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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.

Can You Fix A Toxic Marriage?

It is exhausting and soul-depleting to live in a toxic marriage. You're mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted because there's no peace at home, which is supposed to be your refuge. The good news is that if both partners are willing to make the right changes, toxic marriages can become healthy and secure partnerships. However, if safety and security are at risk in the family, it may be better to separate.

What is a Toxic Marriage?

A toxic marriage is a chronic condition if there are unhealthy mental, physical, and emotional issues. These issues may lead to emotional abuse, substance abuse, adultery, physical abuse or desertion, or other major transgressions that cause trouble in a marriage. 

Why are Toxic People Harmful?

●     Toxic people can be self-centered, manipulative, abusive, and lack empathy.

●     Toxic people may constantly demand attention, sympathy, or validation.

●     Toxic people tend to disrespect emotional and physical boundaries and erode our self-esteem.

Signs You Are in a Toxic Marriage

●     Resentment

Holding grudges chips away at intimacy. Over time, resentment can build up and widen the chasm.

●     Dishonesty

Lying is a very unhealthy behavior that creates mistrust.

●     Disrespect

Being late and forgetting events and other verbal or nonverbal behaviors that show disrespect are a red flag.

●     Negative financial behaviors

It can be toxic if you agree about your finances and one partner constantly disrespects that agreement.

●     Constant stress

Ordinary life challenges, like illness and job losses can create tension in your marriage. However, finding yourself constantly on edge is a critical indicator that something's off.

●     Ignoring your needs

Always going along with whatever your partner wants, when it goes against your wishes or comfort level, is a sign of toxicity.

●     Lost relationships and loss of self-care

If you've stopped spending time with friends and family or let go of your usual self-care habits (withdraw from hobbies, neglect health, and sacrifice free time) to avoid conflict with your spouse, you may be in a toxic relationship.

●     Walking on eggshells

If you avoid conflict to avoid upsetting your partner and your partner won't listen to your concerns, your relationship could be toxic.

Is a Toxic Marriage Worth Saving?

 

Staying in a toxic marriage without changing anything will be soul-destroying, exhausting, devastating, and unhealthy for your health and well-being, not just for you but also for your spouse. A toxic marriage is worth saving, but it requires a lot of effort and commitment from both spouses! 

Steps to Take to Fix a Toxic Marriage

 When people are stuck in harmful patterns and cycles, it is toxic; unhealthy dynamics can be mended with conscious time, effort, and self-awareness. Both people must be willing to change and accept responsibility to move forward.

Here's how to fix a toxic relationship:

1. Evaluate whether the relationship can be fixed.

Yes, toxic relationships can change if spouses are equally committed to change and use self-reflection with honest, open communication and possibly professional help. It requires self-examination of your actions and doing inner work. Suppose you or your partner is unwilling to put in the effort; the relationship will not change, and you should consider ending it. 

2. Be willing to walk away.

Before confronting a spouse, ensure your feelings of strong self-esteem and self-confidence are good enough for you to know that you will be alright. If you're unwilling to leave the marriage, your partner learns they can get away with things.

3. Look for the ABCD Behaviors.

A toxic relationship has a constant presence of ABCD behaviors(accusations, blame, criticisms, and demands). 

4. Use your Voice and Start Taking up Space.

In toxic relationships, you find yourself resentful about not honoring yourself or your own needs to be included in the marriage to avoid upsetting your partner. It's healthy that you feel relaxed and can be yourself and bring up concerns. Exercise your voice thoughtfully; it's a muscle, so keep using it! Share how you feel and how it creates distance in the relationship.

5. Seek out help.
If one or both partners feel worse about themselves when they're in the relationship, it is toxic. You may need professional help to become stronger. Healthy love is nurturing and doesn't involve any acts of earning. You are good enough simply by being who you are. 

6. Learn to trust yourself and stick to your guns.

Toxic relationships often involve gaslighting, which may cause you to doubt your judgment. Cultivating mindfulness practices can be vital to learning how to trust yourself and your own experience. Notice the inconsistencies between what is said and what is happening, and let your partner know you will only engage once they're willing to listen to you. 

7. Together, explore healthier ways to express criticism.

Habitual criticism, judgment, or condemnation is harmful and not helpful in marriage; it crosses the line. 

