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There are days you wake up and have no motivation to go to work. Times when you don’t feel like seeing your in-laws and weekends and there’s no desire to get out of the bed anytime between Friday evening and Monday morning. However, when the lack of motivation creeps into marriage and you begin struggling to even want to work through marital challenges, it’s time to sound the alarm.

Incessant arguing. Constantly feeling hurt and empty. Money issues. The never-ending feeling of being lonely. It can feel like the easy answer is to stop trying

Is it unusual to get to a place in your marriage where you want to give up? 

I would’ve answered this question with a loud “NO WAY” when I first got married, but then I talked to a couple who’d been married for over 40 years. I asked a simple question: “Did you ever want to give up on your marriage?

They looked at me like I was crazy and said “Are you kidding me? Yes!” Then, they shared some dark moments in their marriage. Moments of betrayal of trust and times of extreme disconnect. They admitted there were times when they just weren’t sure. But, they also said, “We’re glad we stuck in there because we wouldn’t trade these 40 years for anything.”

How’d they do it? How did they stay motivated when they were experiencing difficult marital challenges? The couple told me their secret: “You just have to remember.”

Remember what exactly?

Remember your why.

Why’d you get married in the first place? People marry for several different reasons: love, kids, a passion for another, to have companionship. Your why doesn’t have to match anyone else’s why. The neverending nature of your why can help you outlast the temporary challenges you face in marriage.

Remember your story.

Pictures. Videos. Experiences. Memories mean little without the story attached to them. You look at them to remember the story. It connects you with the positive energy captured during the moment that’s worth remembering. Let that energy motivate you to keep going. Your story helps you remember what you’ve built together. 

It isn’t just about reliving your past. It’s about guiding and maintaining your perception of your spouse and your marriage. It is about truly seeing the person you’re with. It’s about being reminded of who you are and even how you’ve evolved over the years. 

Remember to never stop connecting.

Keep searching for better ways to communicate, be playful, and spend quality time with one another. Regardless of how challenging marriage gets, to stop communicating is never the answer. Connecting in hard conversations, through disappointments, and in the midst of hurt is better than not communicating at all. Anytime you stop talking, you’ll slowly feel the wedge between the two of you grow bigger. 

Remember you’re not alone.

Hearing a couple who had been married for 40 years share some of their darkest moments was motivational for my own marriage. They were proud to have made it 40 years, and I could sense they felt their life was better for it. Since then, I’ve learned many couples, if not most couples, have gone through difficult moments where they felt like giving up was really the best option on the table. So, when you find yourself hurting and questioning if it’s worth it to hang on, reach out to other couples who have walked the road before you and made it to the other side in one piece. Connecting with other healthy couples who are willing to be honest and real can inspire you to stay focused on your marriage when it appears hopeless. Also, a good marriage counselor can help you work through some of the toughest marriage challenges.

Remember yourself.

Sometimes we get so focused on what our spouse is or isn’t doing we lose sight of ourselves. Research shows when a person has a negative perception of work, family, themselves, and just life in general, they are more likely to be unhappy in their relationships. Continue to grow and practice good self-care. It may help you to get a fresh perspective that can help you thrive in the midst of some of the most difficult times.

When you remember these things, you’ll realize no matter how big the problems may seem, your commitment to each other is bigger. The urge to stop trying is real. But, you have everything you need in your memory bank to fight the urge to quit and help your brain to keep moving forward. The darkest part of a cave is right before you see the light. Focus on using the tools you have to get to the light and stop the darkness from making you a permanent resident.

***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.***

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! Through this course, you will learn:

  • How to establish healthy communication habits
  • The secrets to creating a deep connection through communication
  • Skills to help you (and your spouse) be a better speaker and listener
  • How to celebrate and understand your different communication styles
  • And so much more!

There are lots of things that can make your marriage great. Inevitably, your marriage will run into some bumps and cracks in the road that can cause problems. Those problems don’t have to become craters in your journey. Awareness of common marital issues can help you avoid many of them. It can also prepare you to work through them when they seep into your marriage. Here are some of the most common problems couples experience in marriage. 

1. Unspoken Expectations

You know the disappointment you feel when your spouse didn’t do something you fully expected them to do. You were coming home late from work and you expected him to have dinner on the table. Instead, there’s no dinner. He expected you to spend all your recreation time with him, yet you made plans with your girlfriends on Saturday night. But the catch is, these expectations were never spoken. They were just running through your mind. 

Unspoken expectations are a setup for disappointment. We often don’t realize we have them until they aren’t met. We may expect our spouse to be able to anticipate our every need or know the keys to “making us happy.” They’ve come from our experiences, history, hopes, and dreams. Sometimes they’re informed by what we see through entertainment, social media, or other “seemingly” happy couples. We have expectations about parenting, household responsibilities, money, dealing with in-laws, sex, work, etc. 

They become problems when we don’t talk about them. Write them down. Have conversations about them. Communicating about them helps prevent disappointment, frustration, and hurt. It will help you have realistic expectations that will bring you closer together.

