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    For the longest time, I thought self-care was selfish. So it's no surprise that taking care of me falls way down on my priority list.

    But if there's anything I've learned over the years, taking care of yourself is so important for your marriage and it's good for your kids to see too. The challenge is being able to make time for it without burdening your partner and doing it without feeling guilty. Here are my tips:

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    In addition to marriage counseling, I've started getting therapy for myself too. I've been in and out over the years, mostly when I've needed the extra support to deal with difficult family issues.

    But every time I go back, I wonder why I ever stopped because I find the sounding board and guidance of a neutral party to be so helpful in every aspect of my life, whether it's parenting, my relationship, or my own personal goals and needs.

    If you're wondering why you might need to go to individual therapy to help your marriage, here's why I decided to take the plunge alone.

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    In my marriage, I'm what you might call "the emotional one," or "over-emotional" depending on who you talk to. And I'm totally okay with that, especially since my husband is the complete opposite. 

    But what I'm learning is that every quality we have can help and hurt a relationship. The challenge is how you find balance in something you love about yourself so that it actually helps and not hurts your marriage.

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    Lately, I've seen a bunch of interesting articles about technology addiction, which is something that fascinates me not only because I publish a technology website for parents, but also because I think it can negatively affect your relationship with your kids and your spouse.

    Not being able to put your darn phone away is one thing. But this New York Times article focuses on a study that found the overuse of technology can affect our ability to connect with others.

    All the more reason to think long and hard about your technology habits, especially when it comes to your marriage.

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  • Relationship Envy Can Hurt Your Marriage

    posted by Kristen Chase March 19, 2013 at 5:37 PM in Love & Sex
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    When it comes to marriage and relationships, it's easy to compare your own to someone else's. And it's not just seeing a couple you know holding hands or making out in public.

    It's the sweet birthday Facebook updates. The anniversary tweets. The now myriad ways people can publicly express their love to their partners and spouses so that everyone else can see and hear how much in love they still are.

    Or, at least, want us to think they are.

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  • Ben Affleck Was Right: Marriage IS Work

    posted by Kristen Chase March 12, 2013 at 5:28 PM in Love & Sex
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    Ever since the Oscars ran a few weeks ago, I've heard nothing but criticism for Ben Affleck's now infamous comment about his marriage during his speech. 

    "It's good. It is work, but it's the best kind of work. And there's no one I'd rather work with."

    Seriously? We're getting upset with that? And we wonder why there are so many marital problems in this country.

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    After last week's test of my marriage, I decided that both my husband and I needed to ramp up our efforts. Or lack thereof. There had to be something beyond the talking and the marriage counseling.

    We needed to create a marriage plan -- an action plan. Immediately.

    Sure, it sounds completely unromantic, but it's way better than the fighting, the lack of communication, and whatever else might be bogging down a relationship. Here's how ours works:

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    As you might be able to read from my past "Staying Married With Kids" columns, I'm really trying quite hard to fix my past wrongs and work on moving forward in my marriage, not just for the sake of my kids' happiness, but my own as well. 

    But I have to be honest and say that my husband isn't pulling his weight, which wouldn't be such a huge issue if he was apologetic or even warm toward me.

    That's not the case, however, and so I'm sitting here wondering how long you keep trying before you give up hope.

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  • How to Help Your Marriage: Don't Be a Jerk

    posted by Kristen Chase February 20, 2013 at 3:54 PM in Love & Sex
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    Every time I go away, my husband decides it's the perfect time to do major home improvement projects, which makes so much sense since he's alone with four children.

    I know I should be grateful because it's awesome to have someone who is so ambitious, but the problem is that the projects never actually get done. The ceiling in the girls' room is still unpainted. Our shower was unusable for a week. And what exactly are the kids doing while he's putting in our closet? Honestly, it becomes more of a hassle than a help.

    But since my goal for 2013 is to work on my marriage, I've been trying to change my attitude. And maybe, just maybe, it's working.

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  • How We Put the 'Us' Back Into Our Marriage

    posted by Kristen Chase February 12, 2013 at 4:31 PM in Love & Sex
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    For years I thought that so many of my marital problems stemmed from a lack of communication. And while, yes, we definitely have communication issues, I still remember what our marriage counselor said that made me realize it wasn't necessarily all our faults.

    Due to our own parents' issues, we took on a lot of responsibility as kids, much more than most kids, actually, and we just got used to doing everything on our own. 

    It's not necessarily that we don't want to work together and be a co-parenting team, it's because we're just not used to it. But how do we change what's ingrained in us so that we can start working with each other, not against?

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About This Column
Kristen Chase

Marriage is hard. Marriage with kids can sometimes feel like climbing up a steep hill with a 400 pound backpack — in stilettos. In her new column, Staying Married With Kids, Kristen Chase is going to help you see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. No matter how unsteady life may get you can take comfort in knowing you aren't alone. It's hard work, this whole staying together thing, but it's worth it (most of the time.)

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