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You want a marriage where you both work together and are free to be yourselves. However, if your freedom to think and make decisions that reflect your ideas and desires is a little, well, stifled, you may be feeling manipulated. Nobody wants to feel that way. If that’s the case, you’re probably wondering how to deal with manipulation in your marriage. Let me tell you: it may be challenging, and it may take some time, but you’ve got to deal with it. Especially if you want your relationship to thrive.

Being manipulated can really mess with a person. It affects your mental health, self-esteem, and confidence. Manipulation in your marriage can be subtle or direct, relatively mild or emotionally abusive. Regardless, it’s not a good thing. Here’s why: It attempts to control your spouse in an underhanded and unhealthy way. 

Subtle and mild manipulation probably happens more than you realize (which doesn’t make it right). 

Take, for instance, the line of questioning from one spouse to another, “Do you have anything to do Friday night?” And when the response is “No,” the spouse says, “Good, we can have your in-laws over to the house for dinner and a game night.” 

Though this situation probably isn’t to the level of calling a counselor, it’s manipulative. It takes the spouse’s choice away regarding how they’ll spend their evening. You or your spouse may not even notice the manipulation. But when one spouse makes the other feel like their desires or thoughts don’t matter, and the spouse uses that to get what they want, that’s manipulation. And it’s painful.

Manipulation can also be more direct. 

Let’s use the same situation, but this time, one spouse says, “If you love me, you’ll invite your in-laws over for game night this weekend.” Nothing subtle there. Just a direct guilt trip if you don’t respond “correctly.” Not fun.

When you feel manipulated, you may feel:

  • Guilt, though you’ve done nothing wrong.
  • Gaslighted or made to feel like you’re crazy.
  • Isolated if your spouse punishes you with the silent treatment.
  • Powerless, because your choice seems to be taken away.
  • Inferior, if your thoughts, opinions, and wants are dismissed or ignored in favor of the manipulator’s.
  • Blamed, as though any negative results are your fault.

How can you respond?

Well, you’re in a tough spot, for sure. Here are some things that might help.

  • Self-reflect and know what your own desires and thoughts are. Try taking a step back from the conversation before committing to anything.
  • Be specific. The point is to understand what each person wants without the added expectation that you must oblige. Ask specific questions to separate their wants from what they’re doing to control you. 
  • Call it out. Your spouse should know it’s not ok to use underhanded or overt tactics to get their way. Explain the manipulation and how it makes you feel.
  • Set boundaries. Not blindly allowing yourself to be manipulated is key. Boundaries can help you make sure that you both respect different ideas without taking them personally just because they are not the same. Create boundaries to help each person hear and understand the other’s thoughts, feelings, and wants. You should agree that you won’t judge each other. 

I know this all sounds easier said than done, and it is. Here’s why: Your spouse may be used to getting their way by manipulating, whether they know it or not. If they don’t get what they want, they may react negatively. Fear is a powerful thing. And the fear of not getting what we want may cause us to be even more manipulative, deceitful, or even forceful. 

If your spouse is being mildly manipulative, it might be good to start the conversation with, “What’s the worst thing that can happen if you don’t get your way right now?”

For many situations, though, involving a counselor is gonna be your best bet. A manipulator who suddenly isn’t getting their way may react violently. They may become emotionally or physically abusive, or destructive. It can take some time and therapy to get to a place where they accept not getting their way. (If you’re the victim of abusive behavior, don’t hesitate to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit thehotline.org.)

Knowing yourself and finding security in who you are can help you fight the tendency to be manipulated. It will also help you find healthy ways to move toward that mutually respectful relationship you want. In a healthy relationship, manipulation isn’t a weapon, and differing opinions are welcome.

Other helpful resources:

My Spouse Is Putting Me Down. (How Do I Get Them to Stop?)

How to Find a Counselor Who Will Fight for Your Marriage

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

How to Overcome Built-Up Resentment in Marriage

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

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Grieving Infertility and Miscarriages

There are many common challenges and misunderstandings.

