Save your marriage over dinner.

Have you heard of the term “dining dead”? In the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Joel asks “Are we like those bored couples you feel sorry for in restaurants?” Joel muses to himself. “Are we the dining dead?”

Can you save your marriage over dinner?

A recent New York Times article described this state as one in which a couple stops talking after many years of marriage finding themselves sitting across the table, wordless, with a vast distance between one another.

save your marriage
Image credit: Andre Slob

How does this happen?

So many couples are bursting with conversational energy when they first meet. There is much to discover; many evenings are spent talking into the wee hours. As time goes on the enthusiasm and excitement lessens and the day to day of life takes hold on conversations. Continue reading Save your marriage over dinner.

5 Habits of happy couples.

happy couples
Photo credit: Timothy Krause

5 habits happy couples practice.

1. Steer clear of toxic talk. If not careful, toxic talk can easily creep into daily chatter with your spouses.  One of the wonderful things a close relationship affords is lots of information about each other, the good and the ugly.  When you use the intimate information you have about each other to tease, mock or rail against your spouse you undermine the trust and safety critical for an intimate relationship. Happy couples steer clear of harsh words and share encouragement and positivity instead! Continue reading 5 Habits of happy couples.

Marital problems: I do all the work.

So, you’ve unloaded the dishwasher, given the kids a bath, and as you carry another load of laundry upstairs you think to yourself…”arrgh, why do I have to do all the work around here?”  It’s a frequent complaint on the list of marital problems couples seek help for.  While there certainly are inequities in many relationships, it is possible it’s a question of perception.  There is a concept called overclaiming that may apply here.  The idea is essentially that in our work lives, and likely our home lives most people are prone to the feeling that they are doing more work that everyone else. Whether it’s a case of overclaiming or if you truly do more of the work, here are a few ways to lighten the load and avoid resentment and conflict over the workload.

marital problems
Do you do “all the work”?

Pay attention to your spouse. Continue reading Marital problems: I do all the work.

Why marriage matters for the kids.

We often hear the phrase marriage matters.  In a recent article written by Kimberly Howard and Richard V. Reeves of the Brookings Institute interesting new research takes a look at the question why?  Why does marriage matter?  Can it be broke down into a few simple factors or is there bigger meaning infused in the experience of marriage that offers advantages to children? The article, titled “The Marriage Effect: Money or Parenting” puts in simple terms what the researchers were looking at.  Is money the determinant factor or the additional parenting resources and energy provided by a two-parent household?

marriage matters

According to the authors the two key take aways from the research are…

1) Children from married households do much better and are more likely to thrive.

“Children raised by married parents do better at school, develop stronger cognitive and non-cognitive skills, are more likely to go to college, earn more, and are more likely to go on to form stable marriages themselves.”

2) The research shows that some of the “marriage effect” can be attributed to the “parenting effect” and the “money effect.”

“The benefits of marriage in terms of children’s outcomes and life chances seem clear. The difficulty is teasing out the key factors. Our analysis suggests that both the higher incomes and the more engaged parenting of married parents count for a good deal. If anything, parenting may matter a little more.”

The article claims that the two key factors, more money and more engaged parenting are the most dominant factors affecting the outcome for kids.  While it is easy to understand how those two things have a positive effect on kids it isn’t entirely easy to understand if there is an additional benefit of the experience kids have living in a household with married parents.  Is it possible that there is a concrete benefit to kids witnessing the day to day experience of a marriage. There are certainly myriad factors involved not the least of which is the kind of marriage children grow up in. It would certainly be of benefit for children to witness good communication in marriage . On the flip side is a toxic marriage going to have a negative effect on a child’s well being and health? In addition, will more money and resources for parents who aren’t married result in the same outcome?  There may be no easy answer to that question, it is though an important question for couples, communities and larger institutions to look at in an attempt to understand why marriage matters.

 

Communication in marriage is key for sex after kids.

