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The post The Steps to Solve Problems in Your Marriage appeared first on Stupendous Marriage. It boils down to being kind to one another (especially step five), and many times we forget to do that in our marriages.
While husbands have more difficulty accepting influence from their spouse, generally, He says that wives are more likely to bring up tough topics, and start the conversation harshly, again, generally speaking. If a harsh startup can be avoided, it leads to better conversations and being less likely to separate. Only 40% of the time to couples divorce because they are having frequent, devastating fights. What we are looking for is our conversations is no contempt, criticism, stonewalling or defensiveness (the four horsemen). If your spouse tends to raise issues harshly, the best advice I can give is to make sure she (or he) is feeling known, respected, and loved by you. What separates stable emotional intelligent marriages from others is not that the repair attempts are necessarily more skillful or better thought out, but that they repair attempts get through to their spouse. Repair attempts are super important, and if you and your spouse are too angry at one another, and flooded, you won’t hear the attempt, and this will just cause things to escalate. The last point Gottman makes in this chapter is being accepting of one another’s messed-up-ness. The post 3 Ways to Grill the Burgers, Not Your Spouse appeared first on Stupendous Marriage. While grilled burgers are awesome, many times when I get hot under the collar with my wife – I end up putting her on the grill instead. Our marital conflicts, ranging from mundane annoyances to all-out wars, really fall into one of two categories: either they can be resolved, or they are perpetual, which means they will be a part of your lives forever, in some form or another. You become even more unbridgeable overtime, which leads to you to vilify each other during’s conversations. This vilification makes you all the more rooted in your position and polarized, more extreme in your view, and all the less willing to compromise. Solvable problems can seem bigger than they are if you don’t have the skills to communicate thru them.
When you have done the work from previous chapters in this book like Chapter 3 (defining your love maps) and Chapter 4 (nurturing your Fondness and Admiration of each other), you have more tools to battle solvable and perpetual problems in your marriage.
The basis for coping effectively with either kind of problem is the same: communicating basic acceptance of your partners personality. It’s just a fact that people can change only if they feel that they are basically liked and accepted as they are. When we belittle our kids and tell them to hide feelings or don’t acknowledge them at all, it causes a feeling of uncertainty and lack of safety on some level. We are all complicated creatures whose actions and reactions are governed by a wide array of perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and memories.… Reality is subjective, which is why your partners perspective on the argument may be different from yours without either of you being right or wrong about what really happened.
The exercises in this chapter focus on figuring out solvable and perpetual arguments in your marriage. Gottman suggests that if you feel like you are still not getting anywhere after working on these exercises, you should focus more on fondness and admiration of your spouse. This week from John Gottman's Book "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work", we talk about the art of compromise in marriage. As we continue thru the Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work, this week we are in chapter 6! Most men, when they are resistant to the influence of their wives will resort to one of the four horsemen and escalate the disagreement. Using one of the four horsemen to escalate a conflict is a telltale sign that a man is resisting his wife’s influence. Accepting influence doesn’t mean never expressing negative emotions toward your partner. Studies have shown that marriages where the husband resists sharing power are four times more likely to end or drone on unhappily in marriages where the husband does not resist.
With more than 60% of married women working, the males role as the sole breadwinner is on the wane.
Culturally, we are shifting, even though it isn’t always an easy shift because roles are passed down from generation to generation. A willingness to share power and to respect the other person’s view is a prerequisite of compromising. The exercises in this chapter are all about role play and what would you do if you were a husband and your wife presented a situation where you needed to be influenced. The human race tends to remember the abuses to which it has been subjected rather than the endearments. If you do this intentionally with the good things your spouse does with you and for you, it could change your relationship.
Then I was listening to a podcast (like I do) and heard about a neuroscientist who has done all this brain research (like they do).
The neuroscientist said that when our brains experience something negative, those negative thoughts are like velcro.
This explains why we can hold on to anger and resentments with our spouses and others, and call them up immediately…but totally forget those positive moments that we want to remember.
The key is intentionally savoring those good things, so they become embedded in your brain and take up more space than the negative thoughts. As we continue our reading of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, this week, we talk about turning toward your spouse. This chapter opens with author John Gottman describing how he watches many videos of couples from his lab. In couples who go on to divorce or live together unhappily, such small moments of connection are rare.