In the English language there are orphans and widows, but there is no word for the parents who lose a child.” ~ Jodi Picoult

Children bury their parents up on a hill. It’s the sad, natural cycle of life. But parents bury their kids deep in their hearts for the rest of their lives. Then, some people are forced to bury their dream of having children… in the murky depths of what might have been.

For Those Dealing With Infertility, Miscarriage, or the Death of a Child

There’s probably been no shortage of people telling you to get the help and support you need. Or maybe there has. People often don’t know what to say, when, or how to say it. Or perhaps they’re afraid to say the “wrong” thing. So, they say nothing. The deafening silence around the loss of a child or the ability to have children can make you feel ashamed, or marginalized, or lost in the solitude of your own grief.

Some well-meaning people say, well, dumb or insensitive things. Unfortunately, the hurting and grieving individuals often feel like they have to be understanding, gracious, and compassionate toward someone who makes callous remarks.

Some statistics have reached urban legend status concerning divorce rates for parents who’ve lost a child. I’ve heard 80% or even 90%. Don’t let these numbers scare you. The actual number is around 16%, including couples experiencing marital difficulties before losing a child. [The divorce rate is actually higher (30%) among parents having their first child.]

This is not to say that fertility issues, miscarriages, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome(SIDS), or Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUIDS) don’t create unique marital challenges and difficulties. 

One challenge is the reality that people grieve differently. Some cry, some get angry. Some people need to process their feelings out loud. Others need to process their emotions internally. The important thing is for spouses not to judge each other’s grieving process or draw conclusions about who cares more. Men and women often process loss and grief differently, especially after a miscarriage.

In Helping Men with the Trauma of Miscarriage, published in Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, Mark Kiselica and Martha Rinehart, Ph.D., looked at case studies of men whose partners had lost a baby. They found that the fathers’ sadness and grief were dismissed by others.

Additionally, men also grapple with the physical loss of their wives after a miscarriage. 

What I know from my own data, and working with support groups in counseling, is that miscarriage does a number on your sex life,” says Swanson. “For men, it was, ‘When can I go back to her? I miss her.’ For women, it was, ‘If I never have sex again, I’ll die a happy woman.’”

Similarly, many people mistakenly believe that an early-stage miscarriage is less complicated emotionally than one that happens later. Research indicates that this isn’t the case. A woman can start bonding with her baby as soon as she tests positive on a pregnancy test. 

Many other misunderstandings surround grief, infertility and miscarriages. 

People often have a dismissive attitude toward those trying to conceive. Some assume that medical advances and adoption provide a “fix” for couples facing infertility. However, medical procedures only go so far and are too expensive for many. Same for adoption. Plus, psychological hurdles like guilt, blame, and the desire to have a biological child are challenging issues to navigate. Sterility or infertility can leave an individual feeling “broken” and burdensome to their spouse.

One thing to be careful of when dealing with infertility or the death of a child is Partner-Oriented Self-Regulation (POSR). POSR is where one spouse tries to stay strong for the other. They may bottle up their emotions, avoid bringing up the loss, and act as though nothing has happened. A spouse who “regulates” themself in this manner mistakenly believes they are helping their partner. In reality, they may be sending a message to their partner that they are unmoved and calloused. Plus, they could unknowingly be invalidating their spouse’s feelings and hampering the grief and healing process for both of them.

Whether a couple is wrestling with fertility or losing a child, communication, counseling, and cultivating a support system are crucial. Remain a team in your marriage and utilize the resources available to you. 

Other helpful resources:

Married, yet hiding from your spouse. Such is life when you don’t feel emotionally safe in your marriage. There are parts of you, your personality, dreams, feelings, or thoughts, locked inside, unavailable to your spouse. Exposing them puts you at risk for rejection, criticism, or neglect. You don’t wanna live like this anymore. You want the freedom to be your whole self – vulnerable, imperfect, flawed, and all.

