The pillars of a healthy and happy marriage

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Presentation on basic components of a healthy and happy marriage.

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  • Good morning. My name is Lucia Merino and I am psychotherapy at Kaiser Permanente.I am here today to talk about the pillars of a healthy and happy marriage.The information I am going to give you is based on my 10 yrs work and personal experience. And the research of one of the leading psychologists in the filed of relationships. His name is John Gottman and he is a researcher in the University of Washington. He in fact has lab in which he observes couples. Like little rats in a lab!So, I’d like to know what are your thoughts about what are the pillars for a healthy marriage.Somebody just take a guess, or base it on your own experience.That’s right very good.So out of the complexity of a marriage, because each marriage is unique, I have selected four factors that are needed in order to have a healthy and happy marriage.
  • OK. So here they are:The four pillars for a healthy and happy marriage are:Knowing yourselfTrustEffective/Good Communicationand Having Fun TogetherI am going to go through each of these and explain why they are the pillars of a healthy and happy marriage.
  • Why do you think that knowing yourself is an important factor for a healthy and happy marriage?That’s right.Remember that people we tend to recreate the relationship we saw in our parents when we were growing up. If we saw love, we love; if we saw respect, we respect; and on and on… Our parents’ is our first understanding of a marriage. It is our model of marriage and we have ingrained that model in our mind. We need to be aware of that because we tend to repeat the same in our own marriage.Also, knowing where you come from it is important, because if there is any childhood trauma, any unhealthy relationship with any of your parents, this is going to affect your adult life and therefore, your marriage. You need to know your wounds, your vulnerabilities, and the parts of you that you don’t like and need to change because we tend to project in others what we don’t like in ourselves. We will see those things in others. We will criticize others for those very things we don’t like of ourselves. Example: There is this woman that I know who was criticizing her husband for not being very talkative, for not being very social. For having low self-esteem. It was through the work in therapy that she realized she was projecting (perceiving in her husband) something she did not like of herself and was not aware of.Therefore, it is very important to know your own beginnings because these affect who we are as adults.Then, it is important to know where you are in the present moment as an individual. The more satisfied you are with yourself, the more you can engage in your marriage in a healthy and happy way.Awareness is the key to have a balance between keeping your own independence, but at the same time be a responsible partner in your marriage. A balance between independence and connectedness.A person needs to continue working in her/his personal development even if married, otherwise, there is the risk of being engulfed by the marriage and not taking care of your own personal development. The right balance is necessary, otherwise, you can not offer anything good to the marriage. If you are not happy with yourself, you cannot bring a happy person into the marriage.What are you bringing to the marriage? A happy, proud, and good self-esteem person, or a depressed, dissatisfied, intimidated person who thinks very little or himself or herself?What you put in –you get out in the marriage. Or better said, you have to bring 60% and expect 40% back –that is for each of you. That should be the expectation. Marriage is a four-letter word G-I-V-E.Above all, be clear with yourself about the reasons for being in the marriage. Hopefully, it is because you love that person and because through the marriage you can continue growing as an individual. What are your goals for your marriage? Where do you want to go with your marriage? How do you envision the future with your marriage? Marriage can be seen as a businnes partnership in which both have the same responsibility to make it work. That is commitment. How committed are you to the marriage? You need to know for yourself and to let is show in your actions.Currently 47% of divorces.if you can see yourself taking that next step and can visualize yourself as single, you are more likely to be stepping outside the marriage.
