Written by Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, the Marriage in a Box blog shares insights into common relationship struggles, gives ideas for moving beyond the roadblocks, and helps you find your path to happiness – both individually and within your relationship.
No marriage is perfect. Most couples will struggle with major issues from time to time throughout their marriage. However, for a relationship to survive, both partners must be able to treat each other respectfully. The loss of mutual respect can destroy a marriage quickly, or more often, lead to a painful, stressful and unhappy life for a couple. We all deserve to be with someone who treats us kindly and values our love and company. If you are having problems in your marriage, a lack of respect could be the ultimate root cause.
5 Signs of Disrespect in Your Marriage
Your Partner Doesn't Make Time for You
Whether your spouse is always playing on their phone, always busy, or they spend their time with their friends exclusively without you, if your spouse does not make time for you, they do not respect you. Your spouse should take the time to spend with you in conversation and activity alike.
Your Partner Only Takes Care of Self
A good spouse that shows respect for their partner will be concerned about the needs of their partner, their family, and their household. Only having care for your own needs without regard to your spouse or the household is extremely disrespectful to your marriage and family.
Your Partner Hides Things from You
When you respect someone that you are in a relationship with, you must be open and honest with them. If your spouse is hiding things from you it is a sign of disrespect. Saying that they didn't tell you because they didn't want to worry you is no less disrespectful.
Your Spouse Doesn't Listen to You
When you have something to say to your spouse, they should be willing to listen. If your spouse will never listen to anything you have to say, or if they flat out refuse to let you speak, this is a serious sign of disrespect that you should not tolerate, and it borders on emotional abuse.
Your Spouse Makes You Feel Less Than
A spouse that makes you feel less than desired or needed is not respecting you. While no one is perfect, you spend your time trying to make your spouse and family feel loved and cared for. When your spouse is quick to make you feel as though you are less than you should be, it is a serious sign of disrespect.
3 Ways to Re-establish Respect in Your Marriage
Once a couple has fallen into a pattern of treating each other disrespectfully it is often difficult to change. The temptation is to focus on changing your partner’s behavior. However, re-establish respect requires each partner to focus only on changing their own behavior. You have to be willing to take responsibility for your part in the marriage break down.
Appreciate each other’s Differences
Part of establishing and maintaining a respectful relationship is learning to tolerate and accept that your spouse is different than you. Different is a good thing, not a negative. You each have different strengths and weaknesses. What did you appreciate about your spouse when you married them? Was it their kindness? Did they make you feel safe? Were they a good listener?
By expressing and showing your appreciation for one another’s strengths and accomplishments, you support and encourage one another so you can get through the hard things.
Appreciate your differences and build each other up and you will find a newfound respect for your partner.
Communicate thoughtfully with love and care
Communication is one of the most important parts of a relationship, and one of the hardest. Don’t expect your partner to be a mind reader. If you’re upset, it’s important to talk openly about what’s bothering you. Don’t be accusatory. Use “I” statements, like “I feel really ignored and unimportant when you cancel our plans at the last minute.” Your emotions are always valid. Don’t feel bad for feeling what you feel.
Avoid taking to each other in rude and disrespectful ways, e.g., you do not engage in name calling, and do not insult or demean your spouse or partner. Talk to and treat your partner in ways that you would want to be treated.
The better you communicate, the quicker you restore and maintain marital respect.
Keep your partner in mind when making decisions
Decision making in a marriage is not my way or the highway. A marriage is two people, and both need to be involved in the decision-making process. Unfortunately, couples often approach decisions as a negotiation rather than a discussion.
Trying to convince your spouse that they will be happier or better off if they do things your way.
Suggesting that your spouse has something wrong with them because they can’t see things from your point of view.
Insisting that if your partner really loved you, they would do what you want.
All three tactics are bullying your spouse into doing what you want. The problem with this type of decision making is that you have already made the decision by yourself and are trying to make your partner accept it. Instead, you need to listen to your partner’s opinions, wishes and values and consider them worthy of serious consideration when making decisions that will affect both of you. Decision-making needs to be a team effort with decisions arrived at jointly.
Decision making means you are both fully involved and respect both points of view.
