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Articles from February 2013

February 23, 2013

Why Be Married? Because I Can Handle Family Life

I found this new study interesting. I think a lot of men may, too. Makiki Fuwa of the University of Tokyo just published an analysis of data from the 2002 International Social Survey Programme that looks at women in 31 countries.

She set out to learn whether cross-national differences in the association between women's economic independence and their attitudes toward marriage could be explained by national policies like family leave, publicly supported child care, and working hours.

Her findings suggest "it is not women's economic independence per se that reduces attractiveness of marriage; instead, it is the incompatibility between work and family life that lowers [economically independent] women's marriage aspirations."

Many men, when unsure of the stability of their marriages, fear their economically independent wives can get by without them and therefore do not want to be married. Here is evidence, from 31 nations, that work-family conflict is the real issue. If you can free up more of your time or money for child care and housework, you can free her to enjoy being married.

February 22, 2013

How to Be Your Husband's First Choice

After a few years of marriage, many women start to wonder if they are still the one woman their husband wants to be with. Once the wondering begins, almost everything can look like evidence that it's no longer true.

Time spent on a hobby or online? Looks like proof. Too tired or worried for sex? Looks like proof. Fewer compliments? Looks like proof. Caught flirting with other women? Looks like proof.

And yet all of these can be ordinary harmless events. Accusing, whining, and crying then get in the way of the normal ebb and flow of closeness.

So what will increase closeness and remind a man why he chose you? Noticing his character and all of his actions that reflect the best parts of that character: integrity, perseverance on tough goals, optimism, generosity, creativity, self-regulation, leadership, good citizenship, spirituality, and more. Complaints say he lacks character. They have the opposite effect.

The truth is he has no idea how important it is to you to be his number one, his cherished one. He wants your respect. If he tries to improve your relationship, he'll likely do it by showing you respect. This may include not asking questions (i.e., not trying to figure out what's on your mind if you don't say), not hanging out while you're working in the kitchen or study (so more hobby and online time), and not initiating sex if he thinks you might not be in the mood.

Once you notice this, the solutions are easy. Find better ways to signal you're in the mood or initiate things yourself. Volunteer information. And before he leaves the room, invite him to sample what you're cooking or invite him to do something together in 20 minutes, when you're done with whatever you're doing.

February 14, 2013

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Today marks 7 years since I published my first post on Assume Love. Whether you have been here all seven years or discovered this blog more recently, happy anniversary to us! May your Valentine's Day be filled with surprises and eye-locking delights.

February 13, 2013

Interesting New Research on Helping Your Spouse

This may be good news to women who exhaust themselves providing help and support and to the men who love them.

Researchers Erin E. Crockett and Lisa A. Neff studied gender differences in what support from a spouse does for our stress levels (or, in the more precise language of researchers, our cortisol slopes). Help from a husband reduced stress (increased the slope) in women. But supportive acts from a wife increased stress (flattened the slope) in men, regardless of how stressed they were otherwise or how satisfied they were with the marriage. The harm was greatest for the men who perceived themselves as worse at problem-solving.

If you're waiting for your husband to need you or to appreciate all you do for him, your expectation is not only making you miserable; it's likely making him less healthy. Do less. Enjoy him more.

And if you are a guy who wants less help or a woman who wants more, be sure to tell your spouse. We all gauge these things through their meaning for us, and this is yet another area where our experiences are likely to be different just because of our hormones.

To read more:

Wishing you many loving moments this Valentine's Day!

February 11, 2013

3 Ways to Feel More Loved

Some things bear repeating from time to time. Here are my three favorite ways to feel more loved.

  1. Assume Love. Don't fall prey to your lizard brain's automatic self-protection plan when you're dealing with someone who has promised to love you and done a decent job of it until just now. Before you react to whatever just upset you (except violence or a threat of violence), try on the idea that you are still loved and see if there are any other possible explanations for what happened.

  2. Expect Love. While someone in love might say "I love you," take out the trash before it gets stinky, roll the toilet paper the way you prefer, give you meaningful gifts, or join you in rock climbing, not everyone will. Do not make the mistake of expecting any particular loving gesture. Expect love to come in surprising forms and you will see more of it.

  3. Find Third Alternatives. The frustration of not getting what you want or need when you two must make a joint decision can make you feel unloved. Instead of arguing for your side, jump the net. Offer to support your mate's needs and wants, just not this particular proposed way of meeting them. Few decisions ever really present only two alternatives. Find the Third Alternative, the one that satisfies both of you. The first step is to get clear what outcomes each of you seeks, because they are likely not the outcomes the other associates with the proposed means of getting them.

These three steps clear away tons of resentment and let in lots more joy.

February 7, 2013

Planning Your Marriage Proposal? There's an App for That

Back when I was single (between husbands), I danced twice a week at The Yellow Rose Saloon. Men who met the women of their dreams there had no problem coming up with an idea for proposing. Wait for her favorite band and show up with a ring and a couple dozen yellow roses, and you could get down on one knee on stage.

When they closed, and we all moved over to the Colorado Cafe, with a DJ and lots of other things to do besides crowd around the dance floor when we weren't dancing on it, great proposal ideas were a little harder to come by.

