Most Common Marriage Myths

On February 25, 2015, in Keeping The Love Alive, Relationship Problems, by Dr. Dana Fillmore

Let’s not beat around the bush – there’s a LOT of misinformation out there. Incorrect assumptions about marriage have a variety of sources, from old adages and wives’ tales to simple lack of information, from outright mistruths to wishful thinking…

Whatever the source of the confusion may be, it’s time to set the record straight. If we don’t stop these myths in their tracks, we won’t be able to approach marriage realistically – and even more importantly, understanding what’s really “normal” in marriage means knowing what you have to work on, what to worry about, and what to just brush off as a natural part of being a long-term couple.

So, let’s jump right in to it. Here are six common marriage myths – and the reality behind them:

1. With True Love, Passion Never Fades

First of all, this is a faulty idea in the first place… Who’s to say what love is “true” and what love isn’t? Beyond that problematic idea, this myth is simply a matter of an unrealistic viewpoint. Passion – that feeling of wanting to spend every moment pressed against the other person, that feeling that you just can’t get enough of their company – comes with mystery.

That’s not to say that you can’t be passionate about someone you know well, but that unbridled, uncontrollable passion stems largely from “newness” and the excitement that comes with it. The more you get to know someone, the more that passion transforms into deep, intimate love. It’s no less powerful, just different.

If you go into marriage believing this myth, you might panic when that passion starts to fade a little bit. If you know how normal it is, you won’t worry – you’ll do exactly what you need to… Work on it!

Passion may fade with time and familiarity, but that doesn’t mean it disappears completely. If you make an effort to bring some excitement into your relationship, you’ll find that elusive passion a little easier to maintain.

2. Living Together Before Marriage Increases Chances of Divorce

This is just ridiculous, but you might be amazed at the number of people who still hold this myth to be true. It likely stems from olden days, where cohabitation was taboo and marrying a stranger wasn’t totally out of the question…

Research from UNC Greensboro found that whether or not couples lived together before marriage didn’t have much effect on divorce rates, but the age at which they moved in together made all the difference. Moving in at age 18 led to a 60% divorce rate. Waiting until 23 reduced that figure to 30%.
This just goes to show how important maturity is for relationships, and especially for cohabitation. Just a five-year difference cut divorce rates in half!

If anything, it would seem wise to spend time cohabitating before marriage to make sure you can share a space with someone! Every couple is going to be different, of course, but the more maturity you bring to the practical parts of your relationship (like living together), the better you’ll be able to resolve problems and handle any disputes.

Moving in together doesn’t lead to divorce, but immaturity about what it’s like to share a space with another human being… Now that can damage a relationship.

3. Happy Couples Don’t Argue

Spend enough time with someone and eventually you’ll disagree about something. This goes for friends, family, and especially spouses!

Not only do you live in close proximity with your spouse, you also have to make numerous joint decisions together. Whether it’s about the house, finances, kids, household responsibilities, or just what you’re having for dinner, you’re constantly making collaborative decisions about what’s best for both of you. With so many choices to make, disagreement is all but inevitable.

Here are some of the biggest myths involving marriage.

Here are some of the biggest myths involving marriage.

It’s also important to think about this: if you aren’t experiencing any conflict at all, you might not be addressing underlying problems.

Now, arguments don’t necessarily have to be hostile. In fact, discussing disagreements civilly is an excellent skill to develop, and will likely minimize the number of arguments you have…

Even with that said, though, no relationship is 100% perfect, and no two people are going to agree on every little thing every single time. It simply isn’t realistic.

Don’t worry if you and your spouse butt heads a little bit – it’s completely normal. Just make sure that you’re focusing on the issue at hand, and arguing your case respectfully.

4. Half of All Marriages End In Divorce

This bleak and commonly referenced statistic creates some unfair issues for married couples – namely that it leads them to believe that no matter what they do, no matter how hard they work, there’s still a coin toss’s odds that the whole thing will fall apart. It paints marriages as inherently imperfect – that half will fail as a matter of course.

First of all, it simply isn’t true! The numbers come from the 70s, when no-fault divorces first became available and the number of couples splitting up skyrocketed.
Divorce rates have been high in the past (as high as 66% in the 80s), but modern statistics aren’t nearly as hopeless. As of 2009, the divorce rate was 30.8% - not great, but definitely not half of all marriages either!

Some relationships are problematic, and there will always be couples who don’t put in the work to keep their marriages strong (as well the other personal, individual problems that can damage relationships). With the correct stats though, couples can start to understand that it isn’t just a coin toss, that effort pays off, and that your marriage is exactly what you make it – not something decided by fate.

