If you’re like most people, you are in a mode of looking ahead for what you hope 2017 will bring. You want to start fresh, eyes big with total excitement and anticipation for the things ahead of you.
Because, let’s be honest, there are some things you experienced this year that you can’t wait to leave behind.
Some disappointments in your marriage that still make you shake your head.
Some frustrations with your husband that can easily set you off again.
Maybe you find yourself still trying to swallow the bitter pill that 2016 slipped into your marriage. You’re trying to make sense of the things that went wrong and how you can quickly get them right again.
You’re tired of watching things unravel right before your eyes. Something once so perfect and intact, is now literally falling apart in your hands as you pull and pull hoping that not too much damage is done.
It’s a tough place to be.
But the great thing about a new year (or any new day, honestly) is that it represents a clean slate. The chance to create a new path, the opportunity to develop new habits and ways of being that make you proud of yourself and happier in your marriage.
The key, however, in really being able to experience all that 2017 wants to bring you is to let go of the things from this year that did not serve you or your marriage well.
The things that kept you having the same stupid arguments over and over again.
The ways you respond to certain situations that continue to leave you feeling resentful and bitter.
The habit of pointing the finger and blaming your husband for your problems instead of being willing to take a good look in the mirror at yourself.
As a relationship expert and marriage coach, I see so many women making a series of mistakes in their marriages that continue to leave them feeling upset and stuck in a state of constant unhappiness.
I wanted to share with you exactly what those top mistakes are. And if you find you are guilty, the great news is that you can put them down right now. You can leave them behind so that you have room to create new experiences that will leave you feeling happier in your marriage and experiencing the closeness and connection you really want with your husband.
But before you read on, I want you to make a commitment. I want you to make up in your mind right now that you will have a better marriage in 2017. In fact, I want you to take a minute right now to imagine what a day will look like for you when you and your husband are on better terms. When you feel really good about the place you are in, where you really enjoy each other’s company without fear of the next argument brewing. Where you no longer feel like roommates, but instead feel like soulmates. Put the picture in your mind of how you’ll interact with each other when you first wake up. How you’ll connect with each other throughout the day while you are both busy at work. Play out in your mind how you’ll be when you come together in the evening and how you’ll spend your time together once the kids are off to bed.
Hold that image in your mind.
Stay right there.
Keep holding it.
Let it imprint in your mind, almost as if you were taking a screenshot.
OK, so the reason that day is so important, is because that’s your motivation. That’s what you’re going to have to remember when you want to pick the next fight, when you want to criticize him for something, when you feel like he’s not measuring up in the ways you imagined. That’s the image you will draw on when you are tempted to repeat the mistakes of this year that have lead you down the road to a marriage that’s not at all what you’d hoped it would be.
Now, below are the top 5 marriage mistakes you HAVE to stop making.
The things that can no longer be acceptable to you.
The things you will no longer rationalize doing.
The things that just don’t fit with the person you are determined to be.
The things you just ain’t got no more time for!
Here we go…
#1. Putting the blame all on your husband.
Now, this is not to say he doesn’t have his faults. Everyone does. But how much time are you spending looking at HIS faults compared to working on your own? How often do you ask how you contribute to the situation you are in? Have you ever asked him what you can do to be a better spouse to him or are you mostly focused on the way he’s not meeting your needs?
What you have to realize is that BOTH of you created the mess you now find yourselves in. And while there are probably many things he could do to make things better, you have absolutely no control over that. To focus your attention there is not going to get you anything. You may be thinking that if he would just make one change, if he’d just start doing that one thing, that you’d ease up and be able to finally be happy. The truth is, it doesn’t work that way. And the proof is, it hasn’t worked that way. Blaming your husband for everything is the quickest way for you to remain unhappy. It leaves you completely powerless to achieve the happiness you want.
You are responsible for your own happiness and you achieve that when you choose to respond and react in ways that make you feel proud of who you are. When you look at the things you can do to make a situation work for you. When you blame him, he’s the only person who can fix it, and if he doesn’t, you’ll just stay stuck where you are. It’s not cute, and it’s not helpful to you. So stop it. Right. Now.
#2. Making excuses for why you are not doing what you need to do.
“If he’s not putting forth the effort, I’m not putting forth the effort.”
“I don’t have the energy to keep trying to make this work.”
“I’m so tired of telling him the things he should already know.”
“If he would just show me more love and attention, I’d stop getting so upset.”
“My emotions just get the best of me sometimes.”
Need I go on? Sound familiar enough to you?
Now whether this is your first time reading my posts, or if you’ve been reading them for a while, you already know what you need to do. You need to be more patient and understanding. You need to stop complaining so much. You need to give him the benefit of the doubt. You need to communicate in a kinder and more gentle tone. You need to act more like his wife than his mother. These things are not new to you. But somehow you find “reason after reason” for why the way you are being and the ways you respond are okay. I hate to tell you this, but every single one is an excuse. And excuses get you nowhere fast. Whenever they come up for you, write them down. Seriously, jot a quick note in your phone with the title: No More Excuses. After each one, I want you to write the word BUT and then complete the rest of the sentence. Here are some examples:
“I don’t have the energy to keep trying to make this work, BUT, I really want my marriage to be happy so I’ll find something I can do that seems manageable right now.
My emotions just get the best of me sometimes, BUT I know when I over-react to situations, I feel really bad afterwards, so I’ll find some way to keep my cool.
Seriously, give this a try. It will change everything for you.
#3. Expecting your husband to read your mind.
Now, I know you are saying, “I don’t expect him to read my mind.”
But you do.
