10 Ways to Avoid the Marriage Mistakes Our Parents Made

Things sure were different in our parents’ day, especially when it came to marriage dynamics. While we may not do marriage better than our moms and dads did, we can learn a lot from their relationship missteps. Check out these old-fashioned marriage philosophies, and discover why they could be damaging.

1. Women married young.

Women married young
Women married young

“Women were expected to get their MRS degree,” says LeslieBeth Wish, EdD, a Florida-based psychologist and licensed clinical social worker specializing in women’s issues. “Many parents worried or felt ashamed if their daughter left college without a ring on her finger.” Today, we don’t bat an eye at women who are still single into their 30s. “Research shows that the brain doesn’t reach full maturity until age 26,” says Dr. Wish. So it makes sense to wait to choose your mate.

2. The husband was the sole provider and the wife stayed home with the kids.

 While it’s wonderful to care for a family, many women felt that traditional role limited them, says Fran Walfish, PsyD, a Beverly Hills–based psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent. “These unspoken feelings put undue stress on the marriage,” she explains, adding that once children left the nest, the woman was left without an identity. These days, women can stay at home, pursue a career or both. What’s key is that it’s her choice and she can switch roles at any time. “Having multiple roles—parent, spouse, worker, volunteer, hobbyist—fortifies confidence. If things aren’t going well in one area, other aspects in your life can make you feel positive,” says Dr. Wish.

The husband was the sole provider and the wife stayed home with the kids.
The husband was the sole provider and the wife stayed home with the kids.

3. There was less communication within the marriage, and therapy was a rarity.

People wanted to talk about their feelings, but they didn’t know how, says Dr. Wish. “There wasn’t a plethora of self-help books or a lot of social support,” she says. In fact, women felt more comfortable getting medicated to minimize problems than having a heart-to-heart with their husbands. And then they resented their partners for not being part of the cure, explains Dr. Wish. Seeking help through marriage counseling is now encouraged, and bookstores have dedicated relationship advice sections, giving us the tools to better communicate with our spouses. “Talking is the glue that holds relationships together,” says Dr. Walfish. “Feeling heard, validated and accepted, flaws and all, is everything.”

less communication within the marriage
less communication within the marriage

4. There was less focus on couple time.

When marrieds went out back in the day, it was more likely about reinforcing the husband’s career by schmoozing at dinner parties than keeping the romance alive, says Dr. Walfish. Today, couples recognize that date nights nourish the marriage. “For the family to thrive, you must care regularly for the marital couple,” she says. “It’s also a great message for kids to know that Mom and Dad need uninterrupted, warm time together.”

 less focus on couple time
less focus on couple time

5. Women didn’t take much “me” time.

While husbands had their fishing trips and local group meetings, housewives had little contact with adults, says Dr. Wish—no girls’ nights out, beyond the occasional Tupperware party. While we probably juggle more than our mothers had to, today’s wives are wise to be social outside the family, says Elizabeth R. Lombardo, PhD, psychologist and author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness. “Research shows women who have close friendships and spend time with their friends are healthier than those who don’t,” she says.

Women didn't take much "me" time
Women didn’t take much “me” time

6. Women were more financially dependent on their husbands.

It wasn’t uncommon for the family’s bread winner—the husband—to control all the money and not include the wife’s name on the bank accounts. “Women had to stay with their spouses to keep eating and taking care of their children’s necessities,” says Dr. Lombardo. This put husbands in dominant positions. Today, not only are there more two-income households but also more joint accounts and individual accounts for women. “Financial independence allows us to decide what’s best for us,” says Dr. Lombardo. “Instead of feeling helpless, women are empowered.”

Women were more financially dependent on their husbands.
Women were more financially dependent on their husbands.

