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So, what do you do if you think your spouse’s friends are hurting your marriage? 

It’s essential to proceed with great care. Your goal is to voice your concern in a way that’s respectful to your spouse. How you approach the subject can move you toward resolution or, in the opposite direction, toward conflict. 

Proceeding with care means you need to ask yourself some crucial questions before talking with your spouse about it. 

What exactly am I seeing, hearing, and experiencing that makes me feel this way? 

  • Can I name something specific which makes me think my spouse’s friends are bringing harm to our relationship? 
  • What are my spouse’s friends’ marriages like?
  • Is this a new friend that concerns me?

Is what I’m seeing in my spouse’s friends hurting my spouse as a person? 

  • Have I seen this person have a negative impact on my spouse? 
  • Is it causing my spouse to be someone they aren’t? 
  • Do these friends care about my spouse’s well-being? 

Is there something going on within me (rather than my spouse) causing these negative feelings to be triggered? 

  • What are my own friendships like? Is there anything lacking that may influence how I’m feeling about my spouse’s friends? 
  • Am I taking care of myself? Am I trying to be my best self in my marriage? 

Is there something between my spouse and their friends going against what we stand for in our marriage? 

  • Do my spouse’s friends know how things work in our marriage? 
  • Do they openly support our marriage? 

Having a good, productive conversation with your spouse means you will need to consider the answers to some of these questions. The hope is for you to approach your spouse calmly and respectfully with your thoughts and feelings. Can you come to a common understanding of what is causing your sentiments and agree on how to move forward?

★ Here’s how to do that. 

Try to approach your spouse when neither of you is feeling stressed. It might help your spouse focus more on the conversation if you ask them to set aside a time to talk. 

Be specific with your spouse about what you’ve observed that concerns you. Use “I” statements to own your own feelings. People usually respond better when they don’t feel like they are being accused and put on trial. Approach the conversation with a calmpaced… voice.

This is the message you want to communicate: I’m concerned for you and our marriage because… [Avoid making blanket accusing statements like, “Your friends are ruining our marriage by doing such-and-such.”] Be sure to let your spouse know your ultimate goal is for your marriage to be as healthy as it can, and you don’t want anything to stand in the way of that. Acknowledge you realize how important it is for your spouse to have friends—but friends that are for you and your marriage.

This is important: Allow your spouse to speak about this subject. Naturally, they might be on the defensive; that’s okay. Simply hear them out and calmly reinforce your primary concern. 

The place you want to get to is the security that your marriage is no longer being threatened. So, you and your spouse need to come to an agreement as to how that can happen. 

  • Does a particular activity with friends need to be modified or stopped altogether?
  • Maybe time with friends needs to be limited?
  • Does my spouse need to have a conversation with their friends about what our marriage stands for?
  • Does my spouse need to distance herself from one of her friends?
  • Do I need to change something in my own mindset to help me feel better about my spouse’s friends? 
  • Do my spouse and I need to spend more time together? 

Friends are important. But they should never cause a problem for your marriage.

Take time to ask yourself the important questions and plan a calm, conversational approach. If needed, seek professional help to determine a solution, preferably involving both you and your spouse. Remember, these conversations aren’t always easy, and it might not all be settled in your first talk. Hard conversations, handled well, are well worth having for a stronger marriage.

How to Have More Meaningful Conversations With Your Spouse

What to Do When Your Spouse Lacks Empathy

My Friends Are Getting Divorced and It’s Affecting My Marriage

***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.***

Have you had to navigate this in your marriage? What suggestions do you have? Be sure to leave them in the comments section below!

Thankfulness doesn’t have to be unique to Thanksgiving Day. Gratitude is key to any successful marriage, and when you show your spouse you’re thankful for them, they feel loved and appreciated. We all want to feel valued. This is foundational to a healthy, happy marriage. 

But how do I show my spouse gratitude?

Here are 7 ways to show your spouse you’re thankful for them:

1. Say it often.

Two words, “thank you,” carry so much weight. Tell your spouse how much you appreciate them. Tell them often. Show appreciation for the small things as well as the big. Look for creative ways to show your gratitude for them. Write it, text it, scream it from the rooftop.

