There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t love my job as a marriage counselor! Helping couples find their way back together is not always easy, and sometimes requires a lot of creativity, but it’s always worth it.
This week was especially inspiring when I met with one of my wonderful couples. Despite being out of town celebrating their 12-year wedding anniversary, my clients still made it a priority to have a zoom session for couples therapy. As they reflected on the years passed, I asked what were the most important lessons they learned about marriage.
They gave me permission to share…but before I do, don’t take these lessons for granted. Many of these lessons came at a price and were, at times, very painful for them to learn. They were hard lessons that took patience, dedication, perseverance, and maturity.
So, here you go. 14 hard-earned lessons from 12 years of marriage. (PS…#8 is my favorite)
(1) IT’S A WORK IN PROGRESS
A marriage is a journey. You never “get there”. You just keep growing together and learning from your mistakes.
(2) TALK LESS. LISTEN MORE.
Even though you might not always agree, listening to your partner increases your connection and emotional intimacy.
(3) START GENTLY
Approach your partner with kindness when you have something to talk about. This sets the tone for the rest of the talk.
(4) DON’T TAKE IT PERSONAL
Your partner might be going through their own stuff and taking it out on you. Try not to take it personally.
(5) DON’T THINK THE WORST
Trust that your partner has good intentions and is doing the best they can with the tools they have.
(6) DON’T COMPARE
Comparing yourself to other couples is unfair because you are two unique people. Besides…you don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors.
(7) ONE PERSON CAN’T BE YOUR EVERYTHING
If you expect your partner to check every box for you, you’re setting them up for unrealistic expectations. Make sure to have other outlets.
(8) ARGUMENTS AREN’T ABOUT SOLVING PROBLEMS
When we argue, we think we’re solving a problem. We aren’t. Arguments are about listening to your partner. You’ll have to solve the problem later.
(9) IT’S A COMPOUND EFFECT
If you try to improve your relationship by just 1% every day, you’ll soon have an extraordinary relationship. 1% doesn’t take much.
(10) DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT
Think outside of your regular toolbox. When we’re upset, we tend to try the same things over and over. If it’s not working, step back and try something new.
(11) KNOW WHEN YOU’RE BEING A CHILD
When you’re arguing with your partner, the child part of you is activated and all logic usually goes out the window. Try slowing down and reconnecting.
(12) SEE THE BEST
If you’ve been bickering, or building resentment, this can be hard…but find the good qualities in your partner. See the best in them.
(13) HAPPY WIFE. HAPPY LIFE.
It really is true that when your partner is happy, and the relationship is good, nothing is too much to handle. You can conquer the world.
(14) DO YOUR WORK
Know when a problem is old stuff coming up from your past. Recognize when you are taking things out on your partner that are undeserved and do your own work on yourself.
Let these lessons serve as a reminder that marriage is hard, and that’s not a bad thing. Most of the time, it’s the small things that make the biggest difference.
And if you hear nothing else, know that when you’re in the thick of it, it may be hard to contemplate that you’re “learning”. Don’t be afraid to reach out to us or another qualified marriage counselor to see how couples counseling may be able to help your relationship.