5. Couples With Kids Are Happier

No offense to the parents out there, but the myth that children bring marital bliss isn’t just off base; it’s actually the opposite of the truth!

This doesn’t mean that parental couples can’t have happy, fulfilling marriages, just that actual data points toward married couples without kids as reporting the happiest relationships.

Couples can take away a couple of key lessons from this (somewhat) harsh reality. First, if you don’t have kids, don’t assume that adding members to your family is the key to happiness – parenthood is a big deal, and not a decision that should be made lightly.

Second, for those couples with children, this can serve as a reminder that being a good parent and being a good spouse are not always the same thing. While they are both tremendously important, people often neglect their marriages for the sake of the kids – and this leaves a hole in the quality of the marriage. It may not be that people with children are less happy, just that they don’t put enough energy into keeping their marriages passionate and fulfilling.

6. Married People Have Worse Sex Lives

This couldn’t be further from the truth! People have this image of married couples growing bored with each other the moment they exchange rings, of their sex lives drying up to the point that they become little more than roommates…

But in reality, married couples (of a wide range of ages) have far more satisfying sex lives than singles and even people in unwed relationships. It comes down to intimacy and deep connection. The depth of the connection that married couples share leads to more emotionally charged sexual activity, and that component beyond the physical ultimately leads to more satisfaction.

Married couples are also likely to have sex more frequently, and because of the inherent trust of a strong relationship, more likely to discuss and resolve any issues they may encounter.

Sexless marriage only happens if you let it!

Stop these myths in their tracks! They only serve to build false expectations and inaccurate assumptions about married life, and what it takes to have a healthy, happy, truly satisfying marriage. Don’t let these old stories color your perceptions.

Make your marriage a priority, and build the relationship you want to have, not one based on myths.

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

Check Out Our Video: How To Regain the Love, Rekindle Passion and Save Your Marriage


Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

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There’s a very common misconception out there about sex and aging, particularly that as people get older, their desires fade – and eventually older people stop having sex altogether.

This is totally incorrect!

For many women, life after middle age – and even life after menopause – is when they feel the most sexually empowered. This happens for a range of reasons, some physical and some psychological, and we’ll get into those in a moment. The point is that the misconception about age and sexuality also affects the people who believe it to be true, even if their own bodies tell them otherwise.

Equipped with some of this information, and hopefully inspired to confidence with the knowledge that they are not alone, women over 50 can have the most satisfying sex of their lives!

This isn’t just true for women, of course, but for our purposes today (and because women’s sexuality is often more complex then men’s) we’ll focus our attention there.

Because of changing body chemistry, menopause can certainly cause some complications for many women, from changing desires and emotional ups and downs, to physical symptoms that can cause discomfort and even pain during sex (or just arousal). Fortunately, though, there are solutions to these problems – namely maintaining physical health and maintaining some sexual activity!

Women can have some of the best sex ever after 50!

Women can have some of the best sex ever after 50!

The physical problems that some women experience – between 17% and 45%, according the North American Menopause Society – are largely related to reduced blood flow and deteriorating tissue. When they experience this discomfort, the natural response is, of course, to avoid sex because it doesn’t feel good.

The real solution, however, is to basically have as much sex as you can – or at least engage in sexually stimulating activity. It will help increase blood flow and keep tissue healthy. Avoiding sex can actually make the problems worse as tissue continues to deteriorate. There are also a variety of prescription and over-the-counter products that can help!

Now, aside from these potential hang ups on the physical side of things, the mental and emotional components of a woman’s sex drive (and satisfaction) can actually be at their strongest as she crests middle age. There are a few key reasons for this:

• Freedom – By the time most women reach their 50s or 60s, their kids are grown and out of the house, they may be at a place in their careers that they don’t have to worry too much about finances, maybe they’re even retired or semi-retired…

All of this adds up to more freedom – whether that’s having more of a budget for romantic getaways with a spouse, not worrying about kids coming home and interrupting an afternoon romp, or just fewer responsibilities to stop you from spending a whole weekend in the bedroom…

• Self-Awareness – As we grow older, we tend to shed our insecurities, get more in touch with our own needs and interests, and generally just become more comfortable in our skin. This makes all the difference in terms of sexual satisfaction. When you know yourself and know what you want, you feel that much more empowered to speak up about it, to pursue it, and to do so with poise and confidence.

Emotions are an important part of female sexuality, and the self-awareness that can come with age helps prevent things like anxiety and self-consciousness that can be barriers to sexual satisfaction for many younger women.

