Welcome to our Friday series for couples, filled with mouth-watering food pictures and insightful relationship tips, because we all know that after a while, it’s all about the food when it comes to long-term relationships.
In the last post, I brought up the unromantic idea of a job description for your spouse and vice-versa. This post will actually get you started in case you feel confused about where to start.
Take a look at the questions below and be honest in your answers. Don’t try to give an answer your spouse would like to hear. It may be an easier route in the moment, but it will not fix whatever is wrong with your relationship. If you are dishonest with yourself and your partner, your expectations and true feelings about a particular role will sabotage any surface efforts you may put forward and it will continue the vicious cycle.
1. Do you expect your spouse to work and earn money? How much money are you satisfied with?
2. How would you like to spend the money? As an individual and as a family?
3. What are your short-term and long-term financial goals?
4. Do you expect your spouse to be at home and take care of the children?
5. Do you expect your spouse to do homework and be involved in activities with them?
6. Do you expect your spouse to listen and support you through all of your emotional difficulties? Including boredom?
7. What can he or she do to show you their support?
8. Are there any physical attributes that affect the level of attraction? A hairstyle, facial hair, weight gain, proper self-care?
9. How much sex do you expect every week?
10. Describe the quality of sex you’d be satisfied with.
11. What do you expect your spouse to do at home in terms of household chores?
12. How much time together would be enough to feel connected and in tune?
13. How much social time with friends should your spouse spend?
14. Should you be with him or her in every social activity or are you ok by yourself?
15. How do you expect your spouse to express his or her disagreement with what you are doing or not doing?
16. How do you expect your spouse to communicate disagreements about changes in your physical attributes or personality?
17. Are any of these points contingent on each other’s performance? For example, no sex if you are not doing any chores around the house.
These are just a few sample questions, but you get the idea for now. Before you figure out how to approach and fix a problem, you’d have to define it first. By the time they get to therapy with me, a lot of couples are so frustrated and tired of fighting, they don’t really know what the true issue is and have no idea what they are fighting about.
In addition, they are probably terrible at problem-solving because they are so frustrated with each other, they don’t really take the time to listen. They anticipate each other’s answer and they get mad before the other one even opens his (her) mouth. That’s why I highly recommend you do this exercise in writing first, exchange your notes, and keep doing this in writing until you are able to have a conversation without your blood pressure going up. The hard work of a healthy relationship involves deep listening and negotiating. Unhealthy relationships push things under the rug and build resentment.
No more unspoken expectations, no more hidden resentments.
If you are looking for more relationship resources, go to my Free Marriage and Relationship Resource Center. You’ll find mini-courses, workbooks, and tangible advice. Are you ready to start improving your relationships?
ABOUT: Dr. Ruxandra LeMay is a private practice psychologist in Litchfield Park, Arizona with experience in family therapy, ADHD, and stress and anxiety management. She is the author of My Spouse Wants More Sex Than Me: The 2-Minute Solution For a Happier Marriage. Sign up to her free Wellness Library HERE for more resources on effective communication, emotional unavailability, intimacy, and anxiety management or visit www.ruxandralemay.com for monthly blog posts.