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Cheat Sheet

Making Marriage Work For Dummies

From Making Marriage Work For Dummies by Markus Steffen, Sue Klavans Simring, Gene Busnar

Your marriage will be best if you debunk common marital myths, fight fairly, reduce marital stress, maintain a good sex life, and work together to resolve money issues that affect the marriage.

Common Myths about Marriage

Focus on finding the truths that keep your marriage strong instead of allowing common myths about marriage to undermine your relationship. Examine these marital myths to view your marriage more clearly:

  • There’s only one right person for you.

  • Two people in a good marriage automatically grow closer with time.

  • When couples argue, it destroys the relationship.

  • Pursuing your own individual needs is incompatible with making a marriage work.

  • Marriage partners can fill the gaps in one another’s makeup.

  • The goal of marriage is for both partners to get exactly what they want

How to Fight Fairly in Marriage

Accepting that you and your spouse will argue can help to strengthen the marriage, but only if you have the ability to fight fair. If a marital argument arises, use these tools to help resolve the conflict fairly and constructively:

  • Do be clear about what you want.

  • Do stick to the issues at hand.

  • Do look at both sides of the story.

  • Do listen more than you talk.

  • Do apologize when you’re wrong.

  • Don’t look for total victory.

  • Don’t prolong the argument.

  • Don’t nag or withdraw.

  • Don’t take the moral high ground.

  • Don’t go for the jugular.

Reducing the Stress on Your Marriage

Negative stress effects your emotion and physical well-being, as well as your marriage. Take time to identify the source of your stress and then utilize these tips to reduce stress on yourself and your marriage:

  • Talk to a friend.

  • Slow down.

  • Find time in your day to do something that makes you feel good.

  • Keep your sense of humor — even in difficult situations.

  • Don’t dwell on your mistakes.

  • Forgive yourself and your partner.

  • Don’t expect perfection — from your partner or yourself.

  • Find ways to take care of your partner — and yourself.

  • Change the scenery.

  • Eliminate unnecessary pressure and people.

Have a Sexier, More Exciting Marriage

A waning sex life is a complaint many couples have after years of marriage. Use these tips to keep the sexual chemistry alive in your marriage and improve your sex life:

  • Show your love every day.

  • Touch each other lovingly and sensuously.

  • Show and tell your spouse what pleases you.

  • Let your fantasies run free.

  • Make time to be alone together.

  • Play and laugh together.

  • Make special time for sex.

  • Become an artful kisser.

  • Talk sexy to each other.

How to Resolve Marital Money Differences

Money is a regular cause of marital problems. Recognize how your attitude about money affects your marriage and use these tips to help resolve your money-dealing differences:

  • Sit down with your partner and talk about the way each of your families of origin dealt with money.

  • Talk about the effects that past experiences may be having on your present attitudes about money. Ask yourself and your partner if those current attitudes and behaviors make sense.

  • Understand each other’s short- and long-term financial goals.

  • Understand that your different values and ideas about money require constant negotiation.

  • Respect each other’s values and preferences about spending and saving.

  • Brainstorm solutions that make you both feel comfortable.

  • Respect each other’s contribution to the marriage as equal — even if one partner earns most or all of the money.

  • Make sure you and your partner both have access to a significant portion of the money.

  • Agree on an amount that each spouse can spend without consulting the other.

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