5 Tips for ‘Surviving Marriage’ with Your Spouse

Keep these 5 tips in mind when talking with your spouse.My new television series, Surviving Marriage, premieres tonight at 10:00 P.M. on A&E Network. There will be nine, 1-hour episodes in Season One. Each episode will highlight a different couple with a unique set of problems destroying their marriage. Although each couple’s story is different, they all have one thing in common—they are terrible communicators. Poor communication is the theme with nearly every struggling couple I work with whether it’s in my private practice or on television.

Couples with strong relationships are excellent communicators because their style of communication has little to do with talking and everything to do with listening. When you feel heard, you feel respected and validated. It’s that simple and it goes both ways in a relationship. Couples whose marriages are struggling, like the ones on Surviving Marriage, lack this simple ingredient. Here’s why:

The problem most troubled marriages face

No two people see things the same way, including you and your spouse, and this often leads to problems. For example, you might find it unfathomable that your partner hates a certain restaurant that you love or loves one that you hate. Or, maybe you and your spouse have different political views, and you just can’t understand how your spouse can see it that way. Whatever your differences are, over time they can turn into a battle between two forces (you and your spouse) attempting to sway the other to “my” way of thinking. You become fixated on your need to be right and your partner’s ludicrousness that your relationship becomes a competitive, stubborn battle that leads to one place—resentment. Neither you nor your spouse will lay down your sword. In fact, you’ll do anything just to prove that you are right, including destroying your marriage. All because you were too stubborn to listen to and respect your partners opinions and keep yours to yourself.

Here are a few tips to help you become a better communicator and possibly save your marriage before it is to late.

1. Zip It

Our natural reaction when we here something we don’t want to hear or something we disagree with is to become defensive. We immediately defend our opinion on the matter and will go to the ends of the earth to prove the other person wrong. Sound familiar? Have you ever done this to your spouse? If you have, try biting your tongue and swallowing your pride. It does a marriage good.

2. Apologize

Why is it so hard to say, “I’m sorry?” The inability to say these two simple words destroys so many marriages it’s sad. I find this absurd. If these words never leave your mouth I’d advise you to start practicing using them now. If it feels really hard for you to do this then that’s the sign that you need to do it.

3. Pick Your Battles

Do you become agitated when you have a disagreement with your spouse? If so, you need to stop this behavior. If you feel strongly about a particular matter tell your spouse that you respect his/her opinion on the matter but you respectfully disagree. You don’t need to prove why you are right and he/she is wrong. That will get you nowhere good. It’s all in the delivery.

4. Schedule some talk time

That’s right, in today’s technology driven world, there is less face-to-face communication between couples because they are too busy communicating with their phones and tablets. Take time every day to unplug and sit down with your spouse and actually talk. This is the miracle grow that every relationship must have.

5. Do a good deed

Everyone knows that when your spouse responds positively to something you’ve done unexpectedly, like putting the laundry away, that you want to do even more good deeds. So start doing some random, good deeds and you’ll start a whole new cycle of positive chemistry in your marriage.

There is no question that marriage takes work but you need to look it from a different angle. It’s not about what your spouse can do for you, it’s what you can do for your spouse. Commit yourself to what you can do better and I guarantee your marriage will be much healthier.

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Follow to get marriage advice from me, dalily!Want the inside exclusives on Surviving Marriage on A&E? Connect with me on Twitter! I also cover many subjects – especially: marriage, parenting, kids and general, and much more! Click here now to go to my page.

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Parenting Children to be Leaders Instead of Followers

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Do you feel pressured to sign your children up for lots of sports and activities so that they keep pace with the other kids, even though your gut tells you it’s too much? Do you fear they won’t measure up and succeed in this competitive world? Do you allow your children to spend too much time on smartphones and video game devices because that is how kids  communicate these days, and that depriving them of this will lead to social isolation? The reality is that all of these activities and devices that we provide our children have little to do with them and everything to do with us.  Here’s why.

We want our children tofit inbecause we fear that they won’t be happy and successful. Take a deep breath for moment and really think about this. Do you really want your children to “FIT IN”, to follow the crowd? Or, do you want them to be leaders? As parents we get sucked into the fitting-in trap and we may be setting-up our children to be future followers instead of future leaders.

Here are a few tips to help you raise children that are future leaders instead of followers.

Unplug the phone: Getting smart-phones for your children is the furthest thing from “smart.” You know how addictive these things are and how dangerous that world-wide-web is. So does it make sense to place these dangerous devices in your children’s hands? I understand that all of the other parents in the community are ok with it, but does that really make it ok? Wouldn’t you rather your child do things the safe way instead of societies way? If your children are among the few that don’t have smart phones then you’re already teaching them how to march to the beat of their own drum; to lead rather than follow. Their time to have a smart phone will come, there’s no need to rush it. And remember, this fear you have of your children being left behind is your fear, not theirs.

Limit the sports: Are your kid’s schedules jam-packed? Again, do you fear that they will fall behind and not be any good, and not have a social life? Again, these are fears, not facts. Here are the facts: If your child is on the football field practicing every night until 8:00, what he’s really missing out on is what he needs the most—time with you. You are your children’s teacher and mentor, and the only way you can teach them and guide them is if you are with them.

Rated M video games/Rated R Movies: Leaders play by the rules. Why? Because the rules are the rules. If you allow your children to play games and watch movies that aren’t age appropriate, what do you think that teaches them? It teaches them that it’s ok to break the rules, which is something leaders just don’t do. If you start playing by the rules your children will too.

