DIY Marriage Counseling

by Brett & Kate McKay on July 8, 2009 · 64 comments

in Marriage, Relationships & Family

diymarriage

When marriages start going sour, couples are often urged to go see a therapist or to attend a workshop or seminar to help smooth out their difficulties. But these options are often quite expensive and outside a couple’s budget. If there’s already tension in your marriage, it’s probably not a wise idea to add financial stress to the problem by ponying up $100 an hour for professional counseling. And a lot of men aren’t keen on talking about their feelings to a stranger or a room full of strangers. We like to tackle problems ourselves.

As it turns out, this bootstrapping mentality is not such a bad idea. A recent study found that reading research-based articles together as a couple, and applying the advice from those articles to your relationship was just as effective as attending a workshop or seminar. ((http://magazine.byu.edu/?act=view&a=2437)) If you’re having serious problems in your marriage, you may need to see a therapist, but if you’re marriage simply needs some tuning up, here are some diy basics to read over with your spouse and start applying to your relationship.

Banish the Four Horsemen of Divorce

Dr. John Gottman, Ph.D. has been studying marriages in a lab at the University of Washington for 20 years. While many people think that what makes a happy or unhappy marriage is somewhat mysterious and divorce is hard to predict, he can watch a couple interact for only a few hours and then forecast with 91% accuracy whether or not they’ll end up divorcing. He’s not a fortune teller; he simply looks for  telltale signs in the way the couple interacts and handles their disagreements. Those that display what he calls the “four horseman of the apocalypse” have a high likelihood for divorce. If a couple can identify and rectify these behaviors, the marriage can often be saved. So let’s take a look at what the four horsemen are.

Criticism

Criticism is not the same as complaining. Complaints center on specific actions and behaviors disliked by one’s partner, while criticism goes further and attacks the person himself. Here are examples from Gottman to illustrate the difference:

Complaint: “I’m really angry that you didn’t sweep the kitchen floor last night. We agreed that we’d take turns doing it.”

Criticism: “Why are you so forgetful? I hate having to always sweep the kitchen floor when it’s your turn. You just don’t care.”

Complaint. There’s no gas in the car. Why didn’t you fill it up like you said you would?

Criticism. Why can’t you ever remember anything? I told you a thousand times to fill up the tank, and you didn’t. (Criticism. She’s implying the problem is his fault. Even if it is, blaming him will only make it worse.)

Criticism throws in blame and general character assassination. To turn a complaint into a criticism, add the line: “What is wrong with you?”

Complaints are okay when each person is committed to addressing them respectfully. And criticism is something every couple deals with. It only becomes lethal to the marriage when allowed to fester into the next three horsemen.

Contempt

The intimacy of marriage can bring people healing and acceptance. But the flip side of intimacy is the ability it gives people to know how to hurt their partner the most. Contempt goes beyond criticism in that it is a purposeful attempt to wound and demean someone at their core. It’s manifested in biting sarcasm,  hostile humor, name-calling, and insults. It can be seen in a partner’s eye-rolling, sneering, or lip curling. According to Gottman, contempt is the most deadly of the horsemen because “it conveys disgust. It’s virtually impossible to resolve a problem when your partner is getting the message you’re disgusted with him or her.” Contempt rears its ugly head when couples lose respect for each other and cease trying to see things from their spouse’s perspective. They dwell on their partner’s faults, and this built up bile comes out in their arguments.

Defensiveness

Even if there is truth to someone’s criticism, if it is delivered in a contemptuous manner, the person is apt to react defensively. They will go on the defensive by denying responsibility, making up excuses, leveling counter accusations, and disagreeing angrily. This only ramps up the conflict, as “you’re effectively saying, “‘The problem isn’t me, it’s you.’” This only compounds the negativity and distance between the couple. Instead, one partner must be the bigger person and try to respond calmly and openly.

Stonewalling

After enough negative interactions of contempt and criticism, a spouse may simply shut down. They withdraw from the other person and stop listening to and engaging with them. During an argument they stop responding and give their partner the silent treatment. This often frustrates and infuriates their partner even more. In 85% of marriages, the stonewaller is the man, and it is by far the most serious symptom of a broken relationship.  If it’s occurring in yours, the relationship is critical and you need to act soon to right the ship.

