Expect fairness

Marriage is about compromise. It’s about sharing. It’s about giving up what you want to please your spouse. Most importantly, it’s about fairness. Any relationship where one person routinely gives up everything for the other or expects the other to do all the work is doomed to fail. Only by balancing the load amongst both partners can a marriage last. This applies to every aspect of a marriage. Whether it’s household chores, managing money, picking what movie to go see, everything needs to be fair and balance out. I’m not saying you need to keep a tally and keep track of every time one person gets to do what they want at the expense of the other person, but the goal should be to achieve roughly equal equanimity in the relationship. Few things will sour a relationship more than saying, “Why should I do the dishes when I did them last night?” A good marriage is where one person goes out of their way to do more than is expected of them, not because they want to tip the scales in their favor but because they want to make life easier for the other person. A great marriage is where one person goes out of their way to do more than is expected of them and the other person responds in kind at a later date without any prompting! The trick to expecting fairness is, ironically enough, to not expect it. If your spouse thinks you are doing something because you are counting on the action being repaid, then they’ll lose any motivation to respond in kind. If your spouse thinks you are doing something simply out of the goodness of your heart and a desire to make their life easier, then they will want to respond with a similar gesture some point in the future. Marriage is about expecting fairness without demanding it. By doing good things simply for the sake of doing them you will find that fairness naturally flows forth.

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Published in: on December 30, 2009 at 5:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Stake out your territory

I hate the term ‘man cave.’  It implies that the woman has taken up every single square foot of the house and has made it such an unpleasant place for the man to be that he has no choice but to retreat to some hollowed out hole in search of refuge.  It’s terms like these that contribute to the idea that marriage is bad.  If you want a happy marriage you don’t need a mancave, you simply need to stake out your territory from the start.  I’m not saying you should draw a line down the center of the house but you do need to make sure that your wife isn’t designing a house that will make you want to puke every time you come home.  In most cases women are much more attuned to home decorating than men, which puts men at a distinct disadvantage when it comes times to move in together.  Whereas the woman will look at a piece of furniture and question whether it matches the existing sofa, wall colors and overall aesthetic feel of the room, a man will simply ask if it reclines.  This makes it difficult for men because they feel completely overmatched by women when it comes to home décor so rather than argue in favor of what they want, they simply give in, and give in, and give in, until one day they realize they are surrounded by pastels and have no choice but to seek refuge in the garage.  The key to ensuring that your home design incorporates elements that you find enjoyable is to educate yourself on the basics of home decorating, that way when she starts talking about flow, texture and accents, you’ll be able to engage her in conversation, counter her points, offer up your own, and arrive at a mutually beneficial compromise.  As with most things in marriage, TLC is a great place to start.  Simply tune into any show on home decorating and I guarantee that within one hour you’ll learn everything you need to know about ‘defining a room,’ ‘establishing a theme,’ and ‘identifying function.’  That said, once you enter into the home decorating arena you had better be prepared for combat because she is going to expect you to play at the same level as she does.  If her childhood dolls are all expensive collectors items you had better make sure that your G.I. Joe toys are in their original packaging!

Published in: on October 29, 2009 at 6:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Become Mr. Fix It

Nothing makes a man seem sexier to his wife than the ability to fix things around the house.  Why do you think women watch all those TLC home shows?  Do you really think it’s because they’re that interested in how to lay drywall?!  Of course not!  It’s all the handy men on the shows who just happen to be hot!  It’s the same principal as news networks hiring really hot women to read the teleprompter; I’m not tuning in because I respect her journalistic integrity, all I care about are her killer legs!  Whether it’s a leaky faucet, some broken dry wall, or a blown fuze, if your wife knows she can count on you to fix the problem without going through the hassle of calling a repairman, you are well on your way to a happy life together.  Unfortunately, people know less and less these days about how to care for their home and more often than not are forced to call in expensive handymen to fix what usually turn out to be minor problems.  If this describes you, fear not, for you too can take advantage of home shows to learn all you need to know about basic home repair.  Just tune in to TLC, HGTV, or any other home-themed network on any given day and I guarantee there will be some show that shows you how to fix drywall, replace a cracked tile, change a fuze, paint like a pro, fix a leaky faucet, or any of the hundreds of other basic skills every home owner should know.  That way the next time one of those problems occurs, you can go to your local hardware store, find someone who knows what they are talking about, pick up the necessary tools and repair parts, go home, and get to work!  Be prepared for some rough going initially, but if you’re even marginally competent you’ll have it figured out in no time and not only will you have saved money, you’ll have increased your own self confidence and impressed your wife at the same time.  Remember, there is very little damage you can do to your house that can’t be fixed and if you do find yourself in over your head you can always call the repairman to fix what you screwed up.  Women judge men based on their intentions, so as long as you don’t flood the basement you’ll still get bonus points for trying.

