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The top 10 reasons why couples argue

Do you argue with your partner? I do. If you don’t, frankly, you’re weird. Or passive aggressive. Or just passive. Or all three. It doesn’t matter – the thing is, partners disagree. Perhaps the disagreements don’t make it even to the argument/discussion stage – but the disagreements remain. I expect most relationships have much the same arguments most of the time. Here’s my guess at the top 10 reasons for relationship conflicts:

1. Sex. This is one of the most likely to be unexpressed, as bringing up the subject can make both parties self-conscious when they get in between the sheets, and losing self-consciousness is what sex is all about. However, the differences can be summed up pretty simply. Either one partner wants more, or one partner wants less, or – in a worst-case scenario – both.

2. Tidiness/cleanliness. Never have there been two people who had exactly the same standards in these areas. To one person, the other will always be a slob. To the slob, the other will be a control freak. Accepting these differences and that there are limits to the amount that the other is capable of changing, is the secret of solving this conundrum. Or, on the other hand, arguing.

3. False memory syndrome. Many arguments are not about the facts of what happened but how it is remembered. Everybody mythologises the past in order to put themselves in the best light. So when it comes down to trying to work out what went wrong when you had a disagreement, it becomes very hard, as each party uses imagination to supplement memory – indeed, create memory. As therefore you can never quite agree on common facts, this is rich territory for conflict.

4. Messing with the cooking. Let the cook do it their way – even if it’s very, very wrong.

5. Blame addiction. One thing most of us don’t grow out of is that when things go wrong, we need someone to blame. We find the force of circumstance too threateningly random an explanation. Introverts blame themselves. Extroverts blame other people. This is why they often end up together.

Too see the rest click here.

Bring in blame-free divorces

Resolution, which represents lawyers and professionals dealing with divorce, say families have changed while laws around them have not.

Blame-free divorces and fairer property rights for cohabiting couples should be introduced as a matter of urgency, a leading family law organisation has urged.

In a manifesto aimed at influencing parties in the runup to the general election, Resolution, which represents lawyers and professionals dealing with divorce and separation, has called on politicians to tackle problems that successive governments have neglected to resolve.

The report highlights six areas where it says laws affecting how couples and their children separate are “unmodern” and in desperate need of change.

The manifesto states: “We have a divorce system focused on blame,” provides “little support for vulnerable people going through a separation; restricted access to alternatives to court; a lack of financial clarity for couples on divorce; and no legal protection for people who split up after living together.”

Parting couples consequently cannot focus on the needs of any children they have, Resolution warns. According to the latest official statistics, there are about 118,000 divorces a year. Nearly half of those divorcing have at least one child under 16; the most common age for divorce is 44. The number of cohabiting couples rose from 2.2m in 2003 to 2.9m in 2013.

Launching the manifesto, Jo Edwards, a solicitor and Resolution’s chair, said: “The fact is that despite the family justice system going through a period of huge transformation in recent years – not least with the devastating cuts to legal aid – the laws governing it are woefully outdated, inadequate and unfair to many people.

“Successive governments of different political compositions have failed to address these issues. Divorce without blame was actually provided for in the 1996 Family Law Act, but was never enacted and actually repealed last year.

“We still have this charade of having to assign blame [adultery or unreasonable behaviour] if you want a divorce and haven’t been separated for at least two years – even if both spouses agree their marriage is at an end.

“This is a huge barrier to amicable dispute resolution and unnecessarily introduces conflict into the process. There have been repeated calls for no-fault divorce from the judiciary and policy makers. Whilst families have changed, our laws have not.”

In 2007, the Law Commission recommended reforming the laws that apply to cohabitants if they separate but no legislation followed. There are nearly 6 million unmarried people living together, many under the illusion that they have the same rights as married couples if they separate.

Resolution is calling for a legal framework of rights and responsibilities for unmarried, cohabiting couples to provide some legal protection and secure fairer outcomes at the time of a couple’s separation or on the death of one partner.

The other priorities, identified by Resolution, are providing free initial advice to those separating so they can discuss options with professionals; making mediation more widely available to enable couples to avoid court; introducing a ‘Parenting Charter’ to help parents understand their responsibilities when they separate; and giving greater financial information for those entering into divorce.

