The Marriage Podcast for Smart People

by Caleb & Verlynda Simonyi-Gindele

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Build a Marriage You’ll Love Today and Treasure for a Lifetime

Best The Marriage Podcast for Smart People episodes upvoted by the community

Last updated on August 08, 2020, 10:37 pm

#1

The Three Best Ways to Ruin Your Wife’s Day

September 09, 2015

Obviously, there will be quite a bit of satire in this post and we don’t actually want you to ruin your wife’s day, but the serious part is this: we want to highlight some key gender differences between guys and gals. Perhaps some of you are like Caleb – you came to marriage having been raised in an all boys family, and educated in an all boys school while going to an all boys church… only to discover that women have certain sensitivities that aren’t even on your male radar…. Before we start, we want you to know that we believe in the equality of women and men, and that your wife is worthy of respect at all times and without exception. We also believe that teasing mixed with sarcastic truth is a form of verbal abuse. However, we both enjoy teasing each other, and being teased. There is a healthy way to do that. So that’s our disclaimer, and without further ado, let’s get to the top three ways to ruin your wife’s day! Number One: Miss your lunch date with her. Later, have your secretary call, or text to apologize. A few researchers did a study of college women and men, asking what they wanted in a marriage partner. They were asking about qualities one would want in a spouse and looking for qualities where there were gender differences and where women in particular placed a higher emphasis. One of those qualities was intelligence. Really, we can’t do much about our intelligence! The other two qualities are ones we want to emphasize: women desired a spouse who would be considerate and dependable. That’s why the best way to ruin your wife’s day is to completely let her down. Women don’t need men (in our culture) for food, housing and basic necessities – they can get these things on their own. What they do want is a man who is dependable as a husband for themselves and a father for their children. So, if you want to ruin your wife’s day, just make sure you’re not dependable. Don’t keep your commitments. Don’t follow through with what you promise. Let her down. The other thing women want is a husband who is considerate. That just means being careful not to cause inconvenience or hurt to others. This is about being very thoughtful of your spouse. It will delight your wife if you are a husband who is a considerate person – you are intentional about thinking about her, her needs, her concerns and how your actions and choices impact her. Being inconsiderate will most definitely ruin her day because it’ll feel like you don’t care about her. It can feel dismissive and make her feel neglected. Being considerate though, requires you to take those moments to pause and consider her so that she is not inconvenienced or hurt. Really, these are gentlemanly qualities. Guys: your wife may be the type to like some grease under your fingernails, or she may like you in a tweed coat with a stack of essays under your arm as you come through the door. Regardless, what she really wants is to be married to a gentleman. So be considerate. But also, be dependable.[i] Number Two: Take her for granted. Best started the day after you get back from your honeymoon. Not being considerate can be like taking your wife for granted, but we want to drill a little deeper into this second way to best ruin your wife’s day. Women just love being taken for granted… NOT! News flash here for you husbands: most men come into marriage with the belief that their wife will keep working on the relationship. Actually, women are significantly more likely than men to carry the belief that couples stop working on their relationship when they marry. In fact, studies of marital and dating relationships have repeatedly shown that women report lower levels of overall satisfaction and needs fulfillment than men. Most women are less satisfied with their marriages than men are.[ii] Why is this? This is, in part, because women are more sensitive to conflict, tensions and unmet expectations in their romantic relationships. On top of this,

