As a Relationship Therapist of over 25 years, my answer to this question is “Yes.” You may think you don’t have time to read relationship advice articles. You may think you don’t need to go to some “outsider” about your personal relationship. But consider this:
When your car breaks down, you take it to a mechanic—someone who has studied cars and their function. When you get sick, you talk to your doctor— someone who has spent a lot more time studying the body and medicine than you want to. But, even before things start to break down, you listen to the sounds your car makes; you pay attention to what’s going on in your body. If you start to get a cold, you take preventive medications. Doesn’t it just make sense that reading up on relationships might be a “preventive medication” for the most important relationship of your life?
Here are some disturbing facts: Only about 25% of couples have the skills or temperament that can carry them through difficult times in a relationship. The other 75% divorce or learn to tolerate an unhappy marriage. Good relationships require focus, flexibility, and willingness to be open to change.
So, why re-invent the wheel? Science has a lot to tell us. We can learn about how to make our relationships better and more rewarding. For example, John & Julie Gottman spent 30 years studying 3,000 couples. The Gottmans studied couples who said they had a reasonably good marriage. This extensive research project tells us what we can do in relationships to improve them and more importantly, what can ruin a marriage. John & Julie Gottman are among a number of relationship experts who have used science and cutting edge practices to improve and even save marriages. I don’t think it is wise to ignore good advice that is grounded in solid research on real people.
There are many marriage and relationship websites. SmartMarriages.com is an excellent resource, as is MarriageFriendlyTherapist.com. You can Google other marriage experts such as Harville Hendrix, Brent Atkinson, Sue Johnson, John Gottman or Bill Doherty just to name a few. These individuals are well respected in the relationship therapy community. One note of caution: you don’t need to spend money to get good advice from the internet. Some websites offer “programs” to improve your marriage. These “programs” can be costly and not very helpful. I think romantic relationships are important enough to spend money on; just be mindful of the adage, ‘buyer beware.’
So how do you know which ones are the best for you? Ask your friends or better yet, ask your partner. Read the articles together to see if there is anything of merit for the two of you. The important thing here is that you and your spouse learn together. You might even suggest to other couple friends that you get together now and again to talk about good relationship articles or books you’ve read. Check your church, synagogue or mosque for marriage groups.
Our marriage or relationship is the most important connection we have outside of our parents and children. We pick each other; we live with each other longer than we do with parents or children. Our relationship is where we look for comfort, happiness, reassurance and companionship. You should be reading pertinent information that can be helpful. As a couple’s therapist, I consider an important aspect of my job to be educational. Don’t wait until your relationship is in trouble and you need to see a therapist. Read the experts yourself and be preventive.
How to Create Emotional Intimacy by Engaging Fear, Anger and Love
One Important Question That Can Get You and Your Partner Talking
I’m Doing Everything I Can but My Marriage Still Isn’t Working, What Do I Do Now?
© Copyright 2011 by By Pamela Lipe, MS, therapist in Saint Paul, Minnesota. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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