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Conversation Starters for Kids and Parents

Talking now can help you talk more as they grow.

Dad: “Hey bud, how was your day today?”

Son: “Fine.”

Dad: “Was it a good day?”

Son: “Yep.”

Son: “Can I go play now?”

Have you had this conversation? We have… too often. After a couple of these, it was time to regroup and rethink how we created conversation with our kids. 

To get the most engagement from your little ones, ask them questions that interest them. Ask questions that spark their imagination. If you want to know how their day is, invite them to do something with you and ask questions while doing something together. If kids feel like they are being interrogated, they will resolve to one-word answers.

Conversations with your kids can be informative and entertaining. When we engage our young children in healthy conversation, we lay the groundwork for deeper conversations as they get older. I want us to be the first people our kids go to when they need to talk about a challenging topic or have big questions about the world. 

There is so much opportunity to have fun conversations with your kids if you start with the right questions. We have learned from experience not to ask questions with one-word answers. Open-ended questions are where it’s at.

Here are some of our favorite conversation starters for kids and parents.

For check-ins and deeper conversations:

  • What is the most fascinating thing you learned today?
  • What is your favorite part about today?
  • Who did you eat lunch with? Or play on the playground with?
  • What is the oddest thing you did today?
  • What’s a new experience you had this week?
  • What is something you have recently done that you are proud of?

For mealtime or drivetime:

  • If you could only eat one fruit for the rest of your life, which would you pick and why?
  • Would you rather live in an igloo or a treehouse?
  • Would you rather be able to walk on the moon or breathe underwater?
  • What’s something new you’d like to try this year?
  • What’s your favorite memory of the last year?
  • If you could go back in time and change your name, what would you choose?
  • What do you think the clouds feel like?
  • What’s your favorite color in the rainbow?
  • What’s the best thing about being the exact age you are right now?
  • If you were deep-sea diving, which creatures would you like to see?
  • What’s your favorite thing to do when it’s raining?
  • If you could fly, where would you go?
  • If you had one superpower, what would it be?
  • Who would you like to get a letter from?
  • What do you most wonder about the future?
  • If you could hang out with anyone in history, who would it be? And what would you do?

To get the most out of any conversation starters, you have to be all in. Be willing to answer any questions you ask and have fun with the answers.

Remember, these conversation starters can help you lay the foundation for the more challenging conversations that are coming. If your kids can rely on you to answer the crazy questions, they’ll be more willing to ask the challenging ones. Have fun and be ready to laugh a lot!

Other helpful blogs:

What You Need to Know About Positive Parenting

5 Ways Positive Parenting Creates a Lifelong Connection with Your Child

100 Conversation Starters To Increase Your Family’s Connectedness

Five Simple Things You Can Do To Strengthen Your Relationship With Your Child

Arguments can feel like a chess match. You both strategically state your case like seasoned lawyers, presenting key evidence to prove you are right. Other times it’s more like a boxing match, verbally duking it out, and sometimes coming away emotionally cut and bruised. 

Disagreements happen in marriage. It’s normal. But there are healthy and unhealthy ways to go about an argument. Both chess and boxing matches have rules that guide the fairest, safest way to determine the outcome. No eye pokes. Don’t throw your chess pieces or give your opponent a wedgie. 

Marital disagreements are the same way. Ground rules are essential to be sure your disagreements lead to a positive outcome.

Here are eight things you should never do during an argument with your spouse. 

1. Never take your focus off the problem at hand.

Arguments are about issues to be solved, but they often become attacks on each other’s character. Don’t let it get there. Focus on finding a solution, not fixing your spouse.   

2. Never listen to argue your point.

Instead, listen to understand where your spouse is coming from. Put yourself in their shoes. When you both invest in each other’s feelings, thoughts, and ideas, you can create solutions for the disagreement together. And you can’t do that without listening to your spouse for better understanding. 

3. Never say words like “never” or “always.”

You never do such-and-such… You always say or do this… These are exaggerated and accusatory statements. And they imply that a person needs fixing but will never be able to change their behavior. Instead, use “I” statements and say what you observe. For example, I sometimes see you doing this, and it makes me feel this way…

4. Never bring up old stuff.

Churning up what your spouse said at that party five years ago or the dumb thing they did back when you were dating doesn’t work toward a solution for the problem right now. You want to attack the problem, not your spouse. Keeping score attacks the person instead of the problem. And that’s counterproductive. 

5. Never call names.

It doesn’t resolve anything, and it’s just plain mean. Name-calling only separates you and your spouse even more. If calling names is a habit, throw it out the window. 

6. Never throw around the word “divorce,” also known as the “D” word.

It’s manipulative, and it doesn’t help you find any kind of solution. Maybe if we divorced, that’d show you… if this keeps up, we might need to separate… Unless you’re actually willing to go through with it, don’t use it to win an argument.

