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“I have a dilemma.” An old co-worker mused as we headed back to the office after a quick lunch date, reconnecting after I had recently changed jobs.

“Oh yeah? What’s that?” I asked, but the tone of his voice already raised a red flag in the form of my quickening pulse and intuition that his answer was going to change everything.

“Yeah… You.”

And there it was. The unspoken attraction, the endless flirtations, the lighthearted jokes were suddenly in question. Was he serious? But he was married. And I was married–HAPPILY married, in fact. So I told myself, “No… we’re just friends. He’s just sad we don’t work together anymore.”

But then the emails got more suggestive and the text messages ramped up. We’d send each other smiling selfies at work with accompanying messages about how we missed each other. We started exchanging songs with lyrics that implied more intimate feelings were evolving in our friendship.

I didn’t know how to handle what was unfolding.

I loved my husband with all my heart, but I didn’t want to lose the friendship (or, if I’m honest, the attention/validation) of this other person. So I eased my guilt by convincing myself that it didn’t really mean anything. We were still just joking, not being serious.

However, with each passing day, the anticipation of another text from him grew and grew. My heart skipped a beat when his name appeared in my inbox. I started having vivid dreams about being physical with him. Consequently, I became more irritated at my husband. It made me anxious when he was near my phone, afraid he would see or read something that he’d question.

The guilt of secrecy weighed on my chest.

So I feverishly googled “Emotional Affairs” to see if that’s what this was… even though we didn’t really share intimate details about our lives. In fact, we didn’t confide in one another at all or even lean on each other for emotional support. But we connected on some unspoken level. And it was having a serious impact on my daily life – I could think of nothing else.

That’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks. The way I was acting was so disrespectful to my husband and our marriage. How I was acting was telling people something completely different than the truth. It was saying I was unhappy and unfulfilled in my marriage, that I didn’t really love my husband. When I realized that my actions were painting a false reality of my marriage, I knew something had to be done. Even though I hadn’t physically cheated, all the texts and emails were harmful and inappropriate, just the same.

So I took steps to set things right:

  • I admitted it. Shame can only exist in secret. When I was able to voice what was really going on, all the complexities of why I allowed it to go as far as it did and how I had realized the line had been crossed, the shame that surrounded the entire situation dissipated.
  • I stopped it. I wrote my ex-coworker a lengthy email telling him our friendship crossed a line and that I felt it seemed unfair to ourselves and our spouses to continue it. Then I let him know that I had told my husband and encouraged him to tell his wife and take time refocusing on his marriage too.
  • I set personal boundaries: Hindsight is 20/20, so I was able to look at my mistakes and create a guide for boundaries in future opposite-sex friendships. Such as, I will never write another man something that I wouldn’t want my husband to read.
  • I reinvested in my marriage. Obviously no marriage achieves perfection–there’s always work to be done. With my energy and attention refocused on my husband, we grew stronger, together.

Was any of this easy? Not at all. Was it necessary? Absolutely.

Looking back, yes, I was having an emotional affair. (Although at the time, my misconception about what constituted as an emotional affair made me deny it wholeheartedly. A line crossed, sure. But an AFFAIR. No way. The label was too strong, it had too many horrible implications.) Ending it before it went any further was emotionally exhausting. I felt everything from embarrassment and anger to guilt and shame to relief and hopefulness. And honestly, it took longer than I expected to let that relationship go completely. But I don’t regret it at all. Ultimately, I came out stronger, wiser and more in love with my husband than ever before. 

***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 your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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Buying a house is one of the most stressful things that you can go through as human beings. Especially if you’re newlyweds! Yes, it’s even more stressful than planning a wedding.

Not only do you have to decide on a house together, but once you do that, there’s also a *TON* of legal jargon, paperwork, and timely responses you have to work your way through, a 60-page inspection report to worry about, and a never-ending list of improvements you want to make. These things can wear you down to the point that you’re nearly ready to sell it before you even own it. THEN, you have to pack up everything you’ve stuffed into your little bitty apartment, and likely argue about what you should and shouldn’t toss out.

It’s. A. Lot.

