Jack was getting pans out of the cupboard when Trish walked in. She set the groceries down on the counter, and then turned to give him a kiss. "How was your day?" "Good," said Jack, hugging her. "Nothing too exceptional. The meeting went well. We came up with some good ideas for how we can speed things up with the web project." "Sounds like progress." Then Jack leaned back and looked at Trish. "I'll bet someone else had a REALLY good day," he said, his eyes sparkling.
Does your spouse feel like a "bad kid" because you're overdoing the criticism? Draw on your own parenting wisdom and soften the blow when you need to raise an issue. Yes, it's possible to complain and make your spouse feel loved and accepted at the same time.
Years ago I read about a great way to figure out what your values really are. It's to ask yourself: "What would I tell my kids?" That'll clear up any confusion you have about what you think really fast. It can also show how you may be falling short of your own standards. Similarly, a good yardstick for how well you're treating your spouse is to ask yourself: "Would I do that if we were dating?" Sad, but true, our perspective on what is 'normal' behavior can change quite a bit after we say, "I do." Let's start with the small stuff. What do you do when you come home in the evening?
This month I want to raise a toast to everyone who has stepped up this year to take the tiger by the tail. The particular tiger I’m talking about is a relationship—a love relationship that somewhere along the way became a source of pain instead of a source of joy. You have to call upon a lot of courage to jump into the ring with that tiger. Because there are so many fears you have to go eye to eye with. First, you have to stop telling yourself everything is really fine. You have to take a long, honest look at your own unhappiness. Yes, it really is that bad. A lot of people feel a sense of failure at this point. After all, everyone else seems to be handling this marriage thing O.K. Of course, if you could see inside the people around you, you’d see they look a lot like you, struggling with the same frustrations.
When your partner snaps at you, it can be irresistible to snap back. But stop: this is a pivot point for married couples. You can nip this fight in the bud. The key is to focus on his desires instead of his defenses. If you can talk about desires, chances are you can resolve your issue.
"I feel kind of sad when I realize how long it's been since we had sex," said Shelley. "But honestly, after chasing after the kids all day, the sexiest thing I can think of is a nap." Shelley's the third woman this week to tell me about her longing for a nap! Sometimes it looks to me like there are hundreds of married women who would be just as happy to skip out on sex indefinitely. Or would they? The Rutgers University National Marriage Project did a study that found that wives who are happy with their sexual relationships have a 39% greater chance of being happily married. For men the difference is 38%. Not much of a difference and probably not what you'd expect.
If you've got that cold and distant feeling (I had that), a diminished interest in what your spouse is saying (check), and maybe a diminished interest in even being with your spouse (I didn't get that far) you need to clear the air. You might feel silly about speaking up. But when you get that dose of caring that you need, your feelings thaw and you feel a rush of closeness that is quite wonderful.
Our instincts often tell us that fighting is the worst thing, but actually letting resentments fester is the number one relationship killer. Resentment can be a very sneaky emotion. Silently, invisibly, it can chip away at your closeness. So, how do you know? How do you know if your every day anger is growing into a dangerous resentment? These benchmarks indicate you've probably got some resentment and you need to speak up. 1. You can't stop thinking about the issue. When you successfully set an issue aside, either you forget about it or it moves to the edges of your consciousness. Maybe your anger pops up now and then, say when something triggers your memory. But you don't feel overwhelmed by it. But if you feel trapped, maybe even controlled by negative thoughts and feelings, then you need to talk. 2. You have a sense of being wronged, whether this is objectively the case or not. As a result, you feel like a victim. You feel a self-righteous anger that feeds on itself. 3. You find your fuse is shorter and shorter every time that comes up.
"We can go for two weeks without having a conversation about anything besides operations," Shari told me. "After school I drive the kids to their activities, we grab dinner and then it's supervise homework and bedtime." To Shari and Craig, their life feels like a runaway train. The best they can do is hold on tight and try not to fall off. But slowing it down so they can take in the scenery feels impossible. Unless something changes, the end of this story will not be a happy one. Time is to your marriage what nutrition is to your health. Nothing else you do can make up for it.
What are the hardest moments for you in your relationship? Is it when your husband seems more in love with his devices than with you? Or when your wife seems to take all your long, hard hours at the office for granted? For me, it would have to be when my husband is unhappy with me, for whatever reason. I like to feel wrapped in a nice, warm blanket of approval and admiration. Would adoration be asking too much? And when I look in his eyes and see something very different, it can be painful. When would that be? When he thinks I’m not really listening to him talk about his work, that’s a big one. We have a ‘mixed marriage,’ remember—software programmer/therapist. I have been accused of organizing my calendar or my grocery shopping in my mind while he tells me about his day. Which is not true. I am trying. The truth is I really like having a partner who works in a completely different field. It broadens my world. But when it comes to operating systems, devices, and the cloud, listening and understanding are not always synonymous. So, I’m sure I do look a little glazed sometimes.