How to Find a Counselor Who Will Fight for Your Marriage

These questions can help you find the right counselor.

The hero saves the princess. He rescues her from the evil stepmother, eternal sleep, or whatever danger she faces. With one kiss, they live happily ever after. That was the childhood goal, right? Happily ever after?

What the stories failed to tell us is that happily ever after doesn’t just happen. My wife and I are approaching 17 years of marriage. I’d be lying if I told you it’s all been rainbows and sunshine. Don’t get me wrong; married life is great. Our relationship is stronger today because of the hurdles we’ve overcome. 

But a great marriage takes work. It’s two people committed to seeing the best in each other and working daily to make their relationship the best it can possibly be. It means seeking out resources to learn and grow. It means surrounding yourself with people who want to see your marriage succeed. 

And sometimes, it means seeking help from a professional. A counselor who will fight for your marriage can do wonders for your relationship. Counseling isn’t just for marriages in distress, either. 

But where do you start? How do you find a counselor who will be beneficial to your marriage?

If you’re considering counseling, ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s the main thing I think we need help with? Look at what’s going on in your marriage. Identify areas where you could use some help to grow.
  • What is your goal? Identify a goal for your marriage. Maybe you need to address some issues. Perhaps you are looking to enhance a specific area of your relationship.
  • What do I hope happens as a result of going to counseling?

How to Find a Counselor Who Will Fight for Your Marriage

Michele Weiner-Davis, marriage therapist and director of The Divorce Busting Center, offers this advice for selecting a counselor:

First and foremost, ask friends and family for references.

Find out if people you know and trust have had positive experiences with counseling. Ask who they worked with.

Find a therapist with specific training and experience in marital therapy.

Marital therapy isn’t the same as individual therapy, and it requires different skills. Seek out someone who has the training to help you achieve your goals.

Ensure that the therapist desires to help you find solutions to your marital problems rather than helping you leave your marriage.

Some counselors may be more concerned about the individual as opposed to the relationship. Ask them when they see divorce as a reasonable alternative. The answer to that question can reveal a lot about their desire to see a relationship succeed.

Make sure you feel comfortable with your therapist.

They should not side with either you or your spouse. Instead, their role is to help you achieve a goal you both set for your relationship. You should both have the freedom to speak up if you feel uncomfortable in any way.  

Ask what their relationship values are.

Knowing their values will help gauge their willingness to help your marriage succeed. Successful marriages don’t look the same for every couple. Make sure your therapist is open to helping you explore different avenues to a successful marriage.

Set goals together.

This process involves you, your spouse, and your therapist. The only way to gauge progress is to have set goals.

Most marital problems are solvable.

Find a therapist who wants to help you solve them. Everyone is capable of change. With set, agreed-upon goals, you can both work to achieve what you desire.

Trust your instincts.

You know when someone is helping or willing to help. If you question whether a therapist has your marriage’s best interests at heart, don’t stay with them.

Your marriage is your most important relationship. Invest the time, energy, and money to have the best relationship possible. No two marriages are the same, and someone else’s success isn’t your success. If you feel like counseling will help your relationship, find a counselor who will fight for your marriage to be the best it possibly can.

Other helpful blogs:

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

How to Be An Emotionally Safe Spouse

Set your spouse free to be themselves.

You want to be your spouse’s hero? Their most trusted confidant? The one who supports them and helps them flourish? The one they share their wildest, most audacious dreams with? None of it happens if you aren’t the emotionally safe person your spouse needs. When you’re emotionally safe, you’ve removed yourself as a barrier to your spouse freely being themselves. With you, they feel safe to be transparent, vulnerable, authentic, flawed, and emotional. They’re free to be themselves.

Side note: Just because you’re emotionally safe doesn’t mean they will always feel safe. Your spouse may have their own barriers to work through. You can’t control that. But the safer you are, the more space and freedom your partner will have to clearly see themselves and even grow through their experiences. You’ll be the hero who stuck by them through their imperfections, missteps, and all.

How do you become that emotionally safe spouse your partner needs?

Be secure within yourself.

Start with loving and accepting yourself. When you feel comfortable in your skin, you’re more likely to be emotionally vulnerable

Show genuine curiosity about your spouse.

You’re in it to learn. You can talk to your spouse as if you know them and you know all the answers… or you can try to learn more about their thought process, how they see things and understand them better. Because you’ll never stop learning about one another.

Honesty with humility.

