Over the course of this series, we’ve been exploring the signs that your marriage is on the right track - qualities that indicate your marriage is healthy, but might be overlooked! These can also serve as warning signs that your relationship needs some work. As we cover each of these five signs, think about your own marriage as objectively as possible.

In our previous entry, we covered the importance of being able to speak freely with one another, and today’s topic is right along the same lines. Let’s get right into it!

Part 3: You Trust Each Other

As we mentioned last time, trust and comfort are incredibly important in any marriage. Looking at the idea of trust beyond just feeling secure around one another, it gets even more important! In an ideal world, relationships would just go along through time without facing problems, unaffected by temptation or unexpected problems, free from financial struggles or outside influence…

Trust is a great sign that you're in a good marriage!

Trust is a great sign that you're in a good marriage!

But in reality, we know that simply isn’t the case - and because of that, we need to be able to trust each other to have loyalty, integrity, and commitment even when the chips are down.

A truly trusting relationship is one where you don’t feel the need to “check up” on each other (unless it’s just to say hi, to see how their day is going, etc.)... You (mostly) don’t second guess decisions your spouse makes or scrutinize every penny they spend… When they tell you where they’ve been, you believe them… You don’t default to jealousy or suspicion if they are spending time with friends…

Now, this kind of trust isn’t just given - it’s earned through trustworthy behavior, and that goes both ways! It’s something mutual between the two of you that builds upon itself - you don’t behave in ways that betray each other’s trust, and treat each other with trust… and it grows and grows until it’s the overall dynamic of the marriage.

This kind of trust affects things large and small, and stays strong even in the face of mistakes or things that go forgotten. If you ask your spouse to pick up eggs on the way home, and they forget, it’s not that you don’t trust them to keep their word, but the very opposite - you trust that they made an honest mistake and give them the benefit of the doubt. A big part of a relationship based on trust is a “default” position of best intentions and forgiveness - but again, this can take time (and effort) to develop. If you want to be trusted, you have to a) show your spouse the trust you want to receive, and b) behave in a trustworthy way!

This standard of trust can (and should) permeate every aspect of your marriage, from the tiniest mistakes to the biggest problems, allowing you to communicate openly and know that you can rely on each other in any situation.

A lack of this kind of trust, however, may be one of the biggest problems a marriage can have. If you’re lying to each other, suspicious of everything, always assuming your spouse as ulterior motives, etc. (or you’’e on the receiving end of this kind of behavior), there’s a massive piece missing from your relationship.

Trust CAN be built, fortunately, but it will take work for both of you. As mentioned previously, it’s something of a two-way street. You have to offer your partner a trusting attitude, and they have to behave in ways that don’t betray that confidence - and vice versa!

If trust is missing (or not as strong as it should be) in your marriage, the first thing is to talk about it! Don’t make accusations, just observe the state of the relationship and address the problem for what it is. Spending time together will help. Check your own behavior and make sure you’re not doing anything to betray your spouse’s trust, be honest about what you’re doing and how you’re feeling, and ask that they do the same. You’ll slowly get closer and closer to a truly trusting marriage.

It’s an essential part of any marriage - so make sure you’re giving trust the attention it deserves!

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

End The Loneliness and Hurt... Watch This Video Today


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

Welcome to Part 2 of our series on signs that your marriage is healthy and strong. We’re looking at various qualities that show how good you’ve got it (but might be overlooking). These signs can also serve as warnings for things that may be missing from the relationship - and provide a place to start working on making your relationship better!

Let’s get right into it!

Part 2: You Can Speak Your Mind

The strongest relationships are rooted in trust and familiarity - two qualities that can help us feel our most comfortable around another person. In a strong marriage, you should feel at ease saying whatever’s on your mind - good, bad, or indifferent. From passing thoughts to strange observations, bringing up serious problems to opening up about insecurities or fears…

You shouldn’t feel like you have to hesitate to tell your spouse something, whatever it may be.

Being able to speak your mind is a sign you have a good marriage!

Being able to speak your mind is a sign you have a good marriage!

If you feel like you have to bite your tongue, however, it could be a sign of some larger problems in the marriage. This could be the case for a variety of reasons - maybe your spouse has a short temper and you need to actively avoid upsetting them… Maybe your spouse is insecure and they take any issues in the relationship way too personally… Maybe they aren’t a good listener and you hold back speaking simply because you never feel heard…

It could even be a basic mismatch in communication styles, where you just aren’t very communicative because you don’t quite know how to connect with each other. Whatever the reason may be, if you’re holding back from talking to your spouse, it’s not a good sign.

This is the person you live with, sleep with, share a space and an income with… And if you can’t talk to them openly and honestly, you can’t solve the little problems that are bound to come up. If you aren’t addressing the small issues, they eventually become much, much bigger, reaching a boiling point that can be very hard to come back from.