2. Poor Communication

If you hear a couple discussing a problem they’re having in their marriage, you can almost guarantee there’s some miscommunication around the issues. What he is saying is not what she is hearing. And what she is saying is not what he is hearing. People hear things differently. Examples of poor communication that have become common in some marriages include: the silent treatment, criticism, listening only to respond, expecting your spouse to read your mind, and talking over one another. Poor communication or lack of communication can lead couples to have negative perceptions of their spouse purely based on a misunderstanding

Knowing the communication traps that are easy to fall into is half the battle. Learning to hear, communicate, and understand one another’s thoughts, emotions, and desires can turn communication into a strength in your marriage.

3. Money

It’s been said many times that if a couple can learn how to work together regarding money, then they’ll be able to work through anything. Research tells us that money is the number one thing that couples argue about. Your spending habits reflect your values. Your values are important to you, just as your spouse’s values are important to them. It’s normally not the money itself that causes the issues, though. It’s coming into agreement on what to do with the money that causes arguments and disagreements. 

Secret bank accounts and wild spending habits can destroy a marriage. Openly communicating with each other about future plans, necessary purchases, and your goals can help the two of you be on the same page regarding money matters. Working together regarding how you manage your money can set you up to overcome any issue you face in your marriage.

4. Technology and Social Media

With the rise of employees working from home and the increased integration of technology in every facet of our lives, couples are in the same bed at night during the time which used to be designated for pillow talk—but they’re not talking. Instead, they’re connecting with old friends, looking at videos, shopping, playing video games, surfing the net, and generally putting their attention toward their screen instead of their partner. It’s distracting couples from loving one another and causing others to compare their relationships to what they see on social media.

Setting aside screen-free time that allows the two of you time to focus on each other will help both of you feel valued within your marriage. Be intentional to not only nurture your relationship, but also to appreciate what makes your relationship satisfying. 

5. Intimacy

When couples speak different intimacy languages and aren’t able to understand one another, it’s a recipe for marital conflict. Whether it’s understanding each other’s needs for connection and vulnerability, or romance and sex, if you don’t know what arouses your partner, then you run the risk of living with a big intimacy void in the marriage.

Open conversation to discuss what makes each of you feel the most connected. Periodically doing marital checkups to make sure you’re staying connected can strengthen your marital intimacy

None of these problems have to destroy your marriage. Working together to deal with problems in marriage will create a bond and security that gives you the confidence that your marriage can make it through anything. You don’t have to do it all by yourself. Having other healthy married couples in your lives you can talk to or seeing a good marriage counselor can help you overcome problems that are very difficult for the two of you to solve together. Problems don’t have to be something that you dread. Instead, they can be opportunities to strengthen your relationship and bring positive growth.


***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.***

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! Through this course, you will learn:

  • How to establish healthy communication habits
  • The secrets to creating a deep connection through communication
  • Skills to help you (and your spouse) be a better speaker and listener
  • How to celebrate and understand your different communication styles
  • And so much more!

Married. You and your spouse talk every day and you sleep in the same bed. You share bills and responsibilities. Of course, you have sex. You do all the things married couples do. Yet you so often feel unheard and unknown by your spouse.

You don’t feel like your spouse knows your hurts and pains. They’re unaware of what causes you to be fearful or insecure. When the two of you talk about personal or intimate matters, you don’t feel like your spouse gets you even though you shared exactly what you were thinking and feeling. 

You’ve made comments to express your feelings that they didn’t get. Your conversations are not fulfilling. It’s made your sex life one-sided because you don’t feel known or heard so you’re not as into giving yourself to your spouse in that way. And you’re not sure if they notice or even care.

How does this happen?

One possible explanation is your spouse isn’t curious about you anymore. Curiosity pushes someone to want to know all the complexities of their spouse’s thoughts, personality, dreams, and feelings. It drives you to understand how past experiences affect your spouse in the present. 

Curiosity can stop for several reasons: 

  1. Your spouse believes they know all the important things there are to know about you. 
  2. The busyness of life has subconsciously shifted the priorities. 
  3. Your spouse has become more focused on themself.
  4. Complacency in the relationship and in their own personal growth.

As a result, spouses often don’t hear their partner’s cries to be heard. They miss the snarky comments, make assumptions about the marital silence, and overlook opportunities presented to show they hear and know you. You may be evolving or even changing, but your spouse still speaks to you based on how you thought when the two of you first got together.

What can you do about it?

Yes, you have to talk about it. The struggle of letting your partner know you’re feeling unheard and unknown is getting them to hear from you. Ironic, right? This is a conversation that my wife and I had for years before I finally heard her. Did I think I’d heard her before? Of course, I did! I’d listened to what she said and tried to treat her based on the words she said. However, she knew I didn’t hear her because I didn’t become genuinely curious about her. I was still interacting with her as if she hadn’t grown or evolved since we first met. Consequently, I was missing out on getting to really know her and her new ideas, dreams, and desires.

You’ve probably tried many times to get your spouse to really hear and know you. All to no avail.

Here are the keys to being truly heard by your spouse. 