He says that these little turns toward our spouse are the catalyst for a healthy marriage and relationship.
We don’t think that such little instances can hold so much weight in our marriages, but they do!
Simply to be aware of how crucial these mundane moments are, not only to your marriage and stability, but to its ongoing sense of romance… Being helpful to each other will do far more for the strength and passion of your marriage than a two week Bahamas getaway.
In chapter one, Gottman suggested that conversation techniques wouldn’t necessarily help a marriage. The Stress Reducing conversation (pgs 36-37 of this handout) is a great tool to use for any conversation, in my opinion. We need to turn toward each other and connect in those little moments, but to figure out what those look like takes paying attention and talking about it with your spouse – because no two people and no two marriages are exactly the same. You have to do the work together to determine what you need and how you need it for your specific relationship. It’s natural to make the fundamental error of assuming the distance and loneliness are all your partners fault. Those lines are part of one of the exercises (the accepting influence questionnaire, pg 38) to help determine what role you play in the difficulties that you face as a couple. So, I was intrigued the other night when he told me about a girl he was interested in in his class.
He then continued on to discuss how HIS best friend in class likes HER best friend in class.
Fondness and Admiration are two critical elements in a long lasting romance with your spouse. In Chapter 4, we learn from John Gottman’s research that contempt is a killer in marriage.
Fondness and admiration are two of the most crucial elements in a rewarding and long-lasting romance.
When you think positively about your spouse – it makes it easier to get through the difficult times. I realized that we can recall the history of our relationship pretty well, but when it comes time for arguments (because they always happen!) that I am not great at reminding myself of the positive qualities of my wife. Do you have healthy friendships with people who believe you can make it in the good times and the bad? What about those that are in an outer circle, but are extremely supportive, and excited about you and your marriage?

We have to make the choices, not just for our personal relationships, but also for the relationships that influence our marriages.
We made it to week three and chapter three of The Seven Principles for making marriage work!
This week, we start getting into the exercises and principles to help move our marriages in a positive direction.
This chapter listed for different exercises to help begin building your love map with your spouse. As we continue further on, you will realize that this book is very exercise heavy, and will be much more helpful if you participate with the material. But there is something about us being in one another’s presence that makes my wife happy. Over the years, Gottman  has paid attention to signs that lead him to believe that a couple will divorce. One signal of a rocky conversation that can lead down the path to divorce is a harsh startup. The four horseman are four types of negativity that can mess with your marriage. Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness and Stonewalling. Criticism isn’t the worst of the four horsemen, but it does open up the door to the other three, so watch out for it. Defensiveness is when you blame the other spouse, which is easy to do when a conversation gets heated. Flooding means that your spouse’s negativity- whether in the guise of criticism or contempt or even defensiveness- is so overwhelming, and so sudden, that it leaves you shell-shocked.
The four horsemen, and flooding make it more difficult for a couple to respond to repair attempts.
The last determining factor for Gottman’s research in predicting a divorce was sour memories.
The first time I read this this book I was frustrated and disheartened after this chapter. I noticed a lot of these things in Lisa and my marriage which Bummed. The post 5 ways to Make Stupendous Love in Your Marriage appeared first on Stupendous Marriage.
We are spending several weeks reading John Gottman's 'The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work'. When we have a healthy thriving marriage, our immune systems get a positive kick in the pants. Of course, that is why he wrote this book – to fill us in on what really works to help marriages thrive.
Gottman suggests that being friends in marriage is at the center of making a marriage work. When the positivity in a marriage is greater than the negative – it supports a good marriage. Those marriages that believe in one anothers’ dreams and aspirations develop a deeper connection and meaning with their spouse.
The post 6 Stumbling Blocks to a Stupendous Marriage appeared first on Stupendous Marriage.
