Stop kidding yourself. The 80 hour work week is a myth. No one really can do productive, creative, useful work for 80 hours a week. Likewise, no one can drive a truck safely or fill orders accurately for 80 hours a week.
Here’s the other truth. Marriages and families need time too. If you’re at work 80 hours a week, there’s no way your marriage is getting the time it needs. At Power of Two we work 35 good, hard, productive hours a week. Focused hours. Creative hours. And then we all go home and enjoy our lives.
Having done this for four years now, I can tell you, this approach has made our team wildly productive. It lets us pause and catch mistakes before heading down dead-end paths. It means everyone is rested and excited when we’re at work. It keeps our team energized.
… People who grew up with critical, demanding parents or bullying siblings frequently apologize as a way to placate others and avoid confrontation. “Early in life, they discovered that expressing regret, whether they agreed with the criticism or not, caused the other person to calm down, and they’ve continued this behavior as they’ve gotten older,” explains Susan Heitler, PhD, a psychologist in Denver and coauthor of The Power of Two Workbook (New Harbinger Publications, 2003). Women who fall into this category often say “I’m sorry” to stop or prevent an argument with their partner. But by habitually jumping in with an apology, they set themselves up to be the one at fault. “If you’re the only one taking responsibility, it reinforces the idea that when things go wrong, you are the bad guy,” says Heitler.
So, as is generally the case, my Monday morning, post Turkey Weekend, step onto the scale was rather shocking. How could all my hard weeks of watching what I ate vanish oh so quickly?
And, then, in the kind-of mental jujitsu that only someone who lives and breathes marriage improvement might indulge in, I couldn’t help but smile at the parallels between my waist and so many of our members marriages work on their relationships.
Here’s a few:
1. While losing weight takes months, even a quick weekend of feasting can put it all back on. Likewise, while building a strong marriage takes months, maybe even years, one massive argument or stupid indiscretion can sure set things back quickly.
2. The best way to keep my waste-line to a place it fits in my pants is by carefully watching everything that goes into my mouth. Marriages stay trim when spouses watch everything that comes out of their mouths.
3. Over the long haul, the scale stays at reasonable when I build a life-style that includes healthy eating and exercise. The best marriages, likewise, need a life-style that gives them time and feeds them with positive interactions.
I sure like the feeling of being slim and trim. And, at the same time, there is nothing more wonderful in this world than the feeling of being part of a marriage that, no matter what the scale says, is joyful, passionate, intimate, argument-free and just plain awesome. So all-in-all, I feel very thankful to be working on my relationship with my scale and indulging in my love for my husband!
I thank you and am thankful every day my dearest Adam.
When people are considering joining the Power of Two Online, we ask them to tell us about a favorite moment they’ve had with their spouse. Here’s a selection of the kind of things people tell us.
I like when we cook dinner together. It is special because we don’t spend a lot of time together, and for some reason I feel closer to him.
It was his birthday a few years ago. We had an intimate dinner just the 2 of us. We talked and enjoyed each others company.
Simply going out to grab something to eat together is magical for me. We enjoy doing that together and talking and being affectionate in those moments. Recently, on Saturday afternoon going to eat and sitting next to each other, hugging, sharing our food, being able to talk.
We went fishing. We spent the whole day together laughing and listening to music. The day was perfect because it was just the two of us. I love when my husband and I spend quality time together.
Yesterday he came to my job to have lunch with me because he did not have to go to work. It was so special because we genuinely enjoyed each other’s company and talking to each other was like two friends talking. It was very nice, and a change.
Did you notice that every one of these is some kind of a simple moment where it was “just the two of us.”
Then we ask people what problems they’re having. About 60% of folks go on to tell us that “time as a couple” is a struggle.
One of the simplest things you can do to get your marriage back on track is to make time to create those simple moments as a couple. This doesn’t have to be some big, fancy plan. It doesn’t even have to be an official “date night.”
Time together can be as simple as well, time together. Cook dinner. Take a walk. Sit on a park bench. Even folding laundry or doing the dishes can become special together time.
Chances are, the more you make time for spending some simple time that’s focused on enjoying each others company (and for a few brief moments putting down the need to fixing everything, or the temptation to complain or bicker) the more reserves there will be for doing the fixing or resolving the complaints.
Here’s an article quoting Dr. Heitler in Detail Magazine. DETAILS is a self described “men’s lifestyle and fashion magazine, speaking to a new generation of cosmopolitan men.”
Here’s one of Dr. Heitler’s quotes:
“Too many people take that zombie zone as a sign that they need a divorce,” says Susan Heitler, a Denver psychologist and the author of The Power of Two: Secrets to a Strong & Loving Marriage. “The bulk of my practice is referred to me by lawyers, and I’d say 80 percent of those who’d gone in to get a divorce turned out to have great marriages.”
I was inspired driving to work today by NPR’s series on digital gizmo’s and marriage — http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130698574. Most striking to me was the account towards the end of the story about a couple lying in bed, playing scrabble. Except there was one little twist. Both people were playing scrabble separately on their phones!!