Being emotionally safe doesn’t mean you don’t express your true thoughts, even when they are different or you disagree. You just express your thoughts with the caveat that you’re on the same team. You share with mutual respect and a desire for you to be on one page, not to prove that you’re right.

Ask, “What makes you feel emotionally safe with me?”

What makes your spouse feel most comfortable at being their whole self with you may differ from others. The fact that you asked with the desire to know should mean you’re willing to hear their whole heart. Don’t defend yourself. Just listen to understand.

Communicate with gentleness and gratitude.

Try making sure that every negative interaction with your spouse is balanced by five positive interactions. Get in the habit of being generous with your spouse just because. Be aware of how you speak to your spouse. Is your tone one of criticism and contempt, or one of kindness and love? An emotionally unsafe person will communicate using a tone that lacks love and gentleness.

Be Inviting.

You don’t have to be talking about serious topics to be inviting. Look forward to being with your spouse after work. Create opportunities to hear their heart and dream together. Remind them of the things you admire and appreciate about them. Invite them to be themselves. And show them that you love who they are. 

Emotional safety is a process that builds.

Being an emotionally safe spouse doesn’t guarantee there won’t be disagreements or that you won’t (at times) cause emotional pain to each other. In fact, being emotionally safe may increase your willingness to deal with those very things. 

You’re different people with your own thoughts, opinions, and ideas. Sometimes those differences clash, and one of you will say or do something hurtful. Suppose either person in your relationship has been perpetually unsafe. In that case, it may take time to reap the benefits of the newfound emotional safety. And that’s ok. 

Brene Brown says, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.” Imagine how your spouse will feel when you are being the emotionally safe spouse that encourages vulnerability, transparency, and beyond. 

Other helpful blogs:

6 Ways to Agree to Disagree With My Spouse

7 Ways to Increase Trust in Marriage

How to Build Empathy in Marriage

Understand Your Spouse and Deepen Your Relationship
***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Reasons Why Your Spouse Won’t Listen to You

Communication is the lifeline of any relationship. —Elizabeth Bourgeret

We have all seen the sitcom where one spouse is talking, and the other one seems zoned out. And maybe you laugh as your friend rolls their eyes while making a talking motion with their hand as their spouse repeats that “same old story.” However, it’s not so funny when someone does it to you. Perhaps you’ve tried to engage your spouse in conversation. But now you are at your wit’s end because you just can’t figure out why your spouse won’t listen to you. 

When someone (especially your mate) won’t listen to you, you may feel unloved, disrespected, and confused. I don’t know you or your situation, but thinking about these things may give you insight into what’s going on.

Here are some reasons why your spouse may not be listening.

Past conversations have been less than fun.

We have to be aware of our tone and nonverbal communication with our spouse. Are you curt or dismissive in your tone? Does your nonverbal communication say that you don’t want to hear what they say? Do you have a habit of cutting them off when speaking? Do you tend to monopolize conversations? These things can impact the level of communication between the two of you.

It can be hard to listen if you feel lectured.

Communication is a two-way street. Being open to hearing an opinion that varies from yours can make the conversation richer. However, if you only want your spouse to agree with you, it can make them feel unnecessary in the conversation. Lecturing creates an atmosphere that gives one partner the power of knowledge while minimizing the other’s thoughts, feelings, and opinions. And sometimes people don’t listen or engage because they want to avoid conflict. 

The conversation started at the wrong time. (Your spouse may not be tuning out on purpose).

Before beginning a conversation, ask your spouse, “Is this a good time?” In past discussions, you may have chosen to talk when your spouse was distracted. Sometimes your spouse has so much going on that they just can’t keep up with all the information coming at them. 

Yes, you need to communicate. It’s also respectful to ask if this is the right time for the conversation. The key is to get your message to be heard and understood by your spouse. Finding the right time enhances the chance. (And writing friendly reminders down can’t hurt!)

Complaining takes over conversations.

We all have bad days and bad interactions. It’s normal to share those things with your spouse. But frequently complaining can be a problem. If your spouse has offered ways to alleviate complaints to no avail, continuing to listen can be challenging. A friend shared with me that she complained about her job and boss excessively. Her spouse eventually said, “I’m tired of hearing you complain. If you aren’t going to do something to change the situation, I am unwilling to listen about that subject anymore.” I don’t think that my friend was aware of how much she seemed to complain.

The conversation revolves around one person.

Your spouse cares about you and what’s important to you. But only talking about yourself can make your spouse feel that you don’t care about them and what’s going on in their life. Your discussion should be reciprocal. 

