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I Love You But You Always Put Me Last

Andrew G. Marshall is a marital expert who knows a thing or two about making relationships work. Here he reveals the five secrets to a happy relationship and in his previous post dispels five parenting myths that could be ruining your happiness. Read on for your chance to win one of five copies of his brand new relationship manual I Love You But You Always Put Me Last.

 

1. Ask for what you want

Lots of us were brought up being told “I want doesn’t get” or not to be too pushy or to “think of others first”. So we expect our partner to be a mind-reader and know what we want or we drop hints (for example “it would be nice if…”) which can easily be misunderstood or not really heard in the hurly burly of bringing up children. Other people set themselves up rejection in the way, they ask (for example “I know you’re busy but…”) Don’t hand your partner a ready made reason to say NO. Avoid long pre-ambles as your partners will stop listening (for example “I don’t often ask for anything but I’ve got to take the dog to the vet and the washing machine repairman is coming….”). It also helps if you ask for something specific (like half an hour to have a quiet bath) rather than something general (like more support) which could mean anything to your partner.

 

2. Praise what you like rather than complain about what you don’t

If you tell your partner, “it really helped that you cooked tea” or “you changed that nappy really well”, he will be encouraged to do it more often. I call it Descriptive Praise and it works really well with toddlers because it shows the behaviour that you want. Anything that’s good enough for your children is good enough for your partner too. It certainly works better criticising – which doesn’t make him think “I’ll have to learn to do it better” but “why do I bother?”

 

3. Accept your feelings but challenge your thoughts

Your feelings are clues about how to react. So if you’re feeling angry, sad or taken for granted, pay attention and ask yourself why. However, double check your thoughts. They are normally driven by hours of over-thinking that take random events and put them together as an over-arching motive for your partner’s behaviour. For example “he doesn’t help because he wants to be single”. If you ask him, he’ll probably tell you he’s simply tired or stressed. This approach will lead to a rational discussion about how to solve the underlying problem. Whereas thinking he wants to be single leads to recriminations and angry outbursts.

 

4. Don’t just talk about your relationship when there’s a problem

When things are going well most couples breathe a sigh of relief and shut up. It means that they only ever say anything when they are at the end of their tether (and everything will come out as angry or critical) or after a row (when they’re trying to solve a particular dispute rather than the overall problem). In contrast, the good times set up a good mood and an open attitude. It works even better if you start with a compliment eg “you’ve really impressed me with your attitude to….”. Start with an open-ended and non-judgemental question, for example “What can we do to make mornings less stressful?”

 

5. Guard couple time

Remember you came together because you enjoyed doing things together – not to pay bills, do chores or raise kids. So don’t neglect the fun, the jokes and the quality time together. We think that because our partner loves us, he or she will understand if they come last. This is true but only up to a point. If you don’t feed your love, you will become work colleagues (in the job of bringing up children) or just ‘friends’ and you need to be so much more than that!

 

Ed: plan some proper down time with your partner. Invest in a travel cot and let granny or a friend have the kids for the night. Go on…  enjoy! Hold hands! Life’s too short not to! 

 

 

20 Comments

  1. Nick

    Work stress and not spending enough time together are our biggest issues. So when we are all home, the kids get all our attention without much left for each other.

  2. zoe sneath

    We don’t commutate with each other,tips were to start would be great.

  3. Gemma

    Money… It’s the cause of 99% if our worries and causes so many tears and bickering :(
    The other 1% is normally down too not spending enough time together as a couple and as a family. It’s hard to get the balance of couple time and family time with hubby working full time and not wanting to miss out on time with our daughter.
    I NEED this book!!!

  4. Laura F

    For us it’s different parenting styles and inconsistency!

  5. Heather

    When it feels like my life as a woman (now mother) has changed beyond recognition – but appears his has hardly changed at all and he can carry on in his carefree manner as he did before we had a baby :-(

  6. Helen

    Time. We both work full time and our son is in full time nursery. We bicker on a morning whist we rush around getting dressed and eating, we always seem to be 5 or 10 minutes short. And then on an evening we rush around with tea, bath time and bed time. And then its time for us to go to bed otherwise we’ll be too tired the following morning. We usually have huge arguments on Saturdays about ridiculous things like our son’s shoes or who should be feeding the cat, just because we haven’t had time to even speak to each other during the week.

  7. Sarah

    Without a doubt tiredness.

    Tiredness for me means being insecure and often threatened by the thought of being left. It’s hard to know where this comes from but I guess it’s to do with the change a mother goes through: not only has our bodies changed (and not returned to us) our lives are now consumed 24-7 with our little ones. It often feels like the partners life has not changed and this is hard to deal with

    :)

  8. sofia ramos

    him being constantly at the iphone

  9. Becky Milby

    The most common cause of arguments for us is the never ending (and I know it’s childish and wrong) blame game. I reckon I do “everything” whatever that is, and he comes home and gets to spend quality and fun time with the children. Then in his eyes I am the nagging negative reason not to come home. We know we have to give this old chestnut a break, but we’re both so tired and stretched beyond our means that the cycle never gets broken. :(

  10. Sarah Nichols

    We row over everything lol. .
    Whose the most tired
    Not spending enough alone time together ( more me)
    Not getting time to not be parents
    Who does the most chores
    How to discipline the kids
    Lack of communication
    Not feeling wanted
    Lack of sex

    List goes on and on
    X

  11. Nicola

    The children and discipline. He is too harsh and I guess he thinks I’m too soft at times.

  12. Hayley Waldram

    How as a mother I’m hardwired to respond to the slightest whimper from my child and my husband isn’t! Leaving me feeling resentful that my husband isn’t responding (quick enough) to our child’s distress, particularly at 5 am on my work days.

  13. Nikita Hadland

    Lack of knowledge/understanding. We’re both first time parents. When the baby is crying one of us says to the other “what dies he want?” Neither have a clue and are still learning so snap at each other.

  14. Anna

    We usually argue about finances, not spending enough time together as a couple and as a family. Would love to read that book as we are thinking about splitting up sometimes ;(

  15. agnes kubiak

    finances, tiredness and stress!!!

  16. Laura

    My partner feeling I don’t pay him enough attention as I’m too focused on my little one.

  17. Liz

    We argue about who is the most tired and who has done their share of the chores.

  18. Liz

    Who does the most work? Juggling working and the many tasks that come with children including mum’s taxi, cleaning etc. the tasks seem endless and you always seem to be the one doing them! But maybe what it really is is a lack of communication and feeling supported by your partner.

  19. Dominique

    It would be great if my son could sleep through. I’m constantly feeling exhausted at the moment with getting up through the night and working long hours caring for children. This book could be an amazing help to our family.

  20. jessica

    This book could potentially be my answer to sorting my life out. My 13 months year old was a fantastic sleeper – slept right through till about 7 months? By then she started waking up 2/3 times a night but with a little water or her dummy and reassurance she’d nod back off. Its approaching 7 weeks solid of NO SLEEP. Holly will sleep for three hours if were lucky and thats in our bed, Ofcourse she’d nap during the day (which i tried cutting out) But even then – It’s on our chest! Not only is the stress from sleep deprivation ruining my relationship but its also made me quite poorly, Losing the odd day in work so struggling to make ends meet. What to do aye? The joys of having kiddywinkles! All you mummy and daddies out there, stay strong – least we can say were part of a no sleep beautiful tribe, all flagging a bit. Take care all, from a sleepy 2 ear infection, run down – wouldn’t change her for the world mammy!!! Xx

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