Resources for this episode:

Dr. Carol Ummel Lindquist - Happily Married With Kids: It's Not a Fairy Tale

Dr. Carol Ummel Lindquist - The Happy Couple Handbook - Marriage: How to Survive Parenting

Dr. Carol Ummel Lindquist - Happily Married with Kids by Carol Ummel Lindquist (2004-01-01)

Carol. Married for 34 and a half years with two sons, and they all provoked her to write her book.

As a marriage counselor she’s more known for high-conflict couples and trauma. She mentioned that most high-conflict couples have trauma in their background and they need to learn to deal with it because it does affect their marriage.

Unhappiness. One cause of unhappiness is due to a huge increase in workload - A lot of people try to do everything on their own and they don’t have any help.

In the years past, we have a lot more help from our immediate family; however since we became more urbanized, we no longer have that casual support. You don’t have as much time to get something done so we have to be conscious of the time that we have as it goes by really fast.  With a big workload to share, you have to decide how much each one of you and your partner would cover or who would help if you need help.

When couples move away from home, a lot of them are in shock. Suddenly the wife is on her own, even if the husband earns enough, and she doesn’t need to work, she’s still exhausted. She encourages them to find friends, people of different ages whom they can exchange help with each other.

A lot of time there are those who don’t have grandkids and would want to be helpful. Some are far away from their grandkids and that gives them a chance to bond with somebody else.

She mentions that there are organizations, even in some churches, where they pair you up with people so you don’t have to worry about these.

Trends. There’s a very clear trend when couples are unhappy - It’s when their kids are between ages 2 to 5. Carol mentions, if you hang on, until your youngest child is 5, it’s going to get a lot better naturally. Given that the kids would be more independent - they can do more things on their own. That’s when parents can often stop and think, organize their time and figure what are the things they can do differently.

Power struggle. You’re much likely to be in the 30%, amongst those couples who are happy, if your parents were happily married. Since you have a model of how they did it and what their attitudes were.

Your children developmentally mirror the developmental stages in a marriage.  Which is a complicated way of saying, if you have power struggle, you would have trouble with your kids when they start saying no to you. So the more you work on your issues, you’re less likely to flip out and react more smoothly, less reactively.

Bed time is a classic example. If kids won’t follow the normal rhythm you follow when they go to bed, you flip out and say that they are disobedient, then it sometimes lead to a couple’s fight.

It’s better to wait for everyone to calm down, then talk about how bedtime would go. Who plays what role – who reads the stories, how are you going to do it, who’s going to handle when things are going astray, etc.

Counseling. When you start fantasizing about getting a divorce, that’s a good time to go and spend a little time in counseling.

Carol and her husband started out by writing the goals for their kids – what they want them to experience and be exposed to which helped them be on the same page.

You both have to think in a way that you need to make an appointment so you can talk about your relationship and how to fix the kids and what you want to do about it – so you’re immediately addressing it in a way that they are a team member and not somebody you’re trying to get them to do it your way.

Couples are tired and so desperate that we tend to say, “Well, if you do this”, “If you do that.”, whereas it’s better if you tend to see things as a project that you’re working on together.

Five to One Ratio. There’s a rule that was discovered thru marital therapy, where they can predict who would be happily married 25 years after their engagement – Couples are asked to sit down and argue on about something. One thing that they’ve learned is that no matter if you were a calm couple or a couple that could get really noisy when they fight or somewhere in between, was the five to one rule.

You need to do one positive for one negative to communicate effectively. Positives are things like hugs, cuddling, leaving notes, picking up the laundry, getting someone a glass of water, etc, while suggestions are all ones.

This could also work on your kids or anybody and it gets smoother around the house.

Triggers. Learn what triggers your partner. If you ask your spouse the way he needed to be asked, and vice versa, then we wouldn’t be triggered. You’re not changing who you are, but realizing that things are easier if you do it in certain ways.

Learn your triggers as well. It’s even more important as knowing what triggers your partner. When you react more strongly than the situation requires, the situation may have a meaning from your childhood that has nothing to do with your kids or partner, you have to learn to work around them.

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