Over the past year, I’ve covered a lot of advice
about keeping your marriage strong even when life is busy and stressful. Some
of my marriage advice has delved into tough topics. In other articles, I’ve
aimed more to provide inspiration for improving your relationship.
If you’ve missed any of my marriage articles from
2019, you can catch up by reading this roundup of the year’s most popular
Both of these articles were about the most serious juncture you can experience in a marriage: whether to continue it. In the first article, I looked at whether you should leave a partner who cheated. Of course, there’s no single right answer about whether you should stay with or leave a cheating spouse. But in this article, you’ll find a list of questions that can help you make the right decision for you if you’re ever in this painful situation.
The second article can help you figure out whether
your marriage is irretrievably broken or whether it can be saved. Again,
everyone’s situation is different. But whatever your decision is, this article
can help you be at peace with it.
It isn’t just women who are seeking some distance in
relationships. That’s demonstrated by another one of my most popular marriage
articles from last year. “I need some space” can be an alarming thing
to hear from your husband. And you might spend a lot of time wondering what he
really means by that statement. But, as I explain in the article, there can be
any number of reasons behind your husband’s need for space, and it’s usually not a red flag in your
If anything, political divisions in our country have
only gotten deeper since the first article was published. So I have the feeling
it will remain relevant for a long time to come! If you haven’t read the
article yet, I offer some tips to keep your marriage from feeling like one of
those cable news shows where ideological rivals just keep shouting over each
And if your husband seemingly loves to pick fights
about politics or other subjects, you’ll want to check out the second article
as well. In it, you’ll find some tips to help you decode what his argumentative
behavior is really about.
But you weren’t just thinking about disagreements in
your marriage in 2019. You were also looking for ways to make the most of your
time together. To that end, I went below the surface of a familiar piece of
marriage advice: Have regular date nights. Unfortunately, that advice can do
more harm than good if it becomes just another area where you are putting pressure
on yourself to do things perfectly. As I wrote in the original article:
“The point of having a date night isn’t to do something you can brag about
on Instagram. It’s to connect with each other.”
Speaking of pressure, these next two articles speak
to some feelings and issues that emerge because of all the responsibilities and
expectations on us as women.
If your husband has said you are controlling, or if this is something you’ve noticed about yourself, I’m willing to bet it’s because you have so much on your plate, and sometimes it feels like your husband is slowing down your efforts to get all those things done. The best way forward is to have an open and honest discussion about household responsibilities — chores, childcare, emotional labor — and how the two of you can divide things more equitably.
Meanwhile, anger is an emotion we are often
uncomfortable with as women. We may worry that anger makes us a bad person or
believe that we shouldn’t get angry at all. When you can’t process anger in a
healthy way, that can lead to destructive behaviors in your marriage, like
complaining or withdrawing. But when you listen to your anger, it can guide you
toward positive change in your marriage.
In the 26 years she was married to her husband, Mike Nichols, Diane Sawyer learned plenty of lessons about love, relationships and marriage — but there’s only one she calls “genius.” Before Nichols passed away from a heart attack late last year, Sawyer appeared on “Oprah’s Master Class” and opened up about some of the best marriage advice she’d ever heard.
Sawyer doesn’t like to make sweeping statements about the sole recipe for a good marriage — because “every marriage is a foreign land,” she says — but the veteran journalist does believe that the marriage advice she learned on the job years ago can truly bolster even the strongest relationships.
“I learned something great on one of the stories I did,” she says. “Someone said to me… ‘A criticism is just a really bad way of making a request. So why don’t you just make the request? Why don’t you just say, Could we work out this thing that makes me feel this way?‘”
This simple statement had quite the impact on Sawyer. “I thought, ‘That’s genius!'” she says.
Great article by Thomas G. Fiffer, Executive Editor of GoodMenProject.com, an awesome website for strong men. Pay close attention to his warnings about the dangers of working on your relationship without a clear road map.