The removal of legal aid from family law cases has led to a rise in unrepresented litigants with more than 50,000 people representing themselves in family disputes in 2013, Resolution says.

Full article here

To My Porn-Watching Dad, From Your Daughter

Dear Dad,

I want to let you know first of all that I love you and forgive you for what this has done in my life. I also wanted to let you know exactly what your porn use has done to my life. You may think that this effects only you, or even your and mom’s relationships. But it has had a profound impact on me and all of my siblings as well.

I found your porn on the computer somewhere around the age of 12 or so, just when I was starting to become a young woman. First of all, it seemed very hypocritical to me that you were trying to teach me the value of what to let into my mind in terms of movies, yet here you were entertaining your mind with this junk on a regular basis. Your talks to me about being careful with what I watched meant virtually nothing.

Because of pornography, I was aware that mom was not the only woman you were looking at. I became acutely aware of your wandering eye when we were out and about. This taught me that all men have a wandering eye and can’t be trusted. I learned to distrust and even dislike men for the way they perceived women in this way.

As far as modesty goes, you tried to talk with me about how my dress affects those around me and how I should value myself for what I am on the inside. Your actions however told me that I would only ever truly be beautiful and accepted if I looked like the women on magazine covers or in porn. Your talks with me meant nothing and in fact, just made me angry.

As I grew older, I only had this message reinforced by the culture we live in. That beauty is something that can only be achieved if you look like “them”. I also learned to trust you less and less as what you told me didn’t line up with what you did. I wondered more and more if I would ever find a man who would accept me and love me for me and not just a pretty face.

When I had friends over, I wondered how you perceived them. Did you see them as my friends, or did you see them as a pretty face in one of your fantasies? No girl should ever have to wonder that about the man who is supposed to be protecting her and other women in her life.

I did meet a man. One of the first things I asked him about was his struggle with pornography. I’m thankful to God that it is something that hasn’t had a grip on his life. We still have had struggles because of the deep-rooted distrust in my heart for men. Yes, your porn watching has affected my relationship with my husband years later.

If I could tell you one thing, it would be this: Porn didn’t just affect your life; it affected everyone around you in ways I don’t think you can ever realize. It still affects me to this day as I realize the hold that it has on our society. I dread the day when I have to talk with my sweet little boy about pornography and its far-reaching greedy hands. When I tell him about how pornography, like most sins, affects far more than just us.

Like, I said, I have forgiven you. I am so thankful for the work that God has done in my life in this area. It is an area that I still struggle with from time to time, but I am thankful for God’s grace and also my husband’s. I do pray that you are past this and that the many men who struggle with this will have their eyes opened.

Love, Your Daughter

*This has been posted anonymously due to the nature of the topic.*

Full article here

Would You Get Along Better with Your Spouse if You Made More Money?

This is an excellent article that really underlines what we already know – money does not buy you happiness!


Many people believe that if they only made more money, they would be happier and they’d get along better at home.  Without the financial stress they’d have nothing to argue about they believe.  My own experience tells me this is a bunch of hooey.

I’ve been talking to people about money for over 25 years. People who do what I do for a living get to know other folks pretty well. I can tell you, based on my observations, you can be miserable with your partner no matter how much money you make.  How’s that for encouragement?

I’m not saying that money doesn’t make a difference. Its clearly easier to have a good life when you have a little cash in your pocket. But having financial resources isn’t a guarantee of a happy life either. In my opinion, it isn’t the amount of money that is the problem. Expectations, communication and partnership are the keys.

To read a lot more click here.

Kissing is fun!!

Scientists in the Netherlands have reported that we share about 80m bacteria during a passionate 10-second kiss: a finding that makes puckering up seem cringe-worthy – and downright unsanitary.

But take heart: we’re more likely to get sick by shaking hands throughout the day than through kissing. And the science behind this behaviour reveals that along with all of those germs, we share plenty of benefits with a partner as well.

Kissing is not all about bacterial exchange or romance. Our first experiences with love and security usually involve lip pressure and stimulation through behaviours that mimic kissing, like nursing or bottle feeding. These early events lay down important neural pathways in a baby’s brain that associate kissing with positive emotions that continue to be important throughout life.

