Why Is He Never Good Enough?

Do you have those moments of irritation, close to desperation, when you feel like everything your husband does is wrong? It’s not that you are hard to please, but there is a certain minimum of spousal “performance” that is quite reasonably expected. To be a good listener and show interest in your problems. To make sure to spend some quality time together,

do something as a couple: hiking together once a month, going to the movies every second Sunday night. To maintain romance in your life, even if you are not as passionate about each other. But alas, you feel like every normal husband does it except for yours. Did you get a “defective” product???

Your list of claims may be different from mine, but I am sure every wife has it. So does every husband (Jonathan would probably name my lack-of-variety cooking as the biggest source of his marital discontent). The point is we always have some demands that we want to be met. And even if our spouse manages to fulfill all of our selfish wishes, we will come up with more. At some point, if we don’t stop ourselves, keeping up with our demands will become impossible.

Switching the status of your significant other from “totally imperfect” to “good enough” requires some substantial work and inner struggle. I will share a few ideas to keep you on the right track:

- Stop comparing him to other men
. Even if you think that your best friend’s husband makes all the right moves, trust me he has imperfections of his own. Many seemingly happy couples have problems, which they don’t always share with the public. Besides, what works for others, might not be as appealing to you. You man is unique and he will never be able to transform himself into someone else. He is what he is. If the urge to compare becomes irresistible – compare him to the guys that are way worse: the ones that cheat on their wives, never help out with kids, have the lowest-paid dead-end jobs, etc.

- Focus on the positive. There has to be something good about him. But we often prefer to limit our perception: we downplay his good qualities ,then make a real tribute to a couple of bad ones. Take a moment to write down a list of all the things you like about him: it will serve as a great reminder why you married him in the first place in those desperate moments, when you feel like you are stuck in the wrong relationship.

- You are not perfect either. That’s something we all love to forget upgrading ourselves to an angel’s level. So here you do quite the opposite: write down all of your flaws, things you don’t like about yourself. Once you are done, read it carefully – who knows, maybe you will feel surprised and grateful that he hasn’t run away from you yet.

- Men don’t know how to read our mind! And this means that sometimes you need to take the initiative. Or to tell him exactly what makes you unhappy about his behavior/habits/attitude rather than wait endlessly till the bright thought reaches his mind. So I do plan all of our outings, even though I would love for him just once to be in charge. But if I don’t take the matters in my hands, we will just stay home on every festive occasion (which reminds me to make a reservation for the upcoming St. Valentine’s Day). But at least I know that we will have a nice romantic dinner with delicious food – and who’s in charge of making it happen doesn’t really matter. Stop waiting for things to change. Rather than getting close to exploding with disappointment that he doesn’t make you happy – be happy on your own. And try to make him happy. He will appreciate your efforts and will inevitably feel obliged to pay you back. Besides happiness is contagious and tends to spread around: so just open your heart and let it in.

Why We Talk And How We Listen

One of the biggest differences between men and women discussed in many relationship publications is why we talk. When men have a problem, they talk it out to find a solution. When women talk about a problem, it’s to vent by expressing their concerns and fears. Men’s talking is aimed to solve, women talk to express themselves and move on.

Understanding this simple concept can eliminate so much misunderstanding in any relationship. If your husband is complaining about a very annoying coworker, try to help him find possible solutions for dealing with a conflict situation. “Honey, you may choose to ignore him or confront him, think what will make you feel better and won’t affect your career in a negative way”. Something like this. You listen, help him see what options are out there ( dare I say men are more narrow-minded and less-creative than women – so frequently they are convinced that there is just one solution to a problem). He appreciates your involvement and advice.

With women it gets a little tricky. I cannot keep things that worry me all to myself – soon enough I will feel like I am ready to explode. Complaining is one of the key strategies of how women deal with daily stress. After all, our stress tolerance level is much lower than that of men, we are more fragile emotionally. The trick is we often complain about things we cannot change. Or things that don’t necessarily make us unhappy, they may just worry us or make us feel insecure.

