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80/80 Marriage

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What to Do When You Can't Understand Each Other in Marriage

“You don’t understand what I’m going through,” Nate said.

“Well, you don’t understand what it’s like for me,” Kaley told Nate.

After two years of marriage, we found ourselves caught in this trap. It's a predicament that so many couples find themselves in, a conflict that boils down to this: you don’t understand me.

For us, an unexpected accident triggered these feelings of misunderstanding. Thirteen years ago, Nate had a serious...

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Try out this mind-blowing marriage thought experiment

conflict habits stress Apr 21, 2021

Have you ever had a single line of text change your life? 

We have. Here’s a line that changed ours from two of our mentors Gay and Katie Hendricks:

“In all times and every way, we are getting exactly what we are committed to getting.”

Take a moment to sit with this idea. 

Take a moment to let it in.

Consider the idea that, somehow, you are committed to getting all the problems and challenges you experience throughout the day.

Most of us recoil at the very...

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The Cure for 'Mental Overload Syndrome' in Marriage and Relationships

habits priorities space stress Mar 31, 2021

It’s 6pm on Friday night. It's been a long week. You sit at the table for family dinner. You’re ready to leave work and the chaos of the week behind -- to relax and, finally, connect with your family.

But, somehow, your mind didn’t get the memo. No, the voice in your head sounds more like a heavily-caffeinated line manager, barking out orders like, “You forgot to send that email, didn't you?" “When are you going to book the reservations for the summer...

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Riding the Big Waves of Emotion
in Marriage, Together

communication death stress Mar 23, 2021

If emotions are like waves, our local community got hit by a tsunami this week.

We like to call Boulder our "souls' home." It’s where we were both born. It’s where we met, during our senior year at Boulder High. It’s where we got married 15 years ago. It’s where we've raised our daughter for the last eight years.

So you can imagine the shock and horror we experienced when we started receiving texts from friends and family members throughout the world asking if we were...

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Do Your Own Inner Work
(The Secret to a Happy Marriage)

habits science space stress Jan 27, 2021

As the authors of The 80/80 Marriage and this newsletter, we have a confession to make. We've talked here about all sorts of tips, strategies, and tools for improving your marriage. But, when it comes down to it, working on yourself might just be the most powerful way to enhance your marriage.

The reason?

Something happens several microseconds before you can even begin to utilize these marriage tools. It’s what the Austrian psychologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl...

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When Feedback in Marriage Turns from Helpful to Annoying

communication habits stress Jan 20, 2021

If you were to distill down the learnings from the thousands of studies conducted on the psychology of marriage, you're likely to end up with a conclusion like this: Communication is good. Not talking to each other is bad.

But that's only part of the story. Because open communication and feedback in marriage is a lot like eating kale or broccoli in a balanced diet. It's good -- to a point. The moment you start overdoing it, new problems emerge. 

No, we're not talking...

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How to Discover What You're Really Fighting About in Marriage

The other day, we had an argument that got pretty heated. It was over how to prioritize our time on a Sunday afternoon. Kaley wanted to meet up with a friend. Nate wanted to do an activity together as a family.

The conversation started out well. But then, it went off the rails. At some point, we both felt frustrated and angry. We both felt like the other person wasn't really hearing us.

In that moment, we realized we had a choice between two very different paths. The first...

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Where's the line between being selfish and self care in marriage?

conflict priorities stress Dec 15, 2020

Here are two common traps in marriage.

The first is getting so lost in errands, to-dos, and the thousand or so other demands of domestic life that you forget about caring for yourself. At the end of the day, you feel scattered, tense, and exhausted. You’ve been carrying the weight of your family system but you haven’t been caring for yourself.

The second is this problem in reverse. It's overdoing self care. Instead of following through on important logistics or doing the things...

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End Conflicts in Marriage Using 'The Gandhi Move' (a.k.a. Non-Complementary Behavior)

One of the unique quirks of the human brain is its propensity to mirror the states of others. When we see an eight week old baby smile, we can’t help but smile. It just sort of happens.

But the opposite is also true. When we experience our partner's irritation and anger, we get pissed. We feel an instant surge of irritation and anger. It just sort of happens. 

Psychologists have a name for this phenomenon. They call it “complementary behavior." It’s a fancy way of...

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6 Questions to Reignite the Spark of Conversation in Marriage

communication habits stress Dec 02, 2020

Has this ever happened to you?

You and your partner finally carve out time to be alone together. You go on date night or you take a weekend away together or maybe you just take 45 minutes to walk around the neighborhood.

But then, as you enter into this precious time reserved for connection, you stare blankly at each other wondering, “Shouldn't we have more to talk about?"

It’s a marital predicament experienced by couples at all stages, by newlyweds, those who have lived...

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