Our lips are the body’s most exposed erogenous zone. Unlike in other animals, human lips are everted, meaning they purse outward. They are packed with nerve endings so even the slightest brush sends a cascade of information to our brains, which can feel very good.

Kissing activates a very large part of the brain associated with sensory information because we’re at work making sense of the experience in order to decide what to do next. Kisses work their magic by setting off a whirlwind of neurotransmitters and hormones through our bodies that influence how we think and feel.

If there’s real “chemistry” between two people, a kiss can set the stage for a new romance. A passionate kiss puts two people in very close proximity – nose to nose. We learn about each other by engaging our sense of smell, our taste buds and sense of touch. And through that information all sorts of signals are being sent to our brain informing us about the other person. In fact, the scent of man can provide subconscious clues about his DNA to his partner.

Evolutionary psychologists at the State University of New York at Albany found that 59% of men and 66% of women say they have ended a budding relationship because a kiss didn’t go well. It’s nature’s ultimate litmus test, nudging us to be most attracted to the people who may be the best genetic partners.

Research by Swiss biologist Claus Wedekind found that women are most attracted to the scents of men who carry a different genetic code for their immune system in a region of DNA known as the major histocompatibility complex, or MHC. Scientists suspect that when a couple carry distinctly different genetics for fighting disease, their children are likely to benefit by having a strong immune system. We may not exactly be thinking about parenthood when we connect with someone at the lips, but kissing provides clues to help us decide whether to take a relationship further. (However, it’s important to add that women who take the birth control pill show the opposite preference toward men with MHC genetics most like their own. This suggests that when we are on contraceptives, we may be fooling our bodies in more ways than we realise.)

Aside from helping us find a great match, kissing sets off a cascade of neural impulses that bounce between the brain and the tongue, lips, facial muscles and skin. Billions of little nerve connections distribute information around the body, producing chemical signals that change the way we feel.

A passionate kiss can spike the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is linked to feelings of craving and desire. Oxytocin, known as the “love hormone”, fosters a sense of closeness and attachment. Adrenaline boosts our heart rate and can make us start sweating as our bodies begin to anticipate what might occur later. Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, also dips to reduce uneasiness. Blood vessels dilate, breathing can deepen, cheeks flush and our pulse quickens.

Kissing fosters the sensations we often describe when we are falling in love. In this way, a kiss can herald in a new romantic relationship. It can also solidify the strong bonds we share with family members and friends. Kisses come in many varieties and are inherently tied to the most meaningful and significant moments of our lives by providing a means to communicate beyond what words can convey.

Science has barely begun to study kissing, despite its obvious evolutionary and personal significance, but what we already know demonstrates that there’s a lot more going on than meets the eyes – and lips.

To read more click here

Yes, divorce is bad for children

We are all terribly concerned about the adverse affects of divorce on children – sometimes our own children, who we feel we have let down terribly. Today’s headlines will fuel the guilt of any person who has failed to stay married, for whatever reason. A survey by Resolution, an association of Family Lawyers, has been spun into a scare story about the awful cost of divorce for children. (Never mind the awful cost of lawyers, eh?) After a family split, your kids are more likely to be on drugs, fail their exams, self-harm – and that’s in between the eating disorders and alcohol problems.

The advice is the same as always: to minimise stress and conflict for the kids; that mediation is better than adversarial battles; that children should never be made to feel it’s their fault. In an ideal world we would all achieve this, as we know it to be intellectually true, even if we cannot always carry it through emotionally.

This latest survey, conducted on a mere 500 young people, is deeply problematic. I don’t seek to minimise the harm that a bad divorce causes children, but what are we comparing it to? How much emotional harm does a bad marriage cause? Is staying together in silent hostility or ongoing rows better for children?

To read more click here

Kissing parents less likely to shout at children

How embarrassing Public Displays of Affection by parents are the secret to happy childhood – and women are more like to find their partners annoying than men.

The thought of parents kissing is enough to make most children cringe with embarrassment – but a new study has shown that it could be distinctly to their advantage.

Analysis of the home lives of more than 5,000 families has shown that the more often parents kiss the less likely they are to shout at their children.

The study, part of a major research project into modern fatherhood, found that couples with more affectionate relationships area also more likely to be better parents.

