Just about every couple argues about something. Most of us think our problems and unique and special and no one else has them but all of us are really are all arguing about the same things.
The arguments couples have about how to manage stress, housework, and our relationships with our in laws are issues almost every couple faces at one point.
So what can we do about these?
Let’s tackle them one at a time.
We often think that “the outside world” in the form of work, school, obligations, family, friends, commitments, etc. can be a source of stress in our lives. The truth is that how we THINK about those circumstances is what ultimately determines our level of stress.
Taking a step back, looking at things from a different perspective and intentionally choosing how we are going to handle situations has a huge impact in the amount of stress we experience in our lives.
For our marriages, we can also decide to declare our marriage a safe zone, our personal oasis in the sea of life. I love to look at our home as our sanctuary, no matter what is happening outside of it, it’s my safe place to let go, unwind, and nourish my heart and soul.
How can we practice having both a physical and emotional sanctuary at home?
- We can practice the Heads Up Strategy – which is to say, “Heads up! I had an awful day today. If I am a little more quiet or excited or off balance, it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the day I had.” This alone can be a huge stress reliever so our partners don’t freak out wondering if they did something wrong to upset us. I personally use the Heads Up all the time, and after several months of me just letting my hubby know what was up, he started using it as well. I didn’t ask him to or try to force him, it just became a natural way for us to let each other know that we are okay even if our day wasn’t.
- If you are going to discuss something delicate or really emotionally charged, decide in advance where you want to have that conversation. One time I remember being really upset about something and driving home and thinking, “I don’t want to bring that energy into my house.” I told the hubster when I got home and we went to the patio to talk about it, because it was so intense, I literally did not want that conversation in my sacred space.
- A side note of this is we don’t have intense conversations in the bedroom. I want my bedroom to be a place where connection and love reign supreme. Whenever we need to talk about something heavy, we do it somewhere else. This idea may or may not work for you, but it’s something to think about.
- If you have read this blog for a while, you might know that I am a passionate advocate of The Daily Check In aka asking “How was your day?” as a good way to be in touch and aware of what our partners are going through and growing through in their life outside of our relationship. You can read more about why I think The Daily Check In is so important here. Sometimes when something intense happens we either want to talk about it first, to process it and let it go, or we don’t want to discuss it at all because we are too close to it and talking about it will just intensify the stress. Either is okay. I have personally been in both situations as has the hubsicle. The Daily Check In is meant to be a stress relieving, connection inducing conversation. Permission to let it take whatever form it needs to have is granted. In other words, just roll with it. 😉
What about housework you ask? Will we ever agree on that?
First good news for the guys – women find that men’s willingness to do housework is extremely sexy.
Research actually shows that when women think men are pulling their fair share around the house – they have a happier, more fulfilling sex life.
So if you think of housework as an opportunity to connect, create teamwork and feel good both around the house and in the bedroom – it gets a little easier to do, don’t you think?
Plus, did I mention a happier and more fulfilling sex life? Read that again. Read it to your honey. Show them the article in The Washington Post.
Put a Post-it note on the refrigerator. Happy Housework = Sexy Times. Let’s figure this out together! 😉
You might have really different opinions on housework, what matters is coming up with a solution that you can both find workable and acceptable.
You might hire a kid to mow the lawn or a house cleaner to help or periodically re-distribute roles or in our case – we work to our strengths – my hubby loves to cook. I have a black thumb in the kitchen. However, I am really good at following instructions, so I am his sous chef.
The question is not if you will agree, but how can you make it work?
By the way, the fabulous researchers at The Gottman Institute have uncovered that 69% of relationship issues are caused by perpetual problems. Yes dears, this means problems with no solution.
Every couple has them. According to the Gottman team’s research: “They are either
1) fundamental differences in your personalities that repeatedly create conflict, or
2) fundamental differences in your lifestyle needs.
In our research, we concluded that instead of solving their perpetual problems, what seems to be important is whether or not a couple can establish a dialogue about them.”
You can read their post on Managing Conflict: Solvable vs. Perpetual Problems by clicking right here.
Another common argument couples have is about how to handle situations with our in-laws.
When you get married, you are creating a new team. You must side with your spouse if you want your relationship to succeed. Putting your spouse first and creating new family rituals is absolutely key.
Also, practice making decisions in advance with regards to what is okay and not okay whenever your in-laws are involved. This is what my hubby likes to call “mature boundary functions” in other words, practicing and maintaining healthy boundaries.
Here are some examples:
- How long will you stay at the barbeque?
- How much money will you invest in presents? For holidays, birthdays, etc?
- How many days will you take off work to act as hosts for visiting family?
- What do you reeeeaaallllyyyy want to do for the holidays? For real?
Also if you haven’t already done this, make a decision right now that whenever you are asked for anything – to participate in a family event, to contribute to a family project, whatever – your first answer will be,
“Let me check (with the most important person in my life first – and see how saying yes or no to this will affect them) and I will get back to you…”
The text in parentheses are just for your mind. To remind you WHY you are not agreeing instantly, because checking in with your partner is more than logistics, it’s about showing them through your actions that they are your priority and that you make decisions together as one team.
As I was researching this article, I realized my favorite research team at The Gottman Institute wrote about 6 arguments that all married couples have – which you can read right here which includes their very wise thoughts on the 3 types of arguments I mention above along with 3 more – money and sex and babies! Yes, it does seem like the things we love the most are also the things we argue about the most. Odd but true.
Also, one of my dearest friends, Fawn Weaver, wrote a whole book about how to have an argument free marriage and I can’t write a blog post about arguments without including it here too. Click here for the description of “The Argument Free Marriage” book at my Amazon Store, where I think I get approximately 47 cents if you buy it. Or something like that.
The truth is that because the hubster and I practice all the strategies and habits I mention above, arguments in our house are very rare, and could be re-labelled as conversations or opinion exchanges, that doesn’t mean we don’t disagree from time to time or hurt each other’s feelings on occasion, it just means those issues rarely become arguments. I want you to know this not to flaunt that we don’t fight, but to tell you that it’s possible to fight less if you fight now and to be happier if arguments are impacting how much you enjoy your relationship.
I didn’t really have marriage role models growing up and one of the things I want to do with this blog is show the messy, beautiful, real behind the scenes of modern married love.
I hope today’s post was useful and I invite you to choose one thing from this post to try in your relationship this week.
If you were inspired by this post and aren’t already getting some Modern Married love in your inbox, please subscribe so we can stay in touch. XO Maggie