Monthly Archives: March 2012

Mar 29

New Research Suggests Generosity Key to Fulfilling Marriage

By Dustin | Romance

Note: This post by Mariana Ashley sheds some interesting light into what makes a marriage fulfilling.  More importantly, it may give you something to do to make your marriage more engaged and happy.  Be generous with your wife or husband!Be Generous!

Often, a happily married couple seems like a mystery.

How is it that Mr. and Mrs. X seem to get along so well, seem to work together to make their partnership work, and are somehow, after so many years, still deeply in love?

While there is certainly no set magic formula for a successful marriage, researchers have long tried to figure out the basic characteristics that make up the majority of healthy marriages.

The latest of this body of research suggests that, of all things, generosity plays an instrumental part in happy marital relationships.

Is Generosity Better Than Sex?

The New York Times recently reported on this research, conducted by the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project. Over 2,000 married men and women took a test to determine how generous they were to their partners.

Some of the questions asked of participants included:

  • “How often do you perform small acts of kindness to your partner (like making them coffee in the morning)?”
  • “How often do you forgive your partner for his or her mistakes and failings?”
  •  “How often do express respect and admiration to your partner?”
  • “How often do express affection and love to your partner?”

The results of the survey showed that of those who scored above average on the generosity test, 50 percent reported being “very happy”, while of those who scored below average, only 14 percent reported being “very happy.”

These findings were published in the University of Virginia’s State of Our Unions report, which looks at different factors that affect marriages and families in the United States.

Great, So What Can You Do About It?

So now that we know how important a role generosity can play in having a happy marriage, more important than even communication and satisfying sex, what can we do to further implement generosity into our married lives?

For starters, it’s important to remember that true generosity means going above and beyond. That is to say, many couples have already understood duties that they carry out, but doing something extra on a daily basis—even something as small as making a cup of coffee.

Compliments and expressions of physical affection are also very important aspects of generosity. Especially when a married couple has been together for several years, these little tokens expressing love are often forgotten in the hustle and bustle of daily stress from working or raising kids.

Compliments and expressions of love work best when they are specific. For example, it’s quite normal to say “I love you” or “you look nice today,” but going above and beyond these automatic phrases by complimenting specific actions and character traits demonstrates that you care and that you pay attention.

Whenever we think of generosity, there may be an inclination to equate generosity with substantial expense. But as the University of Virginia research shows, and perhaps many of your own experiences suggest, rewarding generosity, the kind that keeps marriages happily intact, is about taking time out for the little things in life.

What have you done for your spouse lately that’s made him or her feel special and appreciated? Please share in the comments.

And if you need some ideas, be sure to check out these 74 simple things!

Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031 @gmail.com.

Mar 22

A Baby and Marriage – How to Double Your Joy!

By Dustin | Children

Note: This guest post was written by Surabhi Surendra of Womanatics. I receive messages weekly from folks who are frustrated with their marriage after their newborn baby arrives. It can be such an amazing yet stressful time – enjoy Surabhi’s advice on how to make it joyful!

A new baby is like the beginning of all things – wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities. ~ Eda J. Le Shan

Your newborn baby opens up an entirely new chapter in your married life.

Often it is associated with sleepless nights, less or no time for the couple, zero sex, more conflicts and other such negative thoughts. But I personally believe a baby brings freshness to a marriage.

It adds a whole new dimension to otherwise disciplined, scheduled busy lives.

Having a baby, undoubtedly, brings a pile of expectations with it. Your sleep gets disturbed; you need extra time or a helping hand to juggle this major new responsibility; the innocent, soft young child cannot take care of itself and thus you have to watch him 24/7.

These are some of those major issues that a couple has to sort out when a new family member arrives. Still, having a cute, little bundle of joy to love is more than exhilarating.

I’d like to share with you some lessons that we’ve learned along the way since welcoming our baby in our marriage.  I hope this helps your double your joy!

Understanding that baby is part of your bodies

Your egg and his semen gave birth to the baby. He is neither only yours and nor just his.

He is part of both of you and it is your love that gave him the life he took inside the womb.

It is bliss to see your baby growing into a new person slowly every day, and it gives immense pleasure to see glimpses of each of you in him.

