Couples without Children are Happier

happy-couple

Couples without Children are Happier

Those couples who are most blissful are childless, according to research out of Open University in the U.K. The study, entitled “Enduring Love?” found that couples without children, whether married or unmarried, were far more satisfied with life in general and felt considerably more appreciated by their partner than their counterparts. Parents who cohabitated but weren’t married were a little happier than those that were married. Over 5,000 people of all backgrounds in long term relationships were studied. Surprisingly, mothers were the happiest group while women without children were the unhappiest.

Having children did affect intimacy among partners. Fathers were 50% more likely to claim that lack of physical love was the biggest problem in their relationships. Meanwhile, mothers stated that they wanted to experience physical intimacy less often than their partners. This study found that showing appreciation for your partner was one of the biggest factors in making a marriage fulfilling. Giving compliments, thanking one another and other seemingly minor gestures added up to a lot. The takeaway here is that when a couple starts taking each other for granted, things go downhill fast. But if they constantly renew their love, commitment, fondness and appreciation for one another, their relationship will remain strong, sturdy, healthy and fulfilling.

The British library will soon release the results of this study. If you are a couple with children, or planning to have children, don’t let this study upset you. Instead, make plans on how you will find time to invest in your relationship. Perhaps have a date night where a sitter comes over or you leave the kids with the in-laws. If you know other couples with kids, watch their children on their date night and they can watch yours on theirs. Write each other little notes or texts at least once per day. Make it a point to spend some time chatting together, enjoying each other’s company without having to fulfill some chore. Thank one another for what they do, whether it’s their assigned job or chore, or not.

The real takeaway is that just because you have children doesn’t mean you should take one another for granted. In fact, it’s more important that you show how grateful you are that that person is in your life, loving you, supporting you and standing by you. Show them how much you care, a little each day and they will reciprocate. For more advice read, The 2 Minute Marriage Project: Simple Secrets for Staying in Love by Heidi Poleman.

The Inside Scoop on Marriage

Marriage Heart Health

The Inside Scoop on Marriage

Some of our earliest memories are children’s movies where the princess and the prince finally come together after long odds to live happily ever after. People who are really married may have quite a different take. But we are ensconced in messages about marriage, some close to actual experience and others quite a distance from it. And of course each couple in and of themselves is different. Still, there are many things about marriage that exist no matter who is married. Lots of people will give you advice on marriage and having a happy one. But there are lots of other things they don’t tell you, at least unless it’s a night over a few too many adult beverages.

Here is the inside scoop on marriage that no one, or few people will talk about but are aspects that will pop up, that you’ll have to deal with. First, realize that their family is going to become your family. It isn’t just the person you’re marrying. So get to know your in-laws really well before tying the knot. Lots of couples have been driven to divorce court by problems caused by those outside but close to the marriage. Set a positive tone with your spouse-to-be’s family. But set boundaries and have a discussion with your romantic partner about what those should be.

When you are married you aren’t polite company anymore. You are a person’s life partner. You share every aspect of your life together, whether you like to or not. Social taboos then begin to erode after so many years. The idea of rude and crude goes out the window. Rashes, injuries, investigations of one’s earwax and more are all par for the course. You get really comfortable with your spouse and these things don’t bother you anymore. When dating, you would never even think of letting someone into your comfort zone like that. But when you are comfortably married, you soon forget those boundaries. Some people feel that this newly found comfort level is a sign of the couple’s togetherness and closeness. That is true. But others worry that things may be getting too close. It’s really natural so instead of fighting it go with it.

Some people are annoyed by the little things. Nail biting, cracking gum, putting the toilet paper roll on flap side down and many other little annoyances add up. You will have to deal with the little flaws and shortcomings of your spouse, and the positive little things they do to. But if you let these get on your nerves and your spouse can’t change, you may be your own worst enemy. Learn to come to terms with the little things your spouse does. They should offer you the same courtesy. For more advice read, Things I Wish I’d Known before We Got Married by Gary D. Chapman.

