We have all seen it. Brad and Mindy could not be more perfect for one another. They are the ideal couple. They have the most incredible wedding and during the ceremony, there isn't a dry eye in the house. Even Josh, the stone-cold best man, sheds a tear. The entire wedding is a love fest and as you ride home in the taxi, you're filled with a renewed sense of love and appreciation. When you get home, you and your partner have the most incredible sex. The perfect ending to a day of celebrating love.
Fast forward five years: Brad and Mindy are on the rocks and getting a divorce. Say what!?! How the heck did this happen? "They were so in love!" you think to yourself.
Unfortunately, this is isn't a rare case. About 50 per cent of marriages in North America end in divorce. And even though some studies show the divorce rate declining, none of us married people are immune to the possibility of divorce. So what can we do? Now before we dive into this, let me be clear on one thing. Some of you reading this need to split from your partner. Life is way too short to stay in an abusive, life-sucking relationship. I'm not anti-divorce. I am pro-healthy relationship. So we are going to focus on that.
Anything you want to last a lifetime is going to need some TLC. This principle especially rings true for your intimate relationship. That is why I strongly believe every couple, even the happy ones, needs to have a relationship coach or counsellor. Ideally, a couple's relationship with a marriage coach or counsellor should begin as early as possible. Think about how much more constructive and helpful conversations with your partner are when you two are doing well. This is why marriage work should ideally start early, before any serious trouble happens, and continue through your relationship, fine-tuning your skills as you go along.
On their wedding day, Brad and Mindy definitely weren't thinking, "In five years, I'm really going to despise you." So how does it happen? I believe at the core of most relationship issues is an inability to communicate effectively. How well you and your partner express your needs, share your feelings and listen to one another is key to marital success. Without these skills, it can become difficult to be honest about how you're feeling and so your partner is unable to understand you or empathize with you. This can lead to shutting down emotionally or the buildup of resentment.
Marriage coaches and counsellors can teach you and your partner the invaluable skills of good communication. Imagine if Mindy was able to ask Brad for what she needed and communicate how she would feel if her wish came true? What if Brad was able to not only hear her request, but empathize with her feelings and thus understand the core of her desire? What if they had been practicing this great communication from the early days of their relationship?
Being heard and feeling understood by your partner can help heal some of the deepest wounds and can create the intimacy of life-long marriages. Not only are the skills pertinent, but by sharing openly and honestly with a professional, trained, unbiased third party, you invite in that ever-so-important alternate perspective. The goal being discovering a greater understanding of what your partner is feeling and what they need.
At the end of the day, we are all in our intimate relationships because they add value to our lives. We have decided that life is better with this person by our side. Unfortunately, over time life can beat us down and the relationship that once brought so much life can begin to feel like it is sucking the life out of you. Please do yourself a huge favour and make speaking to a relationship coach a central part of your relationship. Deal with the issues before they come up and make getting stronger and better as a couple a top priority in your life. The result is well worth the effort and has the power to create a life-long and awesome marriage.
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