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3 Tips for a Happy Marriage – Part 2

January 7th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments
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marriageYesterday in my post called, “3 Tips for a Happy Marriage – Part 1”, I wrote that men and Women communicate differently. Those of you that have been married for any length of time probably said, “well, duh, Nan”. Even though most of us realize this fact, not as many have a handle on this phenomena.

A woman can be more subtle than her man. She expects him to pick up on her hints, such as, “Do you think it’s cold in here?” Men, often times, don’t get it. His response to her “perfectly clear hint” would be “yes, it is cold in here”, but never realize this is a clue for him to get up and turn the heat up.

This leaves frustration from the woman because she feels she is clearly communicating her needs. The man is frustrated because he isn’t picking up on her subtleties and can’t understand why she is frustrated. A man’s response is often, “why can’t she just say what she wants…if she wants the heat turned up she should say, please turn up the heat, I’m cold.” That may be what a man feels he needs to hear, but that is not always the way women communicate.

A good book for understanding communication issues between men and women is the old stand by, “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex by John Gray. This is a very good book which outlines the communication issues, among other things, that separate men and women. My mother-in-law, who recommended the book to me, read the book and highlighted the important parts and gave it to my father-in-law to read. That worked great. He appreciated the “cliff notes”. They both learned a lot about communicating with each other.

Here are a 3 more tips, today, that I believed strengthen our marriage.  Remember, I am not a trained or certified marriage counselor.  I am only giving you tips that worked for us.

1. Don’t take it personally. Many times, we get caught up in over-sensitivity. Our spouse could have had a hard day at work or many other assorted challenges in their day. If we take their mood personally it can be devastating. Early in my married life, I was over-sensitive. My husband could easily take off on a rant (learned behavior from his childhood). I would get my feelings hurt because I felt that his rant was directed at me (learned behavior from my childhood). Even when I knew, good and well, it had nothing to do with me, I could make it about me. As we continued to learn how to communicate how we each felt, he ranted less (because he knew that upset me) and I grew thicker skin. Does that mean he doesn’t rant any more? No, I just don’t take it personally any more.

2. If it is at all possible, express one’s feelings without anger. This can be a challenging one. It is easy to get angry and fly off into an angry rant and hurt the other person. Sometimes, removing oneself from the immediate emotional situation can help. “I’ll be back when I can discuss this without anger”. Then go somewhere to cool off. It is never wise to go somewhere and talk about the situation with “a friend”. Friends have long memories and can bring up things best forgotten. It is, also, very hurtful to your spouse to discuss these topics with others. Never say to friends and family members things about your spouse that you wouldn’t say in front of your spouse. 

If discussing the situation without anger is not possible than stick to the topic. Many people, when they fight, start bringing up all kinds of past grievances. This is very unproductive and foolish! Let the past grievances stay in the past and only discuss the current thing. It is best to make an effort even in anger to not say personally demeaning things to hurt the other person. Disagreements will be more productive this way. My father-in-law motto was always, “keep your words sweet, you never know when you might have to eat them!”

Here’s a link to article about constructive fighting in marriage.

3. It is unrealistic to believe that once you are married you are going to change them. It doesn’t happen. If you can’t accept the things they do before marriage it is best not to wed. The big things that bug you before marriage will become even bigger once you say, “I do”.

If you find yourself “wishing you hadn’t married”, try this exercise. Day one, pick one thing about your spouse that you like. Write it down. The next day, read what you wrote and add one more thing that you like about your spouse. Day three, reread what you wrote the two previous days and add one more thing. Keep doing this for 10 days in a row. In the beginning of this exercise you may struggle with finding that “one thing”. But, if you are persistent and continue, at the end of the 10 days, you might be surprised at how different your attitude is about your spouse. What you choose to focus on will grow, either good or bad.

I found this excellent quote the other day when I was surfing the net on this topic. “Marriage is not a contract, but instead it is a covenant. You can’t keep score and expect your marriage to flourish.”

If you gleaned something of importance from this blog post, feel free to pass it along!

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