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Articles from September 2009

September 27, 2009

Lean Into Marriage Issues

Some folks scream bloody murder when things don't go their way in a marriage. Others avoid conflict. Neither works.

Both of these involve pulling away from your marriage, distancing yourself from your partner in life. Harder to do, but much more likely to succeed: lean in. Get closer. State your case and affirm your love.

Be sexier (not pushier) when you ask for more sex, even if it risks a harder fall if you're turned down. Be kinder, more generous (not more demanding or whining) when you seek favors, even though it means you might have a bit less to fall back on if you don't receive what you're after. Be more fair in other areas if you feel some area of your relationship has become unfair.

Why? Because we learn to handle our relationships like a dance. If one pulls away, the other follows at a constant distance or pulls back as a counterbalance. The way to change the dance is to lean in, inviting your partner to lean in, too, or to lead somewhere new.

Lean in and trust this person who fell in love with exactly who you are. Don't demand your mate solve your problems, but give him or her the opportunity to help you solve them. Lean in.

September 26, 2009

IT Managers in the UK Make Marriage Mistake

In addition to my work as a Marriage Educator, I have for 35 years been paid to advise managers in major corporations on how to improve employee performance. There's a strong link between the two. When a company tries to get more or better performance at the expense of an employee's marriage, it backfires.

The latest to make this huge mistake? Those responsible for information technology (IT) in the United Kingdom.

A survey by the IT Job Board, reported in Tech Republic today, says more than half of these UK IT workers bring work home with them, and one out of every 14 puts in 60 to 75 hours a week, basically working two jobs for the price of one.

Is it a bargain for their employers? Hardly! When there's no time for employees to enjoy a close relationship with their spouse or life partner, the company faces profit-draining consequences:

  • Expensive presenteeism while employees deal with the stress of a failing relationship

  • Time-sapping distraction of other employees with the complaints and concerns of an employee whose marriage is failing

  • Costly extra absenteeism during a divorce and in the single-parenting aftermath

  • Additional health care and disability costs for employees going through a marital crisis or divorce

  • Increased risk of affairs with clients, competitors, or subordinates, with the possibility of sexual harassment lawsuits, leaked competitive information, lost contracts, and non-working time charged to your company or your clients

  • For IT executives, increased risk of compensation details revealed during divorce proceedings or Sarbanes-Oxley ethics violations due to affairs

All these come on top of the performance hit suffered by all overworked employees in a field where attention to detail and creativity for problem solving are critically important.

September 24, 2009

Why Be Married? It's the World's Best Kind of Drug

I Get That All the Time by Due West is #8 this week on the Great American Country charts with a great answer to the question Why Be Married?

What is it that happily married folks get all the time? The "world's best kind of drug" and "the night of your life." Help vote I Get That All the Time to #1 and spread the message.

September 23, 2009

10 Things You Should Not Expect from Your Spouse

In tonight's Enjoy Being Married teleclass, I'll be talking about how to get more of your needs met (without cheating). Key to this is knowing what's reasonable to expect from your husband or wife and what's not.

Here are ten things you should not expect:

  1. Vacations that involve being in a bass boat at dawn

  2. Weekly tile grout scrubbing

  3. Even one foot rub

  4. A clean diaper on the baby when you finish your bath

  5. Trash removal before it stinks

  6. A home in the best neighborhood you two can afford

  7. Home-cooked meals

  8. Love notes in your laptop bag

  9. A hug at the airport

  10. Thoughtful birthday gifts

What's the point in being married then, you ask? Call in tonight at 9 pm EDT for the answers or check back here next week.

September 20, 2009

My Husband Made Me Eat It!

My Husband Made Me Eat It is my new column for married folks trying to maintain weight loss, like me.

Second Helping logoIt's part of a fantastic web site filled with great tips and advice for anyone losing weight or keeping it off,

Check out recipes like Turkey Burgers Garnished with Chopped Roasted Shallot, Catalan Mushrooms, and Maple Molasses Chipotle Ketchup or easy-on-the calories treats like Grilled Figs with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Bruschetta.

