What Do Marriage Counselors Know About Healthy Marriages?
If you are looking to see whether or not you and your partner are engaging in the right kinds of habits that maintain a healthy marriage then stay put, you are in the right place. No matter what has brought you here, let me assure you that by reading more about relationships, marriage, and counseling, you are doing your marriage, and yourself a huge favor! Maybe you’ve been to marriage counseling before. Maybe not. The important thing to remember here is that you are actively taking steps to improve your marriage. Let’s first look at the ingredients that successful marriages have, and then we can better see what areas of improvement your marriage is in need of.
What Do Successful Marriages Require?
Successful marriages require the bedrock that is a strong and well maintained friendship. Think of your marriage like an automobile – you can buy it brand new, right off the lot and it will look, smell, and feel very strong, and sexy. But drive it around for 1, 2, 5, 10 years without ever taking it to the mechanic and you will be in trouble. For this automobile to function properly, it needs to be loved, nurtured, and maintained. The same is true for the friendship within your marriage.
How Are You Currently Handling Conflict in Your Relationship?
Do you tend to address problems together as a team, or do you find yourselves criticizing one another and finding who is to blame for the suffering and pain in your relationship? Do you express your needs in a positive and neutral way such as:
“I realize that I can be a bit of a neat freak, and I really appreciate it when you wipe down the counters. Lately there have been sticky things and crumbs left out when I come down in the morning and I feel frustrated because I know I’ve mentioned this before. I need to live with a clean kitchen. How can we accomplish this together?”
Or does the conversation look more like this:
“I can’t believe I came down this morning and found crumbs all over the counters and floor. I swear to God, if I didn’t know any better I would think that you are trying to lure mice to our place. Haven’t I told you over and over again, that I cannot live in filth. You never listen to a word I say!”
Even when you want to say the latter, you can cultivate the level of awareness needed to pause, and do things a little differently. Find your regular breath again, slow your nervous system down and notice that you have a menu of responses to choose from. One of them can sound something like option 1.
Your Marriage Needs Somewhat Frequent Software Updates
As partners age together, communication changes, roles change, hopes and dreams change, and far too often, these things do not get talked about between partners. As you change in you relationship, it is vital to the satisfaction you feel with your beloved to update the information you currently have. This will help, in part to making that automobile not only get from point A to point B, but ride more smoothly along the way.
If you’ve been experiencing problems in your marriage and are not sure how to get past certain issues together, it may be time to enter Marriage Counseling. You can search for a therapist in your insurance’s network or on a directory listing like Psychology Today. If you live in or around the Bethesda area, feel free to call The Couple and Family Clinic. I absolutely love the work that I do, and would be honored to get to work with you!
Robin S. Smith, MS, LCMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in clinical practice in Bethesda MD, and specializes in relationship issues for couples, families, and individuals, for improved quality of life. His clinical specialties include: transition to parenthood for new and expecting parents, infidelity, sex and intimacy issues, premarital counseling, and trauma. Robin has given talks to various groups including hospital administrators, graduate students, therapists, and child birth educators. He is the primary contributor to The Couple and Family Clinic Blog.