The Washington Post, Sunday, June 24, 2010

Diane Sollee, founder of Smart Marriages, an organization that promotes marriage education, outlines some points couples could expect to learn at workshops.

 

  • Disagreements are normal. The trick is to learn how to manage disagreements without hostility and put-downs.
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  • Couples who divorce and those who go the distance disagree the same amount and about all of the same basic things.
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  • There are predictable challenge points in any marriage, including the first two years, the birth of the first baby, years 14 to 16 (when teenagers are often in the home) and the empty nest years.
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  • No one stays the same. You promise to stay together till death do you part, but you can't promise to stay the same.
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  • Don't avoid disagreements. They'll just fester and lead to distance, detachment and eventually detonate.
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  • Listen and speak in a way your partner can't possibly doubt you love him or her. Give your partner your attention. Repeat what your partner said without sarcasm to show you get his or her point of view.
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  • Learn to take time-outs.
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  • Express appreciation often.
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  • Be willing to make up after an argument; it's central to a happy marriage. A repair attempt -- even if it's clumsy or funny -- is crucial.