Such great news! Especially since no one is perfect . . . and we all want a happy marriage. Even though you don’t have to be perfect, there are habits (i.e., thoughts + behaviors + attitudes: times two) required to get you to, and keep you in, that happy place. Are you in the habit of being happily married?
Consider the ways spouses interact in the pinball-game of marriage where there’s a lot of pinging and zinging, and lightning-fast-super-charged reactivity that can happen at any given moment. It can be especially challenging to change course in marriage because you have two personalities colliding—so many variables with which to contend. It’s tough to break bad habits and not always so easy to develop good habits. But anything is easier once it becomes a habit: It happens automatically without even thinking about it. And even though it might not be easy at first, pretty much anyone can learn, grow, and develop these happy-marriage habits.
In my counseling practice in Aurora Colorado, I’ve worked with many couples over the years. It seems like the majority of couples identify their #1 goal for marriage counseling as that of “better communication skills”. However, what I see most often is not a lack of skills in their ability to communicate in an understandable way. What I often see are well-intentioned and sincere folks with habits that are not taking them where they want to be in their marriage. The first step in getting to that happy place is knowing which step you need to take and how.
When I was in my masters’ program for counseling, I searched high and low for a comprehensive resource guide for couples. I didn’t find one, so I developed one. Love Habits is a resource to equip couples who want the happily-ever-after but maybe aren’t sure how to make it happen. Love Habits is a self-help program guide that educates and trains couples in the development of 12 habits for marriage success. [For more info go to https://balancedlifeinfo.com/love-habits-couples-resources/] The topic of Love Habits is huge, and this is a short blog post. So for our purposes here, consider the impact of emotional habits, forgiveness habits, power habits, reconciliation habits, etc. within the context of your marriage. Which habits are working for you, and which ones need to be fine-tuned for the sake of your happiness?
There once was a young couple, Jett and Jazz, who were madly in love with each other. They wanted nothing more than to gracefully dance the tango together at their wedding. They were doing their best to figure out the dance moves on their own, but it wasn’t coming naturally. They practiced a lot, but it didn’t matter because they didn’t know what they didn’t know. She went left when she should have gone right. And he kept stepping on her toes. She blamed him: He blamed her. No matter how much they practiced, they didn’t see improvement, which took a big toll on them. Madly-in-love feelings began turning into just plain mad until they weren’t even sure if they wanted to try anymore. Then one day they got the opportunity to learn the tango from a pro. The dance pro knew they needed to retrain their muscle memory, which meant starting from the beginning, going through the steps, and perfecting their choreography and posture. Both Jett and Jazz were motivated to put in the effort at doing the drills needed to retrain their rote tango skills. Eventually, the faulty old dance habits gave way to effective new habits resulting in effortless synchronicity that made dancing rewarding and fun for both of them.
So Jett and Jazz got their happy ending, and so can you because you don’t have to be perfect to have a happy marriage and anything is easier once it becomes a habit.
Blog post by Marci Bell MA LPC.
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