How to Prevent Bad Habits Infiltrating Your Marriage


You may be worrying why your marriage isn’t as good as it could be, but the truth is you’ve probably just formed some bad habits. According to relationship and family wellness expert Denise Schipani, ‘Solid marriages aren’t born; they’re made. But often, during the course of a marriage, bad habits—from slacking off sexually to talking trash about your spouse—are created.’ So which of these negative habits occur in your marriage – and how can you replace them with better ones?


1. Taking Each Other for Granted: Sherry Amatenstein, a marriage therapist and author of The Complete Marriage Counsellor: Relationship-Saving Advice from America’s Top 50+ Couples Therapists, notes, ‘Couples get into ruts. We tend to try to push our partner down like a jack-in-the-box.’ Schipani advises, ‘Talk. A lot. Go out to dinner or open up a bottle of wine and talk about the things you’re interested in right now. You may find yourself surprised, and intrigued all over again, by your partner.’


2. Not Having Enough Sex: Amatenstein points out, ‘Problem is, when it comes to sex, many couples wait for the other to come up with some great, exciting plan, and when the other doesn’t, they become resentful.’ Schipani suggests, ‘Make the first move. It’s not a contest. Do what you have to to pump things up, whatever works for you.’


3. Lying About Money: ‘Whether it’s taking charge of the big-picture money stuff and not sharing the info or secretly spending and hiding the evidence, lack of financial upfrontness is a habit that can wreak havoc on your emotional bond, because money is about both power and trust,’ says Schipani. ‘Sit down for monthly (or thereabouts) money chats, discussing both long-term goals and short-term spending habits. The aim is to feel so much a part of a team that you don’t want to conceal anything.’


4. Not Being Supportive of Careers: Karen Gail Lewis, EdD, marriage therapist and author of Why Don’t You Understand? A Gender Relationship Dictionary, instructs, ‘Think about the last time either of you moaned that the other “was never home” or “is married to that job.” Now think: “Do you really ‘hate’ his job, or are you resentful of the hours he spends apart from you? Or, are you feeling as though he hasn’t been all that supportive of your career goals?”’ Schipani recommends, ‘Tell your partner what’s really bothering you. Not, “I hate your job,” but, “I wish we spent more time together.”’


5. Trash-Talking Your Spouse: While venting about your spouse has it’s place, ‘if you do it too much, or share too much deeply personal information, it’s disrespectful,’ warns Dr. Lewis. Schipani directs, ‘Decide between the two of you what’s in and out of bounds in terms of sharing with friends…His silly shower song? OK. His problems at work, or sexually? That’s private. Keeping it so helps cement your bond.’


6. Forgetting about Romance: ‘Wait, you have to woo the person you sleep with night after night?’ Schipani asks. ‘Short answer: Yes. While it’s true that the spark fades, that doesn’t mean it has to die out altogether. All the little things do work, like love notes and special treats. But think about things like your appearance; it seems shallow, but showing you care about yourself tells your partner you care about your relationship, too.’ Amatenstein comments, ‘Spend five minutes a day just kissing. And for heaven’s sake, keep the bathroom door closed!’


7. Not Trying New Things: Amatenstein asserts that couples ‘need something outside themselves that they share’ to keep their bond strong. ‘Attempt something new, such as ice skating or French language lessons,’ says Schipani. ‘Or volunteer together. Even trying a new restaurant or recipe—if you do it together—can help.’


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