Health marriage and do you have one? After 15 years of couples counseling I have seen the common thread or topics that circulate between couples causing friction and chaos. However, I have also found a difference in how some couples are able to navigate a seeming less emotionally stable relationship.
Sure they have the same arguments and at times are just as unhappy when it comes to in-laws, money, kids, jobs, etc. But one thing that sets these marriages above the rest is the key to understanding the deep friendship they have.
Healthy Marriage – Friendship vs. Fighting
Mutual respect is key for these couples that maintain a healthy marriage. This means that no matter how mad they may get over a given topic, they enjoy each other’s company. Of course they know their partners trigger point. Their likes or dislikes, their partners personality quirks, hopes and their dreams.
What sets them apart is that they show daily small and large gestures of positive regard for each other.
Example: Bob works very long hours so that his wife can stay home with their two children. Many would see these long hours as a problem. The wife could feel disconnected to Bob. Instead of frustrated, they have found a method of staying connected. They text or talk frequently throughout the day. If she has a Dr’s appointment he always calls to wish her well. They talk after the visit to see how it went. If Bob has a big meeting that day, his wife, Susan, makes it a point to call before. She wants to encourage him. After the meeting they touch base to see how it went.
At dinner time she saves the drumsticks for Bob knowing they are his favorite. Even though he is not religious, he still goes with her to church each Sunday. He knows it’s important to her. These are the small but important ways that both Bob and Susan are maintaining a healthy friendship which is at the foundation of the love they have for each other.
Healthy Marriage is based on Trust and Commitment
What does it really mean to connect to your partner? How well are you and your partner emotionally connected and committed? Couples in a stable relationship feel distressed when the other seems unhappy, depressed, anxious or hurt. They are highly attuned to each other’s emotional energy. There is a high degree of trust. Awareness and the ability to think about others is present in this relationship.
One the other end there are couples constantly struggling with emotional disconnect. There is a lack of mutual respect. Each partners mood and emotions are misaligned. One feels neutral and upset. The other partner is in distress. This will make it hard for the couple to make it the long haul in their marriage. Both are selfish in their attempts to work on keeping themselves happy, not invested in learning how to show compassion with each other.
These couples will feel constantly disconnected with issues of trust and feelings of personal attack of events not related. The couple assumes the worst and get trapped in frustration, conflict, fear and anger. Both constantly have bad feelings towards each other. They are concerned with getting their own way. Effective listening and communication is not present in these types of relationships.
Healthy Marriage – What is the Key?
The key is to better align and attune yourself with each other. Start learning to make friendship a top priority. Practice mindfulness and stay in the present moment.
-Make it a priority to show you care and start showing daily acts of love for each other.
-Share with each other on a more intimate level. What are each other’s hopes and dreams?
-Stop trying to change each other’s minds. There is no right or wrong. These arguments are tied to values, personal religious morals, conditioning from childhood, etc.
-Stop wasting time. Understand your partner is free to think differently from you. Learn to honor and respect each others differences. Stop ripping into each other to force change.
Couples who are able to drop their ego and admit early enough into the marriage that need help will have a greater chance of staying together. The couple commits to improving the relationship. One is not blocked off planning the divorce with an attorney on the side. Marriage and Couples counseling is about coming together for a common goal.
-To build a deeper awareness and understanding you must first know yourself. An understanding of who your partner is and who you are as an individual. Individual therapy and marriage counseling work hand in hand to accomplish this. The more you know yourself, the more emotional intelligence you have.
Counseling has many benefits. I stand outside of the system. I see the broken communication. Together in a collaborative team effort we will learn to manage emotions, adjust dis-aligned or negative thinking patterns and learn how to find a lasting and authentic friendship that will flourish for years to come.