Simply being more “grown up” about the whole thing can help women achieve the best sex of their lives!

• Conscious Effort – This goes hand in hand with the other two factors, particularly increased self-awareness and confidence, but these women are also more likely to understand the need to make sex and marriage a priority in their lives. They likely have the relationship experience to understand the work they need to put in to keep their marriages strong – and because they do put in the effort, their marriages (and with it, their sex lives) are that much more satisfying!

As mentioned above, some of the menopausal symptoms that make sex unpleasant can be combatted by making the effort to engage in more sexual activity, including other activities that aren’t necessarily having sex (be it foreplay or any other activity that gets your body working in that way). For those women who feel comfortable in their own skin, and who have built strong, open, communicative marriages, testing these waters doesn’t pose as much of a challenge because of the trust and intimacy they have with their husbands. They have the confidence to identify a problem and take steps to addressing it.

Don’t let misconceptions fool you – a healthy sex life has no age limit, and the physical changes that come aging don’t have to be a barrier to a healthy, happy, satisfying marriage.

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

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Here's the next video in our blog series “Dr. Dana Answers Your Questions.”  

This week’s question is “Can a marriage be saved if only one of us doesn't want a divorce/separation and is the only one willing to work at it to save it?”

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Please comment below the video to ask your own questions or just to let us know what you think.  We’re frequently shooting new videos and will answer the top questions as part of this ongoing series.

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In the first part of this post, we looked at 10 important ways you can help bring the spark back into your marriage. Today, we’re picking up right where we left off with 10 more tips for getting out of a slump, rekindling the passion in your marriage, and making your relationship the best it can be.

Let’s get right to it!

1. Eye Contact

Not only is eye contact during communication an important way of showing your interest, it’s also one of the intimate interactions a couple can share outside of physical contact. Looking into each other’s eyes helps you remain in touch with how your spouse is feeling when speaking to you.

Additionally, several minutes of silent eye contact, according to psychologist Arthur Aron, can be a critical experience in falling in love – even if that’s not the case, it’s still an extremely vulnerable thing to do, and sharing that vulnerability with your spouse helps build connection.

2. Flirt Throughout The Day

As we’ve said in the past, sexual chemistry doesn’t just happen in the bedroom – it happens over the course of the day in your mind, and in the way you interact with each other.

A little bit of flirty behavior goes a long way. From playful kisses in the morning, to a sexy text message in the middle of the day, to anything else that will remind your spouse that you’re attracted to them, that you’re looking forward to your next romp together…

All of this serves to keep desire alive in your mind, and builds up throughout the day so you’re excited to see each other that night!

3. Get Some Exercise (Together If You Can)

A healthy body helps with for self-esteem, personal happiness, mental health, and a whole range of other benefits. In terms of your marriage, getting some exercise helps you feel more confident about the way you look, strengthens your sex drive, and, well… being in better shape likely means you’ll be around longer.

Exercising together – if your schedule permits – is also a great way to build you bond. You can act as each other’s support system, learn to encourage each other through tough times, and keep each other on track with whatever regimen you choose. You’ll also be building trust, admiring each other’s “new” figures, and stimulating your brain’s centers of attraction and romance with physical activity!

…And when the work out is over – you can hit the showers together too!

4. Double Dates

Here are some great ideas to help you fall back in love with your spouse!

Here are some great ideas to help you fall back in love with your spouse!

Not every date has to be just you and your spouse. In fact, spending time with other couples can help your marriage in a couple of interesting ways. First, it gives you a chance to see another couple interacting – which, for better or worse, can help put elements of your own relationship into perspective.

Secondly, because you’re likely going on a double date with your friends, it can also help you see admirable and lovable qualities about your spouse as you see them interact with other people they are close with. It could be a laugh, a gesture of kindness, or anything at all. Seeing your spouse happy, but from a slightly outside perspective, can be a great way to “re-notice” some of your favorite qualities about them.

5. Create Together

It sounds a little “elementary school,” but cooperation and problem solving really do help people grow closer together!

Tackle a project around the house together, plan an event, collaborate on an art project…

Whatever it may be, the point is to put your heads together to come up with solutions, make joints decisions, find compromises, and work toward a common goal.

This activity, and all of the skills it takes to complete, ends up being a great metaphor (and a little training) for your marriage.

6. Be A Pillar Of Support

Your spouse needs to know that you “have their back,” and you should know that they have yours. Not only does having someone “in your corner” lend itself to higher self-esteem, it also reinforces the mentality of seeing your marriage as a team.

