Marital satisfaction is up to you!

Some pairs who come to couple therapy to improve their relationship

present a defensive stance in which they depict themselves as loving, reasonable and compromising while describing their mate as faltering in these criteria, less than kind, argumentative. Though the adjectives vary from pair to pair, the theme of their presentation can be termed as “the saint” versus “the unholy”. Interestingly, this mere perception interferes with the resolution of their differences and obstructs a fluid transition to mutual acceptance and harmonious resolution of their differences. How can couples facilitate their relationship repair by rethinking about the original “cause” of their marital fissure?

In the process of falling in love, infatuation colors our objective view of our partner’s nature and essence. We tend to glamorize the other’s positive traits and dim his/her less attractive attributes. This allows us to satisfy our deep belief of having met the “ideal” mate by maximizing his/her positive traits and hinders us from recording signs of the existence of less than rewarding attributes, behaviors, opinions or preferences. Just this mere early “idolizing” of the potential mate sets us up to become inevitably disappointed and disenchanted in due time. Regrettably, we have no tools for dealing with “reality”, once we are awakened from our gratifying dream.

Not only are the new beloveds startled when they allow themselves to identify ungratifying traits or behaviors in each other, they are also unprepared to deal with processing this “discovery”, have no path for reorienting their views or possess tools to deal with their sad new state.

In his book, “Soul Mates” Thomas Moore states, “Lifelong, intense, socially potent relationships don’t exist without touching the deepest, rawest reservoirs of the soul.” He adds, “To the soul, there is hardly anything more healing than friendship, it does not ask for a great deal of activity, but it does require loyalty and presence. After all, what the soul wants is attachment – a detached friendship is a contradiction in terms. Therefore, like all forms of soulful living, friendship demands attention…Friendship does not require compatibility. The soul can reach out and make its connections through and in spite of differences of politics, opinions, convictions, and beliefs. Friendship is the container of the soul, not the process of weaving compatible companionship.”

Regrettably, some people confuse infatuation, physical attraction and ego gratification with sincere, authentic and deep mental and emotional bonds combined with a soulmate connection that is likely to last a lifetime. This is one formula that leads so many people to initially feel “madly in love” to only be shattered when friendship and loyalties begin to fray.

Maintain marital satisfaction:

  • Monitor your thoughts and emotions relating to your beloved. Correct your attitude if it veers from being appreciative, considerate, compromising and thoughtful of his/her needs and wants.
  • Stay appreciative, loving, praising and routinely express your delight in your mate.
  • Be the best friend you can be to your partner through good and bad times.

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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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