4 Ways to Have Peace in Your Marriage

peaceful marriage

Now that it’s the new year most of you may be attempting to fix yourself and your relationships from top to bottom.  If this is you, then stop.  Please stop, because you are basically setting yourself up for failure.  Instead you have to break it down. Start by identifying specific behaviors of yours that are worth adjusting in order to bring more harmony to yourself and to your marriage.  However, if you’re at a all wondering what some of those might be for you, allow me to share with you some common ones which are definitely 4 ways to have peace in your marriage:

1)  Drama – creating it

2)  Obsessing

3) Manipulating

4)  Avoiding

The best way:  DOMA

(Yes, it sounds like a cliche name for a coffee shop somewhere in Seattle, but at least you’ll remember it easily)

Drama – Just the word itself reeks of drama and yet we’ve all probably indulged in it more than we would like to admit (yes – I surrender).  However, it doesn’t belong in an adult relationship. Drama is more appropriate for the 3 year old who is having a tantrum on the kitchen floor with snot running down his or her nose.  So if you furiously hang up the phone on your husband because he nervously laughed at you whining to him (note: whining, not talking) about why you feel he doesn’t care about you isn’t exactly the way to jump start an adult conversation.  So like the runny nose 3 year old throwing their toys all over the floor, you too are creating  mess when you invite the drama.

Obsessing –  Talk about a cost effective way to numb out and escape!  However, it will cost you your own ability to take care of yourself and those around you.  When you obsess, you disconnect and when you are disconnected from yourself, you’re in major trouble. Here’s a visual for you:  Think of a computer cord being pulled out of the wall.  Well, that’s basically you when you disconnect from yourself and the world around you.  Obsessing is like a drug – it’s a quick fix way to avoid what ever is intolerable for you in the moment.  So here’s a tip:  When you notice yourself obsessing, think about that unplugged computer that simply can not work.

Manipulation – Oh come on, we’re women – we created the word.  However, that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing.  Certain kinds of “manipulation” are healthy such as a chess game or even trying to coax your Velcro child from letting go of your leg while trying to leave their classroom.  Yet, trying to convince your husband that your sex life with him will improve  if he agrees to hire a live in masseuse, is just not the way to be straight up about your most desired splurge.

Avoiding – Last I heard, walking through life with a blindfold on didn’t exactly end happily ever Disney after.  So whether it be a blown out argument with your husband, a rupture with a friend, fear about your future, denial about your addiction, etc., avoiding will only cause you and your relationship a big, smelly, messy, pile of drama.

So there you have it:  4 very very common  relationship pitfalls to watch out for and if there is a memory lapse at all,  remember my tragically cliche sounding coffee shop, DOMA.

Wishing you all a peaceful, healthy and non-perfect accepting new year.

 

 

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Holiday Shopping is in full swing now!  That said, I’m sure your holiday exhaustion is well on a roll with your holiday gift list growing each day like a holly, jolly virus:

Last night you fell asleep into a peaceful slumber dreaming that all of your holiday shopping was done, until…Suddenly you have visions of the mailman, the gardener, your 3rd grader’s Teacher’s Assistant and the school janitor all pelting you with rocks because you forgot to add them to your gift list!

Your eyes pop open and out of your mouth comes a crying low moan as you realize that your holiday shopping list has tragically come back from the dead.

Yes soldier…you are officially back in the trenches, so let’s look at 4 ways you can keep the never ending holiday shopping saga to a simple science:

1)      Make a list and stick to it!

When shopping for gifts, buy only what is on your list.  I don’t know about you, but stores such as Target and Bed Bath and Beyond have a way of seducing me to throw into my cart extra non-gift items which I didn’t even know existed until I entered the evil mega store.  Cut to the next day where I am standing behind 20 people in the return line and quietly moaning because what I really need to be doing is wrapping the initial gifts I bought!