Many of us are guilty of being so focused on ourselves that we exclude those we love. It’s not easy to accept that we help foster an unhealthy environment for communication. Once you recognize this, you can take steps to reinvigorate the way you communicate. Acknowledge any mistakes, and be mindful of bad communication habits you might have. 

But there’s one more BIG reason your spouse may not be listening to you.

It may not be about you at all. 

It could be any number of things. Your spouse might have a short attention span, OR they may not care. They may not like what you have to say, or they’re thinking about what they’re going to say while you’re talking. Your spouse may even have a hearing problem. And it’s possible they have other issues they need to work through, either alone or with a counselor.

Author Elizabeth Bourgeret says, “Communication is the lifeline of any relationship.” When each spouse seeks to create open and mutual communication, the relationship is strengthened going forward.  

Other helpful blogs:

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

What To Do When Your Spouse Gives You The Silent Treatment

Here's some help for those times when silence is NOT golden.

When your spouse gives you the silent treatment, it can be frustrating, painful, and confusing. It happens when one spouse refuses to communicate, ignores, withdraws from, or totally avoids their partner. It may not mean there’s absolute silence. You might still talk about daily tasks like who’s picking up the kids, who’s handling laundry, or dinner. The silent treatment shows that one person is unwilling to address an issue or connect in any meaningful way.

Ouch.

If you’re getting the silent treatment, what do you do?

Process On Your Own

What triggered the silent treatment? When did it start, and what were you discussing? Did something happen that may have been viewed negatively? You may not even know, but thinking about it can help you understand your partner’s perspective. 

What’s the goal? Is my spouse trying to punish me, hoping I’ll feel the pain they feel? Are they withdrawing so they can process their own thoughts and emotions? Are they trying to protect themselves? 

Processing can help you listen to and better understand yourself and your spouse, but try not to let it cause you to look down on your spouse.

Address it Carefully

Start with Compassion. Often, we use silence when we don’t have or can’t use healthy conflict resolution skills to deal with issues. 

Is the silent treatment a healthy approach? No. Especially when it’s used to control or manipulate. It can be abusive. (More on this later.) 

Provided this situation is not an abusive use of the silent treatment, remember, this is your spouse — and something sparked the treatment. This doesn’t mean you justify or excuse the behavior. It’s purely recognizing that something caused your spouse emotional pain. And different people respond to pain in different ways.

Speak directly to the issue. You might say something like, “I know you haven’t been talking to me lately. I’d like to discuss what started this. Can we talk?” 

Never forget, your body language and tone of voice communicate 93% of your message to your spouse. Getting the words right isn’t as important as having a healthy attitude toward your spouse.

Be Willing to Listen and Understand. When your spouse is ready to talk, put your energy into understanding their thoughts and emotions first. Some people give the silent treatment because they feel unheard. Let your spouse know you want to understand their thoughts, feelings, and their desires.

Model Healthy Skills to Resolve issues. You can’t change your spouse, but you can control yourself. Demonstrating respect, openness, and transparency while working together to resolve conflict can paint a picture of the kind of communication many people crave.

Things to Think About While Talking 

Don’t play the blame game. Focus on the ultimate goal: resolving the issue in a healthy way. Using lots of “I” statements and as few “You” statements as possible can keep you from blaming each other and getting distracted.

Own your contributions. Frame it this way in your head. “I understand that I hurt you when I did or said _______.” This focuses on the pain without justifying their response to the hurt. And when appropriate, apologize for the pain you triggered.

Be self-aware of your emotions. Your spouse may express a lot of pent-up emotions. They may flood you with more than you were expecting, but try to keep your emotions from controlling you. Be aware of your feelings as they share. At an appropriate time in the conversation, share. Remember, though, one of the reasons for the silent treatment could be they don’t feel heard. 

What if the Silent Treatment Continues?

Know what you can and can’t control. You can’t control how your spouse responds to emotional hurt. But you can control how you respond. You can gently let them know you’re ready to talk when they are. And you can choose to acknowledge the issue without letting it control you.

Don’t badger or nag. You can’t force someone else to talk. Don’t try.

Seek help. If you need to talk to a trusted friend or seek a counselor for your own mental health, it’s worth the effort. If you don’t go together, going alone can be helpful.

When is the Silent Treatment Abuse?

Consistently using silence to control someone can be abuse. Healthline lists the following signs to look for: 

  1. It’s a frequent occurrence and is lasting for longer periods.
  2. It’s coming from a place of punishment, not a need to cool off or regroup.
  3. It only ends when you apologize, plead, or give in to demands.
  4. You’ve changed your behavior to avoid getting the silent treatment.