Fortunately, problems with communication, temper, listening, confidence, and the like can all be improved upon! It will take some analysis on your part - not just to recognize that you aren’t freely communicating, but to look for the causes of why you feel that way and what pieces of your personalities might be standing in the way.

Now, if you have trouble to speaking your mind with your spouse, it’s likely going to be tough to even approach this topic - but it’s essential that you do. Even if it means creating some temporary waves as you begin to address what exactly is going wrong, you’ll be better off for it in the long run.

It may mean helping your spouse seek help for anger or control issues, it may mean harnessing your own bravery or examining your own discomfort, it may mean talking to your spouse about feeling ignored or unappreciated, and on and on… Only you can identify what’s really happening - but one thing is certain: if you don’t feel comfortable even bringing up the issues, they’re only going to get worse over time.

If, however, you can be vulnerable with your spouse, it shows how much trust you put in them. If you can be goofy and not even experience a twinge of self-consciousness, it shows how safe you feel with your partner - and those two qualities should NOT be underestimated! These are signs of serious strength!

If you find yourself somewhere in the middle - where you don’t walk on eggshells, but you aren’t totally free to speak your mind either, this is a great reminder to push for some improved communication in your marriage, too. Things can always get better! Because so much of this is based on trust and comfort, just spending quality time together can make a huge difference…

Take a good look at how you’re communicating with each other, and pay close attention not just to how “effective” it is, but how comfortable you are too - no matter the topic.

Join us next time for Part 3!

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

You Really Can Live Happily Ever After. Watch This Video Now

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

Over the course of the next several posts, we’ll be covering five signs that your marriage is healthy and strong. These are meant to help you evaluate two things - what you have in your marriage that you might be taking for granted, and what your marriage might be missing.

If one (or more) of these five signs is missing from your marriage, it’s not a death sentence! In fact, if these things seem absent, it just means that you have some new insight into what you should focus on.

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Here is one sign you're in a good marriage!

Here is one sign you're in a good marriage!

1. You Feel Good About Yourself

Self-esteem is a tricky thing. Some of it comes from within us, and some of it can hinge on the way we’re treated by others, the environment we grew up in, and so much more...

While the causes (and fine details) of how we feel about ourselves are extremely complex, there’s some very simple connectivity in “feeling good when things are good.” If you feel good about yourself - if you feel loved, important, safe, and stable - there’s a very strong chance that your marriage (and other things in your life) are going well!

If the opposite is true, however, it’s time to examine the possible causes. Just as the sources of high self-esteem can be complicated, so can a lack of confidence or feelings of perpetual insecurity. You can, however, examine things in your life to look for causes.

If you feel hesitant to spend time with your spouse, if they berate you or belittle you, if you feel like less than yourself when you’re around them, that is a serious problem. If marriage is a source of self-esteem issues, it does not bode well for the long-term success of the relationship. Your partner SHOULD lift you up, not bring you down.

Even if you struggle with self-confidence in a general way, it’s a great sign if your spouse helps give you a little boost. If they see you as smarter, more attractive, more talented, etc. than you generally feel, you may eventually start to believe them!

A strong marriage is about coming together to make something greater than the sum of its parts, and if you can make each other feel confident, then you’re doing just that!

We all have things we’re self-conscious about, and a loving, supportive spouse will recognize those insecurities and try to help you overcome them - just as you should be doing for them. A marriage is a team, and part of that teamwork is showing each other the path to personal growth - and offering support every step of the way.

Think about how your spouse makes you feel, and how that factors into your overall self-esteem. If they lift you up, great! If not… It’s time to have a serious discussion about the way you’re being treated.

Join us for Part 2 next time!

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

Fall Back In Love, Watch This Entire Video Today


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

We’ve all heard it a thousand times - from news outlets and friends, on TV shows and in magazines… A big myth that may have been true for a time, but has totally changed over the last 20 years…

“50% of marriages end in divorce,” people say, perpetuating a statistic from the 1970s that simply isn’t reality anymore! Not only is it just bad information, it may actual harm existing marriages too!

Think about it: with this idea of “half of marriages fail” floating around in popular culture, coming at you from every direction, it’s no wonder that so many people are willing to surrender to the problems they face - instead of working to resolve them. If people think that half of marriages are doomed to divorce, they may just assume they’re part of that 50%, and resign themselves to letting the marriage crumble.

So, if the myth isn’t true - what is?

Well, divorce rates in the 1970s and early 80s were actually that high - in some cases even higher - but today, the numbers are quite different. First of all, different age groups have different rates, people married during different eras or time periods may have different divorce trends, and the further back we look, the longer the couples in question have been married…

Learn the ruth about divorce today!