  • Gentleness. Getting louder, forceful, or playing the blame game is not the way to get heard. Marriage therapist and researcher John Gottman has coined the phrase, “Gentle Start-Up.” You can attack your spouse with insults or approach your spouse with gentleness. It hurts to be married and feel unknown, but to approach your spouse with anger and rage is more likely to cause defensiveness than to birth helpful conversation. 
  • Be Direct. Don’t Hide Your Emotion. Your spouse does need to see your emotions in a healthy way. Nothing violent, abusive, or manipulative. Hurt, neglect, sadness, and loneliness are all real emotions that can help your partner understand the gravity of the problem.
  • Perception. Approaching your spouse from the perspective that they do want to make you happy. They love you and want your marriage to work. Battling the tension between feeling like your spouse is not interested in you and knowing they love you and want you happy can be tough, but it is doable. 
  • Clarity. What makes you feel heard and known? When do you feel lonely within your marriage? It may take several conversations to communicate all that’s on your heart and even more for your spouse to get it. Repetition from a gentle spirit is helpful.

Don’t Give Up.

If the two of you are both well-intentioned and you both want the marriage to work, then keep pressing forward. Talking to other couples who have experienced similar struggles can be encouraging. Talking to a marriage counselor may be empowering. I’ve heard many spouses say that after so many years, “My spouse finally gets me!” When that happens, you go from the feeling of being unnoticed and unknown to experiencing levels of connectedness and intimacy that’s very difficult to find outside of a committed relationship. A marriage where you both feel heard and known is a relationship that offers the security and comfort which brings peace to the soul.

***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.***

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! Through this course, you will learn:

  • How to establish healthy communication habits
  • The secrets to creating a deep connection through communication
  • Skills to help you (and your spouse) be a better speaker and listener
  • How to celebrate and understand your different communication styles
  • And so much more!

Do you have realistic expectations for your marriage? Fast forward to being married. You text your spouse about how long your day is and how you’ll be home late. They respond saying they actually got to go home early and can’t wait until you get home. 

You think to yourself, “Ah, so glad they’re getting home early, now they can get started on dinner and some of the dishes that have piled up.” 

You walk in the door and let out a big sigh with the clank of your keys on the key tray and just as you’re about to say “I love you. How was your day?” you see the dishes still in the sink and the second thing your spouse says after “Hey!” is “What’s for dinner?

I imagine you’re frustrated at this point. Your day was long and coming home to more things to do and no time to relax was not how you pictured the night going. However, did your spouse know your expectation was for them to do those things? Normally you take care of the dishes and dinner! 

No one can meet an expectation they don’t know is there.

Unrealistic expectations are also unspoken expectations. If you and your spouse hadn’t talked about what you expect each other to do when one spouse gets home late, then it’s unrealistic to believe they would know what you want. 

When you have unspoken expectations or aren’t willing to meet halfway, there’s no chance for either you or your soon-to-be spouse to win. What seems to be a very realistic expectation to you is very unrealistic to them because there’s been a lack of communication. You run the risk of resentment and disappointment when you judge your spouse on expectations they can’t meet or didn’t know existed in the first place. 

Common Unrealistic Expectations:

Your partner is responsible for your happiness.

Your husband/wife will definitely play a role in your happiness, but they can’t be the only source. Think about things that make you happy and things that make your spouse happy. Are they all the same? Probably not. They can be your everything without being everything for you. You, like them, are human. You’ll make mistakes, you’ll fall short, and ultimately, that’s okay if you handle it in a healthy way. 

Your spouse will anticipate what you want and all of your needs since you’re married now.

As amazing as that would be, being married doesn’t make you or them a mind reader. Sorry if this is a bummer for you! I’m definitely guilty of this. I often think… “Well, since my husband knows me more intimately than anyone else and since we’ve been together so long, he’ll do things without me asking. He’s just that aware. That loving. That good.” As time and experts will tell, the only way my husband can truly know what I need is by me talking to him about it. It doesn’t make his actions any less genuine because he didn’t come to the conclusion on his own (another unrealistic expectation I held when we were dating). Instead it gives him the opportunity to love and care for me in the way I specifically want and need.

The way you approach an expectation is the only right way.

If we’re honest, being right feels good, and there’s a comfort in doing things your way instead of someone else’s. However, there’s a time to set aside the “right way” if it means you get to a resolution. Choose your battles. If you expect your spouse to do the dishes, then putting the bowls on the bottom rack instead of the top rack like you do needs to be okay. Is the job still getting done? In short, yes! 

You will handle conflict the same way.

You two have to come to an agreement together on how you will handle/manage conflict. If one of you needs space and the other needs to talk it out immediately, find a compromise that benefits both of you, like a timeout, and choose a time to talk about it a little bit later. Or, if your spouse feels like something needs to be said in the moment, be willing to listen first and then take a timeout. It’s important to voice your expectations so the health of your marriage doesn’t suffer on the account of unspoken words!