The four horseman may rear their heads in every marriage, no matter how happy or stable. It’s when they find a permanent and regular place in your relationship that you may be headed down the road to divorce. But every marriage, no matter how plagued it is by the horsemen, can be saved. Here are a few tips on how to turn things around:

Avoid a Harsh Start-up

The best way to short circuit the four horsemen is to nip them in the bud before they entrench themselves in your relationship. One way to do that is to actively attempt to begin your arguments in such a way as to minimize negativity. 96% of arguments that begin with what Gottman calls a “harsh star-up” end badly, even if the couple tries to make nice during the discussion. What begins badly, ends badly. So when you disagree with a spouse, never start out the discussion with criticism or contempt. Try to stay calm, civil, and respectful.

Build Your Friendship

In addition to the presence of the four horsemen, when Gottman is evaluating a marriage, he looks at whether the couple makes what he calls successful “repair attempts.” Repair attempts are attempts by the couple to deescalate the tension and resolve their differences. Unhappy couples often are so steeped in their negative feelings that they don’t even notice when their partner is waving the white flag. While a therapist might concentrate on having a couple negotiate their differences or work on their communication, Gottman says this is actually the wrong approach. He argues that, “The key to reviving or divorce-proofing a relationship is not in how you handle disagreements but in how you are with each other when you’re not fighting.” Whether a couple makes successful repair-attempts is not contingent on how they communicate, but on the store of positive feelings and friendship they have built up. Gottman says that happy marriages have a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. When you have this, you’ll still argue from time to time, but the repair-attempts will flow naturally from “positive sentiment override.” How do you build up these postive sentiments and soldify your friendship? Read on.

Spend 5 Magic Hours a Week

During his studies in the lab, Dr. Gottman sought to figure out the things that happy couples do that unhappy couples do not. He found that those in strong marriages spent only 5 extra hours a week doing things to strengthen their marriage. But those hours, which he calls the “five magic hours,” were enough to make a huge difference in the quality of  their marriage. Here are the five hours you should be investing in your relationship each week:

Connect before you leave. Before you and your wife part ways at the beginning of the day, take the time to learn about one thing each of you have planned for the day. Estimated time: 2 minutes per day x 5 working days, totals 10 minutes per week.

Connect when you reunite. At the end of the day, spend at least 20 minutes talking about the things that went on during your day. Chatting at the dinner table or in bed helps you de-stress and reconnect with your partner. Estimated time: 20 minutes per day x 5 working days, totals 1 hour, 40 minutes per week

Admire and appreciate. Every day, find ways to tell your wife that you love her and appreciate all that she does for you. Be specific. Don’t just say that she’s wonderful; tell her how beautiful she is, how she lights up a room, how her meatloaf is a little slice of heaven on earth, ect. Estimated time: 5 minutes per day x 7 days, totals 35 minutes per week.

Initiate affection. When you were dating, you were all over each other. If you want to bring back some of that magic, that you need to start being more intimate with one another. Cuddle, kiss, hold hands, spoon, and so on. The more time you spend touching, the happier your marriage will be. Estimated time: 5 minutes per day x 7 days, totals 35 minutes per week.

Go on a weekly date. Establish that you will go out on one date a week, and make this a non-negotiable commitment. If you have kids, get a babysitter. This is time for just you and your wife. The date doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. But it needs to provide time for you two to talk, so a movie alone won’t cut it. Discuss what happened that week and your plans, hopes, and dreams for your future together.

Studies have shown that doing unfamiliar things together as a couple will bring back the butterflies you experienced together at the beginning of the relationship. ((http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/12/health/12well.html)) So while I know how hard it is to break from the Chili’s and TV watching routine, it’s important to make an effort to get out and do something different. Seek out little hole in the wall restaurants, explore a museum you’ve never been to before, take a hike on a new trail, etc.

Further Reading: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman and Nan Silver.

{ 62 comments… read them below or add one }

1 TheManRevolution July 8, 2009 at 9:18 am

Those are some really excellent advice. I feel that they can also be used by couples who are in a serious relationship as well.

“So when you disagree with a spouse, never start out the discussion with criticism or contempt.” If I only knew that during my relationship.