But tensions between parents are also likely to spill over into their relationship with their children.

The study, published by NatCen Social Research and involving the Institute of Education and University of East Anglia, also offered fascinating glimpses into the state of British relationships.

It reveals that women are more likely to believe that their husband or partner “gets on their nerves” and even secretly harbour thoughts of divorce than men are.

Researchers asked parents of both sexes a series of questions to gauge the state of their own relationships as well as family life overall, including examining how often parents eat with their children or help them with their homework.

Overall 44 per cent of fathers claimed that their wife or partner “rarely” or “never” gets on their nerves, only 36 per cent of mothers said the same.

To read more click here.

Divorce doesn’t just hurt small children – its effects last years

Penelope Leach has raised a storm by talking of how separation harms very small children. But the bruises and pain are deeper and longer-lasting.

No matter how civilised a divorce is, it always makes children unhappy, says Penelope Leach, hurling a grenade into the cosy liberal consensus on the matter. The veteran child psychologist has infuriated fathers with her new book, Family Breakdown, in which she suggests that very small children whose parents separate should not stay overnight with the absent father (or mother). “You get situations,” Leach says, “where children are spending a week in Mum’s house and a week in Dad’s house and all kinds of horrible arrangements. I call them horrible because we do know that they are desperately wrong for children, who need the security of a place called home and who, when very little, shouldn’t be taken away overnight from what is usually the mother – the person they are attached to.”

Leach’s view flies in the face of evidence which shows, consistently, that it is better for the child to have regular contact with both parents, though she is right and brave to point out that divorce, which now affects nearly half of all marriages, is too often about the selfish interests of the parents, with children seen as property to be haggled over.

A friend of mine found out, shortly after her daughter’s second birthday, that her husband had a longstanding girlfriend. Aggressively, the man pursued joint custody of the little girl; though, after a long and bitter legal battle, Vicky was able to hang on to Tilly for the majority of the time. During the weekends with her dad, Tilly often regressed, wetting the bed, pinching and lashing out. Vicky hated what the custody arrangements were doing to her child, but she tried to remain civil, even when her former partner failed to return Tilly at the appointed hour. It was not about his love for the child, but exerting power over his former wife. Mothers, too, can use small children as pawns in a strategic battle of The Ex Files.

To read more click here.

Dreams of ‘self-discovery’ destroying marriage

High divorce rates and low marital satisfaction are a direct result of partners’ inability to meet ‘psychological expectations’.

Time was when a roof over your head, food on the table and occasional bouts of sexual activity were the hallmarks of a successful marriage. Not any more. According to a US psychologist, the modern marriage must fulfil far deeper demands, and most couples are struggling to cope.

Eli Finkel, director of social psychology at Northwestern University in Illinois, said couples today looked to their marriages to help them “grow as individuals”, and support them through “voyages of self-discovery”. But their expectations are rarely met, he said, because of the investment of time and effort involved.

Finkel claims that persistent high divorce rates and low levels of marital satisfaction are a direct result of couples being unable to meet the psychological expectations of their partners. While overall demands on marriages have not changed much over time, he said, the nature of the demands has shifted and they require more time and effort to satisfy.

“In the past, you married someone who helped you meet your basic needs, but over time, love increasingly conquered marriage. Now people are looking to their spouses to help them discover who they are, and to achieve the best version of themselves,” Finkel said.

Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Chicago, Finkel said that most couples struggle because the change in demands calls for more investment in marriage in an age when many people have less time on their hands.

“People used to marry for basic things like food and shelter. In the 1800s, you didn’t have to have profound insight into your partner’s core essence to tend to the chickens or build a sound physical structure against the snow,” Finkel said. “Back then, the idea of marrying for love was ludicrous.”

“In 2014, you are really hoping that your partner can help you on a voyage of discovery and personal growth, but your partner cannot do that unless he or she really knows who you are, and really understands your core essence. That requires much greater investment of time and psychological resources,” he said.

A blissful minority are in marriages that fulfil these deeper demands, and those marriages are better than the best marriages of yesteryear, Finkel claims. But the average marriage falls short because the time and effort required were impossible for most to meet.

To read more click here.

