How often have you heard this advice?
"Take a few seconds in your marriage—or any relationship for that matter—and simply say 'Thank you.'"I imagine you've heard that suggestion a few times. So, let me ask you a fairly blunt question:
How many times in the past week did you say "Thank you" to your husband or wife?
For those of you who frequently—and sincerely—thank your spouse, here is a "high five!”
We seem to have so much to do these days and so many other things on our minds to also get done, we do not take the time to do some of the "little" but powerful things to improve our relationships.
Your spouse cooks a great dinner. You could give her (or him) a fast "thanks" at the end of the meal, or you could stand up and get right up in front of her (or him) and say, "Thank you, honey, for that wonderful dinner!"
When your spouse reaches over and hands you the salt or the newspaper or an item of clothing, you could take for granted that simple act OR you could say, "Thanks" and include a big smile! Did that take long? Did we lose any time in our hectic day when we said: "thank you"?
Of course not.
Do we want to demonstrate to our spouse that we appreciate them and appreciate what they do? Hopefully yes.
A very simple way to do this is with frequent use of the two words "Thank you" ... and feel free to throw in a big smile as a bonus.
There are many ways to say "Thank you." The husband brings her wife flowers and the wife wonders "what's the occasion?" The husband says, "just wanted to say thank you for all of the wonderful things you do."
The wife cooks a completely off the charts dinner one night and the husband here wants to know what the occasion is. The wife simply lets him know how much she appreciates him and everything he does!
My apologies to any readers who feel I've stereotyped men and women here by these last two examples—but I give these solely as examples of expressing appreciation.
Don't underestimate these two words. Make an effort to thank your husband...your wife...your mom...your daughter...sister, friend, neighbor!
Do it often.
Of course, it helps if you're genuinely thankful when you tell someone "thank you," but even if you are not, go ahead and say those two magical words anyway.
Yes, I'm suggesting you fake it a bit. Why? Well, because in your heart of hearts, you really are thankful that someone did something that made your life a little bit easier, better, more enjoyable. You may not feel it right then and there, you may have your attention on some upset, but take a real pro-active step to improve your relationship and say:
The more often you and your spouse find sincere ways to communicate your "thanks" to each other, the brighter your marriage will be.
Here is an excerpt of an article I just read:
A new study finds that watching and discussing movies about relationships is as effective in lowering divorce rates as other, more intensive early marriage counseling programs.
Discussing five movies about relationships over a month could cut the three-year divorce rate for newlyweds in half, researchers report. The study, involving 174 couples, is the first long-term investigation to compare different types of early marriage intervention programs.
The findings show that an inexpensive, fun, and relatively simple movie-and-talk approach can be just as effective as other more intensive therapist-led methods — reducing the divorce or separation rate from 24 to 11 percent after three years.
My view of this is very simple.
Anything that gets you and your spouse (or significant other) communicating about your relationship is valid "therapy." Obviously communicating involves letting your partner communicate fully, listening to them and acknowledging them.
While watching the news this morning the following image came across the screen:
I do have concerns about the validity of surveys conducted these days. If I don't know the exact questions that were asked, how they were asked, how they found the people to survey, what kind of training did the people conducting the survey have, etc., then I do not fully accept the survey results. I think it's healthy to be a bit skeptical of surveys.
But moving on, this survey does have a ring of truth to it, doesn't it. Our kids have moved further away from actual, in-person communication and are more and more immersed in the world of devices. Computers, laptops, iPad, iPods, smart phones, X Boxes, you name it. Use of text messaging has gone into the stratosphere with our kids.
It's not important to me that it's 54% of kids 6-15 as I accept the fact that this is a real situation.
But then another piece of "news" was presented. It was from a mom that had emailed the following into the show:
"I often refer my daughters to Google after I give them an answer to their questions. Since I am a mom, and teenagers never believe a word their parents say, it is my 'I told you so' moment when they see in print exactly what I just told them."
The hosts on the news show just went right along accepting that statement from the mom.
Wow. I was blown away. If folks want to agree with the notion that "teenagers never believe a word their parents say," they certainly can. But the mother and/or father that got into that place where they accept that their kids never believe a word they say, that mom and dad allowed that condition to come about.
