Tag Archives: marriage

How to Ensure You Connect with Your Spouse

Do You Think Your Marriage has a Communication Problem?

2 minutes to read

Having been away from their spouse for up to a year, most of the sailors coming through WTP recognize the challenge posed by reconnecting. Even with tools like Facetime and Skype, distance develops. Wives and husbands at home take on new roles. Deployers’ lives gain new dimensions. Often they can’t talk about how they came about. Bridging this gap taxes everyone’s patience…

How to Ensure You Connect with Your Spouse

Communication Isn't the Issue

Many of the sailors I work with are having trouble coping with their spouses. They’re not home yet. But some are already locked in a power struggle. An issue has become contentious. Now they’re trying to convince their spouse they’re correct.

Whatever connection they had begins to deteriorate or is lost. They assume communication is the problem. They want advice or tips to better deal with this issue. But in many cases, they’re communicating well.

The real issues are commitment and perception. Having been apart for so long, each spouse feels like an individual rather than half of a marriage. As well, they don’t have the visual clues and shared experiences that support understanding. Such deterioration is inevitable. And because it happens over time, you won't notice the change.

Words get filtered through perceptions. You can say something five different ways. But that may not change how your spouse perceives it. Until you both recalibrate perspectives, understanding will remain elusive.

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Research shows that communication skills do not predict marriage satisfaction. (Think about all the counselors who get divorced.) When reconnecting, start by revitalizing your commitment. Then reset your perceptions.

3 Steps to Reconnecting with Your Spouse

"We-ness” best predicts a satisfying marriage. Couples who view their marriage as a joint endeavor solve issues better. They also enjoy time together more. Use this process for reconnecting:

1. Prepare. Listen to how you refer to you and your spouse. Do say “you and me”? Changing the pronoun to “we” will make a big difference in your reunion.

2. Renew. Commitment forms the foundation of your marriage. With your spouse, plan a tangible way to reaffirm your bond. It needn’t be a second honeymoon or expensive event. Go somewhere special where you can be alone. Send the kids to a friend's house and spend time at home just the two of you. Don’t plan on sex. If the mood’s right it will happen.

3. Rebuild. Talk about each other’s experiences while you were gone. Strive to understand what your spouse has been through. Ask questions about how your spouse felt during an event. There may be things you can't tell your partner. Is it a matter of OPSEC or do they make you feel too vulnerable? Rebuild the touch points of accurate perceptions.

If you follow this process communication should take care of itself.

Before discussing solutions, understand the why behind what your spouse is saying and doing.

Separation makes the heart grow fonder. But it strains commitment and perceptions. Rebuild them and you’ll regain your marriage.

Who can you partner with to train for your transition?

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How to Improve Your Marriage When You’re Strapped for Time

The Wine Drinker’s Guide to Marital Harmony

3 minutes to read

Have you noticed how harmonious your marriage is after being away for awhile? When I got back from deployment Chana and I had a virtual second honeymoon. We looked at each other lovingly. We ate dinners together alone. We took care to be gentle and understanding with each other. Of course, things had to get back to normal, right?

How to Improve Your Marriage When You’re Strapped for Time

The Two Modes of Marriage

Marriage falls into two modes, everyday and unusual. You know what the daily grind is like. Reunion or health crisis times look different:

  • You’re glad just to be with your spouse.
  • You focus on connecting.
  • Affection and lovemaking happen more often.
  • You avoid conflict or creating bad feelings, if only because they disrupt the first three.

But then life gets busy or the crisis passes, you go back to everyday reality. Your focus turns back to work and kids. Who has time for a weekly dinner date? When your attention peters out, arguments begin to happen. The hours spent dealing with conflict crowd out any time for positive interaction.

Yet if you think about handling conflict during unusual mode, you’d have said, “Let’s not waste time arguing honey.”

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But, is conflict during everyday mode somehow less wasteful?

Your Spouse Is Like a Bottle of Fine Wine

Amidst the time pressures of daily life, allowing your marriage to move out of unusual mode actually consumes more time.

As friction and bad feeling accumulate, they damage communication. You or your spouse may withdraw. Conversations that don’t take place allow problems to fester. Often what could have been solved quickly now takes much more time and resources to resolve.

Lax communication can also lead to fights. You have to take even more time and emotional energy to work out the problem. Rather than permitting your marital mode to shift from unusual to everyday, create the habit of treating your spouse like a bottle of fine wine:

  • Carefully monitor its storage temperature. I have a special refrigerator for storing my best wine. When our power went out a few months ago, I fretted about what would happen if my wine got to warm.