When you support each other through good times and bad, you know that you can overcome challenges and face fears, simply because you know that other person is going to be with you every step of the way.

7. Make Date Night About The Marriage

Far too often, couples make date night about the date itself – where you’re going, what you’re wearing, how much it costs, what time you have to be there, etc.

Instead of worrying about those things (which don’t really have any bearing on your marriage), focus on making your dates about your connection and the love you have for one another. You can still go out to dinner, but worry more about finding a place you can have a good conversation than getting an exclusive reservation.

Dates can even be simplified with this in mind. Go for a long walk. Plan a picnic. Play a game together. Worry less about what you do on the date, and focus on how you enjoy your time together.

8. Pillow Talk

Studies show that the time following sex can be critical for building love and connectivity in a long-term relationship. In those intimate moments, cuddling, talking about positive feelings, caressing, sharing personal thoughts, and simply basking in each other’s company strengthens your marriage both physically and emotionally. These are the deeply personal moments in which you truly connect with your spouse.

9. Have Realistic Expectations

This is a tough one to swallow, but sometimes we have to remind ourselves that this is real life – not Hollywood, not a sitcom, not a romance novel. Having realistic expectations doesn’t have to mean lowering them, but we have to remember that our spouses are human beings with flaws (just like us).

That means that they will be edgy or frustrated sometimes, that they might not feel like going out or having sex when we want to, that they might be sick or sore or tired when we’re raring to go. It means they might be forgetful, make mistakes, or do things that hurt our feelings. These things happen, and we just have to deal with them accordingly.

We can’t expect our spouses to be flawless – it only leads to disappointment. With more realistic expectations, we can avoid mental traps of undue criticism, and instead provide support and gratitude for the good things.

10. Stop Beating Around The Bush

If you have an issue, speak up! If you’re making an effort to improve an aspect of your marriage, let your spouse know!

So many of us make the mistake of assuming that our spouses know our intentions, or will be able to figure out problems based on body language or other subtleties. Maybe this works from time to time, but more often, it just leads to confusion and division.

Be intentional with your words and actions, and remember that your spouse can’t read your mind!

Over the course of this 2-part entry, we’ve covered a solid 20 different ways to help bring the spark back into your marriage, to strengthen your relationship, and to feel more in love with the person you married.

It’s extremely important to put effort into maintaining your marriage – otherwise you run the risk of drifting apart, forgetting why you love each other, and descending into a relationship that neither of you feels excited about.

Let us know which of these tips works for you!

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

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As couples spend more and more time together, the dynamic of their relationship is bound to change. As the years go by, the unfortunate reality is that many couples grow complacent, so this natural change in the relationship isn't just one of difference - the quality of the marriage actually declines.

This is extremely common, but only because most people don't know about the simple things they can do to keep romance and connection alive with their spouse, and instead take the marriage for granted (and let it slip into complacency and unhappiness).

There are, however, a great many ways to rekindle passion, build feelings of love and connection to one another, and in doing so, make your marriage the best it can be - no matter how long you've been together.

This is quite a long list, so we're splitting it up into two parts. Today, we'll look at the first batch of tips for getting the love back into your marriage:

1. Ditch The Distractions

One of the largest negative impacts of modern technology comes in the simple form of ignoring each other. We've all got smartphones, tablets, games, TV, Netflix… an unlimited number of tech-toys to capture our attention. If we aren't careful though, they can build walls between us and the people we love.

Try to limit your technology use, especially when spending time with your spouse. Put the phones away, turn off the TV, and spend some time actually communicating with one another.

2. Express Gratitude

It's all too easy to fall into routines, to come to expect that your spouse will do certain things simply because “they've always done them,” to take for granted their contributions around the house, etc.

To help build up the “love levels” in your marriage, say thanks! Let your spouse know that you appreciate what they're doing, no matter how small it might seem. Gratitude builds trust and appreciation builds love.

3. More Touching

Physical contact is an important part of a romantic relationship. Over time, though, as couples begin to “settle in” to the marriage, touch can become less frequent. When we share physical contact though, especially skin-to-skin, it causes our brains to release those love and connection-building chemicals, helping you feel closer to your spouse (even if you aren't consciously aware of it).

This physical touch includes everything from a light touch on the arm, to a long embrace, to sexual activity of all kinds… Touching each other physically brings you closer to together emotionally and psychologically!

4. Sleep Closer

To expand on the previous entry, even being close together while you're unconscious can help build up your connection to each other! This works in basically the same way as it does when you're awake, with every bit of touch - especially skin-to-skin - releasing those “love chemicals” into your brain and strengthening your connection.

