The Simple Secret to a Happier Life
If you want to get it all done — and perfectly — at work... continued...
Several years into my own marriage, I would find myself glancing at my
husband, Tony, sitting comfortably in his recliner, mesmerized by a rerun of
This Old House, and wondering whatever happened to the lovestruck
young guy who first wowed me with flowers, gifts, and impromptu weekend trips.
Of course I knew he still loved me at least as much as he loved circular saws
and crown molding — yet I couldn't help but crave the attention, romance, and
affection that he used to shower on me during our first years together.
After a few years of marriage, it's natural to take for granted the good
things you have — for instance, trust, companionship, and shared interests —
and fixate on what's missing, explains Charles. And that leads to a growing
resentment that eats away at your connection, little by little.
How to Let Go
Married life is like a hearty, multiflavored stew; romance is one
ingredient, but so are bill-paying, parenting, and arguing over paint colors.
Kids, house, and jobs fill your days to bursting, yet these elements can
actually deepen your bond if you work through the challenges together. And when
you find yourself obsessing about how your husband isn't as affectionate or
spontaneous as you'd like, remind yourself that you're probably not the winsome
charmer he fell for all those years ago, either.
Your relationship heats up when you shrug off your assumptions of what could
be, adds Charles, and focus on what is. By chucking those preconceived romantic
notions ("He forgot Valentine's Day, therefore he doesn't care about
me"), you lose the disappointment factor. "Zero in on his positive
qualities," advises Charles. "Nurture and compliment his good traits.
He'll feel appreciated and will likely reciprocate."
Consider jotting down two lists of your husband's attributes — the ones that
you adore versus the ones you can't stand. First, look at which list is longer.
Then, rate each item from 1 to 5, with 5 being very important, and 1 being
barely important. "Think deeply about what carries more weight for
you," says Charles. "Chances are, the good qualities will have higher
numbers." In other words, you'll see, in black and white, that your
husband's loving and lovable personality traits outshine the difficult ones —
and you'll gladly decide then and there to celebrate how wonderful he truly
If your child isn't what you expected...
Melissa Leonard, 33, has always considered herself a take-charge, type A
personality. "I'm outgoing and I make friends easily," says Leonard,
who's the owner of an etiquette-consulting business in Harrison, NY. So she was
surprised that her daughters, now 6 and 5, are growing into very reserved
girls. "At recess, they often end up sitting on the bench with the
teacher's aide instead of playing with the other kids," Leonard says.
"It broke my heart to see them act so timid, and I longed for them to get
over their shyness."