Tag Archive | secrets to marriage

What Is Marriage and Why Marry?

What Is Marriage and Why Marry

In this article I want to address some questions on what is marriage, why do we marry, and the role of extended families in marriage.

Firstly let me define marriage. For me marriage is about two people committing themselves totally to one another. And I’ll add to this my personal opinion that this may refer to a man and a woman or two men or two women.

For me also this does not necessarily require a government or church ceremony, or approval, or even a document to authenticate that the couple are actually married. Of course for those who want to affirm their commitment to each other, and have others witness them doing that, is a way of including the whole of their family and community of friends into their commitment as well as into their marriage.

Marriage is a state of mind.

For me the essence of being married is more about a state of mind than about something defined by people on a church panel or state board. It is about a commitment to a relationship at the exclusion of all others. A relationship from which you get personal nourishment that makes your life worth living as you dedicate all that you have and all that you are to the wellbeing of this other person.

It is more than kinship, more than friendship and even more than a relationship. It is a spiritual connection with another human being that involves all of you every minute of the day whether you are together or not.

I have been in a relationship for more than twenty years and while my partner and I have not married, for me I am as married as I could be. I even refer to my partner as my husband as he refers to me as his wife. Not being married has in no way compromised our love for each other or our commitment to be with each other for as long as we are alive.

I’ll also put another qualifier on this definition. That is that marriage also doesn’t necessarily require the couple to live together. There are now as many ways to be in relationship with each other as there are couples who are finding that some arrangements work for them and others don’t. What I’m referring to here are situations that sometimes have couples living separately from each other; sometimes across town, sometimes across countries. Sometimes these different arrangements are by personal choice and sometimes they are because of work or other commitments.

So why get married?

A challenging question! Again, I can only answer this from my own perspective. For me there is really only one reason to get married. Because my husband completes me! As an individual I believe I can achieve great things. As a couple I believe we can not just double that but multiply it many times over. This is for me truly a case of the possibilities of what we can achieve together being much greater than just the sum of the parts.

Beyond what I’ve already said is the simple fact that as human beings we are basically social animals who tend to be drawn together into groups rather than roaming the world alone. These groups can be as small as a family or as large as a city.

It is within these groups that we get cared for in ways that we might not otherwise. As a grandmother I gladly give of my time in the care of my children and grandchildren in a way that I might not otherwise give so readily but for the fact that they are my family and I also commit all of myself to their wellbeing.

It is in these extended families that we all can find a soft place to land when we are in need. So marriage is maybe something even more than simply a lifelong commitment to one other as it embraces our whole family and beyond.

For our family that extension embraces what I proudly call a “league of nations”. For my partner and my children and their partners we collectively represent, within one generation, persons from Holland, Canada, Greece, China and, of course, Australia. I think for one small family that is pretty spectacular.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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Seven Rules for Effective Problem Solving

Seven Rules for Effective Problem Solving

 

I’m often asked why when a couple starts a conversation about something that is really important to them it often just ends in another fight.

Improving your skills in this area will help your relationship mature in a healthy way keeping it strong and happy.

For a couple to reach decisions without unnecessary battles needs skill.

Here are 7 rules for couple problem solving that may be helpful for you to keep in mind for when you are trying to solve a problem that has come up between you and your partner:

 

  • 1
    Remind yourselves about why you are there. Take breaks as needed throughout the conversation as needed to keep your energy positive.
  • 2
    Focus on only one issue at a time. Agree on what the problem or issue is, so you are not trying to solve multiple problems at once or work at cross-purposes by trying to address different issues.
  • 3
    Avoid being attached to a particular outcome. Avoid stating something as absolute fact. There is really only a perspective: yours and the others.
  • 4
    Encourage and freely share thoughts, feelings, and opinions with love, respect, and kindness. Avoid criticism or domination of each other. Strive to be open to all expressions without taking offense.
  • 5
    Carefully monitor and modify your attitude and tone of voice. If underneath your words is criticism, disrespect, or sarcasm, your spouse will hear them, even when your words are positive.
  • 6
    Listen to each other carefully and without interruption and request clarification as needed.
  • 7
    Strive for shared agreement, even when it takes longer. At times you might need to agree to disagree or even to deferring to the other’s solution. Regardless still look at and carry out the decision as a jointly agreed. But do not defer just for the sake of getting consensus. It may be better to take a break and come back to it again.

