I grew up hearing how difficult the marital relationship is due to the differences between men and women. I heard about how women are hard to figure out or that most men never know what it is their wives want. In my life, I have not found this to be true. What I have found is that it takes a conscious effort on my part to observe and get to know my wife, her likes and dislikes, her wants, hopes dreams, and desires. During this observation I learned she did not like all the things I did, and that was okay. I learned to accept the fact that she might not want to do what I want to do, and it is okay if I don't want to do what she wants. I learned she was romantic and even has her own personal language. This is a language she and other women appear to understand, but it didn't readily make sense to me.
I believe you will find this book to be quite informative and to the point. It will make you think hard about how you interact with your spouse on a daily basis. It will also teach you something about the most important college you will ever attend: the college of life.
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The I Do's & I Don'ts of a Successful Marriage
By Rick L. Cox
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013 Rick L. Cox
All rights reserved.
The Importance of Correct Spousal Interaction: Part 1
During a New Year's holiday, incorrect spousal interaction took place between my wife and me, which brought to mind the main reason some marriages work well and some do not. Before I get into that, however, let me say there are many factors behind a successful marriage, the least of which is both parties giving 110 percent, as well as both placing successful marriage at the top of the priority list. That being said, I believe the single most important factor in a successful marriage is how we respond or react to the actions or attitudes of each other.
"Without hard work a marriage will appear like two broken hearts, looking like houses, where nobody lives." —Roger Miller
As is common in most marriages, one spouse can at times get on the nerves of the other or do something that may annoy the other. Such was the case during this particular holiday. Usually it's the little things that put me off or upset me. Once I make up my mind, I am not one given easily to change at the last moment. My wife, on the other hand, can roll with any punch and mold or change, as necessary. I only wish, in this aspect, I was as good as her. The upside is the two of us make a great match, as we are truly opposites, working well at keeping each other in balance. That is to say it works well when we correctly respond to each other.
During this holiday, I allowed something she did and said to put me in a horrible mood. In retrospect, it now seems childish that I allowed the spoken words and actions of my wife to alter and ruin my day. For me, it is usually those closest to me, whom I allow to do this, rather than coworkers or friends. In general, I believe it works the same way for the majority of us.
There are many contributing factors to a successful marriage, but the greatest factor is correct spousal interaction.
This is based on personal observations of the interactions of people around me. For instance, as a boy, if I acted up or was not doing what I was told, and my dad had to get involved, his frequent comment was "Well, I hope you are happy, son. You have ruined my day!" At the time, I carried the guilt of ruining my dad's day. As I grew older, I began to realize I didn't have the power to ruin his or anyone's day unless they allowed it. The same is true in my case; my wife does not have the power to ruin my life or my day unless I give it to her. The same is true in anyone's case. No one has the power over you that you do not give them.
What it all boiled down to was that she made plans with a few of our coupled friends, which in essence included me driving her and those friends around. As a nondrinker, I always wind up being the designated driver for those who drink. In this case I was very upset, because she made these plans and committed me to them, never asking if I would mind. She had committed me to driving around all night with a group of people I knew would be drunk and obnoxious in no time. She also knew I had made previous plans and preferred not to spend time driving a bunch of drunken people around, especially the ones in this group.
Previous to the start of her planned evening, I had nearly two hours to figure out how I was going to politely and correctly let her have a piece of my mind. By the end of the two hours, I had calmed down and had put together what I believed was the right thing to say. In my opinion, she needed to understand what she did and how it made me feel—as if she didn't know after thirty-seven years of marriage (at that time).
Of course, after all the years of marriage, she knew, but in my haste to get this off my chest and thereby make myself feel better, I chose a route. I am quite sure the love doctor would not have recommended the route I chose. What I wanted to do was make her feel the pain I felt, as well as make her feel bad about presupposing I would do something and committing me to it without first asking.
It is common to dump the guilt of a bad reaction on those closest to us in order to relieve ourselves of carrying it. This is also the main reason for broken marriages.
Now, if she had maliciously done something to belittle or hurt me, one might justify my methodology. I am not saying the direction she took was right; I simply said one might try to justify it. The direction or methodology I took is not that which my wife would have taken. Even if she had said or done something demeaning, the wise thing would not have been to allow her to control my life. This, nevertheless, is exactly what I would have been doing had I continued to be angry at her. When you are angry and bitter at someone, you are, in essence, giving control of your life to that person. You are allowing that person's words or actions—be they good, bad, or indifferent—to determine what you say, do, or become.
As a responsible adult, not being incarcerated and living in a free society, there should be no need to have someone monitoring and overseeing our lives, but that, in fact, is what can happen when we become angry and bitter at others. Through the anger and bitterness we are assigning this position to others by default. This keeps us tied to their influence and, in some cases, their control of our lives. It seems to me we are a bit too old to be giving others control of our lives, yet husbands and wives do this every single day by default when they get angry and bitter at each other, allowing this anger and bitterness to cause a break in their relationship. In this case I am fortunate, as my wife has never wanted control of me, nor has she tried to gain it. If more women took this same high road, I believe a substantial amount of marriages would still be working.