2. Leave them notes.

Nothing shows appreciation like a note. There are tons of opportunities for creativity here. Go old school and mail them a note. Utilize technology and send them a text or video. Leave a note on the bathroom mirror if you leave before they do. Find fun places to hide a handwritten note… in their lunch, their car, their underwear drawer—you know, get creative. Be fun, be sincere, be you.

3. Discover what makes them feel appreciated.

We all receive love and appreciation in different ways. Be a student of your spouse. It’s fun and informative. My wife loves when I do the laundry, the dishes, or cook. I want to make sure she knows how much I appreciate her, so I am more than happy to show her using these ways. She knows I receive love through words of affirmation. I need to hear the appreciation verbally. When we can identify and utilize these methods, each of us feels valued. 

4. Give more than you take.

Marriage is a partnership. One way to show appreciation to your spouse is to look for ways to be a giver and give without expecting anything in return. My wife loves massages, and she loves it when I give her a massage with no expectations. It’s about showing gratitude and love. Do things for your spouse just because you care. I love to run, and one time my wife looked at me and said, “Babe, I’ll cut the yard, you go run.” That gesture screamed appreciation because she did something she doesn’t enjoy doing so I could do something I love to do. 

5. Take them out on a date… that they’ll appreciate.

Who doesn’t love a fun date? When you’re thinking about how to show your spouse gratitude, get creative with date ideas. What are they interested in? What do they love to do? Ask yourself these questions and plan a fun date to show them how much you appreciate them. 

6. Make sure they have time for themself.

We must take care of our marriage. To take care of our marriage, we have to take care of ourselves first. Show your spouse how much you appreciate them by making sure they take care of themselves. This may be a hobby, a sport, exercise, or hanging out with some friends. It’s essential to ensure both of you refill your tanks. You can only give what you have. If you are empty emotionally, you don’t have anything to share.

7. Download the “30 Days of Gratitude and Love” guide.

This guide will give you 30 simple, practical ways to demonstrate gratitude and love for your spouse.

Showing gratitude to your spouse can be a daily practice. It doesn’t have to be complicated either. Start with these seven ways and get creative. A thankful marriage is a healthy marriage. Making gratitude part of your daily practice helps guard against you believing you are the center of the universe or “drifting” into everything being all about you.

You may find yourself in the spot where you and your spouse don’t have much in common in the way of interests or hobbies. Maybe you think you have nothing in common. And you may wonder, should I care about my spouse’s interests? If I don’t share my spouse’s interests, does that mean I don’t care about my spouse? Just how important is it to care about what they like to do??

Let me tell you about my situation. I fish. It’s what I do. My wife, not so much. Actually, not at all. 

But I will tell you what my wife does do. She recognizes when I need to de-stress, and says, “Babe, you need to go fishing.” 

Here’s my point: She does not at all share in my love of fishing. But she cares for me enough to support my love of fishing. 

There are two bottom lines here. The first is, if you care about your spouse, you will naturally care about their interests. (Notice, I didn’t say you will share in them.) 

Here’s why it’s essential:

  • Your spouse’s interests (assuming they’re healthy interests) are what helps them be a better version of themselves. How fulfilled do you feel when you’re doing something you like? Do your interests give you a sense of meaning and identity? Of course. That’s why you take part in your interests. Your spouse feels the same way. 
  • Your spouse’s hobbies help them to practice self-care. Whether it’s fishing, scrapbooking, running, cooking, reading, or yard work, our interests serve to bring our stress and anxiety levels down a few notches. It’s part of how we maintain our mental health. What your mate does for fun allows them to de-stress and unwind.   
  • Your spouse’s interests help them to be a better spouse and parent. Add up the two previous points, and your spouse is in a better position to be what they need for your family. 

The second bottom line is this: caring about your spouse’s interests doesn’t mean you have to share those interests. 

There are ways to show care for your spouse and support them in their interests without feeling the need to invest waist-deep in those activities yourself.