Learn the truth about divorce today!

All of this makes divorce rates a little more complicated than a blanket 50%.

If we look at some of the actual data, we see that 70% of marriages that began in the 90s have made it to their 15th anniversary. We also see that for people with college degrees, the divorce is currently about 17%. The “refined divorce rate” - which is drawn from the number of divorces per 1000 women - is also a very telling figure. In 2008, the number of divorces per 1000 women was just 16.9.

In fact, that refined divorce rate has been falling for years. 22.6 per 1000 people in 1980, 20.9 in 1990, and 18.8 in 2000. Other statistics show the same - that the overall trend of divorce is A) on the decline, and B) not nearly as bad as we think it is.

With all of this modern information, researchers and experts have started to identify the sources of the divorce rate spikes in the past - and there are two major causes of the myth that persists today. Divorce rates were definitely higher in the 70s, and if you think about a couple of important American trends at the time, the high divorce rate starts to make some sense…

First of all, the Baby Boomer generation (born in the 50s) were a huge explosion in the population. As that generation reached adulthood, the numbers for pretty much everything began to skyrocket - including the rates of both marriage and divorce. If you think about the social trends of the 60s and 70s as well, it makes sense that some of the more traditional views of family and marriage began to change - which could have led to more people (specifically women) to leave their marriages.

Those social trends continue today, actually helping to reduce divorce rates year after year. More and more couples are living together before marriage, which probably helps them build a stronger connection for when they’re married - or they split up before ever tying the knot. Also, many people are getting married at an older age, which means more maturity and better communication skills.

It’s also worth mentioning that there are more tools and information available for couples than ever before! We’ve got online resources, books, videos, counselors, and all the latest research to help us make our relationships better. Culturally, relationships are under fewer “restrictions” from society, allowing couples to freely create the marriages they truly want to have - not just a traditional vision set out by previous generations.

All of this is good news for your marriage. Don’t let the myth of “50%” make you think that your relationship is destined to fail. Instead, take comfort in the fact that millions of couples all over the world are helping to reduce those rates by investing time and energy into their marriages to build a strong, loving bond that keeps them together through thick and thin…

And you can too!

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

Divorce attorneys have an up close and personal look at the problems that ultimately tear couples apart. From experience with all kinds of cases, they tend to get an understanding of the most serious marital issues - and those same issues can be an indicator you're at risk for divorce.

As you go through this list, be honest with yourself. Are these problems you’re currently dealing with? Even if they seem minor now, could they escalate into more serious issues down the road? Let these common signs attorneys observe serve as a warning. Get back on track to building your marriage before it’s too late!

1. Contempt

This may sound obvious, but when you’re in the middle of a dynamic like this, you might not see how toxic it really is. Contempt is displayed not just in overt hostility, but in all of those little ways you may be treating each other with disrespect. It could be eye rolling, talking down to each other, or simply viewing differences of opinion like the other person is stupid or inherently wrong.

Check yourself from time to time, and pay attention to how your partner communicates with you. If you’re showing each other disdain, even subtly, you are chipping away at the strength of your marriage one snide remark at a time.

Lawyers can predict divorce by identifying these things about your marriage.

Lawyers can predict divorce by identifying these things about your marriage.

2. Hiding Spending

As we’ve highlighted time and time again, financial problems are at the core of many divorces - and many of those problems have to do with dishonest spending. Many couples combine their finances, but even if they are kept separate, secret spending or taking action to cover up things purchased is damaging to the trust necessary for a healthy marriage.

Without financial transparency, there’s uncertainty that the bills will be covered, that there will be enough to afford basic expenses - and worse, suspicion about what either of you are doing when the other isn’t around.

This problem has two solutions: first, be upfront about what you're spending and where, and second, don’t make purchases you feel like you have to hide from your spouse! If there are other issues at work here, such as a disagreement about where money should go in the first place, talk about that issue directly, instead of continuing to cause problems by spending behind their back.

3. Lackluster Sex Life

While it’s certainly true that every couple will have a different “ideal” sex life, if sex and intimacy are all but nonexistent, it could spell serious trouble for the future of the relationship. A physical connection is part of what separates lovers from friends, and whether or not you realize it, your bond is strengthened unconsciously by touch and sex.

Because most of us still harbor desires even if the marriage is mostly sexless, it’s not just disconnection that is cause for concern. A lack of intimacy can also cause couples to start looking elsewhere for physical connection, even unintentionally.

4. No Arguments

This probably sounds strange, but couples who never fight at all might actually be at a huge risk for divorce. In a long-term relationship, it’s extremely unlikely that two people will see eye to eye on every topic, that they will never make a mistake or upset the other person… That’s why small conflicts are a perfectly natural (and expected) part of marriage.

