Last week author Belinda Luscombe revealed how each wife can overlook her husband weaknesses to fall in love with again him. Now, in part 2 of the series, she tells how you can make your own relationship lasts a lifetime.
Ask a woman in a long marriage – I have been talking for a few decades – the secret of her success and she will probably make a joke because it claims that she and her husband never demanded divorce on the same day.
That may seem a bit worthwhile, but there is wisdom behind it. Research has shown that marriages often become happier over time – not because those who live in them solve all their problems, but because they age.
This does not only mean grinning and wearing, although a bit of it is sometimes required. You just have to actively try not to give up, even if that seems like a tempting option.
Belinda Luscombe who has extensively researched the marriage and spent the last 28 years in a marriage, advised on extending love (file image)
The truth is that soul mates are not a thing – or at least not something that you can find realistic, as you might find the perfect little black dress. That does not mean that a couple cannot become soul mates over time. But to attain that state of marital utopia, you must first of all avoid divorce.
Over the years, both as a journalist who has extensively investigated marriage and as someone who has spent the last 28 years in one, I have come to believe that the true secret of marital life accepts a number of fairly unromantic truths: long-term marriages are less than perfect and don't come naturally.
With that in mind, I share some of the tips and insights from relationship experts and psychologists during research for my book, so that you can work with yours as effectively as possible.
People think that marital happiness should be like floating a river without a care in the world. The truth, however, is that someone will soon become bored or restless and decide to let the boat rock. The key to making your last relationship is how you deal with the troubled waters of marriage.
This is where I hope my advice can help. Last week we looked at the six biggest challenges that couples will face: familiarity, fighting, finances, family, hanging out and seeking help. Today we are exploring ways to deal with those red-flagged areas, hoping that you will eventually discover that you really have a soul mate – and you are already married to them. . .
HE IS NOT OUT TO GET YOU
Except in extremely rare circumstances, your partner does not intend to get you. Probably not to annoy you. I know it is sometimes hard to believe this, but if you choose to do that, a relationship can change.
Take my husband, Jeremy, an architect, who always asks, even though I've repeatedly shown him where we keep them, whether we have envelopes. They have occupied the same place on a shelf for decades. Never mind. He still asks: & # 39; Do we have envelopes? & # 39;
Belinda warns that familiarity with marriage can lead to boredom and frustration in destructive areas if handled poorly (file image)
At first glance, it seems like & # 39; n innocent question, and the answer so easy. & # 39; Yes, darling. They are on the shelf by the pens. & # 39;
But what I hear is: & # 39; What I am doing now is vital, even if they are just random franking tasks. On the other hand, it is impossible to do something worthwhile. "And that makes me mad. I love this man. He makes beautiful things – buildings, meals, children – he is handsome, stoic and great in bed. I would be lost without him. Yet this question makes me put stones in my bag wants to stop and walk into the ocean, or throw them at him.
How did this happen? Fame, that's how, a by-product of every marriage. In many ways it is great, like inlay shoes. But badly treated, it can lead to boredom and frustration in destructive territory.
For me they are envelopes; for you it will be another little annoying. But the solution remains the same: you must ensure that you do not attribute bad intentions to your partner's actions.
So I chose to find this eternal research amusing and accept that some people just live in a world without stationery. His inability to recall where we store envelopes is not a reflection of what he thinks of me. It is a reflection of what he thinks of envelopes.
Where once this peculiarity drove me crazy, now I almost think of it with affection – like the birthmark on his chin, a harmless blemish.
The marriage expert says that during battles it is important to work towards a file rather than a winner (file image)
Regardless of how inexorable it sounds, marriage is all about fighting. If you can't figure out how to argue healthily, you can't figure out how to get married. Of course, people who love each other should be able to give and take. But you inevitably encounter situations where your positions are directly opposite each other, without clear room for compromise.
The way you handle these discrepancies – from small tiffs to huge & # 39; get half the money from the hassle of your common account & # 39; – can make or break you.
So fight well. A good starting point is to remember that marital fighting requires a truce, not a winner, so fight fairly. Do not be bold about what you want or what you have done. Do not change position to win. Also avoid starting sentences with the dreaded & # 39; you always & # 39; or & # 39; you never & # 39 ;. For example: & # 39; You never put anything away & # 39 ;, or: & # 39; You never want to have sex & # 39 ;.
This is critical, no problem solving, the other making the problem. They are offended or injured and feel less inclined to work with you.
Instead, you approach issues with sentences that begin with & # 39; I & # 39 ;. So, & # 39; I would like it if you could hide your socks & # 39; or & # 39; I miss having sex with you. & # 39; Both are more likely to lead to dialogue and change.
Therapists also advise that conciseness is an important virtue. So, get in, make your point, go away. And then, hopefully, you can keep moving forward.
CARVING UP FINANCES
Belinda revealed that for many couples a little financial independence is seen as a romantic option (file image)
Money is a perpetual flash point and that is why I asked more than 150 couples how they divided their income and expenses and received dozens of permutations from three main answers. Many merged sources with a joint bank account, while others preferred to keep all accounts separate while distributing expenses.
What seems to be the best approach to marital harmony is yours, mine and ours. The majority of each salary goes to a joint account that covers the household expenses, with a lower percentage being deposited into each partner's account to do what they want.
As long as those percentages are agreed and observed, no one should criticize the choices of the other, even if they seem stupid. A similar approach helps to smooth out different spending patterns between me and my husband.
