Marriage Counseling

Will This Last? Part 4 of 6

If you haven’t read parts 1 through 3 of this series, take a moment to read them here –

1. Goal and ambitions – do you share similar life goals and ambitions?

2. Getting along with others – how your partner interacts with your circle of family, friends, strangers, etc.

3. Time and money – how you manage your time as a couple, how to handle money matters

Here in part 4, we explore a simple topic that has many layers – whether your significant other (SO) has a focus on you, including what’s important to you. And no, this isn’t about your SO watching every move you make and wanting to be joined at the hip. But you do enter their sense of curiosity some of the time? Do they ever curtail their personal interests to engage with you because you are now one of their personal interests? Or, are all your discussions about the children, work and the bills?

How do you know your partner is thinking about you? Below are some easy questions you can use to determine whether they have a focus on you.

1. Do you have a title?

Out of nowhere they have a title for you that they use around others. You have become ‘My man,’ ‘My woman,’ ‘My boo,’ ‘My bae.’ And remember; it’s not enough for them to have a name for you when you’re all alone. Do they use that same name when they’re around people they care about? It’s okay to be their ‘Boo’ when you’re alone. But it’s another thing all together when they call you ‘Boo’ in front of their best friends and family members. Have you gotten a title yet?

2. Does your partner make an effort to understand you?

Understanding comes by study. You want to be in a relationship with someone who cares enough about you to study you. The person that has a focus on you actually takes the time to contemplate everything about you. They really think about what’s important to you and then use that information to engage with you. Does your SO try to exist with you in an understanding way?

3. Does your SO find ways to make you happy?

You’ll start to experience little surprises. She got you something in your favorite color or made plans and tried to surprise you. He recalls something you said in conversation and asks you more about it. These little surprises don’t have to cost a thing – a thoughtful gesture, a handwritten note or cozy night for just the two of you. Is your SO trying to see that smile on your face?

It really is the ‘little things’ that help relationships endure. Now that you have read and answered questions for 1/2 of this series, how would you rate your relationship thus far?

I would love to hear from you! Comment below or email me directly at hiddenruleshq@gmail.com

Will This Last? Part 1 of 6

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Three of the most common questions I’ve been asked over more than a decade of relationship coaching are,

  1. “How do I know if this person is really my soul mate?”
  2. “Are we meant for each other?”
  3. “Will this relationship last?”

That last question keeps people awake at night. I totally understand their fear because I had similar doubts before I got married, even knowing all that I know about how to build and maintain a healthy relationship. I actually asked my mom, “How do I know I’m really in love?” She gave me an answer that I’ll never forget, but that didn’t help me one bit. She said, “You’ll just know.”

All 3 of these questions and the feelings they stir up are warranted. Choosing a life partner is a huge decision you only want to make once. It’s scary because the beginning of a relationship is always perfect because you both are on your best behavior. Soon you stop seeing it as being each other’s best behavior and you start thinking it’s your real behavior because your emotions are clouding your judgment. Over time you realize that those best behaviors have faded and the real person is standing right in front of you.

As Dr. Phil says, “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior,” so if you’re seeing some behaviors you don’t like, take note. You can find a quick relationship quiz online to tell you whether you two are meant to last but those quizzes don’t factor in the behaviors that are unique to your relationship. To help you answer that question and feel settled in your final answer, I’ve developed that 1 question into these 6 key areas -

1.     Goals and Ambitions

2.     Getting Along with Others

3.     Time and Money

4.     A Focus on You

5.     Trust

6.     Fun and Work

When you and your partner have similar goals and ambitions from the start, you’re more likely to remain strong and committed when that initial “lust phase” wears off. That’s because your relationship is built on a bond that’s deeper than physical attraction and butterflies. If you’re not sure whether you have similar goals and ambitions, consider these questions -

1. Do you have similar life goals and ambitions? Are you going in the same direction? Do you both want children and if so, are you open to adoption or foster care? What are your career goals and aspirations? Compromise is required in a relationship; however, if you have to give up all your goals and ambitions to help with someone else’s goals and ambitions, in the future you may feel you paid too great a price. Compromise is important but compromise isn’t giving up everything you want to help your partner get everything he or she wants.

2. Are they interested in you and the things you care about? When you discuss what you care about do they try to get more information so they know what you’re trying to do? Even better, do they spend time trying to understand how they can be of support? Or do you get comments that discredit and minimize the things you care about?

3. How similar are your value systems? Values will affect everything from how you train your first puppy together to how you raise your children and conduct yourselves throughout the ups and downs. Do you have the same fundamental spiritual practices? What is his/her moral code? How does he/she treat others in the service industry?

If you are able to honestly answer, ‘Yes’ or affirm all of these, then congratulations, you may be in a relationship that will stand the test of time. Don’t worry if your answer to some of these questions was, “No,” or, “I don’t know…” but do keep these questions in mind as you move forward in your relationship. Uncertainty isn’t a reason to quit now but it is a great reason to pause and review where you are right now. In the next article, we’ll discuss getting along with others.

When Your Spouse Won't Go To Counseling

In my many years as a marriage and family counselor, I’m often sought out, as a last resort, to help couples on the brink of divorce. By this time, couples are fighting, wondering whether to split or stay together, or dealing with issues that are tearing them apart. Even though counseling and coaching get a bad rap, you can work with a marriage counselor at any stage in your relationship – good and not so good times. However, because of the stigma, there are times when one partner chooses to skip out on sessions. They might think, I don’t need someone outside my marriage telling me what to do. I don’t want to be made out to be the bad person again. Or, this person doesn’t know anything about me so how can he/she help me? Both men and women have these thoughts that keep them from going to counseling.

What do you do when your spouse won’t go to counseling?

1. First, this doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed to fail – Seeking professional help is a smart move, However, not getting it right away doesn’t automatically mean your relationship is destined to fail. Continue to work on your marriage, communicate as best you can and talk through your challenges with my “honesty hour (insert link)” technique. There’s still a lot you can do even if you don’t get help right away; keep working. Related: How to save your marriage in 30-days

2. Start with marriage coaching – Here’s something to consider – not everyone who wants help has to go right into counseling. There’s a difference between coaching and counseling and it’s often the difference in your partner being more receptive to the help. In coaching, you partner with the therapist to set your own desired outcome. The goal is for you to become the expert in your situation. In counseling the therapist is often regarded as the subject matter expert, and will use their education, past behavior/experiences to solve current issues. Your partner might be more receptive to coaching first, because in coaching there is nothing that needs to be “fixed.” Coaching will help you both enhance your communication and relationship in general – not dissect your problems. The focus is on how to keep you on track toward building and maintaining a healthy marriage.

3. Try activities that will bring you closer together – Sitting at home stewing over and arguing about the same issues all the time? It might be time to get out and have some fun for a change! This isn’t about running away from your problems but about finding activities that can bring you closer together, help you to enjoy each other’s company again, talk more and just have fun! Date nights, working out together, taking up a new hobby or taking a vacation are a few good places to start. All of these activities will get you out of your daily grind and could help bring you closer together again. Related: 5 Things Happy Couples Always Do

4. Go to counseling alone – You do need your spouse’s help to improve your relationship but you can be the one to take the first step. The tools and techniques you learn in your individual coaching sessions can enable you to help your partner feel more open to sharing thoughts, feeling and fears. Everything is a process and it can start with one person - you.  

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Are you ready to bring the joy back into your marriage or relationship? Maybe your partner has let you know that they would not attend counseling or coaching sessions. You can still get the ball rolling in a positive direction, schedule a free 15-minute consult.