If couples aren’t even discussing disagreements, however, it may be because they’re both refusing to engage - or even speak up about what’s bothering them. Eventually, that leads to buried resentment and a huge host of unspoken issues. Couples should be able to trust each other, and talk about anything under the sun - even if that means a little bit of conflict.

5. Little In Common

To enjoy each other’s company, you have to have at least a few things you can enjoy together. If there’s too much “lifestyle distance” between a couple - keeping different hours, opposite social interests, introversion vs. extroversion, etc. - it can be tough to spend the quality time together that makes marriages thrive. Even if you love each other dearly, if you don’t share any common interests, the rift between you is bound to grow.

Fortunately, this can be overcome (at least partially) by taking an active interest in your spouse’s hobbies, trying to find the middle ground between your interests, or dedicating time to learning about what each other likes (and being open to liking it yourself)!

If you notice this kind of distance in your marriage, do everything you can to find commonalities. The time spent together is essential.

Each of these problems can be a huge warning sign that you might be headed for divorce, but if you’re able to catch them early, there’s still hope! Relationship strength is something that can be built with time and effort, as long as you're committed to making your marriage the best it can be. Don’t let yourself wander blindly toward divorce - instead, be aware of the risks and take action to avoid them.

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

End The Loneliness and Hurt... Watch This Video Today


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

Despite cultural paradigms of masculinity and all of the pressures we put on men (intentionally or not) to be tough, there’s plenty of emotion going on under the surface - even if he doesn’t show it.

A big part of those emotional needs (and probably wrapped up in some influences that make men keep quiet about them) is respect. Perhaps even more than love, men want the respect of their friends, coworkers, peers, and especially their spouses.

It’s not necessarily a matter of utmost respect at every moment, it’s about staying away from being disrespectful. Men and women both need love and respect in a marriage (or any relationship), but males tend to react a little differently when they’re being disrespected.

If they don’t feel useful to you, if they’re talked down to, if they are treated like children or like they can’t make their own decisions, and so on - they’re going to pull back from the relationship. Marriage expert and author Dr. Emerson Eggerichs has a revealing quote about this dynamic:

“Without love from him, she acts without respect; without respect from her, he acts without love.”

This goes back to that vicious cycle that happens in so many areas of marriage, from communication to sex to basic interaction: when we withhold from one another or act negatively, the other person reacts in a similar fashion - then the other person reacts back, and again and again until the marriage is in tatters.

There's a surprising reason why many men leave!

There's a surprising reason why many men leave!

So, what can you do to make your husband feel respected?

Listen

First and foremost: listen to him! One of the biggest causes of such feelings is not being paid any attention. This is particularly true in moments of conflict, but happens even in everyday conversation. If you’re paying more attention to your phone or the TV than him talking to you, if you simply gloss over what he has to say and change the subject to something of your interest, if you’re tuning him out for whatever reason - it feels like you simply don’t care!

Tone

As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, your tone of voice can say as much (or more) as the words you use. A sure fire way to make a man feel disrespected is to treat him like an idiot. We’ve all got our shortcomings, but when he feels berated for his mistakes, it hurts.

Even if you’re angry, remember that he is your adult partner, not a child to be reprimanded. You can teach him things without making him feel stupid, and you can communicate your concerns without belittling him. Making a little bit of effort to control the way you speak to him can save a great deal of conflict in the long run.

Acknowledgement

Another way men (and really, all people) feel disrespected is when they feel taken for granted or taken advantage of.

Again, this is NOT to say that you need to shower with him praise for every little thing. This is more about avoiding problematic behavior - and that means being aware of your own actions (or lack of action). If you’ve just come to expect the things he does around the house, and only mention it when they don’t get done… If he comes home from a long day of work and you’re immediately on him about some unfinished chore… He may begin to feel taken for granted.

Acknowledge what he does to contribute and express your gratitude when you notice he’s doing something that benefits you. Far too often, couples simply get used to each other’s “role” in maintaining the household, and while you may remain acutely aware of your own responsibilities, it’s pretty easy to expect results - but totally overlook the work your partner does to produce them.

Be observant and express gratitude, even if it’s just a pat on the shoulder or a simple “thank you.” It will truly make a difference.

Respect is essential for a healthy marriage. If you love each other, you should be treating one another with respect, but bad habits are hard to break, and if either of you has started down the cyclical patterns of disrespectful behavior, it can be hard to get things back on track. If these problems sound familiar, and you aren’t treating your husband with respect… Hit the brakes right now!

Stop the patterns before they get worse, recognize that you may be driving him away, and start working to improve the way you treat your spouse…. Starting today.