Let’s say I complain that I don’t feel like going to work. If Jonathan listens, nods and consoles me by saying “it’s ok, honey, the weekend is almost here” or “I know you feel tired” – I instantly feel better. I expressed myself, was heard and understood. Going to work no longer seems to be such a daunting task. But if he tries to find a solution, which is not what I am seeking, and tells me “if you don’t like to work – stay home and be bored” , I don't get my relief - moreover I now feel annoyed, misunderstood and even more miserable.

A friend of mine told me that he is sick of his wife’s complains: he decided to give her whatever she wants even if the outcome will make things worse. She complains that he doesn’t make enough money – he will find a better paid job but with longer hours, so he won’t be home in the evenings to help her with the baby. She wants to go on vacation even though the money is tight – he will wipe out their savings to spend a week in some luxurious resort. Needless to say with this approach they began to fight even more. So I taught him a few phrases for their next conversation on a topic of unfulfilled wishes: “ I know you feel frustrated but things will get better”, “ I am sorry you are upset”, “I appreciate your patience, I will work hard for us to have everything we deserve”. I explained to him the concept of mere listening – no critique or solution-finding. He was beaming the next day – “It worked!”

Maybe your husband too needs a little help to become a better listener. I told mine long ago that I complain for the sake of complaining, it’s what makes me feel better. I make sure to thank him for listening. And if he is on the verge of losing his patience – I tell him that going shopping is my next stress-relieving strategy on the list. So him listening for my nagging and whining for extra 10 minutes will come out cheaper in the end.

Rationality Vs Risk Taking?

We all do crazy, reckless things when we are young and single. Settling into a married life means facing new economic circumstances and requires an increase in one’s sense of responsibility. As a rule wives manage to accomplish it faster and more effectively:
 they become very frugal and practical to ensure the well-being of their family. Men do so more reluctantly, they occasionally deviate from rigorous budget planning to make pricey and unnecessary purchases. So when rationalism clashes with risk-taking, which one will come out a winner?

Rationalism is a typical wifely feature. It takes roots in the maternal instinct: a mother always puts feeding her babies ahead of everything else; besides, not only she wants to make sure hers kids have food today, but also tomorrow, a week, a year from now. She is planning far into the future, denying herself little (and not so little) pleasures if necessary. A husband knows that he needs to provide for the family, however as long as he puts the food on the table today, he considers his mission pretty much accomplished, since tomorrow is another day. And if something goes wrong he is convinced he will have time to figure something out.

A conflict will often arise when a couple plans to make a big purchase, such as a new car, a large screen TV or a swimming pool. A woman will go for functionality and safety features, it’s also important for her to buy a product that is convenient for use and affordable. A husband is more interested in all the extra new features (not because he’ll use them, but because it’s cool to have them); his ego will require a most recent release, a most popular (highly advertised) model. He won’t be scared away by the above-his-budget price, just the opposite – men find more satisfaction in buying expensive products, rather than on-sale or clearance items. And as always they will think about paying if off later on…

Does it mean that a wife should have more say when there’s a big decision to be made? Not necessarily. It’s more about a healthy mix, learning to coordinate and cooperate in the decision-making process. A wife will come up with logical well-thought options that are in the family’s best interests. A husband’s ideas can be more spontaneous and less rational, however by raising a level of risk tolerance, he will often manage to get things from the “dream world”, achieve daring victories, expose his family to new experiences.

Shoot for the stars when you can, stay on the ground when it’s necessary.

Taking A Break To Prevent A Break Up

We go through various periods both in life and in marriage. Sometimes everything goes well, your relationship is blossoming with no visible efforts, you are both understanding and considerate of each other. But there are times when you did nothing seemingly wrong, but things are falling apart.
Any trifle could spark a fight, no one is willing to compromise or yield. Astrologists would probably find a decent explanation to such a bad turn of events – the planets took the wrong disposition or something, but no explanation can console you and give you strength to get through the hard times with dignity.

The problem is that things add up, and the conflict is escalating to a point when it breaks into a war. You become enemies and treat each other accordingly. As a rule you no longer remember how it all started or who is to blame – you are caught up in devising new strategies on how to hurt him more. You are thinking of retaliation: I won’t talk to him for the whole week to make him feel lonely; I won’t cook his meals and he’ll realize how he is dependent on me; I will wear sexy provocative clothes to tease him by getting attention from other men.

