Building a Great Marriage

Man and woman dancing closelyLife can be lonely when it’s a story of just one person. With two, there can be a sense of completeness.

So what does a partner in marriage bring? A partner means there’s someone to share all aspects of the business of living—someone to help with earning a living, cleaning the house, cooking meals, and raising children. Marriage partnership can bring you a perpetual playmate, a pal to do things with, a sexual partner, and a partner at social events. During difficult times, a partner is there to help when you’re ill and to talk over situations that provoke emotional distress.

To take full advantages of the goodies that come with marriage, however, spouses need strong emotional self-regulation, positivity, communication, and conflict resolution skills.

Couples nowadays are very fortunate to have all types of opportunities available to learn marriage communication skills. You wouldn’t build a house without first learning how to use a hammer and nails. You wouldn’t go out on the baseball field without knowing how to hit a ball, throw, and catch, especially if you’re going to play in a high-level tournament.

Marriage is a high-skilled activity. People who enter marriage without the requisite skill-sets put themselves at risk for emotional injuries. With the necessary communication skills, by contrast, marriage offers a pathway to a life filled with blessings.

© Copyright 2010 by Susan Heitler, PhD, therapist in Denver, Colorado. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Peter G.

    Peter G.

    May 21st, 2010 at 1:33 PM

    Although my wife and I had been seeing each other for over two years before we got married,we went in for pre-marital counselling and I believe it has really helped us cope with the whole marriage-package and has led us to be perfect towards each other.

    Yes,we knew each other well through the two year relationship before we got married,but lets be honest-Being in a relationship and getting married to the person is a different thing altogether.Just staying together is a big change and all the things that come with marriage surely require preparation from both the partners’ side.

  • Susan Heitler, Ph.D.

    Susan Heitler, Ph.D.

    May 21st, 2010 at 2:23 PM

    Peter is so right about how helpful pre-marital counseling can be. At the same time, all premarital training is not alike. Some focuses on how much the two of you are similar or different. Other counseling helps you look at your families of origin to understand the issues and strengths you are likely to bring from your experiences growing up. Still other counselors will help you deal more effectively with current issues that are stressing you as a couple.

    From my perspective, the one critical piece to be sure your pre-marriage education includes is communication, emotional self-regulation (managing anger so you don’t hurt each other), and conflict resolution skill-building.

    For a free and fun way to learn these skills, go to poweroftwo.org. The learning games on this site were paid for by the US government to help couples build strong marriages.

  • luke

    luke

    May 21st, 2010 at 4:47 PM

    my girlfriend of a year is an asian and obviously there have been a lot of instances wherein there has been confusion due to the differences in our upbringing,culture and society.I really love her and as I already have a good job,I want to get married to her…But I do not know her parents all too well and am not sure if a marriage can work out,owing to all the differences that will be prevalent.

  • Paige

    Paige

    May 21st, 2010 at 8:15 PM

    When I got married the first time, we relied on the romance of a whirlwind courtship to carry us through. Big mistake. We really didn’t know each other at all. I wish pre-marital counseling had been available back then. We may still have been together had we learned more about who we both were and our outlooks before we tied the knot, and not after.

  • sandy

    sandy

    May 22nd, 2010 at 8:15 AM

    I can’t imagine living my life without my partner. He is my best friend and I think I would be lost without him.

  • Dionne S.

    Dionne S.

    May 22nd, 2010 at 11:10 AM

    Pre-marital counseling needs to be something both parties go through together before they can get a marriage license. I think that would slash our current divorce rates. There would be time to change your mind if it was obvious you are mismatched. Making that law would save many lovestruck couples from heartache and regret further down the line. It takes more than love alone to make a marriage.

  • Lizzie

    Lizzie

    May 22nd, 2010 at 9:44 PM

    It takes more than love alone to make a marriage? I disagree. If you follow your heart you can work out anything. Building upon the foundation of love, not disregarding it, will sustain any marriage in turbulent times. When you have love, you have everything worth fighting for.

  • Georgia

    Georgia

    May 23rd, 2010 at 9:39 AM

    Believe me it does take more than love to make a marriage work. What about the ability to communicate and talk about things that are going on in the home? No matter how much you love someone if you can’t talk things out then the marriage is bound to fail.

  • Dr. Heitler

    Dr. Heitler

    May 23rd, 2010 at 9:22 PM

    Research has confirmed that the more similar two people are in values, background, religion, interests, etc, the higher the liklihood that a marriage will go well.

    My own experience in my clinical practice has been that the more differences a couple starts with, the more they need topnotch skills for talking over their differences and finding solutions that work for them both.

    At the same time, love is hugely important. Love is looking at your partner in the best possible light. The more you focus on what you like about your partner, the more you will feel loving–and when you feel loving, you want to be responsive to their concerns.

    Bravo on your thoughtful comments! Keep ’em coming!

    Dr. H.

  • wendy

    wendy

    May 24th, 2010 at 4:53 AM

    I would say to never discount the power that a good marriage counselor can bring into your marriage. Last year my husband and I both agreed that the relationship had gotten a little off track- we were not heading for divorce but things were tense let’s just say that. But after a few sessions with a wonderful counselor that we discovered that made all of the difference in the world! She helped us to find a way to say what needed to be said in a non threatening and open environment and after just a few times with her we were able to talk more freely about the things going on in our lives and come up with better ways to resolve issues that before we would have let slide under the rug and go untouched. It was a great experience and if you have the means I recommend this route for any couple who just simply wants to make the relationship a little bit stronger and to evolve into a more loving and caring couple.

  • my idea

    my idea

    May 26th, 2010 at 1:43 AM

    Hi

    I really think marriage or relationship counseling helps couples to reduce communication gap and to understand and restore their marriage.

    Thanks

  • Jenny

    Jenny

    February 26th, 2011 at 10:07 AM

    Nice post!
    However, do not ever forget your sex life, keep it alive and you will keep that guy forever.
    Good luck :)

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