 

And just as importantly review significant decisions after some time trying them out to assess whether they are working or whether you need to start the process over again. Stay aware for when you need to involve someone else, like a counsellor or mediator, in a discussion or decision to ensure the greatest success.

Decisions work best when you have equal voices in couple discussions. It is important for you both to express what is on your minds and in your hearts freely. Either withholding your opinion or dominating the other in the conversation may negatively affect the outcome.

If one of you tends to be more dominant in speaking, you will need to be even more attentive to give the other an opportunity to have their say. The quieter of you may also need to practice assertiveness. Free expression happens when you are both willing to listen to each other without interruption giving whatever time is necessary to ensure that both of you fully understand what the other is saying before saying what you want to say.

It is important to ensure the genuineness of your motives and intentions in any discussion. If either of you has a hidden agenda—an unspoken intention or goal, or you just want to manipulate the other, any decision you come up with will most likely not work.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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The Marriage Is …

marriage

What Is Marriage?

I loved receiving this question as it’s something that we may expect that we all understand but in truth maybe we actually don’t.

So I started my research into answering this question by scrambling to the Macquarie Dictionary which defines marriage as “the legal union of a man and a woman for life including a legal or religious ceremony.”

This definition really doesn’t give us very much at all as marriage today in so many cultures, legally and through the various churches, is open to being dissolved on the wish of one or other of the parties. In most countries these divorces are even permitted without even having to prove that one party is in some way more at fault than the other.

So I thought that I should proceed in this article to discuss my thoughts on what marriage is and would welcome you to add your thoughts on the topic as well.

While marriage may relate to a legal process for me marriage is more about the commitment two people make to be there for each other come what may. I would also expand on the dictionary definition to include not just the communion of a man to a woman but also of either a man or a woman to another man or woman.  In my view they are as much a marriage as any marriage could be.

The sad thing here is that too many people enter into a marriage without really knowing what they are getting themselves into or without going through any preparation to ensure that their marriage will go the distance.

When I work with couples contemplating marriage the first thing I get them to consider and discuss with each other is this very question: what is marriage to each of them? How do they define it and are they ok with how their partner defines it or does it need some tweaking to make it something that both of the couple can live with.

As most of you might know I am in a relationship and have been for more than 20 years. My partner and I are not married nevertheless I describe him as my husband and wear his ring. He also describes me as his wife. It actually took us some time to acknowledge each other in this way as we were assessing our future together especially as I had four young children already as part of the package.

One of the first things we discussed in terms of our marriage was about whether we would live together and where that would be. We then had many conversations about how we would manage my children and whether we would have any more children. We then had to decide on the division of responsibilities both in terms of household chores and financial contributions. Finally we had some conversations about ownership of property and what would happen in the event that either of us predeceased the other.

And while this was not an issue for us as we are both of the same religious beliefs, for many couples there is also the question of what their particular religious beliefs are and how they might impact on their relationship and/or to any children of the relationship.

So while some of these issues are still conversations in progress for my partner and myself, the underlying promise is that we will be there exclusively for each other for the rest of our lives. In this we committed to never walk out on the other and to always raise it whenever we had an issue that affected us both and/or our future together.

This is how I define my marriage for me. It is a safe place to collapse into at the end of each busy day where I can feel safe and not be judged negatively no matter what I do or think. It is a place where I feel loved unconditionally and love in the same way.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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True Love, Lies and Deceit

True Love Lies and Deceit

Is it possible for someone to truly love you and hurt you over and over with lies and deceit?

What a great question this is to get me going for the week

The short answer is this:  NO! Someone cannot truly love you and hurt you over and over with lies and deceit. But it may be a little more complicated than that.

Lying and deceitfulness can be a natural response to being constantly tormented, fear of being found out, or from the modelling we get from the most important people around us, generally our parents.

There are also gradients of lies. There are the lies of omission when we don’t tell someone that what they are wearing doesn’t go with whatever, their body shape, the occasion etc.

