Tag Archives: forgiviness

Happy Couples Give Spouses Their Attention

“Happily married couples respond to one another’s bids for attention 86 percent of the time,” says Dr. Michele Gannon in an article for Hitched Magazine. She continues, “They ask one another questions, communicate understanding and respond positively when their spouse asks them to. They say ‘Yes’ to one another as often as possible. However, research has found that in unhappy marriages, couples respond to one another only 30 percent of the time.”

This finding intrigued me, and made me pause ask myself when my husband and I interrupt one another, how often we offer our full attention. I don’t think I’m nearly up to 86 percent, and frequently ask for a minute to finish what I’m doing. Whether it’s for something fun or something important, I’m going to work on providing my attention when asked. Ask yourself if you might improve in this area with your spouse, and even with your children.

Some other interesting research-proven habits for happy marriages Dr. Gannon shared in the article include showing admiration and fondness for one another, prioritizing affection and sex, making time for one another, helping one another grow, and cultivating forgiveness.

Forgiveness is one of the keys to a happy marriage in my opinion, and an area in which we can all make improvements. So I read with interest Dr. Fred Luskin’s forgiveness steps. In part, he advises:  “Successful forgiveness requires that we allow ourselves to feel deeply our hurt, disappointment and anger. We need to ask ourselves whether the betrayal or disappointment is a deal breaker or not. If we stay in the relationship, we need to allow ourselves to feel our pain, soothe ourselves, and then be willing to widen our hearts, surrender and risk pain and disappointment again. All of this can happen even if our partner is not willing to take responsibility and change.”

The research findings are from the web site Greater Good Science. I found it to be a truly interesting resource with lots of research-based advice on living a more fulfilling life. For instance, “How well do you know your partner?” shares that knowing your partner’s long-term life goals will make your relationship more satisfying in the future.

Another interesting article I read recently is “The line between no expectations and doormat” by Patty Newbold at Assume Love. It’s about how our expectations can get in the way of our love. Here’s an excerpt:

“You are not a doormat if you take out the trash when your husband fails to. If you were not married, there would be trash to deal with. If you take out trash AND have a husband to love you, you are well ahead of the game. Where you shoot yourself in the foot is when you let yourself expect that if your husband loved you, he would do more around the house or be as prompt as you are with chores. Now, you have trash to take out and what looks like an unloving husband, even though it’s the same husband and the same bag of trash. And while you’re stewing over the garbage, you may very well miss out on some great loving. He might have walked in the door ready to kiss you, but turned right around when he sensed your mood. He might have wanted to tell you he sucked it up at work today and did not quit on the spot because of his commitment to your wellbeing.”

In sum, she says, “When I let go of my expectations, I was completely shocked by how much love I could see in my marriage.” I’ll be interterviewing Patty Newbold soon and sharing her incredible story with you.

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Happy Memorial Day and many thanks to our veterans and to their families.

Photo by Edward Bartel/Dreamstime

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Are Grudges Holding Your Marriage Back?

You may harbor grudges inside or outside of your marriage. Both can be harmful. One of the most common grudges outside of a marriage is being angry with your parents for past hurts, for a lousy upbringing or for breaking up their marriage and family.  Another common grudge is against a friend who wronged us, and who we feel has never made amends. It eats away at us, and we complain to our spouse whenever we get the chance.

When we focus our energies on these past wrongs, they affect all our relationships, including our marriage. They sap our energy, our thoughts become negative, and our time is wasted. It’s time to move on.

Perhaps more harmful are grudges within our own marriage. Often, they are unexpressed, but closely held. They cloud our interactions and cause defensiveness or an inability to fully celebrate life with our partner. Maybe the grudges are based on old hurts your spouse has long forgotten about.

Rather than burying these grudges, if they are affecting you, bring them into the open. Communicate your hurts with “I” language. Ask the other person for what you need, and begin the process of forgiving them. Forgiveness is a gift you are giving yourself, not just the other person.

Alisa Bowman (who went from wishing her husband would die already to renewing her wedding vows and writing about what she’s learned) offers four steps to get over marital grudges in her e-book, Project Happily Ever After:

  1. Commit to releasing the old grudges.
  2. Remind yourself that you’re part of the problem. (Neither of you are perfect, but you each deserve forgiveness.)
  3. List all your old grudges on a piece of paper, reliving every drop of anger and hurt. When you are both calm, go over your list sharing how these incidences made you feel. Tell him or her you really want to move on, and it would really help to share these old wounds and to hear an apology.
  4. Be patient, as forgiveness takes time.

 Consider that what you are being asked to forgive may not be as difficult as you think. I have a wonderful friend who spent years learning to forgive the man who murdered her sister—his own wife. I’ve interviewed couples who have forgiven everything from infidelity to drug and alcohol abuse. In some of these more challenging cases, professional counseling may be helpful.

The first step is to recognize the need to forgive. Maybe forgiving old grudges will be the decision that allows your marriage to blossom.

Do you find it difficult to move on past old hurts? How do you handle feeling wronged?