Likewise, take a little time each day to keep an eye on the temperature of your marriage. Check out my post on how to do this in a minute per day.

  • When you shake it up you disturb the sediment. Often great wines have dregs. It’s nasty to drink if it hasn’t settled. So when you pour it you’re careful not to shake it up. Or you use a strainer to keep the sediment out.

In your marriage, treat old arguments like sediment. Be careful not to stir them up. Strain them out of any communication with your spouse.

  • Embrace the bottle so it doesn’t slip out of your hands and break. I pick up a $100 bottle of wine with care. The thought of dropping it distresses me. So I cradle it. My focus never wavers from it.

Treat your spouse with such gentleness. A hundred dollars, even thousands, pales in comparison to the value of your marriage. You wouldn’t risk swinging an expensive bottle of wine over your head lest it slip out of your hands and break. Your marriage is as fragile.

  • Savor it. Every sip of a fine wine is its own experience. One glass can last an entire meal. You examine the color. You breathe in the aroma. You relish the taste. Sometimes it doesn’t measure up. You get angry with disappointment. But then you realize that once in a while it’s bound to happen. You don’t stop drinking wine because of a few unfortunate experiences. You don’t attack or insult the next bottle because the one before it was bad.

Sometimes you or your spouse will slip into everyday mode. Communication becomes strained. You may argue. Are you going to give up on marriage because sometimes your expectations aren’t met? It’s bound to happen.

Now’s the time to merge your spouse and a bottle of fine wine. As you savor the bouquet, color, and flavor, move back into unusual mode and connect. So you can’t have an extraordinary bottle of wine daily. Who says your marriage can’t thrive in unusual mode every day?

How do you build the habit of treating your spouse like fine wine?

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Thousands Could Live Happier Healthier Lives Who Never Thought They Could

Henry Higgins: I’m an ordinary man

Colonel Pickering: . . . Are you a man of good character where women are concerned?

Higgins: Have you ever met a man of good character where women are concerned?

Pickering: Yes. Very frequently.

Higgins: Well, I haven’t. I find that the moment I let a woman make friends with me she becomes jealous, exacting, suspicious and a damned nuisance. I find that the moment I let myself become friends with a woman, I become selfish and tyrannical . . . After all, Pickering . . . I’m an ordinary man . . .

Excerpted from the 1956 musical comedy My Fair Lady, this dialogue between confirmed bachelor Professor Henry Higgins and his friend Colonel Hugh Pickering is a comedy highlight of the show, most likely because it describes how the genders sometimes actually feel about marriage. Yet it also brings out one of the most important reasons that men, especially young men, need to marry.

Thousands Could Live Happier Healthier Lives Who Never Thought They Could

Ironically, Professor Higgins’s self-criticism underlines among the most important purposes for marriage: to provide a sphere in which men’s “selfish and tyrannical” nature can be tamed. Then they can be subjected to the meticulous standards necessary to develop to adulthood. As he recognizes at the end of the show when he decides to marry Eliza, she is “exacting . . . and a damned nuisance” because he wished to hold onto an adolescent bachelorhood. Once he realizes he needs her as much or more than she needs him his opposition disappears.

One of the most common complaints I hear when counseling female sailors, the single ones, is that there are no men to marry. While women have long groused about this, today it cannot be attributed to a scarcity of men such as there was during the decades after World War II. Two factors appear to be driving this trend: young men remained mired in immaturity and young women are unwilling to be the agents of maturation that they historically were.

Men use the justification of insufficient financial resources to avoid marriage. However Charles Murray, in his book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, debunks this excuse. I challenged him on what I thought was the most obvious flaw in his theory but his response proved me wrong.

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Despite an abundance of evidence that married men are healthier and happier than single men, freedom from responsibility retains its mythical hold. Coupled with the easy availability of sexual gratification without marriage and for a young man who does not seek spiritual fitness and pays scant attention to physical and mental fitness, there seems to be no reason to commit to marriage.

Short of accepting the results of multiple generations of men who remain adolescents into their old age, society must re-examine the decision not to pressure young men to marry. As well, people need to consider re-adopting the ideal that seeking growth in all areas of their lives is a core value.

Change can be positive. But often there are unintended consequences. The true test of wisdom is whether a society is willing to undo change when its ramifications prove negative.

Question – Why have so many young men abandoned marriage?

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