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#4

Dealing with Your Shame and Guilt After Betrayal

July 03, 2019 • 22m

It might seem strange to be focusing on the betraying spouse. After all, they weren’t the ones who were victimized. However, if the betraying spouse does not grow as a result of the wrong they did, that leaves their betrayed spouse vulnerable. So yes, it is vital for you, the betraying spouse, to help your partner cope with the fallout of your betrayal. But in the aftermath, you too must focus on your own healing process as well. In this way, you take tangible steps to safeguard your spouse from the possibility of betraying them in the future. Balanced Coping is Important Betraying your spouse opens up your marriage to many interpersonal conflicts for you to address. How you choose to cope with these conflicts will largely determine the future of your marriage. One common tendency might be to focus solely on the needs of your betrayed spouse. It’s easy to devote all your efforts towards calming them down. The risk in this approach is you keep yourself from dealing with the fact that you betrayed them. You don’t address why you did it in the first place, much less how you can prevent yourself from repeating the past. Or you might even ignore the effects of the betrayal altogether. You act as if nothing happened, turning a blind eye towards the elephant in the room. You think that perhaps the storm will pass, and life will go on as it did before. Or you might take it to another extreme and focus all of your attention on yourself. You become so self-absorbed in your frustration and even self-pity because of the realization that you have betrayed someone. You force your spouse, intentionally or not, to take care of you instead of leaving them room to deal with their own needs. This is where balance comes in. In the aftermath of your betrayal, you will need to accommodate both your spouse as well as your own issues. Despite the tension between the concern for your spouse and concern for yourself, you cannot simply focus solely on one or the other. To address both, use an integrated, balanced approach.[1] Having balanced coping is necessary for the long-term health of your marriage. In the first days following betrayal, your spouse will need extra attention to help their healing process. But as they heal, start concentrating on your own journey of growth so that you do not repeat the betrayal. In cases of severe or even profound betrayal, it is ideal if both of you have your own individual counselors, with a third counselor who sees you as a couple. This way, you each have someone on “your side” helping you grow while a neutral third party can help you navigate the crisis between the two of you. Dealing With Shame and Guilt From Betrayal When you do something you are not proud of, shame and guilt are two very common emotional reactions. They help regulate moral behavior by increasing your self-awareness and stress, helping to make it more difficult to do things that go against your own values. However, researchers have found that guilt and shame also influence how you handle problems in your relationship.[2] As a result, it’s important to understand how to deal with these emotions. Understanding Shame How do you see yourself? When you’ve done something you deeply regret, how do you see your character and identity? After you’ve betrayed someone, shame may tell you that you are a betrayer, a cheater, an immoral person, or something like this. Shame makes you feel hopeless because it talks about you as if this is who you have always been and always will be. It frames your betrayal as more than an act: as an integral part of your identity. While it is crucial to recognize the magnitude of your betrayal and its effect on your spouse, it is more important to focus on the behavior and consequences rather than on shame-based identity motifs. Rather than pushing you to change and to become a better person, shame paralyzes and prevents you from growing. It disables you,

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#7

So You Stayed Married Just for the Kids’ Sake, Now What?

