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
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 counseling…even 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
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:
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.”
You have now made a repair — it’s simple, necessary, and undoubtedly smart.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.”
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.
One of the most difficult relationship conversations for a husband and wife is:
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
I admit it.
In the past I’ve made a comment or two (or three or four) to my husband that if I were caught on camera one would think think:
(Gasp!) O.M.G. What a b*tch…!
And let’s be honest: I know you’ve been there too because what else are you bitching about with your girlfriends when the topic of husbands come up? However, what’s giggled over “Ladies’ Cocktail Hour” does not negate your part in how you communicate to your husband. No matter what frustrations you feel, the only person you can manage is you. That said, here are 5 examples of what not to say and instead what to say:
1) What’s wrong with you??
Honestly, the above is comparable to chopping off his penis.
Saying it in a laughing, fun gesture is one thing, but when you respond with the above because your husband forgot to pick up the milk on the way home, I can assure you that he’ll never ever offer to pick up the milk again.
HEALTHY RESPONSE – Attacking someone with words is really you acting out your feelings. If you feel frustrated that he forgot “the one thing” you asked him to do, instead try this: I know you’re not trying to forget, but I do feel frustrated that it happens. Will you please do try to remember next time?
2) What were you thinking?!
When your husband comes home from work and shares with you how a deal of his backfired, my guess is that he’s looking for some compassion and support and not a devaluing attack.
HEALTHY RESPONSE – You don’t have to agree how your husband handles certain situations, but if your husband didn’t ask for your opinion then it’s better to keep your “what the f*ck was he thinking” thought to yourself. However, if he did ask for your opinion then simply offer another concrete solution. Try this: Well if it were me I probably would have done __________.
Keep it simple and non-critical.
3) That’s ALL you did??
In a perfect world our husbands would read our minds in the most symbiotic, magical way. But that’s not reality (nope – not happenin’ ladies). You’re allowed to feel frustrated that he didn’t execute a task the way you would, but vomiting your disappointment all over him will get you no where.
HEALTHY RESPONSE – Your husband said he was going to help you straighten up the kids rooms while you were out. You come home to find his definition of straightening up the kids rooms is the sheets are pulled up to the top of the bed and the toys are are all pushed up to one side of the wall. In your head you’re thinking your 6 year old could do a better job straightening up. However, one hopes that you also realize that you were not as specific with what “straightening up the kids’ rooms” means. So instead try this: I realize I wasn’t specific about where the toys should go and how the beds are made, so next time I’ll be more specific. Thanks for your help though – I really appreciate it.
4) Stop touching me.
Hubby wants to get sexy times on and you’d rather stick needles in your eyes after the child screaming, work stress day you’ve had. But guess what? You’re allowed to feel that way and you’re allowed to select the pause button in response.
HEALTHY RESPONSE - Instead try this: (give a kiss/hug in return…come on, he needs something) Honey, I just need a bit of time to decompress from the day so that I can really be present with you.
He’s not stupid – he’ll get the hint without you making him feel like a total reject. The only caveat is this doesn’t mean you get a free hall pass for the week: You’re just as responsible for your sexual relationship as he is so #1, do what ever jedi mind tricks you have to do to get present for sex and #2, it’s your responsibility to let him know when you’re ready and able.
5) You’re pathetic!
Ladies, this is so not cool to say to anyone. How old are you??? Kids say this to other kids when they feel angry, hurt, sad, disappointed, etc. Own your feelings and communicate them like an adult.
HEALTHY RESPONSE – Your husband just said something to you which sounded attacking and critical, but the last thing you want to do is get in the sand box with him. Be the adult and be direct: I feel hurt when you talk to me like that. If you’re upset about something that I did then talk to me like an adult, but don’t push me against the wall with your words.
And that’s it. Be respectful. Be an adult (not a fire breathing dragon) and be smart.
You’ve been feeling lonely and disconnected from your husband. You finally have the guts to approach him and share your feelings. You begin to emotionally strip yourself naked as the tears start to well up and you explain how unhappy you feel in the marriage. As you continue to lament he looks at you like a deer caught in headlights saying nothing which causes you to feel worse. Your palms begin to sweat and you feel like a hot mess as all you can hear is the screeching of your (what feels like a) never ending ramble. Suddenly, you stop talking and wait for him to respond. You look at him, he looks at you, you look at him, he looks at you. You desperately want to hear his thoughts but the silence feels like a slow Chinese torture. As your body is about to burst from anxiety you exclaim: WHY AREN’T YOU SAYING ANYTHING??!!
He is immediately startled via your attack. He pulls his body away and exclaims: BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T ASK ME TO!!
You respond: What are you talking about?! You’re just sitting there staring at me like I’m pathetic! YOU THINK I’M PATHETIC.
At this point your husband has either (A) left the room, (B) called you crazy and then left the room or (C) explains what’s really going on inside that noggin of his. So for the purposes of this post, let’s go with (C).
He stares at you with disdain (because he has no idea where your atom bomb came from) and says to you: You’re talking to me, right??
You nod your head YES.
He continues: Well obviously you’re upset and need to talk to me, so guess what I’m doing???
You think, you wonder, you can’t think of the answer so you ask him: What?
He answers: I’M LISTENING!!!!!
(That was you just shooting yourself in the foot)
I have had countless women in my practice who will talk about their husbands and say something like, “Well he doesn’t care about me the way he used to and I know he hates X, Y, and Z about me.”
To which I reply, “Well did he actually say that to you?” and 9 times out of 10 their answer is: NO…but that’s what I think!!
Ladies: If you try to read your husband’s mind as opposed to finding out what he’s thinking, then guess what?
That’s right – it’s a painful downward spiral from there.
So if you really want to be smart, don’t assume anything until you’ve truly checked it out with your husband.