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

You Really Can Live Happily Ever After. Watch This Video Now

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

Let’s talk about miscommunication…

So many of the problems marriages face can be boiled down problems with how we talk to each other. We’re all guilty of it from time to time, whether that’s not speaking our mind and letting problems fester, letting emotions get the best of us and saying something hurtful, not staying on topic, beating around the bush and not saying what we mean, and so on.

A great number of arguments could be avoided if couples took the time to improve their communication skills. There are ways to have even contentious conversations without attacking each other, and without descending into fights that leave you both feeling upset, worse than before you “communicated,” and further disconnected from the relationship.

So, let’s dig into it: what elements make for effective communication? How can you prepare for difficult conversations? How can you speak so your spouse really hears you? How can you improve your own skill and patience as a listener?

Make sure you don't come off the wrong way so your wife hears you!

Make sure you don't come off the wrong way so your wife hears you!


Tone

First, it’s important to understand that how you say things is just as important (if not more) than what you actually say. Tone of voice is everything! Think about a time that you’ve been put on edge just by the way someone spoke to you - it wasn’t the words they chose, but the tone. There’s a big difference between an exasperated, impatient “I’m sorry!” and someone looking you in the eye, and saying calmly and sincerely, “I’m sorry.”

Similarly, a laugh and lighthearted, “Yeesh, leave me alone” is going to be received very differently than those exact words in a snappy or harsh tone. The inflection and tone we choose (sometimes unconsciously, if we aren’t being aware of our actions), conveys a great deal of emotion - and that point is exactly where you can start to improve.

When speaking to anyone, especially your spouse, ask yourself, “What emotion do I want to convey?”

Put yourself in your spouse’s shoes and think about how you react to short, aggressive speech, to condescending or rude remarks. Isn’t it natural to bristle and get defensive? Shouldn’t you expect that from your spouse if you speak to them in such a way?

It can turn into a vicious cycle, where you’re both offended at the tone each other is using, speaking defensively (in a harsh tone), and making matters worse and worse. Exercise some self control and speak with an intentional tone - one that presents the emotions you want your spouse to feel.

Similarly, be as patient as you can if they are being harsh or unpleasant in tone. They might not be conscious of doing it, and if you get defensive and speak harshly back, it only makes matters worse.

Make A Plan

If you need to have a tough conversation (and every couple will, from time to time), do a little bit of preparing beforehand. Think about what it is you need to say, the reasons you feel the way you do, what solutions you’d like to see, and again, what emotion you want to convey.

We’re not necessarily suggesting that you rehearse everything you plan to say in advance, but give it some careful consideration. The point, after all, is to effectively communicate - and if a little planning is what it takes, so be it!

One good method is to think in “I statements” - this helps to keep your comments focused on the way you feel. It also helps you recognize your own feelings and take responsibility for them.

- “I feel rejected when _____”
- “I feel hurt when _____”

You will also have to address what your spouse has done to make you feel that way, but try to be as factual as you possibly can! Don’t over-dramatize or embellish to make your point. Begin with an “I statement” and offer up the precise scenario that made you feel that way. This doesn’t mean bringing up every time you’ve ever felt wronged or hurt. If you want to get through to your spouse and make actual progress, you can’t overload them with. Cover one thing at a time.

Next, explain (to the best of your knowledge) why you felt the way you did. This is going to take some reflection on your part. Does it dredge up a painful part of your past to be ignored or talked down to in public? Is a harsh comment about your shortcomings making you feel like a failure in other areas? Are you worried about loss of respect from peers or coworkers? Does your spouse’s “transgression” make you feel neglected or unimportant?

Asking yourself these questions is integral. To communicate clearly, tell your spouse how you felt, what happened, and why you felt the way you did. This should also be internally focused, not “I felt bad because YOU made me feel that way,” but rather, “I felt slighted because I couldn’t stop thinking that your friends are more important to you than me” - or whatever specifics describe the scenario at hand.

Lastly, offer a solution. This where you tell your spouse how you see the issue being resolved or avoided in the future. This is not an order or a demand, but a suggestion. You can understand this concept deeper by thinking in “I’d appreciate” statements. Again, instead of attacking and blaming your spouse, you are letting them know - with an intentional tone - what could be done on their part to avoid the problem next time (or avoid a “next time” altogether).

Here it is step-by step:

1. “I feel ____” - the hurt you felt
2. “When you ____” - exactly what happened in this specific case
3. “Because ____” - what larger concerns or past hurt was triggered, or the emotional context of why you felt the way you did
4. “I’d appreciate ____” - how things could be avoided in the future, would could have been done differently, etc.

You don’t have to follow this script exactly, but this format of approaching tough conversations, coupled with an intentionally kind and gentle tone, can make arguments turn into productive discussions that you can both learn and grow from.

Be intentional in your conversations and gentle with your tone - it will make an incredible difference in the way your communication is received, even when the topic itself is unpleasant. The better you and your spouse can communicate (and avoid arguments), the closer you’ll be able to grow, and the stronger your marriage can be!

