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Newly married?

Date: 2006-12-11

Forget food: You are what you speak. Unless you married after dating for just two weeks, you probably have fallen into specific couple behaviors. Some good (he cooks, she cleans) and some bad (he sulks, she nags). While there's some comfort in preestablished styles, you might be selling yourselves short when it comes to growing your relationship.

It's time to pinpoint your couple personality and learn to work within who you are - communication quirks included - to make your marriage thrive. We've illustrated some typical partner types and the role ruts unique to each. Now these styles are pretty stereotypical, but even if you don't see yourselves there, do take away the overall message: You can't change who people are (and you shouldn't want to). But you can appreciate and try to work with what you've got.THE OLD SCHOOLERS

It's almost like you stepped back into the '50s: The guy brings home the bacon and the gal cooks it. Or he takes care of the finances and she takes care of the housework. (It doesn't matter that she has a full-time job, too!) On the communication front: He talks, she listens.

Pitfalls: Even if you're traditionalists, being so rigid in your roles can only lead to resentment. Even if you aren't officially bringing home a paycheck, you still should get a voice in how money is spent.

Key to success: Make sure there's enough give and take to allow either of you to switch up the roles a bit. Sit down and really dig into what each of you likes and dislikes about this style. Believe it or not, he may resent her lack of an opinion, and she may love running the family finances.

Be careful: Even if everyone agrees on making a change, the first few times a previously deferential person chimes in with an opinion might not go over so well. Traditional habits - particularly those handed down for generations - die hard.

THE BICKERSONS

One of you is always playing devil's advocate, and you can never seem to agree on anything . . . except to disagree. Your passion for debate keeps things pretty hot in the bedroom, but it makes outsiders witnessing the fighting uncomfortable.

Pitfalls: Studies show fighting can be healthy, but not when it's a pastime. Fighting more times a week than you, say, have sex, starts training you that arguing is a normal way to live. But the increased stress is actually bad for you - not just your marriage, but your physical health!

Key to success: Learn to pick your battles. Even if you know it takes 20 minutes to get to the mall, not 30, bite your tongue and ask yourself if this one's really worth elevating your blood pressure.

THE HAND-HOLDERS

You share the same interests and, more important, you dislike the same things. Whether you're at home or out with friends at a bar, you're always by one another's side. You are so in sync, you complete each other's sentences and sometimes feel no need to talk at all.

Pitfalls: Losing your identity . . . and your friends . . . and your deep connection with one another. It's wonderful that you want to spend every waking moment together, but being joined at the hip doesn't guarantee your relationship will remain deep. Unless you have different experiences to share, you'll never evolve together. Besides, his friends may start to get resentful if she's always there to watch the big game, and her friends may groan if he's intruding on girl talk once again.

Key to success: Maintain some independence by designating one night a week to be alone or "with my friends." Time apart from each other is as vitally important as togetherness because it allows each person to grow as an individual, to develop new interests, to be an "I" as well as part of a "we." Plus, it gives you something to talk about over your Wheaties.

THE DISSECTORS

You've spent a lot of time in the self-help section and know what the experts say makes a relationship work. Yet you overanalyze every eye roll, every spat, every decision to be made.

Pitfalls: Overtalking can lead to frustration and relationship paralysis where you fear any change will lead to another talk. Non-issues can also become issues when too many questions are asked. "Were you bothered by that?" "Why, should I have been?" "No, I was just wondering, because it might have bothered me." "Why on earth would something like that bother you? And are you saying that I'm completely insensitive because it didn't?" You get the point.

Key to success: Stop overanalyzing! Make a pact that if something bothers one of you, you'll discuss. Otherwise, start enjoying your relationship.





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