I don’t recommend the silent treatment as a strategy for solving marriage problems. But a good starting point is to talk with your spouse about how you can resolve conflict in healthy ways. Your spouse may feel like you haven’t heard other attempts to solve problems, and understanding that may help you find better solutions together. It may be something as simple as asking for a timeout and agreeing to discuss later. Or it may take some effort for them to feel you’re an emotionally safe person to talk to. Whatever the case, learning to be compassionate without excusing the behavior may be the trick to eliminating the silent treatment in your relationship.

Other helpful blogs:

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at:1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

What to Do When Your Spouse Doesn’t Meet Your Expectations

Talking about your expectations can help your relationship thrive.

Expectations are part of a healthy marriage. But unmet expectations can cause frustration and tension. 

You expect something from your spouse. 

Maybe you expect them to do something (but they’re not). 

Or to not do something (but they are). 

Your expectation is for them to live up to a certain standard. And for whatever reason, your spouse isn’t meeting that standard. 

So what do you do? 

Well, the big question you need to ask is: Why? Why aren’t they living up to the standard you’re hoping for? 

Typically, there are three simple reasons a spouse might not meet your expectations: 

1. They don’t know or don’t clearly understand what you expect. 

I expected my wife to spend a lot of time with me when we were first married, but it didn’t seem to happen much. The problem? She didn’t know what I wanted because I never told her. And I get it; it’s easy to think, but we’ve been married for a while now… they should know me! 

Expecting your spouse to read your mind (even after decades of marriage) sets them up for failure and you for frustration. It doesn’t matter how close you are to someone; there’s no substitute for good communication. 

Your goal is to clearly and respectfully communicate your expectation to your spouse. When you can both positively focus on the conversation, say something like this: 

  • Hey, I just want to be sure I’m doing a good job of being clear. 
  • Do you feel like we clearly understand what we hope to expect of each other? 
  • Can we talk about what I hope can happen with… (keeping the house clean, spending time with each other, eating better as a family, etc.)?
  • Can we work together to make sure these things happen? 
  • Is there something I can do better to explain my expectations more clearly? 

2. Your spouse can’t do what you expect them to do. 

The critical question here is: Does your spouse feel like your expectations are realistic? 

Here’s a hard truth: Even when you believe your expectations are realistic, if your spouse thinks they aren’t, expectations aren’t going to be met.

Ask yourself, Do I expect my spouse to give me something they don’t think they can provide?

Like their undivided attention right after a stressful day with the kids or at work? 

Or a chore that needs to be done to your exact specifications? (Fold the towels this way…) 

Or a level of fitness or body type that’s beyond reach? 

Maybe you could say something like, I was hoping I could count on you to… But now I’m wondering whether my expectations have been realistic. Can you help me figure this out? Let these questions guide you in a respectful conversation about what you can realistically expect from your spouse.

3. They just flat-out refuse. 

When you’ve expressed a realistic expectation clearly, and your spouse says no, what do you do? 

I’m going to assume your spouse isn’t refusing just because they’re a stubborn jerk (unless you’re into marrying stubborn jerks). If this is the case, it’s time to seek some professional help

Refusal to meet expectations may happen because there’s some kind of disagreement about where those expectations are heading. It may indicate they’re dealing with past baggage. Or maybe it suggests that a deeper marital issue needs to be addressed. 

Again, this is where an honest conversation with your spouse is helpful. Say something like, I realize you don’t like the thought of (doing whatever your expectation is). Could you help me better understand why, and how we might be able to come to a compromise? 

One last thing: After talking through any of the above scenarios, you may not end up having the same expectations you initially brought to the table. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Expectations are part of a healthy marriage. And they shift and morph throughout the marriage journey, but you’ve gotta talk about them. The idea is to maintain expectations that help you both grow stronger as individuals and as a couple.

Other helpful blogs:

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at:1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

We all have expectations. We expect the sun to rise and seasons to change (all in one day for those of us in Tennessee). Perhaps we expect our spouse to put their dirty clothes in the hamper. We expect the post office to deliver our mail. 

We base our expectations on personal experiences and understanding, often beginning in childhood. They are birthed from how we believe the world works. They may be rational or irrational, realistic or unrealistic. Grounded in truth or fantasy. Based on facts or opinions. Stem from our experiences and decisions.

If we aren’t careful, expectations can negatively impact our marriage. In the National Survey on Marriage in America, the National Fatherhood Initiative reported that 45% of divorced respondents said unrealistic expectations contributed to their marriage ending. That’s almost half of all divorcees surveyed.

