Would you take relationship tips from your grandfather or your mom to make
your marriage happier?
Modern married couples just might do well to emulate some of the successful
strategies of their happily married parents and grandparents -- from sleeping
in separate beds to maintaining same-sex friends.
By Gretchen Voss
You'd never buy a car without test-driving it first, right? So why settle
into a lifelong marriage before trying one on for size?
"I'm just really not ready to be committed like this." That's what
Andi said to Tucker, her husband of 11 months, after she came home from a crazy
day at work two years ago with an overwhelming urge to quit her marriage.
Today. Right now. "This just isn't for me."
She spoke stoically — no tears, no histrionics. She had been imagining...
Two newly reissued books originally published in 1913, Don'ts for
Husbands and Don'ts for Wives, contain hundreds of tried-and-true
tips for a happy marriage. Advice for wives includes such tidbits as "don't
let him have to search the house for you after his day's work. Listen for his
latch-key and meet him on the threshold," and "don't bother your
husband with chatter if he is tired." And for husbands, "don't hesitate
to mention the fact when you think that your wife looks exceptionally
nice," and "don't scowl or look severe; cultivate a pleasant
"Baby boomers got sold by psychology on the idea of being
'authentic,'" says Terrence Real, therapist, founder of the Relational Life
Institute, and co-author of Wonderful Marriage: A Guide to Building a Great
Relationship That Will Last a Lifetime. "It's given us permission to
treat and speak to each other horribly. Our grandparents knew better."
Could "old-fashioned" practices offer greater longevity, stability,
and pleasure to your marriage? Yes, say the relationship experts WebMD spoke
to. Read on for ways to incorporate these retro practices into your own
"Please," "thank you," "pardon me" and "may
I" are phrases that seemed to have all but disappeared from present-day
vocabularies, especially with our loved ones.
After spending time with Wonderful Marriage co-authors Lilo and
Gerard Leeds, married for more than 50 years, Real believes you should extend
your partner the same courtesy you would a stranger. "When speaking to your
spouse, don't be rude, be respectful. Use a combination of old-school civility
and modern frankness." Additionally, he suggests trying more sweetness and
tenderness by saying things more lovingly.
Psychotherapist and author Tina Tessina, PhD, concurs. "Politeness is
like a lubricant for your daily interactions; it makes everything go more
Joyce Morley-Ball, EdD, a counselor in Decatur, Ga., adds some specifics.
"Show her that chivalry is not dead: Pull out her chair, open the door for
her, help her over a puddle, give her your coat when it is cold outside, help
her to put on her coat. This act of affection shows that she is important and
there is a level of respect for her."
Retro Relationship Tip No. 2: Put Pen to Paper
Back before cell phones and instant messaging, people wrote letters of
affection to each other, often waiting weeks to receive them.