13 Things Couples Fight About

… and ways to resolve them:

  1. Finances. Discuss them.
  2. Kids. Agree on how to raise them.
  3. Frustrations. Express them.
  4. Expectations. Make them obtainable.
  5. Sex. Have it. Make it good.
  6. Promises. Keep them.
  7. The Past. Stop bringing it up repeatedly.
  8. Respect, Consideration and Gratitude. Show it.
  9. Angry Words Said. Own them. Don’t say it unless you mean it.
  10. Responsibilities. Share them.
  11. Ex’s. Keep them within proper boundaries.
  12. Lies. Don’t tell them.
  13. Secrets. Don’t create them.

13 Ways to Keep Love Growing

A couple recently asked my husband and I if we could share any tips on keeping our relationship fresh and growing. Here’s the answer!

  1. Keep talking. Communicate about everything. Your feelings, movies, your dreams, your hobbies, your fears, your day, your past. Stay updated and keep learning something new about each other.
  2. Find common interests. As the years go by, you may find that your tastes and interests grow dissimilar. Discover things that you both can enjoy, be it a TV show, a book, a video game, a dance class.
  3. Try to change together. For instance, does one of you want to eat better and drop some weight? Make it a goal for you both to adapt healthier habits.
  4. Be creatively naughty together. Who better to share – and perhaps try out – all of your wildest fantasies with than your other half? Share fantasies with each other. Watch them, discuss them, try them.
  5. Visit someplace new together. See something new together. See each other in a different setting.
  6. Never stop wooing. Each other, I mean! Keep going on dates. Come home with flowers, candy. Have candlelight dinners even when it’s not Valentine’s Day or your Anniversary.
  7. Do projects together. Be it growing a garden or starting a side business.
  8. Say what’s on your mind. Even if it is very profound. Even it is shockingly naughty.
  9. Be spontaneous. Every once in a while, wear something surprising to bed, or show up at their office to take them out for lunch.
  10. Take time off to just be with each other. Life seems to always be yelling “go-go-go!” Try to make some time for you two to do nothing but just be together.
  11. Make each other laugh. It’s hard not to love someone who keeps a smile on your face.
  12. Keep yourself fresh and growing. Take care of yourself. Learn something new, change up your hair, buy a new style of clothing. If you remain interesting and evolving then not only might your spouse notice and appreciate it, they may be motivated to do the same.
  13. Be best friends. You never get bored with your best buddy, right? Work to ensure that your spouse is your very best friend, and your relationship will never grow dull.

Preparing for Marriage

I’m a firm believer and advocate of love and marriage. My husband and I have been married for 9 years, a couple for a total of 15 years, and our relationship continues to grow stronger.  But to the many people who don’t often see real-life examples of healthy, happy couples, marriage can be an unpredictably scary thing.

So my husband and I try to make it a point to openly discuss our relationship with friends and associates – why we work so well together and how we handle certain obstacles and arguments.  We recently received an email from a couple who wanted our input on some questions they have about preparing for marriage, as they are doing just that. I think it is great they’re thinking about these things together before they tie the knot, and the questions are universal and so I thought I’d share them, as well as my answers.


Question 1:
What was the most important factor(s) that contributed to you knowing/feeling like this was the person you wanted to spend the rest of your life with?

I knew my husband was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with when he was already a big part of my life and I couldn’t imagine it being any other way.

He says that he knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me when he wanted to be a better person – in every way – because of me.


Question 2: How were you able to overcome the apprehensions/fears/anxieties that you experienced leading up to engagement and marriage?

By being together.

We maintained a relationship for over 6 years before we married, 3.5 of those years we lived together. We took our time and got to know each other (and ourselves, since we were young when we began dating – I was 18 and he was 20). Because we lived with each other, shared expenses and dealt with each other day-in and day-out for several years, we knew exactly what we were getting into beforehand. Therefore, there was no real mystery or unknowns to be afraid of and thus little apprehension.


Question 3: What’s your advice on waiting for a “right time” or a “sign” versus just making a decision to go ahead and get married? In other words, how did you know when you were ready?

