What is a healthy marriage??
What is a Healthy Marriage? Association for Marriage Enrichment was approached recently by a magazine which specialises in issues round health and beauty. This was their question. Readers wanted to know when it was time to give up and get out. The underlying assumption was that there were ‘good marriages’ and ‘bad marriages’. Recognise the difference and take appropriate action. This question was being asked after about three years of life together. In fact, all marriages face similar problems and obstacles. So the difference is not whether we have difficulties in our relationship because we all do but whether we have the skills to cope with them. These skills do not automatically arrive just because we decide to live with some one.
The good news is that skills can be acquired and improved continuously through our lives. How? - First, recognise that they are needed and then use the resources that you have already and don’t ignore what marriage education and/or counselling might offer to help you. Many couples ignore the signs of strain and hope all will be well.
Here are some straight-forward facts that have emerged from studying couple behaviour.
- Difficulties with sex, money, children and in-laws are not main reasons for marriage difficulties.
- Compatibility is a myth - there is no one right person waiting to be found. Marriage is a lifelong process of adjusting to each other.
- We can change our behaviour if we wish. It is not necessary to ‘put up’ with each other.
- Growth in marriage is enlightened behaviour change.
- Misunderstandings can be faced and eradicated.
- Self-disclosure, not common interests, is the basis for all deep friendships. Keeping our feelings to ourselves is not good for the relationship.
- Dealing effectively with anger is the key to making marriage work. Good communication skills without the ability to deal with anger, leads to withdrawal from sharing feelings.
- Conflict in marriage isn’t bad or awful. Grit in the shell of an oyster can produce a pearl.
- Affirmation of each other helps keep our marriage alive. Saying ‘You know I do’ is not the same as showing and expressing love spontaneously. Many of us forget that as our lives become crowded with other demands.
- Couples need other Couples. This is an unusual idea for many but many people who work in this field will attest to the fact that couples grow much better together than alone. Sharing with others working at committed relationships, is supportive, opens up taboo areas and underlines the fact that difficulties are part of the normal patterns of life.
So we all need all the help we can get and the rewards are great. The resources for this are available now!
Tip by Ron Foyle of Association for Marriage Enrichment