Our culture is full of marriages that are less than inspiring! Precious few of us were reared by parents who were obviously in love and stayed in love over time. When I ask new clients if they know anyone in their circle of friends that has a marriage they admire, so far, all have said, “No.”
And yet K. Daniel O’Leary of Stony Brook University recently published the results of interviews of couples married for ten years and discovered that 40% of them were “very intensely in love,” the highest rating offered. And 15% of those interviewed chose the next highest rating. The biggest surprise came when the couples who had been married 30 years or more chose the highest rating of love!
It’s clear that some couples know how to create a happy, loving marriage…or learn how to over time. What do these couples practice that is missing from many of our parents’ or friends’ marriages?
A few of the qualities isolated by this study are: thinking consistently positive thoughts about your partner, enjoying activities together, spending lots of time together, expressing affection daily, making love regularly. John Gottman’s studies added other aspects: being able to resolve conflict while maintaining respect and affection for each other and being willing to be influenced by your partner.
Based on these research results, having a marriage that is, and stays intensely in love IS POSSIBLE!
But how? The high rates of divorce indicate that a lot of folks think the only way to have an intensely loving marriage is to find a new partner. One of my friends did just that. Then five years later admitted that he and his “better” wife were dealing with the same issues he thought he’d left behind when he divorced his first wife! Meanwhile the daughter from the first marriage had to grow up with the nasty job of learning to navigate between two bitterly enmeshed parents…hardly a skill that would prepare her for a happy, loving marriage of her own!
Many parents, like my friend, believe that the children would be better off without the conflict being experienced between their parents and use that as a valid reason for divorcing. Children living in an environment of physical violence and/or sexual abuse do need the relief provided by separating the abusive parent/s. But occasional arguments, drifting apart, the love has gone, possibly the silent treatment still give children the basic level of stability that every child deserves. The most long-term damage to children occurs when divorce doesn’t seem to make sense to them.
Those relatively low-conflict, not intensely in love marriages are the ones that are the best candidates for learning skills that will up-level their relationship from unhappy, or tolerable to intensely loving!
Does your marriage fall into that category? Just unhappy? Far from what you hoped for when you married?
We are “in love” or “out of love” based on how we treat each other. So join the growing ranks of couples who fell in love all over again by practicing new communication and conflict management skills.
The link to a FREE DOWNLOAD is a Marriage Wheel…a simple way for you and your spouse to each evaluate the areas of your marriage that work well and those that need some added attention. Print two copies. After you each record what is true for you, share the information with each other…not as a way to criticize, but as a simple way to say “Here’s is where we are.” And, “I’d like us to find ways to improve in these areas.”
You won’t want to miss information about a simple and cost-effective program that will teach you transformative skills that will help you both reach a 10 in all areas of your marriage!