Here are some possibilities: 

  • Encourage them to do what they enjoy doing in times of stress or anxiety. You know your spouse. You can tell when they need a break or just a mental health tune-up. Like anyone else, sometimes they may need a reminder that doing something they love is just what they need at that moment. 
  • Affirm and compliment them in their interests. When I catch a fish I’m proud of, I take a picture and send it to my wife. The truth: she couldn’t care less about how big a fish I caught. But she always compliments me on it and tells me, “Good job! Way to go! You are such a studly fisherman!” (Okay, I made that last one up, but I’m sure that’s what she’d say.)  Let your spouse know you like them doing what they like doing. 
  • Participate as a “one-time experience.” Your spouse may feel supported if you participate once in what they like doing, understanding it’s not a regular thing. The outdoors may not be your thing, but joining your spouse on an easy hike, just this once, can show them your support. The point here isn’t that you’re going to try to love cooking, but that you love being with your spouse. And all this without the pressure of requiring yourself to take up hiking every weekend.
  • Allow your spouse to be the expert. I love it when my wife asks me something about fishing because it allows me to tell her all I know about it. Truthfully, she may not remember the difference between a spinning rod and a fly rod. But she cared enough to ask me about something I love doing that I know she doesn’t love. 
  • Encourage growth in their interests. Part of the joy of having hobbies is they give you something to grow in knowledge and skill. It feels good to improve your ability to camp, sew, do woodworking, or paint. You are in the position to be your spouse’s biggest cheerleader with this. 

You can offer lots of care and love for your spouse without feeling the need to take on a hobby you have no interest in.

I’d encourage you to share an honest conversation about the interests you share and don’t share. ✦ Don’t forget! Carve out time to do things together you both love to do. No matter what, be sure to let them know you love them loving what they love to do as well. 

***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.***

When I first started dating my husband 32 years ago (but who’s counting?), the first thing I noticed about him besides his legs was how different we were from each other

I was concerned we didn’t have many things in common. Would this be a stumbling block to our future marriage? 

Now, I see the benefits. I see how not acting the same, not thinking the same, interacting with others exactly the same, or even having a whole lot in common became a strength in our marriage, not a problem. The things we didn’t have in common caused us to respect each other and support each other better. I had to stop myself from continually thinking we had to have everything in common. I realized the words from Jerry Maguire were absolutely wrong. It’s not about seeking to complete each other, but learning to complement each other despite differences.

Here are some things you and your spouse DON’T need to have in common:

1. Personality

From the very beginning of our relationship, my husband and I were and are different. He liked Lakers’ Showtime of the ’80s while I was a fan of the Bad Boys of Detroit. I loved pro-football, and he was a big college football fan. I am an extreme extrovert who loves being around many people. At the same time, he is much more comfortable around a small group of close friends. Neither one of us is right or wrong. Instead, we learned to respect and embrace our differences.

2. Common Interests and Activities

Many couples struggle with the idea that they must spend “all their time together.” Yes, you and your spouse need to spend intentional quality time together. You don’t need to spend every waking moment together or have all your interests and activities in common. While you are a part of a couple, it’s vital for you as an individual to grow and develop. The key is to support your spouse in their activities. I enjoy reading. My husband—not so much. It makes me feel loved and valued when he goes to a bookstore with me while I just wander around. Or he takes care of our family while I head to a bookstore. In both cases, he is demonstrating his care and support for me and my interests.

3. Family/Cultural Background

Although my husband and I come from the same racial & ethnic background, our families are very different. My family is composed of biological family and friends that become family. His family was basically made of his immediate family, aunts, uncles, and biologically-related cousins. It doesn’t matter if you come from a single-parent family with one child or a large family with several children. You could have been born in Georgia while your spouse is from Utah. As long as you recognize and appreciate what you each bring to your relationship, it will not suffer because of your cultural differences.

4. Political Beliefs

As a young adult, I watched James Carville and Mary Matalin work for 2 different presidential campaigns. I watched how they disagreed politically yet didn’t let it negatively affect their relationship. Political beliefs are deeply felt and long-standing. Allowing your spouse to hold their opinions, which differ from yours, causes us to create spaces of patience, understanding, and civility. 