Don’t Take Part in these Bad Marital Habits

family with baby sitting at home with a tablet PC

Don’t Take Part in these Bad Marital Habits

Everyone goes into marriage thinking that they’ve got it covered. After all, you know your partner and yourself. If you spent a sufficient amount of time together and made it past some hurtles, what could go wrong? But there are negative patterns we don’t think anything of, which we don’t evaluate in terms of their impact on our relationship, that could cause a rift between you and your spouse. Don’t take part in these bad marital habits unless you want to go looking for a divorce lawyer. If you find you are taking part in these behaviors, or your spouse is, discuss it in depth and come up with ways to counteract them. If you can’t, seek couple’s counseling.

The first is supplanting actual face-to-face communication with texting or social media. No matter how modern and convenient these trappings might be, they don’t equate to one-on-one time. In fact, a lot of couples are even neglecting their spouse over their time with their computer. Make sure you make time for each other offline. Relegate social media time to certain times of the day. And if you texted or posted something important, simply mentioning it in passing to make sure that they got the right message and everything is copasetic is often all that is needed. If you didn’t sleep well the night before, try to understand that you are irritable. Don’t pick a fight with your partner. Some people lash out at someone close to them when they are stressed, pent up, sleepy or irritable for some other reason. Don’t use your spouse as your punching bag. It will tear the two of you apart. If you do lash out, apologize. But find more positive ways to deal with negative emotions.

Are you two always discussing money? Don’t dance constantly around this issue, nor should you have long, laborious discussions about it. If you are like most people you never have enough of it. Manage it to the best of your ability and then put your worries to bed. Money is the number one issue couples fight about and the second one that breaks them up, behind infidelity. There are those couples who don’t talk about money enough who may fall into financial ruin. But if you talk or think about it too much and are obsessing over it, it will weigh the marriage down and drive you two apart. Find ways to couch your fears or allay them. Practice good money management practices. There are lots of free resources online to help you learn financial literacy. Learn positive ways to manage your fears.

There are lots of spouses nowadays who can’t seem to put their phone down. They neglect their spouse to the detriment of the marriage. Have scheduled times where you focus on one another, not your electronic devises. Those should have their own time where it’s okay to surf and play. Some people don’t know how to manage their in-laws after they get married. Mom and dad seem to always be butting in. But once married you have to understand that your spouse should be of utmost concern, as you should be to them. Learn how to manage your parents, and expect your spouse to do the same so that the in-laws don’t run roughshod over the marriage. Find time to just relax and enjoy each other’s company. For more on breaking negative patterns read, The Best Divorce Ever!: Divorcing Yourself From The Bad Habits You Create In Relationships by Susan Hansted Kuntz M.A.

Why do People Stay in Bad Marriages Rather than Divorce?

couple-back-to-back

Why do People Stay in Bad Marriages Rather than Divorce?

Oftentimes when you know someone in a bad marriage, they will go through a list of complaints and anecdotes that paint their spouse in a not so flattering light. Sometimes it isn’t a bunch of little things, but one long problem such as an ongoing affair or drug or alcohol abuse. At other times a litany of issues can seem like an avalanche of problems that this person is wallowing under, brought down upon them by their spouse. These could be lying, cheating, disappearing, improper parenting, cruelty and so much more. Confronted with such a list, most people believe that the relationship was beyond redemption. Yet, people in these types of marriages are often ambivalent as to whether or not they should leave. So why do people stay in bad marriages rather than get a divorce when it seems irreparable and hopeless? The first thing one must understand is that these are weighty matters. Don’t take a stand. The person can’t come to the realization all at once, by merely taking the advice of a friend, or even a therapist. The second thing is that we really can’t know what the marriage is like from the inside. We only know what our friend is telling us. There are perhaps other aspects of the marriage that are satisfying.

When asked why they don’t leave, there are a few answers that often pop up; for the children’s sake, an unwillingness to give up economic certainty or assets, an unwillingness to leave the house, being attached to mutual friends and even in-laws, negativity about striking out on one’s own, and the fear of being lonely. Some people feel like they might be alone forever. So which is better, staying in a marriage you don’t like or divorcing and finding out it wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be? Let’s take a look at each reason for staying and see if, through analysis, it’s better to stay or go. The effects on children depend, just like anything else, on who you speak to. Some psychologists say that divorce is detrimental to children. One study out of the UK found that children in single parent or step-parent homes were just as happy as those that came from dual-parent homes. Living in a household stuffed with anger and unhappiness is worse. Plus, children model their own loving relationships after what they observe in their parents growing up. Do you want to teach them to go for happiness, or to settle? Chances are they will follow suit to whatever you decide.

