Knowing when to open up a discussion and when to stay quiet can go a long way toward improving your relationship and keeping conflict to a minimum. To learn more, we spoke with Terri Orbuch, author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great (Delacorte Press, 2009). She shared five things you should always share with your partner -- and five things you should keep to yourself.
Five things you should always share:
1. Financial details
You might think surprising your partner with a new washer-dryer is a good idea, but you should discuss the purchase before you hand over your credit card. "When couples make joint decisions they are happier and more likely to stay together over time," Orbuch explains. "When both partners are involved in big purchases they feel like they are part of a team -- and that team approach is important for marital happiness."
2. What you like (or don't like) in bed
It may be difficult to talk to your partner about your sex life, but it's important. "Open communication about what your partner can do or say to boost your sexual desire is important," says Orbuch. Before you speak up though, make sure that what you have to say isn't hurtful. "Bear in mind that there are always multiple ways to say something. So find the right time and the right way to bring these topics up," she says.
3. Hurtful family encounters
You might want to avoid upsetting your partner, but any encounters you have with his family that are hurtful to you should be discussed. "Your partner's happiness is influenced by whether you get along with his family," Orbuch explains. You don't need to be best friends with his mom, but you do need to get along with her. If one of his family members has treated your poorly, ask him for his assistance or for ideas about what you can do to address the problem.
Page 1 of 3 -- Discover why personal health problems and details about your social life are important to your partner on page 2
4. Health issues
If you have health issues, are worried about your health or need to make decisions about your health, you should share those issues or concerns with your spouse, says Orbuch. "One of the key factors leading to a successful relationship is the support that two people provide each other," she explains.
5. Details of your work and social life
In her long-term study on marriage and divorce, Orbuch found that 98 per cent of the happy couples in the study said they intimately know and understand their partners. "Couples differ in what they talk about with each other, but frequently talking to your partner about the details of your life is a major predictor of relationship happiness," she says. â€¨
Five things to keep quiet about:
1. Negative comments
Your spouse doesn't need to hear any negative things your friends or family have said about him. "Unless they're relevant and important to your relationship, there's no need to hurt him with their painful words," says Orbuch. To do so would just rock the boat. You want your family and friends to like him and you want him to like your family and friends -- so avoid creating an unnecessary rift.
2. Things he can't change
Being open and sharing opinions that can help move the relationship forward is a must, but being critical about things your partner can't easily change (his baldness, his height) isn't fair. "Your opinion matters to him and whether you see him as attractive is most likely very important to him," says Orbuch. "If he can't change something about his appearance, why bring it up?"
Page 2 of 3 -- Are you a good secret-keeper? Find three more things that are best kept to yourself on page 3
3. Other people's secrets
If a friend confides in you and asks you not to tell anyone, respect her wishes and keep her secret -- even from your husband. "Unless you need his assistance or are troubled by the information, keep it to yourself," says Orbuch. You're in no way obligated to share other people's secrets with your partner, especially when they don't have anything do with him.
4. Negative feelings about his family
You might not love his family, but keep your negative comments about them to yourself. If there is a legitimate problem with one of his family members, ask his advice about how to resolve the issue, but don't go overboard. "Don't reveal lots of negative feelings, especially if those family members can't change what you are annoyed with," says Orbuch.
5. If you have a crush on someone he knows
It's OK to think that other people are attractive, but you don't need to tell your partner -- especially if it's someone he knows. "Yes, these feelings are only thoughts and you haven't acted on them, but there is no need to stir up feelings that might promote or inspire jealousy," says Orbuch.
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