5. Housekeeping and Organizational Skills

As someone who is organizationally challenged, I am grateful that my husband and I don’t have this in common. If we did, we might have ended up on “Hoarders.” (Not really…). For him, everything has a place. For me, as long as I can find it, I’m good. The key is to respect each other and not mandate your spouse to change to be exactly like you. Remember, it’s about complementing each other, not making a clone.

Help! My Spouse and I Have Nothing in Common

We’re Total Opposites! Can Our Relationship Work?

★ For a long time, I wanted him to act like me, like the same things I liked; be involved with the same activities. I thought it would make our relationship better if we liked ALL the same things. I now understand and respect our differences. The fact that we are not the same and see things differently makes us STRONGER. We lovingly and consistently challenge each other to see old things in a new and unique way. 

No matter where you are in your relationship, it’s vital to love and accept your spouse for who they are without spending all of your energy worrying you don’t have things in common.

***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.***

There are some people you should not trust: Those who don’t like pizza. People who don’t find puppies cute. Those who laugh way too loud or for no apparent reason. 

Your spouse shouldn’t be someone you can’t trust. Marriage is built (at least in part) on a foundation of trust. And trust is meant to grow over time. 

And yet, it’s not uncommon to find marriages with trouble in the trust department. Somewhere in the journey, one person lost the confidence to see the other as reliable. Trust issues hijack the process of growing together, causing discord and disunity rather than closeness and connection. Trust issues drive a wedge in the intimacy shared between two people. 

How do you know you have trust issues in your marriage? And if you do, what can you do about it? 

Here are seven signs you have trust issues in your marriage: 

  1. You assume your spouse is going to let you down. It’s just inevitable and a matter of time. They’re gonna disappoint you.
  2. You hold your spouse at arm’s length. You want them close, but not really and you find it difficult to be emotionally or physically vulnerable with your spouse.
  3. Maybe you feel the need to hold the remote control in the relationship. You need to know where your spouse is, what they are doing, who they’re with. Every. Single. Moment.
  4. You feel alone, even when you’re with your spouse. Your lack of trust keeps you from feeling connected. 
  5. You have a hard time forgiving genuine mistakes. Those little things we do because we’re human — you take them as a personal attack and surefire evidence of how unreliable they are.
  6. You had a really bad experience in a former relationship. After all, if it happened once, it’s bound to happen again, right? This experience has made you self-protective to a fault. 
  7. You see signs of trust issues in other current relationships. If you experience these trust issues with friends or other family members, you could very well have trust issues with your spouse.

Do any of these sound familiar? Is there a chance you are dealing with trust issues toward your spouse? You are not alone. And trust issues can certainly be overcome when you begin to consider why you struggle with trust in the first place. 

Three things could be happening if you have trust issues in your marriage. 

You have trust issues because of…

  • Something that happened between you and your spouse. 
  • Something that happened before you and your spouse were married. 
  • Both

None of these situations are hopeless. Each may require a slightly different approach to overcome trust issues. Regardless, working through the problems will most certainly require honest conversations with your spouse and will take time. 

I’ve seen couples become impatient with this process. They expected instant results. The healing or forgiveness offered was usually shallow at best (since forgiveness is itself a process). The marriage was in worse shape than before. 

But the couples I have seen who come out stronger on the other side of trust issues are the ones who kept putting one foot in front of the other. They recognized this kind of thing takes time. And they kept at it. I encourage you to do the same. 

  • Honest and respectful conversation is vital. Using “I” statements helps your partner be a much better listener and focuses on your own feelings and behavior: I am having a hard time with trust because… I have a hard time being vulnerable because… I think this part of my past has caused me to…
  • Working toward building trust may require moving toward healing and forgiveness rather than placing blame. You cannot reestablish trust if you continue to hold your spouse in contempt. 
  • Practicing vulnerability with your spouse helps locate the source of trust issues. What may have been the trigger that began your trust issues? Your family upbringing? A bad experience with a former romance? An experience with abuse? Opening up to your spouse about these issues can be difficult. But doing so can begin to reverse the lack of trust, which divides your relationship. 
  • Consider seeking the help of a trusted professional. Counselors can help resolve trust conflicts between you and your spouse or help you work through prior life events, which contributed to your trust issues. 