8. Only move on from conflicts with plans to change.

It is better if partners move on with a plan in place for change and how to approach conflict differently. Establish a safe space where partners can share their feelings, needs, and desires without using the ABCD behaviors.

If you and your partner are struggling with toxic behaviors, Marriage In a Box may be an option for helping to learn new skills, and get suggestions, and support. It is also essential that both spouses know interventions and boundaries to repair the damage in their marriage. 

Consider Marriage In a Box for helpful advice and solutions. Marriage In a Box allows you to access tools professional marriage counselors use and solutions for relationship issues. Marriage coaching is available on the website. Feel free to check out their kit and sources of information online.

Posted 11/1/2023

Secrets and Lies Can Destroy Your Marriage

If you suspect your partner is cheating, you'll want to get to the bottom of things quickly. Try not to dismiss gut feelings if you feel your partner has a secret or is hiding something, and red flags keep popping up. It's important to avoid jumping to conclusions as you may be overthinking the situation. 

Signs Your Spouse is Hiding Something from You

There are some hallmark signs that experts say that someone is hiding something. Here is a list of common behaviors from someone who has a secret but won't tell.

They're Being Overly Nice

Your partner may be giving special attention if they think you are suspicious of wrongdoing.

They're Protective of Their Cell Phone

If they are overly protective of their phone and take it everywhere, even to the bathroom. 

They continue to Over-React

They may blow up and act like you invaded their privacy if you ask how their day was at work to get you off their case because they felt you were onto their hidden secrets.

They Turn the Tables and Accuse You Of Cheating

Cheaters may project their guilt and blame onto someone else. 

They're Emotionally Aloof

Your partner may be distant because they're hiding secrets. 

Their Schedule is Erratic

A change in your partner's schedule could be suspect if they don't have a new job or haven't taken on any responsibilities you know about.

You Catch Them in Lies, they are vague.

Trust is crucial in any relationship; however, when someone tries to hide something, inconsistencies can point to hiding secrets.

 Your Partner Cuts You Out of Their Life

If you've always done everything together but are suddenly uninvited to things, it's a red flag. 

Their Body Language or non-verbal cues seem off.

 They may be more intimate or become detached, cold or close off affection, and avoid looking you in the eye.

They suddenly start to improve their appearance.

 You may see a new haircut, clothes, cologne, working out, dieting, or grooming.

 Your partner may become more adventurous.

Having an affair makes people feel daring, young, and alive. Your spouse may suggest spontaneous, fun activities they would usually never be up to and have re-awakened their drive for intimacy.

Why Keep Secrets?

According to the researchers, people in relationships keep secrets for many reasons, such as reluctance to damage the relationship or lose their partner. Shame is another driver for keeping secrets if it would lead their partner to disapprove and lose faith in them. Fear of being abandoned or stigmatized. There may be secrets about their core identity that keep their partner from having a complete picture of their flaws. 

Signs Your Spouse Isn't Being Honest:

●     Evading questions

●     Suspicious body language/nonverbal cues - minimal eye contact

●     Covering their mouth

●     Being vague/overly detailed

●     Voice sounds weird

●     Inconsistent stories 

 

Why People Lie

People lie for various reasons, which may include:

●     Avoiding conflict or embarrassment or facing consequences of their behavior

●     Fear of losing their spouse

●     Hiding something they did or did not do

●     Postponing having to make changes in lifestyle

●     Trying to protect someone else's feelings

Harmful Effects of Secrets and Lies

While someone might lie to protect their partner's feelings or avoid conflict, lies can cause problems in a relationship because they decrease trust and intimacy. If someone lies to you and you find out it will cause great pain. It can deprive a partner from taking informed action if important information is being withheld.

How To Deal with Secrets

●     Collect your feelings.

●      Ask yourself if your partner did something to make you lose trust in them or if you are overreacting to the situation.

●     Calmly talk to your spouse about your suspicions with open, honest communication, avoid interrupting or accusing them, and listen to their defense, but trust your gut.

●     If you find your partner has been unfaithful, surround yourself with loved ones you can confide in to lower psychological distress and decide next steps.

