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Health & Sex

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6 Marriage Mistakes Women Make

Avoiding these 6 things may make for a better marriage.

2. Not Being Clear About Expectations continued...

But many couples don't have those discussions and are operating on auto-pilot. "Lots of couples operate on what they assume in their head because they grew up that way, that if it works for them, it works for their partners," Karam says.

Resentment can easily build if expectations differ or are dashed on the rocks of hard reality. For example, he says some women "think having a baby will change their husband or bring him closer. What we know about marriage satisfaction is that it takes a massive dip when the first child is born. If they knew that before marriage ... it would help them navigate normal roadblocks and not freak out when it happens."

3. Underestimating the Effect of Tone of Voice

No matter who's speaking, man or woman, tone of voice can be an issue if it's tinged only slightly with negativity.

If you have concerns, Heitler encourages "verbalizing them in a respectful way," rather than speaking in a frustrated, irritated voice.

By all means, discuss what's bothering you. But do it in a way that searches for solutions and alternatives, rather than venting in a way that puts a peaceful solution further out of reach.

4. Mismatched Communication Styles

If you feel you aren't being heard by your husband, you may want to explore the ways you try to get through to him.

Some women repeat their complaint or a concern a few times in an effort to get their husband's attention. Some men may call that nagging, but it may just be about having different communication styles.

Karam calls it the "demand-withdraw" dynamic: One person wants a conversation, but the other hasn't figured out how to respond or appears to have shut down, so the speaker presses further. "That's a vicious pattern," Karam says.

If that happens in your relationship a lot, remember to pause to let your spouse absorb what you're saying and have "a chance to validate what they've heard," Karam says.

It might be useful to take a hard look at what is fixed -- personality quirks, for example -- and what can be changed. Citing the work of marriage/couples researcher John Gottman, Karam says nearly 70% of marital problems are "perpetual," meaning that these are issues that drag on.

The challenge is to recognize what can't be corrected. It helps to "move toward acceptance," Karam says. "You're not going to change a cautious person into a risk-taker or an introvert into an extrovert.''

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