Building trust with your spouse is vital to your healthy marriage. The good news is there is hope in working through trust issues. Begin the conversation with your spouse. Put one foot in front of the other. Don’t get in a hurry, and seek help where needed. What lies on the other side is a stronger marriage and a deeper connection with your spouse.

★ Working through trust issues in marriage will require healthy communication. Build better communication in your marriage with these tools!  

MARRIAGE COURSE | 5 Days To Better Communication In Marriage

The Magic of Communication In Marriage Ebook

***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.***

Why can’t we just talk about it?” Couples should know: communication is essential in any relationship, but communication is at the core of marriage. Poor, unclear, or sporadic communication in marriage is its own problem, but unhealthy communication also makes it difficult to work on other marital issues like disagreements related to finances, sex, and dealing with in-laws. 

Communication Is So Simple, So Why The Communication Breakdown?

Communication occurs when both spouses effectively talk and listen to each other. One spouse says what they are thinking or feeling while the other spouse not only hears but listens. No one feels the need to ramble on. Spouses take turns without interjecting or interrupting. They provide verbal and nonverbal feedback, which lets their spouse know they were heard. Sounds simple enough, right? Why is the breakdown so easy?

What Is And What Should Never Be.

Often, we care more about being right than we care about our spouse or working together to solve the problem at hand. We speak when we should be listening; we hear but don’t really listen. We’re too busy thinking of our comeback. We let things escalate. We don’t feel safe being honest. Soon, it isn’t even communication; it’s a laundry list of past hurts, raw feelings, defensiveness, pride, snark, sarcasm, raised voices, or people withdrawing altogether. 

The Song Remains The Same.

How do you break this cycle? We communicate differently. Recognize how you both communicate and change the tune. You may be more assertive at speaking while having trouble listening. Your spouse may be great at listening but have difficulty sharing what they are thinking or feeling. All isn’t lost if you discover you communicate differently. It’s important to remember that communication in marriage is a skill that can grow, develop, and flourish over time. When you find your groove, it can actually build intimacy in your marriage.

Four things couples should know about communication in marriage:

1. Communication is a Process.

No matter how good you get at communicating with your spouse, you will both still occasionally miscommunicate. There will always be good times and bad times sharing. When miscommunication occurs between you, recognize it, acknowledge it, and hit reset. It’s not a big deal or the end of the world. Focus on the process of communicating and building a stronger connection. You’ll both feel less dazed and confused.

2. Communication is a Skill.

We often think communication is easy because we have a mouth and ears. It’s true, however; healthy communication is a skill we learn and can continue to develop. 

How we learned to communicate does impact our communication in marriage. What communication patterns were you and your spouse raised with? If a lot of yelling was modeled, it could become a default communication setting. Additionally, one of you may have observed how sharing thoughts and feelings was met with criticism and sarcasm. It might be hard to say, “The way I feel…” 

You can learn new ways to communicate and change the patterns that lead to miscommunication and create distance between you and your spouse.

3. Communication Takes Practice.

The average couple spends 20 minutes per week communicating. For some people, that might sound about right. Studies also showed when couples communicated with each other for just five minutes a day, they felt more connected and understood. Understand that for many spouses, communication in marriage is a significant way they seek connection. Your spouse wants to know all about you to bond with you—your day, feelings, dreams, disappointments, and goals. Their communication needs involve quality and quantity—lots of in-depth communication.

Other spouses need together-time to connect. Talking might be optional. They are content to simply be with you and enjoy your company. Being quiet doesn’t mean anything is wrong. They aren’t trying to be distant or avoid conversation. They bond by being together doing an activity.

Neither is right or wrong. Identify your individual marriage communication needs and, if necessary, meet each other halfway. Find things that are “doing” like going for walks, working in the yard, putting a puzzle together, and then add some “talking” to it. Why not both?