The difference here is that we let other things get in the way of bedtime snuggles. We share the bed with kids or pets, go to bed at different times, or get used to sleeping on our own separate sides…

Here are some great ideas to help you fall back in love with your spouse!

Here are some great ideas to help you fall back in love with your spouse!

For a change, make a point to get some good cuddle time in, even if it means giving the dog the boot!

5. More Kisses!

Kissing has a similar effect as the “touch” items above, but in perhaps an even more dramatic way. All of these ways of connecting physically produce oxytocin, sometimes known as the “cuddle hormone,” and help increase attraction and connection to one another, but a kiss is something a little more special.

To enjoy a small moment of connection that will last throughout the day, make a point to hug and kiss your spouse for 30 seconds before you part ways in the morning, and again when we see each other later in the day.

6. Pursue Your Passions

This is one that many people overlook. They think that by chasing their own dreams, cultivating their own hobbies, and spending time on their own pursuits is ignoring their spouse… Or they think that a strong marriage means doing every last thing together. This is sorely incorrect.

Instead of thinking of a marriage as two people coming together to complete each other, think of the best marriages as two complete people coming together to create something even greater. If you're fulfilled by chasing your passions, by developing your skills, by pursuing your interests, you are more likely to be happy, engaged, and energetic about your spouse and your relationship. A more complete individual makes a stronger spouse.

7. Go On Vacation

Sometimes you just need a break, or a little change of scene to realign your perspective. Getting away from your daily routines for some special time with your spouse is a great way to rekindle your passions and gain some much needed room to reconnect.

It doesn't even have to be extravagant (overdoing it will likely cause more stress in the long run). The point is to enjoy a little escape with the one you love, free from the stresses of kids or work. Even just getting out of the house for a few days can do wonders for your sex life, your ability to communicate, and the fun you have in each other's company.

8. Give Compliments

When you spend so much time with another person, especially over the course of years and years, you tend to stop noticing the things that initially drew you to them, and instead see the things that irritate you (or would otherwise spur your criticism).

Well, because none of us are perfect, focusing on flaws is a surefire way to cause tension and arguments - one you start criticizing, the other person often feels the need to retaliate…

So how about the opposite? Focus on the positives as much as you can. Tell your spouse how attractive they are, compliment them on a job well done, tell them how much you appreciate a particular skill, and above all, let the know why you love them!

9. Surprise Each Other

One of the largest risks in long-term relationships is becoming stagnant. You settle in to your routines, you develop your schedules, and the weeks and months fly by while you barely even notice. While this is happening, you are essentially forgetting to be excited about each other - and forgetting what it's like to be excited with each other.

To break the cycle, plan some surprises! Make spontaneous decisions about dates, plan adventures to surprise your spouse, show up with little gifts, do favors without being asked…

Shake things up a little bit!

10. Support Your Spouse's Interests

Just as pursuing your own hobbies and passions makes you a better spouse, encouraging your husband or wife to do the same also helps maintain the strength of the relationship. When you show an interest, acknowledge your spouse's abilities, congratulate them on accomplishments, and encourage their growth, you are showing them how important their happiness is to you.

Even if you aren't particularly interested in the activity, it's important to your spouse, and taking an interest just for their sake - so you know what they're talking about, so you can tell when they're getting better, etc. - shows how much you care.

This just half of the list - there are still ten more tips for engaging in your marriage and rekindling the love between you and your spouse. Join us next time for Part 2!

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

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Focus On Love This Valentine’s Day

On February 11, 2015, in Keeping The Love Alive, Marriage Advice, by Dr. Dana Fillmore

Despite what the advertisements, store displays, magazine headlines, and the marketing machine would have you believe, Valentine’s Day is about one thing above all others:

Love.

And real love is about connection, compassion, and sharing your personalities with one another. Things like flowers, candy, gifts, fancy dinners… all of that stuff is extra. It isn’t required for a happy Valentine’s Day, and certainly isn’t required for you and your spouse to celebrate the love you have for each other.

Say something special to your spouse this Valentine's Day!

Say something special to your spouse this Valentine's Day!

If you can swing those kinds of things, great! But don’t, even for one second, feel guilty if they don’t fit into the budget or the schedule, or make your spouse feel guilty if they aren’t providing the material things society has mistaken for signs of affection.

When people get too caught up with that material side of things, it can make this lovers’ holiday take a turn for the worse. Couples can start stressing about money, arguing about who bought what, or worry more about making dinner reservations than expressing their gratitude for each other.