How to deal with dishonesty 

Dishonesty in a relationship is a significant issue. If you suspect your partner is untrustworthy, knowing how to fix dishonesty in a relationship is the best. The tips below will show you how:

1.Speak to your partner about it.

 Avoid confrontation, let your partner know how their actions make you feel, and allow them to explain themselves and listen actively.

2. Understand their perspective.

Try to be reasonable and understand their viewpoint without criticizing or interrupting them, and remember, the goal is to fix your relationship.

If you and your partner are struggling with infidelity, Marriage In a Box may be an option for help learning new skills, suggestions, and support. It is also essential that both spouses know interventions and boundaries and repair the damage in their marriage. Consider Marriage In a Box for helpful advice and solutions. Marriage In a Box allows you to access tools professional marriage counselors use and solutions for relationship issues. Marriage coaching is available on the website. Feel free to check out their kit and sources of information online.

Posted 10/25/2023

How to Cope with a Controlling, Possessive Spouse

Controlling people want to assert power or control over another person. They can use manipulation, intimidation, and be overbearing to get their way. The person experiencing controlling behavior can feel fear, anger, despair, embarrassment, or inferiority. Using control can and often becomes abusive. If someone in your life is controlling, it is vital to reach out to supportive friends, family, or a therapist and learn to strengthen your boundaries.

Common Signs of Possessive and Controlling Behavior in Marriage

Sometimes, a controlling person is emotionally manipulative and acts out of insecurity but may not be aggressive; but behaviors can become aggressive. Controlling people may use a variety of tactics; here are some examples of controlling behavior: 

Inflexibility

Controlling people insist that everything needs to be their way and often won't adapt or take no for an answer.

• They Want to Be the Center of Attention

They have a strong need to have the focus on themselves. They often redirect the conversation back to themselves if you talk about your life. 

Isolation from friends and loved ones

A controlling person may seem possessive and unreasonably jealous of others in your life. 

• Manipulation and blame shifting

Manipulation is a key component of controlling people because it gives them a sense of power and control. They may use guilt, criticism, belittling, gaslighting, sulking, or threats. Controlling people feel that nothing is their fault and use a technique known as projection to shift blame back to you. 

Disrespect of Boundaries

Boundaries between two people are respected and valued in healthy relationships. For the controlling person, a boundary is a barrier to their need for control.

Keeping Score

They may keep a mental scorecard and remind you if they have done something for you and will get more than they give.

Trying to Change You

A controlling person may tell you how to dress or criticize your appearance, ridicule your interests, and convince you to adopt their interests. 

Intimidation

They may use intimidation in several different forms. Someone who talks down to you in front of others or threatens you in a violent or non-violent way is using a form of intimidation.

Causes of Possessive and Controlling Behavior

Some of the factors that can trigger controlling behavior are:

Anxiety: Taking control of situations is a way to cope with stress for some people. Treating anxiety may improve controlling behavior.

Personality Disorder: Some personality disorders may increase the chances of someone using controlling behavior.

Learned Behavior. A person may have learned to control from caregivers who tried to exert power over their partner.

The Impact of Possessive and controlling behavior in a relationship 

The desire to control is unhealthy and may cause relationship conflicts, but it's not always abusive. Controlling behavior becomes abusive when threatening and can include degradation and threats leading to domestic violence. Studies show that controlling behavior is associated with more physical aggression or abuse. It may be so constant that you become numb and relent to their demands for peace. Controlling behavior becomes abuse when the other person feels afraid and intimidated.

What to Do if Your Spouse is Possessive and Controlling 

●     Use open, Honest Communication

●     Define controlling, possessive behaviors.

●     Set Healthy boundaries.

●     Practice Ways to diffuse the situation, such as:

●     Quietly walk away to focus attention on their dysfunctional behavior rather than indulging them.

●     Create a distraction or change the subject; interrupting them will make it more difficult for them to return to where they left off.

●      Counteract with reason.

●     Acknowledge their fear of abandonment and the fear that the person will leave them for someone else and discuss it.