When things started to go sour, we were always criticizing each other. She used to find the smallest thing to flip out over, and I would always bite back. She was also defensive about everything, even the stuff she knew was wrong.Then we just started to really avoid each other after a while and the worst came to happen and we broke up.

Fast forward a few months and we’re back together now, but we clearly have a lot of work ahead of us. We were good friends before anything so I’m glad we have that as a foundation.

2 Raconteur July 8, 2009 at 10:00 am

Great article. Except me and my wife are currently arguing about who does what the most. :P

Still, I think it’ll help.

3 Corey - Simple Marriage July 8, 2009 at 10:55 am

Thanks for bringing Gottman’s work to light. His stuff is outstanding. But I must offer up this addition, while understanding the exchanges between you and your partner will help you deal with the problems between you, it will not make them go away. Another of Gottman’s research discoveries is that 2/3 of all the issues in marriage are perpetual in nature. There will always be disagreements in marriage, so how you handle YOURSELF in these disagreements is key.

While DIY marriage counseling may help, there are times when the real thing is needed! If the budget is tight, as the therapist to see you for a reduced fee. I’ve been working with many couples lately for all kinds of different amounts. Investing in your marriage, both with time and money, is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your marriage. But hey, I’m a marriage therapist so I’m a bit biased.

4 Cory Huff July 8, 2009 at 10:59 am

Yeah, those four things are essential. My wife and I still find ourselves falling into those habits on occasion, but we are doing much better with criticism and contempt. When they creep in we take a break and then address them.

The reconnecting on a daily basis are key. It’s saved our marriage.

5 Ali H. July 8, 2009 at 11:01 am

Great advice again!

6 MattNico July 8, 2009 at 11:18 am

Fantastic article! I love how intelligent, well-written and truthful this blog is. I can’t get enough of it. Keep it coming!

7 Torrey July 8, 2009 at 11:35 am

My wife and I have made it a point to designate specific days to go on dates. It can be hard with kids, jobs, housework, etc. to set aside time to continually connect like when we were dating. But by having that one on one time, it helps us remain close and keeps the staleness of an old relationship away. Great article.

8 anon July 8, 2009 at 2:37 pm

Initiate affection. When you were dating, you were all over each other. If you want to bring back some of that magic, that you need to start being more intimate with one another. Cuddle, kiss, hold hands, spoon, and so on. The more time you spend touching, the happier your marriage will be. Estimated time: 5 minutes per day x 7 days, totals 35 minutes per week.

Any woman will likely disagree with this.

five minutes of cuddling a day?

Oooh, wow. Come on guys? You can do better than that

9 Brett July 8, 2009 at 2:40 pm

@Anon-

5 minutes represents the minimum. Men should obviously try to do better than that.

10 CoffeeZombie July 8, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Hahaha…I get an image of a guy cuddling with his wife and checking his watch every minute or so to see if his 5 minute minimum is up.

11 Simon July 8, 2009 at 4:40 pm

Frankly, if you need to follow a checklist of things to do to save your marriage there’s really something wrong.

12 Craig A. Conrad July 9, 2009 at 6:50 am

Simon, I’d say this is more of an “improvement” list than a marriage-salvation one, but that may only be my perception.

I’d say as good as this article is, there is a rather obvious omission in simple communication. My wife and I make an effort to talk about anything we’re dealing with that bothers us. When one does not express frustration or displeasure, the likelihood of the bothersome event repeating itself multiplies greatly. It will happen again almost assuredly, disappointment or displeasure will occur again, and a more intense emotion will once again be repressed.

After time if this pattern continues, nothing good can come of it. If two people truly care about one another, effective communication (both positive and negative) will keep a marriage or relationship far away from the “line in the sand” that endangers those relationship.

13 Laura July 9, 2009 at 11:03 am

just FYI…some girls don’t like to cuddle :-)

My bf constantly asks if I’m sure I wasn’t a guy in a previouse life. Its not that I don’t love the big lug, I just have odd personal space issues.

