Dr.Harville Hendrix, one of the best-known marriage therapists, was recently interviewed about how to have a good marriage. Listening to Dr. Hendrix's advice, my husband and I reevaluated our relationship, which we do on a regular basis.
We have been married 43 years and often wonder how our relationship has survived all the ups and down, challenging situations with our children and our difference of opinions regarding important issues. It takes more than hard work; it takes day in and day out discipline to maintain a good relationship and to be able to forgive when we slip up from time to time. Believe me, my husband and I are both guilty of this.
We all develop defense mechanisms to survive in this world. These defense mechanisms can interfere with our intimate relationships. I like to resolve issues quickly to ward off any anxiety, while my husband likes to withdraw and not deal with the issue at hand. We have learned to listen to each other, even if we don't agree, and try to understand where the other person is coming from. We set aside time to deal with issues when we are both calm and ready. After we discuss it, we feel much closer.
There is no room for any kind of criticism, putting your partner down or negativity in a successful relationship. This will only bring up your partner's defense mechanisms. Negativity pollutes the space between you and your partner, creating emotional distance. I have to admit, it is easy to slip into this, especially when we're tired. Being aware of how destructive this negativity has been, we constantly work on respecting our relationship space.
It's so easy to take your partner for granted; however you can lose each other over time. On a continuous basis you must tell or show your partner what you value about them and what special gifts they bring to the relationship. My husband brings humor, playfulness and passion. Most mornings he gets up with his arms wide open and says, "Hi beautiful," even if we had a fight the night before. I bring a sense of calmness, organization and an adventurous spirit. We sit down at least once a week and share our appreciations for specific actions that show our caring for each other.
We're still working on our relationship. Yes, we have both changed and grew through our conflicts. We have encouraged each other to take risks and try different things knowing we can come back to each other's supportive and loving arms.
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