When it comes to marriage, there’s lots of advice about how to create and sustain a healthy union. It seems that everyone from clergy, to therapists, to lay educators have opinions about what is good (and bad) for marriages in the US.
This past weekend, we had the pleasure of attending a wonderful conference where many of the country’s best marriage-minded professionals were discussing the ins and outs and all the in-betweens on the topic of marriage. As you can imagine, commonly disturbing stats were thrown around in conversations including: the 50% divorce rate, the troubling numbers of couples dealing with infidelity and porn addictions & the impact this behavior is having on our kids. I think the hardest number to hear was the statement that 40% of American boys are growing up without a father figure. How this loss is affecting relationships, sexuality, parenting and crime was the topic for many conversations during session breaks and after hours.
Once you got past the doomsday stories, the real gems of the event were the presentations and the conversations held with the people in the trenches; folks whose purpose in life is to help create strong, passionate marriages. From pastors to social workers, therapists to marriage educators, the average attendee at the Smart Marriages conference is working night and day to help crack the code on what defines a “healthy” union.
Additionally, some of the country’s best relationship thinkers were there, including well-known authors John Gray, Michele Weiner-Davis, Steven Stosny and the amazing Esther Perel. Lesser known, but equally as important were experts Hal Runkel, Rita de Maria, David and Claudia Arp, Scott Haltzman and Edward C. Lee.
Over the course of the five days, I had many conversations with people and asked their best advice on what creates a loving, healthy marriage.
Here’s what they had to say:
“Focus on being the best person and partner you can be according to your deepest values. To quote Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’” ~ Steven Stosny Ph.D., author & founder of Compassion Power
“Most people in the West today are going to have two or three marriages or committed relationships in their lifetime. Some of us are going to do it with the same person. Life has become too complex to have just one marriage and live twice as long.” ~Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity
“Your number one goal should be to find what it is that makes your spouse happy and do it.” ~Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of The Secrets of Happily Married Men & The Secrets of Happily Married Women