Knight Ridder News
Marriage has new challenges each day.
Here are some strategies that might save your marriage:
Step into your spouse's shoes. "Empathy helps you experience your spouse in another way," says Bryan Robinson, a marriage and family therapist. Think about what it's like being married to you - living with you day in and day out. Are you a perfect prize package?
"When both partners do this, "it changes the negative chemistry," he says.
Listen. Some people become so engrossed in arguing their point they don't hear what their partners are saying.
"Unless you can understand how the other person sees a problem, you can't find common ground," says Joe Parisi, a director of psychological and behavioral medicine.
Revise your expectations. We grow up learning certain values - keeping a clean house, or saving for a rainy day, for instance - and we assume our partners place the same importance on those values. But they grew up in different households, with different values.
"Expectations are premeditated resentment," Robinson says. Time to compromise.
Compromise. Too often, spouses enter conflicts with a win-lose mentality, Parisi says. If one person wins and one loses, both have lost. "If there's a conflict, you need to find common ground that respects the needs of both people," he says.
Take time to have fun with each other. We know, we know. You've got jobs, kids, errands, schedules. No excuse. Have a date night once a week.
"Marriage is like a plant," Robinson says. "If you put it in the corner and walk away, if you come back in a month, you'll have a withered plant."
Here are some things that experts recommend that you never say in an argument:
"This is just like the time last year when you …." Reeling off past transgressions means you never forget, or forgive.
"My mother always said you'd never amount to anything." Third-party criticism is inflammatory and destructive to any peace process.
"And you're a lousy lover, too." Demeaning, hostile or sarcastic remarks will cast a shadow on your relationship long after the argument.
"I want a separation (or divorce.)" Threatening to abandon the marriage tells your mate you don't think he or the marriage is important.
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