A mission to save marriages

Nicky and Sila Lee help couples to stay together by running marriage courses. There’s no counselling, no airing of dirty linen in public, no group therapy – and it seems to work.

Early in 2006, Peter Drysdale decided that his 26-year marriage to Gill was over. He bought an Idiot’s guide to divorce, consulted a lawyer, and even told their two adult children. “I guess the crisis was precipitated by the kids’ empty nesting,” says Peter, 57, a project manager with Barclays. “There’d been a couple of false starts, but now they’d settled and weren’t coming back. That left Gill and I to face each other.”

When they did, neither was surprised to find the connection was no longer there. They hadn’t resolved their marital differences along the way, just buried them. Money was a key problem area (Peter was a spender, Gill a saver). Their communication styles were another (Peter shouted, Gill withdrew). They had survived by carving out separate spaces. For chunks of the marriage, Peter had worked long hours in London while Gill brought up the children in their Berkshire home. With the children gone, she spent more time at their house in France. “We’d had one preliminary session with Relate then stopped,” says Peter. “We argued all the way through and the counsellor told us that unless we were positive about wanting to save the marriage, it probably wasn’t worth coming back. Even our children agreed divorce was for the best.”

The Drysdales looked destined to join the long line of couples who make January “divorce month”. (Family solicitors and divorce websites point to it as their busiest time, a combination of couples deciding to get through Christmas before making a clean break for New Year and others discovering during the enforced family holiday that they can’t take it, or fake it, any longer.) Then some friends announced they were going on a “marriage course” that spring and invited Gill and Peter along. It involved seven weekly sessions at a church in London’s Kensington.

“I was gobsmacked because their relationship was great – but they said the course was for anyone, however long you’ve been married and whether you’re happy or not,” says Peter. “We weren’t churchgoers and I didn’t want to be preached at. I didn’t like the idea of airing dirty linen in public either. I wasn’t keen – but Gill wanted to give it a go. I thought, I’ll go and prove it’s over.”

The course began in 2006 at the Holy Trinity Brompton, the church that is also home to the Anglican Christian Alpha course, known by members as HTB. It was devised by Nicky and Sila Lee – he is associate vicar there – largely as a resource for church members, but its appeal widened as word spread.

Then people who lived outside London asked if they could run it in their hometowns – sometimes in their homes, or a restaurant, a pub, a village hall. It has been introduced to UK prisons and is now being tried on military bases. It has been translated into 40 languages and is running in 109 countries. Now about half the couples who attend are not religious – writer and Guardian columnist Tim Lott is one atheist who went with his wife and left impressed (his wife is “evangelical” about it).

Sila, 58, and Nicky, 59, have been married for 37 years. They have four children, and five grandchildren – but are effortlessly attractive, youthful and vivacious. Their home next to the church in a Kensington square is crowded with books, clocks, cushions, lamps, Theirs seems a charmed life – you can’t help wondering what they know of strife or struggle or debt or cruelty. They’re just so nice!

They met as teenagers on Swansea dock, awaiting a ferry to Ireland. Sila was 17, an art student and Nicky was 18, studying English at Cambridge. They fell in love before they had even boarded the boat, married four years later and moved to Durham where Nicky studied theology. “We were the first of our age group to marry and it meant friends often came to us to talk about relationships, asking how you know whether to get married and so on,” says Nicky.

When he joined HTB in 1985, part of his work involved speaking to couples about to get married. He and Sila then devised a marriage preparation course that took off. “The content was a combination of our own experience, what we’d found helpful, and advice we’d picked up from older married couples,” says Nicky. “It was wonderful; we loved it. But having a room full of engaged couples who were in love and hopeful was one thing. We wanted to reach those a little further on, when the rose-tinted glasses had come off. That’s how the marriage course came about.”

There’s no airing of dirty linen. It’s set up as a kind of date night, one evening a week for seven weeks. (The suggested cost is a £95 donation – which barely covers the catering – though others who are running it may offer it for free.) You sit in a room full of couples, but at a table for two and dine together (cohabiting couples are also welcome).

Afterwards, you listen to presentations, issues are raised, then you and your partner discuss and complete the exercises at your table. “Privacy has always been important, there’s no group sharing,” says Sila.