7. Divorce was taboo.

 The notion that marriage is for life is lovely, but in years past, there was no way out for unhappy people, even those with abusive or unfaithful partners. “They were afraid of how society would look at them,” says Dr. Lombardo, and how mortified their families would be. Legally, it was more difficult to obtain a divorce, and the financial ramifications for women were often too much to overcome, explains Dr. Wish. No, divorce shouldn’t be the go-to way to manage marital problems, but women in danger now have some place to go. “To the police, to a shelter, to a job, to a lawyer,” says Dr. Wish.

8. Sex was more of a chore for women than a pleasurable act.

Sex was more of a chore for women than a pleasurable act
Sex was more of a chore for women than a pleasurable act

Women were raised to see sex as a marital duty, and since more women were virgins when they married, husbands showed their wives the ropes, says Dr. Walfish. And what wives can get out of sex probably wasn’t the focus of those lessons. Modern women are more apt to have sex before marriage and expect reciprocity, Dr. Walfish says. Instead of viewing sexuality as negative, women want to be sexually active with their husbands, says Dr. Lombardo. And that’s good news for marriage. “Physical intimacy can deepen emotional bonds,” she says. Other perks include less stress and more confidence, in and out of the bedroom.

9. Parents were more involved in their children’s marriages.

 Parents were more involved in their children's marriages
Parents were more involved in their children’s marriages

Even if parents didn’t arrange their children’s marriages, they certainly had a lot of input as to how their sons and daughters lived, says Dr. Wish. Back then, Dad brought his future son-in-law into the family business, people lived closer to relatives and the extended family ate Sunday meals together, she explains. “These too-tight bonds can make wives feel their husbands are ‘mama’s boys,’ while husbands can feel their mothers-in-law rule the roost.” Now it’s all about setting boundaries, says Dr. Walfish. Couples can seek their parents’ counsel but are more comfortable making life decisions without their parents’ participation.

10. Women were more likely to submit to their husbands’ preferences.

“When you pretend to be someone you’re not, it depletes your happiness,” says Dr. Lombardo. That’s why women must “be comfortable saying ‘that doesn’t work for me,'” agrees Dr. Walfish. “Open, honest direct communication between partners is required to constantly learn about what feels good to your partner as well as to you.” There is one way we can mimic our mothers, though, adds Dr. Walfish: There’s something wonderful about occasionally giving in to your partner without a negotiation. He should afford you the same once in a while.

6 Secrets of Women Who Never Get Sick

Those lucky people who seem to avoid colds altogether…how exactly do they do it? Are they just blessed with superhuman immune systems? Not quite—it’s likely they’ve picked up some easy, everyday habits that protect them from illness. Use them to help your body fight off intruders and stay sniffle-free this year.

1. Have a Set Bedtime

Research shows that those who sleep 8 hours or more per night are three times less likely to develop a cold compared to people who snooze for less than 7 hours. One reason why: At night your body repairs itself and regulates stress hormones that can make you more susceptible to infection.

Have a Set Bedtime
Have a Set Bedtime

“I instituted a strict sleep/wake schedule in my house that applies on weekdays and weekends. At a recent doctor’s appointment for physicals, he said that we hadn’t been there for sick visits in over a year—quite a feat for a mom and three kids ages 5 to 16!” —Mikita Burton, Lenexa, KS

2. Eat Colors

Filling up on antioxidant-rich foods like sweet potatoes (beta-carotene), citrus and bell peppers (vitamin C), almonds (vitamin E), and red grapes or red wine (resveratrol) replenishes the cells that are damaged in the fight against germs and bacteria.

Eat Colors
Eat Colors

“I used to get bad sinus infections regularly, but I cleaned up my diet— eating more whole foods like fruits, veggies, nuts and lean protein—and I haven’t been sick in two years.” —Susan Robertson, Knoxville, TN

3 Shape Up Your Gut

You bring the outside world into your mouth every day, and though most bacteria and germs are harmless, some can make you sick. That’s where your gut gets in on the action. Good bacteria can enhance your immune system, so you may want to consider taking a probiotic supplement—which contains helpful bacteria—during cold and flu season. Try a multi-strain formula (find in your local health-food market or grocery store). If you want to skip supplements, eat more fermented foods, like sauerkraut.

