“Avoid Couples Therapy” and Other Tips for a Good Marriage

I love Penelope Trunk. She’s a serial entrepreneur, wife, mom, blogger, consultant and all around bad ass. I look forward to her weekly emails, like a I look forward to the weekend…which is to say, with giddy anticipation. Her insightful one liners like “You can’t get respect until you know what you want to be respected for” literally give me life and her no holds barred advice is exactly the kick in the pants I so often need. So, when this woman gives her tips for having a good marriage, I sit up and listen. Check out her amazing article on why a good marriage is good for your career and much more attainable than you might think.

-native and posh

7 ways to have a good marriage

by Penelope Trunk

Staying married is important for your career. If you’re the breadwinner, and you have kids but get divorced, you will need to earn enough money for two households instead of one. Bye-bye career change. If you are not the breadwinner, you’ll start being the breadwinner, and all the career flexibility your marriage provided will be gone. Now you’ll have a much more limited set of possibilities for your career choices.

Add to that: you won’t be able to relocate for a job because your kids are not going to relocate with you—that’s almost always by court order. And you’ll also not be able to work late or go in early if you don’t have a partner to stay with the kids. So keep your marriage together.

Warning: you are reading marriage advice from a writer who was so checked out in her marriage that she was blindsided by a divorce. But I never want that to happen again, so I spend a lot of time researching what keepsmarriages together, and here is some of the research I have implemented to protect my own, second marriage:

1. Don’t live together too long before you commit.
In the 60s when living together was a sign of rebellion, cohabitation was 30% more likely to end in divorce. The Atlantic reports that today co-habitation is a step on the road to marriage more than a rebellion against it. So it doesn’t necessarily lead to high divorce rates, but beware of endless but uncommitted co-habitation. At some point living together is a form of procrastination rather than moving toward marriage. And in that case most partners will end up unhappy, whether married or chronically unmarried.

2. Don’t use ultimatums. 
John Gottman has a proven set of rules that are simple enough to remember so that when you’re in a fight with your spouse you can say, “Hey! That’s not fair fighting.” One thing he doesn’t talk about is ultimatums. We often use them like an escape route from negotiating. But in fact, in all cases—marriage, salary, and everything in between—the person who gives the ultimatum is the one most likely to lose. The Harvard Business Review explainsthe science behind this: the ultimatum activates the animal instinct part of the brain, and negotiating in that mental state is nearly impossible.

3. Act like an old couple.
Younger couples tend to use the demand-withdraw method of conflict. One spouse demands a change and the other spouse withdraws from the relationship. As couples age, they tend to avoid conflict rather than head toward it. Which means there are fewer demands from one spouse and less withdrawing from the other spouse. As couples age, they increasingly avoid areas of conflict, making the marriage stronger, as long as they don’t hold a grudge (which is, by the way, one of the rules from John Gottman—no harboring resentment.)

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