What you don’t realize is that by engaging in this kind of activities you hurt yourself first. You become “that crazy wife” – scandalous, vicious, bad-tempered. You push back all the good qualities you possess in order to substitute them with the ugly war armor. You lose not only your dignity – you lose yourself in this meaningless battle that will be over one day anyway, leaving devastation but solving nothing.

Sometimes you just need to be above it to preserve your good self. So before you let drag yourself into the starting war, take a break. Let your emotions cool down, let your common sense take control and guidance. Taking a break will allow you to think things over in a calm atmosphere. Refrain from talking to him till you are ready. I still tell Jonathan that my silence is not aimed at hurting him, I just need a break to put my thoughts together, which usually neutralizes his hostility in moments as such. So he lets me have my space, and he has his space too, and we can both finally breathe.

Amazing things happen while you are “on a break” – your feelings metamorphose from extreme negative to confident positive. It goes like this: I hate him, I won’t last with him much longer – I don’t hate him that much but I still feel hurt – there are good things we’ve had together, I begin to remember that – he is the only person who truly cares about me – I miss him. No matter how long your break lasts – exiting it is usually more effortless than you’ve anticipated. Since most of the negative feelings are gone, taking that first step to establishing the truce seems easy and natural. Chances are he feels the same way, re-energized by the quiet time off he had. And he probably missed you too, even if you were in the same house all this time, but each in their own space. Little by little you restore your relationship, and it’s easier to do so when there is no devastation that a real war would cause. You are careful with your words and deeds.

Many couples split multiple times but keep getting back together. But you can take a break being under the same roof: minimum talking, pretend he’s not there, do your things. You will know exactly when it’s time to start patching things up again: you won’t feel forced to compromise, you will have a strong desire to do that.

When Separate Bank Accounts Make Sense

I am convinced that separation of finances is a good thing. We all have different personalities and our financial habits often vary a lot. I am really cautious with money: I plan my budget a month ahead and try to save as much as I can. Paying the bills is my priority,
but if at the end of the year I have a considerable amount of money saved – without hesitation I will spend it on a family vacation. My income is stable and I have enough emergency funds to last me a few months if I am out of the job tomorrow.

 Jonathan has his own business which is pretty much seasonal. He can estimate his future monthly earnings but he never knows exactly how much it will be. When it’s slow he can make zero profit. Since money comes and goes in a somewhat chaotic manner, he spends it when he has it and “ties the belt” when he doesn’t. He wiped out all of his savings a few years ago when the financial crisis affected his business and was never able to replenish them. He may make a big unplanned purchase but then fail to pay the bills on time. He often spends money on things we don’t need but postpones buying essential items.

So we clearly exhibit different type of financial behavior and having separate bank accounts is the best option for both of us. I don’t mind having a part of the financial responsibility, but once I covered my portion of the expenses, I enjoy the financial freedom to spend the money on things that I like: clothes, books, concert tickets. Being a stay-at-home mom for awhile was really hard on me because financially I was fully dependent on Jonathan. He did do a good job paying for all the necessities but there was never enough money for anything extra. If I wanted to go clothes shopping, Jonathan would grant me a very small sum of money claiming that finances are tight at the moment.

But in a couple of days he would wire ten times the amount to his brother to help him buy a new car. He is not a good planner and instead of trying to change him, I accepted this as part of his personality. I emphasize his responsibilities to provide for the family and secure our future, but at the same time I never criticize him for the small purchases that I don’t consider that necessary. I pay my half of the expenses and Jonathan has no control of how I spend the remaining money.

We do discuss important financial decisions such as which college plan to choose for Peter, or how to get a better deal on our mortgage. But we also managed to reach that optimum level of financial independence which satisfies both of us. In the end disagreement about family finances is one of the top reasons why families fall apart. So maybe our financial planning is done in non-traditio

Do We Make Them Cheat?

An interesting thing: if you go to Google and type “what percentage”, you will instantly be offered a few choices, the first of which is “men cheat”. And you get some very upsetting statistics: 50-70% of married men in America have cheated or will cheat on their wives.
 But putting the customary “because that’s what men are” aside, let’s look at the problem from a different angle. Is it possible that wives’ behavior is the root cause of the infidelity? Could we take some of the blame and,

what’s more important, can we do something to prevent their possible cheating? And I am not talking about checking their cell phone messages or spying on them in any other way. I am talking about becoming better wives so that our husbands repel the idea of being with another woman.