September 07, 2016

What happens if your marriage really hasn’t been that great but you’ve been sticking it out for the kids, or for some other reason. Let’s say the reason you’ve been sticking it out is no longer relevant… Now what? If the purpose for staying married is no longer relevant, is your marriage toast? Or can you do something to redeem and reconfigure your relationship so that new life is breathed into it? Barriers and Rewards in Marriage Why do people stay married? In 2003, two researchers set out to answer this. They cited past research that showed that people typically stay married due to either rewards (positive outcomes associated with being in a relationship) or barriers (psychological forces that restrain people from leaving relationships).[i] Happy marriages often stay together because of rewarding aspects of marriage, while unhappy marriages often stay together because of barriers to ending the marriage. The researchers were interested in specific rewards and barriers that kept marriages together, and used data from a 17-year longitudinal study of marital instability to find some answers. In this study, couples were asked to list (1) specific barriers that prevented them from moving forward with divorce, (2) specific rewards that kept them together, and (3) whether they stayed due to a lack of alternative relationships. The results showed: When couples were asked why they stayed in their marriage, 74% listed various rewards, 25% listed barriers, and 1% listed lack of alternatives. Of those who listed barriers, the number one barrier to ending the marriage was staying for the sake of the children. The second largest barrier listed was religion. “People who attributed the cohesiveness of their marriages primarily to barriers (such as staying for the children) tended to be relatively unhappy with their marriages and were likely to be thinking (or acting) in ways that might lead to divorce.” “Thinking about marital cohesion exclusively in terms of barriers predicted divoce up to 14 years later, even after controlling for marital happiness and divorce proneness.[ii] The researchers also noted that barriers were not as powerful as rewards in maintaining cohesion. Without a strong attraction between spouses (as reflected in love, friendship, or positive communication) many people eventually find ways to overcome existing barriers and leave their marriages. For example, couples that are concerned about the effect of divorce on children may wait until their children are older or have left home before divorcing. Here’s the point: what’s keeping you together now could lead you to your ungluing later. You can think of this from a Scriptural perspective, too. Marriage, in terms of purpose, is cast in Ephesians 5 as a way to express the relationship of Christ towards his people on earth: there’s communication, intimacy, covenant faithfulness, loyalty and commitment, and deep, unfailing love. If your marriage has been carried along on the winds of any other kind of purpose, it’s time to seriously consider how you can remanufacture and build something that is aligned with the divinely ordained purpose. Surely, this is a far richer, far more joyful, perspective! But, just because you’re staying together for the wrong reasons doesn’t mean divorce is inevitable! If there’s pain in your marriage, why not find a place for the truth of redemption to be expressed in your marriage? Surely this is a better route than the devastation of divorce. Don’t Wait to Get Help Based on the research (above), marriages that stay together for the children are often unhappy marriages that could be headed for divorce once the children grow up. What should these marriages do? How can they find help? A large part of the problem is that many unhappy marriages don’t seek help at all. Other research shows that “most distressed couples do not seek marital therapy” and those who do wait an average of 6 years afte...

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#8

OYF189: When Your Spouse Is a Chronic Liar

June 27, 2018 • 24m

We have a tough topic today — and unfortunately, it’s also one that is all too common. What do you do when your spouse is a chronic liar? Well, we are going to try to come to this topic with accountability and compassion because trust is so vital to creating a happy marriage. What is Pathological Lying? There are a few terms that get used interchangeably here: compulsive lying, chronic lying, and pathological lying. Like some other psychological terms it can get thrown around too loosely. Somebody lies to you a couple times and it upsets you and you call them a pathological liar: that may not be an accurate assessment. But when you have frequent, compulsive telling of lies and false stories[i] this is pathological lying. Typically the lies told have three features: Continuous: the lies are told regardless of context or who is being spoken to, without any apparent benefit or motive and no thought of potential consequences Impulsive: the lies are not necessarily intended to manipulate people or gain anything. The person simply sees an opportunity to lie and does so. Compulsive: lies are often told automatically without any conscious decision. Those are a pretty serious set of criteria. That’s why I say we use the label too freely: there’s a much lower level of lying that is still problematic but strictly speaking, pathological lying should have all these components. Along with this you’ll often see that the compulsive liar, when challenged about his or her lies, may attempt to downplay what was said or may try to get out of it by telling more lies. They often get caught up in a web of increasingly unrealistic lies. It’s also helpful to know that someone who is a pathological liar may be mentally well adjusted in every other way, or they may have other difficulties such s personality disorders (especially narcissistic personality disorder), ADHD or memory problems[ii]. What Makes A Chronic Liar? Let’s talk about some possible causes. Not for the purpose of justifying the behaviour or asking you to be OK with it, but just to create a little compassion and hopefully even some possible treatment strategies. Brain Functioning and Lying Serious forms of chronic lying may be due to differences at the brain level. Neuroimaging of patients who show compulsive lying reveals impairments to the prefrontal cortex[iii]. These impairments could be caused by head injury, degenerative diseases, infection, epilepsy, or be present from birth. This impairment affects two important mental processes: Executive Functioning The first process, executive functioning, is about the ability to control and monitor your own thoughts, as well as control impulses and organize yourself Problems with executive functioning may look like difficulty with controlling the impulse to lie. If your executive functioning is intact, when the cop pulls you over you may be tempted to lie to him or her but your executive function kicks in and you realize, no my kids are in the car, I need to be truthful and do some good role modelling here. If your executive function is impaired you might not ever get out in front of that initial impulse. Sometimes people get upset with me when I point out the possible physiological basis for these kinds of issues — am I trying to excuse or to minimize something that is morally wrong? No, I am not. But if the person cannot stop and sincerely wants to stop and all you are doing to try to motivate them to stop is using moralistic interventions (impressing them with how wrong it is, how God hates lies, and Satan is the father of lies)... that’s all true but it is not going to actually help them stop if there’s a head injury. They need a different approach to try to achieve the same outcome. Although the symptoms are a moral issue, the cause may not be a purely moral problem: it could potentially be physiological as well (e.g., due to a brain injury). Theory of Mind The second process,