2)      Take advantage of smaller on-line stores

Sites such as Fab.com (my favorite thus far) which offer free shipping, free returns and fantastic holiday discounts, offer fun gift ideas which you hadn’t thought about otherwise.  Plus, the site has a less overwhelming volume of merchandise compared to daunting sites such as amazon.  Hence, the on-line shopping experience can become fun rather than overstimulating.

3)      The non-gift “gift”

For some people the pressure to buy the most perfect gift for your spouse can feel stressful and forced.  Imagine the deflated moment for both you and your husband as you watch him open the gift and with the most unenthusiastic tone he looks at you and says, “Thanks for another shirt.”  So instead of an empty gift exchange, perhaps start a tradition where instead of gifts you create an annual holiday ritual together.  The ideas can be endless.  For example:  a day of wine tasting, a childless day at Disneyland (where you two get to be the kids), a back to back to back movie marathon morning (either at the theater or on Netflix at home), a hike up your favorite hiking trail, etc.  Furthermore, you can be as budget conscious as you want!

4)      Simplicity at its best

When in doubt….simply give a gift card.  It’s fast, it’s easy and despite my historical Target dramas, I admit that I myself would never say no to a gift card from the evil mega store.

Good luck with the rest of your shopping adventures and may the force be with you.

 

For those of you who live in Los Angeles area, find out more about my private practice at caringoldstein.com.

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5 Marriage Lessons I Learned This Summer

 

Yes, I am officially back from summer!

Okay…I know it’s October, but “transition” is my Achilles heal, hence my delay in connecting back to you.

That aside, know that my summer hiatus wasn’t to hide from you.  In fact it was quite the opposite.  I kept you in my mind as I realized that in order to continue sharing marriage lessons, etc. that once again I needed to stop and evaluate my current part in my marriage.  I thought:  If I could tolerate letting go of my to-do list and instead look even closer at myself then that might offer you marriage lessons that are refreshing and honest rather than old and recycled.

So without further adieu, here are 5 (of the many) marriage lessons I learned this summer:

1.  Feelings can be over rated  –  I am in no way saying that feelings aren’t important.  What I am saying is if you live 70 % in your feelings and 30% in your thinking then you might as well be hanging out with my 4 year old because that’s basically the developmental level you’re operating in.  If you’re interested in a healthy adult relationship, then 30% feeling/70% thinking is a much better compass to follow.

2.  Less is more  –  I don’t know about you, but when I’m trying to settle a conflict with my husband, I like to talk…and most of the time too much.  I can get so lost in the flood of feelings and thoughts that I don’t even realize when I have (metaphorically speaking) drowned my husband in my own flood.  I now remind myself to K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid).

3.  There’s a lid for every pot  –   When ever I think that my husband is acting like a petulant a**hole, then that’s my cue that I may be acting (or at least thinking) like an a**hole as well and it’s probably time for me to check it.

4.  I still slip into the sandbox  —  There are still  times that I still slip into that “child place” and wahh wahh waaaaaahhh! until I see that I’ve completely shot myself in the foot. (Sigh) What can I say?  I too am always a work in progress…

5.  Sometimes…he is actually right  –  It’s true…and whenever that happens I just try my best to surrender and breath through the pain.

 

 

If you live in the Los Angeles area and want to know more about my private practice visit caringoldstein.com

 

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How to be super smart before the wedding

 

Today’s post is dedicated to those of you who are a current bride-to-be:

Firs off…congratulations on your engagement!  You are about to embark on one of the most exciting and enriching chapters of your life.

Now here’s the part that might freak you out, but try not to because what I’m about to tell you is completely  normal:

Marriage is hard. Very hard.  That is, if you’re interested in a connective, vital, satisfying (note: not perfect) marriage.  As special as a marriage can feel, it can also feel exhausting, frustrating and challenging on so many different levels.  Marriage is work and it takes two individuals who are willing and able to look at the unfinished business and unrealistic expectations that each bring into the union.  Obviously the more self aware each person is about their needs and expectations (realistic and unrealistic) going into the marriage, the stronger jump start it has.

