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Stepparenting, Step-By-Step

person at the top of long stairway outsideFamilies are complex organisms that are constantly growing, constricting, and adapting to daily life. On the outside, family is a beautiful word that gives people warms fuzzies. But when you’re becoming a stepparent, these beautiful organisms you once watched contentedly from afar become up close, personal horrors. Not only are you afraid of stepping on toes, kid germs, familial boundaries, and so, SO much more, you are afraid of turning into the evil stepmother or sinister stepfather.

Well, just relax as much as humanly possible, and let us breakdown the situation for you. We’ll include some helpful pointers, too.

Their Point of View

Some children are reluctant to let a stepparent into their lives, and some are overjoyed to have another parent in the house. The stepparents with the adoring stepchildren may have it easier, but there are still the parental boundaries to hash out with the children’s biological parent, and that is no easy task. Yet those with the reluctant stepchildren have a more difficult situation to juggle, so we’ll focus on them.

The best piece of advice anyone can give to stepparents (especially those with reluctant stepchildren) is not to push the relationship. We don’t mean give in to every demand and treat the children like princes or princesses. We mean don’t expect to be best friends right away. Don’t plan tons of outings together, don’t spend excessively on them, and don’t buy matching anything.

Stepchildren aren’t evil demons out to get stepparents (usually), but they are children. They feel powerless, torn between families, and unsure. If the other biological parent is in the picture, they may be waiting to be given “permission” to like you or may feel as though liking you is a betrayal to their other parent.

So whatever you do, just give the stepchild time to get used to the idea of a stepparent without suffocating them or patronizing them. Give them their space, and they will come seeking a relationship when they are ready. Warning: This may never happen in the way you would like, but no one every said being a stepparent was easy.

Your Conundrum

Huffington Post blogger Wednesday Martin put it best when she created a little list of things to avoid in her blog, “When and Why You Shouldn’t Put the Kids First.” This list handles the silent struggle between stepparents and stepchildren, and that is the struggle over the biological parent. To stepchildren, their biological parent is theirs’ and their other bio parents’; this perception is ruined when a stepparent enters the situation. The stepparent claims a part of the biological parent the stepchildren cannot claim, and that the other bio parent has relinquished. In essence, it’s an odd territorial standoff between the stepchildren and the stepparent.

So instead of aggressively trying to win the battle, and instead of forfeiting to placate the stepchildren, simply accept your place as the biological parent’s partner. However, this requires joint commitment, so make sure to talk things over with the biological parent.

  1. When the stepchildren visit, make them a part of your household’s routines; don’t make the plans all about the children and their wants; that sends the message that their parent and their new stepparent’s life is secondary to theirs’. Make it equal by maintaining the household rituals.
  2. Sometimes the biological parent may try to show the children they matter by making the relationship with the stepparent secondary. This is most often exhibited by limited affection and contact with the stepparent. For you biological parents, this is a poor route because it alienates your new spouse and fails to unite the family. So continue to show affection for your new spouse, even in front of the kids. (Just don’t go overboard. Kids don’t even want to see their bio parents make out.)
  3. To the stepparents, don’t sacrifice your sanity, relationship, or time to win over your stepchildren. The stepchildren will make themselves available when they are ready to be in a relationship with you, so don’t take desperate measures to make that day come any sooner. Maintain the relationship with your spouse, maintain your health, your work, and the rest will follow in time.

Co-Parents, Co-Pilots

200258257-001The first month of the New Year is about to come to a close, and if January is still the most popular month for divorce, many find themselves facing the task of rebuilding their lives. You may feel pain, resentment, and confusion over the situation, but the world still continues to turn, as divorced parents are fully aware. So hold yourself together, pick yourself up, and start rebuilding your life.

However, we have one caveat when rebuilding your life, and it concerns children. If you and your ex had children, just realize it will be impossible (and probably unhealthy) to try to rebuild without including your ex. We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: You can stop being someone’s spouse, but you can’t stop being someone’s parent.

Erasing the ‘Bad Parent’ Feeling

It will be difficult to still allow the person who caused (and causes) you so much pain to still have any part of your life, but there are a few ways to try to make it work. Just a few words of wisdom before we launch into what seems like a Herculean task: These tips are guidelines, which might be terribly difficult to follow.

Just recognize no one is (or should) be expecting you to be able to follow these guidelines immediately. Think of them as an end goal in this whole situation. No one is perfect, and the last thing you need is to be left feeling inadequate or like a lesser person for not being able to shut off your feelings.