I think it depends on what marriage means to you. For us, we were practically already married long before we ever got engaged. We were committed to each other, lived together, shared a car, shared chores, raised pets, spent time with each other’s families, planned for the future.  When we officially got married all everyone said was “It’s about time you had the party!”

There was a point in time were we tried splitting up, but being apart just didn’t work. We probably didn’t need that last “sign” but it was definitely the last link in the chain.


Question 4: What were the most difficult challenges you faced transitioning into married life?

Challenge #1: Switching from “yours and mine” to “ours”. Even though we lived together for years, we’d always paid for things in half. He paid his half, I paid my half. His car note was his own responsibility, my car note was my own.

We learned quickly though that continuing like that wasn’t going to work well for us.What happens when one person earns significantly more money that year than the other? Do you base everything you purchase on what the lowest earner can pay half of? What if one person gets laid off and can’t afford their car payments? One spouse’s credit can affect the couple’s buying power and interest rates drastically.

It wasn’t worth it to continue handling everything as “his” and “hers”. Treating ourselves as “one” in all ways is the best way for us to avoid lots of marital problems – including money issues. Keeping some savings and “debatable” expenses separate is fine, but we pool all other finances together, regardless of how much someone puts it or whatnot. Since I’m the more financially sound one, I handle our money. Our paychecks get deposited into the same account, with which I manages both of our bills, credit cards, earnings and allowances for spending.

If there’s a lack of trust and/or desire to merge your major finances together, consider the possibility that this could be the wrong time to get married or the wrong person.

Challenge #2: Less thinking in “singular” terms. Similar theme to challenge #1, except this has less to do with anything tangible like money and objects, and everything to do with thoughts, feelings, respect and consideration. For a healthy marriage, our usage of the word “my” had to be drastically reduced, and quickly. Phrases like …

  • “That’s my business, not yours.”
  • “You don’t need to know who my friends are.”
  • “I’m not telling you my password.”
  • “It’s not my problem that what I said hurt your feelings.”

… had to go. It was odd that after all of those years, the hostile “my’s / I’s” and “you’s” didn’t show up in full force like this until after we married, but they did haunt us, and they needed to be exorcised. After some crying and screaming and chanting and a challenging purification ritual, we did succeed in banishing them from our house.

Not suggesting that once you are married you are no longer entitled to any privacy. But I do happen to wonder why anyone who wants their life to be private would bother uniting with another. What is there to hide from the person you vowed to commit to, to spend the rest of your life with, to raise a family, grow old and die with? If you’re doing anything or talking to anyone that you absolutely don’t want your spouse to ever know about, there’s a high chance you shouldn’t be doing it.


Question 5: What are some strategies you’ve used to keep your relationship new and fresh and growing?

This question is so juicy, I decided to turn it into a list for Thursday Thirteen. Stay tuned for 13 Ways To Keep Love Growing!


Would you have answered any of these questions differently? Please share!

Everything You Wanted to Know about Marriage – Part 3: Gender Roles

The “About Marriage” series continues …


** Is The Kitchen the Woman’s Place? **

I know a couple that recently got into a bit of a tiff.  For the majority of their 30+ years of marriage, they shared the chore of preparing dinner. He cooked on weekends and at least once during the week, and she cooked the other four or less days. All was well until a few years ago when he just stopped cooking altogether, unless he was throwing a dinner party for family and friends.

The wife was bothered by this, but not enough to make a fuss about it, and so she carried on. Until last week when he had a day off work and she didn’t. She came home after a long day and went to her bedroom, thinking she could relax for a little while. Her husband came in and asked him when she was going to cook dinner.

Now mind you, this man is a WONDERFUL cook. And he was off work, had been home most of the day, and was in the other room watching television when she arrived.

So the wife blows up. She asks why he couldn’t cook dinner himself? She’d had a big lunch and wasn’t even hungry. His response?

“You’re the woman. Anything that is done inside the house is your job, and anything that is done outside of the house is mine.”

Now here’s the thing. I’m a modern kind of gal. Self-sufficient.  Educated. Holds down a job in the corporate world.  But I also still hold onto a few traditional values myself.  Although I don’t completely subscribe to the idea of gender specific roles, I can understand them (to a certain degree) and have no issues with either men nor women who do.

