Many new studies show that our spouses affect us in many, many surprising ways, often for the better and… sometimes for the worse. What can you blame on your spouse? Let’s take a look.
Is Your Spouse Ruining Your Life? 1 of 9
It's quite possible. Our spouses have a big impact on us, a much bigger impact than most of us think. Here are 7 problems that might, at least in part, be the fault of your spouse.
Your Inability to Drop Pounds, Especially if Your Spouse is Overweight, Too 2 of 9
An Ohio State study found that most wives gain 20 pounds, on average, after tying the knot.
If you are trying to drop pounds but your overweight spouse is not, you'll probably encounter some friction, finds research done at the University of North Carolina and University of Texas. In their survey, the overweight spouses felt threatened by their partner's weight loss and retaliated by becoming more critical and less interested in romantic affection, and they also sabotaged their partner's efforts with unhealthy foods.
It all underscores the importance of good communication and shows why marital therapy just might be the solution for stubborn pounds.
Photo credit: Alisa Bowman
Zoning Out in Front of the Boob Tube 3 of 9
One reason spouses gain and lose weight together is this: they watch more TV than single people. "You watch your show, but then you have to sit through your spouse's favorite show, and then you usually have one you watch together," said Texas healthcare professional Judy Gaman in a Huffington Post story.
I personally would never have even known about Duck Dynasty, Tosh 2.0 and Ridiculousness if it were not for my husband. Similarly, he's been known to sit through many episodes of Big Bang Theory and Modern Family with me.
Note to self: Find something else to do together.
Photo credit: Takkk, via Wikimedia Commons
Your Foul Mood, Especially if Your Spouse Woke Up on the Wrong Side of the Bed 4 of 9
O magazine recently coined a new term: "emotional contagion." That's when one person catches another person's bad mood, just as one might catch the flu virus from another.
Negativity, it seems, is quite contagious. What to do? For me, meditation has been a huge blessing. It has helped me become aware of my husband's moods (as well as my own). That gives me distance, helps me to see that his mood isn't about me, and also gives me something to do about it: breathe. By taking ownership of my thoughts and emotions, I'm less likely to be swayed by his.
Photo credit: Alisa Bowman
That Extra Glass of Wine 5 of 9
When men marry, they tend to drink less. Women? It's the reverse, finds a survey done at the University of Cincinnati. How could this be?
It has to do with mirroring. Women, generally, are smaller in size and have a lower alcohol tolerance than men. So when men marry, they drink less, matching what their wives consume. Women, on the other hand, drink more, matching what their husbands consume. There's a natural meeting in the middle, or a compromise that neither party even knew they were making.
If you're happy with what you are consuming, there may not be problem here. If you're not happy, though, here's what I'd suggest: Switch to tea. It's just as soothing. It's can be savored in the same way. It's warm and comforting. And it allows you to kick back with a drink as your spouse kicks back with his own.
Photo credit: AndrÃ© Karwath, via Wikimedia Commons
Your Inability to Quit Smoking 6 of 9
It's not easy to walk away from nicotine, but researchers from Wayne State University found that you'll be more successful if your partner supports your efforts. For one, if you both smoke, you'll be triggered every time your partner lights up. Your partner can also serve as a source of accountability, and can also help you surf through your withdrawal. Include your spouse in the process, and tell him exactly how he can help you give up the habit.
Photo credit: Nikita2706, via Wikimedia Commons
Only Thinking About One Thing 7 of 9
For the most part, men really do have stronger impulses than women, finds new research. In other words, sensual temptation really is more tempting for them than it is for us. It doesn't mean they can't practice self-control. If anything, it means that men who remain monogamous and who don't check out the cute waitress with the low cut top are practicing a lot more self-control than most of us think.
Photo credit: Zolinpiero, via Wikimedia Commons
Your Stress, Especially If You’re a Working Mom 8 of 9
Do you feel like your day is never done? That you are trying to do nine things perfectly, but only a few of them will ever get done well? That you can't be everything to everyone no matter how hard you try?
Here's what might be going on. Back in the 1950s, the vast majority of women handled the home front — cooking, cleaning, child-tending — and men handled the career front. That has shifted. Now moms are the sole or main money-earners in 4 in 10 homes.
Yet, the UK's Economic and Social Research Council recently found that moms still do the majority of housework, even when they are also holding full time jobs. In two-thirds of European households, women do 70 percent of all the housework, and there's no reason to believe things are any different in the US.
So it's not all in your mind. You really do have too much on your plate. What to do about it? Well, you've got a few choices: 1) Ignore a lot of what needs to be done at home. Do you really need to iron, for instance? I personally haven't done that in years. 2) Have a good sit down with your spouse, list all the tasks that need to be done, and split them up more evenly. Mention that European research found that Dads who pitch in more tend to be less stressed, too. While you are enlisting dad's help, perhaps it's time to get the kids to do more chores as well. 3) If you can afford it: outsource. Is there a neighborhood kid who might cut the grass or rake the leaves? Can you afford a cleaning person once a month to do heavy duty stuff like the shower stalls and floors?
Photo credit: By Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer, via Wikimedia Commons
For Leaving You Behind 9 of 9
The first time my husband left me behind, we were in an airport. There I was, slowly making my way down the terminal with our toddler. There my husband was, so far ahead of me that I could barely see him. At first, I felt only stress: How was I ever going to keep up? Then came the anger: What is WRONG with him? Here I was struggling with this child who was running every which way, continually dropping my bags, and just generally feeling overwhelmed. There he was strolling way ahead of me, not a care in the world.
So I stood still thinking, "I wonder if he'll even notice that we've stopped walking."
He didn't. Eventually I had to call his cell to find out where he was.
This? It has become something that I continually complain about. Why do you have to walk so fast!?! Dude: we're supposed to be spending time TOGETHER! Do you even realize what I'm dealing with WAY BACK HERE!?!
A recent study, however, helped to soften my irritation. As it turns out, my husband may actually be walking slower, even though it might not appear that way to me. Everyone has a natural walking speed that feels comfortable to them. Try to walk at a different speed — for instance to keep up with your husband in the airport — and you'll feel a bit uncomfortable.
Men have longer legs than women, so they tend to have a faster gait, and walking more slowly than your normal speed is just as uncomfortable as walking more quickly. Still, most men slow down about 7 percent when they are walking with romantic partners.
Now I'm thankful that he's at least within sight.
Photo credit: By Jorge Royan, via Wikimedia Commons
Read more of Alisa’s writing at ProjectHappilyEverAfter.com.