The Key Ingredient for a Happy Family Life

At first, our back-and-forth was playful. I’d press my wife and she’d push back with a smirk.

Then our chats became shorter, her responses more curt.

Eventually, we were sleeping back-to-back.

As I cradled the edge of the bed one night, I realized I was in trouble. Our marriage had a big ugly bruise…

And it was my fault.

I know a lot of guys who’ve found themselves in this position. Maybe they didn’t recognize it at the time, but they were subconsciously driving a wedge right through the center of their relationship.

With every swing, the distance grew wider.

Soon, there would be a loud SNAP.

Good news is… there’s another option.

It involves a bit of self-reflection… and an essential business tactic that I’ve used countless times in my career.

I’ll show you how it worked for me – and why it could be your key to maintaining a happy family life.

But first, let me share the details of our stupid fight…


The birth of our daughter brought about two different worldviews for my wife and me.

In my view, everything we own has suddenly become woefully inadequate. Our house – which we bought as a couple of dinks (yuppies with dual income and no kids) four years ago – now feels like a glorified shoebox.

(See also: Why Some Folks Will Never Be Happy)

But in my wife’s view, everything is fine. And even if it’s not… hey, we’ll manage. We’re a happy family, and we’ve had enough change for now.

Those are fair and inarguable points.

They didn’t stop me from needling her about our general lack of space.

Day and night I grumbled about the impracticality of our situation. I’d share listings for homes with more bedrooms, bigger yards and fewer sharp edges for our baby to lunge into.

Bemused, she would ask if I’d had time to install the cabinet locks and outlet covers I ordered six months earlier.

“If you’re so worried about safety, you should start there,” she advised.


For weeks it went on like this. I’d pitch expensive solutions to minor inconveniences… she’d bat them down with actual logic (my archnemesis).

I knew we weren’t on the same page as far as a new house was concerned. And yet… my jaw kept moving.

As the days went on, our polite jabs devolved into bickering. Bickering gave way to hushed arguments in the kitchen while the baby slept upstairs.

Exasperated and disappointed with each other, we stopped speaking entirely.

It was then that I knew we had a serious problem.

But what to do?


Cutting a loss is never easy, but it’s something we all must do.

As a project manager and team leader, I’ve spent hundreds of hours determining whether certain projects were worth pushing forward.

I’ve sat in countless meetings where the goal was simply to ask… “Should we be doing this?”

To answer that question, we often introduce two others:

  1. What will happen if we keep going down this path?
  2. What will happen if we stop?

If the negative possibilities outweigh the positive, sayonara.

The same concept can be easily applied to marriage.

To be clear, Manward is in no way recommending that you hand your partner a pink slip (we never would). But if you’re at a difficult crossroads in your relationship, it’s important to take some time and think about what you’re contributing to the situation.

Self-reflection is key to fostering a happy, healthy relationship. So ask yourself the questions above. If you’re honest, the answers may just save your butt.

That was certainly the case for me.

When I reconsidered my campaign for a new house, I quickly realized the needless danger I was putting myself in.

If I kept pushing, I was only going to widen the rift between my wife and me. Maybe I’d get my way… but the ultimate cost could be huge.

On the other hand, if I pulled the plug – or rather, put a cork in it – I’d get to remain the proud member of a perfectly happy (albeit tightly packed) family.

The decision was a no-brainer.

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