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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.

Don’t Let Excessive Spending On Your Children Unravel Your Marriage

Don’t Let Excessive Spending On Your Children Unravel Your Marriage

Having children is one of the biggest joys in a couple’s life. Long before that bundle of joy comes into the world…the spending begins. Nursery decorating can be such a bonding experience for a young couple as they pick out paint colors, furniture, blankets, sheets, mobiles, baby monitors, clothing, car seats, bath accessories, etc. While children bring many happy moments of love, they also require a long-list of child-related expenses. Out of control child-related spending can unravel even the best of marriages.

According to a U.S. News & World Report, the cost of raising a child to the age of 18 in the U.S. in 2021 was $267,000, or more than $14,800 per year. Every parent wants their child to have the best of everything. However, some can go completely over the top in buying their child the newest and latest toys and clothes, hosting the best celebrations, and insisting on the top of the line everything for their child. Before you know it, you are overextended and stressed out over how to pay the stack of credit card bills. The average American family had $6,270 in     credit card debt in 2021.  

Credit cards, loans, buy now and pay later deals are NOT free money! Eventually, those cards, loans, and deals will come due, and you will need to come up with the money to pay them off.    A recent survey of Certified Divorce Financial Analysts revealed that 22% of marriages end in divorce because of money issues. The good news is that there are steps you can take now to get out from under that debt and get your family spending under control.

Before any financial plan can be made to get out of debt, you will both need to be willing to do some work to understand where you want to be, where you are, and how you got there.  

  1. Make a Financial Date.

Make a date with your spouse to discuss the family finances and financial goals. Approach the matter in a positive light.

Honey, I feel like we have not really determined our long-term goals for ourselves and our family. I would like to set aside some time to talk about our future. What is a good day, time for us to do that?

Notice that there is no anger in this statement. There is no blame. There is no pushiness or nagging. You married you spouse because you love them and want to spend the rest of your life with them. Now that you are married and have children, you simply want to discuss your future together. To do that, you need to start the discussion with “where do you want to go?”

  1. Remember and Share Your Dreams.

Remember when you were dating? I will bet that you spend hours talking about what you each wanted to do with your lives. Did you want to get an advanced degree? Did you want a house in the country or the city? Did you imagine beautiful family vacations in the mountains, or at the beach? What do you think your retirement will look like? 

Spend some time talking about the things you really want out of your lives and write them down. By sharing goals, you are identifying the things that you feel are worth working and saving toward. Agree to have another financial date to talk about how you feel about money and set that date.

  1. Identify Your Financial Personality

In your next financial date, each of you should try to identify how you feel about money. Many marital fights about money occur because both spouses have completely opposite views about money. One spouse may spend for quality items without giving much thought to the budget or future goals. The other spouse may rein in their wants, try to control the budget, and focus on saving money for the future. 

The saver might feel resentment over the effects of the uncontrolled spending of the spending spouse. The spender might be exasperated with the saving spouse’s constant nagging and lack of appreciation for the finer things of life for their children.  Which one are you? Discuss how you feel with your spouse calmly and without anger. Agree to have another financial date to determine the state of your own finances.

  1. Find out what your financial status is.

You will each need to prepare ahead for this next financial date. Each spouse needs to make a list of their sources of income such as paychecks, alimony checks, investment dividends, or other. One spouse needs to gather the last 6 months of bank statements and the check register or online banking transaction register.  The other spouse should gather the last 6 months of investment or savings account statements. Print off this simple budgeting sheet or copy it onto a piece of paper.

When you sit down for your next financial date, together you will fill out the budgeting worksheet by listing all your income and expenses and subtracting the total expenses from your total income.  You now both now exactly where you stand financially and can discuss your feelings about it. Please do not “blame” or react in anger because they will only drive a wedge between you and your spouse. Instead focus on whether you suspected the results of the budgeting exercise or were surprised by it. How do the results affect your long-term goals? Agree to have another financial date to talk about how you can change those results by reducing expenses.