Luckily for me and my husband, we had an awesome realtor, lender, and support group throughout the whole process. But we still had a plethora of challenges, especially since we’d only been married 7 months before we made this huge life change! Over the two months that we were deep in the house-buying process, we made a lot of mistakes. But you don’t have to!

Below are 4 things you can do to sail through the process without going crazy (unlike us)!

1. Schedule a date night every other week at minimum. 

When you’re meeting with tons of people, packing up all of your stuff, reading through a 120-page document that puts you to sleep, and somehow managing to be a functioning human being, the weeks fly by. And date night is the last thing on the list of things to do. My husband and I literally made Google calendar invites for date night to make sure we set aside the time!

2. Get a good look at the big picture. 

When we first started looking at houses, I was looking for our dream house while my husband was looking for our starter house. This caused a bit of miscommunication about what the non-negotiables were. Even if you’re able to afford your dream house right now, still do your best to keep your big picture in mind! Flooring can be changed, light fixtures can be updated, and any house can become your home with enough love and work. This is likely the biggest decision you’ve made together, so don’t let tunnel vision creep in.

3. Get a notebook/folder to store allllll of your everything in. 

This is something I wish we did, looking back. There were a few deadlines we missed and fees we had to pay because we were a bit disorganized or never finished that conversation about who was in charge of talking to what utility company. If you keep a central location for all of your information (even if it’s digital), you’ll have a better chance at keeping up with it all!

4. Make sure all your finances are in order. 

Buying a house costs more than just the down payment. There are a billion fees that are tacked onto the purchase, usually totaling anywhere from 2-7% of your total loan amount. And on top of that, you’ve got a bunch of moving expenses, too, from renting a truck to hiring movers. AND I won’t even mention the cost of paint & buying yard equipment & tools… you get the picture. It adds up. Even if you have it all ready and are fully prepared, go over each piece of it together. Every. Step. Of. The. Way. Money is one of the biggest causes of arguments in marriage, and with a large purchase like a home, tension can rise pretty easily. Taking the time to sit down and talk through all the little details of every expense will save you from some arguments down the road!

Having a home to grow in together is a great step for a marriage! Not only can it help you grow closer as a couple, but it can also be a great launching point on which to build the rest of your forever. It’s worth the stress, the many (many) decisions, and the late nights! Because now, you’re on your way to building your home together.

***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 your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Looking for more marriage resources? Click here!

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Being engaged is a season of anticipation! You feel all kinds of excitement, right? You can’t wait! Before the wedding arrives, that and the honeymoon are all you can think about! (Plus, you can’t wait for all those wedding questions to stop!)

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In-laws are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. They might blow through boundaries. Your in-laws might meddle in your marriage. You might even be having a hard time living with your in-laws. Possibly, they’re totally toxic. This isn’t about any of those things.

Sometimes, your in-laws are just difficult to get along with. But you want to try to have a good relationship with them.

After a few years of marriage (or less), you soon realize saying “yes” to forever with your spouse really did mean saying “yes” to forever with their family, as well as uncomfortable holidays and long weekends filled with awkward situations and tension for as long as you both shall live.

You want to like your in-laws. You’ve tried to like them. But you don’t. 

So, what do you do? How do you get along with people you don’t really like?

First of all, did you notice I said “get along with” and not “like?”

The truth is, you may never like your in-laws. And that’s totally fine. You don’t have to. It’s just important to keep the drama and the tension to a minimum as much as you can for the sake of your spouse and your children (if you have them). Even though you formed a new family when you were married, your in-laws are the reason you have your spouse and a new family to begin with. If nothing else, try to respect them for giving you your spouse. 

Secondly, be as empathetic as possible.

Maybe your mother-in-law is mega passive-aggressive and a little odd, and your father-in-law is just kind of a jerk all the time. TRY (keyword here) to look past their glaring flaws and put yourself in their shoes. For instance, your mother-in-law may be passive-aggressive because she really just wants to spend more time with you but doesn’t know how to say it. Maybe she’s even a little intimidated by you. (Note: If you’re the daughter-in-law, this is NOT uncommon… I mean, you did take her place as the prioritized woman in her son’s life. Forever.) 

