Attention, married women: What you don't know about marriage may spell trouble.
For instance, if you don't speak up for what you want, your husband is flying blind -- and not likely to deliver. And the way you talk about your issues may be making matters worse. And then there's the bedroom.
Getting married is easy. Being married can be trickier. Here is some expert advice to avoid or correct six common mistakes that can cost a marriage, or at the least, weaken its foundations. Whether it's you or your spouse making these mistakes, taking positive action can make a big difference.
Some wives are too willing to give up on what they want, says Susan Heitler, PhD, a Denver-based clinical psychologist and author of www.poweroftwo.org, a marriage skills-building course.
Heitler calls it "appendage-itis," in which the wife is basically being an accessory to the husband, instead of being a full and equal partner in the marriage.
Some women tend to be "all about him" rather than all about themselves, as men tend to be, Heitler says.
"Usually, they're afraid it could make a fight or some unpleasantness, or they just think somehow, on a subconscious level, in order to preserve the relationship, they have to diminish what they themselves want," she says. The sense of helplessness leads to anger that eventually boils over, she says.
Her solution? Express your concerns rationally, whether about housework or parenting duties, or about not getting enough time with your husband or for yourself. He may like golfing on weekends while she may want him around for family time, for example. "If she spoke up, they might be able to work out a better arrangement," Heitler says. "Maybe they'd switch to a softball league in the summer where it would be a family event.''
2. Not being clear about expectations.
Couples that function the best in marriage have made their expectations clear from the outset about division of labor, parenthood, and money, says family and marriage therapist Eli Karam, PhD, an assistant professor of couples therapy at the University of Louisville.
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."