It just so happened, right after figuring out what I should have said, a large group of us were loading into my extended SUV. We were, as a group, headed to a few places that evening, with yours truly as the designated driver. Having a larger vehicle allowed everyone to enjoy themselves while driver boy took them wherever they wanted to go. As everyone was entering the vehicle, my wife loudly said, "Honey, you are always so understanding and so giving and would do anything for anybody. You are awesome. You are the best. I love you so much."
"A soft answer turns away anger and will work toward keeping as well as restoring relationships." —Proverbs of Solomon
To say she let the air out of my inflated tire of anger is an understatement. She didn't simply let the air out; she shot so many holes in it I forgot what the whole incident was about other than that she loved me and made me out to be the best thing in her life in front of everyone. At this point, I was king! I couldn't even tell you why I was angry, but I bet she knew (and might still know). The difference between me and her is she also knew what to do about it. She spoke words of encouragement, adulation, and praise. Most importantly, she spoke words of love.
The direction my wife took and the words she spoke constitute the correct spousal interaction. What she did was diffuse my anger with words of kindness. Proverbs says, "A soft answer turns away wrath." How true this is. Proverbs also says, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." Her soft words were definitely apples of gold and definitely diffused my anger. What a woman. By the way, this works in all aspects of life and in all relationships.
If both the husband and wife take direction from my wife, most marriages would be successful. Give it a try. I believe you will like the results.CHAPTER 2
The Importance of Correct Spousal Interaction: Part 2
In chapter 1, some of you, especially the ladies, might have thought I cut the guys some slack by allowing them to have a less-than-favorable attitude, which could be covered by the loving wife, as long as she responded correctly to his undesirable behavior. On the other hand, a few of you guys might have thought I overlooked the fact that some women have similar behavior or worse and can be just as damaging. Ah, but this is far from the truth. I have not overlooked either one, for they will both be discussed in depth.
In the previous chapter, I used my own marriage as an example of what can happen when the husband gets bent out of shape. As you saw, the wife can, with the correct response, lessen and remove (or at the very least cause the husband to rethink) his selfish behavior. Just because I happen to be a guy and just because it is more often than not the guy who is to blame, this is not always the case. There are exceptions to every rule. But whether it is the husband or the wife, there are repercussions that affect the home, but we will deal with this in later chapters.
We all have good and bad days, with the exception perhaps of my wife. She goes to bed happy and wakes up happy. It may seem weird, but it has been this way since the first morning we woke up together, the morning after our wedding. Don't scoff or laugh—it really is true. Not only is the part about her being happy true, but the part about us waking up together for the first time after getting married is true, as well.
All human beings have good and bad days or some days that go better than others. It is your response to what happens that determines a day that is bad or good.
In most cases, the good and bad days are the result of our reactions to outside influences, which we allow to affect our behavior. How your life partner responds to your behavior will not only make a difference in the home atmosphere, but it can also make a difference in how long you remain in this funk. So our response to what our spouse says or does can play a major part in the overall outcome of the situation and in our life in general. A selfish, arrogant spouse will simply say what comes to mind first, without thinking. The end result of this open-mouth-and-insert-foot attitude is usually a heated argument. On the other hand, a wise spouse will know to respond properly to avoid a heated argument similar to the way my wife did in chapter 1.
Before we continue, it is important to make sure your marriage has the correct foundation. To have a strong foundation there has to be recognition that marriage is not a fifty-fifty partnership. In order for a marriage to be successful, both parties must give no less than 100 percent to the success of the marriage. This means it is not my wife's fault; it is my fault. It is not my husband's fault; it is my fault. When both parties give 100 percent to the marriage, it will work. This is the type of commitment it will take if the marriage is to make it in the long term.
Marriages work best when both parties give 100 percent without reservation for self.
What I am saying is your wife isn't someone to pick on just to make yourself feel better. Your wife is not your guilt dump or the reason you are having a bad day. She is not why things aren't going well in your life, nor is she a pincushion into which you stick your pins of disappointment just so you can feel better. No, gentlemen, you need to learn to own up to, as well as deal with, your own issues.
You will find if you treat and respond to your wife correctly, she will more than likely be able to help you through many tough personal crises. As we all know, life is full of them. Two can handle these crises better than one. Ecclesiastes says, "Two are better than one, for if one falls, the other can lift them up." Why be alone when you can have someone to help and support when you need it? Unfortunately, a man will find himself alone if he verbally attacks his wife. This often leaves emotional scars, which make it difficult at best to forgive and forget.
