I recently read a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. She spends a year studying happiness and experimenting with trying to become happier. Each month she focuses on a different aspect of her life. February was devoted to her marriage. I thought I’d share a few of the things she learned that I found helpful and hope that you do too.
- She realizes that she should quit nagging. Good for her. I’ve figured that out too. Of course, knowing you should not nag and not nagging are two distinct things.
- Don’t expect praise or appreciation. She calls this a subtle form of nagging about work that she did. She nagged her husband to give her praise. I have this problem: wanting a parade for everything I do. When I clean or cook I need to remember that it’s my job and I choose to do it. I need to do it and shut up about it. No praise. I am not a martyr just because I loaded the dishwasher.
- Learn how to fight right. Tackle only one difficult topic at a time. Avoid bombs like “You never” or “You always.” Know how to bring an argument to an end. Make “repair attempts.”
- No dumping. Don’t dump your insecurities, unhappiness, etc. on your spouse. Spouses pick up on each other’s moods easily.
- Give proofs of love. Hugging, saying I love you, loves notes. Yes, do that!
She also shares some wisdom on intimacy. There is a difference in how men and women approach intimacy. For example, a woman’s idea of an intimate moment is a face-to-face conversation. Men feel close when they are sitting next to someone. This explains a lot! Sitting on the couch silently watching a movie together = intimacy to my husband. For me, it becomes intimate only when we TALK about it. 🙂
The last paragraph of the chapter says it best
“When thinking about happiness in marriage, you may have an almost irresistible impulse to focus on your spouse, to emphasize how he or she should change to boost your happiness. But the fact is, you can’t change anyone but yourself. A friend told me that her “marriage mantra” was “I love Leo, just as he is. … When you give up expecting a spouse to change (within reason) you lessen anger and resentment, and that creates a more loving atmosphere in a marriage.”
Happiness Project, p. 68.
I enjoyed the book and especially the love/marriage chapter. I recommend it.
- A Key to Happiness: First Things First. (happiness-project.com)