I am frequently asked if I could summarize what makes a marriage work in one word. And I honestly can’t. I have so many words to share with you.
In an attempt to keep it simple, I think marriage satisfaction increases when you work on your own emotional reactions in the presence of your significant other. It’s our negative reactions to what our spouse does, doesn’t do, says, doesn’t say that contributes to increasing emotional distance and marriage conflict. And the more negative the interactions, the more emotional intimacy and marital friendship is blocked and eroded.
“In the world of relationships, the most important numbers to learn are: five to one. That is the ratio of positive interactions to negative ones that predicts whether a marriage will last or become one of the sad statistics of divorce.” ~ Psychology Today
Most marriage advice tells you how to get your relationship where you want it to be or how to get your spouse to meet your needs better. Well I am going to throw a wrench in these ideas, because I think both of these can make a marriage more miserable.
Think about it this way. If you think you know how your marriage needs to look or your spouse needs to be, then you are interacting with pressure and expectations instead of openness and respect. Dr. Dan Papero, family therapist and international speaker, said it best when he defined intimacy as:
“…the ability to have a relationship with another human being in which I can be myself. And you can listen without correcting me or backing away. You can stay connected to me, and I can do the same for you.” ~ Dr. Papero, Divorce Video
It can be so hard to admit it, but we are each part of the problem and luckily part of the solution too. Marriages do take work, but it’s working on ourselves not the relationship or our spouse that grows relationships.
My Top 10 Relationship Growing Tips for 2014
I have updated what I think are the 10 best emotion and relationship tips I know so far. Read on and tell me what you think in the comments section.
Tip #2: Find Your Own Happiness Switch
Tip #4: Communicate Anger Without Blame
Tip #9: Resurrect Your Sexy Self
While I haven’t given you a simple, quick fix solution for your marriage problems, I imagine you’d rather start working on self than waiting for your spouse to change. Even if you have to keep working on yourself every day, you will be boosting your own confidence and ability to interact personally and more positively along the way.
I’m growing too, so each year I add to my understanding of what makes marriages work. I’ve spent far too many days trying to shape up my man, only to help create more emotional distance and conflict. So I will spend the rest of my years learning how to love my man better and how to be a more emotionally responsible self.
“Marriage is our last, best chance to grow up.” ~ Joseph Barth
What ideas do you find most useful? Any tips you disagree with?
Marci offers face-to-face counseling services in the Kansas City, MO area and is available for coaching via Skype. Schedule an appointment today to turn life and relationship challenges into opportunities for growth and intimacy.
This will be my only post this month, as I am working on going digital and paperless in my practice. Make sure you are subscribed to my monthly newsletter, so you can hear all about using online scheduling and appointment reminders!
Photo Credit: “Life’s Options” by Pink Sherbet