Every married couple must learn to work together continuously to solve their problems. Money problems are some of the biggest problems you will face. The key is to learn to face your problems together as a team and learn to communicate with each other about the “hard stuff.”  While you want to solve the issue, you also want to preserve the bond of love and happiness in your marriage. Get started on the road to a stronger relationship with a free trial to some of the best exercises and tools used by professional marriage counselors.

Posted 4/20/2022

Does Your Spouse Use Money As A Power Play In Your Marriage?

Does Your Spouse Use Money As A Power Play In Your Marriage?

Money problems in marriage arise from imbalances in power, decision-making, and transparency. They often happen when spouses have a large inequity in their earning power. The spouse with the most income or wealth often expects to dictate the family’s spending priorities.

Power plays can occur in one of these instances:

  1. One partner has a paid job, and the other doesn't.
  2. Both partners would like to be working, but one is unemployed.
  3. One spouse earns considerably more than the other.
  4. One partner comes from a family that has money and the other doesn't.

When one or more of these situations is present, the spouse who makes or has the most money often wants to dictate and control the couple's spending. The power control can manifest itself in numerous ways that are destructive to the relationship.

  • One Spouse controls all the finances, doling out money to the other spouse only after being convinced that it’s use is sensible. In marriage, one spouse dominating another does not usually lead to a loving and intimate relationship.
  • One Spouse makes all the financial decisions without consulting the other spouse. Marriage is supposed to be a partnership. If one spouse controls the decision making, the other spouse has no voice in the marriage.
  • One Spouse balances the checkbook, invests the family’s money, and controls the checkbook and safety deposit box. One spouse could conceivably make bad investments, overextend the family in debt, or make large withdrawals for purchases the other spouse would not approve of.

Few things build resentment more quickly than feeling marginalized, powerless, and kept in the dark by your spouse. Power play issues can get ugly fast and are a predictor of divorce. Some studies also indicate that infidelity is correlated with disparity in earning power.

Income and resource disparities are de-stabilizing for couples. Resentment and fights about money seep into every aspect of your married life. It divides you, breaks down the trust in your relationship, prevents intimacy, and can negatively affect your health.

How to End the Money Power Play

  1. Have an open and frank discussion about your feelings about how the family finances are managed.

No problem can be resolved if you both do not communicate and address the problem. Each of you has a perspective on your finances and you need to get that out in the open. Approach the discussion with an “I” statement rather than a “You” statement.

I feel that I do not have much input into….

You never discuss financial things with me…

The “I feel...” statement is non-threatening, whereas the “You never discuss…” statement immediately puts your spouse on the defensive.

Have empathy for your spouse.

If you are the larger income earner or the wealthier of spouses, you need to be sensitive about how you throw your weight around. Try to reverse roles and imagine how you would feel in your spouse’s shoes.

Share a joint bank account that each has access to.

Relieve financial stress and resentment in your marriage by being open about your spending and the amounts in your financial accounts. You are building your finances to prepare for a happy lifetime together, so both should be part of that building.

Make important spending decisions together.

Many spouses set a spending threshold, say $200.00, that require both to talk about before spending that amount or above. It is a way of keeping your finances on track and trusting your partner.

Sometimes the higher-earning spouse will delegate all the routine spending decisions to their lower-earning, or non-earning partners. This is a way of showing respect for your spouse and assuring them a role in decision making.

Build a Future Vision for Your Finances Together

Talking about your dreams for the future can help take the animosity out of dealing with your money. It also gives you a reason to do budget checkups regularly so you can each see your progress toward your goals.

Honey, remember we are saving up for a house, so is this really a good time for that purchase?

Oh, sweetie, we almost have enough for a down payment!

Working through your financial issues in a healthy way preserves the love in your relationship. It takes a lot of security and maturity to give up power, but if have an abundance of trust in your partner, it can work for you. Sharing power fosters a sense of togetherness and increases the intimacy bond in your marriage.

Posted 4/13/2022

Can You Reconcile Your Financial Issues in Your Marriage?