My favorite part of this article is the “Build your Friendship” section. My boyfriend and I have serious differences in music taste, so every other month we go to a different concert, alternating who gets to pick. It helps us stay in touch and since we both love to discuss music, it gives us even more common ground. This month I’m dragging him to the Flaming Lips…he’s a bit skeptical to say the least (he’s a good-ol southern rock loving boy) but I know we’ll have a great time afterwords discussing why there were dancing santas, and giant inflatable aliens on stage (if you’ve seen a Lips show you’d understand). A solid friendship is in my opinion the foundation to a great and lasting relationship, and well, my boyfriend is my best friend hands-down!

14 gene July 9, 2009 at 2:18 pm

my wife and i actually attended a seminar based on Gottman’s research through Kaiser, it only cost us our normal co-pay and did wonders for our marriage. If you find yourself in a situation that requires counceling and you cannot afford it, i highly reccomend atleast picking up his book, reading it and doing the exercises that he reccomends!

15 Santa July 9, 2009 at 4:52 pm

If so many women weren’t so damn controlling over their men there wouldn’t even be criticism.

16 Dina Eisenberg July 10, 2009 at 11:11 am

What a terrific blog. I’m thrilled to find a counterpart to my marriage blog. While I like the article, seeing a trained professional, whether a martial mediator or therapist, can offer more than a book. The interaction, questioning, discussion can lead to new insights and perspectives you might not find from just reading a book.

Great post, and I look forward to reading more.

Love=Fun

Dina

17 terri July 14, 2009 at 3:49 pm

I observe that The Art of Manliness ignores many man issues. One of the is how to avoid divorce in a country that has one of the highest divorce rates in the world of 180 countries. That since the 1970′s, divorce is unilateral (one decides) and no-fault (no reason needed). Where women initiate divorce about 75% of the time – 90% if they have a college degree.

Though the man is legally innocent in court, he loses his children, eighteen years of income, and half his stuff about 85% percent of the time. He does get most of the marital debt and an Order of Protection (if he gets feisty about the new arrangement).

What would a man do to avoid being mistreated and taken as a chump in America’s anti-male divorce system?

18 dustin July 15, 2009 at 12:33 pm

@terri – a man can avoid the “anti-male” divorce system by being a little more prudent before entering marriage. If he is being taken as a chump, then I believe there was not enough effort put into the marriage on his part. Couples can split because of difference and still respect one another.

I feel this article provides the reader great advice on “how to avoid divorce”, given the reader realizes it takes some humility and selfless effort.

19 Phillip July 17, 2009 at 1:28 pm

What if you do all of this and she still leaves?

20 Hannah July 18, 2009 at 6:45 pm

Laura, I’m one of those gals, too — have serious personal space and touching issues and don’t really like a lot of physical contact, especially anyone at all touching my face.

My first marriage ended because my husband believed that his religion gave him license to treat me like either a slave or an animal. Sometimes no amount of therapy, do it yourself or otherwise, can help overcome somethings.

My second husband is a true Christian and isn’t capable of even thinking of me as anything less than his equal. Which is really where it all starts.

21 Celine July 18, 2009 at 9:52 pm

What is hysterical about Gottman’s findings is that apparently same sex couples are far more likely to have a. better ‘marriages’ that last longer and b. better, more satisfying sex than straight couples. Which would make sense, since same-sex couples have no gender divide between them to screw things up.

Off topic, but just wanted to share :)

In my personal life, i think criticism really is the death of love and romance. When you spend so much of your life with someone else, you begin to notice their weaknesses and failures. It’s hard not to judge them for it if their weaknesses hurt you directly in some way. It’s key to remember that your spouse usually has the best of intentions—that kind of assumption comes only after they’ve proven that you can trust them.

Also, I really recommend the last one—my partner and I spent a year living together as students in a very demanding major. It was very hard to feel romantic for one another when we had absolutely nothing new to talk about, because we had no time to experience new things.

22 Deyka July 21, 2009 at 3:39 am

a very good article, indeed

23 maratik July 21, 2009 at 8:14 am

The four horseman may rear their heads in every marriage, no matter how happy or stable

24 Marriage Help July 27, 2009 at 5:47 am

Sometimes, the couples walk out of their marital lives easily, if their thinking clash, and end up with devastating consequences. But, if they opt for marriage help in such situation and change the way they think, they can create pleasurable and fulfilling lives for themselves.

25 Chris H. July 28, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Good article, Gottman’s work is pretty well respected and promoted amongst the counseling community.

