Tools for Couples Happiness — 19 October 2009
Polish your marriage so that it will not tarnish

Marriage, like silver, shines and sparkles at first but will lose its luster and tarnish unless it is periodically polished.

A marital commitment is a very complex contract to live and love together in harmony and mutual need fulfillment. Initially, it seems so easy to trust that love will conquer all. However, as the initial ecstasy wanes and life takes over, partners encounter disappointments, hurts, conflicts, personal and couple challenges as their relationship connection ebbs and flows with these emotions.

Regrettably, though this process is normal, some pairs view the disappointments in their union as expected and may even resign to the idea that their happiness was destined to be lost. Others, internalize their unmet needs as a reflection of their loss of significance, worth or desirability and silently suffer their pain. Yet others, get discouraged and elect to terminate what they view as their ill fated marriage in order to seek a more fulfilling relationship.

Not uncommonly, long term mates tell of harbored, un-dealt with pain over long periods of time, of unspoken hurts, of doubts about being loved, of suspicions about the partner loss of interest, as their enthusiasm for the mate and the marriage decline. By the time they may seek help the tarnish has darkened to a deep grey/black hue.

In their book, “Eight Lessons for a Happier Marriage”, psychiatrist William Glasser, M.D. and his wife, Carleen Glasser, M.A. recommend trading the seven deadly habits of: criticizing, blaming, complaining, nagging, threatening, punishing and bribing, for seven
caring habits of: supporting, encouraging, listening, accepting, trusting, respecting, and negotiating your differences.

These are excellent tools worth pursuing. However, to achieve those, couples need at least three basic prerequisites to access the best in themselves, solid unwavering commitment, feeling loved, and being each other’s first priority.

Unwavering commitment excludes even the distant possibility that divorce is an option. Married partners must frequently reiterate their solid commitment to each other as lifelong mates. Affirming the stability of your loyalty to your mate is a necessary foundation for your partner’s ability to be at his/her best.

NEVER take each other’s love for granted, it needs to be regularly vocalized and acted upon.

In addition, married mates need to know that they are not only loved and solidly bound but that they are each other’s unquestioned highest priority. Being and feeling as number one empowers each mate to live up to his/her highest level of giving.

Polishing Tools,

. View your marriage as the best decision you have made and often affirm to each other the wisdom of your selection and your commitment to each other for life.
• Affirm your effective partnership every time you make a decision or take successful action together.
• Speak of your love and demonstrate it in caring acts.
• Make it clear that your partner’s needs are the paramount consideration in all actions you take.
• Agree to review your relationship status every year. Ask, ”How can I be a better partner to you this coming year?” This is a positive way to receive constructive requests rather than criticism. Reply, “ I would love it if you would agree to set a date night every week that we hold holy.”
• Make a contract with yourself to deal with your hurt emotions shortly after they occur. Say, “I know that you respect my reasoning and I was disappointed when you did not support me when our friend disagreed. I would love to have us be the solid team we can be.”
• Ask frequently, “How can I help you?” or “What can I do to make it easier for you?” Then act accordingly.
• Keep your partner’s needs and preference in mind. Consider them first before acting on yours.
• Be focused on being loyal, loving, and accommodating – your marriage will sparkle for life.

Related Articles

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.

(0) Readers Comments

Comments are closed.