“No sooner met but they looked; no sooner looked but they loved; no sooner loved but they sighed; no sooner sighed but they asked one another the reason; no sooner knew the reason but they sought the remedy; and in these degrees have they made a pair of stairs to marriage.” ~ William Shakespeare
As a husband of 17 years, I can inform you that marriage is a lifelong education. Marriage is the essence of life and it has an intrinsic way of wholly consuming every aspect of life. While the consumption is likely, the type of consumption can be a profitable experience rather than a drudgery.
Furthermore, marriage is a lifelong commitment. The commitment cannot solely be an individual endeavor, rather marriage is a joint effort. As a clinician, I am always amazed that the assumption of marriage is viewed from a myopic perspective, rather than a hyperopic one. Marriage is not a singular ideological framework, rather it devised of two perspectives uniting together to become one. While you can rest assured that your ideological views surely will cross, it is always essential to come to a place to agree-to-disagree. Moreover, while there are no perfect marriages, the highlight of every marriage is to strive for an unified best!
KEEPING THE LOVE LIGHT BURNING
“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” ~ Mignon McLaughlin
Marriage is an ultimate sacrifice of thyself and thy personhood. It is through the sacrifice that we learn to serve and to be served. Marriage is the best reminder of why it is important to love thyself. While many utter words of love, few completely understand the roots of love. Love is an intense feeling of deep affection, admiration, respect and warm approval. Without love, there is likely no attachment or affection. Nevertheless, you can be the best of friends and not be “in love.” Moreover, love must begin within you before it can be expressed outwardly.
What does it mean to be in love? Being in love is not a mystical experience, having hidden or esoteric meanings. Rather, being “in love’ is within anyone’s reach and is a response to reactions in our brain, but connecting to the “right” person is often the challenge. You cannot force a person to “be in love.” If you partner is not “in love” with you, then the likelihood of making that connection is null.
Being without love is not an indication of failure, rather is an indication that you have not made that sort of connection. Moreover being in love is not flowers and candy, rather it is the recognition that you would do anything for this person that you have united with. It is the willingness to accept the good along with the bad. It is loving another sometimes beyond liking that other person.
“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
How do you achieve being in love? First of all, friendship is the key ingredient to any healthy marriage. If you are not friends, then it is likely a “loveless” relationship. Sure enough, you can have a very physical intimate relationship, but you will certainly be lacking in the connection department.
What is friendship? Friendship is the genuine and authentic connection united by emotions, trust, and and the complete acceptance of another. Friendship should not cease in the midst of hard times, rather it should be strengthened by the trials and tribulations. Notably, there are no perfect friendships, rather imperfect people striving to be his or her best. If you have the key ingredient of friendship, then you have a solid platform to build your relationship.
“When you’re feeling overwhelmed, make a deliberate effort to calm yourself.” ~ John Gottman
Avoiding responsibility will create barriers and build up walls of rejection. Always accept that with which you are responsible for, and never accept responsibility for someone else’s mistakes. You are ultimately the master and commander of your life. Therefore be in charge and willing to accept the rights and wrongs that occur in your life. Accept both your own and your partner’s strengths and weaknesses.
“It is a wise father (and husband) that knows his own child (and spouse).” ~ William Shakespeare
Active listening is another essential ingredient to any marriage. Active listening is the ability, the skill, technique, or an inherent trait whereby, a person is purposefully and intentionally focusing on the communications being sent by another person or persons. An active listener not only listens and receives an intended message, but is capable of paraphrasing what messages he or she has received back to the communicator. An active listener recognizes that not all communication is verbally spoken, but is often communicated through verbal and nonverbal transmissions. It entails good physical posture, gestures, and purposeful eye contact.
As an active listener, you will align your body towards the intended recipient. You may lean towards the sender or receiver, maintain active eye contact, posture your body in an open form, and be relaxed while nonverbally communicating. Active Listening is also being capable of reflecting any verbal or nonverbal communication that is communicated.
As a spouse, an active listener is purposeful in his or her actions, reflections, and all forms of communications. Active listening shows that you care, have empathy, and are completely interested in another person.
“In addition, listening or speaking without being defensive helps to counter several destructive habits. (If you are a) non-defensive listener, chances are it will make the cycle of negativity much less likely… Letting your spouse know that you understand him or her is the most powerful tools for healing your relationship.” (Gottman & Silver, 2012, Online)
QUALITY AND QUANTITY TIME
“Where there is love, there is life” ~Mahatma Gandhi
As a clinician, I have a bit of a different take. Professionally, it is undoubtedly apparent that to achieve a “healthy” relationship requires a combination of the amount of time dispensed, plus the quality of the time being exerted. I have heard countless tales about couples feeling exacerbated, frustrated, challenged, and unfulfilled within their roles as a couple. The most common theme is a lack of communication, neglect of the relationship and the lack of intimacy. All of these themes are encapsulated with the same essential feature; the type of time dispensed and quantity of time being dispensed to resolve problems or aid in betterment of a relationship.
The typical complaint is a statement that a situation is unsatisfactory or unacceptable. People most commonly express a lack of cohesiveness in his or her relationships. They will express how their partner is neglectful, lacking in compassion, and an ability to be a part of the relationship. Simply put, there is a lack of forming a united whole.
They will make statements such as: “he chooses to spend more time with his buddies than he does with me.” “I feel neglected, unimportant, and without merit.” “She is so focused on her career that I feel like a fixture in her room of life.” “I have never felt completely connected to my partner.”
If your desire is to achieve a complete failure, then be certain to neglect your spouse and you will achieve the ultimate failure. Relationships are like a fern, ferns need protection, good soil, sunlight, nutrients and ultimatum environmental conditions. Therefore, you must gently care and offer support and protection to your relationship. While every person and relationship may differ in its overall makeup, all relationships require active participation, commitment, and time.
“Conscientious people are apt to see their duty in that which is the most painful” ~ George Elliot
Have an attitude of diligence and a desire to be punctilious. Relationships occur through a directional role, thus we should be guiding in a way that inspires others to follow in our positive pathways. If you are acting in a conscientious way, then you will have a deep desire and heartfelt yearning to do that which is right.
KEYS TO IMPROVING YOUR MARRIAGE
“The greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance.” ~ Brian Tracy
Couples should have a habit of active participation. Active participation empowers active communication, without such there is limited interaction. The particulars behind being active may vary depending upon the couple. Nevertheless, being active implies that we are engaging, or ready to engage, in a specific pursuit. I may be an active scholar with my spouse, while the next fellow is an active outdoorsman. Whatever the pursuit, be active and diligent to show care and conscientiousness when engaging your spouse. Likewise, be certain that your activity is engulfed with positive and constructive pursuits. Do not expect them to share in the same goals, but enrich each other with the happiness your goals provide for you.
“A happy marriage is the union of two forgivers.” ~ Ruth Bell Graham
Do not allow resentment to reside in your mind. I will corrupt your feelings and wither away the bond you have developed and nurtured. Appreciate your significant other for their shortcomings, as well as their positive attributes. Accept them for the mistakes they have made, when they have not provided for or comforted you exactly as you would have hoped, and when they have hurt you, whether intentionally or by accident. Demand the same in return, as we may not meet their expectations. Acknowledge them for the strengths and weaknesses that entail being human. Marriage is not about a moment of bliss, but a commitment through highs and lows of life experiences that we can share in our journey.
Authors: Asa Don Brown, Ph.D., C.C.C., N.C.C.M. and Chad Hartman, MS
Gottman, J. & Silver, N. (2012) What makes marriage work? Retrieved April 20, 2014 from http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200910/what-makes-marriage-work
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA