Everyone expects their marriage to last, but the reality is sobering. According to the American Psychological Association, 40 to 50 percent of first marriages end in divorce, while the odds are even worse for subsequent marriages. The marriage education movement attempts to combat the high divorce rate by teaching couples how to be married. Games are an important part of learning what to expect in married life.
To get to know your partner at a deep and intimate level, try asking each other relationship questions, suggests RomanceStuck.com. Choose a mix of questions that focus on childhood, plans for the future, current beliefs and values. For example, you might ask your partner about the one day of his childhood he would relive if possible, how he defines romance or whether he believes children should be told about Santa Claus. Discuss areas in which you fundamentally disagree and include ways of resolving the disagreement that are acceptable to you both. Turn this into a party game with other couples or keep it private.
The fishbowl exercise is sometimes used at marriage seminars, although you can use it anytime you are in a group of married or engaged couples. Gather the women in a tight circle facing each other, and place the men in a larger circle around them. Explain to the group that the goal is to build listening skills and understand each partner's point of view. The women discuss and answer questions while the men listen fully, giving the women their undivided attention. Ask the women three basic questions: what they are proud of as women, what challenges they face, and how everyone present could give them better support. Allow the women to discuss their answers without interruption. Have them rejoin the men and ask everyone to share their feelings about what was discussed. Have the men and women switch places, allowing the men to open up while the women listen to their thoughts and concerns.
Splitting Household Chores
Sharing a life and a home means dividing chores, but not everyone views chores the same way. Head off domestic arguments by learning how your partner's family handled housework. Using the printable worksheet from Reader's Digest [see references], write down how chores were divided. For example, his mother might have cooked every meal while his father did the dishes. Perhaps her father did the vacuuming and her mother cleaned the bathrooms. Next, write down how each of you feels about doing each task. Using your childhood expectations, decide together who will take responsibility for each chore.
Whose Space Is It, Anyway?
If you live together, take a walk through your home. In each room, stop to note who chose the furniture and whose personal items occupy the most space. If you do not live together, perform this exercise mentally as you consider your future home. Discuss whether the balance feels fair to both of you and what changes you could make to ensure that both partners feel equally at home.
- American Psychological Association: Divorce
- NPR.org: Can Marriage Education Help Prolong Unions?
- RomanceStuck.com: Romantic Questions for Couples
- TrainingforChange.org: Fishbowl, Panel and Speak-Outs: Three Listening Exercises
- Readers Digest: Splitting Household Chores
- Readers Digest: Whose Space Is It, Anyway?
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