A Few Realistic Expectations:

  • Communicate well and often; talk about how you’re feeling on a regular basis.
  • Speak to each other with kindness, no matter what.
  • Show respect to each other in every situation.
  • Pursue each other daily.
  • Say “I love you” every chance you get.
  • Give your best effort at all times, and know this looks different depending on the week!

On your wedding day, you’ll vow to go above and beyond for each other, love one another wholeheartedly (flaws and all), and support each during all of the “for better or for worse” times. Remember, you’re starting your marriage with vows to meet halfway and sacrifice your preferences. Don’t let unrealistic expectations keep your marriage from being the wonderful relationship it has the potential to be.

Here are some blogs I think you might find helpful 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 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.***

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! Through this course, you will learn:

  • How to establish healthy communication habits
  • The secrets to creating a deep connection through communication
  • Skills to help you (and your spouse) be a better speaker and listener
  • How to celebrate and understand your different communication styles
  • And so much more!

All the kids have gone to sleep. You and your spouse are lying in the bed and… Silence. You can’t think of anything you want to say, though there’s probably a lot of things you’d like to say. This is happening quite often. There are more and more moments where you and your spouse are together and there’s just silence—while you’re in the car together, eating a meal, or even on the phone when you’re apart. You feel disconnected from one another. Is it possible to start talking with your spouse again?

How do you break the silence and start talking to your spouse again?

1. Do something together.

Shared experiences can provide great conversation starters. Hiking, playing tennis, taking a dance class, and attending events together create shared interests and experiences that lead to discussions about what each of you saw, heard, and think about what you’re encountering. Dr. Howard Markman, co-director of the University of Denver’s Center for Marital and Family Studies, says their research indicates the more you invest in fun, friendship, and being there for your partner, the happier the relationship will get over time. Getting out, having fun, and investing in your marriage has shown to help increase communication within marriage. 

2. Put your marriage before the children.

You can get so busy tending to the needs of your children, work, and community that the connection in your marriage suffers. Next thing you know, the only time you talk is to discuss administrative tasks like who’s taking who where and what time they need to be picked up. According to Dr. Paul Pearsall, author of Super Marital Sex, The marriage comes first. All other people and events come after the marriage. Children, parents, work, and play all benefit most by marital priority instead of marital sacrifice because the marriage is the central unit to all other processes.” 

3. Be curious about your spouse.

Take an interest and ask them about their dreams, goals, and future desires. Ask them about the most impactful experiences in their childhood they believe frame who they are today. When you focus on learning and getting to know your spouse, you may hear about their secret fears and struggles. Look for those moments where you find yourself saying, “We’ve been married all this time and I never knew that about you!

4. Put questions in a hat and pull out one or two each day.

Look through the internet for questions to ask your spouse. Write them down on a slip of paper and put them in a hat. Each night before bed, pick one or two. Have a real discussion about the question. Some questions can take you down memory lane while others may cause you to reflect on yourself or the marriage. 

5. Listen to your spouse.

We all have a desire to be known, respected, valued, and understood. If we don’t feel like we are being heard so that we can be known, then your solution may be to shut down and withdraw. Be to your spouse what you’d like them to be to you. Help your spouse realize that you want to know and understand them.

6. Use daily points of connection.

Dr. Linda Duncan, researcher and Professor Emeritus at Tarleton State University, reveals four powerful points of connectedness between couples. Paying attention to how you connect when you wake up, how you depart for work/school for the day, how you reconnect after being apart, and when you go to sleep can affect how you engage one another in conversation. Making this part of your routine provides a consistent opportunity for the two of you to connect. 

7. Seek help.

Are there unresolved issues you continue to rehash with no solution? Maybe you keep having the same conversation over and over? Talking to a trusted couple or seeking out a good marriage counselor may help you work through the unresolved issues that are stifling communication in your marriage.

Many couples experience times within a marriage where they seem to have nothing to say to one another. This is not necessarily a sign that you’ve run out of things to talk about or that the marriage is falling apart. Being intentional about pushing through those times can launch your marriage into new levels of intimacy and connectedness. Now that’s something to talk about.

***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.***

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! Through this course, you will learn:

  • How to establish healthy communication habits
  • The secrets to creating a deep connection through communication
  • Skills to help you (and your spouse) be a better speaker and listener
  • How to celebrate and understand your different communication styles
  • And so much more!

Does this describe anyone you know? Avoids conflict at all costs. Hates when someone is mad at them. Shuts down when emotions get intense. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to describe your spouse. I was describing myself. Though I justify the behavior sometimes, I know it’s not healthy. I know it affects my marriage in so many negative ways.

Since your spouse and I have a lot in common, let me give you some tips on how to deal with a spouse who can’t handle conflict.

Look at yourself first. Are you combative? Is winning the conflict more important to you than the relationship? Do you approach every small issue like it’s a big deal? You may have come from a family where everyone fussed, cussed, and discussed while your spouse may be more reserved. Create a safe, nonjudgmental space to discuss differing opinions. It’s important that both of you are heard, valued, and respected. 

Tone of Voice Matters. Yelling, screaming, and an overly aggressive tone will lead to your spouse shutting down. Express your thoughts and emotions with your words and a quieter intensity. That way, you’re better able to focus on the issue.

