Happy Valentines week Mom Squad! This week we celebrate love and strengthening marriage! We endorse marriage heartily. Probably because it’s so simple, uncomplicated, and straightforward!
In truth, there isn’t much about marriage that is simple and uncomplicated. However, working on strengthening marriage IS worth the effort! Whether you are newly wedded, plugging through the middle years, retired, or even single, this episode will help you to strengthen your relationships at every stage.
Yikes! Not MY marriage!
I don’t think that anyone likes to admit that their marriage needs to be strengthened, which is really ironic since every marriage needs strengthening.
Marriage goes through a lot of changes as a couple grows and understands each other better. In the beginning there are little squabbles about things that don’t really matter at all, as each partner is shocked that the other does not see the world through their lens.
The tale of the pinchpenny and the (practically) free hamburger
When Alan and I had only been married for a few months we had one such dispute. At this time in our lives we were VERY poor because we were both going to school full time and working part time jobs. As we were driving down the street one day I saw a sign on a local burger joint for 99-cent hamburgers! I was hungry! This was simple! 99 cents is the equivalent of free!
I said in a merry tone “Hey! Let’s stop and get a 99 cent hamburger!”
My husband replied “Nope”.
“Nope?!?” What is “Nope”?? Who says “Nope” to a perfectly reasonable request for FOOD???
- Yes, we were poor. However, 99 cents is free
- Did I mention I was hungry??
- What’s with the lack of discussion?
I stared at him dumbstruck. How could I have married such a penny-pinching dictator of a man who would deprive his starving wife of a (practically) free hamburger!
Responding in the only way that seemed to me to be appropriate to the conversation, I said,
At this point it was his turn to assess the temperamental woman he had chosen to marry. He wondered “Who goes around buying hamburgers when they have no money?!?”
- Everyone, because they are practically free.
- He was very wrong.
Eventually (probably after I ate something) we decided that we could deal with each other again. I think my husband also decided he’d rather be eaten by ants than go through that conversation another time. We all live and we all (hopefully) learn! Believe me, my husband has had LOTS of long-suffering moments in his life with me.
Life after the newlywed years
Life went on and the problems we encountered got much more complex than a (practically free!) hamburger. As our own kids came onto the scene all sorts of emotions and beliefs from how we were each raised became VERY important. Strengthening marriage became something we had to consciously choose to do.
During the middle (child rearing) years, couples tend to start “tag-teaming” life. Each of them takes different responsibilities in the relationship and in the home to be able to accomplish everything. It’s during these years of more pressure from work, more church responsibilities, more never-ending-needs from the kids and on and on that I started feeling like we were simply high fiving as we each ran through the front door. Often couples feel a false sense of security during this stage due to the fact that they aren’t fighting a lot. What they don’t stop to realize, is that it’s due to the fact that they aren’t communicating a lot.
At some point down the line, a lot of couples realize, to their surprise, that they don’t have a lot in common anymore. They are living in the same house, but haven’t been doing much to strengthen that marriage (mostly because they are running too fast, overwhelmed, and exhausted).
If this is a common pattern, what can couples do to strengthen marriage at every step along the way?
How about an expert? John Gottman
If you are looking for a love authority, look no further than John Gottman. Known as the “Einstein of love”, Dr. Gottman is world renowned for his work on marital stability and divorce prediction. He has conducted 40 years of breakthrough research with thousands of couples. His work on marriage and parenting has earned him numerous major awards. Dr. Gottman was one of the Top 10 Most Influential Therapists of the past quarter-century by the Psychotherapy Networker. He is the author or co-author of over 200 published academic articles and more than 40 books.
In one of the original studies performed by Dr. Gottman, he proved that he could predict with 94% accuracy if couples were going to stay together.
Dr. Gottman has spent his life teaching couples how to strengthen marriage. His research has led to specific actionable steps that couples can follow to keep the communication and love alive in their relationships.
Enter Georgia Anderson
Georgia is a Gottman Trained Educator, a Certified Active Parenting Instructor, Trainer for the Protective Factors for Strengthening Families and has been facilitating parenting and family relations classes for over 40 years! She also is the founder of www.knowhowmom.com
Not only is she highly trained in these theories, but she is incredibly well spoken, humorous, and relatable.
Georgia taught us the Gottman 7 Principles For Making Marriage Work. She related this diagram of The Sound Relationship House to the Three Little Pigs. We can choose to build our relationship house out of straw or bricks. It’s our choice.
No matter the stage of your relationship, the information that Georgia shared with us is bound to help! Click on the link at the top of the page to listen to all the details Georgia taught us.
As a person who has been married 20 years, I see myself as someone who has been around the block a few times, but has a LOT more blocks to circle. As I talked with Georgia I had a lot of “aha” moments. I decided that as busy as I am, it’s a lot easier to strengthen my marriage now, when I feel like we are still doing good, then to wait until it’s clear that we aren’t. That is a concept that I haven’t given a lot of thought to in all the madness of day to day living. I hope you have found these resources helpful to you and the important relationships in your life.
Until next week, enjoy the resources below. In the meantime, I’m going to get myself a (practically free—seriously!) hamburger. I don’t ask about those kind of things anymore. It’s just better that way!
Your friend in the mess,
Mom Squad Challenge
Start building your “Relationship House” by starting with “#1. Build love maps. ”
Ask your spouse questions as if you were a reporter to find out more about him/her.
(You can use the free Gottman Card Decks App which will supply questions for you. To get the app click here.)
To Learn More About Georgia Anderson
Visit her website at www.knowhowmom.com
There, you can sign up for classes that she teaches and access relationship resources.
Or visit her on Instagram as @Knowhowmomtips
To access the free Gottman Card Decks App click here.
To read more about the Gottman Institute, click here.
Click on the picture to purchase.
“How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk”
“Crossing To Safety”
The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work