And, maybe your father-in-law is a little unhappy with himself or unfulfilled in his life. Maybe they’re both a little off because their marriage and relationships aren’t as healthy as they used to be and they have some resentment and anger to work through. Being empathetic doesn’t mean you excuse their behavior. It just means you take a different approach to understand their motives and actions.

Third, tell your spouse about your uneasy feelings, but remember you’re talking about their parents. 

Be vulnerable and open with your spouse every chance you get. But, when it comes to talking about their parents, keep in mind that there’s a fine line between stating your feelings and being critical of their family. It’s okay to say, “I felt sad when I heard your dad talk to your mom in that tone of voice.” It’s not okay to say, “Your dad is a total jerkface. I can’t believe your mom has stayed with him this long.” 

Be sensitive. The truth is, your spouse more than likely already knows there are some odd bits about their parents. They did live with them during their most formative years. 

Fourth, set those boundaries with a smile.

You and your spouse want to start a new tradition around the holidays, but your in-laws insist that you come to visit them. Kindly and firmly say, “No.” If you want your in-laws to call before dropping by, tell them! Maybe you would prefer that your father-in-law not watch certain shows around your children. Let. Him. Know. Setting boundaries keeps things nice and tidy and leaves the guesswork off the table. 

ALSO, and this is very important, each spouse should set boundaries with their own family. So, you talk to your family, and your spouse talks to their family. It’s much easier for a parent to have a potentially dicey conversation with their child than with their in-law.

IF your in-laws don’t like one of your boundaries, and they throw a big fit, let them. You do you and what’s best for your family. If they get so mad that they never want to see you or speak to you again, then that boundary worked out more in your favor than you ever imagined it could. (Jk. Jk.) But, seriously. You can’t change or control their reaction. If they act immaturely about it, it’s not your fault. That’s their issue.

Fifth, different doesn’t mean wrong.

Everyone’s family has a certain way of doing things. It’s totally natural and normal for your in-laws to do things differently than what you’re used to, but it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. And it also doesn’t mean you’re wrong. It just means you’re different. For example, you grew up having a big feast on Thanksgiving. Your mom made awesome cinnamon rolls and a giant fruit tray, and your dad made the best omelets you’ve ever tasted. But, your in-laws go to McDonald’s and grab Egg McMuffins. It may seem weird to you, and not as fun or exciting, but it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. It’s just their way of doing things. Accept them for who they are and try not to look down on them for not living up to your standards or expectations.

Last but not least, texts go both ways.

Pursue your in-laws. That’s right. You heard me. Be friendly to them. Make an effort. They’re your family, too. Sending a text every now and again to check in won’t hurt you, and you know it’ll make them feel loved (even if you don’t like them). Send them cards on their birthdays. Invite them to big celebrations in your life. Let them learn more about you and your life. Who knows? You may just influence them to be a little more likable.

Marriage is hard and family is complicated. Both take a lot of work, but the reward of deep, meaningful connection is so worth it in the end. While you may never reach a level of relational bliss with your in-laws, these six guidelines should keep the drama to a minimum and maintain peace in your marriage.

Other blogs you may find helpful:

***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 your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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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.

What happens when the one you love isn’t your dream guy? Well, there might be The One, but then there’s also the one you actually marry.

“The One” is where things are going really great, you’re into him, and he seems to check a lot of the boxes. He’s cute, your heart races when you see him, and you get butterflies being around him. You think, “This is it, right?” This is the fun and exciting, sweep-you-off-your-feet, true love that you see in the movies. It’s finally happening to you!!

But then it ends.

He didn’t choose you, or you decided not to choose him.

A little back story – my boyfriend is tall with dark brown hair and hazel eyes. He smart, athletic, and hard-working. He dresses a little outdoorsy and preppy- absolutely no hipster or granola (which I thought would be a quality of my dream guy). I can’t even get him to try on joggers. What matters most is his amazing character and his heart- but we’ll get to that later. 

So I transferred to Andrew’s college in the middle of my junior year. Even though I told myself that I would never follow a boy to school, the move was better for ME. (Whether Andrew was there or not, that decision was what was best and healthiest for my life.)

