Little changes can have big impact. Case in point: You write a lovely note to somebody you like and tell them how pretty they are. Except you accidentally leave out the ‘r’ in pretty. Such a little mistake. Such a big difference in how your letter is received! Here are some common mistakes that married couples make – and the little fixes that can have big impact!
1. Thinking fair means 50/50. Trying to divide household chores and obligations evenly often leads to scorekeeping, finger-pointing, and potential disharmony if one spouse feels they are doing more than their half of the duties. The Fix: Each spouse should do what they do best based on talents, opportunity, and ability. One spouse may be good at organizing meal plans and the other may be a better cook. You both may hate grocery shopping, but one has time off on a week day when it’s easier to get in and out of the store quickly. Avoid the temptation to mentally assign the little onerous tasks that don’t require specific skills – think taking trash out and emptying the dishwasher – to each other. Just do them as they come up. While on any given day the chore split may end up something like 30/70, over the long run the division of labor will probably balance out.
2. Indulging your inner ostrich. Handing over the reins completely in any given area may be setting yourself up for problems. Often one spouse has the task of bill-paying, checkbook balancing, and other financial dealings because of talent, availability, or the other mate’s aversion to doing so. The result is one spouse is ignorant about what has to be done if the other one is ever out of commission for any reason. This same dynamic crops up in other household activities such as meal preparation, laundry, maintaining kid’s schedules, etc. The Fix: List the tasks that fall 100% to each spouse. Once a month pick one from the list and do it together so that the partner less informed has a basic understanding of how it works. Once you have covered the list, start all over again so that every few months each mate is being exposed to the task they would have to suddenly take over in pinch.
3. Neglecting outside interests. It’s easy to get caught up in daily routines and ending up with a social life that revolves exclusively around each other. While couples absolutely should spend meaningful time together and engage in social activities they both enjoy, they shouldn’t be joined at the hip. No one person can be all things to another. Continuing individual growth and bringing that element to the relationship can enhance a marriage. The Fix: Set aside time as individuals to connect with old friends, take a class you’ve been wanting to take, or spend time on a hobby you enjoy. The key to a successful fix here is balance – don’t schedule so much you now have to set aside time to fit in your spouse!
4. Sharing TMI. Telling friends, family members or co-workers details about your marital tiffs or gripes may give you a much-needed momentary release, but have long-lasting effects. Long after you have made up with your spouse, your confidant remembers the negatives. You may reasonably expect your buddy to keep mum about what you have shared, but you already know not all expectations are met, right? The Fix: Before you go venting elsewhere about the injustices in your marriage, ask yourself if it is a topic you can discuss with your spouse in a calm moment. If it truly isn’t, consider whether it is an issue that rises to the level of seeking some professional assistance from a counselor or your spiritual leader.
5. Reverse TMI. Couples should be able to talk about just about anything to each other. They should be each other’s safe place to fall. So, is it even possible to tell each other too much? Yes. If you are telling your mate about your day and his or her eyes glaze over, it may leave you feeling like they just don’t care. But it’s more likely a case of Irrelevant Information Overload. It’s not personal. The Fix: Unless it’s necessary to understand your point, leave out detailed descriptions, technical jargon they’re not familiar with, and too much talk about people they don’t know. We’re not talking about dumbing it down – we’re talking about speeding it up. Think about how long your own attention span is when listening to a fact-intensive narrative. Just because you sometimes wish your spouse would wrap up a story quicker doesn’t mean you love them less. Assume your mate feels the same.
6. Missing bedtime connections. Pillow talk is what evolves spontaneously when you’re both laying in bed, snuggled in, maybe with the lights out, sometimes almost asleep. A thought passes through your head that you wouldn’t get up and walk down the hall to tell the other, but the moment is shared because the other is a breath away. It is an intimacy we can’t recreate on our feet, in the living room, in the light of day. Sometimes conflicting work schedules, children’s needs or health issues keep us from going to bed at the same time. But often it’s a TV show, a video game or a Facebook chat that costs us that precious exchange. The Fix: If getting on the same nightly schedule is not practical or possible, be intentional about committing to how ever many nights during the week you can make that happen. Even one is better than none. But two is better than one. And so on. Make it happen – because you can’t get those nights back.
7. Embracing the “little white lie.” It’s not OK to lie about the “little stuff.” Shaving $20 off the price when asked about the cost, saying you mailed the bill you know is still sitting on the car seat, claiming to work late so you don’t have to deal with a visiting relative. The boundaries of what is “little” expand and blur over time. And, like anything else we practice diligently, lying gets easier the more we do it. This insidious tendency needs to be nipped in the bud before it blooms. The Fix: Ahhh, this one’s the easiest. Just don’t do it.
Current post is linked to MessyMarriage site