Most of us make annual appointments to see our physicians, our dentists, our optometrists, etc… just to make sure we’re healthy. Responsible parents take their children annually to their pediatricians to monitor their children’s growth and physical well-being. Why is it then, that married couples don’t get annual relationship check-ups just to make sure their marriages are in good shape? One of the most meaningful gifts we can give our child is to have a healthy, happy marriage. So why do couples wait until their marriages are in such disrepair before seeking professional help? In the U.S., the chances of “marriage death” a.k.a. divorce hovers around 50%. I venture to say that “marriage death” is even greater than 50% because many couples stay together despite having unhappy, unfulfilling marriages. Just as a doctor would strongly advise adults to get annual physicals, I advise married couples to take the time for annual relationship check-ups.
As I help married couples navigate through the twists and turns of their of troubled relationships, most will agree that the process, though sometimes difficult, transforms and invigorates their marriage. Here are some questions that arise frequently.
- What are the most common pitfalls of marriage?
The most common problems of marriage deal with Control/Power Struggle between spouses due to the underlying self-centeredness of humans, Lack of communication, Lack of Intimacy (sexual and/or romantic intimacy), Lack of time spent together, Financial Problems, Unresolved Effects of Past Emotional Injuries, and Ineffective Conflict Resolution Skills.
- We fight all the time about insignificant, small matters that erupt into big arguments. How can we get along like we used to?What you argue about is not as important as how you argue. In healthy marriages, couples are able to control their disagreements by not allowing themselves to escalate the drama. It only takes one person to stop increasing the level of drama. One sure way to keep small matters small is to not add fuel to the fire. This doesn’t mean to dismiss your partner by giving the silent treatment, this means learning not to take things personally and learning to let go of being “right”.
- My spouse had an affair. How can our marriage survive the betrayal? Most affairs don’t end marriages. With the help of a counselor to guide you through the steps of rebuilding trust, true reconciliation can occur. Some of the steps towards rebuilding a trusting and safe environment include: ending all contact with the lover, acknowledging and validating the pain and anger felt by both spouses, taking responsibility for your part in your marital problems, apologizing to one another, learning to empathize, learning forgiveness, and learning practical conflict resolution skills
- We seem to be drifting apart. How can we get the passion back? The easy solution is to spend more time enjoying each other and having fun. The challenge is to realistically align your expectations. How would each of you describe fun and passion in your relationship?
- What relationship self-help books do you recommend? I consistently receive positive feedback from clients who read “The Mastery of Love” by Don Miguel Ruiz and “Real Love” by Greg Baer, M.D. Most relationship self-help books give you the opportunity to gain awareness and insight into your own marriage. But, in order to transform the knowledge into wisdom, you must put the knowledge into practical, purposeful use. Empower yourself by taking action inspired by the new information you’ve gained.
- What advice do you give couples going through marital problems? When I hear them say “I would be happy if only my spouse would….” That prompts me to talk about “change”. I challenge them to initiate positive actions in their marriage rather than hoping, expecting and demanding their partner to make the changes. The moment you change your attitude, habit or behavior towards your spouse, your spouse will automatically respond differently towards you. You become empowered when you’re in control of your happiness. If you want meaningful happiness in your marriage, you must have the courage to take the necessary steps towards sustainable change. Be 100% responsible for your own happiness.
About the Author: Mikita is a certified life coach, facilitator, speaker, columnist on SportsLink Magazine, avid community volunteer, aspiring pro-photographer, and inspiring stay-at-home mom. Fueled by her desire to manifest optimism and positive energy, she co-founded HeartMindMatters, a relationship coaching company and LifeCoachSuperstore, a company that creates motivational products. While HeartMindMatters allows her to empower clients in the areas of Separation/Divorce and Family Coaching, LifeCoachSuperstore challenges her artistic and entrepreneurial spirit. Prior to relationship coaching, Mikita spent 10 years as a top producer for a Wall Street executive search firm. She lives in Florida with her husband, four children, two stepchildren, dog, lizard and two frogs.