5 Must-Do Secrets for a Healthy Marriage Five tools that will help you set a foundation for a solid marriage. BY SHARON RIVKIN, M.A., M.F.T.
To have a successful marriage you need to give it attention and celebrate your union continuously.
“ Resolve conflicts immediately so you can continue to love your partner and see them in a positive light.”
We seem to prepare for everything in our life: jobs, exams, etc. Why then donít we prepare for a successful marriage? According to the State of Our Unions report from the National Marriage Project, it is estimated that between 40 and 50 percent of first marriages end in divorce in the United States. Without realizing it, most couples have unrealistic ideas about marriage perpetuated by fairy tales, movies, and fantasy novels. These misconceptions about love can render a couple helpless to resolve conflict, creating trouble and havoc when it suddenly appears in the marriage.
Couples counseling can help even good relationships.
Most unmarried couples naively think they donít need counseling. Maybe they havenít experienced relationship hardships and donít believe there will ever be problems. And if problems do pop up, they believe they will magically turn out okay. Marriages donít work that way. They take effort, thought, and skill. Love alone will not guarantee a successful marriage. According to research published in the Journal of?Family Psychology, pre-marital counseling can reduce the risk of divorce by up to 30% and lead to a happier and healthier marriage. And the healthiest marriages are those where the couple can negotiate their differences. Obviously itís best to discuss major relationship issues before the wedding, however, itís never too late (even if you've been married for 30 years) for couples to discuss and resolve conflicts to have a better chance for a healthy marriage, such as:
* What are your expectations for a good marriage? * How compatible are you on day-to-day issues? * What personality-type are each of you and what are your families of origin like? * What are your communication skills? Are you an introvert or extrovert? * Do you have tools for conflict management? Can you negotiate? What do you do when conflict arises? * Do you have similar sex drives? What type of sex do you prefer? * Do you share long-term goals and similar values?
Then, by using these tips couples (and perhaps with the help of a professional) can approach the following five areas to form a solid foundation for a successful marriage:
1. Fight fair. Learn how to take time outs, call a truce, stop the shaming and blaming, and develop ground rules for fighting.
2. Understand your core issues. Know what your story-below-the-story is, i.e., your trauma from the past that makes you react in fights. Then use this information to help you permanently resolve your issues.
3. Keep your partner from becoming your enemy. When arguments build up, you cease giving your partner the benefit of the doubt. Therefore, resolve conflicts immediately so you can continue to love your partner and see them in a positive light.
4. Stay current. Address arguments as soon as they come up. Donít sweep issues under the rug. They wonít go away. Resentment and anger build momentum whenever an issue isnít dealt with and resolved.
5. Verbalize appreciation. Couples need to verbalize their appreciation for each other regularly.
By discussing important issues and learning valuable skills, a solid foundation can be built for a successful marriage.
Also known as the "last ditch effort therapist," Sharon M. Rivkin, therapist and conflict resolution/affairs expert, is the author of "Breaking the Argument Cycle: How to Stop Fighting Without Therapy" and developer of the First Argument Technique, a 3-step system that helps couples fix their relationships and understand why they fight. Her work has been featured in Oprah Magazine, Reader's Digest, Time.com, Yahoo!News.com, WebMD.com, and DrLaura.com. Sharon has appeared on TV, was quoted on The Insider TV show, and makes regular radio appearances nationwide. She has also appeared on Martha Stewart Whole Living Radio and is the "Resident Shrink" on Coach Ron Tunick's radio show, The Business of Life, on KKZZ 1400AM. For more information, please visit her website at www.sharonrivkin.com.