarantee that chemistry or "I love you’s" will help you stay together.
Make it your utmost priority to understand each other 'inside-out' BEFORE you take that walk down the aisle.
To read more information by Michael Webb click here.
Posted by Jessica Watts at 12:03 PM
Photo by: indrasensi
by Amy Waterman
It happens to the best of us. Communication is such a fickle thing, and the lines of communication can become blurred every so often, especially when feelings are involved. Even those who think that they are immune to the confusion of conflict can find themselves drawn into a communication breakdown when they least expect it, and chaos ensues.
This happened to me on the weekend, and until to be quite honest, it took me by surprise. Even those of us who are better equipped than many others are not immune. My partner told me something that really hurt my feelings, and I lashed back in defense. It was a silly argument, over something as simple as a misplaced bottle of aftershave. But to me, it represented something much deeper, that had been simmering away for a couple of weeks. I get frustrated at having to search for something when it is not where I expect it to be. Worse still when my partner has shifted it and I don’t know the first place to begin searching.
Aftershave, needles and thread, car keys, a Tupperware container to store my baking soda in, covers for our outdoor chairs, all were examples of instances where I had to turn the house upside-down. A simple answer from my partner when these things were shifted would have saved me a lot of time and frustration. And the answer I got? "You need to open your eyes and organize yourself better"
I was gutted. When I come home from work I exercise the dog and cook dinner so that it is on the table by the time my partner gets home. The house is always spotless and warm, as I’m very conscious of coming home to a tidy environment. I see this as a fundamental part of my role in coming home first, and it takes a lot of my time. To imply that I have the time to "organize yourself better" really hurt.
I don’t expect praise, but I did hope that my efforts were recognized. I got told that "I don’t expect you to cook my dinner every night" was interpreted by me as ingratitude, and hurt me even more.
So where to from here? My partner felt guilty at coming home every night to the perfect household, whereas I felt guilty if it wasn’t perfect. It was never about me trying to make him feel guilty, but it seems it did. And this is where the communication fell down. He misinterpreted my efforts, and I misinterpreted his response.
Communication, communication, communication. I need for my partner to keep me informed of where things move to. I need to be informed. I need to voice my frustration before it gets to boiling point. We both need to talk about our feelings more, and how each of our contributions to our home and our relationship make us feel, and how we interpret each others contributions. It is not a competition, but for many couples it feels like it.
When people feel guilt or stress, it leads them to act funny ways. Often stress and guilt are barriers to communication. The key to overcoming them is to recognize what it is, and have the courage to talk about it. You might be able to do it as a couple, or you might want the help of a friend who can listen to the way you are communicating with each other and offer insights and advice.
We got it sorted out, and kissed and hugged. It wouldn’t hurt so much if I didn’t feel such love at the same time. But it served as a good reminder to me. Sometimes you get so wrapped up in your own emotions that you forget to think of the other person. You also need to entertain the possibility that you are misinterpreting each other. Talking about it is the way to expose the miscommunication and let the healing begin.
A good lesson to learn, even for the experts…
To read more information by Amy Waterman click here.
Posted by Jessica Watts at 1:33 PM