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Articles from December 2013

December 9, 2013

Update Your Picture of the Person You Married

Rejection is no fun. When we get rejected, we make note of why and try to avoid a repeat. Over time, this leaves us with a distorted view of our husband or wife, because a good percentage of rejections have nothing to do with us or what we asked for.

The distortion keeps us from even suggesting things we would enjoy. It prevents us from offering some great Third Alternatives when we disagree, too. So be sure you re-test your beliefs about your spouse's preferences from time to time.

Sex play that a newlywed woman turns down in her twenties might be more than welcome in her thirties or post-menopause. Our bodies and our needs change over time. Ask again, gently.

When you proposed that photography field trip and got that resounding no a few years ago, maybe it had nothing to do with photography or field trips. Maybe it had to do with a sore ankle or the argument you two had about bread pudding. Don't miss out on a possible shared hobby that includes exercise and nature and beautiful views: ask again now.

You can do this in reverse, too. I have a garlic allergy, so when given a choice between two restaurants, I seldom choose the Italian one. My husband simply quit even suggesting Italian restaurants, even though he loves Italian food. So I checked out menus online and found one to invite him to recently. We both loved our lunches, and "Patty doesn't like Italian food" was updated.

Remember that only a fraction of your earlier conclusions will be wrong now, so don't expect a hearty "yes" to every suggestion. Take the risk of a "no" or two to refresh your relationship and add more fun to your lives.

December 8, 2013

Does Your Spouse Criticize Your Drinking?

Interesting results from a study that followed 634 couples through the first nine years of their marriage: a big difference in how much they drink greatly increased their chances of divorce. About half of the couples with one heavy drinker and one who is not a heavy drinker divorced within nine years of their wedding day. Those who were more alike in their drinking had around a 30% divorce rate, whether they both drank heavily or not.

The definition of heavy drinker was a bit different than used in other research. They counted anyone who drank to intoxication or drank six or more drinks at a time as a heavy drinker. This is usually referred to as binge drinking.

According to the CDC, 90% of those who drink excessively binge drink, and one in six American adults binge drinks about four times a month. Binge drinking is more common among those with household incomes greater than $75,000 a year.

The takeaway here: even though it's common and you probably know many who binge drink, too, if you are a binge drinker and your spouse is not, your marriage is under a lot more stress than others. Your chances of failure in your first nine years increase by two-thirds.

(By the way, because of the greatly increased risk of alcohol dependence and other health issues, I don't suggest you encourage your spouse to join you in binge drinking as the solution.)

The study was done by the Kenneth Leonard, PhD, director of the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions, with Gregory Homish, PhD, and Philip Smith, PhD, of the university's Department of Community Health and Health Behavior. They controlled for other contributors to divorce likelihood, including depression and drug use. The study will be published in the December issue of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

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

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