That all said, here is the super smart tip I have for you before the wedding:

Invest in some pre-marital counselingeven if it’s 2 or 3 sessions.

Why?  Well think of it this way:  If you and your future husband build a house together without discussing the what, when and why of how you want the house to look, feel, and be, then don’t you think the chances of the house ending up like a complete disaster are pretty damn high??

In my opinion:  YES.

So if you want your pending nuptials to have the most optimistic forecast possible then a few “Let’s try to understand each other even better!” sessions with a therapist or counselor will be super smart and more (and it won’t hurt you either).

 

If you live in the Los Angeles area and want to know more about my private practice visit caringoldstein.com

 

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Fighting Couple

 

I cannot begin to tell you how may times I have a wife and/or a husband in my office looking confused and lost as to how to fix a fight that just blew up between them.  Now is it true that angry words can be damaging?  Absolutely.  However, it doesn’t mean that the damage is “done” and that there is no turning back.  As I’ve written before, nothing in life is black and white – especially in your marriage.

That said, the answer to how to fix a fight is one simple word:

Repair.

What so many, many couples don’t realize is that there is always room to repair even after angry words have been thrown at each other.  So here is what the repair might look like:

Let’s say you said something to your husband which was critical, attacking and dare I say cruel.  At this point your husband is probably feeling furious to the point where for the next 2 days he acts as if you don’t even exist.  Unfortunately this where most couples sadly and unknowingly dig their relationship into a deeper, darker hole as both members of the couple pretend that the verbal smack down never happened.  This is what is called a toxic rupture.  Yes…those two words that are like poison for your marriage.

If your marriage or relationship has ongoing ruptures, followed by avoidance of discussing what just happened between you two, then those ruptures will forever chip away at the foundation of the relationship.  

So now let’s go back to how you spoke to your partner…

Did you regress into your own childlike emotional state when you yelled at him:  You’re useless!  What did I even marry you?!

Yes.  In fact, you regressed with flying colors, but look — you’re human and we all make mistakes.  So rather than beat yourself up, look at why you said what you said:  What were the feelings underneath it all?  Were you feeling angry?  Sad? Scared? Alone?  You need to find out what was really going on inside of you and hightail it back to your partner and say:

“Hey – It wasn’t okay for me to completely chew you out about the kids’ mess I came home to.  It was my own frustration of feeling the weight of the household responsibilities these days and next time I’ll ask for help rather than flipping out on you the way I did…I’m really sorry.”

Ta-daaa…

You have now made a repair — it’s simple, necessary, and undoubtedly smart.

 

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How to Get Your Husband to Grow Up

Husband acts like a child

 

I could tell you to give him a smack upside the head, but that would be unprofessional on my part.

So instead I offer you more civilized advice about how to get your husband to grow up…

After lengthy discussions with many women (both personally and professionally), I have discovered an epidemic that is sweeping households across the nation.  I call this epidemic the Husbkid Syndrome.  The Husbkid Syndrome is when your dear husband has comfortably settled into an unaware childlike state where the cause of this epidemic is 3 simple words:   ENABLING – YOUR – HUSBAND.

Ladies…I ask you:  Is this you?  

Are you enabling your husband to the point where he is absolved of all adult responsibilities in your home?  If so, then take a look at 3 possible behaviors which you may be enabling in your marriage on an ongoing basis:

1)  Disrespectful  behavior –  Does your husband makes jokes about you in front of other people?  Does he throw a tantrum when you simply express your frustrations to him?  Are his eyes completely glued to his iPhone whenever you try to have a serious conversation with him?  If any of the above ring true to you, then the solution is simple:  stop enabling it.  

Just like a child, he is pushing the boundaries, so if your desire is to get your husband to act more mature, then you best draw the line.  That said, some responses to the above questions could be:

If you want to be funny in front of our friends then that’s fine, but do not make me the bud of your joke.  I don’t accept that.