4. Communication: A Two-Way Street to a Whole Lotta Love.

Communication is a two-way street. Your marriage can get somewhere if you learn to stay in your lane and respect the posted signs. Fellas, sometimes, you need to stop and yield some time to just listen. Your spouse isn’t looking for any new construction; she just wants to be heard. Ladies, if you take too many forks in the road and don’t observe the posted speed limit, your spouse can’t keep up and will get lost.

All drivers should use “I” statements (I think, I feel, I need). No sharp “You” turns—don’t make your spouse a defensive driver. No parking in past, settled, healed wounds. Do not enter a mindset where your spouse is your adversary. Put your phone away—no distracted driving. (Use caution if there are children at play nearby.) When you’ve reached a dead end, pick up the conversation later.  

As you both learn how to safely merge with traffic, you will find your relationship traveling to exciting new destinations. There will be less icy road conditions and dangerous curves ahead. You’ll just enjoy the ride to deeper intimacy. 

10 Years Gone…

Invest in some communication tools. MARRIAGE COURSE | 5 Days To Better Communication In Marriage, or The Magic of Communication In Marriage E-book. See where they take you!

Healthy communication in marriage can spur growth and connection. It may take time. Little by little, the levee breaks, and it becomes easier to be transparent and vulnerable. You’re using communication to solve problems together instead of poor or infrequent communication creating problems. Your marriage bond is more robust. You feel free to share thoughts and feelings. You made it a point to improve communication in your marriage, and now you are enjoying the fruits of your labor!

6 Ways Poor Communication Can Affect Your Marriage

Communication Killers

Keys to Effective Communication in Marriage

***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 that 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.***

Friends are people we confide in, have fun with, and can be ourselves around. Does this sound like your spouse? If so, fantastic! It’s great to be best friends with the person you share your life with. If not, never fear; you can be a better friend to your spouse. Let’s be real for a minute… life and kids can make friendships challenging to maintain, especially with those in our own house.

Here are 5 ways you can be a better friend to your spouse:

Build playfulness into your daily routine.

Friends are people we love to laugh with. To be a better friend to your spouse, take the temperature of the playfulness of your marriage. It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of the daily routine. When you add kids to the mix, your time is even more stretched. Look for ways to be playful throughout the day. My wife and I are notorious for love taps on the butt. It’s playful and flirty all in one! Win-Win!

Explore each other’s interests

Remember when you were first dating? You wanted to know everything your boyfriend or girlfriend was interested in. Well, interests change. If you haven’t continued the conversation, then dive back in. Good friends know what each other likes. To be a better friend, show a genuine interest in your spouse’s hobbies or passions. 

Have a regular date night… and don’t talk about the kids.

Life is busy, am I right? Having a regularly-scheduled date night is vital to your marriage. Don’t get stuck on just dinner, either. Get creative! Talk to your spouse about what is fun for them and for you and mix up the date nights. Maybe that means going bowling, taking a couple’s paint class, ax throwing, a bike ride, cooking together, watching a movie at home, or stargazing. 

Date nights don’t have to be expensive either. Oh, yeah… don’t talk about the kids (if you have them). This date night is for the two of you, your friendship, and your marriage.

Show your spouse they are your priority.

When your spouse was your boyfriend or girlfriend, you probably ditched hanging out with friends to be with them. You skipped out on shopping or playing golf just to spend more time with them. This should carry right over into your marriage.

I have a friend who is a high school teacher. When he asks his students who has a boyfriend or girlfriend, he always raises his hand, too. He has been happily married for over 15 years, but he knows he can never lose the interest he had in his wife when she was his girlfriend. Don’t lose that interest!

Make time to talk and listen.

Friends talk about everything. They are people we can confide in and share our emotions and desires with. Your spouse should be the best friend you have. Carve out time in your day to have deep conversations and check in on each other. 

Make it a point to ask, “How was your day?” then sit and listen. Don’t listen to fix something or add commentary but listen to genuinely understand how their day was. If they ask for your input, then offer it, but don’t expect to always say what is on your mind. This works both ways.

You can be a better friend to your spouse. The two of you can continue to rekindle your close friendship. Protect your friendship and protect your marriage.

Take your spouse by the hand, tell them you love them, and you want to be their best friend.