All this does is distract them from what’s truly important – the relationship they share.

Now, if it isn’t going to cause trouble, by all means splurge for a fancy dinner or a romantic getaway – but make sure your heart is in the right place, that you’re doing it because you can and because you want to, not because you think you’re supposed to, or because you think that’s the only way to have a good Valentine’s Day.

In fact, before you even give any thought to gifts or dates, why not start with a very simple exercise. Use the instructions below to write your spouse an honest and direct love letter. This kind of message means more than flowers and sweets ever will.

Step 1- List the top five things that you’re thankful for about your life together:

  1. _______________________________________
  2. _______________________________________
  3. _______________________________________
  4. _______________________________________
  5. _______________________________________

 

Step 2- List your spouses’ five best qualities today:

  1. _______________________________________
  2. _______________________________________
  3. _______________________________________
  4. _______________________________________
  5. _______________________________________

 

Step 3- Sit down and write it in this form:

Dear ____,

This Valentine's Day I wanted to tell you how thankful I am for our life together and tell you all the things I love about you.

I am thankful for ___________, ______________________, _____________________, _________________,  and __________________.

I love you because you are _________________, _________________, __________________, ____________________, and __________________.

Happy Valentines Day!

I love you,

{Signature}

 

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

Check Out Our Video: How To Regain the Love, Rekindle Passion and Save Your Marriage


Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

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While it’s important to remember that we are all unique individuals, with our own quirks and qualities, our own good and bad habits, and our own unique experiences, we can also accept the fact that some behaviors and problems are particularly common among genders. Men tend to have one set of habits and hang ups, and women tend to have another.

Today, we’re looking at a few of the habits that plenty of married women fall into, and exploring how they chip away at the strength of the marriage – sometimes without either person noticing until it’s too late.

The unfortunate reality is that many people fall into these habits without even knowing that they’re hurting the marriage – or worse, they actually think it’s helping!

If these things sound like something you’re doing, or if you can identify some of these problems in your marriage (no matter which one of you is causing them), it’s time to stop and reevaluate – and fix these mistakes before they do irreparable damage.

1. Fighting The Wrong Way

It’s ok, even normal, to disagree. It’s also perfectly fine to get a little heated about things when you feel very strongly. What isn’t fine though, is exploding with rage and beating your spouse over the head with everything they’ve done wrong.

Under the pretense of “keeping the peace,” far too many people bite their tongues at small annoyances, keep their mouths shut about the things that are bothering them in an ongoing way, and just don’t say anything when their spouse leaves behind a mess, makes a mistake, says something hurtful, etc.

Where all of these small problems could be addressed directly, and likely resolved with minimal conflict – instead they’re allowed to build up and fester, until eventually there’s an explosion of accusations, blaming, dredging up problems from the past, and an onslaught of issues that can’t possibly be dealt with in a single conversation.

Instead of dealing with the little things one at a time, this approach dumps everything on the table at once. And because it’s done in such an emotional way (and the spouse on the receiving end will likely feel bombarded), there’s almost no room for hashing things out and moving forward in a way that will help resolve the problems. Instead, it’s just a fight that leaves everyone miserable.

2. Kids Above Everything Else

There are common mistakes wives can do that cause divorce.

There are common mistakes wives can do that cause divorce.

Of course your kids should be a priority – it’s part of good parenting to make sure your children are taken care of, that they are receiving your attention, etc., but there’s a very real downside if it’s taken too far.

Particularly for mothers, who tend to have an extremely deep connection to their children, kids can become a barrier between a husband and wife. If the mother is totally preoccupied with her children and her role as “mom,” she may start to forget about her role as “wife.” When the kids’ activities are the focus of every evening and every weekend, when a parent is preoccupied with the kids’ needs (even in the moments when they don’t need anything), the marriage gradually falls down the priority list.

When this happens, couples stop spending alone time away from the kids, they let romance and sexual chemistry fall by the wayside, and they start to exist a “co-parents” instead of a loving couple.

The kids are important, but they don’t have to sap the your ability to also be a spouse.

3. Parental Boundaries

This one isn’t necessarily unique to women, and seems harmless enough from the start – but setting boundaries with your own parents is essential for a happy marriage.

When young couples first get married, sometimes they are happy to have all the help they can get – and for parents of adult children, helping them settle into their “married lives” is a way to keep that parental connection alive. Unfortunately though, this can very quickly cross a line and start chipping away at the quality of the relationship.