Rebuilding Your Life, With Your Ex

You and your ex need to establish your roles as divorced parents, and how that will play out for the rest of the children’s lives. Here are a few goals to aspire to in your new “co-parenting” journey.

  • Keep Civil Rights Alive: You don’t have to be buddy-buddy, but avoid being antagonistic. So be civil, even if there are some things or words of your ex’s that make you want to laser beam them into ashes. This will give your children a feeling of stability, instead of making them as though they have to suit up like a S.W.A.T. team whenever their parents are together.
  • Planning Makes Perfect: Collaborate on a schedule for the children. Planning for who will have the kids on holidays and such will eliminate stress, high-strung emotions, and probably tears. It will also allow for a more peaceful co-parenting transition for the children.
  • You Are Not the Gestapo: You know how the secret police in Nazi Germany would hold 24 hour or longer interrogations, making people confess to what the Gestapo wanted to hear? Don’t do that. When your children come home from time with your ex, don’t fire off rounds of questions. You may ask “Did you have fun?,” but questions about your ex’s personal life are off limits. Also, if you have questions about the schedule, ask your ex. Keep the children out of the middle for your sanity and theirs.
  • Don’t Play Hide-And-Seek: Get used to being in the same room, at the same time, as your ex. It will be difficult for quite a while, but don’t let these moments of brief contact be about the contact. Chances are, the contact will be necessary for the children (school plays, parent-teacher meetings, awards ceremonies, graduation, recitals, and so much more). This will make future functions easier on both of you, as well as keep your child from being addicted to anxiety pills.

There is one last giant addition to this list, but its so important to fully understand, it requires its own blog. So just bear with us, and we’ll get to it tomorrow. In the meantime, let us know what you think about these tips/guidelines/ goals (whatever you want us to call them). Will they be difficult or easy? Are there any we missed?

Getting a Divorce in a Covenant Marriage |

covenant marriage divorce

If you’ve never heard of a covenant marriage, or if you know very little about covenant marriage, it’s probably because it is only offered in 3 states. Covenant marriages are offered in Arkansas, Arizona, and Louisiana, but the concept of the covenant marriage has been around for quite some time.

What is a Covenant Marriage?

A covenant marriage is different from a “regular” marriage because the couples in covenant marriages essentially waive their rights to a no-fault divorce. Covenant marriages are said to be more binding than regular marriages because they are based on covenants, not contracts.

A covenant is a solemn, usually religious, agreement, whereas a contract is a legal agreement. Proponents of covenant marriages believe “regular” marriages are contract-based marriages, which do not hold marriage as sacred and permanent an institution. Due to the deep religious affiliation covenant marriages have, covenant marriages have certain laws imposed upon them that make it difficult to divorce.

Guidelines of a Covenant Marriage

A covenant marriage requires couples to attend premarital counseling, and to fill out special covenant marriage paperwork. During the premarital counseling sessions, the couple is advised of the severity of committing to a lifelong marriage, the legal restrictions on divorce, and how to deal with marital issues.

The prospective spouses then must file an intent to enter into a covenant marriage. The intent (or declaration) involves a few documents that demonstrate both parties’ willingness to enter into a covenant of marriage. All this paperwork includes disclaimers about the stipulations of a covenant marriage, like the difficulties of divorcing out of a covenant marriage and more.

Divorce in Covenant Marriages

The first step in seeking a divorce in a covenant marriage is to seek marriage counseling. The covenant both parties agreed to when they wedded includes a clause about always seeking counseling should issues arise.

There are stringent divorce grounds in a covenant marriage; but since only three states offer the covenant marriage option, here are the specific grounds:

Arkansas: There are 4 grounds for divorce.

  1. Adultery

  2. Conviction of a felony or serious crime

  3. Physical or sexual abuse of one of your children

  4. Living separate and apart for at least 2 years; living separate and apart for 2 years and 6 months, if there are children; or living separate and apart for at least 1 year if there has been a form of abuse

Arizona: There are 8 grounds for divorce.

  1. Adultery

  2. Abandonment for 1 year or more

  3. Imprisonment or death sentence due to conviction of a felony

  4. Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse

  5. Living separate and apart for 2 consecutive years

  6. Being legally separated for 1 year

  7. Substance and/or alcohol abuse

  8. Both spouses agree to the divorce

Louisiana: There are 5 grounds for divorce.