Ways to Change Excessive Control in Your Partner

  1.  First the spouse must recognize controlling behaviors and come out of denial.
  1. Second, upon gaining insight, the one on the receiving end of the control might have damaged trust.
  1. Third, by first practicing forgiveness toward the partner
  1. Fourth, the controlled person needs to bring up the issue of fostering mutual respect in the relationship. Respect honors the dignity of the other person and oneself because each is a person, but it doesn't mean accepting all behaviors or requests from the partner. Respect comes from thinking daily about mutual respect by honoring the personhood in one another so that these thoughts become internalized.

Many people have problems with controlling and possessive behaviors in marriage. It is crucial to recognize them and make repairs quickly to work toward utilizing these behaviors less and less. It is also essential for both spouses to be educated about these behaviors and learn interventions and boundaries, as they can damage a marriage. Consider Marriage In a Box for helpful advice and solutions.

Marriage In a Box provides access to tools, techniques, and solutions professional marriage counselors use for relationship issues. Marriage coaching is available on the website. Feel free to check out their kit and sources of information online.

Posted 10/18/2023

Five ways to Prevent You and Your spouse from Drifting Apart

In the early stages of a romantic relationship, a strong attraction draws you together and drives your thoughts, actions, and plans. The couple thinks this attraction will always stay strong and require almost no work to keep the emotions alive. There is intentional effort needed to do things to keep the spark in your marriage. 

Signs you and your partner could be growing apart. 

There is a loss of affection and attraction, and a decrease in sex life.

Neither of you is attracted to the other like you were in the past. It is rare that either of you initiates or responds to signs of affection like kissing or hugging or setting the stage for sex

 

You spend less time together and run out of things to talk about.

There is still a lingering thought that going on a date together would be nice, but more effort is needed to make it happen with all the other responsibilities. Early on, you both had plenty to talk about when together; now, conversations die down quickly and sometimes are awkward.

It feels like you're not invested in the marriage and are living as strangers.

There is so little time spent together, and you don't do the little things to care for each other as a couple that you used to do. It feels like you are not sure you know them any longer.

Other things seem more important than each other, and you’re giving up on trying to get close again.

When trying to discuss concerns about the relationship, it gets crowded out by something or someone else. Things feel hopeless, and you've given up trying to accept that this is how life is now. Others have noticed and commented that the two of you no longer seem close. 

There is a lot of resentment.

Resentments for both of you have been growing because of the disappointment in the relationship. 

How to Reconnect with your spouse.

Talk About It.

The first step to overcoming the growing distance between you and your partner is to discuss your concerns. However, it's essential to avoid blame, use I feel statements, give observations, and avoid confrontation. Talk about bridging the gap together.

Spend more time together.

Research shows that couples who spend more time together experience greater happiness and less stress. Intersecting the demands of work and family requires time and devotion to divide time.

Show Caring & support for your partner.

Look for ways to care and support one another, as it is easier to feel connected to someone when you think they are in your corner. We feel better about ourselves and cope better with stressful situations when feeling upheld.

There are many ways to support your spouse in both words and deeds:

●     Tell your partner how proud you are of them.

●     Send a note describing your appreciation for them.

●     Show your partner support through actions by doing favors or acts of kindness for them.

●     Validate their feelings to help your spouse feel seen, understood, and more emotionally connected.

Nourish Your Relationship.

Nourish the love that they already have by interspersing tiny moments of connection and closeness every single day. Reach out warmly to your partner regularly and respond lovingly when your partner reaches out to you.

Here are a few ways you might do this:

●      Kiss your partner goodbye daily on the way to work,slow down to enjoy the kiss and recognize that you are kissing someone you love.

●     If your partner tells you how nice you look, make eye contact and thank them. If you want appreciation, appreciate it when you get it.

●     When Your partner climbs into bed next to you, put away any distractions for a moment and tell them you're glad they are home and spend time with them. 

These little efforts invigorate your relationship. Remember to nourish your relationship to avoid draining it. Stay close to your partner even when life is turbulent so you're still together when it isn't.

Remember How and Why You and Your Spouse Fell in Love.

Make an effort to remember why you got together in the beginning. Pull out the early photos or the texts of when you were falling in love and spend some time remembering them or write about the beautiful things you did together to shift the mood to positive. Try bringing some of these activities back into your life to prevent falling into a rut and drifting apart.

It takes joint effort from both spouses to bring life into your marriage again. Consider using Marriage In a Box for helpful suggestions on bringing closeness and spark into your marriage.