On the other end of the continuum are the really big lies that have a huge impact on people’s lives, individuals or whole countries, which can and do change the course of history.

My curiosity is pricked when I hear that someone is being deceitful in their relationship. Is this a cold-hearted act of cruelty with no regard for the impact the lie has on another or is it something much more than that?

My belief is that lying is a complex issue that really needs to be viewed not just in the context of the current event but in the context of a whole lifetime of experience.

When we are very young we learn to tell lies as part of socialising us to the norms of society. So we are taught to hold our tongues when we get crushed under the hug of our big, fat aunties and respectfully say ‘thank you’ for the gift that we really didn’t want. We also learn in the process that lying can protect us from being punished, sometimes in very, even too harsh ways. Lying can even become habitual as a way of avoiding the anger of someone in a position of authority over us as well as a means of avoiding the feelings of fear that can go with that.

As an adult we normally grow out of this behaviour as we meet with other adults face to face, in truth and in good will, to manage our conflicts in an adult way no longer needing to resort to old patterns of behaviour. Sometimes however old behaviours are so entrenched that the habit has become hard to shift. Alternatively the person is triggered to feel the same sort of fear they experienced as a child and respond from an internal child part of themselves rather than an external adult part.

In these situations the lies and deceit are not intended to hurt but become the habitual response of someone who doesn’t yet have the skills to manage themselves in a more mature way.

So to come back to the question at the beginning of this article

Love is a mature adult feeling that is pure and clean with no unresolved issues attached to it. So to truly love another implies that you are fully there with this person in the most vulnerable way possible. This means that your heart, soul and body are open and exposed without any defences. So to put it more simply, love and lying simply cannot be present in the same moment.

While we are humans, and we will slip up, for us to be truly in love with another requires us also to be truly honest. If we cannot be truly honest then we can’t possibly truly love because instead of being there fully in the present we are being held back by something from our past that will need resolution.

So if you are being lied to and hurt constantly by your partner and they are unable, or unwilling, to do what it takes to change then you really do need to think about the long-term viability of your relationship.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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When the Time Is Right to Marry?

When the Time Is Right to MarryWhen I was young, many years ago now, the dream of most young women was to finish school acquire some training of some sort and get a job. In those days it was somewhat limited to secretarial, shop assistant, teaching, air hostessing, or nursing.

Following that was the challenge of finding someone “really nice”, getting married, “settling down” and having kids. There really wasn’t a whole lot to think about and even more choices were taken from you as once you were married or pregnant most women had to leave their employment. There was no such thing as maternity leave or holding your position for you until your return.

The otherwise natural flow of life was then hugely interrupted by the introduction of the contraceptive pill in the 1960’s. The claim was that couples were now able to make their own decisions about becoming pregnant and starting their family.  Then there was a further development in the 1970’s that made it legal for women to have an unwanted pregnancy terminated creating even more choices for couples to make about beginning a family. And then all the other political advances in women’s rights that have elevated women to take positions of seniority have created even more choices in how we live our lives.

And now, so many years later, I believe the decisions that couples have to make, may in actual fact, whilst claiming to liberate them, actually be inhibiting them.

When is the time right?

I’m not saying that we should go back to the old times. What I am saying is that for some couples the number of choices now available to them may actually slow them into indecision.

I’ve had this conversation with several of my own adult children all of whom are in happy relationships and two of whom are married with children. The conversations we have about the time being right for anything happening in their lives, as it is for many who have sent questions into me, tends to revert back to where they are in their career, financially, or in their relationship and concerns they hold about the future of their relationship given the high incidence of relationship breakdown.

I hear so many people experiencing distress over these decisions and the want to have everything perfect or at least as they would wish it to be, before they venture into the next phase of their lives.

But, as I remind my clients so often, life is not an end point. It will never be perfect. The time will never be exactly right. Life is a journey and can only be lived that way.

And as my husband reminds me;  the most memorable holidays we’ve had are the ones that were not perfect, where we’d find ourselves in the most amazing of places meeting the most incredible people and having the most bazaar experiences. These are the stories that we like to tell over and over again.

In our naivety of half a century ago we simply made do. We lived in “shoeboxes” furnished with mismatched pieces we could scavenge from family and friends. We passed around babies clothes from one to another as our children grew and spent time on the weekends making whatever fun we could to entertain ourselves and our children.

