Sure, not all women can or should be lumped into one big generalization. However, throughout history, some marital issues remain the same and some innate female behaviors remain the same. We’ve laid out some of the pitfalls women may experience in marriage and some tips for avoiding them.
Here are seven marital traps that women often succumb to:
1. Putting Kids First
There are many behaviors that are instinctive to females; many would argue that the mothering instinct is one of the strongest! And for this reason, we find ourselves becoming all-consumed with our babies once they arrive.
But when our husbands are pushed aside or ignored because all our time and attention is paid to our kids, then we have a serious marital issue on our hands. There are two things to remind yourself of when falling into this trap.
First, kids aren’t little forever. Although some days it can feel like this diaper-changing period is dragging on, there will be a time that your kids don’t need you as much and are out of the house living their own lives. Staying connected to your husband separate from your kids is so important to making sure you have a bond once the nest is empty.
The next thing is to remember not to always put your kids first. This can be a tough one considering the aforementioned mother-child instinct. But you are doing your kids a huge disservice by not showing them what a happy marriage looks like. If they grow up in a house in which their parents are more like roommates or friends than marital partners, it could be hard for them to establish their own stable, healthy marriages as adults.
2. My Husband or Just Another Child?
Similar to putting kids before husband is treating your spouse as just another child. This mentality can be extremely damaging for so many reasons – it impacts the way you see him and it impacts the way he sees himself in the context of marriage. It also impacts how your children view their dad as part of a unified couple. Emasculating, disrespectful and demeaning – all words you should never use to describe how you treat someone you vowed to love, honor and cherish.
Yes, he makes decisions you might not always agree with (letting your 5-year-old watch the Star Wars trilogy and eating cereal in front of the TV) but he is still your husband and father to your children. It’s really a form of abuse and if this mindset is not altered, it usually ends badly.
3. Not Establishing Ground Rules Regarding the In-Laws
Whether you like it or not, in-laws have a huge impact on marriage. “In-laws” doesn’t only mean the parents and siblings of the man you marry, but it can encompass all the values, morals and habits that your husband has brought with him into your marriage as a result of his upbringing.
Firm boundaries and recognition of differences and coping with these differences is the key. There are going to be in-law issues, but if you establish ground rules, it will help you navigate the unsteady terrain that comes along with bringing two families together.
4. Not Fighting Right
You’ve likely heard this little piece of advice “fight nice” from elder family members or friends during your newlywed phase of marriage and you probably brushed it off with an eye roll. But if you and your partner are lacking conflict resolution skills, your marriage can suffer.
There will be many many fights over the years of your marriage – it can’t be avoided. But learning to “fight right” is a skill that is never fully mastered – you need to always learn and practice this and remind each other of the necessarily skills to get your point across without damaging your union or your spouse’s feelings.
Fighting nice is not something only one partner can do and the other can ignore, both of you need to devote the time, effort, willingness and patience to talk through differences with respect
5. Controlling EVERYTHING
As women, we tend to flourish when we feel we have everything under control – from kids, to jobs to our marriages – control, control, control – makes us feel powerful. But proceed with caution when wielding control over your marriage! Is it healthy for our union for us to always have the last word or a better way of doing things? No one, least of all your equal partner in marriage, likes to be micromanaged.
Take a step back to let your husband make decisions, manage homework for the night, give baths to the kids – all in his own way in his own time. You may be pleasantly surprised that it’s nice to worry about one less thing in life and he IS actually quite capable. And if you’re not pleasantly surprised, reread the paragraph above about fighting nice!
6. You’re NOT Just Friends
Intimacy in marriage is more than just sex (although that is certainly part of it.) Intimacy means having a connection, emotionally as well as physically. Not paying attention to emotional and physical intimacy can be a slow death for your relationship.
7. Letting It All Go
After years of marriage, it’s easy to settle into a very “sweatpants” kind of routine – with no real effort made to your appearance. This goes both ways of course, for husband and wife. We’re in no way putting vanity or appearances first, but looking your best can sometimes make you FEEL better and that feeling is contagious and noticed by your spouse. This can be one of the ways you show respect for your husband.
Our hope is that as women, we recognize these dangerous pitfalls and try to skew our behaviors and feelings in order to nurture a healthy marriage with our spouse. Remember, marriage is hard work and remembering some of these pitfalls and frequently reminding ourselves to counteract them, can go a long way to helping us maintain a happy, healthy marriage.
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