By Patricia Morgan
In The Good Marriage, Judith Wallerstein describes factors that contribute to a successful coupleship. She interviewed 50 couples who had successful marriages for ten to 40 years. She interviewed them two years later. Here are some of her conclusions and recommendations:
1. Be aware that when couples get into bed there are, at least, six personalities—including each person’s mother and father.
2. Create a balance between me and we. He/she has problems. I definitely have problems and we have problems. “We have a problem with coming to a decision around renovating the bathroom.” Develop an attitude of being on the same team.Use words such as “we,” “our,” and “together.”
3. We all need times and places where we are seen and experienced as individuals. Periodically, it is a good idea to assess our personal path, particularly at the beginning of marriage, at midlife and retirement. Then we need to check if our partner is supportive. If not, negotiation needs to take place.
4. Coupleship can be weakened by over focusing on children, pets or other relations.The coupleship needs to be valued as much as children, employment and friends.
5. The couple benefits from handling stress and crisis with an attitude of “this can strengthen our commitment to one another.” Small challenges are better handled soon rather than waiting for escalation.
6. The coupleship can offer a safe place for anger, expression of differences and resolving conflict. Remember that conflict is a part of most healthy relationships. Neither anger nor conflict is an indicator that the relationship is in danger of ending. Make a clear rule that there will be no verbal, emotional or physical violence involved. Decide what the topic will be. Stay focused. Do not argue about aspects that cannot be changed.
7. Keep the bed clean and joyful. Create a sexual relationship free of previous relationships and hang-ups.
8. Inject humour and fun into your relationship to relieve boredom or taking one another for granted.
9. Pay attention. Listen first and then be heard. Encourage and celebrate oneanother.
10. Keep romance alive. Bless your relationship with appreciation as often as possible.
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