Marriage Advice

SMART START – New Year’s resolutions specifically for your marriage. . .

It is the time of year when many of us have made New Year’s resolutions. The most popular include things like losing weight or getting fit, getting the finances in order, organizing our life, an effort to quit smoking and reduce or stop drinking and even try to have more fun. I even read that fifty-percent of Americans say their New Year’s resolution is to spend more time with family and friends.

But what about a New Year’s resolutions specifically for your marriage?

Half of marriages end in divorce. Research has found that only half of those who stay married actually carry the moniker of “happily married.”  So, this year, make a resolution to prioritize your marriage. Couples that invest in their marriages have more satisfying, pleasurable interactions with each other because great marriages do not just happen. It’s time we all make some New Year’s resolutions together and focus on our relationships.

When you think about resolutions, you can’t get any better than strengthening your marriage.

Step one is to sit down with your spouse, grab a pen and paper, a glass of wine or cup of tea-this exercise is supposed to be relaxed and enjoyable-and brainstorm together some New Year’s resolutions for your marriage.

  1. Start with the positives. What do you both like and appreciate about your relationship? How can you enhance and highlight the positives?

Spending time alone together is essential for your relationship health. Commit to a monthly or weekly date night. If you have children, brainstorm about childcare. Besides hiring babysitters, you may be able to trade play dates or sleepovers with family or friends. Do not be complacent. Make a commitment or resolutions to have date nights in 2012. No more excuses!

If your romantic and passionate life used to be positive, but now has been neglected, pay more attention. Research by Barry McCarthy has found that if you are both happy enough with your sex life, it only accounts for 15 percent of marital satisfaction. However, if either of you is unhappy with your sex life, it can account for 85 percent of marital satisfaction. Commit to prioritizing your sex life. Set aside time for sex dates, read some fun sex self-help books together and commit to being more affectionate and passionate in 2012.

When you were first together as a dating couple, you likely had new, fun and interesting experiences together. Commit to trying some new activities, hobbies or outings together in the New Year.

   2. Remove the barriers. What gets in the way of marital satisfaction?

How do you handle conflict? Remember that conflict is inevitable in a marriage. Do not avoid conflict, but find productive ways to deal with differences. Are either of you guilty of using criticism, contempt, stonewalling or defensiveness? If so, how about a New Year’s resolution to eliminate these hostile interactions that are predictive of divorce?

Is work or technology interfering with prioritizing time together?  If either of you has a hard time with the work/life balance or relies too heavily on technology, social media, TV or video games, you might take a look at this issue together. How about setting some mutual agreements? Amazingly, 70 percent of families are now reporting using phones, computers or watching TV during meal times together. How about a resolution to have technology-free meals and technology-free evenings during your weeknights?

Some people like their in-laws. Some of us win the lottery, and get on with our significant other’s family just as well (if not better) than we get along with our own. For everyone else, though, getting along with the in-laws can be tough. In some cases it can be downright Herculean. If you’re not one of the blessed few who have common ground with your in-laws, then you should keep this list of tips in mind. Especially around the holidays.

5 Tips For Dealing With The In-Laws

Tip #1: Set Boundaries

This can be awkward, but sometimes the best thing to do is to sit down with your in-laws, and talk about your boundaries for you, your significant other, and any children you have. Be reasonable, and keep things light, but make sure you communicate clearly what you expect, and what you need from your in-laws. This might lead to some head-butting, especially if you have grandparents who want to spoil your little ones, but it’s also the best way to get results. Remember, you’re all adults here, and you should be able to solve things just by talking them out among yourselves.

Ideally, anyway.

Tip #2: Take Time For Yourself

If you get along well with your in-laws, then being with them might feel refreshing. Just like spending time with good friends. However, if you have to stay on your guard all the time, that can quickly sap your strength. Remember to take a break, and to catch your breath. When you feel your reserves getting low, it might be time to take a nap, go run some errands, or get lunch with some friends. Whatever you do, make sure it will relax you. The key to making sure you can deal with your in-laws is to never let the pressure get higher than you can take. That’s how fights start.