Ask, “When is a good time to talk about this issue?Some conflict-avoidant people experience anxiety just engaging in disagreements. Give your spouse the opportunity to mentally address their anxiety, get their thoughts together, and enter the conversation with a more relaxed mindset.

If your spouse says something like, “I don’t want to talk about this right now,” don’t hear that they don’t want to talk to you. Instead, keeping in mind that tone of voice matters, ask when is a good time? Your spouse will feel respected while you’re getting a commitment to address the issue. 

Be Patient. Your spouse continually has internal battles. Their desire is to engage wholeheartedly and resolve the conflict versus their tendency to shut down, become defensive, or stonewall. Where you may be much better at communicating your thoughts, emotions, and wants, your spouse may bounce back and forth from being defensive to being vulnerable. Revisiting conversations that you thought were resolved isn’t unusual when your spouse is working to do better at engaging in conflict. Be understanding if they share more of themselves in a follow-up conversation. Of course, you’d like them to have shared it the first time, but they may have been more focused on avoiding the conflict than resolving the issue the first time. 

Encourage your spouse to speak first when possible. People who avoid conflict will often change their thoughts because of what their partner has already said in an effort to keep the peace. Encouraging your spouse to speak first increases the likelihood they will express their true thoughts and desires.

Don’t talk over them or finish their statements. This sends the message that you don’t respect their perspective or opinion. Your spouse needs to communicate their perspective and not have it done for them.

Start with “I,” not “You.” Instead of accusing, (You always…) use an “I” statement that reflects your own feelings and subjective experiences. Avoid criticizing your partner, because fights are often not about our partners. They are usually about our feelings and expectations.

Focusing on what you know, think, feel, and want as opposed to making statements about what you believe your spouse knows, thinks, feels, and wants leads to better communication and understanding during conflict.

Together, decide on a plan to deal with conflict. There are many techniques available. The speaker-listener technique  is a good one. Learning a technique, even though it may not come naturally at first, can help you focus on the issue and the solution while ensuring that both of you feel heard. 

Don’t expect change, but celebrate growth. Your spouse will most likely never begin to lean into conflict the way you do. It may always be an effort for them to engage in disagreements. By building a track record of resolving issues, being heard, and overcoming their anxieties, they may become more willing to come to the table and work through any disagreements. Affirm and celebrate progress.

You and your spouse are wired differently for a variety of reasons. What you may think is a peaceful conversation or debate may be causing your spouse anxiety because they see it as conflict. Never forget: you’re on the same team. Conflict is inevitable within marriage. Your different personalities are meant to complement one another. It will take effort and time for both of you. Your challenges are different. Patiently loving one another and gently working together to work through the issues you’re sure to face will strengthen your relationship and pass on a healthy legacy to those you influence. 

I’m sixteen years into my marriage and no, I still don’t look forward to conflict. But the understanding my wife and I have for each other has helped us to tackle and resolve some large marriage and family issues TOGETHER. We’re better for it and so is our 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.***

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! Through this course, you will learn:

  • How to establish healthy communication habits
  • The secrets to creating a deep connection through communication
  • Skills to help you (and your spouse) be a better speaker and listener
  • How to celebrate and understand your different communication styles
  • And so much more!

I don’t know if I can keep doing this (marriage) much longer.” I said this statement at one point in my marriage when things felt like they were falling apart. And my wife of sixteen years has said it, too. I’ve also spoken with plenty of couples who have said things like this at some point in their marriage.

There are some commonalities research has shown can help save your marriage when it feels like it is falling apart.

Connect regularly with people who are happily married.

Notice I didn’t say perfectly married. Look for couples who are healthy. Invite them to coffee and dessert. Talk to them. Listen to them. Watch how they interact with each other. Pick their brains. Find people who will hold you accountable, not pick sides. People outside of your marriage often will see things about you that are difficult for you to see about yourselves

And disconnect from people who are not for your marriage.

People that will allow you to continually talk about what’s wrong with your spouse and constantly tell you that you’re better off without your spouse are not going to be helpful in saving your marriage.

Seek help.

There are experiences available for couples facing distress in their marriage. Some places offer classes; others have Intensive Experiences available (DivorceBusting.com, WinShape Intensives, Smalley Institute). First Things First also has free resources to use in the comfort of your own home. Additionally, you may want to find a good marriage counselor to help you walk through your issues. If there is one thing I have learned in my own marriage, it’s the longer you wait to ask for help, the harder it is to ask for help. Put your pride aside and ask for the help you need if you are currently struggling. 

Look at Your Perception of Your Marriage.

New research indicates that how you perceive the relationship and your partner’s commitment to it is the biggest predictor of the quality of your relationship. Think through what you perceive about your spouse and their commitment level. The research says that your perception accounts for nearly 50% of your relationship satisfaction. When we focus on the negative things our spouse does, we train our brain to see the negative

Communication.

