Tag: Marriage

Spirituality and Marriage

Chances are the subject of spirituality has already come up if you’re in the middle of planning a wedding.  You and your fiancee´have probably discussed what, if any, religious elements will be included in your ceremony.  Having an open dialogue about spirituality is important not only for the wedding, but for your marriage.
How would you define your basic beliefs and doctrines?  What about your partner?  How important is religion or spirituality to you?  Your partner?  Do you follow an organized religion or do you take an individual path to spirituality?  Are there certain rituals, customs, or holidays you observe?  Is your partner on the same page?  If not, will you be able to respect each others different views?  Is prayer an important part of you or your partner’s life?   Do you plan to worship in a specific place?  Will you expect your partner to attend with you?  If you have children do you envision faith and spirituality being a part of their lives?  If so, how?  Does your partner agree?
No matter where you are on the spectrum of spirituality it’s important to discuss your views with your fiancee´.  Try to actively listen as you allow him or her the same opportunity.
Photo Credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=587

Resolving Conflict in Your Marriage

If you’ve been with your partner for any length of time chances are you’ve had your fair share of disagreements.  Conflict is inevitable in any marriage.  The important thing is knowing how to handle the conflict when it comes up.  Below are just a few tools you can use in your marriage to improve healthy conflict resolution skills.
1.  Remember that the goal is resolution – not to hurt each other. With that in mind it’s important to avoid name calling or personal character attacks.  If the argument moves in that direction you or your partner will quickly become defensive and it will no longer be about the discussion at hand.
2.  Watch your words. Remember that “I” statements are often better received than “you” statements.  For example, stating “I feel hurt when we don’t spend time together” versus “You never spend any time with me.”  You statements are very accusing and will again put your partner on the defense.  Your partner is not a mind-reader so you’ll need to clue them in to your feelings anyway.   Also, it’s best to avoid words like “always” and “never.”  Keep the discussion current by talking about whatever the particular issue at hand is.  Avoid throwing in old issues.
3.  Maintain an open mind. Ultimately, it’s not about “your way” versus “my way.”  It’s about finding “our way.”  Reaching an agreement together requires both parties to be fully committed to keeping an open mind and be willing to compromise.  That means both need to participate in the discussion with full attention.  Put down the remote or turn off the cell phone if it’s an important issue.  Be an active listener and take the time to try and understand your partner’s point of view.

Photo Credit: David Castillo Dominici  http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=3062

Infidelity: Signs, Causes, and Coping

Infidelity.  The word alone can strike fear into the heart of any person in a committed relationship.  The very thought of your partner being intimately involved with another individual can send shock-waves.  The reality is even more devastating.  It undermines the foundation of the relationship, but that doesn’t mean it has to end it.
There are signs to look for that can help identify problems in the marriage before resulting in infidelity.  The key is to address them directly in order to save your relationship.  If your partner says things like, “I’m not happy”, “This isn’t working” or “I wish things were like they used to be” he or she may be crying out for help.  It’s important to acknowledge that cry and seek professional assistance.  An objective, nonjudgmental third party can help guide things down a path of recovery.  Sneaking around, a history of cheating, and sudden unexplained interest in personal appearance may also be red flags.  Again, it’s important to address these signs head-on.
Maybe your situation has already moved beyond warning signs and the infidelity became a reality.  You may be wondering why your partner cheated or how to move on from here.  The reasons can be as varied as the individuals involved, but there is some evidence to suggest men typically cheat for sexual reasons while women cheat for emotional reasons.  With that said – the opposite can also be true (men cheat for emotional reasons and women for sexual).  However, knowing the reason probably won’t provide much comfort.  If both parties are committed to saving the relationship it can become stronger than before.  It may take a lot of time, space, and professional help to repair the trust that was broken, but take hope in knowing that it can be done.

Let's Talk About Sex…

Any premarital series would be remiss without discussing sex.  It’s a vital part of marriage. Regardless of whether you and your partner have been sexually involved with each other for years or have remained abstinent – a professional may help shed light on areas you haven’t even thought about discussing.  Are you able to communicate openly with your partner about sexual needs and wants?  Is your partner?  Take a look at some of the discussion topics below which are frequently used in premarital counseling.
– Desired frequency of sexual intercourse
– Preferred sexual positions
– Feelings about marital aids such as erotic films and sexual toys
– Sexually unusual behavior
– Sexual handicaps
– Sexual preferences
– Specific behaviors that turn you and your partner on
– Personal definitions for intimacy
Have you discussed each of these topics with your partner?  What do you do if you have different opinions about them?  What if your opinions change?  As with most things, it’s best not to assume you know how your fiance feels about an issue.  Premarital counseling gives you the opportunity to dialogue about intimate issues in a safe environment.