Marriage is a partnership, and healthy couples desire what is best for each other. To know what each person needs, you’ll want to communicate often about what you expect. It won’t be a one-time conversation because expectations change with the seasons of marriage.

The first step is to identify what our expectations are. The next step is to recognize what is realistic and what isn’t.

So, what are realistic expectations?

Realistic expectations are those that can be met. You can discuss them and agree about them. Some realistic expectations require compromise. These could be expectations around household chores, sex, and finances, among others. 

Here are some examples of realistic expectations:

  • Sharing responsibilities around the house. Remember, marriage is a partnership.
  • Showing respect to each other. This is crucial and foundational.
  • Speaking kindly. Words have power. Uplift each other with words of life.
  • Saying “I love you” often. You just can’t say this too much.
  • Trusting each other. Trust is essential. If trust is broken, work to repair and heal.
  • Honoring each other’s dreams. Our dreams are often different. That’s ok. Encourage each other to chase those dreams.

What about those unrealistic expectations?

Unrealistic expectations are the ones we may not say out loud. They’re the unspoken ones. We somehow expect our spouse to read our minds and know what we want and how we want it done. (Like knowing exactly how to fold towels. Or is that just my marriage?) Sorry to burst your bubble; they can’t read your mind. As much as that would be great, it doesn’t happen. 

How do we resolve unspoken expectations? You’ve probably heard this before – communication. 

So, we can solve some unrealistic expectations by simply discussing what we each expect in our marriage. Write it down, talk about it, resolve any issues and make a plan to move forward together. Don’t miss that “together” piece. Remember, you’re on the same team. 

Let’s be honest. Some expectations are just plain unrealistic and unhealthy. 

Here are examples of some unrealistic expectations:

  • Your spouse is responsible for your happiness. You alone are responsible for your happiness. You can’t put that responsibility on anyone else; it’s unattainable.
  • Your spouse will complete you. Your spouse may complement you, but they don’t complete you. They can’t.
  • The person you married will never change. We all change and grow. Hopefully, we grow in healthy ways together. But change is inevitable.
  • Your spouse’s life should revolve around you. Each of you is an individual. A marriage is made up of two individuals, loving and caring for one another. 
  • All of your time should be spent together. We all have different interests, and that’s ok. Your spouse shouldn’t completely ignore you and not spend any time with you. But it’s ok to have other interests and hobbies.
  • Your way is the right way. Marriage requires compromise from two different people with different backgrounds and experiences. Compromise in marriage is a beautiful thing.

We all have expectations, but they don’t have to derail a marriage. Come together as partners and communicate what you expect. Keep the conversation going. If one of you is unwilling to compromise or maintains unrealistic expectations, you may need professional help. A counselor who wants to see your marriage succeed can help you work through the tough stuff.

Other helpful blogs:

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at:1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

How to Divide Household Chores Fairly in Marriage

Talk about tackling all the things together, as a team!

Dishes, laundry, yard work, cleaning, cooking… oh my! The chore list is long, and the questions are many.

Who does what? How do we make this fair? Am I doing too much? Why doesn’t my spouse do more?

A big part of marriage is managing and maintaining a house and all the responsibilities a home can bring. So, where do we begin?

Well, let’s rewind the clock to before you said “I Do.” We all enter marriage with expectations. What you may not realize is that those expectations were actually birthed in your childhood, for better or worse. How? To keep it simple, your expectations for managing a house and accomplishing chores are reflective of what you saw and experienced in your home as a child. 

Because of this, your view of chores is pretty emotionally-charged. Whether you’re aware of it or not, you probably have an entire belief system around how chores should be accomplished and who should be doing them. This makes marriage tricky because you and your spouse more than likely don’t share the same belief system about chores. Have you talked about how to divide household chores in your marriage?

The thing about expectations is they are often unspoken. If we don’t communicate what we expect, is it fair to get upset when those expectations aren’t met? No. No, it’s not. To avoid the drama, talk about it. Talk about it often.

So, chores aren’t the issue.

The issue is your view of chores. Now we’re getting somewhere. Peeling away those layers like an onion. It’s about mindset.

You may be thinking, “Wait a minute, I came here to figure out how to divide up chores. I want to know who’s cooking, who’s cleaning, who’s doing the dishes. How do we make this fair?” 

Your home belongs to the two of you, your family. You are both responsible for its upkeep. You’re a team; you’re in this together.