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#9

How Retirement Affects Marriage

December 11, 2019 • 23m

Transitioning from full-time employment into retirement is naturally going to impact both your life and your marriage. Retirement comes with lots of changes, and there are ups and downs to the process. Whether you have parents going through this, you’re coming up to retirement, or you have recently retired, there’s lots to learn about how to handle the changes that come with moving into retirement since it’s a brand-new stage of life. Research shows that there are both positives and negatives that can come as a result of retirement. Certainly, in North American culture retirement is idealized and celebrated as something to look forward to at the end of your career, but many couples also experience some disappointment when it turns out to be not as great as they had hoped.  Marital Satisfaction for Couples at Different Life Stages One study looked at positive interactions between couples of different ages. The study showed that younger couples had the most positive interactions: good healthy, positive day to day moments. Middle age couples (40’s) had the least. And older couples (about 65 and over…the retirement group) had an intermediate amount of positive interactions. But the study also found that negative attitudes decreased with age. It’s normal for couples to go through tough stages of becoming parents, establishing their careers, getting mortgages paid off: this requires adjustments across the lifespan. It is reasonable to expect that going into retirement is going to require some adjustments as well.[1] According to studies from around the turn of the century and current research, the divorce rate rises within the older population compared to the divorce rate of the younger generation. This raises an important question: if retirement is pitched as such a wonderful thing, why are people struggling in their most important relationships? Retirement is a Life Transition Transitioning into retirement comes with a lot of adjustments. Going from working to not working is just one of the changes that come with retirement. Many couples find themselves facing changes in where they live, changes in their routines with their spouse, and even changes in their identity. A retiring therapist might ask himself questions such as “Am I still a therapist if I am not doing therapy? What am I now? What is my purpose? What is our purpose?”[2] When retiring from any profession, one or both spouses may find themselves facing a shift in their sense of identity as they move into a new stage of life. There are many other questions that come up for couples in retirement: How will you and your spouse decide what to do with your time? What is your retirement plan in terms of your savings: can you live without employment income for 10, 20, or 30 or more years?  In addition to these questions, the couple have to adjust to changes on the relational side of things. Couples find that they’re spending a lot more time together, more than they have for many, many years. Most retired couples are not raising children, caring for parents, or heading off to work for the bulk of the day. Suddenly, whatever your marriage is like, it is all right there in front of you and it has to be faced.[3] If your marriage has been strong and healthy — you’ll see the effects of that. And that’s great! For those couples, marital satisfaction will increase because they have even more time to spend together. But if your marriage really hasn’t been great for 20 years but you’ve made it through by focusing on raising and launching your kids, or concentrating on your career or business, and now you’re past those things and you’re just left with a “not great” marriage: that’s a challenging place to be in. Those escape mechanisms of work or other things are gone and not available any longer, and there’s a lot to figure out.[4] Retirement Factors that Affect Marriage One factor that impacts couples when they retire is whether or not they retire tog...

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#11

Hug Your Way To A Better Marriage!