In a nutshell, human beings tend do move with the crowd, to go with the flow. This is similar to the flock of birds in the sky or the school of fish in the sea. We unconsciously conform to the things that others around us are doing and we don’t even realize it. This is known as the collective consciousness or social conformity. Unless you start becoming more aware of this fact and pass it on to your children, your children will start to, well, follow the crowd. Here is a great clip from an old candid camera episode that will help you understand this more. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgRoiTWkBHU

 

 

 

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Should you get your preschooler an ipad?

Every parent on this planet should go to www.commonsensemedia.com and sign up.  Common Sense Media helps families make smart media choices. They offer the largest, most trusted library of independent age-based and educational ratings and reviews for movies, games, apps, TV shows, websites, books, and music.  Their Parent Concerns and Parent Blog help families understand and navigate the problems and possibilities of raising children in the digital age.

I read a post earlier today from Common Sense Media regarding ipad’s or other tablets for kids – Click here to read.  The question in the article is whether or not you should get one of these devices for your child.  I didn’t have to think too long about this one.  My answer is a resounding NO…  The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees with me.  They recommend  ZERO hours per day of any screen time for kids ages 0-2 and ONE hour per day of screen time for kids ages 3-5.  And you want to decide whether or not to buy your toddler an ipad?

As many of you know, I lecture extensively on the topic of technology and its affects on kids emotional intelligence, coping skills, focus and attention; how it’s delaying development, creating an epidemic of obesity and leading to a substantial increase in mental health problems.  Oh, and I can’t forget the sleep deprivation part.   I think most parents are aware of this stuff but they kind of fluff it off as being benign.  In fact, at a recent lecture I presented I asked the audience of 200 fifth and sixth grade parents to raise their hands if they thought it was a good idea to allow their child to play the video game, Call of Duty.  Not a single parent raised their hand.  Then I asked them to raise their hand if their kid owned Call of Duty.  Again, not a single hand rose.  And here’s the kicker–roughly 70 percent of the parents in the audience have bought Call of Duty for their child and allow him/her to play it.  Am I missing something here?

The fact is, the majority of people in this world go with the tide, including parents.  They see what it is that everyone around them is doing and they make it ok in their mind.   Yet somewhere inside they know it is not ok.  It’s an adult peer pressure of sorts. This “going with the flow” mentality is known as the selective or social consciousness.  We simply make most of our decisions not from sound morals and values but from what we see others around us doing.  So in other words, the majority of parents out there are followers and guess what their children are becoming will be by the time they get to high school.  Guess what all followers have in common that leaders don’t? That’s right, they do what everyone else is doing. And that is just downright dangerous when you’re a teenager.

So no, your pre-school child should not have an ipad.  And no, none of your children, no matter what their age should ever be allowed to sit at a table in a restaurant and spend the entire time buried in a smartphone, ipad or similar device.  And no, your child should never have any type of screen in his/her bedroom and should never have one of these devices in his/her hand when sitting in the back seat of your car. I see this everywhere I go and it is driving me nuts.  Aside from the mental health issues and other issues I addressed earlier, all of this “virtual reality” is destroying “real world” families.  The question I have for you is this – WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?

Come to my next lecture in Hohokus, NJ on 2/5/15 to learn more or visit my website at http://tomkersting.com/speaking/.

 

 

 

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Fox & Friends Segment 11/1/14

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Fox & Friends – Saturday 11/01/14  

This is an appearance I did on Fox & Friends as part or their expert parenting panel, which I appear on regularly.  Today’s topics include:

1. A school accidentally vaccinates the wrong child with the flu vaccination

2. A new movement by parents encouraging their children to call them by their first name.

Parent Panel discussion

 

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Can Dinner Save My Family

safe_imageHere is a quick promo for my new TV pilot that airs on The Food Network this Saturday at 3:00 and Sunday at 5:30.

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The Ricki Lake Show this Friday

This Friday on The Ricki Lake Show I’ll be helping modern-day families who have trouble blending.  We’ll be talking with stay-at-home dads, the “Guncles” (gay uncles), of “Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood” and another family that has been forced to blend after a tragic death.

http://therickilakeshow.com/episodes-clips/2012/12/Blended-Families

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The secret to a successful marriage

Here is a great example of a Hollywood couple that has weathered the storm and is still happily married after a decade.  The key to their success is very simple.  Read the article below and let me know if you can find the answer.  I’m proud of Freddy and Sarah…..

I’ll give you a hint-

It’s not money …………….

It’s not the kids ……………

It’s __________________?

http://omg.yahoo.com/blogs/now/report-sarah-michelle-gellar-freddie-prinze-jr-expecting-141845701.html

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Caught in the Middle

 

I’ve always been a big fan of Deion Sanders.  He was an unbelievable football player and is a great NFL analyst but I think Deion fumbled the ball on this one.  He dragged his kids into his divorce.  According to the media, Sanders divorce from his estranged wife has been a nuclear one.   She was arrested today for domestic assault and unfortunately the attach happened in front of their children.  Deion retaliated to the assault by posting comments on twitter along with a photograph of he and his boy’s filling-out police reports (see above).  If that’s not “dragging your kids into the middle of your divorce” I don’t know what is.  Don’t get me wrong his ex-wife is just as guilty.   Attacking Deion in front of their children is also “dragging your kids into the middle of your divorce.”

I have worked with countless divorced families over the years and the thing that always amazes me is not only the alarming number of kids who are caught in the middle of their parent’s divorce but also the alarming number of parents who are in denial of it.

I’ll be interested to see how Deion reacts to the comments that are sure to come from involving his kids in his divorce—nationally.  Will he swallow his pride and admit to his mistake or will he be in denial and try to justify his actions?  I sure hope Deion does what’s right.  If he does, I’ll forgive him.  Will you?

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