When Andrew graduated, (a year before I did), he moved to Greenville, got a big boy job, and decided to live at home with his parents to save money. Now that I’ve graduated, I’m thinking about where I want to be. I’ve considered all the paths I can take & thought about the ones I truly want. I have always loved the thought of moving somewhere far away, whether it’s Vancouver or India, but I know that no matter where I went or what I did, it wouldn’t change anything between Andrew and me, because what we want is each other.

So, we have talked about a plan. We’ve known we want to marry each other for a while, but we both have talked about how we’re not ready to get married yet. We want to work and live on our own after college, because we think we’re young and still have some growing to do when it comes to responsibility and maturity. He’s saving money for a ring, we’re both saving because we want to get a house when we get married and we have no money to our names.

We’ve talked about things. We’ve communicated our goals and what we want. And, most importantly, we’re on the same page.

We are best friends. We can trust each other, we have the same purpose and goals in life and want to be teammates in pursuing those goals, work well together and balance each other. Love and forgiveness is at the core of our relationship, even when it’s hard and when the other person messes up. We’re together because Andrew sees my heart and that’s what he wants to be with, and I see his amazing heart and I’m so lucky to have found it. He is one of the best people I have ever met. 

His character is incredible and amazing, which is more important than if he wears joggers or not. You get to figure out what are deal-breakers and what are not.

Andrew does not have the personality I would have chosen; we are complete opposites and don’t understand each other easily. He is not what I imagined my dream guy would be, but I love him. It took and still takes a lot of communication and work. But I have learned to love and appreciate, and even sometimes need, his differences. Who Andrew is as a person and will be as a husband and father one day, is a deal-maker over and over again.

Our love is so much better and even more romantic than the movies, because it is real. Andrew has shown me love in deeper ways than Hollywood movies do or what I imagined in my daydreams. We’ve loved each other even when it’s hard, which makes our relationship even better and stronger.

I’m glad it’s not perfect. The One isn’t Prince Charming where the stars align and you see the signs and everything is right – it’s the one you choose to marry because you see who they are and they see you and both of you are excited about doing this life together. That’s why it will seem right.

I do not have to be with Andrew. I really don’t have to be. If I were on my own, I would be doing the same things. I would be who I am. I would want what I want. I’m not with Andrew because I’m afraid to be single. (I actually sometimes think it’s easier to be single, because relationships take work and it’s easier to get away with being selfish when you’re single.)

I’m not with Andrew because I’m afraid I won’t find anybody else. I know what’s best for me, I know what’s healthy, I know Andrew and I are a really good thing. I’m glad he’s in my life and he’s the person I’ve created a relationship with. We didn’t have to, but we chose to because we love what we see in the other person and life is fun to do together. 

And that’s the difference between the one you love and your dream guy.

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It was my 12th birthday, and I was (in my mind) an aspiring guitar-playing rock star. All I lacked was the right equipment. You see, all of the ultra-talented hair bands of the time had huge stacks of black-boxed amplifier speakers that blasted their gnarly guitar solos.

So, I made it perfectly clear to my parents. For my birthday, I needed a guitar amplifier so that I could be a rock star. 

On the big day, my parents presented me with a smallish wrapped box. As I unwrapped the gift, disappointment ensued. Indeed, it was a guitar amplifier – one that could almost fit inside my shoe, battery-operated, and just a little bigger than my Walkman tape player. When hooked up to my guitar, it barely made a sound louder than the actual guitar itself. And made of red plastic. I never saw a rock star on stage with anything made of red plastic. Talk about expectation frustration. 

I can now see the problem in hindsight. My expectations weren’t clear enough. I told my parents I wanted a guitar amplifier, but I wrongfully assumed they knew exactly what I meant. I mean, it’s not like they knew anything about being a guitar superstar like me. Ultimately, it was an unspoken expectation.

Imagine how this can happen in a marriage! 

One spouse expects the other to cook dinner every evening. One expects the other to spend time with the kids on the weekends. One expects sex four times a week. The other expects regular time together talking about each other’s day after work. But nothing ever said out loud. 

And then, when dinner isn’t ready, the kids are left to entertain themselves all weekend, the daily conversations don’t happen and sex is not happening nearly often enough, expectation frustration takes over the relationship.