Published in: on October 29, 2009 at 6:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Learn to pick your battles

Anyone who tells you that married life is pure bliss isn’t married.  Married life takes work.  Married life requires sacrifice and if you want to keep your marriage happy you need to learn to pick your battles very carefully.  Just as a good chess player knows they will have to sacrifice something minor in the short term in order to gain something major in the far term, a good husband knows when to give in and when to put up a fight.

 If you’re the type of person who always needs to get their way you may be in trouble as your spouse will likely either a) push back, or b) absorb your demands and vent her anger in unhealthy ways.  Marriage is not about doing what makes you happy, it’s about doing what makes you both happy.  Marriage is NOT a zero sum game; it is far more complicated than that!  There is no limit to the amount of happiness a couple can have so don’t think of everything as a contest.  If she really wants to do something and you don’t, before getting into an argument ask yourself how much this issue matters to you.  If the answer is, ‘not a lot,’ then don’t put up a fight!  Pushing back when the issue really matters to you is fine, but if you do it all the time you’ll end up in a never ending game of who can take a firmer stance.  Marriage may not be a zero sum game but you can accumulate points, and by giving in on the issues that don’t really matter you are laying the groundwork to win the ones that do matter.  By not constantly arguing your point you make your wife less defensive and less likely to push back on things she doesn’t really care about.  By letting her pick out the paint you increase the chances of her letting you pick out the 50” HDTV.

Published in: on October 29, 2009 at 6:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Find the Right Woman

This part may seem obvious, but it is the keystone that makes a marriage work and as such deserves to be addressed.  It’s been my experience that people often get married for the wrong reasons, or to be more charitable, they get married for reasons that seemed right at the time.  Before you seriously consider proposing to your girlfriend, ask yourself exactly why you are getting married.  Is it because your passion for her is so strong that you simply couldn’t live without her?  Is it because when you’re with her you are the happiest person in the world?  Is it because when you’re away from her you feel utterly alone?  If the answer to any of these questions was ‘yes,’ you’re not being honest with yourself.  Go back and ask yourself why you feel that way about her.  Being in love is a really terrible reason to get married for the simple reason that love by itself is an emotional state, one that like all emotional states will change over time.  No one is ever happy all the time just as they are never sad all the time.  I guarantee that whatever feelings of love you have towards your potential spouse will change over time.  The question is, ‘how will they change?’  Will you grow closer to your spouse as time goes on or will you grow further apart?  Only you can answer these questions, but here are some useful questions you can use in helping to determine whether or not your love will wax or wane:

–         Aside from your mutual physical attraction to each other, what else do you have in common and are these commonalities enough to keep you interested in her the rest of your life?

–         Can you live with her faults?  No matter what you may think, your potential future wife is not perfect, and any quirks you may have written off in the interest of sex will only become more apparent as time goes on.

–         Can you live without her?  If not, then you should not get married!  If the thought of living without her makes you utterly depressed then you are probably not in a mature enough state to get married.  There’s a difference between mature love and immature love.  Learn to recognize them both. 

–         Can you picture your life together after the wedding?  The most telling moment of my marriage, the one that truly told me I had made the right decision, was the morning after we got back from our honeymoon and we both went back to work.  Life does not stop because you got married and if you can’t see beyond the wedding then you run the risk of being disappointed once the reality of post-wedding life sets in.  It’s easy to be in love when everyone in the world is focused on you and your spouse, it’s much harder when no one cares.

 In the end there is no sure fire way to tell if you’ve picked the right girl.  Try and be as objective as you can in your assessment of your potential future together.  Doing so may save both you and your potential spouse a great deal of time, heartache and money.

Published in: on October 29, 2009 at 6:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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