Central to creating realistic expectations is accepting yourself and your spouse as imperfect. One woman we interviewed, Trina, has decided to deal with this by coining the "seven out of ten rule." "I believe in the seven out of ten rule when it comes to your husband," she explained. "Everything used to bug me, but when I sat down and thought about it, I realized he has seven out of ten qualities I want out of a husband. Now I try to not let the three things he doesn't have bum me out."

Mental tricks like this can help you change the mood of your marriage, and fill your home with humor and positive energy instead of disappointment and frustration. The key is to take control of how you see things. Jack Canfield, author of The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, explains that you can't change an event—you can't change if your husband gets in a fender bender, or if your six-year-old develops a Bratz obsession—but you can change your response to that event, and that shifts the outcome.

A corollary of the event + response = outcome equation is this: a happy spirit is contagious, and so is a grumpy spirit. We've all been there: You've had a hard day, he's had a hard day, and he comes in barking and yelling. You can't change that event—the barking and yelling—but you can change how you respond. You can yell "Fuck off!" and ruin your whole night in a huge screaming fight. Or you can say, "Wow, something must've happened today . . . what's wrong?" Guess which response is going to lead to the happier evening?

It's pretty simple, really: You can follow someone else's mood, or you can create a better one. Creating that better mood is work, but we all need to let go of the idea of happiness as a birthright and start seeing it as something we put energy into creating for ourselves and our families every day.


Next Story