So here’s the answer to choosing or knowing when is the right time; to live together, to marry, to have children or whatever other decision you are struggling with right now. The answer is there is; no right time. As I have said to my own children – if it feels right just do it and let the future take care of itself. It will anyway!

So until next time – Relate with Love

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10 Absolute Must-Do Secrets to a Happy Marriage

10 Absolute Must-Do Secrets to a Happy MarriageWhile love is very important in a marriage sometimes it just isn’t enough. Just like any other relationship you have to put some effort in to make your marriage successful.

So to help you on your way, here are:

10 Absolute Must-Do Secrets to Make Your Marriage a Happy Marriage

  1. Be open and honest in your communications with each other and be considerate of your partner’s feelings. You might think that these two things are mutually exclusive. They’re not. You can be open with your communication and express your feelings honestly while doing it in such a way that is respectful of your partner.
  2. It’s also important to let your partner know if they have said or done some thing to hurt you. If you hold onto negative feelings your partner will be unaware of what they have done to hurt you and may be likely to repeat their actions. Simply coming out and telling your partner why you are upset can help you find a resolution to whatever might be bugging you.
  3. When money concerns come up it is important to discuss the issues so that both of you are aware of what is going. This way you can work on finding a resolution. Working together to find a resolution will ensure that neither of you feels left out or bearing the stress of worrying about the finances on your own.
  4. Be willing to make sacrifices. This is another secret to a happy marriage. Sometimes the sacrifices may be big, like sharing a kidney, but most often it’s the smaller things that really make the difference. Something as simple as preparing a meal that you don’t like, but that you know your partner likes, lets them know that you care enough to put their happiness first.
  5. Sharing household chores is yet another secret to creating a happy marriage. If either of you feels as though you are taking on more than your share it can lead to resentment and ultimately to anger. Working together gives you an opportunity to work as a team which in turn strengthens your connection.
  6. Yet another secret to a happy marriage is to maintain an intimate and affectionate relationship. This may or may not involve sex. Sometimes it’s simply about sharing physical closeness. Even small gestures such as a hug or holding hands as you walk gives you the opportunity to reconnect with your partner on a regular basis.
  7. Do something spontaneously. Do not allow yourself to fall into a predictable pattern of behaviour as this can lead to boredom. Being spontaneous at times will prevent boredom and keep your relationship interesting. This might be doing something as simple as posting a note on the vanity mirror saying “I love you” to planning a trip to a place not visited before.
  8. Understanding that you and your partner won’t always be in complete agreement is also critical to a happy marriage. While you may agree on a lot of things it’s unrealistic to believe that you will be in sync at all times. It’s okay to disagree sometimes as long as you respect each other’s feelings and beliefs as you seek a resolution. And don’t think that one major disagreement means the end of the relationship.
  9. And while making sacrifices is important in a happy marriage, it is also important to do things that are just for you. While it’s great to have a lot of common interests it’s also essential to have some things that you like to do on your own. Having some separate activities gives you some time away from your partner, gives you an opportunity to explore things on your own, and prevents boredom in the relationship as you reconnect and share what you’ve been doing.
  10. Finally, remind yourself often why you married your partner. This is one of the most important secrets of a happy marriage. Remembering what it is about your partner that drew you to them originally will ensure that you never forget your love for your partner. So while many things may change throughout the course of your marriage the one thing that will always remain is the reason you fell in love in the first place.

All of these secrets bring a couple closer together and foster a happy marriage. But remember, a happy marriage is not guaranteed no matter how much you love each other. There are so many other variables that will have an affect on your happiness and the ultimate success of your marriage.

And while communicating about problems and concerns is important it’s also important to communicate about your aspirations for your future together.

At the heart of all of this is the importance of both of you remaining conscious and vigilant of these aspects if you want to stay happy in your marriage.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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Are You Relationship Prepared?

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If you would like to attend the seminar please ring 02 99978518 or email admin@northernbeachescounselling.com.au with the words: “Yes I would like to attend the seminar”.

 

Are You Relationship Prepared?

 

Some excerpts from my workshops.