Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lessons from a marriage counsellor

Had the most interesting conversation the other night with a woman who's seen a lot of good and bad marriages in the course of her work as a counsellor.

While there is no magic bullet solution, I appreciated re-hearing some of these helpful tips:

1. touch each other OFTEN

resting your hands on his shoulders as you walk past him in the kitchen, putting your hand on his thigh while watching TV, leaning in close to talk or laugh, holding hands ... all of these touches are important to maintain the connection -- don't I know it. I love, love, love the touch too.

2. stop making your partner your best girlfriend

This one is difficult because we spend a lot of time together and it's too convenient to share with my partner emotional stuff I should just save for the girls.

3. think positively about your partner

It's far too easy to be critical of our loved ones; when I hold on to positive thoughts I'm more likely to treat him nicely then if I'm carrying resentment in my heart.

4. prioritize your people

Work has been my #1 priority lately and I don't like what it's doing to my life. My relationships are suffering and my health is in decline. The people that mean the most to me should come first, period.

5. have realistic expectations

I often focus on all the things my partner is not instead of appreciating that he is everything that counts -- he's loyal, supportive, caring and dependable. This counsellor told me that when she hears her clients complain that their partners are not romantic she puts them in their place. Romance is not what's important.

6. be appreciative

The most common reason people check out of their relationships is feeling like they no longer make a difference -- nothing they do can satisfy their partner. UGH, this is dismal because I know that I give my partner this message daily. In fact I feel so wrotten for it, that I now try to do more myself so that he won't disappoint. But this kind of over-functioning is also bad because I'm not giving him what he needs -- the opportunity to please me. Because that's all they want, is to be #1 in your eyes.

I wish I could remember the other tips, but alas the alcohol was flowing freely that night. She told me to read John Gottman for more common sense tips and I think I will.

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