Marriage In a Box is a resource for obtaining tools, techniques, and solutions professional marriage counselors use for typical relationship issues. Marriage coaching is also available on the website. You can also set goals and obtain rewards. Feel free to check out the kit and sources of information online.

Posted 10/11/2023

Add some fun to Your Marriage This Fall

Research shows that couples report higher relationship satisfaction when they make more time to have fun together. There are many stressors a couple can face, like budgeting, parenting, and managing conflict, which need to be offset with a balance of fun activities together. Making time for recreation and pleasure a few hours a week strengthens connections and helps build a positive perspective in a relationship. 

A positive view helps couples feel optimistic about their future together. Date nights are great ways to have fun together, but minor daily activities aid with this goal, too. More structured rituals of connection daily, like morning coffee, reading together, and sharing your day at bedtime, count toward having fun together.

What Happens When You Lose That Sense of Fun and Sharing Time Together in Your marriage?

The early stages of a relationship are often full of intense emotions that gradually temper with time. As a couple the relationship grows steadier, comfortable, or even a little boring. It is important to feel comfortable with your partner; it shows that you trust them and can be yourself. It can signify the transition from passionate (fleeting) to compassionate (more enduring) love. 

However, boredom can mean your relationship is heading into a negative direction if you are irritable and not giving each other the time, attention, and affection to thrive in the partnership. If these bouts of boredom are more serious and disruptive, it isn't necessarily a sign that your relationship will fail. Instead, it might indicate that it's time to make changes or invest more energy into spicing up your married life.

If you are concerned about feeling unsatisfied or uninspired, inject some excitement into your marriage.

The Purpose of Play in a Relationship

Playing together alludes to a couple's quality fun and relaxing time together. It's all about incorporating novel, recreational, wholesome, and fun activities into your marriage. As important as having alone or private time is, it is equally important to spend quality time together to include fun, recreation, and relaxing activities; couples who play together, stay together. There are contributing factors to a long-term romantic commitment and there is adequate evidence that married couples can benefit significantly from playing together.

Having a strong love for each other is essential, but just love isn't enough; the couples who stay together use actions. It's important to have feelings for your significant other and to express those feelings of love through meaningful actions. Thoughtfully and genuinely listening to your partner makes them feel safe and understood. The action aspect of expressing love and the concept of couples who play together stay together is also relevant. A playing couple spends time with their partner doing novel and fun things. These activities enable bonding, positive emotions, and experiences that build beautiful memories. 

Six Ways to Add More Fun into Your Marriage

There are various play activities that you can do together as a couple. 

●    Intentional activities

These are the major or minor activities you set aside time for on your weekly, monthly, or yearly calendar: weekend getaways, shared interests, hobbies, vacations, watching a TV show or movie together, volunteering, etc.

●     Everyday activities

Inject fun and relaxation into daily chores or tasks. A great example would be cleaning out a closet or pantry together or any activity where you work around your home.

●    Flexible activities

These are the more spontaneous activities you don't necessarily set aside a specific time, place, and day for, but when you and your spouse suddenly find free time for them. (examples are making dinner, playing video games, having a spa day, a theme park, or trying something new or old).

Collaborate and brainstorm with your spouse with a list of activities you enjoy doing, and then you can compare and find the common ones.

1.   Brainstorm a list of things you would both like to do for fun.

Discuss what is blocking the fun in your life and discuss and make changes with your partner.

     2.Schedule time regularly for play dates. 

Take turns choosing the activities that you both agree on and add them to the calendar. 

     3. Budget money, time, and energy for fun activities.

     4. Get out and do some physical activity together.

Help each other eat right and participate in physical activity to feel healthy.

     5. Let yourselves be kids again. It can be energizing.

     6. Don’t be afraid to try new things.

Be open-minded and willing to compromise

It takes planning from both spouses to add fun to your life and communication. Consider using Marriage in a Box for helpful suggestions on the balance of finding and adding fun to your marriage.

Marriage In a Box is a resource for obtaining tools, techniques, and solutions professional marriage counselors use for typical relationship issues. Marriage coaching is also available on the website. You can also set goals and obtain rewards. Feel free to check out the kit and sources of information online.

