Labors of Love
How to Break 6 Bad Marital Habits
While marriage provides us with the comfort of knowing we have a partner-in-crime (and in parenting) for life, it's easy to get a little too relaxed and fall into some not-so-lovable patterns. We found these tips on solving common marital problems helpful — and most of them also can be applied to committed relationships. —Glo
By Woman's Day
Habit #1: Taking each other for granted. “Couples get into ruts,” says Sherry Amatenstein, a marriage therapist and author of The Complete Marriage Counselor: Relationship-Saving Advice from America's Top 50+ Couples Therapists. “We tend to try to push our partner down like a jack-in-the-box,” she says, which doesn't give him the credit he deserves for evolving and changing.
How to break it: Talk. A lot. Go out to dinner or open up a bottle of wine and talk about the things you're interested in right now. You may find yourself surprised, and intrigued all over again, by your partner.
Habit #2: Not having enough sex. Though “not enough” will differ from couple to couple, you probably both know if you've been slacking off in the bedroom. “Problem is, when it comes to sex, many couples wait for the other to come up with some great, exciting plan; and when the other doesn't, they become resentful,” says Amatenstein.
How to break it: Make the first move. It's not a contest. Do what you have to do to pump things up — whatever works for you. Amatenstein recommends getting away for regular couples weekends if you can afford it.
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Habit #3: Lying about money. Whether it's taking charge of the big-picture money stuff and not sharing the info, or secretly spending and hiding the evidence, lack of financial honesty is a habit that can wreak havoc on your emotional bond because money is about both power and trust, says Dr. Karen Gail Lewis, EdD, marriage therapist and author of Why Don't You Understand? A Gender Relationship Dictionary.
How to break it: Sit down for monthly (or thereabouts) money chats, discussing both long-term goals and short-term spending habits. The aim is to feel so much a part of a team that you don't want to conceal anything.
Habit #4: Not being supportive of career. Think about the last time either of you moaned that the other “was never home” or “is married to that job.” Now think: “Do you really ‘hate' his job, or are you resentful of the hours he spends apart from you? Or, are you feeling as though he hasn't been all that supportive of your career goals?” says Dr. Lewis. Misplaced anger or resentment can come off as lack of support.
How to break it: Tell your partner what's really bothering you. Not, “I hate your job,” but, “I wish we spent more time together,” recommends Dr. Lewis.
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Habit #5: Trash-talking your spouse to friends. There are times this takes the form of mild venting, which among women is a form of communication with friends. “But if you do it too much, or share too much deeply personal information, it's disrespectful,” says Dr. Lewis.
How to break it: Decide between the two of you what's in and out of bounds in terms of sharing with friends, says Dr. Lewis. His silly shower song? Okay. His problems at work or sexually? That's private. Keeping it so helps cement your bond.
Habit #6: Forgetting about romance. Wait, you have to woo the person you sleep with night after night? Short answer: Yes. While it's true that the spark fades, that doesn't mean it has to die out altogether.
How to break it: All the little things do work, like love notes and special treats. But think about things like your appearance; it seems shallow, but showing you care about yourself tells your partner you care about your relationship, too. “Spend five minutes a day just kissing,” suggests Amatenstein. “And, for heaven's sake, keep the bathroom door closed!”
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Curb bad habits to strengthen your bond.altrendo images/Getty Images