Divorce is expensive and it costs more to live apart than together. Still, there are families in every economic circumstance that do it. There are others, more wealthy, who say the money is the reason they still stay together. When a couple divorces, friends will inevitably go to one side or the other, despite everyone saying they’ll keep in touch. In fact, this is just cover for self-doubt in navigating the world post-marriage. The attachment to the in-laws, too, is really nostalgia for the relationship as it was when it was working, when it was good. The truth is, if you and another person share a deep bond, the divorce isn’t going to come between that. There are in-laws and mutual friends that keep in touch with ex-spouses whom they’ve come to hold in their heart. Usually as time moves on they become aunts, uncles, and friends of the family. Divorce is not embarrassing, nor is it shameful as some feel. In fact, it can be a liberating experience to navigate your own course and sail unencumbered, under your own stars. Don’t fail at imagination or fail to dream, or you will fail in spirit. Really, see if you can resuscitate the relationship.  But if you can’t or it isn’t healthy to, find a way to guide yourself honestly, and true onto your own happiness without regret. You will be loved by someone again, when you are ready, and chances are your ex will, too. That’s good and how it should be. But don’t stay miserable in a marriage for a reason that out-and-out doesn’t make sense. If you are still unsure, pick up a copy of How to Know If it’s Time to Go: A 10-Step Reality Test for Your Marriage by Dr. Lawrence Birnbach and Dr. Beverly Hyman.

Strategies for Winning over her Dad

father

Strategies for Winning over her Dad

Most guys are nervous about meeting their girlfriend’s father for the first time. It’s no surprise that often no one is good enough for his little girl. Even though we hear horror stories and are frightened by how this phenomenon takes place on TV and in the movies, it doesn’t have to be a horrifying experience. In fact, if you do it right, it can go over really well. Here are some strategies for winning over her dad. Does he have a favorite hobby or sports team? If your girlfriend’s pop is a diehard sports fan, buy three tickets to an upcoming game one for you, one for him and one for your girlfriend. That will smooth over things pretty fast and endear you to him quickly. This works for car show tickets or tickets to his favorite band as well. Do you two share a hobby or a passion? If he is into old muscle cars and so are you, you not only have something to talk about but it will form a bond. Nothing helps break the ice than looking under the hood of a classic car together, or whatever interests you both share in common. Do both of you play an instrument? Why not jam together? If both of you are avid readers, pick up a book he’d be interested in, or lend him something you just finished that he’d find fascinating. Ask your girlfriend about all of the things her father is interested in and see what you and her dad both share.

Does her dad do a certain chore around the house? If he does the cooking or the dishes after dinner, or the yard work, why not lend a hand? Help in fixing something around their house you notice is broken. If you are planning on marrying your girlfriend so much the better, you will be showing how handy you are, and sending the message that you are already part of the family. When you go for a visit, don’t be overly touchy feely with your girlfriend. Instead, side on the more conservative bend. No dad wants to see a guy hanging all over his little girl. Opt to be more stuffy and formal until you find out if it’s okay to let it all hang out. Another angle you can try is to ingratiate yourself into the family’s culture. If they have a board game night, movie night or what have you, join in the fun. Bring your favorite board game or movie to share.  If you are invited to a holiday and each family member brings something for the feast, why not prepare something of your own? Make a dish or dessert. At least bring wine or something to share. If you are a great cook, why not offer to make the family meal for them? You could win over the entire family in one evening. It shouldn’t be hard to break the ice with your girlfriend’s father. Just show him that you are a nice guy, are willing to treat his little princess as she deserves, and that you will fit in with the family. Being considerate and finding common ground are all it takes to get in good with her dad, and the entire family as well. If you find it difficult to get along with your partner’s parents, try reading What Do You Want From Me?: Learning to Get Along with In-Laws by Terri Apter.