It is often the little things in life that bring us the most happiness. Unfortunately, it is also the little things in life that can sometimes drive us crazy. In marriage, arguments over minor things, if allowed to build up over time, can lead to bigger problems. The following tips will help you keep a realistic perspective and prevent minor issues from doing major damage to your relationship.
For example, if you constantly lose your keys and your husband installs a key hook by the front door, make an effort to hang your keys there when you come in. If your wife organizes drawers or cupboards to make the household run more efficiently, put things away properly to keep them organized. Working together to support one another’s efforts will go a long way to show consideration for each other.
2. Find an easy fix for the problem
If he never puts the toothpaste cap back on the tube, buy the upright tubes with the flip-top. If the line is always busy when you call her, get call-waiting. Seek the simplest cure that involves the least conflict.
3. Take turns and compromise
If there is something that you just can’t agree on, like what movie to watch, trade off choosing the movie so that you both get what you want at least fifty percent of the time. If there are situations in which you must come to a consensus, try to find a solution that meets at least a few criteria from each partner. For example, if you can’t agree on how to celebrate the holidays, use several traditions from each spouse and then add a few new ones. This will allow you both to have some of what you want and will also create ways to do things that are unique to your family.
4. Say please and thank you
Treat your spouse, the one who is dearest to you, with more respect than you do the pizza delivery guy.
5. Be fair about the workload
One good way to approach this is to make a list of all jobs that need to be done and then write the name of the person currently responsible for those jobs next to each. If one person is taking care of a significantly greater portion of household jobs, reassign some of the work. This reveals in a clear and unarguable way any disparities in household responsibilities.
Don't bring up certain fights at certain times. If your spouse is already upset about something else or you are in a public place, wait to talk later. Often the key to problem solving lies in picking the right time and place for a heart-to-heart.
7. Learn to count to ten
Or take three deep breaths. Or walk briskly around the block. Rather than vent frustrations when you're exasperated – which can turn a little problem into a big one – take a short break.
8. Introduce some friendly competition
Wager on who can clean the kitchen faster. Bet him he can't leave the toilet seat down for three days in a row. Make it lighthearted and fun. Whoever wins gets to pick out the next video you rent. That resolves two problems at once. (This technique is also extremely effective with children, especially boys.)
Try laughing about the absurd stuff you can't change. Look for the best my-marriage-is-weirder-than-your-marriage stories and try to top them.
10. Allow whoever cares the most to win
In many disagreements one person has a much larger stake than the other. If you know that it is extremely important to your spouse or that the decision will have a greater impact on your partner than it will on you, give in.
A. Lynn Scoresby, founder and president of My Family Track , First Answers , and Achievement Synchrony , and has been a marriage and family psychologist for more than 35 years. He has published more than 20 books and training programs.