From Attorney Itasca
1. Treat your spouse like a friend. And I don’t mean that your spouse has to be your “best friend” in the “so happy I married my best friend!” sense. There are times when it’s helpful to step back and ask yourself: Would I use these words with an acquaintance? Would I treat a work colleague with more respect or softness than I’m treating my spouse right now? If the answer is yes, you have work to do. Familiarity can lead us to lower our guards and speak harshly.
2. Say it every time you argue: It’s not me against you, it’s us against the problem. You are a team and the problems of one are meant to be shared to distribute that weight more evenly. You are a mini-gang; you are designing a family culture that is much bigger than this argument over why the toilet paper is never replenished. Discuss how to better and more gently handle conflict at a time that is otherwise neutral and there is no active conflict. The answer may be trying one solution after another until the problem is solved, or changing your own thinking about the perceived problem. Ask questions. Solve what’s solvable. Many conflicts are the results of incorrect assumptions we made about the other person’s perspective.
3. There is no right way to be married. If your goal is to lose weight, it doesn’t really matter whether you joined Weight Watchers, trained for a marathon, or began following a keto diet. Your marriage is not your parents’ marriage, is not your friend’s marriage, is not your brother’s marriage. Whatever is keeping them together may not work for you. Maybe bowling league, or same-side-sitting, or financial dependence works for them, but separate vacations works for you. Do not apologize. If you want to remain married, how much does the “how” matter?
4. Take care of yourself as if you were a loved one. You cannot be the best spouse, parent, or friend you can be when your mind is crowded, anxious, and exhausted. If you sacrifice your mental or physical health for your marriage, your marriage may pay the price. Taking care of your physical self does not have to mean a new, stylish wardrobe or dramatic weight loss, but it could mean treating yourself or walking around the block after dinner. It may not mean regular pedicures, but it could mean paying attention to something you have neglected. You cannot expect to warmly care for your mate if you don’t care for yourself.
5. Nurture your “addiction” to your spouse, even when you don’t feel like it. Oxycontin released by your brain in response to physical touch is real, and making an effort to hug longer or kiss slower can actually trick your brain into desiring that affection regularly. Sex accomplishes this too, by the way. And much like going to the gym — it can be hard to get started, but we usually don’t regret that we did.
Despite our efforts, not all marriages were meant to last. Paths diverge and values shift over time, but it is possible to untie and untangle that knot peacefully and intentionally. If you are ready to go your own way, call Attorney Itasca 352-354-2445.