"A wife says to her husband (or vice versa), "Do you love me?"
"Of course," he replies. "I've been married to you for twenty years, haven't I?"
How satisfied would we be if we presented someone with a vintage wine and, upon asking his opinion of it, he replied, "I'm drinking it, aren't I?"
Love still needs expression between those who share it."-Leo Buscaglia
Within the first two years of your marriage, very important work is being done. Many times, this work is being done without the awareness of one or both partners. A marital style is being created. Couples who don’t understand this or talk about it may develop communication issues that didn’t need to be part of their marriage. Perhaps the scariest notion is that once a marital style is developed, it begins to embrace or erode the marriage.
When a couple is having problems in their marriage and they seek counseling, part of that counselor’s job is to identify the way the couple communicates. In the field of counseling, we understand that no matter what is happening between the couple, if we aren’t able to stabilize the communication style, we won’t be able to help the couple. It is amazing how mindless we all become after two years of marriage. We say things to our partner, and react without contemplating what is being felt by them. One of the reasons therapy is successful is due to the fact that if a moment of pause can be added to the couple’s mode of responding to one another, the derogatory marital style can be re-taped and mended to a style that is more compassionate toward the couple’s needs.
One of the leading psychologists in the field of marital style is Dr. E. Mavis Hetherington. After thirty years of divorce research, she came up with five basic marital styles. What is important to note are the ones that were most likely NOT to end up in divorce. The two that led to the longest, most content marriages are the cohesive marriage and the traditional marriage. Indentifying your style may be the first step in re-taping your communication and saving your marriage.