People often ask “what makes a marriage work?”. Marriage is like a child…no two are exactly alike. Each marriage has it’s own unique dynamic and what may work for one couple does not work for another.
However, there are some common areas that I find many couples struggle with.
Stay On Topic
When fighting about one issue don’t throw in old issues, other issues and pet peeves just for good measure! You are not winning you are just flooding your opponent. The fight may end but nothing has changed. I always tell couples you can have a fanny pack not a back pack to unload.
No Below the Belt Fighting
Keep it clean. Don’t say to your partner what you would never say to your friend, boss or other family member. We know how to hurt our partners on a very deep level. Below the belt statements can erode at the very foundation of your relationship.
Doing things together that are free is a great way to stay connected, have something to look forward to and something to talk about. Relationships take work! Accept that you have to get creative and find things that keep you both interested. Taking a walk at the end of the day is a great way to deal with little things as they come up.
Accept Conflict as a Healthy and Normal part of a Relationship
Often couples come in saying “we fight all the time!”. Conflict is normal it’s how you deal with conflict that makes the difference. I ask couples to look at their marriage and deal with conflict the same way they would in business…negotiate! You wouldn’t tell a coworker “that’s it, we’re through, you’re fired! If you didn’t agree on something. You negotiate the conflict and come to a common ground. Not everyone wins every time and that is
part of being in a marriage. You learn to negotiate and compromise for the greater good of the relationship.
Be a Team
Don’t try to micro-manage your partner. Don’t loose your identity in the marriage…continue to pursue your dreams and support one another. Be each others best cheerleader. Too often couples loose themselves in the marriage and are left with a lot of resentment. Often, no one has asked their partner to give up their dreams….they just do and then the blame game starts.
Take issues at face value
Don’t automatically think “what you really mean…..” This is unfair, unhealthy and leaves your partner feeling like they need to defend themselves against things they haven’t said or don’t feel.
Use Caution when letting outsiders in
The last thing you want is to have your best friend holding a grudge with your partner after you’ve made up….awkward! Be cautious about inviting too many peoples opinions in on your relationship. Know who you are talking to and if they understand you are just venting.
Parenting is Hard work.....work together for a common goal
Parenting puts a lot of stress on any relationship. If you both have all hands on deck and everyone is doing the best they can you all win.
Be willing to let go, loose or just get back on Track
It’s ok to agree to disagree. You don’t always have to win. Surrendering in order to make peace or keep the peace is ok. Consider when the relationship is more important than being right. 90% of the time couples fight over things they won’t care about in 48 hours. Recognize when an argument is unproductive or not important. Having a repair attempt is great way to stop the spiral and get back on track.
Put a Stop to the negative cycle
Every couple gets caught in negative cycles of interaction and falls into the “black hole”. This is a state of feeling estranged from your partner which often includes feeling alone and isolated. Many couples in a negative cycle find themselves with one partner pushing to resolve an issue while another is withdrawing to keep peace.
Know when to get help
Be proactive, not reactive! So many couples come in when things have really deteriorated. They have a lot of hurt and resentment that needs to be “undone”. It’s healthy to seek outside help to get the tools you need to stop the drift or damage to the foundation of your relationship.