  • How many people believe that trust is a necessary factor in a healthy and happy marriage?And some of the reasons why?Exactly!At the beginning of the relationship there are many concepts that are being established in order to build trust. People have a lot of questions. It is the period of transformation from ME to WE –becoming a team.In this transition from “Me” to “We” we unconsciously asks ourselves questions such as:Can I count on this person? Will s/he accept me as I am? Will s/he leave me?In other words, we asks ourselves whether we can trust this person.Trust needs honestyFor a healthy and happy marriage one of the most important pillars is Trusting your partner. Without trust you can’t build a relationship.How do you build trust?By your behavior which should demonstrate honesty, respect, acceptance, and love (I should have said love first) because if you love the person you want the best for that person. You protect that person. You enjoy his/her accomplishments, you want that person to flourish and become all s/he can be.If you love that person you don’t betray that person. If you love that person, you work on yourself to give the best you can become to that person.You build trust by conducting yourself straight in your life, respected the other (no judging, no criticizing, no labeling, no threats, no abuse).The goal is to know that you can confide in your partner all your deepest feelings without being criticized or rejected. To know that even if you have done something wrong, you can call and count on your partner to help you. If you are in trouble, the partner will help you. To know that if you are sick, this person will help you and have your interests at hand when advocating for you.Of course this does not apply when there is substance abuse, infidelity, or any irresponsible behavior.If your partner is not conducting herself or himself in a responsible way, this rule does not apply.Therefore, trust is something that is earned.Examples of trust:I once enrolled in a doctoral program. It was expensive. After the first trimester, I felt that it was not a good program, but I had paid already, with mostly my husband’s money, and I felt trapped and afraid of his reaction if I told him how I felt. After talking with another student, I felt more and more that I was not wanting to continue. I knew the financial effort we had made to afford this program, but I finally told my husband. I was terrified of the expected yelling, anger, and criticism. But, he did not react that way. He told me that I could get out, that I did not have to feel trapped. And that it was better not to continue throwing money into something it was not working for me. I took the financial loss, but he gained my trust. I trust him now to be able to take conflict, problems, with my interest at hand. He has earned a good piece of my trust in him. I know that I can confide my feelings in him. I know that he would support me in my decisions.Trust is being able to predict behavior. If you know your spouse is going to yell and be angry at you when you have a problem, you will lie, you will not share that problem, that feeling, because you are afraid of the reaction. You don’t trust your partner will understand you and protect you and help you with whatever problem you have. Unconditionally.There can’t be trust if there is no respect between the couple.Know that the partner is going to respect you. That is no yelling, no name calling, none of the deal breakers:Deal breakers –the 3 As: Addiction, Adultery, and Abuse.You can have respect without love, but you can’t have love without respect.” By and large, the number one secret to a thriving, everlasting marriage is respect. It is the catalyst for all things beautiful in a relationship: trust, connection, authenticity, and love.
  • How many of you think feel frustrated when trying to communicate with your spouse?OK. And what is it that makes it difficult, frustrating?Exactly, very well.Yes communication is hard among couples because:Men and women communicate differently. From the very beginning women and men are wired and conditioned differently.Men want to be appreciated. Women want to be listened.It is difficult to communicate because men focus on independence (in a world of status men try to tell others what to do because that is a sign of status –vs being told.) Women, on the other hand, focus on intimacy/connectedness Which is the opposite of Independence.Create and nurture an environment where open, honest communication is welcomed and treated with diligent respect.Example: When a woman is talking with her husband about things that happened at the office, say that she has an unsupportive boos, the husband tendency is to find a solution –find another job. But the woman, wants empathy, want to be listened to, wants to feel understood, not to be given a solution, maybe it is the right solution, but she is using her problem to connect with her husband, to share her feelings. She will find the solution herself when the time is right. She approaches communication as a way to connect, to share; whereas, the husband when presented with a comment, he tries to find the topic at hand and resolve it as soon as possible, and stop the conversation. That is the worse thing to do! She wants your attention, reflect back to her what you heard so she can feel listened to and understood.Most importantly, stop whatever you are doing and pay full attention to her comments, her talk. Make eye contact and show you are fully interested and engaged in what she is saying.Gender differences in communication is very important because men and women asks for their needs in a very different way. And no one has taken a couples communication course before getting married. We learn it the hard way, or maybe we never learn it.It is important to have routines or rituals to foster open and honest communication.For example, create times to share feelings. Some couples they have the routine of getting home and have some time for themselves. The children are trained to not to bother mom and dad. They sit down and talk about the day, or they get comfortable and share a drink together. Or they walk the dog together.Others they have the 10-minutes ritual: Create a sacred space and bow in a loving and respectful way to each other. Name the feelings or states you want to take out (i.e. anger, criticism, hate) of the sacred space and the feelings/states you want to bring in (i.e. patience, understanding, love). Then, each partner takes the turn to talk about her/his feelings. The other partner is actively listening –no comments. What is shared in the sacred space stays in the sacred space. It is not used against the partner when there is conflict.Also, getting in the habit of going to weekend marriage retreats to build trust and openness to communicate.The skill of how to repair a wrongdoing. John Gottman tells us that it is different for each person. For some couples, a simple smile, a simple “I’m sorry” suffices. For others, it is harder to repair a hurt. Dr. Gottman says that it is based on the quality of the relationship. If the offended feels emotionally strong because his/her partner has been loving, trustworthy, and responsible –the repair is more likely to work.Never crossing the line and treat the spouse disrespectfully.You can have respect without love, but you can’t have love without respect.” By and large, the number one secret to a thriving, everlasting marriage is respect. It is the catalyst for all things beautiful in a relationship: trust, connection, authenticity, and love.
