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Moment Of Clarity

Four Tips That Can Save Your Marriage

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In working with couples for over two decades — and having been divorced and remarried myself — very little surprises me when it comes to marital angst. With all of the focus on how many marriages are failing, as much as 50 percent, it’s no wonder why people are hesitant to get married and give up at the first sign of trouble.

Most people understand that couples have their share of marital challenges; it’s par for the course and is how individuals learn to grow. However, in order to grow, couples have to be willing and able to face and work through their challenges and fall back in love.

One of the best ways to learn how to work through marital challenges is to talk with couples that have been happily married for decades or going to couples counseling. While couples counseling is essential in getting through some of the hardest issues like infidelity and communication breakdowns, I actually prefer talking with other couples because it’s more fun and enriching. The benefit of talking with couples who have successfully weathered the marital storms is having access to the stories and lessons that came as a result of their commitment to one another.

In my personal conversations with my elders, I was surprised to find that it wasn’t the family or the institution of marriage that kept them together, it was their love for each other. It was also surprising to learn that being happily married doesn’t mean there aren’t some pretty nasty fights. Nonetheless, they get through them and come out of them stronger than before.

Below are a few tips and words of wisdom that couples, married or not, can use when they reach an impasse or get stuck in the middle of a fight. I suggest you try these techniques first because they’re pretty effective; it’s also what is often used during couples counseling.  With that said, working with a professional can be more effective than doing it on your own. In any event, these techniques are good to have in your marital toolbox.

MARITAL TIPS:

1) First fight box.  Before the wedding, write a letter to your partner telling them why you love them. (You can even do it if you’re already married.) If you’re having a tough time with remembering, go back to when you met and dated and hold onto the moments that made you smile and feel special. Share those feelings and moments in the letter.

After you’ve written your letter, each of you should seal it in an envelope with your spouse’s name on it, place it in a wooden box with a bottle of wine (or other bottled beverage), and nail it shut at the wedding ceremony (again, you can do this even if you’re already married).

When you have your first fight open the box and each of you take the letter written for you by your spouse. Open the wine, pour yourselves a glass, go to separate rooms, and read your letter.  When your feelings of anger or hurt have subsided, come together and talk about what happened and commit yourselves to each other again.

2) Go away. The stress of work and family can take a toll on any marriage. Take some time to be alone as a couple and feel what it is like to be with each other once again. Couples should go on dates at least twice a month and a vacation once a year. If you find yourself to busy to date each other, that’s a red flag. Your priorities are misplaced, which places your marriage at risk of struggling.

3) Appreciate your spouse. Often, we get comfortable in our marriages and presume that our spouses know how we feel. While they may know that we love and appreciate them, it is important that we tell them and acknowledge their efforts. Simply saying “I love you,” “Thank you,” “You look beautiful/handsome,” or even “Good job!” can go a long way to keeping your marriage from going off of a cliff.

4) Choose to stay in love. Marriage is work; in fact, it’s the hardest work many of us will ever do. Staying in love with your spouse isn’t something that just happens, it’s something that is nurtured. What married couples find surprising to learn is that staying in love with one another is a choice. When they choose to stay in love, very little can come between them.

While there are several additional things you can do to fall back in love with your spouse, I’ve found that these are often the easiest and most effective.

The benefits of falling back in love are many: good health, financial stability, emotional support, et cetera. Even with these wonderful benefits many people find one benefit in particular worth the struggles … GREAT SEX!

With love and light, I wish you and your marriage pleasant journeys!

Jinnie Cristerna, LCSW, CHt.

Jinnie Cristerna, LCSW, CHt.

Do you have a question for our “Moment of Clarity” JET Therapist, Jinnie? Email us at talkback@jetmag.com. We’ll be sure to keep it anonymous and confidential. 

Jinnie Cristerna, affectionately known as “The High Achievers Therapist”, works with talented people to help them release emotional pain and psychological roadblocks so they can achieve their personal and professional goals. Specializing in psychotherapy, heart centered hypnotherapy, vibrational energy, meditation, and personality development, Jinnie has a nearly 90 percent success rate with her clients.  Sign up for Jinnie’s High Achiever newsletter here or join her on Facebook and Twitter!