We all have expectations for our relationships. Expectations are good in the fact that they are formed in the hope for something good to happen. When we expect something to come out of a certain situation, like our marriage, normally it’s in the hope that some sort of value is created.

But expectation frustration happens when we assume that our spouse somehow knows what we want without us telling him or her. There are times when I think my wife should know exactly what I expect because we both want a good, healthy marriage. And if she wants a good, healthy marriage just like I do, isn’t it just common sense that her expectations should line up with mine? 

See the problem here?

It’s perfectly normal – and OK – that two people have different expectations for achieving the same goal of a healthy marriage. The main thing is that these expectations don’t go unspoken. It shouldn’t be assumed that our spouse is thinking the same thing we are. And so a healthy, safe space needs created in the relationship to regularly communicate what we hope and expect from each other.

Trying to share your hopes in an unsafe space is like, well, two large guitar amplifiers blaring incoherent sounds toward each other. You get nothing but noise that can’t be heard. A safe environment, however, creates the space for a couple to experience harmony.  Each person approaches the conversation with a spirit of listening to understand rather than getting what they want. No value judgments are put upon the other person’s expectations; rather, their opinion is affirmed, even if it’s not necessarily agreed with.

The goal of a safe space for communicating expectations is that these opinions can be shared with the idea of reaching common ground. 

The magical part of this is that, when both people feel they can safely communicate expectations, they often find just how much their goals for their relationship are in line with each other. When my wife and I sit down and calmly talk about what we hope from each other, I hear her heart for our marriage rather than her expectations overriding mine. And she hears the same thing from me.

Unspoken expectations are like an acid that has a corrosive effect on the relationship – they slowly eat away at the common goal for a healthy marriage. Take the time to create that safe space and talk about your hopes and dreams for 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 your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Looking for more marriage resources? Click here!

Read this next:

What If My Spouse Doesn’t Make Me Happy?

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Do you have a mindful marriage? Here’s how to find out…

Pop Quiz! How would your spouse answer the following questions right now?

  • What is their primary motivator at the moment?
  • Their biggest fear or concern?
  • What is the dream that is driving them?
  • What is their biggest source of frustration?
  • How do they feel about the health of your relationship?

If you have a hard time knowing how your spouse would answer those questions, is it possible that you are not as mindful of your spouse the way that you used to be? Is your marriage on “auto-pilot?” Has your life become so busy that you are not continuing to connect deeply with your spouse?

Having a “mindful marriage” means making the deliberate choice to be “in the moment” with your spouse, prioritizing your connection and minimizing distractions so that you can really give them your attention, stay close and keep your relationship healthy.

Having a “mindful marriage” doesn’t just happen. Our lives are so demanding and busy that it is easy for us to be “mind-full” of a million things instead of our spouse. There have definitely been times where I have felt more like the co-owner of a small business with my wife than I have felt intimately connected to her in my marriage. Conversations turn into little business meetings: Did you pay that bill? It’s our turn to bring snacks to soccer practice. We are having dinner with the Smiths Friday. Did you run to the store?” Then on to the next thing…

We keep “Family, Inc.” running as smoothly as we can, but our marital relationship stagnates, or worse: we can even begin to drift apart.

4 Ways to Have a More Mindful Marriage

1. Make Routines Work For You

My wife and I have developed a bedtime routine that is simple and helps us stay connected. Your routine might be totally different. Before anyone dozes off, we ask each other the following questions and make sure that we are truly listening to the answers:

  • What was the best part of your day?
  • What was the hardest or most frustrating part of your day?
  • Is there anything we need to talk through? (We might set a time to have the actual conversation.)
  • We say “I love you” and “Goodnight.” (Then I might go watch the end of a game since I am a Night-Owl.) This routine or tradition has been wonderful and helps us focus on each other and keep our relationship grounded.

2. Set Boundaries For Technology

Technology is often the biggest obstacle to a mindful marriage. Our phones allow us to be constantly reached or distracted by notifications. There is always a screen nearby with something interesting on it. Keep technology in its place and protect mealtime, bedtime, some time, for actual conversations with your spouse.