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

Fall Back In Love, Watch This Entire Video Today


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

Finances, perhaps more than any other topic, are at the center of many, many marital conflicts. We argue over how much is being spent, where it’s being spent, who’s earning what, how much things cost, and on and on…

It makes perfect sense why we tend to be so sensitive about money - we work hard for it, and for most of us, it’s something of a constant concern. Even for some of the wealthiest among us, bills have to be paid, houses and cars need to be maintained, and all the while, we’re spending money on food, clothes, school, things for the kids… And hopefully a little bit of fun every once in a while.

With all that in mind, though, it isn’t hard to see why we feel pressure related to the state of their family finances. It’s even easier to see how this pressure can lead to trouble when the finances are shared between two people - there are decisions being made by one party, but not necessarily “cleared” by the other. Even if your spouse is the sole breadwinner, you’ve got financial needs and opinions too - and disagreements can feel catastrophic.

Fighting over money could lead to the end of your marriage!

Fighting over money could lead to the end of your marriage!

It’s more likely that you’re both working and contributing to family income, and even with such an arrangement, things are never quite “equally divided” - and well, because you’re two different people, you’re not always going to see eye to eye about what’s worth buying, what’s too expensive, or what the family can afford. Add to that the fact that we all have our own interests and opinions, and are often drawn to the things we like (even if we can’t really afford them), and you’re looking at a recipe for a lot of arguing about money.

And here’s the real problem: if you’re fighting about money and don’t take any steps to change the way you deal with your finances, your marriage will continue to unravel because of resentment and anger - all tied these financial arguments.

So, what can you do?

Make A Marriage Plan

As with any other problems in your marriage - financial disagreements won’t go away on their own. You and your spouse need to address them head on, and the best way to do that is to make a plan you can both agree on, then fall back to if and when disagreements arise.

First, establish the GOAL. Is too much spending the problem? Do you need to find ways to live more within your combined means? Or, is it that you’ve built a lifestyle that requires one or both you to stick with a job you hate? Is there resentment because one of you is working, and the other is doing most of the spending?

Be honest with each other about what’s bothering you, and create a picture of what YOUR ideal situation would like. Once you’ve both done that, bring them together and look for the common ground. This can start as a vague “vision” for how you want your marriage to be in one year, five years, ten years, and so on… But then start to dig into the specifics.

Use that vision to create a budget - even if it takes some negotiation - and agree to stick to it for a set period of time. You can make joint decisions about how much is to be spent on groceries, non-essential bills, entertainment, clothes, and so on… And if there’s ever a discrepancy, you can refer back to the budget that you BOTH agreed on.

Think of your budget as a referee for your financial arguments. You already planned out all the “rules” - the budget is just there to “enforce” them. You don’t have to entirely convince each other change opinions, but since your budget will likely reflect what each of you finds important, you may start to see your family’s finances in a new light after a few months with your agreed upon budget. It moves both of you closer to a place of mutual understanding - with the safety net of your budget to turn to if you start falling back into old spending habits.

Now, a budget is only going to work if you can get on the same page long enough to make one - and if you have the follow-through to stick to it! Talk about what you’re both earning, what you like to spend extra money on, and perhaps most importantly, the bare essentials that you simply have to pay for.

Sometimes financial arguments are a simple case of miscommunication or misunderstanding. Other times, they can be a product of compulsive or inconsiderate behavior. The first step to resolving either scenario is to communicate - calmly and with the intent to listen to your spouse - about why you aren’t seeing eye to eye.

Make a budget and take this nasty cause of disagreements out of your day-to-day - it’s doing more damage to your relationship than you know.

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

In the first entry of this series, we looked at 6 big mistakes you could be making in your marriage that are driving your husband away. Today, we’ll continue with 6 more - and these are just as important!

It’s critical that you be aware of these things - even if they aren’t currently happening in your relationship, you’ll be able to recognize them if they begin to occur.

As we mentioned in Part 1, these are framed as specific to husbands, but many of these problems are universal, and whether you’re a man or a woman, you should be on the lookout for making these big mistakes in your marriage.

Without further ado, here’s Part 2 or Fatal Marriage Mistakes:

1. You Don’t Express Attraction

Vain or not, we all like to know when people find us attractive - yes, even men! Feeling desirable has a way of reinforcing our behavior as a lover. When we feel attractive and sexy, we behave that way, which only makes us more attractive to our partner, and on and on…

Don't make these fatal marriage mistakes!

Don't make these fatal marriage mistakes!

The problem, however, is that over time, couples can become complacent, settle into habits, and stop expressing how attractive they find their spouse. For husbands, who aren’t subjected to the same social beauty standards as their wives, outward appearances may not be a very primary concern - yet a compliment in that department can be a huge boost to self-esteem!

