Most of the Time

Do you know the factors that make marriage help effective for a couple? Well, first of all, both the man and the woman need to be committed to searching out the underlying problem and working through it together. A skilled coach or counselor can tell you what the bottom-line problem is after watching the two of you interact for about 5 minutes.

However …

Most of the time will be spent helping you find a way to help you understand that bottom line. Because your bottom line will always be very different than your mate’s bottom line. And neither of those perspectives match what a professional sees.

It’s true.

About 90% of your sessions will be about you learning to listen to your mate’s perspective. You don’t hear one another because you are wrapped up in your own worries and fears. Each of you is trying to protect yourself from your own vulnerability.

The Good News?

Once you know what that is for your mate, you will have the choice to respond differently. Sometimes the upgrade will happen automatically. Sometimes you will need some coaching … a few tried-and-true options about how to verbalize warmth and understanding, to experiment with something new that will comfort, reassure, and reconnect you to your mate.

The last 10%?

You need to be sure you can hold the ground you’ve gained as a couple. Do you each know what triggers the other? Are you committed to responding differently, with more kindness and compassion? Can you maintain that when you feel triggered yourself?

Research reveals two more factors that contribute to marital therapy success.

First, the woman must believe that her husband still cares about her. That’s a tough one because it’s so subjective. The man has very little to say in the matter. Mostly because what she thinks he thinks of her is more powerful than what he actually thinks of her.

Nevertheless, I know from experience, if a woman feels devalued by her husband, she will have a hard time talking about her vulnerability … and accepting his response, no matter how hard he tries … or how much reassurance the professional gives her. The man will have to earn her trust himself. But he will likely need a coach. Because what he says can get lost in translation, he needs someone who will tell him what his wife actually hears when he speaks, and can offer him different ways to express his fond feelings for her.

Second, both the man and the woman must trust that the professional knows what she’s doing. They both need to feel emotionally safe and have the freedom to speak openly with her, especially when they feel misunderstood or misrepresented. If not, they won’t get far.

I also know this scenario really well. If one person comes with a predetermined agenda, he or she will attempt to run the sessions. A skilled professional will not let that happen. Instead, she knows how to keep the couple on track to restore or create a healthy relationship.

This isn’t guesswork.

A skilled professional knows the research. No, it’s not rocket science. But there are a ton of data on the differences between characteristics of a happy couple and a dysfunctional one. She isn’t recreating the wheel here.

You will still have your delightful differences, of course. But instead of pushing one another’s buttons, whether accidentally or intentionally, you will know how to create mutually satisfying connections. That means you need to understand the differences between how men see things and how women see things.

We have a ton of data on that, too. No, you do not have to adhere to an archaic stereotype to be happy together. But men and women are different from one another. If you’re looking for an upgrade, you need to understand and respect those differences. After all, that’s what brought you together in the first place, isn’t it?

The K.I.S.S. Principles

That means, “Keep it simple, sweetheart.” You need a map so you know where you are, as well as where you’re going. Before this week ends, I am determined to draw that map for you. What’s holding me back? Honestly? Technology. I usually draw the map on a tablet when I’m working with a couple. I just need to figure out how to do that in a video. I’m confident I’ll figure it out. So watch for it. And if you can’t find it anywhere, contact me so I can tell you where it is. After all, you can get un-lost if your map is lost!

Thanks for being here today!

Take care, and I’ll see you again real soon. In the meantime, check out this resource.