  1. Adultery

  2. Imprisonment or death sentence due to conviction of a felony

  3. Abandonment for 1 year or more

  4. Physical or sexual abuse

  5. Living separate and apart for 2 years; under legal separation, living separate and apart for 1 year, or 1 year and 6 months if there are children.

Myths, Realities, and Thoughts About the Divorce Rate

divorce statisticsEvery now and then, American media will plaster the U.S. divorce rate all over the news outlets. No doubt you’ve seen or heard the shocking news that the divorce rate in America is at 50%, meaning half of all marriages stay in tact; or, if you’re a glass-half-empty kind of person, then  50% of American marriages end in divorce.

This news sparks floods of opinions from pundits from all sides and shades of every spectrum known to man; “Are Americans experiencing a moral dilemma,” or “Are we simply the epitome of depravity?” No one is quite sure, but here’s one thing we are sure of: The divorce rate has not hit cruise control at 50%.

Numbers Never Lie, Statistics on the Other Hand…

According to the U.S. Census Population compendia published in 2012, the percentage of divorced spouses in 2010 was 10.4%. Although the census data excluded members of the Armed Forces, 10.4% is quite a different figure from 50%.

So why on earth do people say the divorce rate is 50%? Well we’re glad you asked, because it’s really a strange and interesting quasi-science.

Calculating the Divorce Rate

Statisticians have various methods to calculate the divorce rate, according to the National Numeracy Network.

  • Method 1: Calculate the ratio of divorces and marriages per year

  • Method 2: Calculate the percentage of divorces that occur per year throughout the entire population

  • Method 3: Calculate the percentage of divorces that occur per year throughout all marriages

  • Method 4: Calculate the percentage of divorces occurring in a group of people who married within the same year

According to a New York Times article, most social scientists (as they are called) prefer to use Method 4 to find the current divorce rate and project the future divorce rate. But, as it turns out, the divorce rate is very time-specific and cannot reliably be used to predict future divorce rates. The reason is because each generation has different social variables that influence their marriage and divorce rate.

Custom Divorce Rates

Like every person realizes one day, there are multiple sides to a single story; divorce is no different. Each generation has different life-altering events and obstacles to overcome, just like each generation has different famed cartoons or celebrities.

A Wall Street Journal essay, published in 2011, put it best: “Every generation has its life-defining moments . . . For much of my generation– Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980– there is only one question: “When did your parents get divorced?” “

The essay included a graph from the National Marriage Project, depicting the rises and falls of the divorce rate. The points of time are connected by a continuous line, but in the light of the highly time-specific nature of the divorce rate I wonder, “Should we depict the divorce rate as a single, long-term event?” I also wonder how the projected 50% divorce rate affects couples currently on the fence about filing for divorce.

Readers, what are your thoughts on the divorce rate? Is a reliable indicator of the state of America’s family structure, or should we even put stock in the idea of a divorce rate?

The Evolution of Child Custody

history of child custodyLittle more than a decade ago, it was estimated that 90% of child custody was settled with the mother gaining full custody of the children. This obvious imbalance in custodial arrangements has made fathers all over America wonder at the horrible injustice and sex discrimination perpetrated by American courts.

But the courts didn’t just wake up one day and decide mothers were better parents; and family court judges are not battling Oedipus complexes. The reason about 90% of mothers received child custody in the past is due to a little thing called the Tender Years Doctrine. But we’ll get to the Tender Years Doctrine in a bit; first we have to make our way through a short history of the evolution of child custody law.

From Ancient Rome to 2013 America

Roman common law, established around 439 B.C., dictated that children of a marriage were the property of the father. This meant if a Roman husband and wife divorced, the children stayed with the father and the mother left.

Jump ahead hundreds of years to English common law, established around 1000 A.D., which upheld the same child custody outline as Roman common law. Simply carry the same basic common laws over into the founding of America, and you have the basis of American custody laws. The law theory pertaining to child custody was that the father was the only suitable parent to teach the children the ways of the world.

However, hundreds of years later during the time of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800′s, the question of what was best for the child became the focus.

Tender Years Doctrine

The Tender Years Doctrine replaced old Roman and English common law child custody arrangements by giving mothers custody of children, until the age of 6. This change was spurred by the Industrial Revolution’s impact on family structure.

The Industrial Revolution caused men to seek jobs away from the remote villages the English people lived in up until that point. The absence of husbands and fathers forced women and mothers to handle the housekeeping and child rearing completely by themselves. When divorces occurred during this time, the courts saw how impossible it would be for fathers to continue to take full custody of the children.