We hear about the great digital disconnect here at Power of Two all the time. It’s truly amazing how easy it is to become a slave to all of our cool little phone’s and tablets and music players. So many of us let these devices slip in to all sorts of private spaces under the guise of “convenience”. Yes, even I have been known to send an occasional text messages from the bathroom. Ugg.
Sound familiar? Here’s a few suggestions to help protect your marriage and make sure the convenience of your devices doesn’t become the downfall of your marriage.
Carve out some sacred spaces. That is make a few places in your life where the devices don’t come along. I’d suggest the bedroom for starters. The dining room table is another great one.
Make some reserved times too. For example, perhaps 8 -10:00 every night is “unwired” hour. If you’re a chronic office e-mail checker, start letting people know that you just won’t be available during those hours.
Develop some 1950’s passions. Recently a friend complimented us that our 3 boys are so “1950’s.” What did she mean? Because we’ve basically banned screen-activities in the afternoons, our boys do things like ride their scooters, play board games, and dig holes in the backyard. Do the same for your marriage. Cultivate some simple 1950’s habits for your marriage. Savor a shared cup of tea. Enjoy a leisurely walk around the block. Listen to music together.
Check our if your devices are intruding by scheduling an occasional phone-free holiday. That’s right. Turn them off, really off, for a whole 24 hours. If it’s a pleasure and easy to do, YAY, you’re winning the great device battle. If it feels like the world is ending, then something is topsy-turvy. Time to take a serious hard look at how you’re connected to the antennas and what that’s doing to your ability to connect to your loved ones and to make some changes.
It’s amazing how much of a difference these few little pieces can make. Happy unplugging to all!
The conversation became quite lively, so I thought I’d summarize my thoughts here. Here’s the particularly good question that sparked the discussion:
Q: Whenever I ask my spouse to change, she gets mad at me and says that I’m always blaming her and picking on her. How can I improve my marriage if my spouse won’t even listen to my requests?
Here’s some of the advice I’ve been giving:
Your job is to look at what YOU can do differently vis a vis your wife’s habits. Trying to change YOUR WIFE will invite her to feel blamed and picked on.
So skip the requests.
Instead, give feedback about how her actions affect you. And figure out new ways to prevent or to respond to your wife’s unacceptable behaviors.
Here’s an example of giving feedback.
Dan’s wife frequently left her clothes on the bedroom floor, so Dan explained to her, “I like when there’s a place for everything and everything is in its place. I feel edgy around messiness. When I see your clothes on our bedroom floor, my hackles go up and I feel irritable toward you.”
After receiving your feedback about your reactions to something she/he is doing, hopefully your spouse will begin to think about making changes. That’s called “responsivity.” Responsivity is a sure winner for creating a happy home life.
Even without responsivity from your spouse though, you can be thinking about what you could do differently that might help.
Dan came up with a great idea. He found a large and quite attractive basket, which he placed next to the reading chair and lamp in their bedroom. “How about if we use this basket as the laundry basket instead of just the one in our closet. Let’s see how good we can get at shooting hoops as we take off clothes! Look,” he added with a grin, “I can pop my sock in, I think, from way over here!”
Dan then pulled a lovely side chair from another room. It just fit into the small space next to the new basket. “How about if we drape clothes that have been worn but don’t yet need laundering on this chair?” he asked his wife. “That way if we don’t want to take the time to hang them up, they still won’t end up on the floor.”
Dan’s wife laughed. “I love it, and I love you,” she said, punctuating her comments with a kiss.
We can only imagine the great strain and stress military deployment puts on the marriages and families involved. Given this, we owe to our soldiers and their families to provide as much support as we are able. In Military Spouse Magazine, Dr. Heitler advises spouses of deployed soldiers on how best to set boundaries with in-laws: Don’t feel selfish that you want your spouse all to yourself upon return. This is the first step in family healing, or reconnection. The second step includes the children. The third is the in-laws and extended family.
Power of Two was deeply saddened when this recent tragedy hit so close to home in Superior, CO. Our thoughts are with the family and loved ones of baby, Rylan Rochester.
Research suggests that one of the strongest predictors of postpartum depression is a poor marital relationship. Adding a member to the family can be a tumultuous time. At the Power of Two, we encourage all couples, and particularly those expanding their family to really focus on protecting their relationship by developing their Power of Two Skills.
Dr. Heitler recently contributed to an article written about the case of Stephanie Rochester, who very well may have been suffering from postpartum depression when she took the life of her 6 month old son.
While we prefer to keep things positive around here, sometimes a somber reminder really drives the point home. Healthy marriages are an extremely valuable commodity. They promote social health, children’s achievement, and an overall positive social impact. Building strong skills to help keep your marriage collaborative, warm and loving is invaluable!
The Science of a Happy Marriage? I was skeptical too…
Yesterday in the Times Tara Parker-Pope shared her insight on the factors which may affect a person’s tendency to stay committed. Scientists are studying the biological, psychological, and everything in between. Interestingly enough, their findings suggest that while some people may be more naturally inclined to resisting temptation, people can also train themselves to protect their relationships, and strengthen their commitment.