But if this man truly believes that everything done inside the house is women’s work and outside the home men’s, why does his wife go to a job she can’t stand 5 days a week to help pay the bills? She has told me before that overtime at his job is available, but he doesn’t take it. They don’t have any young children, so he could also pick up a part-time job or look for a position with higher pay so his wife wouldn’t have to work and could fully embrace this “woman’s role” he wants her to take on. It is not fair to ask her to adhere to old-fashioned rules if he’s not willing to work harder to do the same.

He says:

“Well since I shovel the snow and mow the lawn, she should be the one doing the cooking and cleaning.”

But she says:

“He mows the lawn once, maybe twice a month, and it only snows a few weeks out of the year. But meals need to prepared and dishes need to be washed every day! Floors and toilets need to be cleaned weekly. He doesn’t help with any of that.”

It is my belief that in a healthy marriage, the husband and the wife function as a team. There should be little fretting over which sex is supposed to be the one doing what. If there are things to be done, they should simply be done by whichever partner is able and available to do it. If this means relying on traditional gender roles, then so be it. If this means completely reversing them, then so be it that way. So long as somehow, some way, it results in both parties applying close to equal effort (or at least their best efforts), then all is well. In a healthy relationship, the husband would feel masculine, needed and respected even if he bakes a casserole and vacuums the living room. The wife would feel feminine, appreciated and taken care of even if she’s the one painting the fence or making sure the bills are getting paid.

** Does The Man Wear The Pants? **

Maybe. Maybe not. I think that a good man who knows what needs to be taken care of and how to get things done should be in charge … right along with his good woman. I think it’s less about gender and more about the individuals and their relationship.

A married couple should be a team, a dynamic duo!  A healthy one wouldn’t have  gender-based power struggles. Let whichever one of you is best equipped to handle a specific aspect of your lives manage it, while respecting the input and wishes of the other. Simple. That just might result in one person being more vocal than the other. It could also lead to completely equal levels of this perceived “power”.

But either way, it should be about what makes the most sense for that couple to get things taken care of properly, and not about gender or being in “control”. In my marriage, I manage our budget and my husband manages the yard and landscaping, but still we always consult each other. I can’t think of anything we don’t collaborate on to some degree. It works great for us.

I say save the superior/subordinate roles for work. And maybe for some role-playing in the bedroom.

Everything You Wanted To Know About Marriage – Part 2: Cheating

The “About Marriage” series continues …

Lately I’ve heard quite a few single people say they never want to get married. Ever. One of the most consistent top reasons?  

Cheating. They want to avoid marriage because they are afraid of infidelity.

First of all, it is simply not true that someone cheats in every single marriage. Just to use an example very close to home, my parents, who will be celebrating their 30th anniversary tomorrow, have never dealth with infidelity.

Even still, I do know that there are plenty of marriages that have suffered such a fate. But I’m going to make an announcement that I don’t hear broadcasted  very often.

Cheating is not the worst thing that can happen to a marriage.

There, I’ve said it! Sure cheating is absolutely horrible, but I can come up with worse things. Like:

  • Death. Unless I married a total slut, I’d like to think that infidelity at least has the potential to be rectified.  Death is final. 
  • My spouse could be guilty of some heinous crime. 
  • He could become abusive.
  • He could develop some serious negative addiction that changes him and hurts not only himself and me, but our entire family.
  • He could harbor secrets or tell lies which would ruin the trust.  And yes – that includes infidelity.

But having sex with someone else isn’t the only way (nor in my opinion is it the worst way) that a spouse can break trust with you. Continously saying they are going to do things – big things like being there for you – and failing to come through. Hiding their true income and large sums of money from their significant other, purely out of selfishness. Omitting important facts, like about having children with someone else. Engaging in secret activities that the other doesn’t know about, such as excessive gambling or criminal behavior. Often, many don’t seem to realize just how damaging lies are. Painful truths are much better than omission and deception. I mean, if I were given the opportunity to fool around with Johnny Depp or Lenny Kravitz, I’d at least tell my husband the truth about where I was going before I left, and promise to come back to him.  Eventually.  **winks**

I’m kidding. Mostly. Anyways, my point is:

Extramarital sex doesn’t destroy marriages. Deceit does.

