Want your marriage to be happy and successful? Run it like a business!

It may sound unusual, even preposterous, but working out a strategy for running your marriage can work wonders

A young couple discussing their life

Why are so many people getting divorced? Why are so many people having trouble staying in a relationship? Why does being married seem so hard, to so many? Well, let’s look at what marriage is—it is two people living together, sharing all associated duties of their home and their lives. So, when you think about it, a marriage is similar to running a business, where people contribute in a team environment, towards a common goal.

The business of being married is based on—supporting each other, being best friends, meeting each other’s needs, enjoying each other by being romantic and passionate, managing conflict, running a household, bringing up children, paying a mortgage and much more.

What you need is a strategy

If we look at the model of running a business, different people would have different roles, and more importantly, there would be a strategy. A good business runs smoothly, just like a good marriage does, on one condition: Everyone knows exactly what their roles are and happily fulfils their duties. These duties are based on a strategy.

The strategy doesn’t have to be complicated. Your strategy may include: Let’s talk every day [for at least 30 minutes] without distractions. Let’s reconnect once a week on an intimate date night, where we dress to impress, take the night off from cooking, and devote the night to enjoying each other. And let’s make passion a priority, so let’s go to bed early, more often, and make time to make love!

What is not working?

And of course, like a business, people don’t function well in their roles if there is tension. So we need to work out what causes the tension in a marriage—what is not working? So, let’s make time for serious discussions [meetings], and let’s have simple rules about these discussions. Let’s meet, let’s talk, let’s really listen to each other, treat each other with respect, and most importantly, let’s both get what we want and need from this relationship.

I heard this quote years ago: “Angel at work and devil at home”. When at work, are you being kind and considerate to workmates, giving out compliments and smiling all day? That’s great… as long as you keep up the charm when you get home. Or are you too tired to be nice or listen to your partner when you get home? Do you sit on the couch, grab the remote control, and ignore your partner? So what do you think happens when you want to be intimate? Well, I can imagine how this turns out? After 11 years of talking with married women, I have a theory about what I consider to be the biggest leg crosser in women. It is resentment! Resentful women are not enthusiastic lovers.

Let’s make time for serious discussions, and let’s have simple rules about these discussions

Resentments dissolve intimacy

What causes resentment in marriage? A lot of things: Unresolved anger [usually from ineffective arguing], living together but not connecting, not making time for each other, and couples who attempt to control the other, and not allow them personal freedom. A couple who respect each other, support each other, allow the other to have independence, and argue well [even often], very seldom end up with resentment.

Most couples who are experiencing marriage issues need a better argument strategy. So don’t be scared to argue, as arguing is a perfectly normal part of marriage. Simply ensure that arguments are resolved, issues are not swept under the carpet, and you avoid ‘sleeping on an argument’ or in separate beds. Yelling, name calling and long silent treatments must be avoided. Instead, own your feelings, and argue from an ‘I’ standpoint, without accusations. For example, instead of saying: ‘You lazy, good for nothing, slob! You never help me around the house, or with the kids!’ You may wish to say: ‘I feel really overwhelmed today, and I’d really love just a few minutes help. It takes time to change the way we interact, but it’s only a habit, and a habit can be changed in as little as 21 days.

So here are six tips for running your marriage as you would run a business:

1]  Use a strategy

Ensure that your daily routine includes quality ‘talk time’ with your partner, and your weekly routine includes date nights, time for passion, and family time each day, and on the weekends.

2] Have designated roles

To avoid confusion and frustration, ensure everyone has a role, and adheres to it. For example, you may be the cook in the household, your child may take the rubbish out, and your partner may help with the dishes. If these roles are well defined, tension will be reduced, creating a more peaceful household.

3] Effective communication of needs

If both parties are communicating their needs using ‘I’ statements, thus being assertive instead of aggressive, the home will be a happier place. For example, if one partner does not pursue their hobbies, they may feel restricted and oppressed, which could lead to a depressed state. In an ideal marriage, each partners’ needs are met in the relationship and in life. It’s vital that these needs are communicated!

4] Treat one another with respect

Just as you treat your workmates with respect and kindness, get into the habit of listening, caring and being considerate with your family members. Neither of you should ever swear, belittle, or raise your voice at the other.

5] Have regular meetings

To reduce the chances of resentment, communication must be efficient. If you need to discuss anything, particularly about needs that are not met, hurt feelings, anger and so on, schedule a meeting. Conduct this meeting in a quiet place, with no disruptions such as television or computers. Feel free to have a glass of water, a pen and paper, and take turns in speaking and listening.

6]  Conflict management

If either of you become angry, ensure you calm down first, before speaking. Schedule a meeting for later that day or night, and talk in a professional manner, using ‘I’ statements and avoid the blame game by using ‘you’ statements—stay focussed on your own needs, not your partner’s shortcomings.

Don’t become emotionally bankrupt. Use a strategy to ‘run your marriage’, stay on track and be happy.

A version of this article first appeared in the June 2015 issue of Complete Wellbeing

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