“Check ups can provide you with a third-party perspective on issues you 'talk' about well into the wee hours of the morning,” she says. These exercises will help you learn what’s normal for relationships, teach you new things about how to be a stronger couple or just learn how to have more fun together. Most of all, participating in a check-up can also reassure you that you’re not alone, Dr. Perry says. “Everyone has problems…even that perfect couple you compare yourself to.”
- Know When to Speak and Know When to be Silent: Certified dating and relationship coach Yvonne Chase says the key to her parents' marriage was being adept at responding with words and with silence. Chase's mother told her, “You don’t have to respond to everything you see in your marriage. Stop picking the little things. So what if he didn’t cover the toothpaste? It’s not worth it. Know when to speak and when to be silent.”
Chase also provides a bit of self-reflection with a hint of Gandhi: Be the change we wish to see.
“Change you. Don’t waste your time trying to change your spouse. It’s an exercise in futility. Work on the person in the mirror and that will bring the changes you want to see in your marriage.”
- Fight! We've heard it before, so why hasn't it stuck yet? Hapy couples need air -- and resolve -- their grievances.
“Couples who don’t fight at all are actually more likely to divorce that couples who do fight, but do it productively,” Jennifer Soos, a marriage and family therapist in San Antonio, Texas points out.
Happy couples have figured out how to hash out their problems in a manner that is respectful and gets problems solved. To do this, you need to know the “rules of fight club.” They include starting conversations with a soft-start-don’t go into a discussion with swords already drawn. It’s also wise to know when to take a break if you get emotionally overloaded. A half-hour can make a huge difference when things get heated, so step away and return when you’ve taken a breath. And lastly, don’t be too extreme on either end when an argument starts. Soos warns that couples enter gridlock when one or both people either refuse to talk or want to fight about everything at that moment.
Finally, one of the best pieces of advice came from Jack Quinn, married 52 years, who simply says, “Don’t sweat the small stuff and don’t do anything that you would be ashamed to tell your children or your wife.”
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