There are couples with open marriages that seem to do just fine.  There are some who bring additional parties into the bedroom that fare well (and some that don’t, but that’s a different topic). So having extramarital sex isn’t the issue – it’s the losss of faith and erosion of trust.  The person cheated on begins to wonder what ELSE their spouse has lied or will lie to them about.  They doubt everything the cheater says  or has ever said before. Every time they leave the house, they wonder where their spouse is really going. Whenever their cell phone rings, they question who is calling.  That complete breakdown of trust is what truly ruins a marriage. Not miscellaneous sex. I’m not saying that miscellaneous sex isn’t an issue, just that it in itself can not unravel a truly strong and intimate relationship.  It’s the loss of trust that causes the pain and damage.

But I do believe that in certain circumstances it is possible to repair that relationship, to heal some of that pain, to recoup some of that lost trust.  That is, IF both parties recognize that we are humans and imperfect creatures capable of making mistakes, and truly love each other and are comitted to resolving the issues and making the relationship work.

So when I hear people say that marriage is pointless because everybody is just going to cheat eventually anyways, I feel sad.  What that tells me is that they don’t think they’ll ever find anyone they love enough to either a) trust, or b) forgive.  And that’s too bad.

What are your thoughts on this?  Please, do tell.

Click here to see all posts in the “About Marriage” series.

Everything You Wanted To Know About Marriage: Part 1

It seems as if most of the single people I encounter these days have quite the pessimistic view of love and marriage.  They believe things like:

  • At least one spouse in every marriage cheats
  • That there isn’t someone out there for them
  • Love doesn’t last forever and passion fades over time
  • People are not designed to settle down with one mate for the rest of their lives

and other such depressing views.  I think people believe stuff like this because the negative things always gets publicity while no one ever really stops to talk about the good times in marriage.  Complaints are always the loudest.  I personally know several very happily married couples, including my parents (who have been together for over 30 years) and my husband and I.  So I’d like to take the time to praise what I love about a healthy marriage or long-term relationships, while sharing a few secrets and dispelling some myths in the process.


** The Sex is Fantastic **

MTYH: “Having sex with the same one person for the rest of your life would get really boring.”

I’ve actually heard this point of view come from various men and women when they explain why they think marriage sucks, or why they think it must be hard for married people to stay faithful.  Although this probably feels true for some people, I think the truth is that they don’t realize they are not bored because of WHO they are having sex with, but rather with HOW they are having sex.  It is very likely that if you were to have sex the exact same way with even a thousand different people, you’d still eventually get bored at some point. 

Do you know what I think really excites people about being with a new person?  Having a new kind of sexual experience, feeling wanted and lusted after, spontaneity, exploring someone and being explored by someone, and discovering new techniques and different ways to give and receive pleasure. 

All those things you can have with the person you are already with.

In fact, the passion can be STRONGER with that one person you’ve been with forever than with someone “hot” and new.  You and your significant other know all of each other’s erogenous zones.  You are completely comfortable with each other, and are less inhibited to experiment.  You trust, love and respect this person, which can make the sensuality between you that much more intimate.   There are no holds barred.

The feeling of new lust, pursuing or being pursued and the thrill of the forbidden that may make one THINK that the sex with some new conquest is more exciting than with the long-term lover, is generally only temporary.  It doesn’t hold a candle to the fire that can be flamed in a committed relationship.


** You’re Part of a Duo **

Once you tie the knot you are no longer just an individual in this world (not in a healthy relationship, anyways).  You now have double the resources, double the family, double the troubles, double the dreams.  “What’s his is ours but what’s mine is mine” or any other variation of that attitude are signs of a failing or endangered relationship.   Your relationship, family, endeavors and wealth will all fare for the better once you stop looking at yourselves only as individuals and look at each other as a team.  This doesn’t just mean sharing each other’s “stuff”, though.  This means supporting each other’s educational and career moves, watching each other’s credit scores, helping one prevent or overcome an unhealthy addiction, etc.  A success for one is a success for the couple, and when one of you fails – you both fail.  But when you’re part of a dynamic duo, you never have to go at it alone.