The Tender Years Doctrine stated that children under the age of 6 were too young to leave their mother’s love and care. However, once children grew older, they were of sufficient age and maturity to follow their fathers to industrial towns to work. In America, the Tender Years Doctrine extended the mother’s custody indefinitely, which is the cause of the statistic describing mothers retaining child custody 90% of the time after a divorce.

Do We Have a New Doctrine?

The 1960′s marked the beginning of the divorce spike, which peaked in the 1980′s; but the divorce revolution also sparked a child custody revolution in the U.S. The new child custody doctrine is defined not by the gender of the custodian (a.k.a. the parent granted with child custody), but by the best interests of the child.

So far, this new “best interests” custody doctrine adopted by American family law courts has created the joint custody option. The first joint custody statute was implemented in California in 1979; by 1991, joint custody was written into more than 40 state statutes.

But here’s the catch: Many people are still seeing mothers gaining preferential custody rights in the divorce process. This claim produces many questions, like “Is this still true today?”

Check back with us later this week for the answer to that question.

Financial Life After Divorce for Women

When I was a young teenage girl, a nice older lady who was working at a grocery store got into a brief conversation with me about college education. She said, “Make sure you get a college degree to put in your back-pocket, in case you end up having to fully support yourself.” I didn’t find out the details of her life, but it’s probable that she was warning me to protect myself against a situation in which she had found herself entangled.

Rewind to about 50 years ago. The reality was most women didn’t think too much of careers or earning a living because that was, and perhaps still is in certain people’s view, the sole responsibility of their husbands. But as time went on from that point, divorce went on the rise. So has the rate of women receiving college degrees and entering the workforce.

Frequently for women, filing for divorce means more changes in lifestyle than separating from a lover– it means taking charge of their financial lives and becoming independent. These ladies are in good company, since the trend of women in the workforce is on the rise globally, divorced or not.

Bringing Home the Bacon

The cost of living is an expensive feat (an understatement for those residing in places like California or New York City). Those going through the divorce process would also agree, which is why it’s not only important to find ways to lower the cost of divorce, but also make sure you are able to support yourself as a newly single person with one lonely income.

Financial independence is increasingly important for women, who are still in the process of obtaining equal status and pay within the male-dominated work environment. They are making significant strides, as of late, and are predicted to do so even more in the near future.  Not only are 4 in 10 global workers female, an expected 1 billion more will become paid workers within the next ten years.

Educational feats provide similar and even more impressive statistics that show the increasing presence and potential for women in the economy. Outshining men within the developed world, 6 out of 10 college diplomas are earned by women. It seems the encouragement of the grocery store lady and others like her has worked.

Why Female Breadwinners Are Necessary

The continually high rate of divorce in the last of half of the 20th, and the beginning of the 21st century means women who are left single, and many times with children, are no longer dependent on men for their own sustenance. On top of this fact, it appears rare in the current economy to see even a marriage-intact household fruitfully surviving on only one income. Women are stepping up to the plate, not only for themselves but for the sake of economic progress within the American home and worldwide.

Baby Boomers’ Booming Divorces: Self-Fulfilling Prophesy?

84120557The rate at which baby boomers are divorcing each other defies many traditional expectations, obliterating marriages that have already lasted 25 plus years. Perhaps it’s not so surprising when you remember that the generation came of age as supporters of the cultural upheaval defining the 60′s. Again, many baby boomers are breaking tradition.

You would think marriages that have lasted so long would continue lasting throughout the end of the spouses’ lives. But statistics have been consistently proving that perception wrong, as more older couples enter the divorce process without looking back. There is a theory circulating that gray divorces are the result of the generation’s original expectations going into their marriages, expectations involving the high-held goal of self-fulfillment.

The Stats Tell A Story

Although the overall divorce rate peaked in the 1980s, a study by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research shows that the baby boomer divorce rate has doubled in the last 20 years. Among those 50 years old or older, the divorce rate went from 1 in 10 in 1990, to 1 in 4 today.

Experts speculate this is partly due to empty-nest syndrome. As opposed to fidelity being a main cause, divorce attorney Don Cosley says, “The reality is that lack of communication is often the deal breaker. Empty nesters wake up one day and realize they have nothing in common with their spouse. That’s because they haven’t kept up the communication in their marriages.” It’s possible that children may have been what was holding a relationship together, so that when they leave the nest, so might love.

