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Are You Heading for Divorce?

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Guest blogger Elizabeth Kuster: It's easy to get into the habit of the same-ol, same-ol, which can really take the juice out of your relationship. Here, a marriage expert reveals the three most common (and potentially unhealthy) marriage ruts--and gives advice on how to break out of them.

Dr. Jane Greer, a marriage and family therapist in New York City and host of the radio show Doctor On Call, identifies the three most common relationship ruts married couples get into--and tells how to bust out of them.

Relationship rut #1: One does all the work; the other has all the fun. (We'll let you guess who's who!) "If one of you is hands-on with the kids while the other is hands on with the computer/TV, there's no balance of labor," Jane Greer points out. "You're not working as a tag team, as you should be."

Bust out by: Planning ahead. "At the beginning of each week, sit down with your spouse and take a quick inventory of the days ahead," Greer suggests. "Then plan an equitable division of labor. Will one of you be working late on Tuesday? Does one of you have an event to attend on Friday? Figure it out, then make some specific decisions as to who will be responsible for the various parenting tasks each day, whether they be reading to the kids, putting them to bed, making dinner or whatever. Keep it fluid; it doesn't have to be carved in stone. The point is simply to make things more balanced. That way, the one who used to do the lion's share won't be completely angry, tired, and resentful anymore. You'll also find that you have more time to spend with each other, just the two of you."

Relationship rut #2: Your bedtime habits aren't in sync. "If one of you always falls asleep in front of the TV, or goes to bed early while the other one stays up late, that's a major disconnect," Greer  says. "It's bad for a couple because you'll be sacrificing intimacy and weakening your connection."

Bust out by: Creating a new nighttime routine. "Even if you fall asleep at different times, you should still make time to bond in bed every night," Greer says. "It doesn't have to be sex. It can be snuggling, kissing, talking, reading...the point is to do something together in bed together every night. Ideally, you want to put a cap on individual activity; if one of you is watching TV and the other is doing something else, arrange to come to bed at a particular time and do the same thing in bed together."

Relationship rut #3: Not communicating with each other. "This is the biggest rut of all," Greer says. "What happens is, a couple's dialogue becomes focused on the practicalities of living and running a family; it ceases to address the important issues that need to be dealt with, whether they be financial or 'Why are you working such late hours?' or 'I don't want to go to your mother's every weekend' or whatever. The big issues are being avoided because of the sheer volume of day-to-day activities."

Bust out by: Having a regular "marriage business meeting" each and every week. "So many husbands tell me, 'I can't talk to my wife about this or that,'" Greer notes. "They avoid deep discussions because they don't want to open a can of worms. But when I tell them to structure it as a business meeting--and marriage is a business--they can totally handle it. It gives you a way to talk about highly charged issues in an even-tempered, rational, problem-solving way."

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7 comments so far | Post a comment now
margery August 14, 2008, 8:04 AM

i think if you have to work so hard, what is the point???? i have been married to jeff for 22 years, we have 8 kids, we have had our problems… huge problems, but we have always had time for each other.

Jennifer Fenton August 14, 2008, 9:48 AM

I’m very happy for you.

Nicole August 14, 2008, 11:06 AM

I love 1 & 3 but #2 - seriously? If we had the same bedtime routine I would feel like it was a stepford marriage. I think both people would really have to want that kind of joined-at-the-hip intimacy or it would actually harm the relationship more than help it. He does TV, I do books, and never the two shall mix! Except for sexy-sexy time, but then its back to our regularly scheduled activities. I love our marriage that way!

greg August 17, 2008, 1:26 AM

I am probably heading for divorce, but am waiting until we become empty-nesters.
That way I get to live in the same house with my kids while they are growing up.
Regarding the advice.. Rut #1 is not a problem as I take the kids to school in the
mornings on my way to work and I do 100% of the yardwork and house maintenance.
The only household chore I never do is the laundry. Rut #2 is kind of a problem.
I used to read story books to our kids when they were little, and then try to
put them to bed. My wife decided that she wanted to keep them up to watch TV with
her so that she could then have her “quality” time with them. Unfortunately for me,
it meant I was going to bed around 10pm while she was keeping the kids up til
midnight every night. It kind of made it rough when the kids kept falling
asleep during school, but they adjusted by crashing after school until dinner
time. Rut #3 is kind of a problem. My wife likes to do what I call “talking
around the world” to me. It means she has her back to me, rather than facing me
while she talks. Makes it hard to understand sometimes. The Rut not mentioned
is that I am in a loveless marriage. My wife was perfectly willing to have sex
with me any time day or night before we got married. After the novelty of being
married wore off, she lost all interest in giving me a sex life. I hadn’t changed
anything in my loving behavior towards her, but she simply decided for me that I
was no longer going to have a sex life. That is so important to me, and she just
does not care. It makes me feel deceived and defrauded. Like she only used sex
as a way to get me to the altar, and then after getting what she wanted from me,
she decided she no longer had to behave the same way towards me. I feel like a
victim of a well planned scam. In talking to others, I’m finding out that this
is actually a rather common thing for women to do, to have lots of sex before
marriage to keep the relationship alive, but after the marriage vows are over,
women feel that there is no longer any need to have sex, except to make babies.
Doesn’t this kind of behavior make women feel the slightest bit dishonest? Or is
it just a big game with women to see how badly they can dupe some poor guy into
thinking they really love him, when they don’t see it lasting after the novelty
wears off, but by then the guy is stuck in a loveless marriage.

Iamalong August 28, 2008, 4:40 AM

Should a man divorce his wife because she is fat?

talisha August 28, 2008, 8:25 PM

yeah so me and my husband of 5 years are in everyone of these situations.. bonding at bedtime??? I wish! He hasnt slept in the same bed with me for almost 2 years. I understand the reasoning, and have gotten used to it, but it still hurts everynight. Now, what do you do about that?!?

Betty March 29, 2010, 7:43 AM

Me and my husband have been married five years and I want a divorce, not for anything else but his alcoholism. I hate his drinking. I had a father who was an alcoholic while growing up and I don’t respect men who are alcoholics. Oh yeah, and I also do all of the household work by myself. I am just falling out of love for this guy, I mean if I can manage to doing everything all by myself why even bother being married to this fool. There’s nothing about this guy that can impress me anymore!

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