7. Never, ever intimidate, manipulate, or threaten.

That qualifies as emotional and verbal abuse, and it’s never a good thing. No one deserves that kind of treatment. (Read 

How to Be An Emotionally Safe Spouse.)

8. NEVER get physically aggressive with your spouse.

Hitting, spitting, slapping, pushing, punching, pinching, or any other type of physical abuse is totally unacceptable. Don’t go there.

Have a good discussion with your spouse and determine the ground rules you’ll follow to have healthy arguments. Use the ones above, and add more of your own — anything to help you attack and resolve the issue without attacking each other. Write your ground rules down, stick them on the fridge, and put them in plain sight. 

One last thing: the whole chess/boxing metaphor only goes so far in showing the importance of ground rules. But after that, it falls short. You see, in marriage, arguments aren’t a competition. You and your spouse aren’t opponents, even when you disagree. There’s only one winner in chess and boxing matches. In marriage, when one side wins, no one wins. Follow the ground rules, focus on the solution, and you’ll both be winners. 

Other helpful blogs:

Held Hostage by Anger: 6 Steps to STOP an Argument

Is It Good To Fight In Marriage?

Help! My Spouse and I Can’t Stop Fighting!

***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.***

I love talking about sex. No, not in a pervy way. Let me explain: I think more problems happen when sex is not discussed than when it is, especially among married couples. Get this: even nerdy science says couples who talk about sex have much healthier… and dare I say, steamier… sex lives than those who don’t! Kind of makes you want to cue up the conversations! 

But just what exactly should you talk about? Uhhh… honey, I like sex… do you like sex?… Ok, cool…

No, no, not like that! There are a gazillion great questions to help couples discuss sex. Questions about likes & dislikes, turn-ons & turn-offs, mood-makers & mood-killers. 

So, because I love talking about sex, and because I want you to love talking about sex, here are seven questions every couple (that’s you!) needs to ask to improve their sex life.

1. What makes sex fun for you? 

Sex is fun, right? But everyone has their own take on what makes sex fun. Talking this through helps you understand what makes the bedroom romp more enjoyable for your spouse and facilitates the fun! 

2. What do you consider be-foreplay?

Some people need certain things to be in place before the room starts rockin’ – perfectly normal. That’s be-foreplay

Do the dishes have to be dried and put away, the bedroom door double-locked, or a fresh coat of WD-40 applied to the bed frame? Discussing this helps you be more aware of what helps your spouse get in the mood and what you can do to make that happen. 

3. What is off the table? (And what’s on the table… if you know what I mean…)

Part of what makes sex in your marriage so adventuresome are the different things you can try. A new position, a new location, a new piece of lingerie, a new piece of furniture… Discuss what you are open to and what isn’t in the cards for your love life. 

4. How does stress affect sex for you? 

Some people have to feel de-stressed before the lovemaking commences. Others de-stress when they have sex. One isn’t any better than the other. But knowing where your spouse is on the spectrum helps you set the tone.

5. We have different interest levels in sex. How do we meet in the middle with that? 

It’s normal for two people in a marriage to have different sex drives. But often, it goes unaddressed, and frustrations can quickly build. 

  • Who has the more active libido? 
  • How can one of you let the other down gently when you don’t want to have sex, and how can you assure them you’re looking forward to the next time? 
  • What are your expectations as a couple as to how often you have sex? 

Discussing these kinds of questions helps put you on the same page in how you approach intimacy and improving your sex life. 

6. What makes me insecure about sex? 

Whether big or small, we all have insecurities about the sexual part of our marriage.

  • I don’t know if I can be kinky or seductive enough for him. 
  • I’m not sure I will last long enough for her. 
  • How do I compare with popular standards of beauty or body type? 
  • Am I a failure if my spouse doesn’t climax every time? 

Call these insecurities out together; work to put each other’s insecurities to rest as you affirm each other. 

7. How has sex changed in our marriage over time? 

Marriage goes through seasons, and your sexual relationship can change as well. 

  • How have these seasons affected your love life? 
  • Have big life events like job changes, moves, grief, or mental health struggles had an impact? 
  • What effect have children had on sex? 

Talking about this helps you work through oncoming seasons of marriage to keep your love life alive and active. 

A final word of wisdom: Sometimes, these conversations will be fun, lighthearted, even hilarious. Don’t be afraid to laugh about sex. Other times, your discussions will carry a more serious tone. Some topics can be heavy and difficult to discuss. Either way, talking about sex in your marriage benefits your marriage. And the best way to get the most benefit is to make it an ongoing discussion. It’s healthy to have sex regularly in your marriage, so doesn’t it stand to reason that you should talk about sex regularly? Talk it up, ask yourselves these questions, and watch your sex life improve! 

Other helpful blogs:

How to Talk About Sex in Marriage

3 Ways Good Communication Can Enhance Sex In Marriage

3 Ways to Have Better Sex in Marriage

4 Reasons Why Sex Matters In Marriage

Finding out your spouse has talked badly about you behind your back feels like a betrayal on so many levels. It can feel like they’re confiding in someone besides you. Like they’re not being real with you. Not to mention, you might feel disrespected. Before you let the emotions flood your soul, let’s think through how you can move past this and be better for it.