Most of us try hard in our intimate relationships. We work at them. We want our partners to be happy and the benefits that come with that. And when we’ve found something—and someone—good, we don’t want to lose it and have to start over. So we soldier on. We struggle on the uphills, hoping to rest on the next plateau. We muddle through the dark periods until, often inexplicably, the light shines again. And we pat ourselves on the back for trying so hard, while often silently resenting our partner for not trying hard enough, for not meeting us at least halfway. “If only he or she would … ” At least, that’s the way we see it; that’s the narrative we convince ourselves is truth. But what’s really happening is something different. What’s really happening is we’re the ones fucking up. Consider this:
Most relationships don’t suffer and break down from lack of effort; they suffer and break down from misdirected effort.
Most relationships don’t disintegrate from either partner’s bad intentions; they disintegrate from good intentions that bring bad outcomes.
And most relationships don’t end because the partners have grown apart; they end because one or both partners perceives the distance between them as insurmountable.
Happy 2015! As the new year begins, we’re all thinking a lot about our goals and wishes for the next 12 months. Perhaps one of your New Year’s resolutions is strengthening your marriage. So how do you break a big goal like that into actions you can take every day? Pick one or more of the ideas from the following list to turn into habits for 2015.
Prioritize couple time. Work, family and the other myriad demands of daily life can easily crowd out your time for each other. But consider this: The stronger your bond with your husband, the more likely it is that the two of you will work as a team to face life’s hardships . Care for your relationship, and it will make your life easier.
But don’t forget ‘you’ time. While you need times of deep connection with your husband, you also need some breathing room. Make time for the things that you love — the things that make you you. You’ll come back to the relationship a much happier and more intriguing partner.
Reign in the disrespect. If you tend to be snarky, sarcastic, or roll your eyes when you’re unhappy with your husband, resolve to change your habits this year. Never shame, humiliate or show contempt toward your partner because you’ll eventually destroy the relationship.
Show your love. Research shows that the happiest couples have a lot of positive interactions that make it clear they value and deeply care for each other — specifically, 20 positive interactions for every negative one. Need to bring up you numbers? Express appreciation, give compliments and even work on greeting each other warmly. It all counts!
Give generously to the relationship. Do you find yourself “keeping score” on how each of you contributes in your relationship? This can keep you mired in resentment and hold you back from making positive changes. Granted, no one likes that “Do I have to do everything?” feeling. But in the long run, you’ll be happier knowing you are definitely doing your part to keep your relationship healthy.
Protect your marriage from stress. Make no mistake: The stressful, demanding times we live in affect your relationship. Researchers Lisa Neff and Benjamin Karney found that couples exposed to high stress for extended periods tend to be much more reactive to the normal ups and downs of relationships. To ease stress, take care of your basic needs (getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food), ease up on your expectations for yourself, and take concrete steps to decrease the pressure.
Listen up. Learning to listen deeply is one of the best ways to deepen your connection and sweeten your life together. This kind of listening means you must be present, so turn off your phone, put away the to do list , and make real human contact for a few moments. When you tune into each other in this way and then listen with an open mind and heart, you’ll uproot the feelings of loneliness and rejection that cause problems in many relationships.
Just ask. Sometimes we hesitate to ask for what we need, figuring our husbands “should” know. Or we end up expressing our needs in complaints. It’s a lot more effective to ask instead of complaining or silently stewing, so resolve to be more direct this year.
Correct your relationship vision. It’s not your imagination — it’s challenging to keep a long-term relationship vibrant and interesting. Our brains love novelty, so it’s easy to take the person you’ve been married to many years for granted. Because your partner is so familiar, you literally can’t see all of who he is any more. To make matters worse, because our minds tend to focus on the negative, it’s easy to get locked into only seeing the many ways in which he irritates you. So, resolve to make it a habit to periodically step back and really look at your husband. See if you can learn something new about him, and notice all his qualities, not just the annoying ones. Hopefully, you’ll be able to clearly see why you married him in the first place.
Work on acceptance. Remember that you are two imperfect people probably doing the best you can in this relationship. Don’t get caught in the trap of trying to fix or change your partner to make him the perfect husband. Everyone has shortcomings. So, resolve to accept (and maybe even love) his imperfections, and you’ll keep your marriage on solid ground.