Develop Healthy Marital Skills

Most physical, intellectual, social and emotional interpersonal human skills are learned with the exception of few instinctual, pre-programmed survival and self-preservation tools. Our culture educates and prepares children and adults for life skills to survive and thrive in our complex and demanding modern era. Yet, marriage skills are not part of required educational preparation. It is assumed that once we reach adulthood, fall in love, marry and reproduce we are well-equipped to manage all these functions with ease, competence and durability. Regrettably, these assumptions may not always be true.

The American Psychological Association reports that “About 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce. The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher.”

Dr. Judith Wallerstein, co-author of “The Good Marriage: How and why love lasts” recommends ten prescribed tasks for preserving a healthy marriage. In “10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage”, Relationship Experts Drs. John and Julie Gottman offer tools for developing and sustaining a healthy marriage. In “THE NEW RULES OF MARRIAGE” Dr. Terrence Real lists his recommendations for pairs wishing to improve their love bond. Dr. Harville Hendrix published his methods for couple’s love relationship in “Getting The Love You Want: A Guide for Couples.” These are four of many prominent experts who have offered excellent guidance to help couples improve their relationship satisfaction. Though these and other publications have been very popular, many couples’ efforts to restore and sustain their love connection on their own have not been successful.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “More than 30 million Americans need help dealing with feelings and problems that seem beyond their control — problems with a marriage or relationship, a family situation or dealing with losing a job, the death of a loved one, depression, stress, burnout or substance abuse. Those losses and stresses of daily living can at times be significantly debilitating.”

When pairs elect to consult a couple therapist, one or both may still be dubious about the trained professional’s ability to help rejuvenate their unique love bond. Some are reluctant to open up to a third party, fear being labeled as deficient or “at fault” or are ill at ease with discussing their personal life with a therapist. They may even be reluctant to trust friends or family members’ reports about having successfully restored their love relationship with the help of a couple’s therapist.

It is beneficial for pairs to ask friends for a recommendation to a skilled marital therapist. We ask for referrals to attorneys, accountants, bookkeepers, service providers or tradesmen. It is equally wise to do so about a competent couple’s therapist.

Be an effective/loving mate:

  • Abstain from “hoping” that your relationship will eventually improve on its own.
  • Accept that relationship tools can be learned, improved and practiced with the guidance of a competent couple therapist.
  • Prove your love for your mate, yourself and your union by seeking the assistance of a qualified therapist in restoring your marital happiness.





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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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