Communication has always been the issue married couples say they struggle with the most. It can be frustrating when you feel like you’re never able to address and resolve the real issues because the two of you can’t figure out how to effectively express your thoughts, feelings, and desires. Since many of us marry someone with a different communication style, learning to speak, hear and be heard has proven to be less natural than we expected. I was married 7 years before I learned how to effectively communicate with my wife. It was a skill I had to learn. I had been repeating the same communication mistakes over and over. 

★ These 7 keys to communication really helped my marriage.

Don’t be afraid to lead the dance.

Yes, it takes two people to dance, but one to lead. Michele Weiner-Davis, marriage expert and author of Divorce Busting, tells couples, “If your spouse started paying more attention to you, making suggestions about trips you could go on, new hobbies you could do together, how would you be different in return?” Most say, “I would be nicer.” Then Weiner-Davis asks people to describe the ways in which they would be nicer and encourages them to start doing that immediately. So many spouses stand around waiting for the other person to just do something. If you want things to be different, don’t be afraid to make the first move.  

Don’t wait for your partner to be more likable – you be more likable,” Weiner-Davis says. “Ask yourself in what ways have you pulled back from your relationship. Your partner’s distance might be the result of you pulling away, too.”  

Practice good self-care.

Taking care of yourself can improve your marriage. Be active by pursuing interests like gardening or biking. Read some good books and practice mindfulness. By paying attention to your mental health, your perspective will often improve.

Think about your daily interactions with your spouse.

Dr. John Gottman, researcher and marriage therapist recommends a 5:1 ratio of interactions – meaning for every negative interaction you have with your spouse, you need five positive interactions to balance that one negative interaction. Expressing affection, showing appreciation, and doing small acts of kindness are positive interactions which balance the negative ones. 

Talk to each other about your needs.

When we have needs and expectations that arent being met, resentment builds. Sometimes our partner is left to figure out the expectations because they are left unspoken. Sincere, honest communication about your needs and expectations takes the guesswork out of the marriage. And, it can shed light on expectations that just aren’t realistic at the moment.

Acknowledge what you can’t fix.

Dr. John Gottman’s research has uncovered that 69% of issues in relationships are unresolvable. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. It just is. Some common differences include disciplining children, balance between home and work, and political views. Learning to communicate and manage these differences can provide opportunities for marital growth. Besides, who wants to be married to someone who is exactly like them in every way?

Forgiveness.

It has been said that lack of forgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself as well as your mate. The act of forgiveness does not mean you condone hurtful actions; it does mean you have made an intentional decision to move on. 

Remember, you are on the same team.

At some point you began to feel like you are adversaries. Instead of attacking one another, attack the issues as two people working together on the same team. The outcome may really surprise you.

★ Saving a marriage that is falling apart is 100% possible. It will take courage, work and intentionality. Rebuilding trust, seeking to understand one another, and cultivating a culture of appreciation is a process accomplished through many small steps over time. 16 years into our marriage, we’d both tell you our feelings of despair early in the marriage were the catalyst for intentionally creating the marriage we want. 

And, we are still working on it today. 

***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.***

Image from Pexels.com

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! Through this course, you will learn:

  • How to establish healthy communication habits
  • The secrets to creating a deep connection through communication
  • Skills to help you (and your spouse) be a better speaker and listener
  • How to celebrate and understand your different communication styles
  • And so much more!

There are not many feelings worse than when someone puts you down, insults you, or invalidates you. And a put-down from your own spouse is like a straight-up punch to the psyche. It’s amazing how easy it is to hurt the ones we love the most with our words, but what do you do if you are the one on the receiving end of the verbal blows? 

This issue has a certain level of complexity to it, which means we have to approach it with care. Many spouses deliver verbal shots and put-downs to their spouse, unaware of the harm it’s doing. This is Situation A. 

Others are well aware and intentional with the harm. This is Situation B, and this is abuse.  

Let me be clear about Situation B right off the bat: If you are experiencing an abusive situation where someone is physically harming you, you need to seek help. Use the hotline number at the bottom of this article. 

You also need to understand that certain situations of verbal/emotional put-downs may be verbal abuse, and often accompany (or are a precursor to) physical abuse. (See the Power and Control Wheel below.)

Healthline gives some red flags to the characteristics of verbal abuse: 

  • They insult you or attempt to humiliate you, but then they accuse you of being overly-sensitive. 
  • They yell or scream at you frequently. 
  • The person plays the victim while they try to make you feel guilty. (“I wouldn’t have to scream at you if you didn’t…”)
  • They get in your personal space as an act of intimidation or try to block you from moving away.
  • They gaslight you—this means they manipulate you into questioning your own version of events in order to gain more power. For example, they may convince you to doubt your memory of them saying or doing something violent or try to convince you you’re crazy.
  • They hit the wall or throw things.  
  • They want credit for not having hit you. 

Sincerely ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I believe my spouse is putting me down with the intention to harm me, wear me down, or manipulate me?
  • Do I think there is a possibility the verbal attacks could lead to physical violence?
  • If I were to voice my concerns for how they talk to me, is there any fear that they would react with a heated backlash? 