The parents who want to help with every project, who want to help pay for things, who drop by unannounced… These people can pose a tough problem to a spouse (the one who isn’t their kid). It can feel threatening, like they aren’t capable of making things work without that support structure. It can be frustrating because of the lack of alone time – or even the chance for alone time (you can’t very well fool around in the living room if your parents might walk through the door at any moment). And it can feel overwhelming, like being married to an entire family – instead of the one person you chose.

People fall into this habit without really realizing it. They’re happy to have the help and support, and because they don’t want to disappoint or upset their parents, they never say when enough is enough, or raise an issue when they are starting to feel invaded.

4. Emasculation

This is the big one – and it happens with many, many couples. When a wife gets in the habit of talking down to her husband (or even just down about him to others), it can seriously damage the relationship. This damage comes in one of two ways – either he believes you and loses his confidence, or he doesn’t believe you, and resents you for badmouthing him, spends most of his energy on being defensive, and will do everything he can to distance himself.

Now, emasculation happens in a variety of ways, but it mostly comes to down to eroding confidence and ego. If he constantly hears about what he’s done wrong (around the house, in the bedroom, with the kids, etc.), that what he’s doing isn’t good enough… if everything he does is under scrutiny, from the money he spends to the clothes he wears, it doesn’t feel like a marriage to him at all. It feels like a nagging mother, and for a grown man, there’s likely nothing attractive about that dynamic.

Many men desire the admiration (or at least the respect) of others, especially those close them – they want to feel confident and powerful, and emasculating remarks do precisely the opposite. It feels disrespectful, and if a wife is speaking to her husband this way, he can be mostly sure that she’s speaking to her friends and family about him in this way too – which only further damages his confidence (or makes him bristle against the less-than-kind spouse).

You don’t have to inflate is ego, but you don’t have to trample it at every turn either… It will either drive him away, or he will feel so beaten down that the mistakes and passivity that cause the complaints will only become more of who he is – it’s a vicious cycle.

Surely there are other bad habits that people, particularly women, fall into that put their marriages in jeopardy, but the items on this list are among the most common, and the most devastating. Keep yourself in check by giving your marriage the occasional evaluation. Are your actions/habits helping or hurting the quality of the relationship?

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

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Debt Is Killing Our Marriage

On February 4, 2015, in Handling Money Issues, Relationship Problems, by Dr. Dana Fillmore

Disagreements about money are one of the most common reasons couples fight. It can be about different views of wants versus needs, contention about the price one person is willing to pay for something frivolous, accurately planning finances so all the bills are paid on time, or simply the difficulties of trying to manage a joint income and joint expenses.

Kids cost money, groceries and utilities cost money, going out together, entertainment, basic necessities around the house, gas, school supplies, clothes, hobbies – all of these things cost our hard earned dollars, and deciding how to divide up monthly income is an ongoing challenge for, well, just about everyone!

To make matters even more stressful, many couples are also saddled with some kind of debt, and that puts an even tighter squeeze on their finances. This could be debt from buying a home, credit cards, student loans, car payments, backed taxes, or anything else. No matter where the debt comes from, it’s a burden on your current finances.

Making monthly payments (especially more than one) simply reduces the amount of money you have to make the rest of the ends meet, and that pressure can cause stress and arguments, or worse, can lead to real financial hardship that threatens your family’s stability and quality of life.

Is debt killing your marriage?

Is debt killing your marriage?

So, what can you do?

Direct solutions will ultimately depend on the kind of debt you have. Options for consolidation or refinancing exist for some types of debt, and others may be eligible for forgiveness, forbearance, or deferment programs. Your personal financial profile (as well as a number of other factors) will determine whether or not you qualify for assistance from your bank or lender – but if debt is causing problems in your life, these are certainly worth exploring!

Contact your lender, your bank, your loan servicer, whoever you need to, and ask about your options for reducing payments, locking in interest rates, consolidating debts, or any other options that may ease the pressure a little.

Beyond dealing with the debt holders specifically, there are a few tactics you and your family can employ to help survive the all too common burden of debt.

First, develop a budget and stick to it!

If you know your general expenses each month (debt payments included), and you know your average monthly income, you can develop a budget based on your most important needs, when certain payments are due, and the hardest part – what you can do without.

Being able to afford debt payments is sometimes a matter reprioritizing your spending habits (and this is something both you and your spouse will have to stay on top of). Every little bit helps, from being more frugal about electricity usage to downgrading cable or internet services, from carpooling or riding a bike to save on gas, all the way to taking the most expensive items off your grocery list.

There ARE ways to save money if we really want to – the key is being diligent about your practices, and keeping the habits up month after month.