Every year the President gives a State of the Union address to check in with the nation and advise them of what is being done by the administration on major issues of concern in the United States. Everyone wants to be kept in the know on what’s going on in just about every aspect of their lives. How often do you and your spouse check in on your marriage? A marriage checkup is a great way to build a strong, healthy marriage.
WHY DO A MARRIAGE CHECK UP?
Most people buy a warranty, sign up for a service plan, or pay for preventative maintenance on appliances, luxury items, and necessary technology so it won’t break down, fail, or fall apart. Think of a marriage checkup as a preventative maintenance for your relationship. A checkup is a way:
To communicate with each other.
To make sure you are both on the same page as far as what your goals are and how well you are doing against your goals.
To work through your insecurities.
You both can discuss where you are in finances, intellectual and spiritual growth, and sexual satisfaction so you see areas where improvements can be made.
To help you and your spouse identify and resolve issues before they become a big problem.
HOW TO DO A MARRIAGE CHECK UP
Set a regular time, weekly or monthly, that you can both sit down for 60 to 90 minutes and have a conversation on the state of your marriage. This is not a Gripe session; the goal is to praise positive areas, pinpoint problem areas, and increase communication to resolve them. One or two days before the conversation, each of you will separately and honestly complete the marriage checkup. (shown at the end of the directions)
Start your check up by telling your partner three things they did this week or month that you want to thank them for. Expressing gratitude to your spouse sets a positive tone for your conversation.
Each of you take turns reading the statement in #1-13 and each of you share your rating and discuss. In your discussion, remember to :
Use your “I” statements like I feel, or it seems to me. NO BLAMING.
Listen carefully to what your spouse has to say. DON’T INTERRUPT or try to defend yourself.
Each of you take turns reading the question and giving your answer to #13-16.
How you react to the answers your spouse gives is as important as the questions themselves. Remember the goal of the marriage checkup is to praise positive areas, pinpoint problem areas, and increase communication to resolve them.
Before you start your next marriage checkup, discuss with your spouse about what went well, and what didn’t go well based on your previous marriage checkup.
Marriage Checkup to be completed by each partner separately.
Rate your marriage on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best.
Your level of commitment to your marriage.
Time spent with your spouse having fun.
Time spent with your spouse alone.
Sharing of household chores and errands.
The number of compliments you give your spouse.
The number of compliments your spouse gives you.
Level of criticism you give your spouse.
Level of criticism your spouse gives you.
Your financial spending.
Your spouse’s financial spending.
Goals that you and your spouse have set for your future together.
The amount of money you and your spouse have saved toward your goals.
Write a one to two sentence answer to the following questions.
What is the strong spot in your marriage?
What is the weak spot in your marriage?
I love it when my spouse…
One thing I don’t think my spouse understands about me is..
Marriages don’t usually fail because of big stuff. The small things that build up over time like missed kisses, unspoken apologies, one sided argument, meals eaten alone or in silence, and money wasted that eventually erupt and have gone on too long to be fixed.
A periodic medical checkup can prevent a heart attack and a periodic marital checkup can prevent a failed marriage.
Money related conflicts are the most frequently cited reason for divorce. Money is the thing most couples argue about. It really is no surprise that money often divides a couple. Before a couple gets married, they have usually talked about everything except money. When they get married, they really don’t know much about each other’s views about money.
Different views of spending and saving
In a study by the American Psychological Association, 47% of respondents said they and their partner had different saving and spending habits. One partner may be an avid saver, while the other may enjoy spending on the finer things of life. The spender may feel that his or her partner is constantly nagging and cheap, while the saver may feel vulnerable to the effects of overindulging. If you are committed to your relationship, you and your partner need to have an honest conversation about your finances, spending habits, saving habits, financial goals, and anxieties about finances. Once your finances are out in the open, you can both begin working out a spending and savings plan.
Hiding Transactions from your partner
In the same study, 36% of partners in a relationship do not consult their spouse about purchases, even large purchases. Six percent said they have secret accounts or credit cards. Hiding purchases from your partner is a form of infidelity. You need to be transparent about your finances with your spouse.
Debt needs to be repaid before real financial planning can begin
Many couples come into a marriage with financial baggage like high credit card debt or big student loans. If one partner has more debt than the other , this can become a significant issue in a marriage. Generally, debts that are brought into a marriage stay with the person that incurred them. Debts incurred after marriage are owed by both spouses.