Posted 9/27/2023

Sharing Parenting Responsibilities Helps Bond Couples

Partners learn to reconcile their differences and establish a new culture which strengthens their bond when they come together because every individual comes from a unique family system. Bringing together two people with different family values and family backgrounds does not come without challenges; therefore, couples should discuss and reconcile these differences before having children so that they both feel comfortable with parenting.

Three Parenting Styles

 

The Authoritarian Parenting Style

 

Authoritarian parents use strict control to discipline children with rigid rules enforced by threat or punishment. Authoritarian parents tend to be conservative and believe in traditional roles, values, and regulations to be followed without question, and misbehavior is unacceptable. The authoritarian parents' vision of the world is only black and white, right, or wrong, etc. Children may be looked upon with a critical eye and subjected to judgment, and open discussion with a give-and-take dialogue is not encouraged. 

Praise and reward are believed to lead children into becoming 'too full of themselves' and cause them to stray off the good path. Kids with authoritarian parents typically are well-behaved and willingly obey authorities, do well in school, and avoid deviant behavior out of fear of punishment. They are not used to making choices or taking full responsibility for themselves and are also more prone to suffer from low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. They may have more limited social skills than kids from authoritative or permissive families.

 The Permissive Parenting Style

Permissive parenting, also called indulgent parenting, desperately focuses on maintaining a friendship with their child rather than being a parent. Many people believe permissive parenting is a curse of the modern age: The child is too much at the center of this parenting style, which uses reasoning, bribes, or manipulation to achieve some control. Permissive parents believe in the ability of the child to decide, make decisions, and act according to their desires and motives. Permissive parents believe in responding to the child's desires and accept children as equals, and they are included in decision-making and encouraged to communicate. These parents fear and tend to avoid confrontations and the use of power to shape and regulate their kids' behavior.

 

The effect of the permissive parenting style is that due to a lack of limits, the child has a sense of insecurity. The child may become dominating, impulsive, show problematic behavior, and do poorly in school. As these kids believe they are equal to adults, they are well equipped in dialogue, have high social skills, high self-esteem, and low levels of depression.

 

The Authoritative Parenting Style

 

Authoritative parenting is one of the three styles considered ideal by many people and child experts. Authoritative parenting uses firm control, high standards, fair reasoning, and positive reinforcement for good behavior. Authoritative parents are not restrictive as a preventive measure for bad behavior and strive towards letting their children live out their potential but within boundaries. They watch and impart clear standards for their children's conduct, and disciplinary methods are supportive rather than punitive, but crossing boundaries is not tolerated.

 Permissive parents desire their children to be assertive, socially responsible, self-regulated, and cooperative. Authoritative parents feel that a child needs to have a degree of say; still, parents have the final word. Authoritative parents try to understand their children, teach them how to understand their feelings, problem solve, and follow independent but still norm-supportive practices. The effect of the authoritative parenting style on children (because of the use of praise and rules that are fair and carried out in a warm, caring manner) is that the child has learned that behaving and following the rules feels good and gets them positive attention. 

According to research, kids of authoritative parents tend to do well in school and are self-confident and goal-oriented with well-developed social skills and emotional regulation.

How to Divide Childcare Responsibilities with Your Partner

  •  List your baby's needs.

Make a list of all the responsibilities involved in caring for the baby.

  • Anticipate and communicate.

You must tell each other what you want and need.

  •  Create a schedule.

With your preferences in mind, you and your partner can schedule household responsibilities.

  •  Shed traditional expectations.

It's easy to fall back on safe traditional roles. But doing so can leave one parent resentful and the other in the cold.

  • Share baby time.

Make room for two experts and work together. Mothers and fathers have different parenting styles, but parents sometimes have difficulty respecting and valuing those differences.

  • Consider hiring help.
  • Let go of perfection.
  • Reward yourself.

Communicating and being flexible with your spouse is critical to parenting your kids. Couples want their children to have the best outcomes and bond as a couple and family. Consider using Marriage in a Box for helpful suggestions and guidance in parenting kids and working through being on the same parenting page as a couple.

Marriage In a Box is an excellent resource for simple tools and tips professionals use for relationship issues. You can set goals, earn rewards, and find marriage coaching on the site. Check out the available kit and sources of information online.

