As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I often see couples for counseling. Typically, by the time they come to the counseling office they have tried to communicate with one another what it is they need, but still feel they are unable to get their needs met. They end up in a broken cycle that culminates with the same old argument.
How do couples get out of this cycle that seems to manifest itself so regularly? Counseling is of course a great resource couples can take advantage of as time and money allow. But that is not always on option, so today you get the inside scoop. Allow me to give you three tips on changes you can implement immediately at home and on your own.
Tip #1 Keep Christ in the center and as the authority in your relationship.
A key ingredient in a Christian couple’s relationship is the threefold cord, that of interweaving Christ. As stated from Ecclesiastes 4:12, NIV “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken”. With Christ as the authority, we can mind our thoughts and words as we heed His word as stated in Psalms 19:14, NIV; “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer”.
Being able to communicate your needs using “I” statements eliminates blame and keeps the focus on you. For example: “I would really appreciate your assistance in cleaning up the kitchen so that we could spend more time together afterwards”. In this statement, the need is communicated as well as the resulting benefit. It’s a win-win situation. Taking a moment to get your thoughts sorted out before speaking your need is time worth the extra effort. Speaking clearly, concisely and without an emotional upheaval allows you to be heard without emotion getting in the way of expressing the need.
Tip #2 Nurture friendship in the relationship.
Through my training in Gottman’s Couples Therapy and through Dr. John Gottman’s research, it was found that friendship in the marital relationship is an important predictor of romantic and physical satisfaction. Gottman’s research has shown that couples that have a great friendship have a higher percentage of overall marital satisfaction as well.
Some of the ways to nurture friendship in your relationship are through having fun and spending quality time together, communicating about everyday life, or setting goals together. For more information on this you may want to read The Seven Principles for Making a Marriage Work by Dr. John Gottman.
Tip #3 Keep love alive in your heart and daily walk.
As stated from 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, NIV “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” By breaking down each part of this scripture we are given a guideline on how we can strive to be more loving and kind to the most important person in our lives, someone we have chosen to do life with, to walk out your journey together as one.
When we choose to live mindfully as a child of God our relationships grow more and more peaceful, joyful and we live life as intended by Christ.