If you think he looks good, let him know! If you aren’t at least mentioning it from time to time, he may assume you’ve lost interest.

2. You’re Keeping Score

He may rely on your memory and your organizational skills, but if he feels like you’re keeping score in the relationship, holding onto grudges, or overly concerned with “who did what” in your work and social circles (in a negative way), it becomes a little exhausting. Part of this is just a simple difference in the way men and women communicate, but if you’re focusing on the negatives (and keeping careful track of every perceived slight against you), it’s going to come off as “catty” - as terrible as that sounds.

Too much negativity and tit-for-tat thinking makes the relationship seem inflexible and under constant threat of negativity. It makes it appear like you’re looking to be offended, and that makes him feel like he has to watch his every step.

Additionally, because men often like to be problem solvers - if your problems with other people seem perpetual, and there isn’t anything he can do to help solve them, it can make him feel powerless.

3. He Feels Belittled

When you talk to your husband, even when it’s about problems in the relationship or something he’s done that upsets you, is your tone one of concern and communication, or one of authority and demanding? Or, when you’re having a disagreement, do you focus on the topic at hand or say things that attack his character and sense of self worth?

Men can be prideful (which isn’t always a good thing), and when you belittle him, it hurts. When you talk to him like you’re the boss and he’s an idiot, it either makes him feel inferior, or makes him want to retaliate. When you bring up all of his shortcomings during unrelated arguments, you’re putting a dent in his self-esteem.

If he doesn’t feel proud of who he is when he’s around you, he likely won’t want to be around you. It’s as simple as that.

4. You Disrespect Him

Similar to the entry above, but maybe more “public facing” - if you’re talking down to him in front of other people, especially his friends and family, it’s going to build a serious level of resentment. In these situations, he’s either going to get angry or, perhaps worse, shut down completely and take the abuse, feeling weak and emasculated. Both make for an unhealthy emotional state that certainly won’t yield any positive results for your marriage.

There isn’t much more to say on this point. Be respectful of one another, and treat him the way you’d expect to be treated.

5. He’s Not A Priority

Marriage is about committing to one another, and making the person you’ve chosen to be your partner a top priority. If he’s not a priority in your life, it’s pretty easy for him to tell. It shows in all kinds of ways, from the attention you give him in the average conversation to including him in your plans, from your concern with his wellbeing to your basic interest in his friends and hobbies…

You don’t have to know every detail, or make your entire life center around his, but taking the time (and putting in the effort) to show him that he’s an important, essential part of your life will help him feel committed to the relationship - and do the same for you.

6. You Judge Him

It’s one thing to help each other recognize mistakes - it’s another thing entirely to make broad assumptions or unnecessarily harsh criticisms in the face of a minor transgression or an honest screw up.

The same is true when he opens up to you - if you scoff at his feelings or make light of his problems, if you cast of his troubles as weakness or make remarks about his character… He’ll start to feel like he can’t say or do anything around you. He’ll shut you out, stop trusting you, and ultimately distance himself from the relationship.

These aren’t the only mistakes you can make, that’s for sure - but they are some of the most major (and most common) problems that go overlooked, and cause men to withdraw from their wives. He may act tough (and he is!), but how you treat him has a major effect on how he feels about himself and the marriage. Avoid these mistakes by being aware of your own behaviors, thinking about how you like to be treated, and making your “default setting” one of kindness and support!

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

Before we even dig into this two part series on fatal marriage mistakes, it’s important to make something perfectly clear: we are NOT assuming that all men (or even all people) are the same. Each and every one of us is going to have a different set of needs and desires, hot buttons that upset us, and give different levels of importance to the whole spectrum of topics that can make or break marriages…

That said, we want to focus on some typical male characteristics that many husbands display - and many wives overlook - to warn you about some of things you may be doing (or not doing) that unintentionally drive him away. Men can be notoriously bad communicators, and even though some of them are more open than others, it’s enough of a trend to be concerned about potentially unspoken problems in your relationship.

It’s also worth noting that many of these points are universal - and not JUST things women do that drive their husbands away. Whether you’re male or female, be aware of these serious mistakes that could be doing damage to your marriage - but ladies, pay extra close attention.

Be on the lookout for these potentially “fatal” marriage mistakes:

1. At Odds With His Family

This, of course, will depend on the nature of his relationship with his parents, siblings, and extended family - but if you’re at odds with (or bad mouthing) his family members, he’s likely going to harbor some resentment, even if he doesn’t say anything.

Don't make these fatal marriage mistakes!

Don't make these fatal marriage mistakes!

