Pack™ supports Mother Nurture column
by: Rick Hanson, Ph.D
|5 Keys to
Settling Marital Conflict
I'm sick of fighting! Enrico and I love each
other, but wow do we argue, especially since
having children. Help!
No doubt about it, marital squabbles and even ugly
fights usually increase after children come along.
The causes are painfully familiar to us all: sleep
deprivation, little time for oneself, feeling let
down, vicious cycles of finger-pointing, the
in-laws, etc. etc. We certainly fought more
frequently and intensely after having kids than
To solve these problems - and maintain an intact
family in which to raise precious children - we've
found five key methods. They're not glib, they're
not a TV sound bite, but they're the real deal.
Try them yourself - and see if you can get your
spouse to go along.
Here they are:
• Personal Well-Being - By taking better care of
yourself, you'll be able to take better care of
your partner, and have a cooler, clearer head in
quarrels. This means really doing the
fundamentals: protein with every meal, good
vitamin supplements (please see our book if you
have any questions), sleep as an extremely high
priority, personal stress relief practices, and
the support of good friends and family.
• The 80-20 Rule - Put 80% of your energy into how
you can be a better mate, and just 20% on how
he/she could be less of a jerk. You have little
power to change your partner, but great power to
change yourself. Take maximum personal
responsibility for whatever is true in your
partner's complaints, and then unilaterally make
appropriate changes. That will make you feel good
about yourself, give you the best odds of getting
better behavior from your mate, and put you on the
high moral ground.
• Empathy - Try to get inside your partner's skin,
sensing the being behind the words - and ask
firmly for the same. Isn't that why you married
each other, that you felt deeply known and
listened to? Being empathic doesn't mean you agree
or approve or let someone off the hook, just that
you understand. And when you understand, you're
more able to address what's really at stake for
the other person. And when you feel understood,
you're more willing to get to the heart of the
matter and make peace.
• Solutions Focus - Go after what would make
things better from now on rather than argue about
the past. Be honest with yourself: what are you up
to, making a case for why you're right, or making
things better in your relationship? Pick a topic
and stick with it without jumping around. Then
make realistic agreements, keep them, and move on.
• Loving At Will - Life is hard for all of us, and
we all suffer in a variety of ways, so each of us
is called to bring compassion and lovingkindness
to other people - even the person we're married
to! This both makes us quietly happy and helps the
world be a better place. While love may not be top
of mind in the midst of a nutty day, any one of us
can use the will to reach down inside and pull up
a little love. Giving it ennobles us, lifts our
own heart, brings dignity and self-respect . . .
and often kindles a fire of love in return.
(Rick Hanson, Ph.D. is a
clinical psychologist, Jan Hanson, M.S., L.Ac., is
an acupuncturist/nutritionist, and they are
raising a daughter and son, ages 14 and 17. With
Ricki Pollycove, M.D., they are the first and
second authors of Mother Nurture: A Mother’s Guide
to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate
Relationships, published by Penguin. You can see
their website at www.nurturemom.com or email them
with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org;
unfortunately, a personal reply may not always be
Moms promoting moms...that's what we're all about.