Protecting your marriage during the holidays

On day two of MPR News with Angela Davis we continued our week of programs introducing the audience to Davis. At 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 4 we talked about marriage.

What can you do to protect your marriage, especially during high-stress times like the holiday season? The holidays can add a lot of financial, social, and family pressures. How do the strongest couples foster a happy marriage as all this is coming at them?

Davis spoke with a Minnesota couple about how they present a united front and a relationship expert and author about what she sees at this time of year.

The expert, Carol Bruess, suggested a strategy called "two goods and one bad."

It's a routine for one of the couples Bruess had interviewed for her own research. They would meet every Friday, tell each other two things the other did that they appreciated, and one thing they were either disappointed by or thought they could work on.

"And it gave them this opportunity that they could look forward to," Bruess said. "Because we know we all have to, in marriage, talk about this stuff over time."


Carol Bruess Author of "What Happy Couples Do" and "Family Communication In The Age of Digital and Social Media"

T.J. Ticey— Married for 37 years to Debra

Debra Ticey— Married for 37 years to T.J.

Use the audio player above to listen to the conversation.

Some advice from members of our Public Insight Network

"We have gone through starting businesses, unwarranted lawsuits, learning disabilities, and all the ups and downs. At the outset, we made a commitment to each other and God that we were leaving no exit plan. Seems old-fashioned and passe, but that commitment has helped us get through together instead of thinking of getting out." — Bruce Schultz from Wayzata.

"Our biggest issue is being cranky when we are tired; we just go to different areas in the house. It is better just to walk away for things to pass over." — Raymond Gorski from Stillwater.

"Arguments/fights should never be about winning as individuals, but as a couple (that one is really hard!)" — Amy Fennewald from Lakeville.

"Find friends who are also happily married. It is good to spend time with others but also appreciate that relationships still take effort and commitment." — Julie Strahan from Roseville.

"Often the problems we blame on our spouse start with us. We have to recognize that no other person, not our parents or our friends, can make us happy." — Jamie Calvert from Rochester.

"Marriage is only as strong as its foundation. Ultimately, each couple has to ask themselves, in the first place, why did we get married? What is the purpose or our marriage? They need to ponder and explore this question deeply. Every couple and spouse has an answer." — Brian Gehling from Plymouth.

"Remember you're on the same team and you've both got one another's backs." — Catherine Carey from White Bear Lake.

"Communication. We support each other wholeheartedly. We look for the humor in every situation. If you can laugh in times of adversity you can make it through anything. We remind each other that we love each other without conditions." — Thomas Mobry from Ramsey.

"When there is stress, we ban together as a family to deal with and solve the problem. Only the problem is allowed to become the adversary." — Roger O'Daniel from Minneapolis.