“We have 100 couples on each course. We greet them at the door but know nothing about their situations or why they are here. All the issues discussed are pertinent to the couple and no one else.” But the group setting creates a structured, safe environment in which to talk. “Even if their relationship is in quite a difficult place, people feel OK discussing things they wouldn’t at home because there, it could escalate or get too emotional – one or both could shout and scream and storm out. That has never happened on the course,” says Nicky.

There is a separate theme each week. The first is building strong foundations – that’s prioritising one another, having special time together. Next is the art of communication, which focuses on learning to listen, followed by resolving conflict – how to argue effectively. Session four is the power of forgiveness, and the fifth explores the impact of family, past and present to understand how one other’s backgrounds and extended family shape who and how they are.

Good sex is sixth. “We leave that second to last because people think that if they get the sex sorted out, everything will be fine,” says Sila. “Actually, all the other issues need to be in place.”

The last session is love in action. The premise here is that we all tend to have different “love languages”– we show love in different ways, so don’t always recognise it when our partner shows it to us. It could be through words, time, gifts, touch, or putting up a shelf.

It could be argued that any couple willing to put themselves through all this must be pretty committed already. (For some, it must sound like torture, and attendance at all seven sessions is proof enough that they love their partners.) Yet it’s hard to dismiss the number of glowing testimonials, of marital miracles offered up by loved-up happy graduates of the course.

Sila describes the forgiveness session as the heart of the course. “People who run it worry about this one as it’s the most difficult,” she says. “But it’s often the really big turning point. If we don’t heal hurt, we can’t move forward in a healthy way.”

Instead, couples are helped to recognise how they have hurt one another, to own it and apologise, not excuse it, then choose to forgive. The issues can be big and small. “For one couple, it was about the paternity leave he hadn’t taken when their first child was born,” says Nicky. “He thought they’d agreed that he would store it up for later, he had a deadline at work and her parents were there. He thought she’d said it was OK. They came on the course three years later – they’d had a second child by then – but to her, that choice he’d made signified that work was more important. She expressed what it felt like for her. He listened and got it, and said sorry. Once she knew he understood, it wasn’t that hard to forgive.”

For Peter Drysdale, the communication session was key. “Part of my job is to be a good communicator. I’d always thought that I was and Gill wasn’t,” he says. “I can get loud and argue a point. Then I realised it’s about listening.”

Gill found the impact of the family sessions helpful. “We’d met at university and come from very different families,” she says. “I was from a southern family who weren’t particularly good at talking. We tended to bury things. Peter is from the north – his family shouted at each other a lot, but no one listened. The more we talked, the more all our differences made sense – and when we understood all that, suddenly they didn’t have to be a problem. We can compliment one another. Peter could encourage me to use money, to enjoy it. I could help him save it.”

“One of the tasks was to write down some times we’d felt loved by our partners,” says Peter. “I nearly ended up in tears. When I’d started the course, all I could see were our problems, the bad stuff. I realised there were times Gill had made me feel amazing – and some of them weren’t even that long ago. That’s when hope began.”

“The popular understanding of marriage now is that you’ve got to find The One, the exact fit,” says Nicky. “If you run into problems, it means you’ve married the wrong person. We’re not saying marry anybody – you should choose carefully and wisely – but it’s not hit and miss. If you have two people who are willing, you can build a long, healthy marriage. It’s painful when couples come on the course and don’t make it. But that’s more than matched by those who come without much hope and go home a strong, happy couple.”

Peter and Gill are part of the latter group. “Week by week, things were improving, we were getting closer, finding out about one another when, for years, we’d made assumptions about what the other was thinking and feeling,” says Peter.

“We started date nights – jazz clubs, stuff we’d not done before. We’d stopped going on holidays when the kids had stopped coming. Our holidays turned into DIY in our house in France. Quite soon after the course, we had a mini-break to Iceland, walking on glaciers. When I’d met Gill, she was a folk singer in a band – that had all been forgotten along the way. Now we’re in a choir together. We have fun.”

Gill agrees. “It’s totally different between us,” she says. “I can’t imagine being separate. If we’d divorced, we’d have taken all our problems with us wherever we went next.”

Full article here

For more information on the Marriage Course in Horsham West Sussex click here.

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