It does not do any good to try to hide your debt from your spouse because it will eventually come out in the open. It is best to just lay all of your cards on the table , the good with the bad.
Either way, before you can really start building a nest egg together, big debts need to be paid off. Some couples are comfortable tackling this debt together, while others prefer separate accounts to handle that debt.
Money shouldn’t be a source of power
When one partner has a paid job and the other doesn't; or when both partners would like to be working but one is unemployed; or when one spouse earns considerably more than the other; or when one partner comes from a family that has money and the other doesn't, , the one with the most money often wants to dictate the couple's spending priorities. Money should not be used as a means to control your partner. It also shouldn’t be a measuring stick, such as “I make more than you do so I decide how we spend our money.” Your marriage is a partnership, so each of you should share in the spending and saving decisions.
How to identify shared financial goals
Setting financial goals as a couple doesn't mean you have to give up all of your own goals. Try to find your shared vision choosing goals that make that vision a reality while also including individual goals along the way. This helps make each partner feel like an equal in the process.
Goals should help achieve the vision you and your spouse have for your life together. Make your goals actionable and attainable .
Your strategy for reaching financial goals begins with the money you have left after covering the necessities. Together you should decide how to divvy up the remaining money between your discretionary spending needs and your goals.
Set up regular "meetings" to see where you stand. At each meeting, discuss the progress you've made and reassess your financial situation.
How to share the management of your money
Trust, and positive perceptions of how the other partner is doing financially, play a huge role in whether couples decide to merge finances. Most couples pool their monies together and track it with a budget.
However, where a couple is in life also plays a role in finances. Couples who marry late in life or couples who have children from a previous marriage may not be completely comfortable merging finances completely. They may decide to set up a joint account for items that are paid jointly like mortgage, utilities etc. Then, they would keep separate accounts for those items paid solely for them such as a child’s tuition or their business expenses.
Whatever method you decide to use to manage your finances, you still need to be transparent with each other about your finances. You should plan a time to sit down together every week or couple of weeks to discuss your finances, what is coming up that you need to plan for, financial goals, and issues you are having with finances
Money is a tool that can help you both do the things in life that you want to do together. Try to take the influence of money out of your relationship. The money you have together should be planned for, managed, budget for, and spent together.
The presence of healthy boundaries in romantic relationships greatly reduces the tendency to blame your partner. Blame is almost always a maneuver to deflect ownership of a problem. When you take responsibility for your part in the misunderstanding, conflict, or harsh treatment and your partner is willing to take responsibility for their part, resolution of the problem becomes much easier.
Establishing Healthy boundaries help define which responsibilities in the marriage are yours and which are your partners to protect your marriage.
Boundary #1: Don’t Emotionally Shut Out Your Spouse.
We shouldn’t avoid our spouse and emotionally shut them out of our life. When we do this, we break down the intimacy and leave ourselves and our spouse open to forming unhealthy habits and the temptation to seek connection outside the marriage.
We must always be willing to talk to our spouse regardless of whether or not we feel like it. We make eye contact and connect with him/her because we love and respect our spouse. The more we emotionally connect, the stronger, healthier, and happier our marriage will be.
Boundary #2: Don’t Withhold Sex to Punish Your Spouse.
Sex is an important part of marriage, and it is an amazing way to connect to our spouse . Even so, some spouses use sex as a bargaining chip or punishment in their marriage, and this is extremely detrimental to the relationship. I
A husband and wife shouldn’t withhold sex from one another r(unless it is for health issues, of course). We should strive to keep sex a priority and have it as frequently as possible to stay connected to our spouse and to meet one another’s sexual needs.
Boundary #3: Don’t Speak Negatively About Your Spouse to Other People
If we have a problem with one another, we need to address the problem directly. Nothing good will come from us going to our friends and family about a problem that we really need to take up with our spouse. Our parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, and uncles don’t need to know the details of every disagreement we have with our spouse.
Marriage is hard enough without extended family drama, so we certainly don’t need to add to the problem. We must be mindful of our tone and words.
Boundary #4: Don’t Keep Secrets from Your Spouse.