4 Ways to Be More Present With Your Spouse

5 Things To Do When You Feel Disconnected From Your Spouse

How To Have More Meaningful Conversations With Your Spouse

4 Ways to Feel More Connected to Your Spouse

***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 that 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 gritty are you? 

Is your marriage gritty

Do you teach your kids to be gritty

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Harvard-trained psychologist and researcher Angela Duckworth examines what it takes to stick things out and accomplish long-term goals. 

Grit has everything to do with how we do family relationships. 

Don’t mistake grit with talent (which Duckworth describes as the rate at which a person improves a skill). Grit isn’t how intensely you want something. Instead, grit is an attitude. It is a relentless, determined work ethic—despite setbacks, defeats, and hard days

It’s a “never-give-up” attitude.

Who do you know that is truly gritty? Grit is what drove Thomas Edison to succeed as an inventor. As a boy, teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” Edison was  fired from his first two jobs for being “unproductive.” He reportedly experienced 1,000 failed attempts before successfully inventing the lightbulb. (Edison reported that, rather than failing 1,000 times, the lightbulb was an invention with 1,000 steps. Now that’s grit.)  

Great things are achievable in ordinary people through gritty determination.

Duckworth quotes sociologist Dan Chambliss, “…the main thing is greatness is doable. Greatness is many, many individual feats, and each of them is doable.

Grit is more than just a trait for inventors, athletes, or business leaders; grit is a significant family value. 

Duckworth’s research points to a high correlation between grit and marital longevity. People with a gritty determination have a can-do attitude toward building a healthy, strong marriage—despite struggles, conflict, and tension. Gritty couples say, “No matter what we have to do, we’re going to make this work. We’re committed to this marriage.”  [Note: There are some situations in marriage that are unhealthy and unsafe. “Grit” is NOT enduring a dangerous relationship. See the note at the bottom of the article.]

For parents, the nagging question is, how do you teach grit to your children? Duckworth offers some great answers. 

First, grit is best taught with a balanced parenting style. In other words, parents who connect through affection and encouragement, while also creating structure and appropriate expectations, have a parenting style that fosters grit. 

It’s a balance between love and support with accountability and parental toughness.

Second, gritty kids want to take after gritty parents. Duckworth explains that “if you want to bring forth grit in your child, first ask how much passion and perseverance you have for your own life goals.” 

Third, Duckworth suggests that extracurricular activities are especially beneficial in developing grit in kids. An organized activity requiring a child to overcome challenges or criticism from peers, coaches, or teachers fosters grit. Bad days, lack of energy or motivation can help teach kids to push through and be gritty. 

Let’s get practical. Do hard things.

Duckworth shares a very practical strategy for developing grit in her teenage children called the “Hard Thing Rule.” There are three parts: 

  1. Everyone in the family, including the parents, has to do a Hard Thing. A “Hard Thing” is anything that requires deliberate practice. For a parent, in addition to the skills they use at work, it might be yoga, running, or completing a degree. For kids, it might be ballet, piano, or soccer. 
  2. You can quit your Hard Thing. But there’s a catch. You can’t quit until “your season is over, the tuition payment is up, or some other ‘natural’ stopping point has arrived.” In other words, you can’t quit on the day your coach yells at you, or you have to miss a party because you have practice. 
  3. You get to pick your Hard Thing. 

As a family and relationship educator, it makes me wonder: if grit was a more common character quality, would we see more successful marriages, healthier parenting styles, and overall relationship satisfaction? 

Perhaps it starts with you.

Maybe it means you are more intentional about pressing through your small, doable feats even when you’re not motivated. Maybe you model more grit for your family and lead by example. Perhaps this week, you and your family can pick your Hard Thing to practice. 

Don’t be afraid to get your hands gritty.

I’m convinced—and I hope you are, too—grit is a good thing and something we all can use in our family. 

Related: 

10 Things Healthy, Happy Families Do

How To Encourage A Growth Mindset In Kids

The Blessing Of The Skinned Knee

Got some gritty thoughts on grit? Share them in the comments below!


***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 that 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.***