You can hear your Spouse Better than Strangers

COUPLE-TALKING

You can hear your Spouse Better than Strangers

Sometimes it seems like you could hear your spouse’s voice anywhere, even in a crowded train station, a bomb testing zone or the demolition floor of a construction site. This may be a slight exaggeration. But the remarkable truth is you can hear your spouse better than you can strangers, at least according to a recent study. Researchers at Canada’s Queens University used couples whose ages ranged from 44 to 79. They asked these participants to read a script. These readings were recorded and played back for their spouse. But at the same time this recording played another played simultaneously. And the voice on the other recording was the same age and gender as the listener’s spouse. At certain points in the experiment they would ask the listener what their spouse was saying, while at others they asked what the stranger said. Participants could understand their own spouse’s voice far more readily than the strangers. This research was published in the journal Psychological Science.

When the stranger’s voice was listened to, the participant’s age often had an effect on whether they could make out what the stranger was saying or not. Middle aged listeners could more readily focus in on the stranger’s voice than their older counterparts. While the middle aged have an easier time tuning out their spouse, older people don’t have that luxury. It’s good to know that we can hear our spouse’s well. But are we truly listening to what they are saying? And if not, why not? Sure the stereotype is one of tuning out our spouse. But the most successful couple’s know that positive communication and active listening are the cornerstones of their success. Practice active listening with your partner. If you feel that one or another is nagging, address it. Tell them how it makes you feel. And brainstorm other ways to communicate that are less irritating to one and more effective in causing action in the other. For more advice read, How to Speak Your Spouse’s Language: Ten Easy Steps to Great Communication from One of America’s Foremost Counselors by H. Norman Wright.

Small, Simple ways to improve your Marriage

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Small, Simple ways to improve your Marriage

It isn’t easy staying married, as today’s divorce rate can attest. But it isn’t always big problems that break up a married couple. Often it’s a buildup of little things that turn into a tidal wave of problems which ultimately wash away the couple’s married future. Fight back against the tide of tiny destroyers. Here are some small, simple ways to improve your marriage right now and move forward from this instant on. Follow these and the road ahead will be much smoother.

If you want to stay close, when you are wrong, apologize. Don’t insist you are right for pride’s sake. Your pride will get between you and your spouse. When you are in an argument, don’t only view it from your perspective. Try and see things from their point of view. Use your imagination. How would you feel? What would your reaction be? Putting yourself in their shoes will calm your anger, give you a little sympathy and help to organize the negotiation phase, conjuring up a plan on how to satisfy both of you without harming either. Laugh when you two are together. It is far more important to enjoy each other’s company. It will make your bond strong and resilient.

Pencil sex in if you two are so busy and don’t have time for a long, drawn out romantic encounter. A marriage without physical intimacy gets dull and fades. But being intimate together, even if it’s just a quickie a couple of times a week, will make you closer, release tension and help keep the spark alive. It’s important to make sure that you attack life as a team. That’s why a weekly meeting is important. Instead of killing the relationship with nagging and arguments, schedule a time each week to tackle important issues and solve them. Make a running list throughout the week on what is to be covered. Solve your problems at that time and spend some other alone time during the week enjoying each other’s company. Talk about the little things in life, good and bad. Talk about everything. Keep the lines of communication open and free.

Make sure you schedule some time for your own hobbies, friends, interests, and so on. Don’t yell. It doesn’t solve anything. It only makes matters worse. If you want to yell excuse yourself and go yell in another room, in a pillow or in your car while it’s parked. Then when you calm down schedule a time to revisit the issue, discussing how it makes you feel and possible solutions. Show gratitude. Thank the other person for what they do. And expect gratitude in return too. For some fun relationship advice read, Advice for a Happy Marriage: From Miss Dietz’s Third-Grade Class by Debi Dietz Crawford and Friends.

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.

Positive Statements to Empower your Spouse

HAPPY-COUPLE

Positive Statements to Empower your Spouse

The best relationships are based on mutual trust, respect, love, physical and emotional chemistry and crystal clear communication. Of course, none of us survive in a vacuum and relationships will have to weather difficulties, both from without and from within, from the emotional baggage you, your partner and everyone carries with them. That said there are positive statements you can make to empower your spouse, who will then be rejuvenated and will empower you, creating a virtuous cycle that you can both benefit from. Instead of tearing each other down like some toxic relationships do, learn to boost each other up.