Look at the way he opens up his eyes or twists his lips to smile or raises eyebrows while sleeping. His yawning, coughing, moving, smiling – everything he does will amaze you, especially when his mannerisms match with your own style.

From his body color to hair texture to moles to nails, baby embodies both of you. The more you try to watch him and tell yourself that this young, little piece of life has your DNA, the more you will love him and your marriage for bringing him to this world.

Baby gives you a purpose

A baby brings freshness and colors to life. Forget about those sleepless nights and the pile of dirty diapers for a while and focus on the gift of tenderness.

Every evening when you come home, you have a gentle cooing voice waiting for you. Next morning while leaving for the office, you know at least one person wants you to stay.

I understand many of you may complain about the scene that happens when kids don’t let you go or they are ready at the gate to be picked up beforehand, but I can’t believe that anyone actually hates it. It might disturb you for a few moments or make you late for a meeting but deep inside, every parent is glad that his baby does not want him to leave.

Mommy gets super busy with the baby. Baby gives her abundant love and undivided attention and yeah, he needs the same in return.

After a baby is born, both partners get a sense of purpose. Saving money, getting home on time, building healthy habits, talking softly and politely and much more – these are some of the basic good things a baby’s arrival brings in your daily regime.

Baby lets you love and respect each other more

Who would not love her husband more when she sees him happily playing with the baby? And ditto is for the husband.

When you start taking care of the baby, both of you feel a strong sense of respect and love for each other. It establishes you not only as a gentle, kind-hearted, loving and responsible human being but also makes your spouse drool over you for your simplicity and love.

I cannot forget the day when my husband pecked me on my forehead and thanked me for giving the most precious gift to him – our baby daughter.

Of course, a new baby brings challenges as well.  Here are few ways to tackle some of the common issues that may surface when you bring your baby home.

Husband feels neglected

This is the most common of all and also pretty logical. Until now, you gave all your attention and care to your hubby and now there is a new man in your life, so obviously the other man will feel side-lined.

But here is the trick – playing together with the baby or sitting on the couch and watching him groove while you cuddle with each other are some of the best ways to have intimate fun.

  • Try to develop a schedule for the baby and put him to sleep (whether in your bed or baby’s nursery cribs) at least an hour before you doze off. That one hour is just yours and you can use it the way you wish to.
  • Sit on the bed along with the baby and give him a complicated toy to fiddle with. While he does his engineering, both of you can have your time.
  • Talk about the general, light stuff while the baby is awake because as long as he is there, he will keep taking your attention away. Keep the serious matters for the evening.
  • Utilize your phone. I remember how I and my hubby talked on the phone in the day time during lunch when my baby was mostly asleep and we were free. Call each other during the day.
  • Let your husband rock the baby while you prepare his favorite meals or do something exclusively for him to make him feel special.
  • Go for an evening stroll along with the baby.  You can chat while the baby enjoys the view.

Less or no sex

If you have lost interest in sex post-delivery, it needs another post to talk about ways to re-ignite the passion. But if it is because of time, you can easily sort it out.

  • Like I said above, put the baby to sleep an hour before.
  • Hire a nanny or leave the baby to his grandparents for some time while you get intimate.
  • Keep some time for just the two of you and do not compromise on that.
  • It is actually not about zero sex, it is about zero intimacy. So the key is to get intimate and there are several ways to remain intimate without making extra efforts.
  • If for some reason, you actually can not be close physically, make him feel emotionally secured by expressing your love for him.
  • While sleeping, as a usual practice, baby sleeps in between. Every morning before getting up, keep a high pillow next to the baby to avoid his fall and hop on to your hubby’s side.
  • Show affection. If you can’t show it physically, at least be generous vocally.

More Conflicts

With the same amount of limited time and extra added responsibilities, it is normal for a person to feel stressed.

Babies do become sources of stress for parents at times. This stress results in conflicts. But just like other cases of arguments, these conflicts can also be resolved with mutual understanding.