Yes, there are all kinds of peer pressures our kids deal with, and at times our kids are overly influenced by their peers. But the bottom line is and always will be:
If a parent wants to create an environment where the kids can freely communicate and where trust can move back and forth, the parent will take the time to make this happen.
And they'll persist until they achieve it. Ideally this gets started VERY, VERY early. But it's never too late to bring our kids into a much better state of communication and trust.
I have a few other posts on children that you can review here. The one on disrespectful children is especially helpful.
After reading an article by Elizabeth Weil for the New York Times, I felt compelled to share some important observations with you here. Her article was titled "Does Couples Therapy Work?" Here is a short excerpt:
The fact that couples therapy stresses out therapists has long been an open secret.
“It’s widely acknowledged that couples therapy is the most challenging,” says Richard Simon, editor of The Psychotherapy Networker. “You often feel confused, at odds with a least one of your patients, out of control.”
Part of the problem is that the kind of person who tends to become a therapist — empathic, sensitive, calm, accepting — is generally not the kind of person who is a good couples therapist. “The traditional, passive uh-huh, uh-huh is useless,” Dr. Real, a prominent psychologist, says. “You have to like action. To manage marital combat, a therapist needs to get in there, mix it up with the client, be a ninja. This is intimidating.”
“It’s frightening to be faced with the force of two strong individuals as they are colliding,” he says.
William J. Doherty, a University of Wisconsin professor of family social science, says, "A brilliant therapeutic observation can blow up in your face when one spouse thinks you’re a genius and the other thinks you’re clueless — or worse, allied with the enemy.”
Okay, first things first. A properly trained marriage counselor has absolutely nothing to be afraid of. If the marriage counselor knows the precise reasons a marriage goes off the rails, fear of what patients may say or do never enters the scene.
Secondly and probably just as importantly, if you apply the correct technology to bring a married couple together, you don't need to make brilliant, therapeutic observations. As a matter of fact, you don't need to make ANY observations. You apply the exact technology and the married couple works their way through it. They have THEIR observations and realizations and we have a very positive outcome.
The properly trained marriage counselor does NOT need to be ninja-like. He does not need to get in there and "mix it up with the client." A marriage counselor needs to steadily and effectively apply a known procedure that routinely restores the communication between two people. Yes, I said "routinely" — the correct marriage counseling procedure routinely restores the affinity, reality and communication between two spouses. And it accomplishes it fairly quickly.
A married couple could sit around for hours and hours telling the therapist what they don't like about the other person, what bothers them about the marriage, on and on and on. Or the properly trained marriage counselor can ask very specific questions that get right to it. It is quite a sight to see two previously upset spouses with little to no hope for their marriage have a complete turnaround after the correct marriage counseling is applied. It can be done and is being done every day throughout the world.
I wrote an earlier blog post on how you can tell if you have a great marriage counselor. Give that a read and that will help you when making this important decision.
I also wrote a book to help marriages succeed. Some of the material in this book is used in our marriage counseling to bring two upset (or even very upset) spouses back into great communication. For a limited time, I'm making the entire book available as a free download. More info on that here.
There's an awful lot of people out there counseling married couples. The article from the New York Times is revealing a very unfortunate fact. A good number of these counselors are fearful and/or intimidated by their clients. And too many of these counselors believe THEY need to come up with answers for their clients. They do not. Properly counseled couples will come up with their own answers and will be much, much stronger as a result.
If your baby is hungry, an item of clothing is pinching him, a diaper needs changing, this is different than a toddler sitting in a shopping cart demanding that you buy that candy bar.
We're talking here about a child who can understand what you're saying. Now I believe even a baby understands what you're saying, but we'll discuss that in another post.
So when your child doesn't get his or her way and starts whining, what do you do?
Well, of course, you can simply just give in and let the child have whatever it is he wants. When the child whines and we've got a ton of things on our mind, we may just go ahead and give in.