Unless you can answer each of these questions with a confident no, these are strong indicators of verbal/emotional abuse and warning signals for possible physical abuse. Do not confront your spouse. Go somewhere safe and seek help. 

Let’s talk about Situation A.

Your spouse puts you down but they are unaware of how it’s making you feel. They are being careless with the words they use toward you—perhaps in front of the kids. But despite the unintentionality of what they say, you still feel devalued. It’s time to let them know how you feel. 

  • Approach your spouse to talk at a strategic time. Ask them if this is a good time to talk. And if it’s not, arrange a time, preferably within the next 24 hours. Don’t bring up your feelings right after they say something hateful; your emotions will be dialed up, and you want to be calm and able to think clearly when you talk. Choose a time when neither of you are tired or in a bad mood. 
  • Start on a good note. Marriage researcher Dr. John Gottman suggests opening difficult conversations with a positive. Begin the conversation with something you appreciate about your spouse. Say something like, “I know that you love me and the kids and that you’d do anything for your family.” Or, “I appreciate how hard you work to provide and take care of us.” 
  • Be specific about what you hear and how you feel. Make good use of “I” messages. For instance, “There have been many times when I’ve felt really undervalued and unloved when you’ve said certain things to me.” Name your feelings—beforehand, jot down some specific words that describe how it feels when your spouse puts you down. If it happens in front of your kids or other people, point out that it feels embarrassing or shameful. Err on the assumption that your spouse has been unaware of how they’ve made you feel. You may have to give them an example of what they’ve said. Describe the last incident and the effect it had on you. Avoid giving a laundry list of all the past wrongs they’ve done to you, though. 
  • Use a code word or sign. The point of addressing this with your spouse is help them be aware that they are putting you down and the negative effect it has on your feelings. Establishing some kind of code word or a non-verbal signal can subtly express to them, “You’re being degrading and ridiculing right now, and you need to dial it down.” This is especially helpful in front of the kids or in social situations. For instance, whenever you respond with “Oh, honey…” or you nonchalantly touch your earlobe, you can discreetly and calmly express to your spouse how they’re making you feel at the moment. 
  • Set boundaries. Let your spouse know that if they continue to ignore warning signs and keep putting you down, you’ll simply leave the room when they say something disparaging. Don’t threaten your spouse with divorce or the withdrawal of sex (although you probably won’t exactly feel “in the mood” after being put down). You set up boundaries to protect yourself, not punish others. 
  • Check your own thoughts and words. I mention this last step with a great deal of care, and I encourage you to approach it with humility and thoughtfulness. I have talked with many individuals who have felt insulted by others close to them; however, sometimes there was something within their own personality that colored the situation. Many were highly sensitive to remarks that weren’t overtly insulting, but they heard them through the filter of past negative experiences. 

For instance, one person interpreted an invitation to exercise together as an affront to their weight, an issue to which they felt particularly sensitive. Others that I’ve talked to were offended by another’s insults, but had no problem being equally insulting toward that person. Part of the process of working through this is to consider what may be going on inside you that could exacerbate these feelings. Ask yourself: Are the words I hear from my spouse truly insensitive put-downs, or is there something inside me that makes me overly-sensitive to their words? And, are there ways that I put my spouse down without me noticing it? 

Marriage cannot thrive in an environment of disrespect and insults. And no one deserves to be put down by their spouse. The above steps are a process that may take time before you see real change. There’s a chance that other things are going on under the surface of insults and put-downs being hurled your direction. If these problems persist after taking the above steps, ask your spouse to seek help with you through couples counseling. If they resist, seek professional help on your own. ☆ Sometimes it takes one person in the marriage to lead the charge toward getting help and improving the relationship before the other catches on. 

***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.***

Image from Pexels.com

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! Through this course, you will learn:

  • How to establish healthy communication habits
  • The secrets to creating a deep connection through communication
  • Skills to help you (and your spouse) be a better speaker and listener
  • How to celebrate and understand your different communication styles
  • And so much more!

Have you ever made a joke about your spouse and they didn’t think that it was funny?

Has your spouse ever remarked on a “weakness” of yours and you felt some way about it?

Has your spouse ever made fun of you or put you down in front of your kids?

What are some of the common ways that we unwittingly put our spouses down?

1. You talk over or finish their statements when they are speaking.

It can easily become a habit to talk over your spouse or finish their statements for them. When you do this, you are sending the message to your spouse that you don’t respect their perspective and opinion. Additionally, this can minimize them in the eyes of others (family, friends, co-workers, children). 

2. You don’t consider/obtain their opinion or input when making decisions  (i.e., the kids, family vacations, or future plans).

Teamwork is important in marriage. It takes both parts of the couple contributing to make it as strong as possible. When one person makes all the decisions, it can lead to a myopic view of the situation. Having differing options and opinions can strengthen a plan. Like a well-woven tapestry, considering and respecting the input from your spouse creates a better and holistic problem-solving strategy.

