Adapted from Chapter 5, Bitch and Chain: Divorce the Bitch Instead of Your Mate, The Bitch in Your Head: How to Finally Squash Your Inner Critic, by Jacqueline Plumez, Rowman & Littlefied, 2015.

And they lived happily ever after.

Well, if your Bitch tells you there is something wrong because you aren’t always happy, she has been reading too many fairy tales. Marriage is easy in the happy times. But conflict inevitably arises. When it does, shut your Bitch up if she says that compromise is only for weaklings. Here are three other “Bitchy” expectations that foster marital unhappiness:

1. Expecting a perfect fit – or at least similar views.

The old cliché, “opposites attract” is true. Not only do introverts frequently marry extroverts, but people who like to spend money are often attracted to thrifty types. In time, even small differences like favoring cold rooms and mountain vacations over warm rooms and the beach can begin to grate. The Bitch in your head will yell that your spouse is WRONG or SELFISH, rather than just different.

2. Expecting to win, not negotiate.

When differences start grating, The Bitch in your head might tell you it would be weak to compromise, or that negotiating is “backing down.” But good negotiating is win-win. Think of fair solutions: compromises you could live with that your partner could accept.

3. Thinking insults don’t matter.

The world can be a rough place, so home should be a refuge. Sure, you and your spouse should be able to be “real” with each other, but edit your comments so they are not insulting. Insults provoke anger. Then anger evokes more anger, causing a downward cycle, blocking love and wearing away respect. Beware: as a therapist, I have found that when respect is gone, the marriage is dead.

What To Do

Make home a no-insult zone where spouses practice healthy compromise. If you think your spouse is always winning, keep a prominently displayed calendar where both of you record who won and who lost each issue or argument. It will become clear if there is an unfair balance of power.

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