Becoming equal partners in marriage

Becoming equal partners is essential for a happy marriage. However, it can be difficult to find that balance. Here are some tips for becoming equal partners in marriage.

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  • Couples who stand as equal partners experience greater joy in marriage. Adrian Selle, from Brigham Young University says that when there is equality in marriage, spouses feel better about themselves and each other. They experience greater emotional intimacy which leads to more physical intimacy. Couples with an equal partnership have more stability and less conflict in their marriage.

  • Although most couples say they believe in equality in marriage, studies show that they might need help to achieve that goal. Here are some common problems and how to fix them.

  • The problem

  • Kyle has a job as an accountant. His wife, Rachel, is a stay-at-home mom. When he comes home from work, he doesn't believe he should have to help with the housework. He says he needs time to unwind, and so he sits down in front of the TV, ignoring the children, until dinner is ready.

  • The fix

  • Although Kyle is the sole breadwinner, he should recognize the importance of Rachel's contribution to their marriage. Being a stay-at-home parent is hard work. Acknowledging her efforts and praising her for her accomplishments within the home would make Rachel feel valued and loved. Working outside the home does not relieve Kyle of his responsibilities within the home. Offering to help with household chores would help to balance their marriage.

  • The problem

  • Frank wants to help out more around the house. However, every time he tries to step in and complete a small task, Debbie corrects him. She doesn't think he loads the dishwasher correctly, she thinks he should dust before he vacuums, and she's annoyed when he lets the kids splash too much when he gives them a bath. Frustrated, Frank stops trying to help, and then Debbie complains that she does all the work around the house.

  • The fix

  • Many women feel that their identity is tied to their role of wife and mother. Like it or not, society judges women on the management of their households and the care of their children. However, it is important to recognize that there is no right way to complete chores. Fathers and mothers interact differently with their kids, and studies have shown that these differences are important to the development of children. Debbie should allow Frank to help in his own way and express her gratitude for his efforts.

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  • The problem

  • Craig earns a good income, and Angela is a stay-at-home mom. He takes care of all the finances. He pays the bills himself and controls access to their banking accounts. He gives her a cash allowance each month to pay for some expenses, but he doesn't allow her to have a credit card or debit card. When Angela asks about their finances, Craig is vague and tells her not to worry about it.

  • The fix

  • Married couples should have shared accounts and equal access to their financial resources. Having regular meetings to discuss finances will help Craig and Angela to set goals and develop a budget that will help them reach those goals.

  • The problem

  • Bernard enjoys coming home from work each day and telling his wife, Jan, about his clients. However, he never bothers to ask how her day was, and he cuts her off if she starts to tell him about the antics of the children or minor household problems. Bernard tells Jan about the decisions he makes without asking for her input. When she tries to voice her opinion, he is dismissive and changes the topic.

  • The fix

  • Communication is the key to a happy marriage, but good communication means more than just talking about the big things. Asking Jan about her day would show her that Bernard values the work that she does within their home. Encouraging Jan to voice her opinion lets her know that Bernard respects her ideas.

  • The problem

  • When Alison and Dan argue, Alison always has to win. She is persistent with her point of view and doesn't try to see Dan's side of the argument. If he does not cave right away, then she pouts and refuses to talk to him. She withholds sex from him until he finally gives in.

  • The fix

  • Marriage needs to be give and take. It requires humility and the ability to ask for forgiveness. Alison needs to make sure she is fighting fair during their arguments. Becoming cold and withdrawn is not a healthy way to solve issues. Sex should be a time to express her love for Dan, and it should never be used as a weapon.

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  • The problem

  • Mark decides to go into business for himself. His wife, Kate, supports his decision. The first few years are difficult, but Kate is able to stretch their small income by budgeting carefully, cutting coupons and shopping sales. Once the business is well-established, Kate says that she'd like to go back to school and get a degree in creative writing. She could take most of her classes online, and it wouldn't take too much time away from the family. Mark tells her, “Don't be silly. The kids and I need you at home.”

  • The fix

  • Both Mark and Kate had dreams coming into their marriage. It is OK for one spouse to put his or her aspirations on hold for a while for the sake of the family. However, Mark should encourage Kate to follow her dreams once the kids are in school and her absence won't impact the family too much. Not only will his encouragement prevent Kate from harboring resentment, but their marriage will benefit from Kate's personal growth.

  • No marriage is perfect, but communication and a willingness to change can help bring greater equality to your partnership.

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Shelli Howells is a creative fiction writer, and a mother of six.

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