Have you lost that lovin' feeling?
Updated: Jul 1, 2020
Do you feel like you've been put in the cockpit of Navy F-14A Tomcat without the training to fly it? That's how many couples feel about marriage!
What happens when the honeymoon is over and you wake up and neither of you see Tom Cruise or Kelly McGillis next to you? Tom has stopped singing and Kelly isn't on the back of your motorcycle? And you begin to feel that you really have lost that lovin' feeling?
The basic truth about happy marriages is that they are based on a strong friendship.
Happy marriages (#happymarriages) are not perfect unions. We have different temperaments, interests, and family values. Conflict isn't unusual. All happy couples argue over the same issues as unhappy couples such as money, kids, household chores, sex, and in-laws.
Making Your Marriage Thrive
So what does it mean to base your marriage on strong friendship? It means that as a couple, you exhibit mutual respect and enjoy each other's company. You work hard to know each other well and you express your fondness and admiration through small gestures in the daily routine of living together. Each is mindful of what their partner likes and wants and try to provide it. You look out for each other in small and important ways.
The one thing I've seen in my practice is that couples forget that friendship fuels the flame of romance! This friendship seems to protect against developing an adversarial position
toward each other. Good friends give each other the benefit of the doubt and they cut each other some slack when disagreements arise. They don't exaggerate or dwell on each other's faults. They accept them in the context of all the good things they provide. In contrast, when relationships deteriorate, irritation builds, resentment accumulates, distance follows, and the couple ends up in what John Gottman, PhD, says is a state of "negative sentiment override" where almost everything is interpreted negatively and even neutral comments are perceived as an attack.
What To Do When This Happens
Getting to know and understand each other at deeper levels is called "attunement." (#coupleattiunement) The more the couple forms this strong connection the more they are able to withstand the cold winds that blow through every relationship and the more solid their future together. This is what Drs. John and Julie Gottman call "The Sound Relationship House".
Successful marriages are built and kept by embracing each other's needs.
We often think that successful marriages are built on intelligence, financial resources, or psychological sophistication. In reality, successful marriages are built and kept by embracing each other's needs. I remember telling my children, "Treat others as you wish to be treated, that's how you know you are honoring those around you." In marriage, this premise is often forgotten. We practice the concept in our workplace (lest we get fired!) and with our friends but many times forget it when we walk in the back door. We loose the natural curiosity we once had for each other. The kind of curiosity we had when we first met, when we wanted to know everything about this new person in our lives. Successful, satisfying marriages find ways to say "Yes," not "Yes, but..." This positive attitude increases the couple's sense of romance, fun and adventure as they move through life together. By bringing awareness and understanding of each other's feelings and needs, and honoring them, the couple creates what's called an emotionally intelligent marriage. (#emotionallyintelligentmarriage) More on this next time!