Self-Fulfillment, Individual Needs, and Happiness

Social workers and relationship coaches, Linda and Charlie Bloom, offer up another theory regarding the age of entitlement. In addition to baby boomers living longer than any other generation thus far, “those born after 1946 have entered marriage with a goal that was not shared by any previous generation: self-fulfillment.”

At the base of this hypothesis is the notion that, growing up in an era of greater affluence and opportunity, these baby boomers–like the generations that have followed them–feel a sense that they deserve happiness handed to them on a silver platter. And this is the kind of expectation that fueled their motivation to venture into marriage.

While there is nothing wrong with valuing happiness, your individual needs, and personal growth, believing that someone else, your lover, can simply bring all of that to you is a grave mistake. The marriage becomes a blame game of him or her not doing their part to make you happy, when in fact, much of your happiness and success depends on you and the work you put into it.

As the Blooms emphasize, lasting love and happiness comes with your own “willingness to take responsibility for the fulfillment of a desired outcome and making the effort to bring it about.”

Lesson to Learn

Maybe it’s time for the term “self-fulfillment” to be taken more literally, meaning that we fulfill ourselves independently from spouses, and he/she is wonderful icing on the cake. When that shift of attitude takes place, marriage becomes a game of mutual helping and progressing, not finger-pointing. Judging by the high rate of seemingly successful baby boomer couples filing for divorce, it’s likely that they can benefit from this change of perspective.

Delaying Divorce: Delaying the Inevitable?

57441057The sadness and emotional stress the divorce process involves makes it tempting to delay a divorce, perhaps permanently. The question anyone who is contemplating divorce would benefit from asking themselves is this: “Am I just delaying the inevitable?” It is a tough question no one can answer but one spouse or the other. If the answer is “yes,” then delayment means staying in a marriage that is in a constant state of turmoil in favor of putting off the other, more temporary, turmoil of cutting the marriage ties.

There are a few clues that point to the reality of imminent divorce, the basic one being that you are utterly miserable on a daily basis. That’s a pretty good sign. Otherwise, coming to the decision to divorce can be confusing and daunting. It’s usually time to divorce when you are preoccupied with the constant thought of doing it, and all attempts at convincing yourself or your spouse to change things have failed.

Lost, Desperate Causes

Sometimes grim reality is hard to face. But as soon as you face and accept difficult things, the quicker you’ll be able to do something about them and move forward. This philosophy is what therapist Abby Rodman incorporates in her article chronicling common cycles in which partners delaying divorce find themselves entrapped. Here are a couple to look out for:

Trying to Change Your Spouse’s Mind

We’d all love to have the superhuman power of magically changing someone’s perspective or feelings regarding a long-standing issue, whether it be the story of how your marriage went wrong, or whether divorcing is the right thing to do. The tough reality of this kind of push-pull situation, Rodman explains, is that it doesn’t work. Emotional stances that serious rarely, if ever, convert to the other side of the argument. So taking months or even years to attempt this feat is unnecessary delayment.

Pushing the Blame

Another type of counterproductive attempt at persuasion is fighting to determine the blame of the relationship’s approaching demise. Part of escaping this trap is taking responsibility for mutual blame. As Rodman says, “You’ve both played a role in the disintegration of the marriage. In the end, does it really matter who shoulders the blame?” Arguing over a faulty, biased claim like blameworthiness is never-ending and definitely doesn’t solve anything.

The Choice is Yours

A main piece of invaluable advice when residing in the limbo of divorce that’s possibly looming on the horizon, is to follow your heart. As cheesy as that may sound, it’s the key to staying true to yourself. Only you know the day to day reality of your marriage and how it’s affecting your livelihood. If the thought of filing for divorce repeatedly haunts your mind, it must be for good reasons. Trust yourself and the life you want your future to hold.

What do our readers think? What do you believe are the clear, tell-tale signs that divorce is the right decision?

Alimony & Sexism

76755050When the word sexism pops up, it’s common to tag it as a women’s problem; women face injustices in the workplace, and in home-life expectations. But sexism affects men as well. Questions and activism are on the rise regarding the fairness of alimony, and the regular handouts men are oftentimes required to pay ex-wives after filing for divorce. A centuries old system, alimony is beginning to be labeled as out of date with the changing times and gender roles of modern society.

Although every divorce case is different and requires special discretion, many states still require husbands to pay lifetime alimony, with few exceptions. It is especially deemed unjust by these husbands when the wife is fully capable of supporting herself if she so chose. The alimony law’s unfairness in these cases brings up the question of its value and promotion of a different kind of sexism that holds firm to strict gender expectations that are no longer appreciated.

