The Happiness Project
February 2015 : Remember Love
Marriage is the foundation of all the other important choices in life: where you live, having kids, work, friends, leisure time.Your marriage sets the tone for your whole life.
Gretchen tackles this area of our lives early in the Happiness Project, since it is such an important factor. Marriage itself brings happiness, because it provides the support and companionship everyone needs. A good marriage is strongly associated with happiness.
Of course, as in any relationship, there are obstacles and frustrations.
-Your spouse can drive you crazy when they don't do that simple task you need help with, then they surprise you by doing things that make your day easier without your asking. Peter rarely hangs up his coat or puts his shoes away (his theory is why? when he'll need them again), but on the other hand, he often gets the vacuum cleaner out while I'm at work or at an appointment.
We need to change our approach to household work. Stop spending so much time handing out assignments. And stop nagging- nagging your spouse to do this or that, and stop nagging them to give you praise for what you are doing.
-Stop taking your spouse for granted. Random gestures of thoughtfulness from them are even more special than flowers on Valentine's Day.
"What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while".
"Studies show that the quality of a couple's relationship determines, for the most part, whether they feel satisfied with their marriage's romance and passion, and nothing kills a close relationship more quickly than nagging."
While we love our spouse, sometimes we let petty things get in the way.
There are many sources of conflict: money, work, communication, children, in-laws, appreciation....the list goes on and on.
One thing we must first understand about marriage (or any relationship for that matter)....you can't change anyone else- you can only work on yourself!
Nagging doesn't work!
Gretchen gave this example:
She wanted to send out holiday cards. Her husband wasn't the least bit interested. She was insistant that they work on this project "together". Still he was uninterested. She struggled with how to handle this. Should she insist? Should she tell him it wasn't fair that she did all of the work? That she had the photos taken for the cards, the ordering, bought the supplies....was it fair that he wouldn't help?
She decided that rather than be a nag (again), she would take on the project alone.
This story ended well. Her husband saw the time and thought she put into sending the cards and acknowledged it with a sweet gesture.
Gretchen continued to find ways to suggest tasks without nagging.
She left mail by the front door. Her husband knew to mail it on his way to work.
(I definitely do this!) :O)
She also stopped acting like she was her husband's mother.
She stopped bugging him to take an umbrella, eat breakfast, or go to the dentist.
Although some people think that that kind of nagging shows love, I think an adult can decide whether or not they need to wear a coat or not, without someone else telling them.
The most obvious anti-nagging technique, is of course, just do it yourself! Sometimes we get caught in the rut of who is supposed to do what, or who's turn it is, when instead, we should just do it. Stop focusing on what they aren't doing and be more observant and appreciative of all the things they did.
"One alarming fact jumps out from the research about happiness and marriage: marital satisfaction drops substantially after the first child arrives. The disruptive presence of new babies and teenagers, in particular, puts a lot of pressure on marriages, and discontent spikes when children are in these stages."