I'm not here to tell you that you should "never give in" but I do believe you can get your child's agreement to change his conduct. Let's look at an example:
You and your child are at a grocery store and you're getting ready to check out. Your precious daughter wants a particular item. You don't wish to buy it for her. You let her know in a very friendly way that you can't buy it right now. She keeps at it and eventually starts whining.
Perhaps she senses you are embarrassed by her ear-splitting sounds. Maybe that doesn't occur to her, but she just simply wants something and she's determined to get it.
Whatever the case may be, she's to a certain degree USING whining as a method to get something from you. Why?
Because she's found it successful.
She's whined before and you gave in. Maybe it goes back to when she cried as a baby, got your immediate attention and care, and she noted that this worked. It doesn't really matter how far back this goes, what IS important is how you deal with it from this point forward.
My suggestion here is to talk with your child about what she is doing:
"Mary, I cannot buy this doll. Your crying is not going to change my mind here. I'd really appreciate it if you helped me get finished here with our shopping."
If Mary continues to cry, you complete your shopping and you do NOT change your demeanor with your daughter. You are still super friendly and super caring. You're just not giving in.
When you get into the car or when you get home, you have another conversation with Mary:
"I want you to know, Mary, that you can talk to me at any time. You can certainly ask me for things and many of those things I'll be able to get for you. I love you and I'm eager to help you in any way I can. However, there will be times when I cannot get you what you want. When those times happen, I do not want you to cry and demand that I change my mind. You can talk to me, give me more information about what you want, and we can talk about it. But whining WILL NOT work with me. Do you understand, honey?"
The above of course is an example of how the conversation could go. But the sooner you have that conversation, the better! Your child can and will understand you. You may have to have this conversation several times. Maybe many times.
But your precious little one will eventually get that there is a different way to communicate to you about things they want. And when they do, it'll be a whole new world for them and for you.
Again, if they really need your help for something, then you provide it. But whining in a restaurant because they got macaroni and cheese instead of steak and mushrooms is clearly different than a stomach ache. You'll easily see and know the difference.
Here's another interesting piece of advice you'll find on our marriage quotes page:
"Ultimately the bond of companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation."
This quote is from Oscar Wilde who was an Irish writer from the late 1800s. One of his accomplishments was the novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray."
I really like this quote.
When you find conversation is high in a marriage, or any relationship, you'll usually find a high level of affinity as well. Of course we're talking about civil conversation here, not two people yelling and screaming at each other. Although some people will tell you that yelling at each other is better than not talking at all.
If you find your level of conversation falling off, take steps to remedy. One very easy remedy is to talk about something your spouse is very interested in.
One example would be:
The wife can't wait to see the wedding between Prince Charles and Kate Middleton. The husband couldn't care less. But the communication between them hasn't been all that great lately, so the husband asks, "How are things lining up for the royal wedding?"
If asked sincerely, this could have a very positive effect. Of course it might take a few instances of doing this, but I've seen it work quite often.
The husband loves professional football. That might include a few husbands, right? And there just may be a few wives who have zero to minus zero interest in football. But again the communication between the two needs a helping hand, so the wife says the night before the big game, "Honey I'm heading to the store. What can I get you for the game tomorrow?" or:
"Honey, the guys in Vegas have the Colts as a lock for tomorrow's game. Is that how you see it?"
Okay, I'm kidding on that last one, but you get the idea.
The bond between the two of you is easily improved with good communication.
Do you have a marriage quote or two that you particularly like? Feel free to let us know in the comment section below.
When your marriage is in trouble, when you suspect infidelity, when things aren't going well, the last thing you want is a marriage counselor who steers you in the wrong direction. So, how do you know what's "right" and what's "wrong" when it comes to working with marriage counselors. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- If your marriage counselor lets both of you complain on and on about each other, you're not going to end up with a great result. If the marriage counselor does not know what lies at the bottom of criticism, then the critical thoughts and comments will continue, even after the marriage counseling is "completed."
- If your marriage counselor EVER takes sides, this will always produce a non-optimum result.
- If your marriage counselor ends a marriage counseling session and either of you are upset, this is not only poor form and unprofessional, it will have a negative impact on the marriage counseling process.
