The one thing you have to let go to keep your marriage strong

When people ask for advice from my same-sex marriage, this is what I say...

The one thing you have to let go to keep your marriage strong

As a married same-sex couple, we sometimes meet people who can’t wrap their heads around the idea of a marriage devoid of gender roles. They think that for a marriage to work one person must play the “wife” role and the other the “husband” role, regardless of the gender to which those roles are assigned.

Yet the lack of those clearly defined expectations is what we value most about our marriage. Since neither one of us is “the wife” and both of us are “the husband,” we simply get to be David and Constantino—two individuals with equally valid opinions and differing talents.


We’ve had to learn how to accept each other’s influence, which, according to Dr. John Gottman, is a fundamental principle of keeping a positive perspective in a marriage.

In his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Dr. Gottman reports the findings of his long-term study of 130 heterosexual couples:

Even in the first few months of marriage, men who allowed their wives to influence them had happier relationships and were less likely to eventually divorce than men who resisted their wives’ influence. Statistically speaking, when a man is not willing to share power with his partner there is an 81 percent chance that his marriage will self-destruct.

From our experience, a strict adherence to traditional gender roles means that one partner must reject the other’s influence. Back when we were engaged, we had a supportive friend from church ask us, earnestly, which one of us would make “final decisions.”

We must have looked confused because she went on to explain that even though she and her husband have a largely egalitarian marriage, it is he who has the final say when they disagree. This, she told us, was something they explicitly determined years ago during premarital counseling.

The notion that “father knows best” may seem antiquated, but whether we admit it or not, it is still deeply ingrained in our culture. Dr. Gottman’s studies published in 1998 indicate that some men have difficulty letting go of the idea that their opinions are the only ones that matter. Ironically, the ones who learn to yield—who convey respect for their spouses’ opinions—are the ones with the happiest marriages. These men are what Dr. Gottman calls emotionally intelligent husbands.

Letting your partner influence you is especially important when it comes to conflict resolution. All couples argue—everyone faces moments of anger, frustration, and other negative emotions—but couples who reduce negativity by deploying repair attempts have stronger marriages. Dr. Gottman’s research also shows that, unfortunately, 65 percent of men respond to conflict by escalating the negativity and deploying the four horsemen that presage divorce (criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling).

“Using one of the four horsemen to escalate a conflict is a telltale sign that a man is resisting his wife’s influence,” Dr. Gottman writes in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. “Rather than acknowledging his wife’s feelings, this kind of husband is using the four horsemen to drown her out, to obliterate her point of view. One way or another, this approach leads to instability in the marriage.”

None of this is to say that women can’t be stubborn too, but the data seems to indicate that men find it harder to let their guard down and yield.

We must admit that being gay hasn’t made us immune to that tendency. We can both be as hardheaded as the next guy, and we don’t like admitting when we’re wrong. The difference in our marriage is that culture hasn’t trained us to automatically assume that our spouse will eventually have to yield. If one of us wants to be stubborn, he better be prepared to justify it by voicing the reasons why he feels so strongly about whatever it is we’re discussing. And by the same token, we had both better be willing to listen.

Our personal experience seems to be backed by science. A 12-year study by Dr. Gottman and Dr. Robert Levenson of the University of California at Berkeley found that same-sex couples are less likely than straight couples to use hostile emotional tactics—including domineering, belligerence and fear—with each other. And according to Dr. Gottman, “The difference on these ‘control’ related emotions suggests that fairness and power-sharing between the partners is more important and more common in gay and lesbian relationships than in straight ones.”

Learning how to yield not only makes your relationship stronger, it makes you grow as a person. Marriage has taught us to be better friends, better listeners to others and more open to considering opinions other than our own.

Accepting your spouse’s influence may not always come naturally, but the growth you derive from that emotional intelligence leads to healthier relationships not only at home, but in every realm of life.

Original article by David and Constantino Khalaf for The Gottman Institute.

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.

Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin

Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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