This week I’m sharing with you advice from a book that’s been on my shelf for quite some time, How to Make A Good Marriage Great –Ten Keys to a Joyous Relationship by Victor Cline, Ph.D. Most of the time when I see “Ph.D.” next to the author’s name, I think, “Ugghh, another 9000 pages of endless psychobabble that will take me three years to plow through.” But then I come across a book like this one that breaks down complicated issues into basic strategies for success. Get a copy of this book. I’m sure you will find it useful. In the forward Dr. Cline says, “I have never seen a happy divorce.” How true is that? Broken relationships even if they end amicably are painful and leave deep lasting scars. He goes on to say that “we are all flawed. We make mistakes…” But then he says, “We have choices. If we wish, marriage can be a wonderful, exhilarating adventure with almost no limits…” So I encourage you to choose the wonderful and enjoy the adventure of marriage.
Here is a summary of his first five keys for making a marriage great – with my added editorial comments:
1. First Key – Shower Positives, Minimize Nagging - Too often we focus on the five percent of the daily things that happen that are negative, such as a harsh word or insensitive comment. We overlook the positive. We need to get in the habit of being thankful for all that is good in our spouse and have grace and patience with the negatives. Remember: five positives overcome one negative!b
2. Second Key – Let Your Spouse Know the Facilitators of Love – Here he encourages us to clearly and verbally let our spouse know what our needs are. Don’t expect he will somehow read your mind. When your spouse expresses his needs, listen and do your best to give him what he needs.
3. Third Key – Defuse Anger - Find a way to step away from tense boiling points when they happen. Sometimes writing it out and sharing notes can help. Take time to calm down and when cooler heads prevail, the issues may be easier to work out.
4. Fourth Key - Positive Sexuality - This is such an important key in marriage relationships and it is the basis of true emotional intimacy. Men need sex to feel emotionally connected and women need to be emotionally connected to truly enjoy the richness of sexual intimacy. Work at understanding each other’s needs.
5. Fifth Key - The Power of Commitment – Love is a Daily Decision - This is clearly a cornerstone to a lasting marriage. We must make an unconditional commitment to each other – For richer / For poorer – For better / For worse – In sickness / and in health – ‘Till death do us part. Familiar words. We need to be committed to each other and committed to growing our relationship into a “joyous relationship”. It’s not good enough to be committed to a lifeless relationship. We also need to be committed to and working toward a joyous relationship, a soul mate relationship.