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Marital Tips List
is a package deal:
Marriage is a coming to together of not only two persons, but also their respective personalities, histories, families, at times children, good traits and bad traits. Like a coin, each person will bring two sides in all these elements. You cannot have just one side of a coin and pretend the other side doesn’t exist. If you are unhappy or unsatisfied with some elements, they are best addressed before marriage or as soon as possible after marriage. You will live with your in-laws and partner’s faults for the duration of life together.
recent years there has been a dramatic increase in cross-cultural marriages.
Some cultures are more similar than others whilst some are remarkably
dissimilar. Couples must determine how they intend to fuse their respective
cultures. Where this is left to chance, there is a greater likelihood of
conflict. Even well-intentioned couples realize after the marriage how important
their respective beliefs and customs are to them. These issues are best sorted
out before the kids come along.
need to be determined:
couples need to define themselves as a couple to extended family and friends. To
do so, the couple must determine what their rules are for themselves with regard
to defining their relationship to others. In other words, will friends take
priority over the couple? Will the in-laws determine a couple’s choices and
decisions or will the couple do so? Have you determined how to spend holidays
and religious events with regard to extended family? Imagine a submarine with a
screen door; it submerges and takes on water, never to rise again. Submarines
require doors that can be open and shut tight according to the skipper.
Marriages similarly need boundaries that can be secured at the discretion of the
conflict is crucial:
is an old adage, “Never go to bed angry at your spouse.” Please note this
does not mean the conflict has been resolved. Not all conflict can be resolved
before the lights go out. What must be appreciated though is that even in view
of unresolved conflict, the couple does not seek to hold grudges or seek
retribution the result of unresolved issues. Rather, there must be a commitment
that if matters cannot be resolved between the couple, rather than resorting to
harmful behaviors, they seek help as necessary.
a marriage, couples must be able to rely on each other to address tasks and
responsibilities. Many couples early on enter the marriage with the belief that
the other will automatically know what is expected. Trouble is, both likely hold
different opinions as to the expectations of the other. It is difficult for
couples to pull their weight, in mind of the other person’s expectations if
the expectations are not discussed. This is like starting a new job without a
job description. So whether it is who cleans around the house, how finances are
handled or how the groceries are obtained, discuss forthrightly.
reasonable words, not behaviour to address conflict:
upset, some people do not discuss the upset, but rather act in a way so as to
retaliate for the upsetting behaviour. As such, upsetting behaviour begets
upsetting behaviour causing increasing distress in the marriage. This
tit-for-tat is marital cancer. Instead of using behaviour to speak on your
behalf, talk with your partner about the upset with reasonable words (no
name-calling or belittling). If there is going to be a tit-for-tat, let it be
that reasonable words beget reasonable behaviour.
trouble, seek help!
are notorious for not asking for directions and believing they can fix anything.
As such, far more women than men run off to individual counseling to address
their marital issues. It important for couples to know that attending individual
counseling for a marital issue actually increases the likelihood of a marital
separation. The therapist will naturally align with the one spouse on the basis
of the one-sided account. Even if the other spouse follows into counseling later
on, because of the pre-alignment between the partner who attended first and the
counselor, this process is at risk of failure. If your marriage is in trouble
and one partner is refusing to attend counseling, you just found out the problem
may be bigger than you imagined and the help you need may just be from a divorce
attorney. Share this information with your spouse to open their mind.
yelling, name-calling, belittling, throwing things, pushing, shoving, hitting,
abusing alcohol and/or drug, having an affair (emotional or physical), holding a
spouse financially hostage, are never acceptable. These are very serious
problems, any of which can be a deal breaker.
good marriage is marked by compassion and understanding. While partners may be
tolerant of differences, that would not include tolerating abuse of self or
persons speak of compromise in a marriage. Rather than “compromise” think in
terms of “priority”. If your marriage and partner are the priority, there is
little to compromise. For example, choosing one’s spouse over a night with the
friends is not a compromise. It is an investment in a good marriage.
the end, if you want a loving marriage and partner, first act lovingly yourself.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Call Gary for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters. Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment critiques and workshops.
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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