I buy my clothes back at second-hand stores and lots. He will buy a crazy expensive Helmut Lang overcoat without blinking. But even if he wants to spend his share of our cash on rainbow stickers, I have no criticism as long as all family needs are met.
For many couples, a little financial independence is actually the more romantic option. & # 39; With one account, giving gifts to the husband feels a little less & # 39 ;, a long-term married person told me. & # 39; It is more sacrificing and generous to buy a gift with money reserved for you. & # 39;
Belinda warns that it is a bad idea to always give the children priority over your partner, as they soon become teenagers and leave the house (file image)
Therapists love the three-way system because it reflects what a healthy marriage would look like.
& # 39; It reflects the fundamental nature of engagement when engagement is healthy & # 39 ;, says Scott Stanley research project. & # 39; There is a & # 39; us & # 39; and there is an & # 39; me and you & # 39 ;. And & # 39; you & # 39; do not have to disappear to & # 39; let us exist & # 39; & # 39;
KEEP THE KIDS NO MORE THAN HIM
In these days of child-oriented parenting, it is easy to believe that unless your child's needs and wants come first, you fail. Interestingly enough, a survey of 40,000 households in 2014 showed that adolescents were happiest when their mother was happy with her husband.
It is really a bad idea to always give the children priority over your partner. First, children quickly become teenagers and want to do very little with you. Then they leave. Second, studies strongly suggest that children whose parents love each other are much happier and safer. They have a model of what a good relationship looks like and how people should treat each other.
So one of the best things you can do for your children is the love of your partner.
It is of course tempting, especially when things are not going well, to choose a standard for your children. We are almost biologically programmed to do it.
But we chose to love our husbands. And we must continue to choose to do that.
The marriage expert says it helps to remember that the children are not the reason why you came together (file image)
It helps to remember that the children are not the reason why you are together – they are more of an absorbing joint project, such as a three-dimensional, mobile puzzle that plays back and leaves its underwear in the bathroom. And sometimes with this kind of partnership you have to attract your teammate – maybe a vacation without children together, or even just a breakfast.
HAVE A WRITTEN SEX LIFE
Sex is good for us – researchers have found that people with regular orgasms have less stress and lower rates of heart disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer and endometriosis. It is also very nice. And yet sex is one of the most important sources of pain, alienation and bewilderment within couples.
That's usually when it doesn't happen – which often comes down to life that's getting in the way, where sex is no longer considered a priority.
Therapists acknowledge that it seems artificial to have reserved a specific night for sex, and many people are resistant to this idea. But when things get hectic or children devour your energy, it can be spontaneously out of reach.
& # 39; What else do you do in your life that is valuable to you that is not planned? & # 39; Asks Canadian sex researcher Lori Brotto. & # 39; Really nothing. When you plan sex and talk about it, it opens up fantasy and anticipation, and you actually think of the factors that give rise to a pleasant sexual encounter. & # 39;
If you have a small flag fluttering in your mental calendar, you can reduce the tension or sex will ever happen again. It can also reduce the fear of rejection or confusion if you both know what is planned.
Belinda believes that having a mental calendar can reduce the tension around sex and the fear of rejection (file image)
Then, if sex becomes impossible that night, at least you can talk about it and know why. Some counselors also advise you to enter a small sign that you may want sex: a stone in a pot or a certain coffee cup at breakfast, that is a secret signal between you two.
What do large companies do when their company starts to become pear-shaped? They call in consultants. They pay through the nose for an objective, expert third party to give advice. But married couples, with so much on the line, often do not seek outside help until it is too late. Relationship researcher Dr. John Gottman estimates that couples wait on average six years before they ask for help.
Yes, therapy can be expensive, so approach it wisely. After you have consulted friends and / or the internet for recommendations, call a few confidants and see how they respond to your concerns. If you have a specific problem – money, parenting or sex – try to find someone who specializes in it.
And do not forget that it is unlikely that it is as expensive as lawyers in an angry divorce.
If you are in a marriage with a high conflict, splitting may be best for you. Nevertheless, therapy can help you in the least harmful way.
For my own part, almost a decade after I peeked into the gap of what life could be without my husband, I love him more than ever. We did not start as soul mates – but after a certain amount of grinding teeth by both of us, that is what we have become.
Three steps to solve every problem
Terrence Real, author of three bestsellers about marriage, developed a three-step technique to address a problem with a partner.
1. First ask your partner if he or she is willing to listen, and remind yourself that you love this person.
2. Now tell your partner four things: a. What you saw or heard that you found problematic. Don't say & # 39; this is what you did & # 39 ;.
b. What you started to believe as a result of what you saw. You say literally: & # 39; What I made up about that is. . . & # 39; Talk about your impressions without making assumptions.
c. How you think about it.
d. How you would like it next time.
3. Finally, release the result. Whatever happens, thank your partner for listening and continue. Don't increase the fight.
The technique of dr. Real seems alarmingly one-sided – it offers no opportunities for righteous indignation. But it brings us to the most difficult part of good fighting: listening.
Adapted by RACHEL HALLIWELL from Marriageology: The Art and Science of Staying Together by Belinda Luscombe, published by Oneworld on June 6 for £ 11.99. © Belinda Luscombe 2019. To order a copy for £ 9.59 (20 percent discount) call 0844 5710640. Offer valid until June 6, P & P is free for orders over £ 15. Spend £ 30 on books and receive FREE premium delivery.
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