  • Life span around 77, so it means we have only 77 summers, 77 Winters 77 Christmas mornings, 77 New Year’s day. And that is it!Have fun alone to nurture the relationship and with the children or the family. Feeling part of a family nurtures ther relationship.Get into dating each other again: send phone messages, call him/her at work to say hello, leave romantic notes in his lunch box, place a rendez-vous note in her lingerie drawer, dress up to go out to dinner, or a theater play.Go out with other couples to have fun: karaoke, hiking, vacations, etc.Pretend you are dating each other all over again. If you have been married for a long while, consider asking your spouse to marry you all over again: renew marriage vows. Sexuality is the highest expression of love. To have satisfying sex the spouses need have the four other pillars of the relationship: knowing self, trust, and good communication. With all those one can love.There is a lot of communication that goes on during making love.Example: A friend of mine lost her husband to a drunk-driver. He left to work in the morning and next time she saw him –he was no more.Another person I know did not lose her husband, but lost the husband she knew because after an accident or suicide attempt (?) he is a cuadrapelegic and he does not recognizes her or any other children.Cherish your spouse. Every time you want to argue or are about to lose your tempter think of her or him vulnerable (Think of these cases) and remember that many times it is not worthy to argue. Think in bringing humor, time to go and talk, go out to have fun…. Talk, clarify, and when both parties feel their needs are met, go and have fun!
  • 7 secrets to a long — and happy marriage Two bachelors share wisdom from couples who have been married decades book, “Project Everlasting,” Boggs and Miller
  • The pillars of a healthy and happy marriage

    1. 1. The Four Pillars for a Healthy and Happy Marriage<br />Lucia Merino, LCSW<br />Psychotherapist<br />(408) 242-4544<br />
    2. 2. The Four Pillars Are: <br />Knowing<br />Yourself<br />Effective/Good<br />Communication<br />Having fun<br />Together!<br /> Trust<br />LOVELOVELOVELOVE<br />
    3. 3. Knowing Yourself<br />Know yourself (where you come from, where you are, and where do you want to go).<br />Your parents<br />Your present moment<br />Your reasons for being married<br />Your goals as a married person<br />
    4. 4. Trust<br /> Can I trust this person to be my friend?<br /> To listen to me when I am upset, to be a partner, <br /> to share the house work, the power?<br />Can I trust this person to accept me as I am?<br />Can I trust this person to help me if I have a problem?<br />Can I trust this person to carry the weight<br /> of our marriage together? Finances, work, children, family, etc.<br />Will this person respect me?<br /> There can’t be trust if there is no respect.<br /> Deal breakers –the 3 As:<br /> Addiction, Adultery, and Abuse.<br />
    5. 5. Communication<br />Communication must be honest and respectful.<br />Men and Women communicate differently.<br />Men want to go to the point and fix the problem and women want to be listened and understood.<br />Open the communication lines as frequently as possible. Because holding resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.<br />How do you repair –based on the quality of the relationship in the marriage. How much money is the emotional bank account. If you have been loving, supportive, etc, the repair attempt is more likely to work, regardless of what it is.<br />
    6. 6. Having fun together<br />Looking for opportunities to laugh together<br />Schedule times to do fun activities –from board games<br /> to parasailing !<br />Get in the habit of having monthly dating rituals: Intimacy is needed to nurture the love needed in a relationship (date, have fun, and have satisfying sex)<br />This adventure we call life goes by in the blink of an eye; relish your sweetheart’s presence while he or she is still here.<br />
    7. 7. The four pillars for a lasting marriage and a happy family<br />Trust<br />Respect<br />Know<br />Your<br /> Self<br />Have<br />Fun<br />Tog<br />E<br />ther!<br />Good<br />Communication<br />
    8. 8. Quantity vs QualityIt has been said that it’s the quality of time, not the quantity of time that matters. But now we know that it’s the quantity of qualitytime spent together that leads to a wonderful marriage<br />
    9. 9.
    10. 10. LISTEN<br />LOVE<br />DATE <br />AGAIN<br />TRUST<br />HAVE FUN<br />2GDR<br />RESPECT<br />

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