7 Ways to Make Your Marriage Work
You are overly excited to finally going out on a date night; your heels are on, hairs are shiny and the baby is tucked in in bed, fast asleep. You are secretly dead tired and you wish you could just lay down in bed and sleep, but hey! It’s date night and it doesn’t happen that often lately. The babysitter is cheerfully smiling in the other room, choosing which movie to watch from Netflix, and your hubby is ready with shoes on, and car key in one hand.
A few minutes later you are driving and you are sharing your latest news, and all of a sudden your partner says something like “Hey look, they have closed down that (random) shop”.
You don’t feel heard; was he listening? You ask yourself.
You wait for him to resume the conversation, but he sits silently as if nothing has happened. You are about to burst and yell “Why do you NEVER listen to what I’m saying?”
“What the hell are you talking about?” he looks at you startled, in disbelief.
And it’s war!
Although the only thing you see is happy couples playing at the park with kids, research shows that first-time parents argue on average 40% more after their child is born. The reasons behind it are lack of sleep, money, sex, and plain and simple communication issues.
Having the clarity of mind to avoid an argument is really difficult, especially when you are dead tired and you are really keen to pick up a fight.
Long term, there are some ground rules that need to be put in place so the fights become less fiery and fewer in between.
Talk to each other in a meaningful way. First of all, it is important to be willing to communicate. Lots of people don’t feel heard, but they still don’t take the extra step to work on their relationship. Being together and staying together takes time and effort. It is so easy to only focus on the negative aspects of your partner, but the blaming game won’t take you anywhere. If you don’t want to end up discussing separation or divorce, open the communication’s gate and your ears. You need to start by listening to what the other person has to say. Also, enough with the “You made me feel unworthy”. Start taking responsibilities, as you are in charge of your feelings. A better way of expressing your disappointment is “When you say (add what he said) I feel less worthy, and I would really appreciate if we could work on this together”.
Stop the name calling. Jerk, idiot, stupid…you know which kind of terms you are using. Would you like to be called that way? Every time you are on the verge of acting ugly, ask yourself:
“Is this going to serve us? “
“Is this conversation going to be productive?”.
If you answer NO to one of the above points, you may need to start working on your language and start working on your conversation skills.
Buffer time. Picture this: you walk through the door after a long day at work and your partner and kids jump on to you with different needs. Your kids will definitely demand a hug and they will more likely wanna show you something super important and straight away. Your partner will project his frustration and will throw you a list of things that need to be done, and disappear in the shower.
How would you like that?
Buffer time is important for men, as much it is for women.
It means giving enough space to the person that comes back from work to relax and slow down, before being asked to do anything, even speaking or sharing the day.
I must admit I have made this mistake for the longest time; especially when Luna was small and crying a lot, I couldn’t wait for my husband to come back home so I could “dump “ her in his arms and disappear for an hour or so. It didn’t serve us, and I was too focused on what I needed instead of what our family needed.
Giving time and space to your partner when he/she comes back home is extremely important; nerve-wracking at the time, but very beneficial in the long term. Truth is that if you don’t put a buffer time in place (and this works both ways), the childfree partner will start inventing excuses to come home later and later.
Don’t tell the other person what to do. Do you like being told what to d? I personally hate it and I can feel a big resistance when someone corners me. You are more than welcome to give advice and suggestions, but avoid the “must have to”. To give you an example, you can say that going on holiday in Bali would be much easier than road tripping with a baby under 6 months of age, and it sounds very different from feeling obliged to go to Bali because “there is no way we are going camping”. You know what I’m saying?
Share the tasks and be flexible. When life is busy, it is important to know the things that need to be taken care of. Shouting “go and buy milk” isn’t a productive way to share the load and grow together without the frustration. Some couples thrive on scheduling activities and chores that need to be done on a weekly basis; other couples like playing it by ear, also if checking with each other on a weekly or day to day basis. Tune in with your couple needs and work out your own way of doing things. After many trials and errors, my husband and I have realised that he “hates” organising the babysitter and date nights, medical check-ups, holidays, etc., as much as I can’t stand doing anything rubbish and car related. Work out the strengths and weaknesses of your couple, and build the foundations from there.
Remember the whys. There are so many reasons to be in a relationship; have you found out your whys? Are you afraid to be alone, or do you want to be part of a supportive team? Are you running away from fear, or are you embracing growth and compromise?
Next time, before talking, understand if your way of relating to your partner is serving you as a couple and if it identifies with your whys.
Love, love, love. If you are reading this article, chances are that you are in a relationship and you are going through a rocky patch, or you want to prevent future fights (kudos). Either way, you are sharing your life with another human being, and all we really want is feeling accepted and loved. If you want to get love, don’t be afraid to give it.
Cuddles, hugs, kisses, sex, kind words, understanding looks. You choose what works for the two of you, and also….remember that the kids are watching and learning.