Posted 9/20/2023

Do You and Your Partner Have a Healthy Work-Life Balance?

Managing your work life and your love life is a balancing act with a packed schedule and to-do list. It's natural if you feel challenged to do your best work and be a good partner. Managing a job you love and keeping the love strong in your relationship is possible if you work at it. There is so much talk about work and life balance, yet balance is very short-lived and constantly requires us to correct our course in one direction or another. We get busy, tired, and stressed, and the first thing that goes out the window tends to be the people closest to us, including ourselves, which creates a sense that we need to see that everybody gets some attention. 

However, that strategy can make the people we care about feel like a responsibility or a burden.

What Happens When Your Work Life Overshadows Your Marriage?

Even ten minutes of being present with somebody can have an impact. Try to value the quality of the time spent together rather than the quantity. When we have space from each other and are engaged and happy in our lives, spending time together can be even more rewarding, nurturing, and valuable. Seeing somebody you care about enjoying themselves and feeling good about their work can also be incredibly fulfilling. 

Discuss what times work best for quality time with your spouse. Consider keeping a planner and sticking to it when it comes to time with your spouse. Quality time spent with spouses and friends during special occasions or holidays can't be replaced, but work meetings can. If you don't spend as much time with your husband or wife for one month, you can give a little gift or plan a nice date. If you're both morning people, plan extra time before work to eat breakfast together to start your days, help reduce stress, and improve your mental health. 

Seven Ways to Create a Healthy Work Life Balance

1. Communication is Key

Talk to your partner about the work-life balance in the marriage:

●   Sitting down for an open, honest conversation should be one of your first steps. 

●   Once you've established which areas are causing issues, try and work out boundaries. 

●   Discuss your shared goals. 

●   Let go of resentment. 

●   Schedule us-time. 

●   Focus on quality, not quantity.

2. Set Boundaries Between You and Work

You can often set yourself apart by making yourself available, taking on extra responsibilities, or staying late at work. However, being so accommodating might also set you up for undue stress and burnout and affect your marriage. A good work ethic doesn't mean you must always be perfect. It's okay to say no to overtime and want to have the weekend off. Your value as a human being is independent of your ability to perform at work. Removing the pressure of performing makes setting boundaries with coworkers easier.

3. Ask Your Partner for Help 

If the marriage has a poor work-life balance, it is easy to take stress out on your partner. Try scheduling something to look forward to each day. Read a best-selling book together to discuss at dinner, go for a  walk around the neighborhood, or plan a double date for drinks to unwind after work.

4. Disconnect from Technology at Home

In the workplace, speed increases productivity, but a fast pace has the opposite effect at home. Families don't thrive on speed and productivity but on love and communication. We need to soberly look at how we allow technology to replace loving interaction and limit their use or turn off cell phones, tablets, or laptops.

5.  Make an Effort to Connect With Your Partner Daily

Cutting out the white noise or distractions in life is no easy task, but it is crucial to a healthy relationship. Whether slowing down on responding to texts, limiting your time on professional blogs, or turning off your phone after nine o'clock, you'll have more time to focus on giving to your relationship. If seeking a healthy work-life balance, it's about dedicating an equal amount of time personally and professionally. The secret to successful work-life integration is disconnecting from the distractions around you and your spouse and making time for just the two of you to connect.

6. Make Time with your Partner for Emotional Check-ins

As it relates to marriage, prioritizing means reserving energy for your spouse. Even if you're dog-tired when you get home from work, check in with your partner for a few minutes. "Prioritizing" means you do this even if you are facing an impossible deadline. The best time for meaningful communication in a relationship may be at the end of the day when lying in bed together before going to sleep. Couples can talk about the highs and lows of their day, discuss deep topics, or be intimate.

7. Take Time to Show Your Partner Your Appreciation and Love

Seizing a moment to remind your partner of your affection can significantly impact your relationship. Showing love in small ways, especially when you're not together physically, like texting a  simple "I'm thinking of you" message, demonstrates that you're engaged and deeply committed to your partnership and enriches the marriage. 

It takes effort from both spouses to achieve a healthy work-life balance, planning, and communication. Consider using Marriage in a Box for suggestions to help work through the rough areas to achieve a healthy balance between work and home life.

