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          Roles in Marriage

          November 04, 2002

          Did your husband’s mother take such good care of him growing up that now he doesn’t know how to do anything for himself? If the division of labor in your relationship isn’t working, Dr. Phil has advice.

          • Communicate. Instead of just complaining, be specific about what it is that you want. “We’re trainable,” says Dr. Phil, on behalf of all men. “You just have to put the dots close together!”
          • Negotiate. Every relationship is negotiated, and needs to be continually negotiated. Even if you’ve done things one way for 20 years, it’s not too late to find a new way to share responsibilities. Find a division of labor that both of you can live with. Come up with new definitions for your relationship.
          • Work on things during times of peace. In the heat of an argument is no time to come up with solutions that will work for both of you. Don’t expect things to change without working on changing them.
          • Love every idea for 15 minutes when you hear it. Sometimes we don’t even consider ideas, or even elements of them that may work, when they may be a good starting point for compromise.
          • Try to see things through your partner’s eyes. You need not necessarily switch roles completely, but you do need to understand what your spouse is saying.
          • Remember that your wife is your partner, not your mother. Don’t expect her to clean up after you and cut your meat for you. Perhaps your mother did that when you were a child, but you’re now in a partnership.
          • Stop being a “right-fighter.” It doesn’t matter if you’re right if it’s just not working. Would you rather be right, or be happily married?
          • Ask yourself: How much fun are you to live with? You don’t want a spouse who resents you. Also, how happy are you making your partner? What can you do to make your spouse happier?
          • Do you think your spouse will put up with the set-up you’ve got long term? Don’t mess with the nest. “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” says Dr. Phil.
          • You teach people how to treat you. Stop tolerating it if you want things to change. Demand that he get more involved in the marriage.

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