Dr. Deb’s Mental Health Vitamin: Tips from the marriage counselor
By Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services
From my therapist’s chair:
Many times I have sat down with a couple whose marriage has taken a “hit” because of betrayal, hurt, emotional distancing, financial distress or other difficult hurdles. This couple may yearn for “the way it used to be,” or they may say that they have exhausted all hope and run out of luck.
It may have been you. You and your spouse may have sat in my office describing the emotions of a marriage that has become divisive, difficult, disconnected … and empty. There may be a sense of overwhelm that has planted a seed in your heart that screams, “This is impossible!” or “Should we just call it quits?”
If so, I would have started with the words, “Before you throw in the towel, and because your years of investment should be rewarded with intense effort and investment, let’s set forth a new beginning … a new ‘marriage script.’”
Reluctant at first, you and your spouse may look at one another and say, “What have we got to lose?” And I say, “There is so much to gain.”
Are you ready? Here we go …
- Return to putting each other first, at the TOP of your list!
- With your time
- With your kind words
- With your investment of emotion
- With your attention
- Confess and forgive the past!
- Each of you has brought forward some mistakes and errors from past behaviors, choices, words, or actions.
- Set aside a time to thoughtfully and earnestly talk about those past grievances so that they can be forgiven and you can move forward.
- Keep your view facing forward and refuse to revisit those issues that have been forgiven.
- Get to know each other … again!
- Spend time talking about some fresh ideas for entertainment.
- Talk about dreams, passions, worries, fantasies.
- Talk about individual goals … and couple goals.
- Reintroduce yourselves to one another; for example, what are your favorite color, food, movie, song, person, movie star, activity? (You see … you have each grown and things change!)
- Change your thinking!
- If you begin to believe that this person before you is NOT the person you should have married and that in fact there is a better one out there, your marriage will not EVER be what you dream of.
- BUT if you begin to recall that this person IS that person who is EXACTLY right for you and is the ONLY person that you should spend your life with, amazingly enough … he/she will become just that!
- Rekindle the romance!
- Talk about ways to have fun, to be spontaneous and to add spunk back into your marriage. If it has become depleted, it can be refilled….a little humility and a willingness to stretch will revive it.
- S*T*R*E*T*C*H your thinking to include some quality romantic intimate time.
- Dress up for one another on occasion … put your best foot forward … plan for some surprise, some energy, and then EXECUTE the action plan!
- Remember … a great marriage is NOT about luck! And … nothing happens by accident!
- Be intentional in your efforts to refuel your marriage!
- Remember, nothing is as precious as the home you have created – and that begins with your spouse.
- Great marriages will be characterized by success or failure because of the focus, attention and hard work invested! Luck has absolutely nothing to do with it!
If you are the couple in the chair before me, we will together put on our “hard hats” and go to work! Anything worth having is worth fighting for! And the prize … an amazing marriage that will be pleasing to the Author Himself … God!