I’ve been reading a really great marriage book (I’ll share the title with you at the end of this post). I wanted my husband to read it too, and he actually started it. After a few days I noticed that he was acting more kindly toward me. “Hey,” I said to him one morning as we stood in the kitchen, “You’ve been really nice lately. Is it the book?” He shrugged off the compliment like it was no big deal.
Even before you ask your husband to read a book, and before you seek out professional help, there are a few other ways to overcome problems in marriage.
1. Do an “in-home” marriage exam.
When we try to figure out how to solve problems in marriage, there are clues all around us. iMOM founder, Susan Merrill, talks about pondering in parenting, targeted thinking about the whys behind our children’s behavior. We can apply that to marriage too. So, as you begin to examine your marriage problems, ask yourself some questions: Is your husband under a lot of stress? Are you? Is there bitterness about an unresolved marriage issue? When did your marriage start to get off track? Was it one big thing that started your problems in marriage, or was it an ongoing problem?
When we try to figure out how to solve problems in marriage, there are clues all around us.
2. Work on yourself.
If you can work as a team to overcome problems in marriage, do it. But if your husband won’t get on board, work on your marriage on your own. Start with yourself and maybe your husband will come around later. Also, are you being realistic about what you’re expecting from your husband and your marriage? Are you treating him the way you want to be treated? Work on what you can first, and then you’ll be better prepared to bring him into the loop.
3. Be mature.
Sarcasm, passive aggressiveness, pouting, and insults have no place in marriage. Period. Even if your husband still has those in his arsenal, you don’t have to. Consider your problems in marriage an opportunity to model maturity for your children. That doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat or pacify or put up with bad behavior from your husband. It does mean that you want to handle all challenges maturely.
4. Deal with perpetual problems.
There are problems in marriage that will never be resolved. Marriage researcher John Gottman calls these perpetual problems. “All couples have them,” his blog says. “These problems are grounded in the fundamental differences that any two people face. They are either 1) fundamental differences in your personalities that repeatedly create conflict, or 2) fundamental differences in your lifestyle needs. In our research, we concluded that instead of solving their perpetual problems, what seems to be important is whether or not a couple can establish a dialogue about them.”
For this type of marriage problem you and your husband will need to sharpen your communication skills. Another marriage expert, Dr. Gary Chapman, recently shared a great communication tip in an exclusive iMOM interview.
What problems in marriage are you dealing with right now? What’s working for you to overcome them? What hasn’t worked?
The book I mentioned earlier in this post is John Gottman’s Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert. And, Susan Merrill’s book, Lists to Love By for Busy Wives is also a great book you can use to overcome problems in marriage.