What has changed, and what we can do to make it work?
When my wife and I first got married, she would say to me that “We always do things your way” and I would say the same thing back to her. So if we weren’t doing it her way or my way, neither one was happy. In the old days (like 1950’s?) it was just accepted that couples would do things “his” way, but today no one gets their way, so no one is happy.
There are several couples I know who are examples of what a good or bad marriage looks like.
- A male doctor and a female nurse. They seem to have a traditional marriage, with him as the head of the household, and they and their kids seem to be healthy and happy.
- A female doctor and a stay at home dad. Even though this is the opposite of a traditional marriage, they also seem to have somehow adapted and they and their kids are healthy and happy.
- My wife and I are somewhat typical of today’s society. We went through 10 years of arguing, and now we are finally getting along. One thing we have going for us is that when we argue, we don’t stop until we have solved the problem, and then we never have the same argument twice.
- A construction worker and a female nurse. She makes much more money than him and they are in the middle of a divorce. He wouldn’t put her name on the title of the house because she spends all her money faster than she makes it. She wouldn’t have sex with him unless she wanted a baby. They never argued and therefore never solved any of their problems.
The first two couples seem to last because they accepted traditional roles (although one is reversed), but they knew their roles and what to expect. The other two tried to fight the traditional roles and therefore had (or are having) a rough go of it.
So, how do we deal with this? First of all any marriage counselor will tell you that the most important thing in a marriage is communication. Also, they will tell you that most couples break up over 2 things, finances and sex.
If you want your marriage to survive, you need to find ways to communicate and to set those roles. In our case we did a lot of arguing, but if that is the only way to start discussion, then it is better than keeping quiet. If you don’t communicate, how do you expect the other person to know what you need? ESP? You need to communicate, and this comes easier for most women than most men. In my case I had to write my thoughts and feelings down on paper and have her read it. I didn’t want to be around when she did read it, but this made things worse, so I learned to still write things down, but I read it to her so she could ask me questions as I went, and things went much smoother.
I have to say, I was never a dominant personality. I always treated my girlfriends and then my wife as an equal, and initially I didn’t feel any need to do otherwise. Then my wife’s aggressive bipolar & PMS kicked in and I felt like I was the submissive. The more I felt like the submissive, the more I needed to be the dominant and have her listen to me when she was acting that way. However, being the good boy that our culture now expects us to be, I just couldn’t do that.
My wife and I have tried in the past to take the traditional roles and we found that it didn’t initially work for us, because deep down we really see each other as equals. But for each task / chore / role in the marriage, there has to be someone responsible, and the other might help out, but ultimately the job falls on one of you.
In the case of couple #2, the wife was the major bread winner, so they traded the income with the housekeeping, and it worked for them. For my wife and I we keep trying to make things work. We started with the traditional roles and are changing little things at a time. So, I am helping her with some chores, and she is listening to and agreeing with me more.
Finances need to be agreed upon so that both spouses are satisfied. You need to treat your combined income as one, and make a budget that takes all of your needs and wants into consideration. You can still have separate accounts, but agree on who pays what and who has extra income to share with the other person. We do have both personal and joint accounts, but one of us has control of the joint account, otherwise we might both take money from the same account at the same time and overdraw it. We also have separate credit cards, but we keep the other person’s so that we can’t use them without the other person being there, knowing and agreeing. If you don’t agree on how to spend your combined income, statistics show that your marriage is going to have problems.
We decided a few years back that I am better at managing money than she is, so I deal with all the finances, pay the bills, and divide up what’s left in a budget. Every payday I pay the bills first (mostly automatically) and we split the rest. My wife receives a majority of what is left to buy groceries, etc. She gets a little more personal money than I do, because after all, she is a girl and she buys more clothes and makeup than I do. However, I like to see her in those new clothes, so I can’t complain. 😉
We also decide that she does the housework. I do help with folding laundry and the dishes when I can, but she does what she can and tries not to ask me for help. When I see her doing either one of those I decide if I have enough energy or not and volunteer appropriately. This small agreement of finances and housework has been a big step in bringing us closer together. It is two less things that we have to fight over. 😉
So the next topic is sex. Most women don’t enjoy sex because they don’t have orgasms with their husbands. And most men start to look at other women because their needs are not being met at home.
Both the man and the wife need to find ways to make sex more enjoyable for the both of them. Guys, a 5 minute wham bam thank you mam, just isn’t going to cut it. Studies show that a woman needs about 20 minutes of foreplay to relax her enough to enjoy it. And women need to understand that a man’s brain will start looking elsewhere if he doesn’t have sex at least once a week. It is not something that he wants to do, it just happens, that is the way we were made. Most men can resist the urge to do more than just look, but it isn’t easy. So couple #4 was doomed just on the fact that they didn’t have sex regularly. Add to that they couldn’t agree on finances, and it’s a wonder they lasted as long as they did!
My wife and I have agreed that Saturdays are for sex. Well, not the whole day of course, but some time during the day we make love, and in that way we know I won’t be tempted to look elsewhere. Sure, sometimes we do it on a different day, and sometimes we do it more than once a week, but my needs are taken care of, and she is starting to enjoy it a lot more as well.
So to summarize:
- Make a list of all the jobs / chores / roles you have in your house and try and divide them equally. Start with the traditional roles and modify as necessary.
- Do the same with your finances. Treat your combined income as one, and make a budget that takes all of your needs and wants into consideration. You can still have separate accounts, but agree on who pays what and who has extra income to share with the other person.
- Schedule a weekly time for sex. It doesn’t matter if you can’t do it all the time on that day, some weeks you do it sooner, and some weeks you do it later, and some weeks you do it daily! The point is that it is a part of the marriage contract and your marriage is in jeopardy without it.