Marriage counseling coach Nancy Wasson says that while individuals learn many useful things in school, how to create a happy marital relationship probably wasn't one of them.
"Most spouses," she states, "learn about marriage through the proverbial 'School of Hard Knocks.'" Wasson says that many spouses enter marriage without the skills required for marital success.
According to Wasson, couples devote much attention to planning the perfect wedding, but often lack the skills to create and sustain a healthy, satisfying relationship with good communication and intimacy. She says that it's sad that even after multiple marriages, some people never learn these skills.
In her work with spouses in unhappy marriages, Wasson emphasizes the ten marriage realities that they need to know to build a rewarding marriage:
Unlike school where you eventually get a diploma if you meet the requirements, you never graduate from relationship school, says Wasson. "Just when you think you've learned to keep your equilibrium in your relationship, something is sure to throw you off balance as if to test you. But you always have a choice-to flounder or to keep on growing."
- Creating a healthy, happy marriage takes hard work. It just doesn't happen on its own.
- You don't get to coast for very long. If you're not growing and evolving as individuals and as a couple, then your relationship is soon going to suffer. There's no such thing as standing still and having everything stay the same. You're either going forwards or you're going backwards.
- Saying "I do" is not the end-it's the beginning. Some spouses feel that once they are married, they don't have to extend as much effort into being romantic or nurturing the relationship. But a marital relationship isn't the end of the road. It's the beginning of your opportunity to "grow your marriage" and create a rewarding relationship with your partner.
- You're not going to change your partner after you marry. No matter how many times this statement is written or verbalized, there are many individuals who still believe that their case will be different. Motivation to change is the highest before marriage. After marriage, many spouses lose motivation to work on self-growth.
- You can't give what you don't already have. You have to be happy and at peace with yourself before you can create a happy, peaceful, harmonious marriage. Marriage won't make you happy. Only you can do that.
- Frequent emotional housecleaning is required for intimacy to thrive. It doesn't take long for a marriage to develop serious problems when emotional debris from unresolved conflicts and issues pile up. Good communication is important. Couples who can't talk about their differences and resolve conflict are at high risk for divorce.
- The words you say are important, so pick them carefully. By the words you use in your interactions with your partner, you impact how your spouse feels about you. Harsh, unkind words fuel anger, resentment, and bitterness. Kind words build rapport, respect, and caring.
- Just because you dislike your spouse intensely at the moment doesn't mean that you don't love him or her. It's normal to have mixed feelings toward your spouse at times. But that doesn't mean that the marriage is over or that the love is permanently gone.
- Success in marriage, as in life, is an inside job. The breakthroughs happen when you take responsibility for your actions and attitudes and focus on what changes you can make to improve the relationship.
- There's no end to growth. There's always something else to experience and learn. You can always improve your relationship skills and grow more as a person.
Marriage counseling coach Nancy Wasson, Ph.D., consults with couples in unhappy marriages and provides immediate help through the privacy of telephone and email consultations. She is the author of "Keep Your Marriage: What to Do When Your Spouse Says 'I Don't Love You Anymore!" She offers a free weekly marriage advice newsletter at www.KeepYourMarriage.com.
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