How many of us are actually guilty of the following:

1. Neglecting to spend time with your husband once you have kids because of the tremendous shift of your focus. Not that I am suggesting to neglect the kids and pay your entire attention to the husband, but a common mistake many wives make is devoting all the love and energy to the kids, being convinced that “he will understand” because “kids need me more right now”. He SHOULD understand, but he doesn’t.

 He feels more like an outcast in his own house. Motherhood is challenging and exhausting and you need his support, but so does he. If you say that your baby takes all of your time, imagine for a second that you have two babies (3,4,5, etc. – the “+1”concept). If you had one more baby you would somehow find the time for him. So treat your husband as that “+1” and if necessary repeat the mantra “he won’t survive without me” on a regular basis.

2. Neglecting your looks once you get married. Being a wife should not stop you from being a Woman. We do our best to look nice when we get ready for work, but once we are home we can relax: smudged makeup, old stained t-shirt, ugly sweat pants. Remember how you used to look when you were just dating? Always making sure to wash your hair and shave your legs… It should not be any different now, because otherwise he will start paying attention to women who don’t fail to neglect their appearance. You should wear comfortable tidy good-looking clothes when at home. Just imagine that George Clooney (or whoever you choose to imagine) may suddenly appear at your doorstep – will you pass the “I am not ashamed of my looks” test?

3. Neglecting to listen when he talks. Maybe he doesn’t have the most exciting job in the world, and you couldn’t care less about the details of his 5-hour long meeting. Put an effort. Be that person he confides to. Make him feel confident that he can always turn to your with his problems because apart from being his wife you are also his friend. Many extra-marital relationships start off as a friendship. You don’t want him to end up with another woman because she understands him and shows him moral support better than you. Be that woman.

So here are just three simple things you can do to encourage his fidelity: be attentive, attractive and supportive. If he doesn’t find that in you, he may start looking for it in other women. I am strongly convinced that unhappy husbands become unfaithful husbands – so keep him happy

Is Your Husband Happy?

Reading a blog about loneliness, I stumbled upon a comment from one frustrated husband. These are the words that somehow struck me the most and emerged me into a lengthy bout of pondering: “My wife does her best to null any joy or excitement”.

Women are known to complain more about issues they have in their relationships: expressing feelings, untangling a twisted knot of emotional problems, self-digging to a point of losing touch with reality and then dumping the findings on whoever would listen – all of these are more typical of a feminine nature. I’m not trying to present men as some shallow species incapable of deep feelings, it’s just that those feelings are mostly hidden so well it’s easy to fall into fallacy of thinking that men can take up any emotional burden and still be okay. Is it really so?

I often get annoyed when Jonathan gets into this peculiar dreaming mood. He starts talking about all the things he would never do as if he is all ready to start execution of his grand plans tomorrow. It goes like “first we’ll travel to Europe, stop by in Italy, visit Scandinavian countries…” I can’t help it but put some cold water on his overheated dream button: I dismiss his dreams by strong reasoning and logic. In eight years we’ve been together we went traveling once and it took a lot of efforts on my side. As I follow my urge to bring him back to the real world, the light of joy fades away from his face: he is defeated, quiet and unhappy. He retreats into his inner world from which I am now banned. Once I heard him murmur: “ Let me dream, won’t you…”

That’s just one of the examples but I can think of many more when I was the one to “null his joy and excitement”. Yet he never complains and I proudly carry my rightness, convinced I did him lots of good. It daunted on me lately that I don’t want to be right any more, I want him to be happy. And even if I am not the source of his happiness all the time, at least I can try and give some space so that the springs of joys would emerge from underground. We may very conveniently think that they owe us happiness but we owe them nothing in return: we can do all the nagging and criticizing in the world and still be loved unconditionally. It doesn’t take much to be judgmental, it takes a lot of will to support something you don’t necessarily agree with. Unless you want to be that sort of wife, the one who is always right, the joy-killer.