3. You MINIMIZE their strengths while you MAXIMIZE their weaknesses.

When couples get together, they often say, “Where I am weak, my spouse is strong and vice versa.” After a time, it can become problematic when the focus changes to, “I really can’t believe that my spouse can’t do that.” For example: you may be very strong at directions while your spouse needs GPS to go anywhere, even places that they have been many times before. Sitting in the car as they set up the GPS, you think, “OMG, I should have just driven. They never know how to get anywhere.” You then share with anyone who will listen that your spouse is seriously DIRECTIONALLY CHALLENGED. From there you only seem to notice their deficiencies rather than their strengths.

4. You tease your spouse too much.

Whether it is about their hair, nose or the way they eat spaghetti, teasing your spouse can be a way to bring humor to your relationship. However, too much of a GOOD THING can become a problem. If you seem to nit-pick everything about your spouse even with a hint of levity, they may feel undervalued. Find ways to build up your spouse, not tear them down—even in JEST.

5. You constantly re-do tasks that your spouse has already done.

For many spouses, there are two ways to do things: MY WAY (THE RIGHT WAY) and your way. Your spouse may feel belittled as you refold the towel, remake the bed or reload the dishwasher. You inadvertently are telling them that their efforts are not wanted, needed, or appreciated. Because only YOU can do it, the RIGHT WAY.

Zig Ziglar said, “The first step to solving a problem is to recognize that it does exist.” Recognizing that you may be putting down your spouse is the initial step. While your spouse does things differently than you or even parents differently than you, it is KEY to respect those differences. Making fun of them or negating the importance of your spouse in your life and in the lives of your children undermines your relationship. Remember that the two of you are a TEAM. 

✦ Each of you has a role to play to make your family the BEST that it CAN BE!

***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.***

Image from Pexels.com

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! Through this course, you will learn:

  • How to establish healthy communication habits
  • The secrets to creating a deep connection through communication
  • Skills to help you (and your spouse) be a better speaker and listener
  • How to celebrate and understand your different communication styles
  • And so much more!

Love is the most exhilarating emotion, until it’s the most frustrating because you’re dealing with COVID-19 and quarantine and you aren’t sure your spouse loves you anymore.

When you fell head over heels in love with your spouse, nobody gave you the heads up that you would endure a pandemic where you were together 24/7 for months on end. 

There are no books on how to navigate the economy, homeschooling, anxiety over aging parents and kids coming home from college, politics, social injustice, and general uncertainty all at one time. These are just some of the things that have most of us on edge, much more so than usual. There’s a lot that preoccupies our thoughts and attention these days, which could easily leave someone wondering if their spouse still loves them. 

Have they lost that lovin’ feeling?

First, are you questioning your spouse’s feelings for you because they are no longer doing the things they did before that made you feel loved? Have current life circumstances just gotten in the way of you feeling loved by your spouse? Or maybe you’ve spent so much time together lately that your relationship feels a bit stale or boring—like the fireworks just aren’t there? 

How do you receive love?

People have various ways of expressing and receiving love. It is not unusual for love to look different in the midst of a crisis. Some people just don’t feel loveable at the moment.

Some people think saying “I love you” is enough to express their feelings and make someone feel their affection. Working hard and providing could be a way of showing love, but if that person is never home, it may not feel like love to the other spouse. Another spouse might show love by keeping the car clean and full of gas, but a clean car isn’t really a big deal to their spouse. You get the idea. My point is, how someone feels love is different from person to person.

If you are wondering if your spouse still loves you, there’s one sure way to find out: ASK!

Let’s Talk!

Find a good time to have an honest conversation with them. Let them know what their affection means to you and share that you are struggling a bit with knowing they still care. If there are ways they expressed love to you in the past that they aren’t currently doing, perhaps you could let them know you miss those things.

You also might ask if there is something bothering your spouse that the two of you need to discuss and work through. Maybe something is creating a disconnect between the two of you that you have no clue about. 

Communication is the key.

If you avoid talking about how you are feeling, you could end up operating out of a lot of assumptions, none of which may be true. Your spouse may love you very much and it may surprise them that you are questioning their love for you. 

Do they know what speaks love to you? Everybody has a different love language. If they ask you for specific ways they can help you feel their love, be prepared to give them some specifics.

It is totally possible that your spouse loves you deeply, but doesn’t love who they are very much at the moment. Stress and high anxiety have a way of making us feel prickly, and you know how that goes—the ones we love the most and are the closest to get the brunt of it when we are struggling.

Ask for help.

If in having the conversation with your spouse, you find that there are issues between the two of you, don’t be afraid to seek help. There are plenty of excellent counselors who can help you work through whatever has come between you. 

Don’t underestimate the toll COVID-19 can be having on your marriage. There are so many things hitting on your marriage at the same time, it magnifies our feelings, our thoughts, and our responses. Now is not the time to make any hasty decisions concerning your marriage. Now is the time to be patient, keep putting one foot in front of the other, and trust that COVID-19 will not go on forever.

***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.***

Image from Pexels.com

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! Through this course, you will learn:

  • How to establish healthy communication habits
  • The secrets to creating a deep connection through communication
  • Skills to help you (and your spouse) be a better speaker and listener
  • How to celebrate and understand your different communication styles
  • And so much more!