Think about the most important things you do in life. In most of them such and work, hobbies, driving, and academic activities you have years of training. Yet two of the most important activities you engage in, having a long term relationship and raising children, there is no training.
Thankfully there are experts out there who have done a serious amount of research into both of these areas of life and can teach us huge amounts about how to do things better.
Marriage counselling experts
John Gottman and Nan Silver are both experts in marriage counselling. In this post I will be giving you a taste of the seven ways in which they say you can make your marriage work better.
These snippets are taken from their fantastic book The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work.
I carry out marriage counselling in Wilmslow on a daily basis and will talk through these ideas in detail with the couples that come and see me.
Principle 1: Enhance your love maps
Gottman and Silver state that couples who know each other well are much more likely to stay together. Now you may think that this is obvious but how well do you know your partner? Do you know his favourite film? What about her favourite colour?
It’s the small talk that builds a big relationship.
Seen those couples out for a meal sitting silently eating and not saying a word? Done that yourself?
These are golden times to chat about things that are important to you. Find out what your partner dreams of doing some day, or how he is getting on with work colleagues. It’s the small talk that builds big relationships (click to tweet)
By understanding your partner in this detail you are far more likely to be able to weather the storms when they inevitably come your way.
Principle 2: Nurture your fondness and admiration
When I carry out marriage counselling I will always start the session with appreciations. It’s a fundamental principle of Imago Relationship Therapy.
Gottman and Silver also identify positivity, nurture and admiration for your partner as a key step in connection and a long and happy marriage.
I will encourage couples that work with me to tell each other every day what they love about each other. This builds a close connection and makes it far easier to let go of the annoyances that all couples feel at times towards their partner.
Principle 3: Turn towards each other instead of away
Simply put – spend time with each other and when things are difficult talk it through with your partner instead of your friends or work colleagues.
When your partner talks to you listen to them and respond. This may seem obvious but have you ever pretty much ignored your partner when you are reading the paper or watching TV (I know I have)?
Couples that stay together a long time have regular connections with each other even if they are short in length.
Principle 4: Let your partner influence you
Yup – you got to listen to your partner and take notice. If you think you know it all and don’t let your partner have her say then the chances are it will put pressure on the relationship.
If he tells you that you might need to check that thing (insert car, body, leaky window etc) out then by listening to him you can build a stronger relationship.
It’s an important way of saying “I value you and your opinion matters to me”.
Principle 5: Solve your solvable problems
Gottman and Silver say that all couples have to deal with two types of problems, solvable and perpetual. Perpetual problems (about 70% of all problems couples have) are unlikely to be solved and need to be treated with humour and trust.
Solvable problems, such as who does what around the house and how money is shared between you and your partner need to be approached gently and with patience.
Gottman suggests that when these issues are discussed you should introduce the topic softly, look after each other when you are talking about them, compromise and give each other a break around your faults (cos we all have them!)
The book offers far more detail about how to do this and how to tackle common solvable problems.
Principle 6: Overcome gridlock
You know I mentioned those perpetual problems in principle 5? Well understanding why your partner wants something to be a certain way is a key step in having a happy marriage.
Often the most important things you want are part of an ideal way you have always wanted to live your life. Your partner will have the same going on for them.
By talking through these dreams together gently, understanding where your partner is coming from and finding common ground that you both agree on, the pain can be taken out of the perpetual problem even though the issue may not be resolved.
Principle 7: Create shared meaning
Here I go again about connecting with what’s important! As a couple if you can connect to what’s important in life then you will have a shared understanding of the values that underpin your relationship and the direction you both want your relationship to go.
In Imago Relationship Therapy we call this relationship vision and in ACT these are your values.
How do you do this? Sit down and talk to your partner about what they really value in life over a nice bottle of red.
Listen to each other and draw up a list of things that you both consider to be important parts of being human. This gives you a beacon to move towards when things get tricky and you are unsure of which way to go.
Need marriage counselling Wilmslow?
If you are finding things difficult in your relationship then a first step might be to read The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work. It’s an easy to read book and has lots of suggestions and exercises for moving your relationship on.
If you think you need marriage counselling in Wilmslow then please give me a ring on 07966 390857 or use my contact form here to get in touch. I have many years of experience working with couples and will use Imago Relationship Therapy to guide you through all of the seven principles above.