1. The House Crasher A college buddy comes to town and needs to bunk at your place, leaving you with zero time alone.
S.O.S. strategy: Discuss how long the visit can be and what you expect from your guest (help with dinner, cleaning up). Then lay down the law with your crasher. During the visit, be your normal selves and get couple time in -- even if you do have an on-looker. Cooking together, taking walks after dinner, calling each other by your nicknames -- it'll help you feel like your life wasn't rudely interrupted. Go out alone too. Just let your guest know -- so um, he doesn't have dinner waiting!
2. The Meddling In-law
Your mate's mom calls almost every night and is trying to plan yet another visit -- even though she just saw you!
S.O.S. strategy: The spouse with the closest bloodline does the dirty work. You each need to establish boundaries with your own moms while agreeing to meet up every month or so. This will let you grow stronger as a couple without dissing your families. And the next time you're waiting for take-out or flipping channels, give the mother-in-law a call or send an email. By having more brief interactions, she might lay off a little more.
3. The Uber-Demanding Boss
Your boss is constantly piling on more work, stressing you out and keeping you at the office so late you're like, "spouse, who?"
S.O.S. strategy: You may have figured out already that you'll never be able to change your boss. So if you choose to stay in this field -- or office -- you can only tweak your habits to have a better life at home. Discuss your job duties with your spouse so it doesn't become a fight every time you come home past dinner. Then cut all the personal stuff that you do at work. Turn off IM and stop sending friends tweets about the college reunion. When you do get home, make it one-on-one time.
4. The A-Listers
You know who we're talking about: The couple across the street who has the perfect everything -- car, house, relationship, social life -- blah, blah, blah...
S.O.S. strategy: Every time you feel envy building, remember: The grass in their yard is only greener because you can't see over their fence. So next time you want to rant at your mate for not pampering you like your princess neighbor is, focus on your couple strengths. Then do something to build on that. You love to laugh? Share funny stories from when you first met and talk about how you're so much happier now. You're spontaneous? Prove it tonight. The way you click just might make the A-Listers jealous.
Nestpert Michael Broder, Ph.D., author of Can Your Relationship be Saved?
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