“It’s not fair; it’s the law”

The main argument against lifetime alimony law is that ex-wives are reaping these monetary benefits for no good reason, other than the law states they should because it’s stuck in a 1950’s mentality. Opponents, consisting of both men and women, as discussed in an NPR article, are in favor of modifications, such as the new law in Massachusetts that customizes and determines alimony according to marriage length.

One such alimony opponent discussed in the article is Tom Leustek, a New Jersey based professor whose ex-wife has a Ph.D. Still, he was ordered by a judge to pay her lifetime alimony, since she had ended up quitting a high-paying job to start a less financially rewarding psychology practice. Leustek argues her earning potential is still alive and well. He quotes the judge, who said, “It’s not fair, Mr. Leustek; it’s the law.” That was the turning point leading him to take up activism through a group, called the New Jersey Alimony Reform, that seeks to modify the law in a similar way Massachusetts did.

Stuck in the 1950’s?

The term sexism comes into play when you consider the state of marital affairs of the past, in which most women in America stayed home to care for the house and children, while the breadwinning men trotted off to work. It was and continues to be a limiting stereotype that is still in the process of being eradicated as more and more women step into the workforce and increase their opportunities.

Businessman Raymond Posa is another alimony questioner who faced a similar situation to Leustek’s, agrees that the divorce law needs to change with the times. Referring to the assumptions made by alimony enforcement, he says, “It’s like you’re incapable of getting on your own two feet, and you need to depend on this person for the rest of your life?” If women are making their own money, it makes sense for the patriarchal notion of depending on a man to fall to the wayside where it belongs.

The Perfection Trap and How it Hurts Marriages

86515138A big part of the work of being married is biting your tongue and accepting your spouse, mistakes and flaws included. The alternative is a downward spiral of criticism and resulting resentment that often leads to a contentious, exhausting divorce process. Whether one of the partners (or God forbid, both) are bona fide perfectionists or not, letting perfectionist criticisms and expectations infiltrate a relationship is destructive, yet preventable with a little perspective and self-awareness.

There are a few key triggers and remedies of the perfection trap. An overlapping, general principle to remember, which we all sometimes easily forget, is the good-old golden rule: treat others how you’d want to be treated. Somehow the unexpected desire to nit-pick and judge others, especially those you care for the most, causes us to overlook this nugget of truth that creates harmonious love in relationships.

Self-Awareness and an Empathetic Perspective

Luckily, understanding the origins of one’s penchant for criticizing a beloved helps to crawl out of the contention trap and see a situation for what it really is. Susan Heitler, Ph.D., offers a few insights to what triggers lashing out and how to zap the tendency before it zaps your marriage.

1. Physical Stress: There’s a new-world term I found circulating the internet pages of social media–”hangry.” The word is a combination of “hungry” and “angry.” We’ve all been there, whether it’s due to hunger, physical exhaustion, or other bodily plights that seemingly render our ability to be nice unlikely. Before you know it, you’re spewing fiery, venomous words of disapproval and complaint every which way you step. The trick is to be aware when you are in those vulnerable states and fervently warn your spouse about his/her resulting danger in your presence. Take care of yourself and you’ll be more likely to take care of others.

2. Mental/Emotional Stress: The same goes for other kinds of wear and tear. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or trying to juggle too many tasks at once, you are more likely to find fault in your partner in crime. Little does he/she know that the criticism isn’t really about them; it’s about their partner’s stress needing to find release on something or someone. Taking it out on another person doesn’t help, of course, but instead only creates another stress to add to the list due to the inevitable arguing that ensues. Realizing that your stress is the result of other things besides your partner’s relatively minor faulty behavior will help you stop and think about your actions before they do damage.

3. Different Perspectives:  Finally, stepping outside of yourself to see the world with your partner’s eyes will do wonders for the marriage, especially in those times you’re tempted to point out mishaps. Perhaps when they make a mistake, they are going through some stress of their own. Sharing inner turmoils will strengthen empathy and understanding.

Take Home Message

No one is perfect; not you, not your spouse, not a single human on the earth. Everyone knows this fact on some level, but just about everyone tends to forget it when they feel the urge to blurt out others’ flaws without tact or compassion. It would be a tragedy to let petty things build up to the point of filing for divorce. To avoid that road and the pain of criticizing loved ones, let’s all follow the golden rule and forgive imperfections.