Sunday, December 02, 2007

Six Ways Men Can Make Their Marriages Much Happier

Six Ways Men Can Make Their Marriages Much Happier Scott Haltzman, MD Brown University

Men often are told that to improve their marriages, they must share their hopes and fears with their wives and become more emotionally connected -- in short, that they must behave in ways that are totally unnatural for the average man.
Good news: There are steps men can take that will make their marriages happier but still let them be themselves...

1. Treat your wife like a business client. Many men say they don't know what's expected of them in romantic relationships -- yet the same men know what to do in business relationships. The two aren't as different as you might think.

If a client made you unhappy, you wouldn't fight with him/her. Instead, you would try to smooth things out. If this client made a crucial error, you would not criticize him -- you would try to help him recover. Overall, you would try to understand who your client is, what his goals are and how you can help him succeed.

Treat your wife like this, and you won't go too far wrong. Of course, don't tell her you're treating her like a client. Just do it!

2. Forget the golden rule. "Do to others as you would have them do to you" isn't the best advice for married men. When we treat our wives as we would like to be treated, we ignore the fact that our wives are quite different from us.

Forget whatever you think you know about what makes people happy, and observe your wife for a while. What does she really appreciate? What are her deepest interests and goals? Have your past gifts and gestures of love been on target? You might not have to work much harder to make your wife happier -- you might just have to stop doing things that you would appreciate if someone did them for you and start doing things she will appreciate.

Example: Buy her a greeting card when there's no special occasion, and inside write how much you love her and need her. Leave the card someplace she will stumble on it unexpectedly. Such a gesture would mean little to the average husband but lots to the average wife.

3. Do more than say "I'm sorry." A single "I'm sorry" won't balance the scales when you say something critical of your wife... dismiss her ideas or her feelings... or make her feel ignored. It will most likely take five positive interactions for every negative one before you're back to par.

According to research by the Gottman Institute, a Seattle-based couples therapy organization, marriages tend to be happy when spouses -- wives as well as husbands -- interact with each other in a positive manner at least five times as often as they interact in a negative manner. Positive interactions might include paying her compliments, saying, "Thank you" or "I love you," offering to do something for her, holding her hand or paying attention to her.

4. Master the makeup. The happiness of your marriage is not determined by whether you fight -- all couples do. It's determined by how well you patch things up afterward. Wait until you cool down -- that typically takes about 20 minutes -- then make a peace offering. Bring her a cup of tea... say you're sorry you argued... or tell her that you love her. Such gestures generally help couples get past the fight fast and back to the happy marriage.

Helpful: Makeups are easier if you avoid the four mistakes that turn arguments into lingering problems -- criticizing, showing contempt, acting defensive and stonewalling (shutting down when your partner reaches out to you).

5. Seek your wife's opinion. Wives often feel that they don't have an equal voice in the decision-making. As far as most husbands are concerned, the issue isn't who is making the decisions, but whether the correct decisions are being made. Still, you can make your married life happier if you seek your wife's approval on your ideas, even when you believe you're right. Who knows? Maybe she is right. Don't dismiss her opinion out of hand -- even when it isn't feasible. Instead, say something positive about the idea, then later express disappointment if together you "discover" that it won't work.

Example: She wants to fly across the country to visit your daughter next month. You know the trip won't fit into your budget. Rather than tell her no and invite her anger, establish that you're on her side. Say something like, "I always love to see our daughter. Let's see if we can afford it." Together, review the family's finances, and let her make the decision that you can't afford to go -- or perhaps she'll think of a clever way so that you can afford it.

6. Do some cleaning. Most wives think their husbands should help more with housework. Many husbands think they do so much work around the yard and with the car that housework isn't their responsibility. Who's right? Studies by University of Michigan Institute for Social Research show that husbands are. When work hours both inside and outside the home are added up, even husbands who don't help with the cleaning often put in about as many hours of effort as their wives.

Unfortunately, if you try to argue this point, you're sure to lose. You can either spend your life bickering about whether you get enough credit for your contributions -- working long hours at the office, tending the lawn and handling the car repairs -- or you can do some housework and have a happier marriage. To make your wife really happy, figure out which household task is her least favorite and do it without being asked.

Scott Haltzman, MD, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University, Providence. He is a psychiatrist in private practice in Barrington, Rhode Island, and author of The Secrets of Happily Married Men: Eight Ways to Win Your Wife's Heart Forever (Jossey-Bass).
Comment by MVI As a man inundated with requests to be more sensitive , the above advice makes sense.
Happiness is a trade off . The key is to be happy in your relationship not righteous and miserable because your partner thinks you are insensitive to her needs.
Another useful tip

How to Find Lost Objects -- Fast
Michael Solomon

One of life's persistent aggravations is misplacing everyday objects, such as keys, cell phones and reading glasses. You wind up wasting time ransacking the house in a frenetic search. Michael Solomon has studied how things get lost and how best to find them. His strategies...

Identify the Eureka Zone. The majority of lost objects tend to travel no more than 18 inches from their last known locations. I call this the Eureka Zone. Examples: A pencil that has rolled beneath your computer. Eyeglasses hidden under today's newspaper.

Whenever I lose something, I explore the Eureka Zone meticulously.

"Lose" another object. If you happen to drop and lose sight of an object that has one or more identical counterparts (such as a screw or an earring), try purposely dropping a second one and watching where it goes. This gives you an estimated radius for how far the first object might have rolled or bounced.

Make sure you are not staring right at it. When you're feeling rushed and agitated, your vision literally narrows. This is why your spouse or a friend often finds the lost object as soon as he/she joins in the search. You can improve your focus by taking a few deep breaths and repeating to yourself the name of the lost object over and over -- "car keys, car keys, car keys" -- which keeps you from becoming distracted from the task at hand.

Also, the object may look different than you imagine. Example: My friend couldn't find a hardcover book that he needed. We searched his apartment in vain until I grew suspicious of his description and began to examine the paperbacks on his bookshelf. There was the book, a paperback, in plain sight.

Check whether you've substituted one routine motion for another. Instead of being where it's supposed to be, your object may be where something else is supposed to be. This often happens in the kitchen. Example: You normally keep scissors in a jar on the kitchen counter, but you mindlessly returned them to the tool drawer.

It's also a problem when filing items. Example: You file your Bruce Springsteen CD under "B," instead of "S."

See if the object has been borrowed. Is it something that your spouse or your coworkers may have used since the last time you saw it? Ask before you drive yourself crazy looking.



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