What can you do when you’re caught between your neatnik spouse and your untidy teens? Watch:
Married couples don’t grow apart – they stop paying attention, showing affection and caring for each other. Most people who get divorced within the first five years of marriage later realize that the split was totally unnecessary.
So, how can you keep your marriage happy? Follow these six tips:
1. Marriage is about giving, not keeping score. There are going to be times when you are making the compromises, and there are going to be times when your spouse is making the compromises. It all evens out eventually. Don’t make your marriage a competition of who does more.
2. There is no marriage without annoyances. Not one. No two people are 100 percent, completely compatible. When you ask older couples what’s the secret to staying together for so many years, one of the things they’ll say is you have to let a lot of things go and ignore what isn’t going to change. You have to stop nitpicking and learn to live with things.
3. Learn which issues can be remedied and which cannot. Not every conflict in a marriage gets resolved. There are always going to be issues with in-laws, children, money, etc. Many people who go into marriage counseling are dissatisfied with the outcome because they think all the problems will be gone forever. Not a chance. The reality is that the small, nitpicky ones are never going to change, and you’re only wasting your breath by getting angry about them. Besides, you knew what you were getting when you were dating this person (That’s why you should date for two years before getting engaged!). If you said, “I do”, you embraced those idiosyncrasies, so leave your spouse alone. You’re better off not trying to change them. Work around the quirks and commit to staying together. Resolving the problems is not what’s really important. What’s important is keeping things positive.
4. If you are going to fight or argue, make it about the big issues, not the little stupid stuff like socks being left on the floor. Is it really beneath your dignity to pick them up yourself? Jesus was on his hands and knees washing people’s feet. Keep that image in mind when you think you’re above picking up a pair of socks.
5. For every negative thought, word or action on your part, you need at least FIVE positive ones. Make small gestures and make them often. Always think about repairing the relationship even when it’s not damaged. After all, that’s what our bodies do. Even when we’re not sick or injured, our bodies are constantly replacing dead cells. You’ve got to do the same thing in your marriage except the balance must be even more heavily stacked in repair mode. How do you do that? With humor and affection.
6. See your spouse’s point of view. When you are aggravated with your spouse, take on the role of your spouse’s defense attorney. Maybe they’re exhausted from sitting in traffic after being hounded at work all day. Maybe they’ve had a particularly stressful day with the kids. If you take each other’s side instead of instantly attacking, there’s going to be a lot more peace.
You made vows to cherish your spouse, so cherish them! Don’t nitpick, blame or constantly criticize. Happily married couples don’t live to fight another day. By spending most of your time being positive, you’ll feel better, your spouse will feel better, the marriage will be healthier, and the kids will be happier.
Generally speaking, the divorce rate is lower for people who have good relationships with their in-laws. However, the sad reality is that the majority of husbands and wives do not.
For the most part, it’s the daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law who take issue with one another. According to a study conducted by Terri Apter, a psychologist at Cambridge University, 60 percent of daughters-in-law report having a stressful relationship with their mother-in-law, but only 15 percent of sons-in-law do. The primary reason: mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law feel a need to compete.
Let’s break it down. A mother gives birth to her son and puts all her energy into raising and caring for him. Then, this other woman comes along and takes him away after only knowing him for maybe two or three years. This is what sets the stage for the competition between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law.
My first rule for all you daughters-in-law out there is to stop being so prickly and try to look at things from your mother-in-law’s point of view. I recently had a caller on my program who felt insulted because her live-in mother-in-law was constantly cleaning her house for her. From the mother-in-law’s perspective, she was simply trying to have a purpose – instead of sitting around watching TV all day, she wanted to do something. However, the caller interpreted her cleaning as a hint that she couldn’t take care of her own house. I advised the caller not to confront her mother-in-law, which would only make her upset. I told her instead to think about things from her mother-in-law’s perspective: How was she feeling? What did she need?
Another piece of advice: Don’t sweat the small stuff. People say and do things all the time that they may not intend to be hurtful. Be able to stand back and ask, “Does this person really want to hurt or harm me in some way, or are they just being a little assertive, overbearing, or excited?”
Next, always try to avoid the criticism or insult. Listening will win you more points than arguing.
In addition, remember that everyone likes to feel appreciated. Find ways to show your in-laws respect. Take your mother-in-law out to lunch for her birthday, or remember to send a card and/or flowers on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
Finally, don’t always think of your in-laws as “the in-laws.” They can certainly be your friends and mentors. Try to get involved with something they enjoy, like gardening or golf. At the very least, sharing a common interest with them will give you something to talk about during family dinners and holidays.
Now, there is a caveat to all of this. Some people simply have mean and nasty parents. If that’s the case, you can expect that no matter how hard you try, they will create stress for you and your spouse. Don’t let them. Husbands and wives need to watch each other’s backs. Mark my words, if you side with your parents against your spouse, it’ll be “The End.” If her mother is being a pain, then she should talk to her. If his mother is being a pain, then he should talk to her. Don’t allow them to tear your marriage apart.