Marriage Enrichment - Long Island.com
Recently we conducted a workshop series on marriage enrichment at The East Hills Community Center in Nassau.
The couples were all professionals and rated their marriages as 'good to great'.
They wanted to see if there was something they could learn to take it to an even higher level.
We also advertised the workshop as - 'Finding out the true purpose of marriage', which many found intriguing.
One of the concepts we teach from The Continuum Theory is that we operate with a framework, a context, a vision in every area of life. Whether we are aware of this framework or not.
Mostly we are not aware, and often it is not a powerful, inspiring vision.
We teach that when daily situations arise that cause conflict, we can actually use them to inspire our spouse and ourselves. These small instances of domestic squabble can actually move our marriage to ever higher ground - if we know how to handle it.
So we asked for some 'scenarios' from the couples that caused upsets and I want to present one to illustrate people's usual approach to relationship issues, and the alternative approach we teach.
Ex: At 'Susan's' there is a house rule that dirty dishes get rinsed off and placed into the dishwasher, rather than be left in the sink. When 'Susan' saw that the dishes were left in the sink she fumed and didn't speak to her spouse for the rest of the evening.
What is her vision for the marriage? What is her vision for her spouse? What is her belief that she'll be heard, or that she will get the cooperation and help she seeks in the future?
I think you can answer those questions yourselves.
In training couples we stress creating a powerful vision, framework, and making sure that it is verbalized right in the beginning of each discord.
What does every married couple want? To have an ExtraOrdinary Marriage. It was their dream, their hope at the altar.
That is a truth - and a vision that may have gotten blurred by experiences that have fallen short.
Nonetheless, to move the marriage in the direction of the vision, the following communication needs to happen:
"Honey, we have a wonderful marriage - you are a thoughtful and considerate, helpful man. You know the rule about the dishes - and when I see them in the sink it makes me furious - I feel like you don't care, it makes me sad. I know we can work this out because we do have a wonderful marriage".
Instead of delivering this 'model communication' Susan said:
"Honey, we have a wonderful marriage - you are sometimes a thoughtful and considerate, helpful man. You know the rule about the dishes - and when I see them in the sink it makes me furious - I feel like you don't care, it makes me sad. I know we can work this out because we do have a wonderful marriage."
Did you catch the subtle difference? Go back and read both paragraphs again.
In the second she says, " you are sometimes a thoughtful and considerate man".
When confronted with this 'slip' she protested that saying he was thoughtful, considerate, helpful wasn't the truth. She just couldn't get herself to say it.
Which now brings us to the heart of the matter.
Are you a REPORTERS VS. are you a SOURCE OF INSPIRATION?
We have never learned, nor is it taught in school, that we can be a source of inspiration. That requires us having a clear vision, and remembering and including that vision in every communication where conflict exists.
Our spouses, our children, our friends don't need us to be reporters only. Generally, they already know they messed up. They need a reprieve, a pardon. It is at that moment they need to be held in higher regard -their self-esteem boosted. Loved. Treated with compassion.
If you don't think so just stop for a second and think about how you would like to be treated when you've fallen short.
We are so focused on our own feelings, and the helplessness we feel about ever getting the cooperation we request and deserve, that we are content with venting our feelings and emotions. Plus we have no other strategy, tool, that we actually believe can effectively change the pattern in the future.
The strategy, the tool, is to rise above the moment. We do that by gaining a correct perspective - and that is that the marriage, the health and progress of the marriage is most important. Once both parties are reminded they naturally move in the direction of peaceful resolution.
That's a promise.