Tip #3: Prepare

An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure, or so the old saying goes. When it comes to dealing with your in-laws, this is astonishingly true.

You know them. You know what causes arguments, and you know what smooths things over. So, before you spend any time with them, do some preparation. Maybe that means planning a family meal so you can all spend the evening together to start off the get-together on a high note. Maybe it means taking a day or so for yourself so you’ll be ready to handle the pressure of spending time with this part of your family. Think of it like stretching before a workout; you’re less likely to hurt yourself if you go in prepared for what’s coming.

Tip #4: Make Sure You And Your Spouse Are On The Same Page

Coping with your in-laws can be hard. Coping with them alone can be an impossible task. So make sure you sit down with your significant other, and talk about what you need from them. Don’t make it about you versus your in-laws, because that can lead to hurt feelings all around. Instead, make sure your spouse knows what you need from them, and that you both agree on how to handle certain situations. You need to be a collaborative unit, instead of working separately.

Tip #5: Don’t Take Them Personally

Your in-laws are just people. Sometimes their comments, habits, or way of being might be abrasive, or exhausting, but you need to ask when it’s being directed at you, personally, and when it’s just how they are. Because a lot of the time, it may have nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them. And if it’s their problem, you shouldn’t stress yourself by making it your problem.

Communication and Relationships: Communication Is The Key To A Healthy Sex Life

Concept of gossip or love. Female lips speak in the ear. Flat design, vector illustration.

You know that feeling on Christmas morning, when you’re sitting down near the tree, and you’re excited because you’re pretty sure your special someone got you just what you wanted? But then, as the day goes on, you realize that they didn’t. Instead, they got you something that was very thoughtful, and a little insightful, but it wasn’t really what you had your heart set on.

That feeling? That mix of bittersweet and disappointment that you feel sort of bad for having, but still can’t shake off? There’s no reason you should feel like that in your sex life. If you find that sensation creeping in, there’s a sure-fire way to do away with it. It isn’t a huge secret, but it can take time to get used to it.

Tell Them What You Want… It’s As Simple As That

The reason you don’t get the gift you want, more often than not, is a lack of communication. Maybe you think you were being clear, but if you’re dropping hints hoping your significant other will follow the trail of breadcrumbs, there’s no guarantee they’ll reach the conclusion you wanted them to. If you want them to get to the right place, you need to post clear signs, and draw them a map.

Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to your sex life.

The problem is that a lot of us are embarrassed to talk about sex, or about what we want from sex. We think that if it isn’t spontaneous, and that if it isn’t born out of in-the-moment passion that it’s somehow not as genuine, or that it shouldn’t be as good. That thing where two people intimately know each other’s wants, though? That happens in one of two ways. The first is that you’re the protagonist in a romance novel, and the writer wants to make your love life seem perfect and magical. The second is that you and your partner have been together for a long time, and you’ve explored each other’s needs, grown together, and discovered all those red buttons and secret wants.

There is no shortcut to a great sex life, but you can speed up the process by not playing coy when it comes time to retire to the bedroom (or the living room, or the kitchen, or wherever your preferred place happens to be). You just need to take a deep breath, sit down with your partner, and be open with them about what you need from them.

You Might Find Buried Treasure, If You Start Digging

Open, honest communication is scary. Even if you love your partner, and you trust them, you are leaving a very private part of yourself exposed. But if you can’t be truly naked when it comes to your sex life, then when would there be a more appropriate time?

You’ll find something else happens when you’re direct, open, and honest with your partner, too. You end up learning that what you want might not really be all that hard to provide. Whether it’s how you like to be touched, what your fantasies are, or what things you’d really prefer your partner stop doing, you’re going to find those barriers that felt insurmountable are really just smoke and mirrors.

Because trying to figure out your partner’s sexual wants is a lot like being a safe cracker. If you’ve got a good ear, the right tools, and a lot of experience, you can tell when the tumblers have dropped, and you’ve gotten inside. But since you want your partner to get in, not giving them the combination in the first place isn’t really helping anyone.

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