26 married man July 28, 2009 at 11:59 pm

My wife and I went to a seminar led by Joe Beam and he also mentioned the 4 Horsemen. He had lots of other materials and information, but the best thing was what he had us to do change our habits…because information alone doesn’t do much at all. More information is at http://www.joebeam.com

27 Jamie July 31, 2009 at 2:56 pm

I’ve heard all of this advice before in some form or another, and I agree 100%.

My wife comes from a divorced family. My impression is that her father (not a bad man, just a bad husband) didn’t really care for the married life too much, preferring to do things his way and drag his family along for the ride. Her mother eventually divorced him after 12 or so years, and she’s been living the boyfriend-a-month life ever since (roughly 16 years), racking up 2 more divorces in the meantime. He has never remarried, although he’s finally taken up a girlfriend after about 15 years.

My own parents married young (she right out high school, he right out of the Air Force), and are still together, 31 years and counting.

Before I proposed to my wife, we had already taken all of this into account and come to the conclusion that a marriage simply CAN NOT WORK if it’s based on the assumption that divorce is an available option down the road. We have committed to each other that regardless of how bad it may get, divorce will never be an option for either of us.

I believe this makes for a more open, honest relationship, as neither of us needs to live in the constant fear that a wrong step will lead to divorce. It’s easier to weather the hard times because we KNOW that our marriage will come out the other side intact.

The flip side of that reassurance is the knowledge that THIS is the person you’ll be spending the rest of your life with, for better or for worse. This encourages investment (emotional, spiritual, monetary, etc) in that other person, because you know that you’ll be around to enjoy the dividends. You’re more likely to ward off the “Four Horseman,” not out of fear of divorce, but out of fear of losing the quality of your marriage. When divorce is on the table, people are less likely to invest in their mate, knowing that their investment could be wiped away in a single emotional reaction.

28 Becky August 1, 2009 at 1:52 am

Wow great information. When my husband and I started having difficulty getting along, I purchased a book titled, “Love and Pornography,” by author couple, Victoria Prater and Garry Prater.
The book is centered around helping couples who have issues with pornography and sex addiction, however it also teaches couples how to communicate better using love and compassion. At first I was a little skeptical about buying it, however my sister assured me that it would make a world of difference in my relationship with my husband- It really did make a difference in my marriage.

29 wcrisler August 28, 2009 at 9:33 am

Don’t miss the excellent information on saving marriages — even the ones that appear irrevocably lost — at marriagebuilders.com (I think this is the best of all of them) and divorcebusting.com, as well as the book, Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch. Ask me how I know!

30 Dustin September 10, 2009 at 3:57 pm

I love this article! This is also the first time I’ve found your site as I was doing a search on marriage for my own new blog on that topic. It looks like you have lots of content, and I’ve only browsed the Relationships & Family section so far.

From one manly man to another, great work!

Dustin
EngagedMarriage.com

31 Susan September 12, 2009 at 3:35 am

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Susan

http://carusbcharger.com

32 kamilah September 22, 2009 at 5:39 pm

My ex fiance and I broke up and had a few of these signs. Namely he sought to see me and the things I did in such a negative light there was nothing I could do. He kept his “list” of concerns to himself and in the end implied that I didn’t consider his feelings. How could I when he didn’t share them? Then he acted like a child when I could no longer take the pain of him stonewalling me (for an entire month!) and gave back his ring. I missed him greatly, it’s been almost a year now, but I know that I didn’t deserve that and that he was setting our relationship up for failure. I was wrong to just give back the ring when I so wholeheartedly believe in working through difficulties. But what was I supposed to do when he left me no alternative. To this day he thinks he did nothing wrong.

33 John October 5, 2009 at 2:35 pm

I need help…

34 Marriage Therapists October 6, 2009 at 7:37 am

Great blog you have! Giving every couples a chance to make their relationship strong and their marriage longer. It is true that you can make yourself a marriage therapist of your own just be guided accordingly on what is stated on your blog. Good idea of having this a DIY marriage counseling.

Fhaye
http://www.therapists411.com/therapist-information/what-makes-a-good-therapist.html

35 Alicia October 17, 2009 at 12:19 am

what can i do!