So what do you do?

Self-Check

There are two people to look at: you and your spouse. Let’s start with the easy person to look at first – you. (I know, it’s easier to look at your spouse, but you know you. You’ve been with you all your life.)

Sometimes we have our own personal barriers to being emotionally safe with others, even in marriage.

  • Traumatic event(s) in our past
  • Personal insecurities
  • The false belief that you and your spouse should always agree
  • Personal control issues
  • Past relationship experiences

Without understanding how your past experiences and current mindset may affect your ability to be totally open with someone, these barriers can hold you captive. They can cause you to go into “self-protective mode” anytime you feel challenged or feel vulnerable.

  1. Ask yourself what you may be fearful of.
  2. Talk to a friend or possibly a professional counselor.
  3. Ask your spouse for help. 
  4. Be honest with yourself and forgive yourself.
  5. Speak the truth about you to yourself. Your past doesn’t have to determine your future or define you.

Processing what holds you back emotionally can strip the past and any insecurities or control issues of their power to sabotage your relationship.

Talk to Your Spouse

Now let’s look at the second person in this equation – your spouse. When they aren’t being emotionally safe for you, what do you do? 

1. Name it.

Be aware of what you feel makes it unsafe. Do you feel talked down to, dismissed, inferior, etc.? It might be worth writing your feelings down before you talk.

2. Create an opportunity to talk.

Set aside a non-threatening time to discuss with your spouse. Without attacking or accusing (because you want to be an emotionally safe person, too), ask…

  • “What does emotional safety in our marriage mean to you?” Obviously, this may not be something your spouse has thought much about. Still, it’s a worthwhile conversation to have. A good follow up question is, 
  • “What causes you to feel emotionally unsafe?” After your spouse shares, share your answers to those questions and go from there.

3. Agree.

Work toward agreeing about what emotional safety is and why it’s a good thing. (Read 4 Things to Know About Emotional Safety to learn more.) Discuss questions like,

  • “What makes you feel safest, most free to be yourself, and willing to be totally transparent or vulnerable?”
  • “What makes you shut down and go into protection mode?

Listening to each other can help you both understand how to create a safe environment. 

Affirm what you like about each other. Remind yourselves why you wanted to marry each other. Take turns sharing the strengths each brings to the marriage. Knowing that your spouse likes you for you increases emotional safety. 

Model

You’ve probably heard the golden rule: “Do to others as you’d have them do to you.” It’s also true in marriage. Sometimes others are emotionally unsafe because they need to self-protect. Listen to your spouse. Foster an environment where they can be vulnerable and their full selves. 

Revisit

This is not an issue you’ll address only once. (If so, consider yourself one of the lucky ones.) Come up with code words to communicate when your spouse is doing something to make you feel unsafe. Freely acknowledge if you’re struggling because of your own issues. (Full disclosure: I do this with my wife. Sometimes I can go into conflict-prevention, self-protection mode, where I don’t share my full thoughts and beliefs because I know my spouse will disagree. That’s a “me” issue, not a spouse issue. Acknowledging it helps me name it and work through it.)

Not every spouse will embrace talking about being emotionally safe. At times, contacting a marriage counselor is the best route. If and when you talk about it, be prepared for the rewards of working through marriage challenges; it will build trust, resiliency, and deep commitment. Who doesn’t want that for their marriage?

Other helpful resources:

How to Find a Counselor Who Will Fight for Your Marriage

These questions can help you find the right counselor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Find a Counselor Who Will Fight for Your Marriage

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

First and foremost, ask friends and family for references.

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

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

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

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

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

Make sure you feel comfortable with your therapist.

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

Ask what their relationship values are.

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

Set goals together.

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

Most marital problems are solvable.

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

Trust your instincts.

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

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

Other helpful blogs:

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

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.

How to Divide Household Chores Fairly in Marriage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, chores aren’t the issue.

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some questions you can ask each other:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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