It’s advice every woman should receive before they tie the knot. It comes from those that have been there — your mom, friend or better yet, a trained professional (yep, we mean marriage therapist). There are certain things you just should not do in a marriage. Why? Because it can lead to fighting, growing apart or, ultimately, an unhappy union.
Don’t fight in front of the kids
“This is one I’m constantly telling my patients. Even when your children are tiny, they are aware of everything going on around them,” says Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW, NYC-based marriage counselor and author of The Complete Marriage Counselor.
If you’re going to argue — and it’s normal for all couples to have fights — wait until after the kids are in bed or when they’re not home.
“I traveled a lot before I met my husband and just because he’s more of a couch potato, doesn’t mean I want to give it up,” says Joyce Smucker, from Datyon, Ohio. “I still travel now that I’m married, I just do it with my girlfriends or sisters.”
Don’t let your kids divide you Mom says junior can’t go to the party at the beach and dad pipes up, “Sure you can.” Not good teamwork. “Parents need to be a united front when it comes to the little ones – debates about the best course of action can take place behind the scenes,” says Amatenstein.
You don’t want to become one of those women who drops her friends once she gets hitched. Sure, you’ll add more couples’ friends to the mix now that you’re married, but it’s important to keep your identity by surrounding yourself with friends who have been there for you over the years.
Your kids are important, obviously, but equally so is maintaining a sense of being a couple. “Make time for each other — date nights, pillow talk, shared hobbies are all important,” says Amatenstein
It’s a simple rule, but not always easy to put in practice. There’s temptation everywhere — business trips, office happy hours, college reunions — but marriage is about commitment. It’s important that both parties honor that.
You don’t have to agree with each other on everything, but you do need to listen to one another. “Understand why each of you feels a certain way, then come up with a compromise,” says Amatenstein.
Sure, all couples will argue and disagree during their marriage, but don’t pick a fight because you’re upset about something else. “I felt like my husband and I were fighting over stupid stuff, like laundry and dishes, when really the big problem was that I wasn’t feeling appreciated,” says stay at home mom Lauren Kaufman, from Austin, Texas. “We finally set aside some time to talk about what was really bothering me and I stopped blowing up over little things.”
It’s natural, not a rejection of you and the kids. Both of you should be allowed to have some alone time — it’s healthy and essential, notes Amatenstein.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember those days before you got married –when you were so in love and couldn’t wait to spend every day together. Kids, work, and life then got in the way. “I stop and remind myself why I love Jake. He makes the best Tex Mex, he has sexy eyes and he’s so funny,” says Rosa Rodriguez, from New York City. “I make him tell me why he loves me, too. And I want specifics!”