There are certain things you expect him to just know. Like when you need him to help out more. Or that he should be more romantic and show his love for you. Or when he should just agree with you instead of trying to offer his unsolicited advice. So many times, as women, we want our husbands to have the same level of forward thinking and sensitivity that we do. We want them to just know what we need. And then we get frustrated when they don’t get it, we don’t want to have to spell it out to them, or give them a script, or repeat ourselves for the 1,000th time. I know, you really feel like a broken record. But honestly, things get lost in translation, and if you think you are being clear, 9 times out of 10, it’s still not clear enough for him. And the quicker you can be okay with sounding like a broken record, the quicker you’ll actually get what you want from him.
I’d like for you to take a moment to think about how you feel when you are held accountable for things you were not even aware of. Maybe someone had an expectation of you that was never properly communicated. Then when you didn’t follow-through in the way they wanted, you got reprimanded. Or instead of letting you fix it, they just did all themselves. It makes you feel a little inadequate, like you’ll never be able to get it right for them. That’s not a good feeling. And in response, you want to protect yourself by either pointing the finger and blaming them, or you make the decision to not even try. No one likes to feel like they are not measuring up in some way. Especially when they didn’t even know what mark they were supposed to reach. Be clear. Be clearer. And clearer still. Clarity is one of those things you can never have too much of.
#4. Believing that once you “fix” your communication, your marriage problems will be solved.
Don’t get me wrong, the way you speak to each other, the words you use and the tone in which they are communicated has a big impact on the quality of your relationship. However, communication problems are really an sign of much bigger perception and connection problems. It’s more about how you see your husband – the thoughts you think about him, the baggage of past disappointments you still hold on to, the belief that he’s just not meeting your expectations – those are the things causing your communication to break down.
If you constantly think negatively about someone, you cannot exercise patience, understanding and kindness when you want to talk to them about something that’s bothering you. You are not open to finding compromises, you are not interested in really understanding their perspective, you’re not really motivated to listen because you feel like you have to fight your way to get your point across. The thoughts you think about your husband influence everything about the way you interact with him. You interpret his behavior in a certain way, you receive his comments in a certain way, and you expect your conversations to go a certain way. It’s not until you understand, dismantle and create new ways of thinking about him that you’ll actually see the improvements in your communication.
And a lack of connection creates a distance where getting on the same page is nearly impossible. When couples are disconnected and start to withdraw from each other, they quickly develop a greater focus on themselves and their own needs. The sense of a “we” is greatly diminished and so when you come to talk to each other, you have a one track mind on the things YOU need, the ways YOU want it to go and the information YOU need to get across. It’s natural to become selfish when you are not in sync with your husband, you feel like you are the only person who cares about your own interests and you have no choice but to protect your interests. But the truth of the matter is, one small step to connecting, one effort to reach out and connect with your husband will do more to solve your communication problems than “working on” listening to each other more.
#5. Focusing on what’s going wrong.
When things are going downhill in your marriage, it’s so easy to accumulate more and more evidence that you’re headed in a bad direction. It’s like a big snowball that gains momentum and speed. With each passing day you notice more and more things that annoy you, more and more things that are not going the way you want, and you are quicker to get upset, quicker to complain or just shut down. The problems that once seems like little annoyances, are now a great big insurmountable block of ice standing in the way of your happiness.
The thing is, whatever you focus on grows. That if you pay attention to the things that are going wrong, you’ll only find more and more things going wrong. Your mind is very efficient and will set it’s sights on wherever you are directing it. If you harp on the things that disappoint you, the ways your husband is failing you, the times you are hurt and upset by something he did or said, then your mind searches your world, bringing more of those things into your consciousness.
On the other hand, when you consciously direct your thoughts to the things you can be grateful for, the small progress, or you let things go that really don’t matter, you send a signal to your brain to open your eye to see more of that. I’m sure you’ve had the experience where you may be thinking about purchasing something. Maybe a car. And all of a sudden, everywhere you turn, you see that thing all over the place. And if I were to ask you to show me all of the letter Ps in this blog, you would quickly scan and notice tons and tons of Ps all over the place, where before I introduced the task you didn’t pay attention to them at all. Go ahead, try it.
See, I told you!!
Now, I’d love for you to try it when you think about your husband. Think about something you would normally criticize him about. I’m sure that’s easy! Now, though, what I want you to do is to try to find 5 examples of times where the opposite is true. So for example, if you feel like he never really listens to you, think of 5 examples where he actually did listen and you know that he heard you. That’s just my example, you can come up with your own. And if you have a hard time doing so, then FOR SURE you need to practice and let go of the negative, like yesterday.
So there you have it! My 5 top marriage mistakes that have no place in 2017. If you feel like you fall into any (or all) of these mistakes on a regular basis, I’m really glad this blog post found it’s way to you. The good news is you don’t have to keep making these mistakes. Another choice is always available to you. I know you’ve had some life experiences that have caused you to respond in certain ways. And you’ve probably been through a lot with your husband that’s turned you into a person that is not at all what you imagined when you first got married.
I believe that those experiences have come to show you something about yourself that you need to know. They offer the opportunity for you to grow and evolve into an even more amazing woman and wife. As a new year approaches, you can easily get caught up in the hype of new years resolutions and goal setting your way to a better life and marriage. Or you can really set your mind to make changes that actually stick. To take a deep dive into what’s truly getting in your way, and to find real solutions that can permanently remove those barriers so that you can enjoy your husband and have a marriage that truly lights you up inside.
If anything I’ve said struck a chord with you, let’s continue this conversation and get you on the path to a better marriage.
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To an amazing year ahead,
Dr. Chavonne Perotte
Founder of RelateAble