These aren’t things you say if you don’t believe them. Make sure these statements are true for your situation, and that you sincerely put them across, or else they won’t work but will in fact sound flat, passive-aggressive, even discouraging. Here are some things you can say all the time to let them know how you feel about them, and give them a little ego boost at the same time. First, when they do something for you, or around the house should you cohabitate, show your appreciation. Don’t just make a blanket statement like “I appreciate you.” Tell them “Thanks for doing the dishes” or whatever they specifically did. “Thanks for hearing me out. You gave me great advice on what to say to my boss about working overtime.” No one feels better than when they are appreciated. And they will return to favor, giving you a little boost. You are also encouraging them to continue this positive behavior.

Let your spouse know that he or she is your priority. This is difficult for some people to do. A lot of married couples invest the majority of their energy in their children or their career. But when it comes time to focus on their spouse, they come up lacking. This lack of focus, attention and love makes a marriage wither and die. Instead, cultivate a strong, healthy, robust relationship. Organize your work time carefully, make sure the children spend some time with your folks or the in-laws to give you two time alone, and make your marriage the number one priority in your life. Let your spouse know how happy you are that you married them. After a few years a marriage gets to feel like an old blanket. It’s warm and comfortable. But it’s also taken for granted. Don’t take each other for granted. Renew intimacy, romance, and care for one another and your relationship will deepen and develop further.  When they look good, notice and say so. Let them know when their outfit looks good, how their smile lights up the room, and how it takes your breath away when they dress up. Let your spouse know that you aren’t going anywhere. Let them know you will always love them and be there for them. You need to make them feel secure, supported and deeply loved. Make sure to continually show your trust, love, fondness and appreciation for your spouse and you will have a long, happy, healthy and well-adjusted marriage. For more advice read, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last by John Gottman, Ph.D.

Marriage in America Today

marriage

Marriage in America Today

The number of people getting married is declining. Experts say the marriage rate today is lower than it was in 1880, another time when extreme differences in income affected the social landscape. Though marriage is touted in America and many societies as helping to preserve the social order, the atmosphere with which we operate is far from conducive in promoting it. In the original Gilded Age as Mark Twain called it, a new class of industrialists slashed wages and with it the prospects of workers of marrying age, mostly male factory workers. Sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin at John Hopkins University wrote that one difference today is many are choosing to cohabitate and have children without a marriage license filed away in the family home. That would never do in the 19th century. But today it’s quite common.

One problem is the gatekeepers to pop culture, the TV and movie writers, musical artists and others have failed to keep up and give us an image we can hang onto for this new state of affairs in how long-term love should be.  Zoë Heller at the New York Review of Books says films today and other cultural milieu are filled with simplistic plots and clichés about love, without delving into the complicated minutia of modern relationships and how best to navigate them. They don’t reflect what people are actually experiencing, nor do they give a strategy for which to encounter the prickly paradigm of modern love. Supporters of traditional values decry the end of marriage as it once was. But couples staying together longer show greater stability, know each other better and perhaps can best negotiate differences. The expense of a wedding, weakening norms and lack of financial benefit may result in a further decline in marriage, experts believe. On the upshot for advocates, statistics show that those who are getting married stay together longer. Also, the divorce rate has dropped dramatically. In fact, since the 1980’s, divorce has been in deep decline. 70% of those who married in the 1990s celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary today. That’s 5% higher than those who married in the 70’s and 80’s. Those who tied the knot in the new millennium have an even lower divorce rate.

According to economist Justin Wolfer at the University of Michigan, two-thirds of married couples today stay together. For those cases where divorce does occur, two-thirds of the time it’s the wife who wants it. The reason is women’s expectations for marriage have vastly changed. Gender roles in America saw a dramatic paradigm shift over the past two decades due to the Feminist movement. This in turn affected how both sexes interact with one another. Today, marriage isn’t only about raising a family or having financial support. It’s about love and partnership. People also want someone who will help lead them into personal growth. They want to grow and better themselves and they look to their partner to help them complete their metamorphosis. A lot of times, when we feel as though we are in a stale relationship and the well has gone dry, we feel it’s time to move on. The baby boomer generation remains the one with the highest rate of divorce. People are living older nowadays, and so when the children have moved out and they still have decades of life left, they want to make the most of it. That sometimes means leaving someone they no longer connect with in order to enjoy those years with someone they do. For more on this topic read, The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America Today by Andrew J. Cherlin.