When you’re ready to have an adult conversation without yelling at me, I’ll be in the other room… (and then you go to the other room!)

When you’re done looking at your phone, I’ll continue the conversation… (and then you let go of the conversation until he chooses to step back into adult land with you)

2)  Disengaged from household needs  -  Whether it’s taking out the trash, helping to clean the dishes after dinner, giving the kids a bath, taking the kids to school and/or making that (in my opinion) god awful trip to Costco, you must expect that your husband participate (whether its 50/50, 70/30, etc.) in managing the home life with you.  Otherwise, you’re basically enabling a 16 year old boy to ignore his “chores” and instead hang out in his bedroom with the doors closed while he masturbates to the girls in his high school yearbook.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a hot mess (no pun intended).

If you want to get your husband from being the child, then what you say to him should be simple and short.  For example:

I need your help cleaning up the left over food and putting the dishes in the dishwasher.  Thanks!  (and you leave the room)

3)  He’s your child’s BFF  –  Your child needs his father to be a parent, not a friend.  Period.  Him being the BFF not only creates less than favorable boundaries for your child, but it also gives your husband permission to be yet another whining child for you to live with.  Yeaaaah….not so sexy.

That being said, if you truly want your husband to grow up so that you feel like you have an adult partner, then for God’s sake, pu-leeeeez stop enabling him.

That would smart.

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How do I get my husband to notice me?

 

You come home with a new haircut and 2 days later your husband looks at you and says:  You look different…did you change something??  Or does your husband only notice your new haircut because your kid was the first one who noticed?   Are you starved for your husband to notice the effort you put into taking care of the house, the kids, your healthy fit body, etc. etc.?  If you’re beating your head against the wall trying to figure out how to get your husband to notice you, then let’s look at 4 simple steps you can take:

1)  Notice him

We all want to feel seen, heard and appreciated — it’s human nature.  So if you want him to notice you, then you sure as hell better be noticing him.  Some ways to notice him could be: a compliment, inquiring about his day, showing interest in something that he’s interested in, listening to him with attention (ie: eye contact, body language), etc.

2)  Couple time

How is he ever going to notice you if there is no alone couple time??  Whether life is too busy with work, kids, friends or other life obligations, it is imperative that you have alone time together so that you can connect.  If the two of you are connecting, then he’s most likely noticing you.  Oh and by the way: if you’re the one who mostly does all the planning, then please stop whining about it.  This isn’t about keeping score – it’s about the end result!

3)  Sex

NO - I’m not saying that you should be all Mad Men and be waiting at the door in a negligee with a martini for him.  What I’m saying is that sex is one of the most simple and primitive ways that your husband can connect with you (hence notice you).  Furthermore, sex won’t hurt you either considering all the health benefits (ie: decreased depression, increased quality of sleep, release of bonding hormones, etc.).

4)  Tell him

Again, he’s not a mind reader and to be honest, he may be totally clueless that you feel unnoticed.  So if all else fails, be smart and simply share with him your honest feelings.  But remember – these are your feelings (not his), so be careful to not attack him regarding his unawareness and instead express to him what you need.

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It’s the end of the day, the kids are asleep, you’re beyond exhausted and you sit down to talk to your husband about something of importance (whatever it may be). As you talk, you realize that he’s not making eye contact with you and is completely focused on something else. Offended by his lack of attention, you stop talking and flat out ask: “Did you hear what I said?” — to which he replies: What??

Is this you?

If so I get it — OMG my friend, I most certainly get it. However, I’m going to help you feel more hopeful and share with you 4 thoughts on how to get your husband to listen to you:

1) Do you listen to him??