It puts him in a tough position of feeling like he has to choose sides in a conflict, or at the very least, act as a buffer between you and the family member(s) you have a problem with. To say the least, this can be exhausting. If he has a good rapport with his family, he wants you to too.

If you don’t get along with his family members, he might be hesitant to go to family gatherings, feel on edge when you’re in a room with them, and so on. All of this will chip away at the closeness he feels with you. You don’t have to love them as your own (and there’s no telling what kind of people they might be), but avoid being overtly critical and do your best to keep the peace. You risk alienating him if you don’t.

2. You’re Too Needy

While many men like to feel like providers and protectors, there’s a point where it becomes too much, and crosses over into the territory of annoyance and feeling like a burden. Even if he’s an action-oriented, decisive, “leader” kind of man, he still wants you to be able to hold your own.
If he’s constantly stopping what he’s doing to help you, making the vast majority of the decisions for you family, responding to your calls and text constantly throughout the day (and it feels like a chore), he may begin to resent just how much you seem to “need” him.

This one is something of a balancing act, and will depend a great deal on your husband’s personality. However, nearly every man will have a balancing point of feeling like he’s adding value to your life… Somewhere between you dismissing his help entirely and relying on him for every little thing.

Pay attention to his body language. If he seems exasperated or annoyed when you call him for the third time that day or ask him to solve a problem for you, you might be acting too needy.

3. He Can’t Be Himself

If he feels like he has to stifle his personality around you - or worse, if you specifically ask him to - that’s a BIG problem. This could be anything from pursuing his interests to the way he likes to dress, his sense of humor to the people he spends time with… If he feels under scrutiny for his choices, that feels like control, not a relationship. If he feels like he’s walking on eggshells and can’t say what he thinks or feels, or he has to regularly stop himself from doing what he wants to do, it will build a rift in the relationship that is extremely difficult to come back from.

Now, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t speak up if he’s being destructive or unsafe, or that you have to sit idly by while he does “whatever he wants” (in a way that hurts you) - but be reasonable here. He’s going to have his own interests and personality, and trying to squeeze him into a box of exactly how you want him to be is a sure fire way to force him into breaking out of whatever parameters you’ve set.

4. You Don’t Appreciate Him

Feeling useful, appreciated, and perhaps most importantly, not taken for granted is paramount for many men in a marriage. He wants to know that he is loved, that you recognize what he brings to the relationship and the life you share, and that you aren’t just expecting him to do things as a matter of course - that you’re thankful for his contributions.

You don’t need to dote on him with praise every day, but if you’ve all but stopped thanking him for help around the house, don’t seem concerned with his thoughts and feelings, or voice your expectations more like demands, he might start to feel like you don’t need (or want) him around…

5. He Doesn’t Feel Good About Himself Around You

Whether or not they express it, many men see marriage (and the company of the woman they love) as a sanctuary - a safe, comfortable place away from their professional and social lives where they can relax, be vulnerable, and stop thinking about the pressures of the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately, this feeling can come crashing down if his home life is fraught with criticism. If he feels on edge, that you’re scrutinizing his every move, that he’s going to come home to negativity or hostility… That idea of “sanctuary” is all but shattered.

He may be more sensitive to these kinds of things than you think, especially after a long day of work. You should be building each other up, not tearing each other down - and for men in particular, those knocks at his confidence and self-esteem stack up. Instead of feeling warm and fuzzy when he’s around you, he’ll start to feel like the person he thinks you see. Consciously or not, he’ll equate feeling bad about himself with being around you - and that does not bode well for your marriage.

6. You Don’t Care About Your Appearance

This can be a bit of a touchy subject, so let’s clear the air right away: this DOES NOT mean you have be finely dressed at every moment, that you need to always have your makeup done, that you can’t let him see you in grubby clothes or with bags under your eyes…

He doesn’t expect you to be a supermodel, he doesn’t expect you to perfect… He just wants you to care about how you look because he does. When you put in some effort, from getting dolled up on a special occasion, taking an interest in diet and exercise to stay fit, or surprising him with a special outfit in the bedroom, it feels (to him) like a you’re doing it for him (and maybe you are!).

Most men can’t help but be visual creatures, and physical attraction is just part of their biology. When you care about your appearance, he feels like you’re making an extra effort for his benefit. It makes him feel sexy and important that you want to look your best for him!

The opposite is also true, unfortunately, even if it isn’t intentional. If you aren’t making any efforts to maintain your appearance, he may start to interpret it as a lack of interest in him, or that you don’t care about his perception of you. Surely there’s a balance to be found, and every marriage will be a little bit different… But you’d be surprised how far a little bit of effort in this department goes!

In part 2 of this series, we’ll look at another 6 mistakes that can have devastating consequences for your marriage. Until next time, keep these things in mind, talk to each other, and work together to build a better, stronger 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