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How to Survive Difficulties in a Marriage

by Karen Kleinschmidt, studioD

Newlyweds think their marriage will last forever, but data published by the American Psychological Association tell another story. The APA reports that only 52 percent of women and 56 percent of men are likely to make it to their 20th wedding anniversary. Ethnicity, education and finances contribute to stress and control issues in a marriage. How couples deal with these issues, as well as how they felt before they were married, can predict how they will handle difficulties in their marriage.

Remember Your Spouse Daily

Even during difficult times, show your love for your spouse every day. The APA refers to research by Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., that suggests that positive affirmations go a long way toward keeping a couple happy and engaged with one another. The demonstration of affection can be in the form of a note in his lunchbox or a surprise gift on her dresser. Small, heartfelt, unexpected surprises remind you both why you devoted your lives to each other. Orbuch notes that men who receive little or no positive affirmation from their wives are more likely to divorce; women seem to receive positive affirmation in other areas of their life, so the need for affirmation from their spouse appears to be less than for men.

Resolving Everyday Conflict

It's not whether you resolve every conflict that matters, it's how you handle it that will make or break your marriage. In "Can This Marriage Be Saved," an article published by the APA, John Gottman, Ph.D., founder of the Gottman Institute and the University of Washington's Love Lab, states that almost 70 percent of marital conflict is likely to go unresolved. Be considerate of your spouse when complaining or stating a grievance. Begin a conversation when you are both feeling calm, be careful not to blame each other, and be willing to compromise. Take a step back if you feel anger is getting the best of you.

Celebrate Your Life Together

Difficulties in a marriage are unavoidable, but rather than avoiding each other or letting your anger get the best of you, celebrate your marriage and each other. Spend an evening or a few hours on the weekend together doing something fun. Take a step back in time and rekindle early romantic feelings or look forward and pursue something you have both expressed an interest in. Support each other's accomplishments. Use these opportunities to get a fresh perspective on the struggles you have endured. The positive feelings you create may be enough to combat boredom you may feel.

Cherish Each Other

Put your marriage above all else. You can't solve all your problems, and difficulties will continue to come your way. Let go of the early romantic notions of love and use your past together as a springboard to preserve your bond. Marriage is a lifetime commitment; it takes communication and understanding to get to know each other deeply through the years. Although outside interests in the form of activities, career, friends and time alone individuate you from each other, it is important that you both feel your marriage is the most important relationship in your lives. Just as you train hard for an upcoming race, a strong marriage calls for hard work, perseverance and commitment.

About the Author

Karen Kleinschmidt has been writing since 2007. Her short stories and articles have appeared in "Grandma's Choice," "Treasure Box" and "Simple Joy." She has worked with children with ADHD, sensory issues and behavioral problems, as well as adults with chronic mental illness. Kleinschmidt holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Montclair State University.

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