3. Have a Regular Date Night and Protect It

It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate or expensive. Just make sure there is a time when your spouse is your sole focus. Early in our marriage, we have shared a soda at the food court and just talked. We have had “in-house” dates. Prioritize this time and don’t let hectic schedules squeeze it out.

4. Be Deliberate

This is the whole point of a mindful marriage. Healthy, growing relationships don’t just happen. 

It’s hard! Don’t beat yourself up! The reality is that our minds are filled up with good stuff – things related to work, friends, hobbies. Truthfully, it often is family-related. Just don’t let family business squeeze the focus from family members. Wait until you see the reaction when your spouse realizes that you are truly focusing on them and giving them all your attention. You’ll be mindful that it is absolutely worth it!

Looking for more marriage resources? Click here!

***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 your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Is it even possible to fight nice with your spouse?

When my kids were younger and they disagreed (or worse) I would tell them, “Boys, fight nice!”

This always got concerned looks from any other parents hanging around. “Shouldn’t you be telling them not to fight?”

“Nope,” I would stand my ground. “I want them to learn how to fight constructively, how to fight fair, to learn how to compromise and work it out themselves. To fight nice.”

Do you and your spouse fight nice?

You are both individuals with different personalities, opinions, likes and dislikes, and needs. Disagreements should be expected and viewed as natural and healthy. There may be some things that you never agree on, and that’s OK. It’s good to ask, Is this really a problem to be solved, or a tension to be managed throughout our marriage?” That question can be a helpful fight-stopper.

So how do the two of you as a couple currently navigate those inevitable disagreements? Maybe you guys get loud and animated. OK, some people are just loud and animated. That can be completely different than being intimidating, mean, spiteful and hurtful. That’s definitely NOT fighting nice. (Sometimes talking about how your parents handled disagreements when you were growing up can be illuminating to how you yourself – and your spouse – currently handle a disagreement.)

To The People Who Claim They Never Fight With Their Spouse

Was your wedding like, yesterday? (I’m still skeptical…)

You never fight? Really? Never? Maybe you are hung up on the word “fight.” Do you ever argue? Disagree passionately? Discuss heatedly? OK. Interesting.

Well, let me ask you this: Do you make decisions jointly? Do you ever discuss money or sex or parenting? Do both of you have power and a voice in the relationship?

Often, when couples say they never fight, it isn’t because they are both just super-ultra-mega nice or they have the “perfect” marriage. Usually, the dynamics of those relationships involve one person who dominates all the decision-making and one person that just bottles everything up and goes along. One spouse has the power, has the voice in the relationship, and the other spouse has neither. That’s not a healthy relationship. Learn to fight nice. It can actually strengthen your marriage.

Here’s another great question to ask yourselves: “Is it the two of us against the problem, or the two of us against each other?” This question alone can change the trajectory of each issue, and ultimately, your marriage!

Even if you do answer these questions openly and honestly with yourself and your spouse, conflict will always be there. Fights will still happen. So what do you do when they come? Here are 10 rules you and your spouse can follow so that you can fight nice:

10 Rules For Fighting Nice

  • Keep it about the problem, not the person.
  • Don’t use words like “never” or “always.” It’s never true.
  • Don’t intimidate, manipulate, or threaten your spouse.
  • It should NEVER get physical. That’s domestic violence.
  • Winning the argument isn’t worth losing your spouse.
  • Don’t bring up past, settled issues or re-open healed wounds.
  • Make sure BOTH of you have space to express yourself and feel heard.
  • Compromise. You both should feel like you gave a little and got a little.
  • Apologize and forgive. (Maybe some of the fighting wasn’t so nice.)
  • End by reaffirming your love for each other. When the fight finishes, consider it done.

Remember – disagreements, debates, arguments, heated discussions, even good ol’ fashioned fights are part of every marriage.

It might seem impossible in the heat of the moment, but they can be an opportunity to grow closer together and don’t have to drive you apart. The key is how you handle them. Sometime when both of you are calm cool and collected, have a conversation and agree to some rules for fightin’ nice.

Looking for more marriage resources? Click here!

***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 your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***