One of the biggest financial issues that can negatively impact a marriage is how each spouse handles and views money.  Each spouse may have different views of money, one spouse may primarily seek to save money for a rainy day, and another could have a spending fetish.

It’s very difficult for partners who view money, saving, and spending in fundamentally conflicting ways to manage household finances successfully as a team. This type of conflict will typically raise trust and intimacy issues in the relationship. After your last fight over money with your spouse, did you spend time kissing, cuddling, and getting passionate? Probably not. Money issues can eventually cause resentment and a lack of desire for intimacy, paralyzing your relationship.

Two big issues that can destroy a marriage are:

  1. Who does the money belong to?

Very few people talk about finances before they are married, so it is easy to get into problems when each spouse has a different view of who us entitled to the marital money. Some spouses pool their money into a joint account and treat it as a joint asset by splitting expenses down the middle. However, in another marriage, one spouse may believe that since they bring in the lion’s share of the earnings, the money belongs to them. In that case, they may become controlling and insist on keeping track of the finances themselves and require the other spouse to seek their approval before spending any money.

  1. How’s your credit?

One spouse may be perfectly comfortable using credit cards and taking out loans. Another spouse may be very wary of using credit. Do you know your partner’s credit score? knowing your partner’s credit score provides some insight into your partner’s past financial decisions. Money is a common source of stress in a marriage, so it is helpful to know how your partner has handled money in the past. It is not unusual for a spouse to find out after the marriage that their wife or husband has a run up a lot of debt and has a poor credit score.

While marriage does not automatically make one spouse responsible for another spouse’s debts, it can cause problems for the future. If you jointly apply for a credit card or a loan to purchase a house or car, the lender will consider both credit scores and, chances are, the poor credit score will result in higher interest rates and fees than if both credit scores were high. 

How to Reconcile Financial Issues in Your Marriage

Financial compatibility is rarely discussed before a couple makes a long-term commitment.

However, money issues are one of the top 5 reasons for divorce. Here are three steps to take to begin reconciling your financial issues.

Don’t Play the Blame Game.

Many partners, rather than working together, start to place blame on the other person. This creates discord and resentment in the relationship. It will be impossible to fix your financial issues if you are bickering, blaming, and fighting.

Gently break the ice on a conversation with your spouse about money.

Talking about money is stressful for most people. It makes them uncomfortable and defensive. To minimize and prevent “money fights”, start off trying to understand each other’s financial priorities and dreams for your future together.

  • What two dreams do you have for our life together?
  • What dreams do you have for your own future?
  • If you could splurge on one thing, what would it be?

Talk openly about ideas to make your dreams come true.

Once you have some positive dreams to work toward, you can talk about how you’ll get there. You and your partner need to agree to review your current finances together and make a specific plan to save for your future together.

  • Do you know how much money you have?
  • Do you know how much money you owe?
  • What do you do with any excess left over?

Commit to meet and communicate regularly about your finances.

Working together and communicating openly about how to use, keep track of, and manage your money will help you avoid the “money fights.”

  • How can we pay down our debt and curb expenses?
  • How will we keep track of our money?
  • Do we know how to invest our money to make it grow for the future?

As you plan regularly and share your dreams, you will be strengthening the bond of your marriage and enjoy the priceless love in your marriage.

Posted 4/6/2022

Senior Love: A Navigational Guide to Making the Most of Your Golden-Year Marriage Together

Romance is not just a young person's game. Dating sites and apps geared specifically towards seniors make locating partners easier than ever for older individuals. If you are a senior who recently found and married your golden-year love, doing a few things can help make your union smoother so you can enjoy the rest of your lives together to the utmost. Marriage In A Box recommends the following:

Figure Out Your Habitation Situation

Married couples typically cohabitate, but it can be a struggle to decide whether you should move in with your new spouse or he or she should move in with you. Purchasing a new home together is a potential solution. Considerations you need to discuss with each other include the budget, proximity to family, and space. 

