Couples Counselling Edmonton | Making Marriage Work
Why are some relationships successful while others are ticking timebombs? How can you prevent a marriage from ending in divorce or save one that is near it? Is it even possible? These are questions that get asked a lot. It is no surprise either. More than half of first marriages end in divorce and that probability climbs with each subsequent marriage. These questions can now be answered with more certainty.
There is a science behind the answers, and it is based on years of study by John Gottman, PhD. It is not just important to predict when a marriage will fall apart but also what it takes to make a marriage stronger and withstand the obstacles that would try to tear it apart. The things that make happily married couples different from failed marriages will be discussed here.
Emotionally intelligent relationships is the first key to a successful marriage. When a couple honors, understands, and respects their marriage they are more likely to have a long lasting and happy marriage. There is value in preserving your marriage and working at it so that it becomes a success. Being in an unhappy marriage or going through a divorce can cause you to be sick and even takes years off your life. Alternatively, being in a happy marriage can keep you healthy and prolong your life.
The seven principles for making a marriage work
According to The Gottman Principles, there are seven principles you should apply to make your marriage work. This is a guaranteed way to bring emotional intelligence into your marriage. The first is to enhance your love maps. Secondly, nurture your fondness and admiration. The third is to turn toward each other instead of away. The fourth is to let your partner influence you. Fifthly, solve your solvable problems. The sixth principle is to overcome gridlock. The final principle is to create shared meaning (Gottman, 2015).
Enhancing your love maps is not as hard as it may seem. It is simply making mental notes of all the things your partner takes an interest in. Things like their opinions, preferences, idiosyncrasies, dreams, and fears all go into the love map storage inside your brain. This is something you will continually add to when there are changes or additions. When you do this you grow closer as a couple and in the end have a more rewarding and profound relationship.
By keeping a love map you are better able to cope with challenges and conflicts as they arise. Life is always going to have these difficult elements so what better way to move through them successfully when you do it with a partner that has your back and you theirs.
According to Gottman, the second principle to making your marriage work is to nurture fondness and admiration for each other. Fondness isn’t a word we use a lot these days but other ways to describe it are pride, attraction, impression, and many other synonyms. To share with your partner your fondness towards them, it’s not enough to say “I like you”. Take it a step further and share why you like them. Instead of saying “I’m proud of you” try giving a specific example of what your partner does that makes you proud. For example, “I’m proud of the way you managed that situation.”
Admiration for your partner is a foundational part of a successful marriage. The meaning of admiration is to show wonder or approval for your partner. Something as simple as telling them you admire their hard work shows you admire them. Rooted in admiration is respect. To build this principle and make your marriage great, you have to pay attention to your partner, who they are and what they mean to you. Then you must share it with them, so they know you see the great qualities they possess. This builds fondness and admiration.
The third principle to help build your marriage is to turn towards each other instead of away. Gottman describes an opportunity to turn towards instead of away as a “bid.” Your partner may be excited about something and want to share it with you. This is a bid for your interaction. Instead of ignoring it try engaging with your partner and see what the overall effect is. This will bring health to your marriage. Things like laughing at your partner’s joke or sharing in an observation they have are good examples of turning towards your partner. The key to this principle is to become more attentive.
The fourth principle is to let your partner influence you. This shows that you respect your partner and their opinion, and you foster joint decision making in the relationship. When you cannot agree, you look for common ground rather than trying to be right or the strong one. Compromise and collaboration are the name of the game in a happy marriage.
The fifth principle in making a marriage work is solving your solvable problems. Every relationship is going to have conflict and that is not what destroys a marriage. When you find yourself in this situation you will want to keep five steps in mind. When you are working to resolve things be soft in your approach. From there learn to make and receive repair attempts. Soothe each other and yourself. Compromise and be tolerant of each other’s faults. These steps take work but will help you move through conflict with less damage to the relationship.
The sixth principle is to overcome gridlock. When you are unable to compromise on your needs and values in your marriage you will likely come to a gridlock. The first thing to do to overcome this is to practice open communication. Things like sharing your desires, goals and dreams is a great place to start.
The seventh principle is creating shared meaning in your marriage. This paves the way for more intimacy in your marriage. Again share your dreams, create traditions and rituals together as a couple. This will help establish meaning and connection in your relationship. This helps you understand your partner’s perspective.