36 Phillip October 21, 2009 at 5:23 pm

Kamilah,

Myabe he wasn’t stonewalling, maybe you, like most women tried to chance him into waht you wanted and he refused. I don’t find it surprising you left, as most women do the leaving.

37 Phillip October 21, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Marriage counseling is generally pointless. If you aren’t willing to be what the wife wants the marriage will end.

38 Marriage Counseling November 3, 2009 at 7:37 pm

speaking of John Gottman, who I love, he is presenting at goodtherapy.org — they also have a lot of useful information on marriage counseling.
best regards to everyone,
Jim

39 Get Your Ex Back November 12, 2009 at 11:02 pm

You have really hit the nail on the head! Speaking from a woman’s point of view, I know how great an impression doing those things would make for me. Especially when my husband specially shows that he admires and appreciates me. We also try to go out on weekly dates – helps a lot since we have 9 kids at home!

40 mrs. lee March 23, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Phillip,

one word – BITTER!
get over it man.

Anyways I am doing research on the topic and came across this wonderful site. Believe me theirs not much of an alternative to marriage help out there other than a marriage counselor.
Thanks

41 san diego marriage counselling June 29, 2010 at 4:01 am

Learning to find solutions by listening to your lover’s meanings instead of hearing their words.

42 Travis August 4, 2010 at 10:12 am

This seems like a very good article. I’ll add one thing though. The part about “Admire and Appreciate” only addresses 1 of the 5 possible love languages that people respond to: “Word of Affirmation.” Some people respond very well to this, but some do not. Your partner may respond better to one of the other 4 languages: Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service or Physical Touch. Know which of these your partner responds to, and make sure to hit on that specifically. For more info, check out “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate”. They have it on Amazon and stuff, I’m sure.

43 M August 9, 2010 at 1:10 am

Another word for Phillip: SEXIST!

Ugh. Maybe if you stopped blaming your problems on some abstract stereotype about women you’d have more romantic success? Or would respecting other people be too much of a change for you?

44 Thomas August 18, 2010 at 6:08 pm

I am here “manning up” to take the time to say, “Thank you for the DIY post.” You just can’t hear good advice enough. Really. It’ s amazing how it just seems like yesterday when I had the book in my hands, “The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work.” I held onto that book like a life preserver. I read every word on every page like it was my last chance to save my marriage. It was. Unfortunately, the life preserver in my case was like jumping off the Titanic. it wasn’t enough. But it wasn’t the book’s fault. Still the book is awesome, as is your column. You are so right about the difference between complaining and criticism. It’s using terms like “I feel…” instead of “You did…” I appreciate your writing and your efforts. You’ve just won a new reader.
Thomas : )

45 John September 21, 2012 at 9:10 am

Thanks, my marriage has gone through a rought ime recently, but you have given me some ideas to help to work through our problems together.

46 Jaime December 16, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Hello

I’m Jaime, I’m 32 years old, I live in Nicaragua Central America. I found this website while searching Mariage Counseling for my wife and I.

Right now I’m having a hard time with my wife, actually our main issue is that she has never forgotten the past, she is always highlighting it.

I would like to know if I can get some help from you guys.

Thanks

47 TIYARAFY December 17, 2012 at 7:12 am

Hi Sir or Madam, My boyfriend and I are going out for 1.5 years- long distance relationship. And he keeps raising my hopes – he would marry me etc. But why is he a member of a dating network? And why is he still having some kind-of intimate conversation with his ex? I mean they are done with each-other so long ago. How do I handle the ‘mommy’s boy’ kind of lover? I feel I am not number one in his life but his mum? What to do? Somehow, I feel he pretends to tell me he is ok but I can feel and see he isn’t – why? And how can I change that? I feel its always me against him against the world. How can I get him to stand for me and not for the opponent? I settle issue via talking about it he keeps quiet and laughs- what to do? I feel not loved or trusted. I also feel I am the only one correcting issues and I don’t want to sound like the born complainer- what do? Was thinking to speak to him about all of these issues in dept – should I or just let go? But I must amit if so I might break one day. I am not having the respect I think I deserve – what to do? Thank you so much for your help in advance and have a blessed day.

