Common Sense Ways To Help Your Marriage
Important Research On Marriage
There is a lot of research on marriage. David Popenoe from The National Marriage Project at Rutgers University talks about some important findings.
He found that people are most likely to find a future marriage partner through an introduction by family, friends, or acquaintances. Couples who have similar values, backgrounds and life goals are more likely to have a successful marriage. That marriage helps people to generate income and wealth. That couples who are married are more likely to have emotionally and physically satisfying sex lives than single people or those who live together. (http://www.foryourmarriage.org).
Knowing more about marriage helps couples stay married. However, research isn't the only way to learn about marriage. What do couples married 50 years or longer say about what helps a marriage? Beth Teitell, from the Boston Globe (2011) asked some couples what helped them. Their answers were, "Be kind. Listen. Spend time together. And also apart."
Marital Problems Are Common
The American Association For Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) website says, "Marital distress is one of the most frequently encountered and disturbing human problems". (www.aamft.org).
Martial stress can come from: finances, parenting concerns, extended family issues, conflict, work issues, health concerns, legal issues, grief and loss issues. (marriagemoment.org, 2011).
While most couples solve these problems, sometimes the stress stacks up leading to conflict, disagreements, which can lead to pulling apart in the relationship. For some, the stress can result in anxiety, depression, and a desire to isolate and communicate less.
Homework I Give Couples In Therapy
The first assignment I give to couples that start therapy with me is to spend 20 minutes a day together talking about their relationship. While couples may spend 30 minutes a day, according to the British study, they spend even less time talking about their relationship.
Most of the time couples will talk about their day at work, what's happening with the kids, how their extended family is doing. They don't talk about their relationship and how they are feeling. This is a difficult assignment for most couples just to focus on their relationship. However, it allows them a forum for talking about things that they can change to make their marriage better.
Often times, I will have couples go through their marriage album together as part of this 20 minutes. Getting in touch with how they felt on the day of their marriage reminds them of their bond together.
I also ask couples to do one thing a day for their spouse. It doesn't have to be big, just something that their spouse would appreciate.