Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

First, it’s all about the sex. Then, you learn you gotta’ get along. Here’s some help on the getting along part.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, March 16, 2012

It’s been said concerning marriage, that folks are attracted to each other because they make each other horny – if for no other reason.

Then, they get married – ’cause they think 0ne another other “hot.” And, that they are. It’s a case of pure, raging hormones. “Estrogen calling testosterone… come in testosterone. Oh… there you are!

The sex comes easy. Then, to stay married, they figure out and learn how to live with each other.

And that requires a whole lotta’ work and forgiveness.

How do we treat one another?

How do we want to be treated?

How do we need to be loved?

Marriage Guide for Busy Couples

By Ellen Wachtel, JD, PhD

Marriages start out tender and loving… but demanding careers and the daily job of running a home and raising children turn too many relationships into cold, methodical business arrangements.

As a marital therapist for more than 25 years, I’ve found that most couples have little time or energy for the complicated “relationship exercises” that are frequently suggested by some therapists. So I’ve developed very simple strategies built on basic truths about what makes love last. These strategies can be integrated easily into everyday life to reverse negative relationship patterns and build on positive ones.

They are effective even if just one spouse starts practicing them.

* Make your spouse feel good about himself/herself — and then your spouse will feel good about you. In strong, loving relationships, couples make ego-boosting comments to each other every day.

* Look for admirable qualities in your partner. It becomes too easy to focus on behavior or habits that you don’t like in your spouse. But with practice, you can teach yourself to find and praise those characteristics that make you feel good. Be specific when you compliment. Details add meaning to your words. “I liked the way you handled the kids’ crankiness by joking about it” resonates more than just remarking on your spouse’s sense of humor.

* Be emotionally generous. Encouraging your spouse to take part in a favorite activity — even if it means he will spend time away from you — will make him feel loved instead of guilty.

* Warm your partner’s heart. In many busy marriages, expressions of caring stop. We get lazy or think these expressions won’t have much significance. But loving gestures don’t have to be extravagant. Small but steady displays are more realistic — and often more meaningful.

* Treat vulnerabilities as opportunities to be loving. You and your spouse have weak points. Use them as opportunities to be kind and understanding. Example: Your spouse assumes too much responsibility at work, which cuts into family time. Instead of becoming angry and voicing resentment, recognize all that your spouse accomplishes. Then sympathetically encourage your spouse to look for ways to reduce the workload or delegate more to coworkers.

* Accommodate your spouse’s sensitivities. Adapting to emotional sore spots need not be complicated. Example: One couple — an outgoing husband and a quieter wife who felt ignored in social situations — used secret signals. When talking to others, the man would touch his wife’s arm to show that he hadn’t forgotten her. If she was feeling left out, she would squeeze his hand so that he would bring her into the conversation.

* Share tender, caring gestures. These could include a quick “Hi, how are you doing?” through E-mail, instant messaging or phone call… preparing a favorite meal… or helping to search for a missing item. All are nurturing and supportive. And what was once considered exclusively gentlemanly behavior — helping with packages or a coat — can be done for men and will be appreciated.

* Offer praise rather than criticism. Criticism erodes love and rarely results in the kind of change that you’re hoping to achieve. By contrast, praise always encourages cooperation.

* Notice small steps in the right direction. When you want your spouse to behave in a specific way or to remember to take care of a chore, express your appreciation when he tries. While it’s tempting to say, “I wish you would do more around the house,” tagging on a criticism overshadows your praise. If your spouse doesn’t try at all, ask yourself whether it’s worth fighting over or it’s just easier for you to do it. If that’s unacceptable or impossible, wait until a time when you can express your complaint without becoming angry or condescending.

* Think before you carp. When you feel the urge to criticize, ask yourself, “Is what I’m about to say really going to have a positive impact?” Then speak carefully, not hurtfully. A spouse’s hurtful intent can cut every bit as deeply as harsh words. Try not to revisit old mistakes. Digging up the past is often the basis for even bigger and more painful arguments.

* Being attractive counts. “Attractiveness” is more than sexy underwear or strong muscles. Attractiveness is remaining thoughtful, engaging and interested in your spouse.

* Be considerate. Feeling comfortable with your spouse is great. But that comfort level can also cause couples to intrude on each other’s space or to take each other for granted. Show your spouse the same courtesy that you would extend to a friend. Give warm greetings after an absence… refrain from routinely unloading anger or frustration… pay attention when your spouse talks, or else explain why you’re unable to give your spouse your full attention at that time.

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Ed. note: Periodically, I receive items like these in email, and enjoy sharing them.

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