Stand Unified on Finances

Research shows that financial issues are one of the leading causes of divorce. Since you married later in life, both you and your spouse likely have more assets than younger couples just starting out would. Carefully consider if you want to keep finances completely separate and split all expenses, have a joint account just for household costs, and mix nothing else or merge everything.

Whatever you decide, it must be a unanimous decision between the two of you. Discuss major purchases beforehand regardless of what you choose, because it may affect your partner as well.

Update your estate plan and will or seek legal counsel and create them if you don't already have them. You may feel like there's no rush since life expectancy is predicted to be longer in the coming decades and you have plenty of time, but statistics show that approximately 50% of individuals die without a will. Both you and your new spouse have existing loved ones (children, grandchildren, siblings, friends, etc.) to consider as well as a new husband or wife. It is imperative to get in agreement about your separate or collective estates. If you don't have a plan, it can cause conflict in probate after your decease between other heirs and your spouse. 

Bond Over Shared Interests

Marriage takes work to keep the relationship strong. While you obviously share interests that brought you together in the first place, you need to spend time together to continue strengthening your bond and alleviate boredom. Shared experiences serve to make your connection and intimacy with each other stronger.

One way to do this is to volunteer for a charity you both support; you can even help out online. Explore the world together. Combine and complete your bucket lists together. 

Another way you can spend time together while also padding your retirement income is by starting a business together. Becoming an entrepreneur is not like clocking into another 9-to-5 job. It doesn't have to be anything complicated or with a high educational or economic cost to get into. Simple ideas such as pet care, tutoring, freelance writing or web design, babysitting, or selling crafts are viable options that grant you extra room in your budget while allowing you the flexibility and free time to live the life you want. 

Maintain an Open and Honest Relationship Based on Respect, Love, and Understanding

Communication, mutual respect, understanding, and plain compassion and empathy for your spouse are key to maintaining a marriage. Misunderstandings caused by poor communication can cause major issues. Talk frequently, about everything, and, as the old adage goes, don't go to sleep angry.

Going into the commitment with a firm understanding that you are now part of a whole and need to be together on important issues can help your marriage stay strong as you continue your lives together. 

by Sara Bailey  | 

The Most Common Sources Of Conflict In Marriage

Marriage is challenging for most couples. Blending your individual values, goals, and dreams with someone else requires hard work and patience. When you encounter problems, you must work with your spouse to work through those problems. Sometimes the process of working through those problems creates disappointment, conflict, and feelings of resentment, hurt, or anger. Over time, it is not uncommon for you to feel like:

  • You have grown apart. Most partners experience times when they don’t feel particularly close. However, when you feel like you and your spouse do not spend much time together, you are rarely intimate, you don’t function as a team anymore, or you have little to say to one another, your marriage is in trouble. People are born to need other people. You and your spouse cannot continue together unconnected.
  • You keep having the same fights over and over without any resolution. Every couple argues from time to time. However, if you feel like everything you do results in criticism or arguments with your spouse, something is not working in the marriage. Eventually one or both spouses just give up trying to talk about anything with their spouse. They disengage, leave the room or the house, avoid their spouse, or do whatever they can to shut out the fighting. Both partners are left angry and closed off. A marriage cannot continue in this state.

When you see these signs of trouble in your marriage, it is time to take action to restore your marriage. Here are the most common sources of conflict in Marriage and actions you and your spouse can take to improve your marriage.

CHILDREN

Children are a gift and can add meaning to a couple’s life. However, Children also take a large time commitment which can detract from your time as a couple. A significant amount of stress is added to the relationship with you have children. Childcare creates demands on the mother, particularly when children are young. Couples have less time to spend together and less energy to devote to intimacy. Parents make sacrifices of the time, their finances, their leisure opportunities, and self-care to take care of children. The demands and stress can suck the romance out of the relationship.