  • A baby is not one person’s responsibility. It is a decision that both of you took. So, men should lend a helping hand to their wives often.
  • The best solution to sort out conflicts is communication. Talk about the problems and your feelings before they erupt and cause more damage. If you feel neglected, resentful or stressed out, tell your spouse and discuss the possible solutions.
  • Discuss the main cause of conflict. If it’s the extra physical work that causes the problem, hire a maid or divide the tasks. If it is your rude behavior, explain to your man that it’s probably because of the various physiological and biological changes your body has undergone. Also, consult a doctor if things get serious.

Having a baby is probably the most important thing to happen in your life. Enjoy it and make it a happy time for the baby, too. His presence will not only make your marriage stronger but will also make it more playful and cheerful.

Since the birth of my 15 months old daughter, my life has changed and it is all for the good.

How do you feel about your baby? Let us know in the comments.

Surabhi Surendra lives in Andamans and blogs at Womanatics – a blog about women, relationships and inspiration. If you enjoyed this article, you may like to become a Facebook fan.

Mar 09

Melt Your Resentment by Talking about Emotional Desires

By Dustin | Communication

You know you have a lot to be thankful for in your marriage.

Your partner is a really good person who loves you. You share goals, you have fun together and you can’t imagine being with anyone else.

But you’ve noticed there are one or two subjects that light your fuse faster than they used to.

When your mind doesn’t have enough to occupy it, you find yourself grinding away on them, feeling self-righteous, and shoring up more arguments for your side.

You have a growing feeling your partner doesn’t understand you quite as well as he used to.

These are signs you’ve got some resentment built up. And you’ve got to find a way to speak up about it.

In my marriage counseling practice, I see every day how resentment can erode the quality of a relationship slowly, imperceptibly.

At best, it will keep you from being as close and connected as you really want to be. At worst, it can take you down the path to divorce. Any marriage expert will tell you that not talking about your concerns is the riskiest thing you can do for your marriage.

Dan and Carol’s Holiday Tradition

Dan was upset because he couldn’t participate in the Christmas morning ritual that was so important to his family. He would have loved to take his wife and kids to spend the night at his parents’ home, like his brother did, so they were all there in the morning.

His wife, Carol, was happy to go to his parents’ in the afternoon, but she liked opening presents at home. Past discussions had ended with Dan calling Carol selfish and Carol calling Dan a mama’s boy. So it’s no wonder Dan had decided to “go along to get along.”

Maybe you too have found that things have gone south when you tried to speak up. So now you just keep quiet.

Fortunately, there is an approach that not only keeps things from blowing up, but actually deepens the connection between you.

The key is talk to stop talking about what’s wrong and start talking about what you want.

At an emotional level, that is.

Whenever you have a concrete desire, such as spending Christmas with your parents, you’ve usually got an emotional desire that goes along with it. It’s your unfulfilled emotional desires that cause you the most pain—and eventually resentment—if they’re not addressed.

I think of emotional desires as being like a tree. The trunk of the tree for most of us is love and acceptance.

But for each one of us, some branches of the tree mean more than others. Your branches could be approval, admiration, security, or feeling protected, needed or special. Some people have strong growth-oriented desires, such as excelling and being challenged.

Christmas morning meant belonging and security for Dan. Imagine what might happen if Dan was able to express these desires to Carol. And then if Carol could say that opening presents at home made her feel important and special to Dan, two of her emotional desires.

They’d see each other with more compassion. The blame game would stop.

It’s hard to feel defensive when you listen to someone talk about their emotional desires. Desires are not criticism. Desires are the positive intention behind all the hurt feelings and nasty behaviors we resort to.

Does this mean Dan and Carol will come up with a plan that makes them both happy?

I can’t say for sure. But I do know they’ll see new possibilities open up.

From my experience working with couples, I’d guess there’s something about the way Dan treats Carol at his parents’ house that Carol doesn’t like. And triggers her anxiety about feeling important. Maybe a look across the table to show he’s there for her would make all the difference to her.

But I don’t want concrete solutions to be your first concern.

Focus on understanding first.

Sometimes the cure for our resentment is that experience of being deeply understood by our partner. Especially about our emotional desires.

That’s what’s really missing. Because the truth is, for most of us, that’s the most important emotional desire of all.

Win a Copy of “Save Your Marriage: Get Rid of Your Resentment”

This post was written by Claire Hatch. Check out Claire’s website and read more about her book at http://www.clairehatch.com/save-your-marriage/.