Finding Happiness in Your Marriage


Tip-of-the-Day: How to Have a Healthy Marriage and Relationship


Problem:

· Insecure Attachment Bonds: Couples come into relationship with attachment styles from childhood. Most people aren’t aware of their attachment style and how it directly affects their relationships in the here-and-now. An insecure attachment style can influence an insecure attachment to your mate; this could cause you to act clingy, intrusive, unfaithful, controlling, angry, abusive, submissive, distant and all sorts of crazy ways.

· Lack of Accessibility: Jobs, kids, hobbies, avoidance, addiction, turning away rather than turning toward…these are all ways we are unavailable to our partners.

· Defenses: Sarcasm, contempt, stonewalling (shutting partner out emotionally), affairs, shutting down-depression, triangulation, attacking (physically/verbally), demeaning, criticizing, devaluing, avoiding, sleeping, staying at work till___hours of the day or night…projecting, gaslighting…it’s a long list

· Priorities: Putting before the relationship your career, kids, finances, hobbies, family of origin, achievements…

· Insecurities: Insecurities lead to power and control issues, putting other partner down, withholding complements, refusing to empower the voice of your partner, lack of empathy, lack of validation, stalking behavior, suspiciousness. Insecurities lead to accepting abuse, accepting that you have no voice, you may lose your sense of yourself in the process

· Self-Centeredness: “It’s all about me and how I’ll be served, I’m in charge, everyone must agree with me”; “must be my way”; lack of equality, lack of freedom, lack of both partners expressing themselves.

· Misunderstanding of Respect: Many couples are confused about respect…just because someone disagrees or has a difference of opinion, this does not equal disrespect. When partners get angry when mate has a different opinion, this is a warning sign that the relationship is not healthy.


Solution:

· Building a Secure Attachment: Couples can work individually with a counselor to discover their attachment style. Your attachment style can be improved, so, be encouraged. Secondly, couples can see a right-fit-counselor to help foster healing attachment wounds together, to learn how to be a safe place for one another, and to achieve fulfilling attachment longings within the relationship.

· Be Accessible to Your Mate: Instead of turning away from your partner when you get home from work, or when your partner comes home, put one another first, despite problems, greet one another with eye contact, and show affection/fondness. If your partner is hurting and wants to talk, put down your phone, computer, tablet, stop watching TV…give them your undivided attention…schedule time with your partner, be intentional; address your addictions, they’re getting in the way.

· From Defenses to Vulnerability: YOUR RESPONSE IS YOUR OWN RESPONSIBILITY

§ No matter what behavior your partner chooses, you can be the bigger person, it starts with you.

§ Choose to be respectful, even when you’re angry. Use “I felt___” statements rather than “You did____”; don’t also choose immature, disrespectful behavior; this will never help.

§ Set Boundaries: If partner still chooses disrespectful and harming behaviors, set boundaries, get counseling if you need to make changes and need support; do not stay in an abusive relationship

· Priorities: You must come first (both partners must choose self-care first); self-first, not from a selfish motive, but for self-respect and preservation; you can’t serve from an empty vessel. Secondly, partner comes first, this is the marker of a healthy relationship. Couples get confused often when they have children and allow the children to come first; differences in parenting styles rip marriages and couples apart due to not knowing how to navigate differences. Couples, fight to be united and fight to be the foundation for your family. The couple comes first, this will provide an important part of secure attachment for the kiddos.

· Secure: Maybe you need counseling to face your insecurities. The degree that you risk will be your reward. You are not alone. If you feel insecure, you have behavior that has hurt your relationships, if you’re caught in addiction or other negative cycles, if you’ve accepted abuse and feel destroyed, you can get help and heal. We can help.

· Service: The opposite of self-centeredness is service. Put your partner first, make them breakfast, lunch, dinner, buy them their favorite____, share a kind word, run an errand for them…c’mon guys, sometimes we treat our dogs better than we do our partners.

· Respect: Show respect to your partner in front of the kids, if you have a disagreement, ask them to talk with you behind closed doors. Show respect when you need to share negative feelings, there’s a respectful way to be angry, sad and mad…allow differences of opinion, empathize even if you don’t agree. Empathy does not equal agreement

· Differentiation: The level of differentiation is a marker for the health of your relationship: can you both be autonomous, free to be and think as you do? Or, do you have to conform to the thinking of your partner? We should not be threatened by differences, but embrace them, appreciate them and grow from them. How differentiated are you from your partner? Is it allowed? If not, get help to learn how to express your core self, even when in relationship to someone.


HOPE: If you would like help in any of the above categories, there is hope. We have great counselors who can come alongside you and support you through this hard time. Whether you’re the one with the anger, you’re the one that messed up, or you’re the partner that has been abused, hurting, alone, call today, there is hope for tomorrow; it starts with you!


If you want support, please call (815) 707-4806 to schedule with a great-fit counselor; there’s hope.


Author: Katie Kroening, LCSW; CADC


Resources:

· Love and Respect Book by Dr. Emerson Eggrichs

· Boundaries in Marriage Book by Cloud and Townsend

· Theories:

o Salvador Minuchin Structural Family Therapy

o Bowen Family Systems Theory

· Attached Book by Amir Levine

· Hold Me Tight Book by Sue Johnson

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