In today’s culture, is that even possible? The news would have us believe that couples are cheating, divorcing and falling apart left and right! Whether you believe that story or not, the truth remains that it takesmore than one person to fill all the needs in our lives. We talk sex, kids, inlaws, money, communication and anything else about building a stupendous marriage. They answer listener question about marriage issues and highlight great writers, thinkers and speakers who are passionate about marriage and healthy relationships. This chapter has lots to cover in it – and super helpful exercises that can help you settle conflicts better in your marriage. Lots of this has been covered in earlier chapters, but putting them together to solve problems is this chapter’s focus. More often marriages end because, to avoid constant skirmishes, husband and wife distance themselves so much that their friendship and sense of connection are lost. It just has to be devoid of criticism or contempt… Direct complaints rather than criticisms or contemptuous accusations.
There are exercises in this chapter to help call attention to repair attempts and might be the best tools to help with this step.
If only your spouse for taller, richer, smarter, neater, or sexier, all of your problems would vanish. Next weeks chapter is a continuation of this theme, with specifics about common solvable problems. It’s one of the original books on marriage that helped me begin this blog and podcast. When you start a conversation with nagging or contempt, the conversation could be doomed to fail. When you realize that is the case, you can adjust your own attitude and perspective to better figure out how to adjust yourself in your marriage to accept those repeated difficult issues.
That’s because when you argue over a solvable problem, your focus is only on a particular dilemma or situation. Human nature dictates that it is virtually impossible to accept advice from someone unless you feel that the person understands you.… The bottom line rule is that, before you ask your partner to change the way he or she drives, eats, or makes love, you must make your partner feel that you are understanding.
When you help a child understand that their feelings are valid and acknowledge that it is ok to have feelings – the child can grow and change for the better.
What You have is your own subjective opinion regarding the issue, while your spouse has theirs.
It’s natural to make the fundamental error of believing that the fight is all your partners fault. You can see those exercises (if you don’t have a copy of the book) here, on pages 43-50. Rather than acknowledging his wife’s feelings, this husband is using the four horsemen to drown her out, to obliterate her point of view. You can still have emotional responses, but ultimately it boils down to working together to find a win for both spouses.
For generations, men were the sole provider for the home and were not as involved in raising kids.
Increasingly women’s jobs provide them with a source not only of income and economic power but of self esteem as well.
That sense of responsibility and entitlement gets passed down from father to son in so many subtle ways that revising the husband’s role can be a challenge for many men. We have to learn how to do it well, and it seems to be harder for men (at least according to Gottman) to adjust.
For that reason, becoming more adept at acccepting influence will help you cope far better with marital conflict. It’s one of the original books on marriage that encouraged me to begin this blog and podcast. They almost slide out of our brains… unless we intentionally reminisce on them (for at least 15 seconds).
Many people think that the secret to reconnecting with their partner is a candlelit dinner or a by-the-sea vacation.
If our spouse is asking for some sort of attention – or you have an opportunity to make a small connection – we should take it! This doesn’t help (most times) because people don’t usually communicate well when they fight! There are times when you feel drawn to your loved one and times when you feel the need to pull back and replenish your sense of economy. I am a big advocate for owning your crap – meaning, taking responsibility for your part in the marriage. Boys and girls – getting to know someone for who they are on the inside helps with ANY relationship!
The best way to battle and ultimately defeat contempt is by nurturing two very important things in your marriage. Although happily married couples may feel driven to distraction it times by their partners personality flaws, I still feel that the person they married is worthy of honor and respect.

The best ways to determine if you still have an inkling of fondness and admiration for your spouse, is by thinking and talking about your history together as a couple. But, if you have negative distorted memories of your history together, your F and A might need some polish.
If you maintain a sense of respect for your spouse, you’re less likely to act disgusted with him or her when you disagree. The better in touch you are with your deep-seated positive feelings for each other, the less likely you are to act contemptuous of your spouse when you have a difference of opinion. 27-28) You come up with 3 characteristics of your spouse that you like, then, write about a specific incident where it was displayed.
This is a great exercise that if you started this week, could be done by the time we reach the end of this book. This chapter asks "how well do you know your spouse?" - and shows us how to do that better. When life happens and your world is rocked (it’s not an IF, but a WHEN), one of the MAIN ways to help during that season is to have invested the time and energy with them to be connected to their world. I went looking online to see if I could find some resources to help, if you haven’t read the book, or purchased it yet to read along. Even if your spouse doesn’t participate, I would challenge you to do as much as you can on your own.