48 Rose December 18, 2012 at 9:48 pm

my big question is, What about those of us who feel like their just friends for benefits and not husband and wife? Another problem would be him wanting to be with another girl while in the same time be with his wife? fyi, the wife knows about it and just gives in to his demands so he would be happy.

49 kevin ward January 15, 2013 at 9:17 pm

I’ve been married 5 months after 5&1/2 yrs of dating and living together. Two weeks ago my wife said she loves me but is not in love anymore. She wanted a temporary seporation. In hopes to save our marriage I moved to my brothers house. I’ve been away for 6 days and we hardly communicate. She did however invite me to dinner a couple days ago, and it was good to be home although brief. I know she struggles from depression due to family issues, and stress from me. She wants and seeks counseling for het depression, and wants marriage counseling afterwards. Did I make the right choice in honoring het wishes for me to leave? If so how soon should wait to try talking to her on a regular basis and expect to move back in?

50 Cara Rogers February 8, 2013 at 11:30 am

Interesting article, I’ve been searching around looking for good advice on counseling and where to turn. Here I find a turn inward post that says save the money follow some simple rules and save your own marriage. I like the idea and may start putting some of these to use. I do however think that it is sometimes good to have a third party to weigh in on situations. Thanks for your amazing post.

51 Rob March 16, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Wonderful. This info is going to help me save my marriage. Thank you.

52 Amy April 9, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Great advice!

53 Mathew Rybicki June 2, 2013 at 4:03 am

Most of the time we can see, there are huge mental differences between husband and wife. It is because the man takes himself as husband and the woman takes herself as wife. But everything can be easier if they take each other as friends. Sharing everything, passing time together at the balcony whenever possible. It builds strong foundation of a happy married life.

54 Rachel July 2, 2013 at 11:27 am

I think the part about increasing the positive relationship in a marriage is so vital. My husband is so kind to me all the time and makes such an effort to be close to me that those times when I actually get mad at him, I still don’t want to hurt him by being mean, so I talk to him instead of yelling at him or being snide. If you put as much joy as possible into your marriage, it’s so much easier to handle the negative stuff that inevitably shows up from time to time.

55 Steve July 30, 2013 at 10:27 am

You have to look at this a little alpha and little beta. During the discussion phase, you need to be critical of yourself and the other. You may find out that many of the things bothering the relationship are meaningless. Then again, you may find what is really irking the other.

Together time is needed but also is having an outside release (not sexual). Too many a time the woman is stuck at home while the man runs out with his buddies.

56 Abbi August 26, 2013 at 5:22 pm

I really appricitate this blog. By Brother is going through some very tough times with his new wife. I am trying to give them some real advise and help them understand that marriage is so very important and the “D” word should never be an option. Also very pleased with all the positiveness on this post. Awesome!

57 Incognito November 6, 2013 at 3:29 pm

What if you’ve just grown too far apart and communication is non-existent? What if one partner just won’t communicate and when you try to initiate he cuts it off? When do you just say ‘enough’ and get out. What if you were delusional about the relaitonship from the beginning and now stick with it because it’s simpler than trying to dissolve after 20 years? The stonewalling is so recurrent these days that I’m at rope’s end.

58 Sandar Clifford December 7, 2013 at 3:37 pm

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59 Andrew Masango December 8, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Hi.
I need help, my relationship with my fiancé is falling apart. I need agent help pls.

60 Ricardo Villatoro December 10, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Yes the main thing I feel Is that in a marriage or long-term relationship the couple needs to recreate the “fresh and new” feeling every single day….The feeling when they first were together that’s a really good way to make things more intimate and last..you can’t just jump in to a relationship just for a feeling of security, you have to work at it to, but not so much that a feeling of resentment comes about.

61 Hard Work December 13, 2013 at 11:15 pm

I find that a lot depends on attitude and not just learning the correct way to respond to a certain situation. And if a person is mentally unbalanced, logical answers and logical responses won’t work. So it’s best to find out if your future spouse is nuts before you marry them. And it’s a huge plus to a marriage if you have the same religion and the same denomination.

62 Jason Ellis January 5, 2014 at 5:48 pm

I’ve caught myself “stonewalling” before and now that I can associate a horrible term to this embarrassing behavior, I’ll be that much more likely not to engage in it. :) Thanks for the post.

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