* Photo credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2125

Money & Marriage: Things to Discuss Beforehand

Money-MarriageYou’ve probably heard it said that money is the number one issue couples argue about.  Did you know it can also significantly predict divorce?  According to a recent study out of Utah State University, couples who argued over money once a week were 30% more likely to get divorced than those who argued over finances a few times a month.*  In fact, disputing over money was a larger indicator than any other category examined; including sex, spending time together, in-laws, and chores.
With this in mind, it’s important to openly explore issues of money with your partner before even getting married.  Perhaps the best place to start is at the beginning.  Take a close look at your upbringing and how it compares to that of your partner’s with regards to money.  Were your parents major savers or spenders?  Was debt commonplace or something avoided at all costs?  Did they combine incomes or keep them separate?  Most money behaviors are learned so it’s important to explore your pasts together and determine how they have shaped your views.
Continue your exploration into the past by discussing credit.  It’s important to be honest with your partner about past financial mistakes.  If you decide to pool your money together then one person’s debt becomes that of both individuals.  It’s best not to have surprises in this area after saying “I do.”  Do you have a plan to manage the debt?  The sooner you discuss the better.
Next, take a look at the logistics of money management in a marriage.  Who will handle paying the bills?  Will you set financial goals together?  What are those financial goals?  How will you develop specific plans to save (for a home, children, vacations or other luxury items, retirement, etc)?  Will every purchase be made after consultation with your partner or will you develop a specific dollar amount that deems it a “big ticket item” which requires consultation with your partner?  What will that dollar amount be?
The truth is you won’t be able to predict every potential disagreement about money before you get married.  The important thing is knowing how to communicate with your partner when those disagreements come up.  So ten years from now when your step-daughter turns 16 and asks your spouse to buy her a car and he’s ready to sign on the dotted line while you’d prefer to make her work for it herself – you’ll want to know how to discuss your views in a way that won’t damage your marriage.  Or when you discover that your partner’s desire to eat lunch out everyday is making a significant dent in the savings towards a down payment on a house – you’ll need to find a way to come together on the issue.  Money will inevitably play a role in every marriage.  Premarital counseling can help you to identify problem areas and give you the tools to communicate about them throughout the course of your marriage.
Check back later this week for our next topic in our premarital series: In-laws.


Planning A Marriage (Not Just A Wedding)

Planning-A-MarriageWith half of all marriages ending in divorce it’s important to do everything you can to create a solid foundation in your relationship.  Fortunately, you can begin this prep work before you even say “I do.”  Premarital counseling is an opportunity for you and your partner to dialogue openly with some guidance from a professional.  It can help identify areas of weakness before they become major issues in the marriage. Ultimately, it can strengthen your overall relationship.
Because we feel so strongly about the importance of premarital counseling we are going to begin a series devoted towards it.  Each week we will highlight a major topic typically discussed in a counseling session.  Each are vital domains in a marriage.  Be sure to check back next week as we discuss our first topic: Money.

Blended Families: Joys and Challenges

Blended Family
Blending a family through marriage can be exciting.  More family members can mean a larger support system for everyone.  Stepparents have a unique opportunity to become an important role model in the life of a child and stepsiblings of all ages can create lifelong bonds.  Merging families may open the door for new cultural and religious experiences that can add depth to the life of a child.
Unfortunately, blending a family can also prove to be very challenging.  Bringing together two separate groups of individuals will inevitably require some adjusting.  Know that the transition period may be handled differently for each family member.  For example, younger children are often more accepting and adjust quicker than adolescents.   Children of all ages may struggle with new rules, roles, and siblings and may feel like they are a threat to “the way things used to be.”  They may also resist a stepparent because they feel the need to remain loyal to their parent.  Remember that children need to feel loved, accepted, and important.  Children in blended families need to feel they are heard especially during the transition.  Work towards maintaining a dialogue about the joys and challenges within the family while everyone continues to adjust.