There should be no barricade between husband and wife. Everything that you hide is a brick that we add to a “barricade of secrets” between us and our spouse. There should be no hidden money, friends, texts, emails, letters, jobs, purchases, phone calls, phones, social media exchanges, social media accounts, health issues, trips, outings, lunches, dinners, etc.
As husband and wife, we long to fully know and be known by one another. This longing will not be fulfilled if we keep secrets.When we keep secrets of any kind from each other, we limit the amount of intimacy we can experience with one another
Boundary #5: Never raise your voice in anger to your spouse.
Every married couple is going to disagree at some point, and we might argue at times. It is good to go ahead and talk through a disagreement than to hold it inside and let it fester. However, it is never okay to speak in a nasty tone, use harsh language, or scream and shout at each other. This is being verbally abusive, and it’s hard to forget hateful things that are said to us.
A marriage certificate is not a license to verbally abuse your spouse. In fact, we made a promise to love our spouse through good and the bad times. Screaming and shouting obscenities at each other is certainly not loving one another. We must always approach a disagreement with our spouse as calmly and lovingly as possible.
If you both observe these healthy boundaries in your marriage, you will be building a strong marriage that stands the test of time.
No matter what culture or religion you come from, when two partners unite in marriage, they make a vow to each other. Your marriage vows carry much more weight than just words. It is a shame how many say the words without really understanding what those vows mean for their marital life together.
Vows are special words that will unite you and they represent your commitment to one another. They express how the couple intend to relate to each other, how they intend to navigate the path of life together, and what meaning they intend to give to their marriage.
Do you take [name] to be your lawful wedded wife/husband?"
Out of all of the people you have dated, you have made the deliberate choice to commit to this person to spend the rest of your life with. You chose this person to be your partner because you love what you know of them and look forward to getting to know them deeper.
Several years down the line, when you are looking at your spouse doing something you’ve told him or her a million times not to do, remember all the wonderful reasons that you chose him or her as your life partner.
"Do you promise to love and cherish [her/him], in sickness and in health?
There are no guarantees in life. We do not know what the future holds. Should your partner become ill, disabled, or suffer dementia, you have promised to care for and protect them in sickness and in health.
You and your partner are promising to provide a healthy relationship, where each partner is respected for who they are, accepting the differences and encouraging the individuality. You both care committing to allow and encourage the other to become who they truly are without restricting them and without attempting to conform them to your expectations, desires and preconceptions.
"Do you promise to love and cherish [her/him], for richer and poorer?
Every partner wants their spouse to do well and excel, but they may not always be ready for the longer working hours and maybe late nights that it requires to get to that point.
If your partner fails in a venture, you promise to cherish them ,which literally means to “build them up.” Each person will become a better person because of the love and support of the other.
On the other hand, financial pressures can put a huge strain on a marriage. If the two of you struggle to make ends meet with both salaries combined, you are promising that you will be there for each other, to work together to make it work.
"Do you promise to love and cherish [her/him], for better for worse?
We cannot enter marriage with the hope that everything will get better, because then the question becomes what if it doesn’t get better? It means that even when things get worse, you will still choose to love your partner. You promise to love each other through good times and bad, regardless of the obstacles you may face together.
In times of joy and in times of sorrow, in times of failure and in times of triumph, you commit to hold your partner as a precious treasure, to comfort and encourage them. and nourish
This pledge to nurture each other is the foundation of your marriage that builds the trust in each other that allow you and your partner to give and receive deep emotional intimacy.
"Do you promise to love and cherish [her/him], forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto her/him?
You promise to love, cherish and respect your partner. You are promising to give yourself to each other as a faithful husband, wife, or spouse, no matter what. You are reserving yourself for intimate relations only with our spouse. You are trusting your heart to them and promising to take care of their heart.
In forsaking all others, you are also committing to not just be there for that person but to support them in whatever needs they may have. You are committing to make this person come first and to always put this person before another’s needs.
"Do you promise to love and cherish [her/him], for so long as you both shall live?"
When you enter this marriage, it is a lifetime commitment. It means that even when everything goes wrong, you will still be there. I You promise to treasure your marriage and your partner more each day than you did the day before. You will trust each other, respect each other, laugh together, cry together and grow old with your spouse throughout all the seasons of life.