Do you? Think about it: women are busy doing it all – planning, caring, creating, scheduling, making, supporting, working, helping, rescuing, etc. etc. etc. That being said, are you so busy that you don’t even realize that the one thing you want your husband to do is the one thing that you’re not doing for him?? Hmmmm…

Just as you teach your child to treat others the way he or she wants to be treated, the same goes for you toward your husband. So if getting him to listen to you is of utmost priority, then pu-leeeez make sure that you’re listening to him.

2) Get active.

I’m not kidding. Any form of physical activity (ie: a hike or even hanging out with him while he’s golfing, etc.) will allow that kinetic part of his wiring to help him feel more inspired to not only talk to you, but to listen to you. So know your audience and get moving with him.

3) There’s a time and place

In many situations, timing is everything and knowing if and when your husband is able to actually listen is a key element. It’s pretty unlikely that you’ll gain his focus if you call him at work while he’s smack in the middle of a deadline. However, if you wait until he is home and has unwound from his day, then chances are higher that he’ll actually be able give you the attention you deserve.

4) If you want it, ask for it.

Communication breakdown happens in every relationship (if someone tells you otherwise then they’re either lying to your face or they’re flat out high). Therefore, at times your husband may not even realize that you not only need his undivided attention, but that you need him to hold your words with respect. Ladies, as I’ve said before: he can’t read your mind, so if you need him to understand what “listening” looks like to you, then be straight up and lay it out.

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It’s four days post Mother’s Day and the comments from my frustrated female patients have been rolling into my office all week:

“Mother’s Day was anything but Mother’s Day.”

“He did nothing for me.”

“All I got was a card while all my other mommy friends got breakfast in bed.”

“Even just a card would have sufficed!”

“I wish he would just get it!”

“I hate him.”

Etc…

So what’s a wife to do??

Well — here are my 2 questions for you:

1) Did you tell him what you want??

As much as we would all love love love for our husbands to symbiotically read our minds, the fact of the matter is…he can’t.  He can’t, he can’t, he can’t and the sooner you accept that, the easier it will be for you to simply hand him the “recipe” so that he can deliver the “meal.”   The harder you fight the reality of his non psychic powers, the more you will feel dissatisfied, unappreciated and resentful.

Furthermore:  never assume.  More than not, assumptions lead to conflict.  That’s not to say that sometimes your assumption might be correct, but why take the chance?  Knowing that you are making assumptions about what your husband should and/or could do for you is basically testing him.

That said, if you’re going to put him to the test, prepare for him to possibly fail. Hmmm…that smells like hot mess on the horizon.

2) Did you tell him what you want, but he still didn’t do it??

If your answer is yes, then let’s be honest:  you’re not just disappointed – you’re hurt.  In fact you’re probably at the point where you want to throw a shoe at him and scream: “What the f*@& is wrong with you??!!”

If that’s how you’re feeling, I get it…but put your shoe down.

What I suggest you do is be honest and straight up (but without having a tantrum).  Don’t get into a long, dramatic soliloquy about the blood, sweat and tears that drip off of your aching body every day as you sacrifice your soul in order to keep the family ship afloat.  Instead, just say it straight: “I feel really sad and hurt about Mother’s Day because I couldn’t have been more specific about what I wanted that day.  I really hope you hear me the next time I communicate what I want.”

And that’s it.  There’s nothing else to say. 

However, if  he has 10 different excuses as to why he couldn’t do XYZ, then your simple response is: I‘m not looking for excuses — I’m telling you how I feel.

And again…that’s it.  If he’s overwhelmed with guilt, anger, frustration, etc. then be smart and let him sit with his feelings and give him the space to think about it all.  Hopefully, he might be able to think about how to give you what you want the next time around.

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Money Talk

One of the most difficult relationship conversations for a husband and wife is:

MONEY.

Yes.  Next to sex, money is the ultimate hot button in a marriage as every person has their own meaning and emotions attached to the big M.

So what’s a Smart Wife to do when it comes to money and marriage??

Here are some answers from a recent interview I had with Cosmopolitan Magazine about couples and how to talk about this emotionally charged topic.

Check it out:   Money Talk

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