I'll leave it to Russ and Kevin to tempt you with delicious food you can safely eat. My column's about what happens to couples when one or both of you aim to watch your weight and stay fit. I need your input to keep it real. Tell me about the eating and exercising challenges you've faced as part of a couple, what's worked for you, and what hasn't.

September 19, 2009

Air Force Gets Married, Stays Married

Fascinating news today from the Air Force Times. While 10.5% of the adult civilian population is divorced, only 4.4% of Air Force officers and 7.3% of enlisted airmen are.

Think it's because they don't bother to marry, given all that times away from home? That's not it, according to author Erik Holmes. Airmen are more likely to be married, especially officers. 70.9% of Air Force officers are married, compared to just 50.5% of the general population. And deployments don't appear to affect the likelihood of marrying or divorcing.

Why not? There are plenty of anecdotes about the difficulties of keeping a marriage together through a deployment, but the Air Force also provides marriage education, on-base and off-base marriage counseling, as well as marriage retreats for airmen and their mates. Couples who navigate a tough patch together create stronger bonds for whatever else comes their way.

September 12, 2009

I Want You to Show Me

A lucky few grow up able to see what love is and how their parents love each other, growing better at it every year. But most of us don't. We go into marriage with something like the Foreigner song lyric lurking in our heads: "I wanna know what love is; I want you to show me."

We meet a good man or woman, discover love, and marry. At first, we're fine. We feel so loved. We give love freely. Some of our attempts miss their target, but most are well-received. We feel confident this could last a lifetime.

And then we get angry or hurt or frightened, and we're not sure. We return to the old questions. How can I get more love? Is there something I should be doing to get him (or her) to love me? There are lots of books, lots of magazine articles, lots of friends with advice. Some will even assure us it's normal to feel abandoned at times. We just have to "work at it."

Usually, though, "working at it" doesn't help, because the problem is not how we love them. It's not even how they love us. It's how much love we are able to receive and how much we block out. Unless we are offered no love at all, which is seldom the case, we can have plenty of love if we know how to let it in. And once we feel loved, most of us do a pretty good job of loving back.

So what we need to know is how to let love flow in, how to avoid shutting love out.

When we're alarmed by something they do, we can Assume Love and check to see if perhaps we're unnecessarily alarmed and just being loved in an unfamiliar way.

If we feel something's missing, we can Expect Love and let go of expecting it will come in a particular package. Rather than divorce and meet our own needs, we can meet our own needs and stick around to see what other surprising forms love will take.

When we disagree, we can seek to Find Third Alternatives instead of defending our initial idea of how to get what we want. We can get what we want AND give what they want. The this-or-that choices we see at first glance are seldom all we can choose among, and defending this (or that) shuts out love.

September 6, 2009

Why Be Married? To Be Someone's Everything

Milton Rivera Manga started a poll this week in Linked In's Harvard Business Review group. He's received six responses so far, two from women, four from men. It's an international, multi-ethnic group of people in high places.

Milton's question: When you wake up in the morning, what are you grateful for? As usual, four out of four men responding are grateful for a wife.

September 5, 2009

Make Yourself Happier: Imagine Never Having Met

The How of Happiness author Sonja Lyubomirsky explains one way to add some delight to your relationship.

Take the next 15 to 20 minutes to describe in writing how you might never have met your partner, how you might never have started dating, and how you might not have ended up together. What little twists of fate might have kept you two from becoming a permanent couple?

If you can't see this making you happier, you're in good company. Neither could the people in the research she reports. Surprise! Give it a try. It's shown to make happy people with good or great romantic partnerships even happier about those partnerships.

For Ed and me, it's easy to imagine never getting together. We passed like ships in the night at least three times that we know of before discovering each other. Even after we met in person, our expectations were so different we almost missed having a second meeting. After we became a couple, we discovered we had two dozen friends in common who had never thought to introduce us.

We were lucky. Sometimes, when the little annoyances of day-to-day life weigh on my mind, I forget this. Remembering really does cheer me up. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

The Author

Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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