I’m not going to tell you to suppress your feelings and only look at the “real” issue, because what your spouse did impacts you. And hopefully, you’ll both move past it to better understand how each of you wants to be treated. 

So what can you do when you find out your spouse is talking badly about you behind your back?

  • Gather yourself. Whether you found out through social media or through the grapevine, there’s a good chance you’re pretty emotional. Before letting your emotions take over, gather yourself. Don’t immediately attack or fly off the handle. 
  • Get the facts. Knowing what was said can help you avoid misinterpretations. I’ve tried to highlight my own flaws when sharing things before, but all the other person heard was that there was something wrong with my wife. What my wife heard from a third source blindsided me. It happens. 
  • Try giving your spouse the benefit of the doubt. Do you believe your spouse’s goal was to demean, ridicule, or humiliate you? Likely not. There’s a chance they’re focusing on themselves when sharing grievances, not how it affects you or the marriage. More on this later.
  • Remember, the goal is to stay on the same team. After all, you are married.

Now let’s get to the nitty-gritty. Your spouse was talking badly about you, and it’s clear. How do you talk to them about it?

Organize what you want to say around your T.E.D., your Thoughts, Emotions, and Desires.

  • Clearly share what you heard they said. If it’s a pattern, share several examples. You can communicate without attacking. You attack your enemies, but you share your heart with someone you’re in a relationship with. Start the conversation with, “It bothers me when I hear that you tell your friends I’m ______________.” 
  • Share what you think when you hear they’ve said negative things about you. For instance, “When I hear you’ve said bad things about me, it makes me think you are _____________ (unhappy, untrustworthy, two-faced).”
  • Share what you think they’re saying about you. “To me, it sounds like you think I’m __________?”
  • Share your emotions. If you felt betrayed, disrespected, or humiliated, voice it. Try, “When I heard some of the things you said, I felt __________________.”
  • Share your desire to deal with the issues or grievances together. “I wish we could work out our issues together. What does it take for us to do that?”

Giving your spouse the benefit of the doubt doesn’t mean you ignore your feelings. 

Your spouse may not mean to disrespect you, but they may have. Several times in my marriage, I’ve heard, “I know you didn’t intend to make me feel that way, but you did make me feel that way.” (Normally, I’m the one hearing that statement.) Lovingly helping your spouse understand that intentions don’t justify hurtful actions can be crucial to moving forward. 

Knowing they don’t intend to hurt or ridicule is essential. It can mean the difference between attacking your spouse like they’re the enemy and helping your spouse understand how you feel.

Does this always lead to sunflowers and roses? No. It’s not unusual for people to naturally become defensive and not immediately own up to doing something hurtful. This may be an ongoing conversation that comes up consistently for some time. Talking to some trusted married friends or even a good marriage counselor might help.

Consider these things in the process: 

  • Ask why they feel the need to share their grievances with others. Is it the culture or friends they’re with? Do they feel uncomfortable telling you? Did they try and felt dismissed?
  • Do they gossip about you, or are they simply trying to get a better perspective? There are times when talking to a trusted friend provides perspective. Even then, it’s vital that you both agree that those friends are for your marriage, focused on helping you lean into (and not away) from each other.

Talking behind your spouse’s back can be painful and divisive. Managing your emotions so you can be heard while understanding your spouse sets the stage for growth. Creating an environment where you can both be transparent, secure, and heard may be the trick to reducing the need to air grievances with someone outside the marriage. That way, you can talk to each other about your friends instead of talking to others about your marriage.

Other helpful blogs:

4 Things to Know About Emotional Safety

What to Do When You Don’t Feel Emotionally Safe in Your Marriage

How to Be An Emotionally Safe Spouse

Should You Tell Your Friends and Family about Your Marital Problems?

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.***

AFTER I DO | THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO NEWLYWED LIFE

SEX. CONFLICT. IN-LAWS. OH MY.

Tired of no one talking about how hard those first years can be? Well, buckle your seatbelt. We’re here to embrace the awkward (sex!), talk through the hard stuff (in-laws!), and give you everything you need to ace your newlywed years and beyond.

After I Do is a COMPLETE guide for those first 5 years of marriage, when everything is new and sweet… and freaking difficult. Even if you’ve dated for years, going from ME to WE is a huge transition and sometimes you just need a little (or a lot) of sage wisdom so that you don’t completely go off on your spouse. (But if you already have, no judgment. We’re here to help.)

Our relationship experts will guide you and your spouse through 12 modules covering all the hot topics like communication, conflict, sex, in-laws, money, etc. Get practical solutions you can put into practice! So if you wanna turn up the passion and connect with your spouse on a whole new level, get this marriage course, stat.

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.

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***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.***