Let’s face it–marriage is work. I know when we think of the institution of marriage and for any engaged woman who has spent months pinning to her wedding boards on pinterest- it’s highly unlikely any of those boards would include the words WORK– for those of us who have been in this “institution” for longer than a year ( I’ve clocked 16 years) we can all attest to one thing- without working at it- your marriage will not work. Period.
All the pink peonies and gauzy gowns that brides-to-be painstakingly spend hours pouring over will seem like distant memories when you are smack dab in the middle of yet another rain storm and that roof you just had fixed begins to leak yet again. Even under the best circumstances-like leak-free roofs and husbands who never forget to bring you coffee from the outside with just the right amount of cream-your marriage will have its fair share of challenges and struggles and points where all you want to do is slam the door behind you, get in your car and DRIVE FAR FAR AWAY. So with that in mind and all of us REELING from the news that Bennifer is now officially Ben and Jen I simply had to post Dr. Tina Tessina’s 6 incredibly insightful rules when it comes to your marriage.
According to Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka “Dr. Romance”) psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage (Adams Media) – RULE #1 don’t assume that what celebrities do is normal or should be emulated.
“As a relationship counselor, I’m not in favor of “knowing it’s time to move on” in relationships. I think a relationship is a precious thing, and it’s important to at least give it your best shot before leaving. So many couples allow their relationship to languish and die, when the fix would be really quite simple. If there are not serious problems like violence, infidelity or addiction, the relationship can probably thrive with a little work.”
Younger people are quite unrealistic about relationships and what they are all about. Those who grow up in divorced families have no model of the give and take marriage requires. Because of these unrealistic dreams, they get terribly disappointed when relationships turn out to need work. They learn as they get older, and have some experiences with relationships. Older people are more realistic and understand that relationship is about partnership, not about looks, or other traits. It’s much easier to live with someone who is cooperative than to worry about minor personality traits that are different. You need shared core values and good communication, which you can’t find out about a prospective partner from just a few dates.
Dr. Tessina says there are FUNDAMENTAL Differences between men and women and their expectations about marriage:
Women see marriage as gaining a family and a partner, but most men see it as a loss of freedom. Women are delaying marriage for career, but men delay it because they don’t want to settle down. Career is more important to younger women than to previous generations. Because of medical advances, they can postpone having a family, and they don’t worry about being too old to bear children — so they delay marriage, or they feel they can have children on their own. As a counselor, I’ve helped lots of couples solve difficult relationship problems, and here are three tips to making your marriage work
1. Don’t hold a grudge: Talk about what’s bothering you in a rational way. Ask clearly for what you want, and let your partner know why it’s important to you. If you can’t find a way to agree, go for a counseling session. Resentment will destroy your marriage –for the price of one session, before the problem gets too large, you can save it.
2. Show your appreciation: Let your partner know you appreciate what he or she does, personality traits, (i.e.: his sense of humor, her generosity, his practicality, her hard work) and companionship. The more you praise what you like, the more you’ll get of it. We all want to be appreciated. Celebration + appreciation = motivation.
3. Make time for intimacy: Regard your face to face time as sacred (it is–it will bless your marriage.) Take time to listen to each other. Touch as often as possible (put your hand on your spouse’s leg while driving; give him or her a little squeeze now and then, hug and kiss each other.) Create a cuddling space in front of the television, on the porch swing, in your bedroom, and use it.
While these three things aren’t all you need to do to create a working, loving partnership; they’ll set the tone and create an atmosphere where your relationship can thrive. They’re like the water, sun and fertilizer to a plant –the natural necessities of married life.
And just in case you need em (WHO DOESNT)Dr. Romance offers these 3 Guidelines for avoiding divorce
1. Calm down. Couples often feel panicked when something goes wrong in the marriage. Understand that problems are just opportunities to learn and grow, and to find a new and exciting way to do things. You can’t think when you’re upset, so don’t talk when you are. Take a moment to calm down, take a deep breath, and talk rationally about what’s going on. Any problem can be fixed, if you both focus on finding a solution.
2. Avoid drama. Many people grow up with parents who create a lot of drama – fighting, cold silences, leaving and returning, court battles, child custody problems and financial struggles. Drama of that type is never necessary – it’s a result of adults acting like upset children. Avoid dramatic pronouncements, scenes and ultimatums when problems arise. Instead, learn to sit down as an adult, and talk about what the solution might be; think and act as you do at work when a problem arises – most people can’t throw fits and keep their jobs.
3. Get counseling early. When my husband and I first married, we made a deal: If we couldn’t solve a problem on our own in three days, we’d go for counseling. In the first few years, we had a few sessions, which were very helpful in teaching us how to be effective with each other. 29 years later, we are happy and haven’t needed counseling in many years. Getting counseling early, before the drama sets in, will help you create a successful marriage together.
For more of Dr. Tessina’s NUGGETS OF RELATIONSHIP GOLD check out her site at http://www.tinatessina.com