Do you and your closest family members normally get along great, but self-isolation has put your relationships to the test? You’re not alone. Countless households across the U.S. have been spending more time together at home, and this naturally can lead to higher levels of stress and tension. Fortunately, there are some practical steps you can take to improve your situation. Here are a few examples:
Make room for solitude.
No matter how much you and the members of your household enjoy being around each other (under normal circumstances), everyone needs their space at some point. With this in mind, allow yourself and others the opportunity for solitude. That way, each of you can do whatever relaxing activity you want to do so that you can recharge.
Hit the trails.
As you search for healing and healthy answers, don’t overlook the value in spending time in your own backyard. Getting outside can make a big difference in how each of you feels on a daily basis. When you are cooped up all day, it can lead to a number of consequences for your health and well-being.
One way to have fun outdoors with your family is to go for a bike ride. That way, you can yield the benefits while also abiding by social distancing guidelines. By investing in a few mountain bikes, you can enjoy the trails at your local park. MetalBladeCycles suggests that you just make sure you take necessary precautions for staying safe, like mapping your route in advance and wearing protective gear.
You could also turn your backyard into a safe, fun environment for activities. Or you could pack up and take a weekend trip to the beach or to a campground. There are plenty of things that you can do amid nature as a family, and Thriveworks explains that it can even bolster your family bond.
Pick up gaming.
Some days you won’t be going outside, whether due to schedules or weather. And when you are self-isolating, boredom is often a cause for tension. More families are addressing this issue by picking up gaming. Playing games like Fortnite, Words with Friends, and Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is a great way to have fun together when you’re stuck at home.
However, in order to play online multiplayer games like these, you will need the right equipment. Along with any necessary devices and gaming consoles, you should have an internet connection that is up to the task so you can quickly download games and have a much smoother gaming experience.
Plan family nights.
Having an event planned for the end of the day can give you and the members of your household something to look forward to. And it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. As previously mentioned, gaming can provide each of you with a lot of fun.
Other things you could plan include a family movie night, a family camping night (inside or in the backyard), and a family cooking night. Any activity that allows you to spend quality time together can reduce stress and tension and be beneficial for your health and well-being.
Last but not least: Make self-care a priority in your household. Try to ensure that each of you is on a healthy sleep schedule, cook healthy meals, and keep healthy snacks around the house. Find exercise routines that you can do individually and/or together as a group. And be sure to make time for doing relaxing activities, whatever those may be.
Being stuck at home indefinitely is hard, no matter how well you and your loved ones get along. Make a point to give each other space for solitude, spend time together outdoors, and give gaming a try. Also, come up with some fun family night events, and make sure each of you is taking care of your health and well-being. You might be surprised by how much stress and tension is released by incorporating these simple tips into your daily lives.
Are you and your partner dealing with overwhelming problems in your relationship during the pandemic? Work with the licensed professionals at Marriage in a Box to improve communication, rebuild trust, and improve your relationship.
Some couples look at being romantic as a difficult task. It doesn't have to be difficult at all. Romance has no specific guidelines. You don’t need to follow a specific formula when it comes to being romantic in marriage. There are no specific "rules" to romance. Most people have forgotten what romance really is.
Romance is the act of wooing one another. It’s a longing to be with someone and acting in such a way that makes that person desire to be with you. Longing and desire are the key to romance. You and your spouse need to want to be with each other at every opportunity.
Do you remember when you were dating, and you couldn’t wait to see each other? Before you were married, romance was easier because you had fewer distractions. Everything about your spouse was new and exciting to you. After marriage, you have gotten to know your spouse and maybe your spouse’s annoying habits start to get on your nerves. Pressures over finances, work, and children start to eat away at your thoughts, and that initial desire to be with your spouse becomes a distant memory.
Romance may be gone right now, but it is not forgotten. You and your spouse still likely remember being romantic with each other. You may have grown distant in your relationship. You might be spending more time with friends or co-workers than you do with each other. You may have gotten into a routine of giving your attention to TV or smartphones or computers rather than each other. So, romance seems like something that you want but don’t know how to get back to doing.
Romance is necessary to keep your marriage alive. When romance is dead, so is your marriage. Here are 3 ways to get that romance back.
The biggest contributor to active romance in marriage is good communication.