Marriage In a Box is a resource for obtaining tools, techniques, and solutions professional marriage counselors use for typical relationship issues. Marriage coaching is also available on the website. You can also set goals and obtain rewards. Feel free to check out the kit and sources of information online.

Posted 9/13/2023

Is It Time for a Fall Marriage Clean Up?

When you're dating, it's easy to see the possibilities of our future together as things look bright and hopeful. Opposites attract, and differences between couples don't seem so big, but they seem to grow once we get married while the similarities recede. Marriages Can get into a rut and become stale with mundane daily routines. So, it is essential to create things to look forward to.

Intentionally Connect with Your Spouse Daily. 

Create Touchpoints. Touchpoints are times of intentional connection with your spouse that occur with moments you find in everyday life. Doing tasks as a couple, like folding laundry, walking the dog, or doing dishes, not only provides connection but helps make the load lighter. Things like making coffee for your spouse, sharing time before you start your day, and catching up on what's new, funny, or exciting can create positive emotions.

Find a time in your schedule to build your connection and closeness intentionally. Some couples do this by showering together instead of alone, which can also set the stage for intimacy. 

Reduce Distractions and Communicate.

Make it worthwhile when you make time to talk by reducing misunderstandings and tension. It's painful when one or both spouses feel unheard or misunderstood, but it's also avoidable! Using the Stop-Look-Listen system is a technique to hear one another well and grow more connected through spending time together. 

Stop. Stop whatever you're paying attention to and give your spouse full attention. Let them know if you need a few minutes to wrap up, set a timer, then follow through.                                                      

 Look. Turn to face your spouse. Give eye contact. 

Listen. Listen to hear, not to respond. Try to understand where your partner is coming from and what's on their heart and mind. Reflect on what you heard them say and clarify to avoid making assumptions or mishearing. 

Clear the Air of Negative Emotions, Hurts, or False Assumptions.

Suppose you are in the habit of sticking a band-aid over problems. Now is the time to start healing those wounds, making peace, and restoring your relationship to health. Allow time for this process; "slow and steady wins the race," and be gentle with each other. Here are some suggestions:

  • Have more gratitude. Research shows there is power in gratitude and expressing appreciation for each other creates bonding. It's essential to notice the good rather than focus on what is not good.
  • If you created brokenness, fix things. We all make mistakes that can inadvertently hurt our partners; asking forgiveness and changing direction can go a long way toward healing. The important thing for the health of relationships is taking ownership.
  •  Create happy memories. If Boredom and a lack of fun have permeated your relationship, it's time to have positive experiences together to lay down the negative. Positive thoughts get internalized to result in positive emotions and free your brain from the negative. 
  • Avoid assumptions. A good way for couples to avoid distress is to ask their spouse what they meant by a statement rather than assume something negative that can taint an emotional response towards them.
  • Examine your emotions for hidden resentments. One problem resulting from insufficient communication in marriage is the build-up of negative emotions toward each other. Begin discussions with "I statement" rather than using attacking language.
  • Check in with your Spouse Daily Intentionally.  A brief" How are you? How are we? Is everything okay?" will do.

Spend time Reminiscing on Happier Times in Your Relationship.

Take a walk down memory lane. Remember when you met, recall what drew you together, and take some moments to reflect upon this time. Research shows that happier couples can remember pleasant earlier memories. It can anchor the relationship and remind you of what you might have forgotten. 

Banish Boredom with date nights and play dates.

Pack your favorite foods and head to a scenic spot for a picnic date. Throw down a blanket and pillows, enjoy the views, and have great conversation while dining. Adding some music can set the tone to create a romantic and relaxing ambiance. Regular date nights and fun games or activities strengthen the bond between couples. 

There are many factors to solving the marriage doldrums and disconnection problems where therapy is needed. If you continue to have trouble reviving the spark and fun as a couple, consider using Marriage in a Box for suggestions to help revive the spark.

Marriage In a Box is a resource for obtaining tools, techniques, and solutions professional marriage counselors use for typical relationship issues. Marriage coaching is also available on the website. You can also set goals and obtain rewards. Feel free to check out the kit and sources of information online.

Posted 9/6/2023

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