Do You Want To Improve Your Marriage:
Try Focusing on the Good Side of Your Relationship, Not the Problems
by: Richard Hamon
Lots of people think traditional marriage counseling is no fun. Some traditional approaches focus primarily on the couple's problems and attempt to resolve those problems through intense emotional interchanges. Discussion focuses on the latest incidents and arguments, as well as, learning problem resolution skills. It can be stressful work with most of the attention going to the deficiencies in the relationship.
But there is often a better way. A more enjoyable way.
In a strength-based approach, with the emphasis on the future potential of the relationship, the couple can move toward change in a positive, enjoyable way. The couple's interests and assets are brought into the discussion, as the spouses redesign their relationship.
Improving your relationship should be an enjoyable process, not work! A process of discovery, not an emotionally draining one. You and your partner can develop a fuller awareness of your relationship's possibilities. The couple develops a clearer idea as to how their relationship is unique and what makes it special, so they can continue to shape their relationship according to their wishes.
The focus of the work is on the present and future, not the past. Empowering discussions enlighten as to the unrealized potential for happiness the couple possesses. Just pausing to consider your relationship's potential can be helpful!
There is no point in focusing on past mistakes and failures. Meeting the relationship's current challenges and exploring hidden possibilities for change is more productive. When the process is enjoyable and upbeat, couples tend to stay with it longer and get more good out of it.
Having fun . . .
makes all the difference. Couples will accomplish more when they are having fun. It's something so many adults have forgotten how to do, which in itself hurts the marriage. When you're having fun and being playful, and focusing on the positive, no one gets blamed and both spouses learn and grow in ways they desire . . .
whereas some old fashioned approaches may seem like pulling teeth.
What You Can Do Right Now
If you are considering therapy, I suggest you interview potential marriage therapists and ask detailed questions about the model of therapy they follow, and what will be expected of you. Go with someone who makes you both feel comfortable, someone you both like and respect. Tell the person you want to keep the focus on designing the relationship of your dreams, not on dissecting your past relationship. It's not a matter of ignoring the problems, but of placing them in the proper context.
But you may not need therapy. Try taking simple steps toward improving your marriage . . . assume an optimistic, strength-based approach.
Try These Easy Tips
1. Begin to think about the kind of relationship you'd like to design. How would it be different from the one you have? How would you like to do things?
2. Consider the kinds of new skills you need to be able to have this kind of happy relationship. What changes might you both have to make?
3. Begin discussing the relationship of your dreams with your spouse, without slipping down the slippery slope of criticizing, blaming or fault-finding. Set your problems aside long enough for a sparkling, clear view to emerge.
4. Give some thought to how you may be able to create a positive and hopeful climate for change in your relationship. Hopefulness is encouraging -- and it's contagious!
5. Avoid talking about the problems all the time. Everyone has problems. Almost every relationship has its little flaws. Why get stuck on them? Those who constantly focus their energy on the problems end up feeling a sense of hopelessness . . . which only harms the relationship.
6. Adopt a balanced view of your spouse. See the good, as well as, the not so good side of your spouse's behavior. Avoid becoming immersed in the sewer of problems and complaints . . . both end up smelling.
7. Focus on the small changes if the big changes seem more difficult than you'd like. Make one small but positive change in your relationship today. Do something helpful and good. One little something at a time.
8. Do something fun together . . . immediately. Schedule a date with no serious discussions allowed!
9. The next time there is a problem, instead of blowing up or getting angry or discouraged, try to find the silver lining in the cloud. See if you can't reframe the situation so it doesn't feel so bad. Look for the hidden opportunity to turn it into a good thing. Remember, one closed door often leads to another open one.
10. Take a walk in the country or a park, and simply enjoy the scenery and holding hands. You needn't say anything! Enjoy yourselves.
Try these tips and soon you'll see a big difference in your relationship.
Keep in mind the importance of taking a positive tact in solving your relationship problems, and you'll design the relationship you've always wanted by focusing on its potential.
Richard Hamon is a professional therapist, consultant and coach with 30 years of experience in helping people to enjoy truly extraordinary relationships and find exceptional success in all areas of their lives.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"Three rules of work:
Out of clutter find simplicity;
From discord find harmony;
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."