According to psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz when couples decide to live together before getting married, there are a few important questions which should be addressed. Are there any downsides? Are couples choosing to live together for the same reasons? Some people decide to live together as a prelude to marriage. They want the institution of marriage, they want children -- all of those "marriage things." However some other people might treat living together as more of a temporary situation with a "let's just see what happens" attitude. Dr. Gail Salts says that the most important thing is for the couple to have a frank and honest conversation before deciding to move in together so that both people are moving towards the same goal.
Couples who live together have a higher rate of splitting up versus couples who marry. Psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz believes this may be, in part, due to the fact that people who live together prior to getting married simply don't feel the need to stay. The problem of living together before marriage is the ease of leaving. It feels safe for people with a commitment phobia or people who are just not ready to make a firm relationship decision.
Another factor to consider are the physical and mental health benefits many believe marriage brings, from mental wellness to providing healthy examples for children. Dr. Gail Saltz points out that these benefits could be forfeited entirely by couples who opt to live together. On the other hand, there are benefits to living together as opposed to being single, especially when finances are taken into account.
The most important takeaway of this trend is that both people need to be on same page going into the arrangement -- a successful outcome will only be reached if both parties are moving towards the same end goal.
Get more of Dr. Gail Saltz's advice for maintaining a relationship here:
Listen to and respect your partner. Nothing is more frustrating than feeling you are not heard. Let your significant other know that you hear what they are saying, and that you understand how they are feeling. While you listen, try to stand in your partners shoes in order to understand where they are coming from -- it will help you to resolve differences.
Never attack your partner with abuse – this includes meanness, cursing, screaming, or threatening to leave them. Treat them with the same respect you would want and ask for yourself.
We all get busy and tired, and it's easy to let having sex go as something that doesn't matter -- but it does. Carve out time, even if its planned and not spontaneous, to have a date night of some sort, and have sex. Talk to each other about what you like, about loving them, liking them, appreciating them. Make it a point to hug, hold hands, and nuzzle. These physical displays of affection keep the closeness alive and make both people feel loved.
Money is the number two source of fights and divorce among couples (second only to sex). Have a monthly conference where you both talk about where you are financially, and where you want to be. Discuss planning for children. Decide which expenses will be a priority when money gets tight (before it gets tight). Look at what was spent, any debt issues, and plans for investing. Set aside the time to go over this -- don’t talk about money off the cuff or in the bedroom.
Often enough couples don’t agree about many things, but it's the couples who really work to compromise with each other that go the distance. If you come ready for war and intent on winning, in the end you will actually lose your relationship. Instead, come ready to hear each other out and work to accommodate some of what each of you want, or take turns on who gets what they want each time.
We often believe that it's our partner who could and should make us happy. But really, everyone goes through periods of being unhappy that are not necessarily a reflection of a problem with our relationship, or certainly not a deal breaker. Too often couples break up because they rely on their partner for happiness. If you are emotionally struggling, it's important to look to yourself and examine what might be going on.
Some situations put yourself or your partner at high risk. Avoid confessing problems in your relationship to a special friend of the opposite sex with whom you feel close. Don’t go out drinking alcohol alone with this "friend" either. If you do develop a friendship, include your spouse in your dinner or activities with them. Don’t act privately with a friend in a way that you never would if your spouse were there.
Traditions can be the glue that provides a sense of family, belonging and love. Whether it’s about a holiday that you do together a in certain way, or weekend dinners that you create tradition around, having a sense of "this is what we do to celebrate together" not only makes the two of you feel closer, it makes a whole family feel closer.
Couples who are struggling often wait until they both really want a divorce before they go to therapy as a last ditch effort so they can tell themselves that they've tried everything. It's very difficult to make headway with a couple that has one foot out the door. Before you feel contempt for your partner, before you're rolling your eyes at everything they say, and before it’s hard to even be in the same room with them, come to therapy with an aim to set yourselves back on track to enjoy your marriage.
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