- If your marriage counselor is all about "compromise," then that's pretty much where you'll end up: having compromised. You won't feel renewed, restored and excited about creating the future with your spouse. Yes, there does need to be some "give and take" in any relationship, but focusing on compromise does NOT get to the root of things.
- If your marriage counselor is unaware of the role an "outsider" can play in destroying a marriage and how to address this subject, you will not have a stable, happy marriage no matter what else is addressed.
- If your marriage counselor doesn't have total certainty that the communication can be fully restored, then you're in trouble from the get-go. You and your spouse should know this CAN be accomplished and that thousands of married couples have achieved this result.
This does not mean all marriage counseling will result in the marriage staying together. It does mean that marriage counseling should fully restore the communication between husband and wife. What the couple decides to do at that point is up to them. But they are making that decision from a very high level of communication with each other.
I'm sorry if I was a bit blunt in letting you know what marriage counselors should and should not be able to do, but I'm familiar with what REALLY EXCEPTIONAL marriage counselors can accomplish.
Exceptional marriage counselors never take sides.
They do not let the spouses criticize the daylights out of each other.
Their main focus is getting to the SOURCE of the marital difficulties and not on compromise.
Exceptional marriage counselors never end a session when one or both spouses are upset. There is no: "I'm sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, your hour is up."
Here is the most important thing about exceptional marriage counselors: They know they can fully restore the communication between husband and wife. And they have total certainty they can achieve that result.
Well, there you go. I hope that helps. I know it sets the standard very high. But a marriage and a family are extremely important and should be addressed with a very high level of expertise.
If you'd like some phone counseling (at no charge), click here.
Today with most marriage counseling, the marriage counselor will advise the couple to compromise with each other.
In other words, learn to accept your spouse’s faults or quirks. If she burns dinner, that makes it OK that you lost $300 at the casino. If he or she cheats, well, that makes a good number of the other’s faults OK.
An article on Buzzle.com stated “Marriage is all about compromise. Compromise is hard. With or without marriage counseling, married couples need to learn to solve their problems. Counseling can be a place to learn these skills, but should never be the only thing used to save an unhappy marriage.”
But compromising doesn't really restore the love and passion, does it? To be frank, compromising often doesn't even restore the enjoyment to a relationship.
I believe that in order to save a marriage that is in trouble, you have to sit down and take a hard look at what your spouse has done to you that was difficult for you to experience or that broke the agreements of the marriage. But you also have to take a serious look at what you have done to your spouse that was difficult for them to experience or that was against the agreements and commitments of the marriage. Considerably more on this is available in my marriage book—and the eBook version is currently available at no charge.
It’s a 2-way street. Everybody knows about the Golden Rule, i.e. not doing something to someone else that you wouldn’t want to have done to you. Well those are the things that can wreck a marriage. If you look at it from both ways, it can really have a healing effect.
You and your spouse just had a huge fight. You’re absolutely sure you’re in the right and most likely your spouse feels the same way. You have a few options:
- You could continue fighting.
- You could stop fighting and let the upset simmer for awhile (maybe days or weeks).
- You could both take a walk around the block (each in the opposite direction) until the two of you are extroverted from the upset.
I’m going to recommend Option Number 3.
When two people are very upset, it’s difficult to resolve things from that very upset state of mind. If the two of you take a walk around the block, the idea is to walk long enough until you are “extroverted” from the upset. In other words, you’ve popped out of the upset and you no longer want to strangle your spouse. While on this walk, each of you needs to put your attention on things in your external environment: look at plants, trees, houses, other people, clouds, etc. Put your attention on things outside of you and this will produce an extroversion from the upset. And, as mentioned, each of you goes a different direction on this walk.
When the two of you have successfully completed this walk, you can then sit down and take a fresh look at what’s upsetting both of you.
Do not underestimate the effectiveness of this “walk.” I can absolutely assure you it will put the two of you in a better position to resolve the upset before it gets too far out of hand (or goes onto the backburner where both of you stay upset for awhile).
In my book, When the Thrill Is Gone, additional procedures are given to resolve marital upsets. There is also an entire chapter to help people get over the loss and upset of a previous relationship that didn’t end well. The eBook version of this book is currently available at no charge.