Before I Got Married, I Wish I had Known…

Wedding bands, Premarital CounselingWe all have preconceived images of what marriage looks like.  The reality, however, is often very different.  From a very early age we’re presented with picture perfect romances through movies and television.  The truth is they can’t possibly show how much work marriage requires day in and day out.  Here are a few things that might be helpful to know before getting married:
1.  It’s hard.  REALLY hard.  Most people know this going into marriage, but can’t fully comprehend it until they are in the thick of it.  That’s because before actually getting married it’s easy to naively believe marriage is hard for other people, but won’t be for you and your partner.  Because you and your partner are very in love and love conquers all.  Love is powerful, but requires work.  From both parties.
2.  Sometimes marriage is boring.  The truth is you probably won’t go to bed every night and wake up every morning with stars in your eyes.  (Sometimes you may wake up next to bad breath and stolen covers – or you may never fall asleep because of loud snoring!)  It’s hard for most people to imagine how long “til death do us part” really is.  Furthermore, it’s hard to imagine just how much monotony is in there.  As the honeymoon phase begins to fade and the realities of day to day life come into play it can be hard to accept everyday isn’t full of sparks or adventure.
3.  No matter how much you love your partner, you’re not going to have sex everyday.  In fact, several days may go by and that can be normal.  One or both partners may be tired from work or managing small children.  Maybe one partner isn’t feeling well.  The important thing is that intimacy can be maintained in other ways.  Touch of any kind can provide reassurance and keep the flame alive.  Mutual sexual satisfaction, like every other part of a marriage, requires hard work.
4.  Resentment is ugly and often hides around the corner.  Perhaps you and your partner have different views on roles and responsibilities within the marriage.  Maybe you didn’t realize how your partner felt about the issue before you got married or maybe you didn’t realize how you would feel about an issue until it actually came up.  Whatever the case may be it can be difficult to fight off resentment.  Truth is it can build up and begin to eat away at the relationship.  Again, both parties have to actively work for the marriage which means keeping resentment out.
The list could go on and on.  That’s because marriage is a lifelong journey, not a destination.  The longer you are married the more lessons you learn.

Walking Down the Aisle? Make Sure You Visit a Counselor On The Way!

Wedding bands, Premarital Counseling Deciding to get married is one of the biggest decisions a person can   make.  Congratulations for making it!  Marriage is life changing and demands a lot of attention and hard work.  Premarital counseling is an opportunity for couples to get a head start on the work ahead of them.  The goal is to decide if engagement is a good choice, inform couples about the realities of married life, teach communication and conflict resolution skills, and establish mutual goals. (www.findcounseling.com/glossary/prenatal-counseling.htm)  Think of it as an opportunity to openly and honestly discuss issues, feelings, and baggage (we all have it!).  Counseling should cover these specific areas: compatibility, expectations, personalities, origins of families, communication, conflict resolution, intimacy and sexuality, and long-term goals.   A variety of quizzes and assessment tools will be used to open the dialogue in areas such as interests and activities, role expectations, personal adjustment, interpersonal communication, religion and philosophy, marriage expectations, family issues, finances, children (and parenting), and sexuality.  Chances are you and your fiancé have different views about things in one or more of these areas.  That’s to be expected.  The key is to identify and communicate these differences beforehand.
Still trying to decide if premarital counseling is for you?  It’s for the young and never married, those afraid of commitment, couples that disagree on important issues (i.e. sex, work, money, parenting, religion), individuals with previously failed marriages, those who have difficulty handling conflicts, and people with a history of childhood or domestic abuse.  That just about covers everyone!
Still not entirely convinced?  Think about this.  Research shows premarital counseling reduces the incidence of divorce by 30%. (www.mamashealth.com/wedding/counsel)  Why not work to strengthen your marriage before it even starts!

hope & restorationWhen the dark clouds of life roll in and settle over you, it’s important to have someone who can help you tap into your inner strength so that you can survive the storm.  At The Empowerment Group, that’s exactly what we do. We welcome you to explore the possibilities that are available to you. Restore a sense of balance and direction to your life. Whether through therapy, through Family Mediation, or through relationship counseling, we can help you find a path toward resolution and relief. Empowering your life! The Empowerment Group wants to help you bring balance, peace and happiness to your life even when the storms roll in and you feel all hope is gone. We can help:
  • Mediation
  • Therapy
  • Relationships
  • Pre-Marital Counseling



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