Now, it’s possible that some of these frugal, budget-conscious methods may also cause some contention in your marriage, but if the troubles arise, remember that it’s what’s best for you and your family. You don’t want your house to be foreclosed on, or for your loans to go to a collections agency. The consequences are far greater than a little discomfort or willpower to save money.

Debt is an unfortunate reality of many, many people’s lives, and we all have to figure out how to deal with these financial responsibilities in our own way. No matter how you deal with it, remember that your marriage is a partnership – you’re in this together. No matter who accrued the debt, or what the reason was, the plain truth is that the responsibility belongs to both of you, and it will take collaboration and cooperation the make the best of the situation.

With each other’s support for managing stress, and each other’s reinforcement for developing better financial habits, debt doesn’t have to cause trouble at all – in fact, solving the problem might just bring you closer together!

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

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So often, we (unconsciously) deal with pain by trying to show the other person what it felt like to be hurt – and we do so by acting hurtful. This doesn’t work… at all.

Instead of allowing each other explain how an affair made you feel (and sitting and truly listening when your spouse is sharing), too many couples fall into “payback” and “tit for tat” ways of showing each other that they’ve been hurt. It creates a cycle of cruelty that keeps you apart.

Excuses, explanations, finger pointing, etc. have no place here – this is about understanding how your spouse felt during a truly difficult time.

It’s important to let your spouse get their words out, and to just absorb what they have to say. Not arguing back or defending yourself is NOT the same as admitting guilt and taking all the blame. This isn’t the arena to defend yourself. The purpose is understand the pain your spouse went through – and they should be willing to do the same for you.

In the video below, Dr. Dana discusses this very topic with a real couple finding ways to overcome their difficulties and move forward with a stronger, healthier marriage.

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

Sex Matters! Even In a Long-Term Marriage

On January 28, 2015, in Keeping The Love Alive, by Dr. Dana Fillmore

For some strange reason, people have this assumption that sex drive starts to fade with age – that as couples get older, sex just becomes less and less important to them, and eventually they just stop without any fuss.

WHAT!?!

That couldn’t be further from the truth!

In fact, many couples grow more sexually connected after middle age and beyond. This happens for a wide range of reasons, but we’ll get into that in a moment. First, let’s look at where this myth comes from.

There are certainly some health concerns that can arise with aging that impact sexual health. Low blood pressure alone can have an effect on libido – simply because it affects blood flow to certain parts of your body!

Sex does get better with age!

Sex does get better with age!

Additionally, problems like chronic pain, arthritis, difficulty with mobility, and even incontinence are associated with old age – and it’s easy to understand how these things could put a damper on sexual activity.

The reality of the matter is, though, that while these problems may be common enough for us to recognize, they aren’t inevitabilities of old age. Simply growing older does not guarantee that you’ll run into all of these physical ailments…

Quite the contrary, actually – most people only deal with a few of these problems as they age, and here’s the kicker: staying sexually active actually helps keep some of these issues at bay!

Now, let’s get back to connecting. As you age, your marriage ages with you, hopefully becoming wiser, more stable, and more honest. In terms of your sex life, this wisdom and honesty lends itself to far better communication in the bedroom about what you like, what you don’t like, what you’d like to try, and so on.

As you and your spouse spend more and more time together, it doesn’t have to be a recipe for staleness, it can actually be quite the opposite. The amount of time you spend together (and have spent together over the years) should lead to a level of comfort and trust that you share only with your spouse – and that comfort means you can open yourself up to them completely. No amount of youthful energy can achieve the intimacy that comes with a longstanding and communicative relationship. Simply knowing each other’s personal chemistry goes a long, long way.

For some couples, though, even if they have a wonderfully honest marriage, it can be tough to talk about sex. If that’s the case, you just have to ease into it! Talk about memories, some of your favorite romps together, or moments that you felt particularly romantic or intimate. You can “dip your toes” into this kind of conversation if you feel bashful about talking specifics. You’ll likely find that once the conversation gets rolling, you’ll feel a littler braver about talking about what you want, what your partner is doing right, and what you’d like to try in the future.

Once you’ve broken the ice a little bit, each subsequent conversation will be easier, and every intimate situation will likely be better because you’ll know more about each other’s desires.

Sex doesn’t decline with age, it declines when you stop making it a priority. By staying in touch with that part of yourself, and being receptive to talking about desires with your spouse, you may very well find that sex later in life is more satisfying than it ever was in your younger days! A strong connection is the most powerful force in the bedroom!

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

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