This means starting conversations on a negative note – with anger, criticism or sarcasm. You feel so defenseless against this sniper attack that you learn to do anything to avoid a replay. If a spouse does not respond well to a repair attempt, The four horsemen trample the conversation. Meaning, if you do something fun and novel with your spouse, you feel more connected to them because your brain has released chemicals of excitement and bonding at the same time. This relates to the adventure element from above – take up hobbies with your spouse, or learn to enjoy some of the things that they love. His “love lab” being an apartment of sorts where he actively spies on couples and records their behaviours! I know we are all wired for relationships – not just in marriage, but this very important relationship that we live out day after day has so much to do to help or hinder our physical health. We talk a lot about learning how to communicate as a couple, but Gottman says that that is not the basis of good marital therapy or even super helpful for couples! When negative feelings get to be greater than the positive feelings, it takes more work to get back to the positive side of things. The movement can be cute or funny, or something completely unique, but it is an active attempt to deescalate. Even in re-reading this first chapter, I have forgotten many things in the years since I read it the first time! Yet, the longer I’ve been married the more I see how easy it is to lose your footing on the foundations of your marriage.
Being a guy who is trying to align his life with the Bible, I tend to go back to the story about Adam and Eve. Softening the start up is crucial to resolving conflicts because, my research finds, discussions invariably end on the same note they begin.
Harsh start up is often a reaction that sets in when why feels her husband doesn’t respond to her low-level complaints or irritability. This approach would create such iniquity and unfairness that the marriage would suffer… the cornerstone of any compromise is The fourth principle of marriage– accepting influence. There is a powerful exercise in this part of the chapter about finding common ground with your spouse that could really highlight where you can come together on certain issues.
I wanted to reread some of those first books to renew my dedication to healthy marriage, and also to go deeper for myself. Sometimes you have to marinate your thoughts and not let mean words come out. Listen first. Not only that, when you kick up the anger in a conversation, you are more likely to hit a wall and be unable to finish or resolve a conversation well. While I do know that most arguments in marriage are perpetual… we can learn to let things cool down, and enjoy our spouse for who they are.
If either (or both) of you feels judged, misunderstood, Or rejected by the other, you will not be able to manage the problems in your marriage.
Making it clear that you understand what they are going thru gives them some assurance that you are in their corner – not against them.
To break the pattern, you both need to admit some role (however slight at first) in creating the conflict. In that case it’s more about pride than it is about serving and loving your spouse well by letting them influence you. A significant number of the core issues we see between couples today have to do with this change in gender roles. Wounds, however, leave scars.” — Bertolt Brecht Why are we wired to remember the bad things and forget the good? Anyway, he talks in one video about taking the time to stop and contemplate the good that’s going on in your life. Turning toward is the basis of emotional connection, romance, passion, and a good sex life. Watching them is suspenseful because I know: couples who turned toward each other remain emotionally engaged and stay married.
So instead, he suggests using those good conversation techniques to reconnect with your spouse, not when you are fighting! But definitely when you are having those reconnecting conversations about anything OTHER than a stressful topic in your marriage.
There’s a wide spectrum of normal needs in this area– some people have a greater and more frequent need for connection, others for independence. In order to break the pattern, you both need to admit playing some role (however slight at first) in creating the problem.
When this sense is completely missing from the marriage, the relationship cannot be revived.
Gottman suggests that husbands do this more than wives, but it can happen to either spouse.
When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they were kicked out of paradise where all their needs were met. Until you accept your partners flaws and foibles, you will not be able to compromise successfully. You can join in by purchasing the book and reading along with us, and leaving comments here or at the Facebook group. Lisa happens to be the main monetary provider, but my role of taking care of the home duties and homework,  allows for her to continue to provide – and do something she loves. A marriage can work even if people fall on opposite ends of the spectrum–as long as they’re able to understand the reason for their feelings and respect their differences.
Join in by purchasing the book and reading along with us, and leaving comments here or at the Facebook group. If anything is broken outside the bedroom, it usually reflects in the bedroom (with a lack of sex). Conflict resolution is not about one person changing, it’s about negotiating, finding common ground and ways you can accommodate each other. Enjoy worship services together, talk to one another about dreams and visions for the future – your independent dreams and those you have together. Try to be the type of person worthy of their love and respect, instead of demanding it from them.

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