This chapter begins by citing the hot buttons of marital discord: “Work stress, in-laws, money, sex, housework, a new baby..Even in very happy and stable marriages, these issues are perennials…Although every relationship is different, there’s a reason why these particular conflicts are so common: They touch upon some of the marriage’s most important work.
Wow. Think about that for a moment. These are issues that cover almost everything in life, and gives true credence to that idea that having a good marriage takes work. However, what the author adds to this oft-repeated phrase and conversation about work in marriage is that it takes a “rich understanding” between the husband and the wife. Both people need and should feel secure in the marriage. Dr. Gottman cites that marriage should be a port in the storm , a place of peace.
I love this chapter because Dr. Gottman provides some real solutions to the six basic areas of stress. What I like about the sections devoted to each area is that he breaks it down to an essential task for the marriage to accomplish. He starts with the stress of the work day, and then spends a particular amount of time on the stress that in-laws can provide to a marriage (including an exercise based around this for you to work on in your family).
He also provides a multi-step solution to the dilemmas about money that couples often face. He writes that through his research he has found that money is a solvable problem in the beginning of a marriage; the newlywed stage. “That’s because as a marriage goes on, these issues either become resolved successfully or develop into perpetual problems about money’s symbolic meaning.” He talks about setting clear-headed budgeting (and cites one of my favorite books, “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin – who else loves that book besides me?)
The next few sections are about sex, and about housework. I love that for housework that Dr. Gottman states the task in working on this area is “Creating a sense of fairness and teamwork.” He includes a four- paged list of “Who Does What” with columns for “now” and “ideal”, so everyone can get on the same page of contributing to the nurturing of a home.
The section on “Becoming Parents” , statistics show that a baby changes a marriage forever, and it seems that most of the time the changes are for the worse!
“In the year after the first baby arrives, 67 percent of wives experience a precipitous plummet in their marital satisfaction.” Wow. That is really high!
Dr. Gottman goes on to say that the 33 percent of wives that experience greater marital satisfaction in that first year do so because their husband has also experienced the transformation into parenthood. If many husbands feel “left out” whilst a new mother is experiencing the transforming time of new motherhood, he has to realize that he cannot “get his wife back”. Instead, Dr. Gottman writes, “He has to follow her into the new realm she has entered. Only then can their marriage continue to grow.” He has several pages of tips to help couples stay connected as they navigate this change.
Great chapter with lots of food for thought. Hope you all are enjoying it!