Shape Up Your Gut
Shape Up Your Gut

“My kids were constantly ill when we moved to a new town a few years ago and we decided to give probiotics a go. Almost immediately, my family’s health improved. So long, sick days!” —Alison Schoonover, Columbus, WI

Couples Who Sleep Apart Have More Intimacy

Want a healthier relationship and better intimacy? One sex expert says the trick is sleeping in separate beds.

Writer Rachel Kramer Bussel, author of Dirty Dates: Erotic Fantasies for Couples, claims her relationship with her live-in boyfriend drastically improved when they stopped sharing the bed. “We figured out early on that we just weren’t compatible sleeping next to each other,” Kramer Bussel told Yahoo Health. “Neither of us slept well, we were grouchy, and we were meaner to each other because of it.”

Couples Who Sleep Apart Have More Intimacy
Couples Who Sleep Apart Have More Intimacy

And she’s not alone: Various new research has found that 11% to 40% of couples sleep apart at night. And earlier studies found that it can be bad for your health — and makes your sleep quality up to 50% worse.

After a miserable first night in a hotel this May, Kramer Bussel says the next night she grabbed the comforter and happily fell asleep in the bathtub. It was a revelation. So when they started looking for apartments together, they only considered two-bedrooms. “Once we realized it wasn’t working and that we could easily have separate bedrooms, we did it,” she adds. “The rest of our relationship and daily lives are predicated on sleeping well.”

Surprisingly, it’s made their relationship more intimate, not less. “I never feel ‘separate’ from my boyfriend,” she says, adding that they kiss goodnight and good morning and say they love each other all the time.

Having separate bedrooms can enhance intimacy, she notes, since “when we are in bed together, almost always in his room, that it’s our time to be with each other, not just a generic time to go to a bed that we happen to share … We’re there because we both want to be there.”

Couples Who Sleep Apart Have More Intimacy
Couples Who Sleep Apart Have More Intimacy

It’s also worked for Jennifer Adams and her husband, who have slept apart for 11 years and counting. “Is that really the only thing that allows you to have sex?” Adams, author of Sleeping Apart, Not Falling Apart, told the Chicago Tribune. “Sometimes my husband will FaceTime me and invite me to bed … It doesn’t stop you from having sex. It just doesn’t.”

She says that it’s given them a stronger level of communication — and a better night’s rest. “We’ve just kept talking,” she says, adding they’ve proved many doubting family and friends wrong. “And we still hop into each other’s beds, and I’ll lie in his bed at night until he kicks me out at 8:30 because he wants to go to sleep. You make it work because you want to make it work.”

And Kramer Bussel says that she, at least, hasn’t encountered too many doubters. “Maybe because we are clearly in love and affectionate with each other, I think people can tell that ‘separate bedrooms’ isn’t code for ‘relationship problems.'”

Causes Sexual Problems in Men

A sexual problem, or sexual dysfunction, refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual or couple from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual activity. The sexual response cycle has four phases: excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution.

Causes Sexual Problems in Men
Causes Sexual Problems in Men

While research suggests that sexual dysfunction is common (43% of women and 31% of men report some degree of difficulty), it is a topic that many people are hesitant to discuss. Fortunately, most cases of sexual dysfunction are treatable, so it is important to share your concerns with your partner and doctor.

What Causes Sexual Problems?

Sexual dysfunction can be a result of a physical or psychological condition.

Causes Sexual Problems in Men
Causes Sexual Problems in Men
  • Physical causes: Many physical and/or medical conditions can cause problems with sexual function. These conditions include diabetes,heart and vascular (blood vessel) disease, neurological disorders, hormonal imbalances, chronic diseases such as kidney or liver failure, and alcoholism and drug abuse. In addition, the side effects of certain medications, including some antidepressant drugs, can affect sexual desire and function.
  • Psychological causes: These include work-related stress and anxiety, concern about sexual performance, marital or relationship problems, depression, feelings of guilt, and the effects of a past sexual trauma.