#1 in Series: It’s Not Your Fault!

Unhappy with your marriage?  Have the same fight over and over again?  Has romance become more of a dry business arrangement?  It’s not your fault!

For centuries whether or not a marriage was “good” for both partners (meaning loving) was largely a matter of luck.  If a marriage became “bad,” or either partner was unhappy, the only solutions were to stick it out or leave…and until no-fault divorce laws were passed, leaving was often impossible.  AND the long-term fall-out from most divorces means that often that solution creates more problems than it solves.

It’s only been the last hundred years or so that our expectations for every marriage have included ongoing romance, sexual fulfillment and emotional connection.

Beginning in the early 1900’s, researchers began to study the difference between marriages that were happy, vs. those that weren’t.  What elements are consistently found in happy marriages that are absent in unhappy ones?  What methods of communicating are found in happy vs. unhappy marriages?  How are problems resolved in each?

GOOD NEWS:  The combined results of multiple research studies have found the same answers.  Great marriages that last have certain consistent patterns of behavior.  Marriages that fail or are unhappy also have consistent patterns of behavior.

And better yet, those who are unhappy with their quality of their marriage can learn to duplicate the behaviors found in great marriages in order to turn an inadequate or struggling marriage into a great one!

From my colleague, Diane Sollee (www.smartmarriages.com) “Marriage is skill-based. Like football.  The way we have it set up now a couple gets married, and we send them out there to win based on love and commitment.  That’s like asking a football team to win on team spirit, but not letting them learn any plays or signals.  The basis for a smart marriage is exciting research that finds that what is different about marriages that make it—that go the distance and stay happy—are behaviors or skills.  And even more exiting, they are simple skills that any fool can learn!”

But how were you to know this?  Research studies are buried in university libraries.  The classes that teach these winning skills, although good, are still not well known.  Most therapists are not trained to teach couples these skills.  There are only a few private coaches, like me, that specialize in training couples in the behaviors that will transform their marriage from mediocre or “bad” to great. 

NO MORE SEARCHING FOR HELP!  Soon you can learn how to duplicate the practices consistently found in great marriages from the privacy of your own home computer!

Watch for my next post… good news is coming!  

Click on this link to accept my gift to you, “What Our Parents Didn’t Know,”  a chapter from my book How to Stay Married & Love It! 

Only One Soul Mate?

There seems to be a popular myth/belief being propagated by movies and other media that there is only one soul mate on the earth per person.  If I were to believe this, I would feel very tentative about developing a relationship with anyone, let alone someone with flaws.

If I “fell in love” and committed to a relationship that later ran into conflicts, rather than knowing this is normal and we’ll work it out, I’d tend to believe that I jumped the gun and married the wrong person.  I’d leave that relationship and go back to hunting for Mr/Mrs Right.

Sometimes it’s true that in our inexperience, or from our own level of dysfunction, we choose a person who is poor commitment material.  Over time addictions or patterns of abuse show up that make a healthy relationship unattainable.  But most problems/conflicts are only a call to personal and couple growth.

In choosing a life-time partner it’s certainly important to find someone who shares one’s values, who exhibits a significant level of responsibility and who demonstrates the capacity to be caring and, at times, selfless in their relationships.  Hopefully you’d attend a marriage prep class or a relationship skills class to be sure you had the communication, conflict management and problem solving skills needed in any lifetime relationship.

With those items checked off the essentials list and assuming there’s a level of chemistry that makes commitment desirable, you can know that your chances of a satisfying marriage and life together are very good.

Are you allowing a cultural fad to create fear around finding a suitable mate?  Are you looking for a way out of a relationship because you have unrealistic expectations that a soul mate relationship wouldn’t have challenges?

How to Stay Married & Love It! Describes how to create the SoulMate marriage of your dreams even if your marriage is currently unhappy! (LINK)  This book is a must read for ideas about how to choose a partner that will go the distance with you: Smart Marriage, Using your Head as Well as Your Heart to Find Wedded Bliss. By Allen Parkman, Ph.D., J.D. eBook on Amazon. (LINK)

Please Change!

It seems to be human nature to believe that if the other person would just change, (come home on time, quit nagging, be more financially responsible, keep the home neater, be more loving) my life would be happy, I would be content.

Yet many times I’ve seen someone make an attempt to change to satisfy a complaint and the partner says, “I don’t believe you’re sincere,” or “It’s not good enough,” or “When this new behavior is consistent, then I’ll express appreciation.” Habit changes come in small bites. 

It’s smart to look at methods that help habit changes succeed. In cooperating in a habit change that you both agree would benefit your relationship, (the first step) it helps to have the person who’s habit needs to change to give you a way to remind them that doesn’t feel like nagging.  It might be a nonsense code word like “peanuts” to remind him that his socks need to go into the hamper or a gentle touch to remind her to stop back-seat driving.  When the one who has agreed to change the habit has control over choosing a reminder, there is less resistance to being reminded.

In addition, the habit-changer needs to choose a kind of reward that is motivating for him/her.  For some it may be a big hug when you notice that the socks are in the hamper.  For another it might be a word of appreciation when a trip has been concluded without back-seat driving.  Choosing the method of reward builds one little success after another until the new habit is more dependable.  Learn more about no-nag habit changing in Module 8 of Millionaire Marriage Club.

In addition, it might be prudent to look at a behavior your partner would like you to change. Do you find it easy?  Would you like to choose a reminder and a reward for making the effort to change an annoying habit?

*Free Download: The No-Nag Habit Change Strategy!

Differences Can Be Scary

My late husband Jim’s father was a gifted mechanic.  All of his life he worked as a machinist.   He could fix anything with a motor or wheels.  Jim inherited his father’s work ethic and values, but was lost when it came to fixing his scooter or knowing what to do with a broken lawn mower.  His dad couldn’t hide his disappointment, and sometimes even anger, over Jim’s lack of instinct about mechanical things.

Jim began his singing career at the age of five by singing to the chickens. It wasn’t until high school, however, that his amazing voice began to be noticed in a big way. He was one of the first in his family to graduate from college, even getting a Masters Degree in Voice and Church Music. His father didn’t come to his Masters Recital, an event that filled the huge college auditorium.  He eventually recorded seven gospel albums featuring his gorgeous baritone voice.

In contrast, a story in the September 2013 Guideposts magazine tells about TV’s Mike Rowe and his relationship with his grandfather.  His grandfather could build anything…anything!  Whenever young Mike tried to help him, he’d muff the job.  Once at the height of discouragement, Mike said, “I can’t do anything right!”

His grandfather said, “God gave me a toolbox, Mike.  He gave you one too.  But he didn’t give us the same one.  You understand?”

Mike didn’t understand that day, but over time gained appreciation for the tools he had: a great voice (he sang professionally for several years) and a natural way of smiling and talking with folks.  He eventually designed and hosted a show called *Somebody’s Gotta Do It”–short profiles of people who do the tough jobs…like his grandfather.  Eventually that led to Discovery Channel’s *Dirty Jobs.

Near the end of Jim’s father’s life, he apologized.  He admitted, “I was wrong. I’m sorry I didn’t support your gifts.”  It meant a lot for Jim to hear that apology, but not as much as it would have meant to get his dad’s interest and pride all the years that went before.

Is there someone near you who’s gifts need encouragement?  Might you possibly be blind to her gifts because they are different than yours?

*Free Download: Giving and Receiving Appreciation