Save Your Marriage Now!
Thinking about calling it quits? Before you start divvying up your valuables, you should retrieve your wedding video and replay the very moment that you took your vows (turn the volume up if you have to). Now, did you promise that you would remain together until "death do us part?" Or did you say until "he [or she] gets on my nerves?"
The first mistake many married folks make, relationship experts say, is going into the marriage knowing that there's always a back-door exit. According to statistics, nearly 48 percent of all married couples do walk out that back door.
But how are those golden couples -- the other 52 percent, some who have been married for 50 years or more -- been able to avoid being torn apart by the common relationship problems that feed the current divorce frenzy? What is their secret to avoiding the big "D"?
Here, married relationship experts, matrimonial attorneys and psychologists guide you through the valley of everyday marital woes and provide some helpful tips on how you can avoid the possibility of divorce.
Problem: My Spouse Doesn't Fulfill My Sexual Needs
Chances are good that your married sex life is somewhat (or significantly) different from your dating sex life. A common complaint that husbands make, according to Detroit psychologist and divorce attorney Paris M. Finner-Williams, coauthor of Marital Secrets: Dating, Lies Communication and Sex (R.P. Publishing, 2001), is that their spouses misled them about their libido and sexual desires.
"The couple may have engaged in some sexual practices that were important to the husband before the marriage, and the wife may have tolerated it because she wanted to please her man," Dr. Finner-Williams explains. "But now that she's married, the wife really doesn't want to continue that sexual practice with the husband, and he becomes frustrated because he expected that practice to continue after the marriage."
Sexual frustration combined with a lack of communication on the husband's part can kick the door wide open for infidelity, adds counselor Robert Williams, who is also Dr. Finner-Williams' husband. Robert Williams says that many men are reluctant to share their sexual fantasies with their spouse out of fear or embarrassment.
"Instead of expressing their desires to their mate, some men would rather go to someone else, and have their sexual needs fulfilled with another person," he explains. "Men are very private with their intimate desires and sexual thoughts, and they must know that their mate will not be critical or judgmental in order for them to express themselves."
Solution: Dr. Paris M. Finner-Williams and her spouse Robert Williams suggest that couples adhere to a pre-agreed-upon sexual satisfaction program and that they get intimate (if their health allows) at least once every 72 hours.
Problem: My Spouse Is Spending All Our Money!
By some twist of fate (or cruel act of nature), the big spender and the penny-pincher generally find themselves joined at the hip, proving that opposites attract -- even when it comes to spending habits.
A common problem that married men report is a lack of communication or miscommunication concerning their spouses' sexual desires, which can often lead to frustration.
Take newlyweds Michael and Bridget, for example.
Every payday, Michael buys fancy clothes and expensive gifts for himself and Bridget. However, Bridget is very conservative with her money, and she always waits for a good sale.
Under Bridget's watch, the couple's bills are paid on time, but Michael always manages to spend more than they agreed to. Fed up with Bridget's strict family budget, Michaels rebels by buying a brand new SUV behind Bridget's back. His big-ticket purchase nearly landed them in divorce court.
Solution: Call in an intermediary, someone who can help you set realistic budgetary goals and make your financial decisions together, advises New York matrimonial lawyer Robert Stephan Cohen, author of Reconcilable Differences: Seven Essential Tips to Remaining Together From a Top Matrimonial Lawyer (Simon & Schuster, 2003).
Cohen notes that couples can "achieve financial harmony by customizing your budget and finances to fit both of your money-management styles."
Problem: My Spouse Doesn't Live Up to My Expectations
It's believed that a woman enters a marriage hoping to change her man, and a man enters the marriage hoping that his woman doesn't change; such mismatched expectations can kill any relationship, experts say.
In Chattanooga, Tenn., Dr. Rozario Slack, director of fathering and urban initiatives for First Things First, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to strengthening families, has counseled a couple whose marriage recovered from unrealistic expectations. He also is pastor of the Temple of Faith Deliverance Church of God in Christ.
"[One] young lady came from a single-parent home, and her mother taught her to be self-sufficient because men could not be trusted," Dr. Slack explains. "She fell in love with a young man who also came from a single-parent home, but he vowed that he would be a committed, dedicated, faithful husband because he witnessed what his mother had gone through. So in this marriage, the young lady doesn't trust her husband because she expects him to let her down, and the young man feels very disrespected, that all of his efforts to please her are in vain."
Spending quality time with your spouse is key to maintaining the romance and strengthening your marriage, experts say.
Solution: Try to form realistic expectations about your spouse, and adjust your expectations accordingly.
"You must learn to avoid generalizing your mate," advises Dr. Slack. "A parent has tainted your viewpoint, and you have to forgive that parent for loading you down with that unrealistic burden."
Problem: My Spouse No Longer Has Time for Me
In Anytown, USA, it's typical to find busy couples like Robert and Keisha, who pass each other by like strangers in the night. Keisha works a nine-to-five job, picks up their son from the day care, and then heads home to prepare dinner for the family. After dinner, Keisha cleans up the kitchen and puts their child to bed before she gets herself prepared for the next day's grind. Meanwhile, Robert also works a nine-to-five job, but then he comes home and sits in his favorite chair, watches his favorite program, and waits to be served dinner. When Robert is in the mood for love, Keisha isn't interested because she's burned out and frustrated that Robert isn't pulling his weight around the house.
Robert feels that Keisha puts him last on her "to-do" list. At the end of the day, they both feel neglected.
Solution: Steal time for romance. "Keep [romance] on your agenda no matter how heavy your workload," suggests Jel D. Lewis Jones, author of The African American Woman's Guide to Great Sex, Happiness and Marital Bliss (Amber Communications Group, 2003). "You can turn everyday events into little celebrations and opportunities to express love for your partner. A tiny bit of forethought can turn the ordinary into the special."
Problem: My Spouse Is Not Committed to Making It Work
Every day for the past four years, Joe comes home from work and kicks his shoes off at the front door, leaving dirty scuff marks on the living room wall. Every other day, Joe's wife, Mary, has confronted him about it. In the very beginning, Joe tried very hard to refrain from kicking off his shoes, but if he slipped up, Mary would suddenly appear, wagging her finger in his face, and calling him [every name in the book]. Eventually, Joe got so fed up with Mary's mouth that he dreaded coming home at all, while Mary got so fed up with cleaning scuff marks off the wall that she dreamed of leaving scuff marks on Joe's behind.
If you ask them, Joe and Mary would readily admit they are equally yoked, have two great kids and are still wildly attracted to each other. Joe and Mary have a very blessed union by all accounts, but they are [very] close to throwing it all away because Mary doesn't feel that she can be committed to Joe any longer.
Solution: If you want your marriage to work, you have to commit yourself to the marriage, not to your spouse, according to Detroit psychologist Dr. Paris M. Finner-Williams.
"You can't be committed just to the man or the woman you're with," Dr. Paris M. Finner-Williams says. "Those who understand what it means to be committed to the institution of marriage will be able to tolerate and endure anything. If you've invested substantial time and money into the marriage, you're more willing to hang in there; you're more likely to come to a resolution or to overlook certain [insignificant] things in order to keep your investment. When you are committed to the marriage, you understand that your marriage is the purifying vessel that perfects you as a person."
Although there is no surefire way to divorce-proof every union, experts say that honest communication -- with an emphasis on friendship and partnership -- can help you to revive your marriage and maintain your very own happiness ever after.
Source: Ebony. Powered by YellowBrix.