It's the rare couple that doesn't run into a few bumps in the road. If you recognize ahead of time, though, what those relationship problems might be, you'll have a much better chance of getting past them.
Even though every relationship has its ups and downs, successful couples have learned how to manage the bumps and keep their love life going, says marriage and family therapist Mitch Temple, author of The Marriage Turnaround. They hang in there, tackle problems, and learn how to work through the complex issues of everyday life. Many do this by reading self-help books and articles, attending seminars, going to counseling, observing other successful couples, or simply using trial and error.
By Virginia Sole-Smith
Nothing makes me feel more overtly "married" than when I open up my wallet to pay at Home Depot and pull out the shiny blue debit card labeled, in big block type, SHARED. My husband, Dan, broke out the label maker two months after we got married to distinguish the cards linked to our joint account from the identical blue debit cards we use for our separate personal checking accounts. (And in the rush of newlywed excitement, it didn't occur to him to use a more discreet...
All relationship problems stem from poor communication, according to Elaine Fantle Shimberg, author of Blending Families. "You can't communicate while you're checking your BlackBerry, watching TV, or flipping through the sports section," she says.
Make an actual appointment with each other, Shimberg says. If you live together, put the cell phones on vibrate, put the kids to bed, and let voicemail pick up your calls.
If you can't "communicate" without raising your voices, go to a public spot like the library, park, or restaurant where you'd be embarrassed if anyone saw you screaming.
Set up some rules. Try not to interrupt until your partner is through speaking, or ban phrases such as "You always ..." or "You never ...."
Use body language to show you're listening. Don’t doodle, look at your watch, or pick at your nails. Nod so the other person knows you're getting the message, and rephrase if you need to. For instance, say, "What I hear you saying is that you feel as though you have more chores at home, even though we're both working." If you're right, the other can confirm. If what the other person really meant was, "Hey, you're a slob and you create more work for me by having to pick up after you," he or she can say so, but in a nicer way.