Want to improve the quality of your marriage? Here are 3 small changes that can have a huge impact:
Always tell your spouse about any “ex” encounters. Professor Deb Castaldo teaches couples counseling at Rutgers University. And she says that a lot of people believe that keeping quiet about a Facebook “friend” request from an old prom date is the best way to keep the peace. But hiding that information can start a downward spiral of secrecy and dishonesty. So, tell your partner about any encounters with exes in a matter-of-fact way. For example, “I got an out-of-the-blue ‘friend’ request from an old flame today, but I ignored it." If you don’t want to tell your partner, you need to ask yourself why. And then deal with that issue – whether it’s jealousy issues or the fact that you’re looking for attention outside your relationship.
Don’t offer advice unless you’re asked for it. Harriet Lerner is the author of Marriage Rules. And she says that when your partner’s upset about something, even offering helpful suggestions can come across as criticism and make it seem like they don’t know how to handle things. So, you’re better off being a sounding board, instead of an advisor. But if you feel like you have to say something, the best way to go is to put the ball back in their court. Ask how the problem makes them feel and what they think they should do.
Don’t criticize your partner’s family or friends – even if they do! Even if your wife is complaining about her mother, you can’t chime in with “Yeah, she’s a real battle-axe!” That will make your wife defensive and put you on opposite sides. Instead, just empathize and listen. Don’t jump on board – or the next time you’re with your mother-in-law, all your wife will remember is how much you dislike her.