Marriage is complicated, but marriage rules are not. / Jupiterimages/Getty Images
About 50% of marriages end in divorce, but do they have to? Harriet Lerner, author of Marriage Rules, says marriage is complicated, but marriage rules are not. The addition of a few tips into your daily routine may make all the difference :
Pretend you have a distinguished houseguest. You’re usually on your best behavior in front of company. Pretend you have a guest staying in the room next door so you’ll keep bickering to an all-time low. “People have far more control over their angry and critical outbursts than they think they do,” Lerner says. “We tend to behave better if we have an audience.”
Don’t just do something. Stand there! If your partner confides in you about a problem, refrain from giving advice. Being “solution-focused” can actually hurt the situation. “Advice-giving blocks listening and can leave your partner feeling unheard and isolated in the relationship,” Lerner says. Listen first, then offer advice the second time around. Your advice will be more helpful once you have listened.
Be a good citizen in your family of origin. Stay connected with your first family. Show up to important family events and connect with family members. “You’ll model a commitment to family for your partner and children,” Lerner says. “The more connections you make, the more objective you’ll be able to be about your family, yourself and ultimately your marriage.”