5 Characteristics of a Great Marriage

Along with transparent and clear communication, there are other characteristics that can create a great marriage. Here are 5 that can guarantee a better and more satisfying relationship with your partner.

1. Respect

No marriage can exist without mutual respect.  In my work with couples, I find that there is very little respect left in a broken marriage.  I also find that one or both partners are unwilling or unable to give respect when the marriage is in trouble.  This resistance comes from the ego.  The ego often keeps us from humbling ourselves and makes us dig our heels in to make the other person feel our pain.  The truth is, both people should allow themselves to feel the hurt, then learn to work through it to see the other person’s point of view.  That is empathy which will lead to respect.

2. Empathy

Empathy is not feeling sorry for the other person or excusing their actions, that is actually sympathy. Sympathy does not belong in a marriage, but empathy should be present always.  Empathy is the ability to be able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and see their side.  By putting yourself in their shoes you can get a better understanding of their actions.  People behave badly at times, but that bad behavior always comes from an unmet need.  This unmet need may not have anything to do with you and your interactions with your partner.  It may be a very old unmet need that stems from childhood. You may be able to help your partner realize that their bad behavior has nothing to do with the relationship.  When we are feeling badly about ourselves and are not present enough to figure out why, we blame others, usually the people who love us the most. Showing them empathy will help you be kind to them and kinder to yourself.

3. Kindness

This should be a no brainer, right? We learned this very early on in life, hopefully.  The golden rule “treating others as one would wish to be treated” If you want more compliments from your partner, compliment them.  One small act of kindness daily (ie: a compliment, a nice note or text, a kiss goodbye or hello) will eliminate the pressure of grand gestures and it will make your partner feel seen and loved. We often forget to be kind and it is the simplest action a human can take. If you model kindness they will in turn act kind, that can be the beginning of good teamwork.

4. Teamwork

I often use the teamwork analogy with couples.  I think this analogy should be included in marriage vows as well.  A team cannot win unless all the players are working together. Sometimes, a lot of times marriage takes work, but it does not have to be hard work.  If one person is working harder than the other, that is a sure sign that there is not teamwork. Now, don’t get me wrong, unfortunately there is no such thing as 50/50. I wish life was fair, but your mother always told you that life is not, so accept it.  There may be times when you feel that you are pulling most of the weight in the relationship, that is okay, as long as this is not permanent.  Relationships should work on a scale and as you know scales are rarely even, but they should not be disproportioned either.  Just like on a team, one person may have to pull most of the weight for a period of time but if the team is working well together the weight can and should be lifted off of that person by the other team member.  That is taking responsibility and being accountable for your actions in the relationship.

5. Accountability/Responsibility

As an individual on a team, you must be accountable and able to take responsibility for your actions, good or bad.  This is what we teach our children, if they take responsibility for their actions the consequences will be less, but if they continue to not take responsibility, that is only going to make the parent more angry and frustrated, therefore the consequences will be greater.  This is the same in marriage.  If you deny your part in a negative situation, your partner will feel like you cannot be trusted.  Admitting your faults and holding yourself accountable will help your partner trust you and know that your word means something, that your word is bond.

 

Jessica Alejandro, LMFT

http://www.4WholeHeartHealing.com

 

 

 

The Year Of Me…We

It’s that time of year again! The time when we sit around with our family and friends and make New Year’s resolutions. As in years past, we will be deeply committed to these resolutions for the first two weeks of the year and then forget about all the promises we made to ourselves and others.

For the past ten New Year’s, I have made the resolution of “this year will be about me”.  Every year I say it with good intention but never really manage to stick with it.  I may get a massage or go to a yoga class and feel like I am doing what I have declared to do. But this year, I have decided to really think about what I am declaring.  I decided to really define “the year of me”.

This year, I will be turning 40, yikes! Instead of being annoyed or sad about it, I am going to see this birthday as a blessing for me and others. Again, I say this year will be about me, but this time it’s different, it’s more than just me…it’s WE.  As a marriage and family therapist I work with many great people in search of something.  I started to listen to what my clients were searching for; not what they thought they needed but what their souls were searching for.  I then noticed that I organically started speaking to my clients about the importance of self-care and kindness in the healing process We started to talk more about how self-care and kindness can lead to true self love, which leads to healthy love towards others.  I learned how important these two actions are when learning to truly love yourself and when learning to love others in a healthy way.  How? you ask. I started to practice what I was telling my clients and I noticed a profound change in me.

Self-care and kindness can help you deal with stress and anxiety in a much more productive way.  My clients and I, together came up with self-care ideas that work for them.  When my clients started engaging in productive self-care acts, they were amazed at how much happier they started to feel. They also found it much easier to do kind things for others; small acts of kindness without even thinking about it. Watching my clients transform in this way has made my work very rewarding.

I believe that I have found my life’s purpose in doing the work that I do with my clients.  Helping others provides meaning to my life. This is why I want 2017 to be “the year of me…WE”!  Every month of 2017 I will be celebrating my 40th year of life by doing one of two things: a solo self-care activity or a group (family and friends) self-care activity AND an act of kindness.  I will be celebrating the “year of me” by doing good things for myself but also doing good things for others, making it “the year of me…WE”.  To ensure that this will not just be another failed New Year’s resolution, I am constructing a list of activities for every month.  I am creating of list of 2-3 activities per month in order to have options and make sure that I do at least one of these activities.  Here is my list so far:

  1. Vacation for my birthday
  2. Road Trip to Canada
  3. Trip to Sedona
  4. Cross country drive

I know some of these ideas may be expensive but self-care does not have to cost anything…

  1. Create a daily affirmations box/file, change your negative internal script into a positive one
  2. Rock Climbing Gym, challenge yourself out of your comfort zone
  3. Weekly Hike, connecting with nature is very relaxing
  4. Let Go Bond Fire, start a bond fire with friends write down your worries, fears and negative thoughts and burn them in the fire
  5. Volunteer for a charitable organization, it is good for you and others
  6. Habitat for Humanity, nothing better than helping others obtain a basic need that many take for granted
  7. Volunteer at Soup kitchen, it feeds the soul
  8. Make care bags for the homeless, helps them see someone cares and they matter
  9. Volunteer at dog shelter/pound, because dogs are awesome and really have this love thing down way better than humans
  10. Pay for another person’s coffee when buying your own, because it is cool when someone does it for you
  11. Speak only kind words for a week, you will feel happier and lighter
  12. Spend a day leaving positive affirmation sticky notes in random places, the person who really needs it will find it

This is an ongoing list, please feel free to add any ideas you may have.

The goal is to learn to love Whole Heartedly by becoming better at self-care and at the same time becoming better at giving back to others, even in the smallest ways. To make it easier, I have provided some links to help with act of kindness and some additional self-care ideas.  Remember even the smallest act of kindness can mean a lot to someone.

https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas

https://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicamisener/101-easy-ideas-for-random-acts-of-kindness?utm_term=.dwj1MbgQz#.lg41KkgaG

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/45-simple-self-care-practices-for-a-healthy-mind-body-and-soul/

I will be keeping a journal of my thoughts and feelings throughout this year long journey. I know that through this journey, I will continue to become a better person and learn how to love others in a healthier way. I ask you to join in on this idea and make 2017 the year of me…WE! We need this now more than ever!!

With Whole Hearted Love,

Jessica Alejandro, LMFT

www.4wholehearthealing.com