Communication in marriage is a really important part of keeping your sex life active and fulfilling.  In a recent survey put together by YourTango and Trojan 1,055 parents were asked about their sex life post kids. Respondents answered 35 questions about their sex life. The info graphic below sums up the results quite well. While some of the results were to be expected, parents are tired and have much less time than they did prior to having children. What was surprising is that 40% of respondents said their communication was better post kids. So many couples struggle with what ends up as a sexless marriage. Avoiding this outcome requires learning what role communication in marriage play in your post kids sex life?  Continue reading Communication in marriage is key for sex after kids.

Is it OK for kids to see parents fighting?

Common wisdom holds that it is not good for children to see their parents fighting.  Witnessing marital conflict sets a bad example for young minds and reduces a child’s respect for his parents. Yet psychologists are divided about this subject. While all agree that witnessing abuse is damaging for any child, what about the occasional argument? Is it ever okay to have a disagreement in front of the kids?

Proponents of exposing kids to parents fighting argue that conflict is a part of life and hiding it from children does them a disservice. Children not exposed to conflict may grow up with an unrealistic view of human relationships and unprepared for the chaos of social life. Letting kids watch a marital spat shows them that it is possible to have disagreements and still love the people close to you. Witnessing arguments is also an opportunity to model healthy conflict resolution habits

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Professor Mark Cummings of Notre Dame University and his team have conducted several studies on children’s reactions to parents fighting. One study followed 235 families over the course of 7 years. At the beginning of the study researchers asked parents and their young children about conflict in the home and recorded indicators of emotional health. They then asked parents to discuss a touchy topic while recording how aggressively the couples argued. They followed up with surveys of the children and parents seven years later when the children were adolescents. Predictably, children from high conflict homes were less emotionally secure and more likely to act out than their peers. Continue reading Is it OK for kids to see parents fighting?

Workplace stress is killing our marriages

America has the highest divorce rate in the world. We also have one of the most stressed out and over-worked workforces in the world. More and more, I believe this is not a coincidence.

Here are some sobering statistics about our dysfunctional relationship with work:

Struggling with marriage after kids? Treat your husband like a baby.

Yesterday Tiya Cunningham-Sumter published a great post on Black and Married with Kids discussing a common plight for marriage after kids: statistically, a couples’ overall happiness plummets after having children, as does the health of our relationships.

Society puts a lot of pressure on raising kids, especially for women. We are told that focusing on any thing but your children is selfish. There is so much shame on not being a “good enough” parent, or in doing things wrong (although the guidelines on what is “right” changes every other day). In addition to the simple raw amount of time it takes to care for a child, and it’s easy to see why marriage after kids suffer. Continue reading Struggling with marriage after kids? Treat your husband like a baby.

Sesame Street debuts special program to help children of divorce

Although divorce levels have been high and rising for decades, it certainly seems like a milestone that beloved children’s program Sesame Street has finally tackled the issue of divorce and children. In a series of videos available online, character Abby Cadabby discusses her “big feelings” about her parents’ separation and receives support from Gordon and other cast members. Two other segments interview real kids–an 11 and 10-year-old–who are children of divorce.

“We’ve always had a social component where we try to address issues in kids’ lives,” Susan Scheiner of Sesame Workshop told TODAY.com. Divorce is one of the most common major life transitions children experience, with 40% of children living in a divorced household. It is impossible to address the major experiences of growing up without covering it, whether to help children through their parents divorce, or help them develop empathy for their peers. Continue reading Sesame Street debuts special program to help children of divorce

How I beat postpartum depression

It was a very long four months for both my husband and I. Which four months? The last month of my pregnancy and the first three of my sons life.

The last month of pregnancy was long because I was huge, cranky and not sleeping. The first three months of our baby’s life were harder because on top of the exhaustion and pain of recovering from a c-section, I, the expert, got blind-sided by a serious dose of postpatrum depression.

I share this to emphasize that prepartum and postpartum depression can sneak up on anyone.  Physical discomfort, lack of sleep, and all those hormones certainly are contributing factors.  So too are less tangible experiences of feeling out of control–out of control of your body, of your baby’s schedule (or lack thereof!), or of your ability to get your feet back under you in general. Continue reading How I beat postpartum depression