Men, think back to when you first met the wife of your dreams. Did you use her as a guilt dump? I would say emphatically no. More than likely, you didn't see her faults and, therefore, did not pick on her regarding those faults, for you could only see the good. The good is all anyone ever sees when they first fall in love. In fact, if this initial stage of infatuation was not a part of the process, precious few relationships would ever make it to the stage of marriage. The reason is simple: you would be seeing what you don't like about the person right up front. Too soon, the don't likes would outweigh the do likes, leaving little attraction and even less desire to be married to that person. The truth is this eventually happens with all the people you meet. Familiarity breeds contempt. That is human nature.
Now that we have dealt with some of the issues men seem to have, let's discuss a few about women. When it comes to spousal interaction, both men and women can be just as harsh or in need of just as much leeway. While some men are difficult to please, some women are, as well. Each is just as guilty of using this difficulty as a bat with which to hit the other. The result of using these faults as a weapon is that the receiving spouse is never able to live up to what is expected of them. They are picked at and reminded constantly of what they have or have not done or become. Both also can be quick to correct their spouse in front of others, believing the spouse will do their best to overcome the weakness and get better. The idea is that correcting them in front of others will cause them to get better. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Learn to do the same thing you did with your spouse when you first met, which is to overlook their faults. Focus on only the good, believing things will work out.
As the director of the household (ladies, please don't stop reading yet, as this is further explained in chapters 5 and 11), the husband should be leading by example. If he is demeaning and belittling, this is not setting a good example. It is actually the sign of a person with a poor self-image, as well as a lack of healthy self-esteem. A husband cutting down his wife in front of others simply to help himself feel better and look superior in the process is a quick way to a broken relationship. It also dampens or eliminates what was once a good attitude in the home by suppressing the spirit of the pacesetter of the home, the wife.
On the other hand, when the wife cuts at the husband in front of others, she is essentially taking a machete to his ego, which reduces his ability to get things done. Men by nature need an ego in order to function at their best level. What they don't need, however, is the level of ego most think to be necessary. We will talk more about this in chapter 17.
There are those women who, upon seeing in a friend's husband the characteristics they would like in their own husband, begin declaring publicly the good character of the other person's husband. Their actions usually consist of loud vocal acknowledgments, such as "I wish my husband treated me the way your husband treats you." This type of verbal jab will continue all through the night to the point it becomes uncomfortable to be around. They do this because they genuinely believe this will bring their husband around. It doesn't, and it never will.
It should be quite obvious this is not the correct spousal interaction. Correcting or belittling each other in front of your friends and family is, simply put, the worst thing you could do. You should not hang out your dirty laundry for others to see, for everyone has their own. This dirty laundry is best aired or cleaned in the privacy of one's home.CHAPTER 3
Airing Dirty Laundry
In chapter 2 we spoke more on the importance of correct spousal interaction, ending with the mention of airing dirty laundry. This is one of the worst things anyone could do for many reasons. Each of us has our own dirty laundry with which we should be dealing instead of associating with those who hang out their dirty laundry for all to see. Besides, for most, this is a very uncomfortable situation.
There are those, however, who enjoy looking at others' dirty laundry. As a matter of fact, some are so busy listening to and looking for the nasty aspects of others' relationships that their own laundry piles up. Unfortunately, they can't see it, but those around them do. Although they seldom share much of their own dirt, they do compare themselves with those who do, in order to bolster their feeling of superiority. As they compare, however, they expose their own laundry without realizing it.
Don't get caught up in the dirty laundry of others, for you will forget to wash your own.
Excerpted from The I Do's & I Don'ts of a Successful Marriage by Rick L. Cox. Copyright © 2013 Rick L. Cox. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Importance of Correct Spousal Interaction: Part 1, 1,
Chapter 2 The Importance of Correct Spousal Interaction: Part 2, 5,
Chapter 3 Airing Dirty Laundry, 9,
Chapter 4 The Wife: The Attitude Pacesetter of the Home, 13,
Chapter 5 The Influence of the Husband, 17,
Chapter 6 It All Starts at Home, 23,
Chapter 7 Familiarity Does Not Always Have to Breed Contempt, 27,
Chapter 8 I Told You So, 31,
Chapter 9 The Need to Win, 35,
Chapter 10 Who's Making the Decisions?, 38,
Chapter 11 Another Way to Submit, 42,
Chapter 12 Men Have Three Basic Weaknesses: Money (Part 1), 48,
Chapter 13 Men Have Three Basic Weaknesses: Money (Part 2), 52,
Chapter 14 Men Have Three Basic Weaknesses: Money (Part 3), 56,
Chapter 15 Men Have Three Basic Weaknesses: Sex (Part 1), 59,
Chapter 16 Men Have Three Basic Weaknesses: Sex (Part 2), 64,
Chapter 17 Men Have Three Basic Weaknesses: Ego, 69,
Chapter 18 Four Types of Women, 72,
Chapter 19 The Desire to Change Him, 76,
Chapter 20 As a General Rule, Women by Nature Are ..., 80,
Chapter 21 As a General Rule, Men by Nature Are ..., 83,
Bibliography and Suggested Reading, 87,
About the Author, 89,