By: Lisa Kift, MFT
I don't subscribe to the notion that
"marriages should be easy." What I do believe is that marriages are
hard work and they require time, attention and nurturing to continue
to flourish. If you consider how much people change over the years,
think about how a relationship would inevitably change as well -
with two people growing individually within it!
Sometimes, partners stay intertwined
together and don't experience difficult "growing pains." In my line
of work, I've seen a lot of couples who have struggled with the ebb
and flow of their marriages. The classic line, "He's changed…" may
be an accurate statement. But I would bet that "She's changed…" and
"We've changed…" all ring true as well. Why does there need to be
something wrong with that - as long as focus on the marriage itself
Couples who adapt
well to change - and make modifications where needed - are more
likely to do well in the long haul. Many married couples don't
consider the possibility that their marriages might benefit from a
bit of "refreshing" every now and again. In other words, long time
marriages (and even short time) can benefit from revisiting who they
are as a couple, making a few changes and remembering how they ended
up together in the first place.
Do you have the tools to get over
marriage "bumps in the road" as well as other potential life storms?
If your marriage feels deadened or
dull and there's a growing gap between you and your partner, perhaps
you don't. This doesn't mean you both cannot learn them now. In my
book, it's never too late to inject new life into your marriage - as
long as you both are onboard for a little work to get yourself off
and running again.
Let's take a look at the "tools" I'm
- How are your communication
skills? Are you listening, validating and empathizing with each
- How "emotionally safe" to you
feel together? Do you still trust, respect and love each other,
knowing that the other has your back?
- How is your relationship
balance? Is there adequate attention paid to the "you," "me" and
"we" of the marriage?
- Is your marriage negatively
impacted by old childhood wounds suffered by either of you?
- What are your individual,
marriage and family goals? Have they changed and are you in
- Have other problems gone
unattended in your marriage such as resentment, lack of sexual
intimacy or infidelity? Burying issues such as these can create
a mountain of resentment between you which is ultimately toxic
to your marriage.
One of my favorite clients are
premarital couples. It's a lot of fun to watch the fresh love
and excitement over their coming nuptials - and to provide them
their own "relationship toolbox" to use in the future when
needed. When working with married couples on the various issues
they bring in, I started wondering if a lot of their problems
might have been avoided had they had a solid relationship
foundation to begin with. The following "aha" moment ensued:
"Perhaps if married couples
took a premarital counseling course, they might have a greater
chance of preventing divorce!"
I realized that the chances of
drawing in couples already married - for premarital work - would
likely be slim to none. Then came my second "aha" moment:
"Perhaps married couples would
benefit from a "refresher" course that touched on premarital
counseling concepts as well as other topics potentially
applicable to them."
The Marriage Refresher Course for Couples for those who want
to learn how to reconnect and breathe life back into their
marriages. This is a totally unique concept that I'm very proud
of - a workbook couples can use together to bridge the gap
between them. It's the second workbook in my line of "Therapy-At-Home
Workbooks," the first one being
The Premarital Counseling Workbook for Couples.
If you're thinking that your
marriage might need a little help, a couples therapist can
certainly assist with that. Whether or not you prefer to seek
out a local therapist - or use a workbook - the most important
thing is to remember to pay attention to your marriage. With
times as stressful as they are for so many people these days, we
all need to be able to turn to our significant others and other
important people for support.
At the end of the day, we only
have each other.
Lisa Brookes Kift is a Marriage
and Family Therapist in Marin County, California. She is also a
writer, wife and mother of a precocious toddler. See more of
Relationship Articles, Tips and Tools in The Toolbox at