But now there's an app for that! Grace Pamer of Romance Never Dies has created a tool for your smart phone or web browser to tailor marriage proposal ideas to your intended's personality, your location, and your budget. And it's free. Here's the address:

Don't let the fact that you're long married keep you from looking. Lots of Grace's ideas would be great for proposing to renew your vows or just to celebrate your love for her.

February 6, 2013

Going Through Tough Times

Are you going through hard times? How do you know?

Perhaps your spouse lost a job. You two have less money. You have no way to predict when he or she will work again. Almost certainly, you would approach the job hunt differently. Is this tough times? Or is it exactly what you hoped for when the two of you were working long hours, the break that lets you spend more time together or change up the split of chores before you're both hard at work again?

Whether these are hard times or a blessing depends entirely on what you compare it to. And if you compare it to times with more income and more status, it will feel like hard times. Rather odd, since viewing it as hard times is one way to push yourself to harder times: life as a single parent or as two unhappy people who share a bedroom but not life. Maybe life without a job is not so bad after all.

Have you developed a life-threatening or chronic illness? Does this mean these are tough times? Or are they good times, when you really lean into the benefits of having a life partner and learn to receive as much love as you give? When you stop obsessing about things that really don't matter as much as life and love? When you rediscover how much you need all your friends and how they can free you to love your husband or wife more freely?

Every change can be experienced as positive or negative. It all depends on what you choose to compare it to.

And isn't this a powerful thought?

February 4, 2013

Sharing Love When You Don't Share Interests

When one of you always longs to climb to the top of that rock formation while the other prefers to head to that movie theater with the reclining seats instead, it's easy to make the mistake of going your separate ways.

And it's not such a bad idea, unless it breaks the bond between you. Here are some ideas for keeping that bond strong.

  • Find friends who enjoy what you do but pose no threat to your spouse: other couples, groups, and individuals of the opposite sex from your spouse. Don't allow yourself to feel alone just because your spouse does not share all your interests.

  • Look forward to your excursions. Share your enthusiasm with your spouse. "You would really enjoy it" will push you two apart. "I really enjoy this" will bring you together. So will "Thanks for understanding my excitement and sharing it with me. That's not easy when you don't find it very appetizing."

  • Bring home the great feelings. Don't sneak in and avoid your spouse. Hug, kiss, dance around the kitchen. Be a joy to be around. Before your share the stories behind your great mood, bring your spouse's mood up to match yours.

  • Savor your good times, and include your spouse. Recall the best moments. Share what you saw. If your experience opened your awareness to some new question or answer, share it and few of your thoughts about it. Resist preaching or persuading. Allow your beloved spouse to share your joy without feeling pressured to change.

  • Be specific about what makes your hobby or interest special to you. Make your kind of fun sound interesting. Think of all the TV shows that succeed by providing the details of flipping houses, wrestling alligators, or building choppers by people who will never do any of these things.

  • Be kind in your answers to your spouse's questions. Your answers may lead the way to new activities you two enjoy together.

Every fun activity offers you more positive emotions if your look forward to it and savor the experience after the fact. It's only the actual activity that disinterests or frightens your spouse. Don't miss out on sharing the rest.

February 3, 2013

Date Night at Home

Date night is all about the two of you, interacting with each other over things other than your bills, your kids, your home, or your work. If you can't leave your sleeping kids or don't feel like dealing with bad weather, there is a new game you might enjoy at home. We learned about it from friends who have literally worn the paint off three sets of tiles already, playing together and with visiting friends.

The game is called Qwirkle, and it comes from a husband and wife team who call their company Idea Duck. Qwirkle won the Mensa Select designation in 2007, and our friends learned about it from someone who voted for it over the many other games in that competition.

After playing several games with them, we purchased Qwirkle for ourselves. My husband is not a fan of Scrabble, Perquacky, Yahtzee, or card games, but he really enjoys this one, and so do I. It's available at Barnes & Noble, Target, and several online stores.

Doing new things together is very healthy for your marriage, and you will both pick this one up a whole lot faster than the West Coast Swing or bridge. It doesn't look likely to get boring for a long time.

Drop me a note in the comments section if you try it.

February 1, 2013

Yours, Mine, and Ours - Who Owns This?

When marriages are running along smoothly, income and assets are usually shared generously, regardless of who owns them on paper.

In most states, the two of you have a good deal of say over who owns them on paper. Only nine states in the US are community property states, where both partners share equally in each others' incomes and new assets. (The nine are AZ, CA, ID, LA, NV, NM, TX, WA, and WI. AK and PR allow but do not require sharing.)

Good stuff to know when you're deciding whether to marry someone or when you're divorcing or protecting yourself from the effects of a spouse's addiction. Quite unhelpful otherwise.

Why? Because owning something or half of something creates expectations, and an expectation, especially in marriage, is a premeditated resentment. If you don't have enough of something to share generously with each other, doing what you can to bring in more of it will gain you a lot more love than taking it from your spouse will.

Expect Love. If fairness is what you want, find a business partner, because expecting it really gets in the way of receiving the precious commodity of love.

The Author

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

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