Happily Married – What’s My Secret?

If you want to learn how to have a happy marriage, get your advice from someone who is happily married.

I have been happily married for over 10 years now. I don't think of marriage as a job. I think of it as an investment of my time. Time I gladly give to it because of the benefits I get from it. We've been through rough patches. What gets us through is respect for each other as individuals and a commitment to stay together even though things have been tough.

At this point, given what all we have been through - I feel REALLY secure in the relationship and I've extremely happy - despite the difficulties of our current financial situation - which can tear relationships apart - I feel like we've only gotten stronger.

Anyway - In order to have him there for me - I have to nurture him and be there for him. It's a reciprocity thing. Yeah - it's harder to do when a kid is taking up your time, but I still try to make sure I tell him regularly how much I appreciate the fact he is in my life. I don't do that for him. I do it for myself to remind myself how lucky I actually am to have him in my life so that I don't take him for granted. I don't need or expect him to reciprocate, though he usually does.

Anyway - because it's something I do for me, it doesn't feel like work. It makes me happy to remember why I married him. It makes me happy to think of how lucky I am he is in my life. It isn't work, but it is something I have to remind myself to do regularly to make it a habit.

I also take an operant conditioning approach and actively reward my hubby with good boy rewards (not sex - verbal rewards - literally - thank you for helping me) to encourage him to pay attention to and appreciate me as well. It works and no - I don't feel like I am manipulating him. It's the use of behavioral science to ensure we are both happy in the relationship.

How do you keep your marriage healthy and happy? 

Optimal Stopping

Turns out math can help you find a spouse or hire a good employee. I love science!

There was a great scientist named Kepler – look him up if you don’t know who he is. Anyway – he needed a wife, so he set out to do it systematically. He interviewed a lot of women.  The problem is – how do you know when to stop? He didn’t and missed the opportunity to propose to his 2 best candidates as they had moved on by the time he realized they were his best option. 

So, the question is: Is there an optimal stopping point.  And the answer is – yes. According to the author of this article: http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2014/05/15/312537965/how-to-marry-the-right-girl-a-mathematical-solution  This mathematical strategy called optimal stopping is “a way, not to guarantee success, but to maximize the likelihood of satisfaction.”  Mathematicians apparently claim that this strategy works for most “hiring” decisions.

Here’s how it works. Have a list of candidates. Interview the first 36.8% of the candidates. Then, the first candidate after that that is better than the best of that group – hire them.  What this lets you do is see what the average candidate is like by sampling the first 3rd of your candidates. Then, knowing what the average is like, you are now able to recognize good candidates – who are better than average - when you meet them. This will save you the hassle of having to go through all the rest of the candidates and potentially losing your best candidate during the waiting process. Because really, if someone is better than average, they are probably going to get other offers.

I’m happily married, but I do know that one of the reasons I was able to recognize my hubby as a quality person was because I already understood what other guys were like. And again, will this get you the best candidate? Maybe not. But it will get you a better than average candidate and that’s good odds.

Don’t try to parent while tired

Tag Team Parenting is critical to happy parenting.

I try not to parent while tired. When I parent while tired, all my ideals as a parent go out the window. Instead of a happy household where the kid is well behaved and we are laughing and getting stuff done, it devolves into a screaming mess with either me or my son taking a time out. I know I do pretty well because I rarely have to take a time out and neither does my son.  But it does happen. And when it does, no one feels good about what just happened.

As I’m the adult, it’s my responsibility to make a change when things aren't working.  And what I’ve realized is that when I realize I am tired, I need to hand my son off to my husband to handle for me so that he can be the calm rational parent our kid deserves.  Because really, when our son is tired and cranky, having a tired and cranky parent isn’t going to help him calm down.  So – we tag team so that he can, hopefully have a calm parent to care for him..

 I realize that I’m lucky because I’m married and I have a partner parent who I can tag team our kid with.  Many parents are not so lucky. They are it. But as I’ve grown into parenting with my kid, more and more I realize that – it takes a village is really true.

My son has friends in the neighborhood and I do go out and spend time socializing with the other parents as the kids play.  Now, I know what you are thinking, if they are at another parent’s house- free child care!  And I do take advantage of that. But here’s the thing, my fellow parents and I act as a tag team when we need it.  So if one of the neighbors isn’t feeling well, the kids will play at our house. Need to have an uncomfortable conversation with an ex – shuttle the kids off to a neighbor’s house.

This sort of neighborhood tag teaming is only possible if the adults get to know one another and commit to supporting each other as parents so that we can all do better. When there is a behavioral problem with one of the kids, we get together and discuss how to handle it so we are all working together to help the kid cope better and learn to behave better.

Take the time to develop a parenting support network so that when you need someone to take over for you, you have help. You do have to nurture yourself.  Don’t try to parent while tired. It rarely ends well.

What Recovery Programs Work?

If you are dealing with addiction, what sort of help should you be seeking out?
 Overcoming Addiction - what works

I love science. And one of the things that science has done for us is that it has shown us what addiction recovery programs work and which don’t. Check out this research from Behavior Therapy Associates: http://www.behaviortherapy.com/ResearchDiv/whatworks.aspx

One of the things you will notice is that acupuncture has a better success rate for addicts than Alcohol Anonymous does.  But what really seems to work is brief interventions and self-help of the sort geared towards helping people establish new habits through motivational enhancements.

Programs that require you to be in therapy for a really long time and basically transfer your addiction from alcohol to treatment aren’t that effective.

What you want is a targeted approach that will help you establish new ways of behaving and interacting with the addiction you no longer want to have. There are several resources listed at the website and the do have online programs of the sort that seem to work best.  So if you are struggling with addiction, check them out.

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