We are not talking about discussing what’s going on at work or going through what needs to be done at home. You need to really communicate with each other about each other. Turn off the television or put down that magazine and look into each other’s eyes while you converse. Really listen and understand. dream together, share your thoughts, expose your feelings instead of keeping them to yourself.
Romance is not always about sex; but it is always about love.
The most sexual organ in the body is not what you’d expect- it is the mind. If your mind isn’t in the mood for romance, then nothing will be. The cure is to control your thought processes. Instead of dwelling on all of the ways your spouse regularly disappoints you or what he or she isn’t, start seeing them for who they really are and look for their positive attributes. Very few of us are the Hollywood images of fantasies. But you originally feel in love with your spouse for a reason. Do you remember what it was?
Take the opportunity to express your appreciation for who they are and what they do for you. “ Honey, I love how you always manage to know the right thing to say when I am feeling down,” By giving a little praise regularly, more of your mate’s good qualities will stand out, and you’ll connect with that person you fell in love with all over again. In
addition, you will find your spouse’s heart growing closer to you as he or she feels more appreciated and adored.
Romance is needed every day in marriage
When couples are talking with each other often and listening to the desires of each other, it makes romantic moments more possible. One of the most important things that helps build a happy and loving marriage is the affection that is shared between the two of you. Affection makes the both of you feel loved and secure and it shows that you are both there for each other. Snuggle and hug each other often. Tell each other “ I Love You” every day. A romantic marriage can only come to be if both husband and wife are 100% committed every day to the marriage journey.
Romance helps nurture your relationship and creates strong bonds within marriage.
When both spouses tame their thoughts and really communicate, they understand romance and it's easier to plan moments of romance that both parties can truly appreciate.
Sex is a difficult subject for many people. It is hard for someone to talk about what their expectations of marital intimacy are because they may fear your judgement or rejection.
As a result, some people stay quiet and assume their partner knows what to do and when. Others will just do what they want to do and assume their partner is fine with it.
The result is a selfish sexual experience rather than the give and take of marital intimacy.
You might be selfish in your sex life if:
You Don't Pay Attention to Your Partner’s Pleasure.
Your spouse gives you a long romantic massage. Do you return the favor or roll over and fall asleep? Most of us don’t want to be with a partner who takes but gives nothing in return. That is the very definition of selfishness.
Does your partner's pleasure and satisfaction matter to you? Start taking the time to focus on your partner and communicate with them about their experience. If you truly love your partner, you should always want to ensure that your partner is enjoying themselves as much as you are enjoying yourself.
You Always Expect Your Partner to Initiate Sex
Some partners don’t want to put themselves in the vulnerable position of initiating sex, or they enjoy the thrill of being the one to say “yes” or “no”. It’s not fair to put all of the burden of your sex life on your partner’s shoulders. That is selfish.
Switch it up a little. Why don’t you play out a fantasy where you are the one to initiate intimacy? Set the mood with some low lights and wine. Dress provocatively. Start by caressing you partner’s chest and move on from there. When you see how good it feels to take turns initiating sex, your relationship should open up a little more.
You expect partner to do all the work.
Who takes charge during sex in your relationship? Some partners have insecurities or hang-ups that make it difficult for them to do or ask for what they want during sex. Others may just enjoy not having to do any of the work. Making your partner take the lead all the time is selfish.
Sex is meant to be a reciprocal act where you come together as one. If one person is doing all the work while the other just lies there, there is not much togetherness.
Before you have sex, both of you should take some time to explore each other’s bodies. As you explore, ask your partner “Do you like this…” and be sure to tell your partner “Yes, I like that..” Good sex takes two active partners, so have fun exploring.
You get mad when your partner doesn’t give you what you need.
Do you find yourself getting mad at your partner because he or she doesn’t do what you need? Have you talked to our partner about your needs? No one can read your mind and know what you need in the way of intimate contact or sex. Getting mad at your partner because you don’t have the courage to speak up and ask for what you want is selfish.
Your partner may not be giving you what you need because they don’t know. You need to speak up and ask. Better yet, guide them gently, in how to pleasure you. Chances are, they will be grateful for the help.
If you see yourself in any of these situations, it’s worth taking some time to think about ways you might be able to be more considerate of your partner. When both partners participate openly in sex, sex is more exciting, and your relationship becomes more intimate.
Long-term solutions to the most common relationship struggles.