Both spouses must pull together and work as a team. Coming up with a fair distribution of the childcare workload and talking over parenting issues regularly can help keep stress at bay. Planning for sitters and alone time will help keep the spark alive in your romantic life. Create an emotional support system with other couple with children and family members where you can talk about parenting and marriage. Take care of yourselves by eating nutritious meals, getting enough sleep, setting aside time to exercise and play. Work together and find help whenever possible to create balance in your lives.

POOR COMMUNICATION

Healthy communication is the foundation for a successful, long-lasting marriage. Couples who don’t consider the long-term effects of their words may start bickering, arguing, or barely speaking at all. A lack of communication is another sign that your marriage is in trouble.

It’s important for couples to make the effort to maintain clear channels of communication. Both spouses should commit to unplug and discuss any issues in the marriage. Try to avoid criticism and judgmental statements during discussions. Use the “I“ statements such as “I feel this when …” This helps both spouses feel comfortable speaking freely, without fear of repercussions. Once an issue is settled, try to let bygones be bygones and avoid bringing up the past. Being able to talk to your partner means that you'll be able to share your worries, show support for one another, and work together to handle conflict more effectively. When you actively listen to and communicate with your partner, you both will feel valued and loved.

LACK OF INTIMACY

A couple’s sex life may ebb and flow over the years for any number of reasons: physical or mental health issues, having kids, stress, relationship problems or sleep issues.  Keeping the romance and sexual sparks going requires consistent effort. If you don’t keep that connection, the sexual dry spells will last longer and longer.  It will leave one or both partners feeling unwanted, disconnected, and unloved.

The best way to get back in the saddle is to honestly discuss the issue with your partner. Make regular date nights. Flirt with each other and reach out with thoughtful gestures. Try going to bed at the same time. Engage in playful hugging, kissing, and touching each other outside of the bedroom. It might feel awkward initially, but you need to reorient yourselves to each other’s body. Take it slow and try not to build up your expectations too soon.

MONEY

Nothing can create problems in a marriage faster than money. If you are opening a joint account or handling your finances separately, you are bound to encounter financial problems in your marriage such as job loss or debt. A difference in opinion about saving and spending habits can create tension.  Problems can also arise due to a drastic difference in income between spouses. When one person makes more money than the other, they may start to feel resentful about the hours they put in at work. They may also start to think they have more “right” to the money and can spend it however they want.

Finances are a sensitive topic, and couples should carefully discuss these problems openly. Try to come up with a budget and a savings plan that meets your shared financial goals. If someone deviates from the plan, discuss the issue openly and be willing to make compromises. If might be beneficial to talk to a financial advisor to help get back on track.

WORKLOAD IMBALANCE

There are a host daily, weekly, and monthly chores and projects necessary to keep the home running and your job priorities met. If you aren’t working together, it is easy to fall into the resentment trap. You may feel underappreciated and overworked. Then the stress begins to pile up and anger builds. Before long, you are arguing about who does more or who doesn’t do their share.

Negotiating how to balance the responsibility of earning a living, maintaining home chores and projects, along with raising a family, and keeping your relationship strong requires teamwork and planning. Work together to draw up a plan of who will do what according to strengths and availability. Those things that can be done together as a couple or a family can be turned into fun ways to work side by side.

Learning to turn toward your partner, communicate openly, and keep the romance alive will help you and your spouse weather the challenges and stresses and improve your marriage bond.

Posted 3/23/2022

Ways to Build a Healthy Marriage

The best way to prevent an affair is to build a healthy marriage. Couples with a healthy marriage feel strong in their love and aren’t swayed by another man or woman’s advances. They are committed to each other and doing what it takes to keep their marriage strong. How do you build a marriage like that?

Drop old grievances.
We all have scars and damage from earlier times in our lives and marriage, but don't use an old fight as a weapon in a new one. It's unfair to throw unresolved issues at one another.  Avoid hot button issues that you've already discussed until you can calmly sit down and talk through them. If you're still having trouble letting it go of them, consider journaling or talking to a counselor to prevent these grievances from undermining your marriage.