A 50/50 split is often not a reality. It’s usually not possible. Take into account the wholeness of your marriage as you determine who does what. 

I can’t tell you who needs to do what, but here are some ideas to steer the conversation about how to divide household chores. First and foremost, the two of you have to talk about it. 

Here are some questions you can ask each other:

  • What are the chores? (Make a list of all of them.)
  • What are your expectations for _______? (Insert the chore of your choice.)
  • What housework do you enjoy doing?
  • What are you already doing?
  • How often should each chore be done?
  • What are you good at?
  • What chores are seasonal? 
  • What’s important to you?
  • Does one of you feel more responsible out of concern for how others view your home?

Addressing household chores isn’t a one-time conversation either. It needs to happen often. Different seasons of life bring different responsibilities. 

Here are some scenarios to think through as you talk about how to divide household chores fairly:

  • You both are working full-time and focused on establishing your careers.
  • You are expecting a child or have a child or children. (The seasons of childhood bring so many challenges.)
  • One of you works from home.
  • One of you is thinking about a career change.

There may be a season where one of you carries more household chores due to other circumstances. No matter what, you need to agree about what works for your family. You’ll want to discuss this often.

Once you divvy up the chore list, acknowledge what you own. To divide the chores means that you have to let go of control. Whoever is responsible owns the task. They aren’t helping out their spouse by doing it; it’s theirs. 

There is no formula for fairly dividing household chores. It all begins with a conversation… first with yourself, then with your spouse. The first step is self-awareness and reflection, followed by openness and communication with your spouse. You’re a team, and you can tackle all the chores together.

Other helpful blogs:

How to Be a More Supportive Spouse

Here are some tricks to help them feel your support.

You want to get a degree. Your spouse wants to lose some pounds.  

You want to stop smoking. Your spouse wants to start gardening. 

You want to tap into your artistic talents. Your spouse wants to tap dance. 

And you, being the committed, loving spouse that you are, want to be fully supportive. 

But, if you’ve had any experiences like mine, you know that the effort to be supportive can sometimes blow up in your face. You said that one thing you thought would be encouraging, but somehow you left limping away after a good lashing. I was only trying to help! 

And after licking your wounds, you’re left to wonder: How in the world can I be supportive? Is it even possible? 

Well, you can be a supportive spouse if you remember a few things: 

Goals are emotionally-charged.

Anything we set out to accomplish carries the risk of setbacks and failure. It’s easy to worry we aren’t going to do what we hope. In turn, our insecurities are on high alert. One small word, one slight inflection in your voice, has the potential to make your spouse feel great or horrible. Awareness of this helps you gauge the kind of support your spouse needs from you. 

Understand what your spouse wants from you.

Your idea of support may not be theirs. If your spouse asks you to support them, find out what they mean by support. Ask how they picture you being fully supportive. If they share something they want to accomplish but don’t ask for support, ask, “Is there a way I can support you that would be helpful?”

Hear the kind of support your spouse doesn’t want from you.

There’s encouragement, and then there’s accountability. Both are important. But they’re different. Accountability means your spouse wants someone to check in regularly on their progress and acknowledge with them when they’ve fallen short. Encouragement is cheering them and letting them know you are right beside them in their efforts. You’ve got this. I believe in you. You can do this. I’ve learned that encouragement is almost always a welcome way to support my spouse. Accountability… well, that could be a different story. Ultimately, it’s up to them which they need from you. 

Others can often say what a spouse can’t.

There are supportive words my wife’s best friend can say that would not be effective coming from me. She can invite my wife to join her at the gym and be okay; it would only make for an awkward rest of the day if I said it. Your spouse still needs you to support them in ways they feel safe. But it can be good to encourage your spouse to add another person to the support staff. 

Compliment the positive changes.

I can remember vividly when my wife told me, “I can tell your stomach is looking flatter.” I was ecstatic. That was years ago, and my stomach is no longer flat. But when I am trying to shorten the waistline some, I think back and remember her words. And it makes me want to try even harder. 

Words are powerful.

I can really tell your painting is improving! Your clothes are fitting looser! I noticed you haven’t had a cigarette in two weeks! You’re doing great! 

Your spouse needs you to be supportive.

But they need you to support them in a way that’s valuable to them. It’s easy to fall into the trap of showing support with the hope of receiving gratitude. (Oh, sweetie, thank you for telling me I missed leg day; you’re so supportive!) But your support is ultimately there to help your spouse be a better version of themselves as they see it. 

Now go compliment them on their development of tap-dancing skills! 

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