Fight fair.
Avoid attacking your partner personally or accusing your spouse when you’re angry and irrational during a particularly bad argument. Call "take it back" whenever either of you says something you don't truly mean. Remind your spouse that you love them and stay focused on finding a solution, which opens the door for a compromise. You both need to know when to apologize.

Know when to listen.
Sometimes, you or your partner just need to vent and spill out all the frustrations of the day. Since your partner loves you and wants you to feel better, they might offer suggestions that can produce the opposite effect intended.  Don’t turn your stress into an argument with them. Listen and thank them for their suggestions.

Get along with each other’s families.

You may not love them, but you need to make the effort to at least be cordial, forgive as much as you can and start fresh with them as a member of the family. If you keep giving your husband or wife a hard time because of a rude comment your mother-in-law made, then he or she will continue to become angry at you and deepen the cracks in your marriage.

Touch as often as possible.
Hold hands. Touch your husband or wife on the arm when you’re both making your morning coffee. Place your hand on his or her cheek when they kiss you good night. These little points of contact are love "marks" that stay with you and them throughout the day. The physical contact keeps you feeling adored by each other. 

Speak kindly of each other.
If you open up to your friends or family members about a fight you had with your spouse, they may not forgive him, even if you have. It's a betrayal to trash-talk your spouse to others. Your personal issues need to stay personal.  Family and friends love it when you talk up his or her awesomeness. Everyone likes to see a happy marriage.

Have fun and a sense of humor

Even when life is stressful, express your playful and silly side by agreeing to participate in sports, video games, exercise, or other spirited activities. Showing this side of your personality reminds your spouse how much fun you are. Even if you're the worst baseball player ever, laugh at your lack of skill (instead of getting angry), so he laughs with you and sees you as adorable.

Communicate clearly about your needs.

Sometimes we all need some time to sit and unwind. Be open and honest whenever you need some alone time, whether it's 15 minutes or an hour, and vice versa. Likewise, don’t expect your spouse to read your mind. If you want something, you need to be direct and let them know, “ I want more intimate time with you.” Openness and honesty is the best way to build a strong, healthy marriage.

Posted 2/23/2022

Keep the Passion Alive in Your Marriage

Keep the Passion Alive in Your Marriage

Are you bored with your marriage? Does your marriage feel stale? How in the world does that happen? After a few years of marriage, couples settle into a routine. If both spouses work, they put in long days at work, run an errand or two on the way home, make dinner together, and relax a little before bed. Once children come along, work, chores, kid’s activities, errands etc. seem to consume all energy and sex doesn’t happen much anymore. Before you know it, you are stuck in a passionless marriage.

When a couple loses their passion, they tend to replace it with something else. Criticism and fighting, lack of interest in each other, or becoming married roommates. If you don’t want your marriage to become another divorce statistic, you need to find a way to build emotional intimacy and closeness again. It’s time to fan the flames of passion in your marriage.

Reconnect Emotionally

Partners that have been turning away from each other need to start turning back toward each other. Start taking an interest in what your partner is doing, what makes them happy, what they like to talk about, and what turns them on. Begin with a conversation. You need to address the elephant in the room.

“Honey, I love you and I believe you love me too. However, we don’t seem to cuddle or tease or have sex anymore and I want to understand how we can change that.”

You don’t lash out at your partner and start telling them what is wrong and what they need to do. That just pushes them further away. By reassuring your partner of your love and desire for them, you are drawing them into the conversation and asking for their help in solving the problem.

Reignite the Spark

Remember when you were dating and couldn’t wait to be alone so you could start holding hands, hugging, kissing, cuddling, and you can take it from there. Try to recreate that sexual attraction. Take every opportunity to touch, hold hands, hug, and cuddle. Use those little signals that used to drive ho or her wild link a sexy wink, or a wry smile, lock eyes, linger in the kitchen over doing the dishes and lock fingers in the soapy water. Playful physical affection often reignites the spark.

Get Your Sexy On

When was the last time you flirted with him or her? Well start it up again! Everyone wants to feel like they are desirable to their partner. Find a flirty, sexy song on YouTube and email him or her the link. Write a little naught note and stick it in his wallet or her purse. Give your partner a long, lingering kiss goodbye for work in the morning. Sweep your spouse up in your arms when you get home from work at night.

Carve out time to spend ALONE with your partner

Get up a little early in the morning and meet in the shower for a soapy interlude. Meet for an intimate lunch. Put the kids to bed early, turn off the TV and put on some soft music to cuddle to with a glass of wine. Hire a babysitter or take the kids to Grandma’s and go enjoy a night out together. The important thing is to make time for each other to talk, share your hopes and dreams, romance your partner, and focus on US.

Revisit Your Sexual Relationship

Initiate affectionate touching such as a backrub, then a massage. Ask your partner what they like during foreplay and take your time building the tension and anticipation. Let yourself be vulnerable and encourage your partner to do the same by sharing your desires and fantasies.

Keep the Passion and Intimacy Alive

Never stop planning time for each other and time for intimate sex. Take every opportunity you can to take turns initiating sex. Experiment with ways to bring each other pleasure and get to know each other on a more intimate level.  The greater your emotional intimacy is, the deeper your marital bond will be.

Posted 2/17/2022

How To Be A More Supportive Spouse.

How To Be A More Supportive Spouse

When two people exchange their wedding vows, they promise to love, honor, and cherish, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, for as long as they both shall live. The vow is stating that you pledge unconditional love to each other no matter what the circumstances are.

You pledged your love and support forever to your spouse. However, when life takes a sideways turn, one spouse can fear that the other spouse may not be there for them. All human beings need the reassurance that their spouse will love, care for, respect, and support them even in their lowest moments.

 

What is a supportive spouse?

Being a supportive spouse does not mean that you will wait on them hand and foot or do whatever they tell you. A supportive spouse is not someone who gives into your every demand. A supportive spouse is a true partner.  It means that you support your spouse by:

  1. Giving them space to make their own Choices. No one likes to be told what to do or to have all their decisions made for them. Whether they are trying to make a major life decision such as whether to change jobs or start a business or smaller decisions such as whether to attend their high school reunion, be supportive by listening to them, discussing the matter with them, and allowing them to make the choice.
  2. Encourage your spouse to tackle something new to them or important to them. Support your spouse by becoming their biggest cheerleader in whatever they undertake to do. Pump up their self-esteem and let you know you believe in their abilities.
  3. Respect your partner and let them know they are important to you. Listen to what your spouse has to say and make them feel like you are truly interested by participating in the conversation. Ask for your partner’s opinion before making decisions about things you both will use, share, do.
  4. Give of your time to be with them and attend functions important to them. People’s lives are busy, and in many families, both spouse’s work. Make sure that you make your spouse a priority in your life. Schedule date nights, keep a calendar of events or functions that you both want to attend together. If you say you will be there, be there.

How to become a supportive spouse?

You support your spouse by how you communicate and show your support.

Communication involves:

  • Listening to your partner without judgement
  • Participating in the conversation
  • Trying to Understand your spouse’s opinion
  • Respecting their Point of view
  • Being honest
  • Expressing gratitude to your spouse
  • Being a Cheerleader
  • Making time to sit and talk
  • Apologizing when you are wrong
  • Praise your spouse often

Showing your spouse support means:

  • Paying attention to your spouse
  • Being considerate to your spouse
  • Helping your spouse
  • Viewing your spouse as a partner
  • Taking time to be with, play, laugh with your spouse
  • Respecting your spouse’s time and individual plans
  • Viewing your spouse’s needs as equal to yours
  • Give your spouse their space
  • Be thoughtful and empathetic
  • Let your spouse do things their way
  • Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt

Even if you have not been supportive in the past, you can start being a more supportive spouse today by doing better at communicating and showing your spouse that you love, care about, respect, and want to support them.

When you feel safe enough with your spouse to be yourself, you know you are in a supportive relationship. When you trust your spouse and believe that you can count on them in any situation, you have built a solid, supportive marriage.

Posted 1/26/2022

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