October 01, 2014

I certainly hope reading this is going to make you want to find your spouse right now and give them a GREAT BIG SQUEEZE! And don’t be fooled – we’re not talking about how tightly you squeeze, we’re talking about how well you do the squeeze! The Power of the Hug The power of hugging is not to be underestimated. In fact, research supports how it can be a great way to improve your marriage. In 2003, Grewen, Anderson, Girlder and Light found that couples who enjoyed more episodes of positive close contact responded with lower blood pressure and heart rate elevations in response to the stresses and strains of daily living. On that same note, couples who did not express lots of physical affection were eight times more likely to feel stressed or depressed. In another study, they tried giving one person verbal social support when they were stressed and found that it did not have the same positive effect as actual physical contact. Seriously, I could go on and on with research that proves the point that close contact prevents “life’s hiccups” from hitting us so hard physically! What Does a Hug Do? A close physical connection creates an instant entry into the world of your spouse’s emotions. Can you feel their body heaving with sobs? Can you feel how tightly they’re strung with worry? Can you feel their desire for you? An incredible range of emotions is felt through hugging! Hugging also creates an increase in the release of oxytocin, the body’s natural love drug. Not only does oxytocin lower your blood pressure and heart rate, but it also boosts happiness, fine-tunes communication skills, improves every day relationships and chases away anxiety and stress. How to Hug As you can see, we all need to hug more. However, let us tell you exactly how you can be a Master Hugger! We’ve created a little video entitled How to Hug Like a Boss because really, how can you describe a hug with words?!? Plus, how do you know when your hug is done? We really do not have a good answer to that second question, so let us know your ideas. We’d love to hear from you! Image courtesy of Tania Cataldo under the Creative Commons license.

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#13

The Top 5 Benefits of Creating a Happy Marriage

July 18, 2018

Today’s episode is for those of you who just need to know that the hard work of creating a thriving, passionate marriage is worthwhile. Whatever you’ve been through, however difficult the road ahead appears to be: we really want to distill some hope for you today so that you stay committed to creating something beautiful with your spouse. Marriage is not always easy. But we want you to know it is worthwhile. Today we’re going to take you through the top 5 benefits of creating a happy marriage. To come up with these top 5 benefits I asked our researcher Paul to go out and just survey the literature and see what the consistent themes are: the repeated positive outcomes that keep bubbling to the surface when researchers are studying marriage. We are not knocking off anyone else’s top 5 list today: we put this one together from our own survey of the research. And good research at that: I am talking about the psychological journals where we have real researchers in the trenches trying to figure out the nuances and details of marriage every day, not just some Joe Average blogger’s opinion off the Internet. So, let’s jump in. We’re going to work from the fifth benefit back to the first. #5: Personal Growth The research consistently shows that a happy marriage enables spouses to grow, both individually and as a couple. This comes through mainly in three different fronts. Personal Goals It’s easier to meet personal challenges when you know someone has your back, right? Well married people often report that the level of support they get from their spouse is the strongest determining factor in how well they achieve their personal goals[i]. Your support of your spouse makes a big difference in his or her life. With your support your spouse feels secure enough, and has enough practical and emotional assistance to aim for their important goals in life, whatever they may be. So creating a happy marriage ends up setting the stage for helping one another achieve personal goals. It is not hard to imagine how a distressed marriage takes up so much energy that it gets in the way of achieving those goals. Resilience A cool study from 2011[ii] found that overcoming stressful circumstances with your spouse early in the marriage makes you far more able to deal with stress later in life. In this study high marital satisfaction (especially good communication and support) enabled couples to build up resilience to stress, which helped them adjust to stressful life events such as the transition to parenthood. Other research shows that high marital quality can help couples cope with difficult circumstances such as financial pressure and illness[iii]. This is brilliant too: of course life throws all of us curveballs. But when you create a happy marriage you create a safe harbor, a place you can come to in order to recharge and renew yourself for facing those challenges. And this ends up making you stronger in the long term. Growing Together When your marriage is going well you start to embody the traits you admire in each other, allowing you both to grow as people. High satisfaction with your marriage and with who your spouse is naturally leads to admiration of your spouse. When couples admire each other they work to embody the positive traits they see in each other. In a well functioning marriage both spouses therefore "sharpen" each other and help make each other better[iv]. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” Proverbs 27:17 NIV. That’s the principal at play here. So you take these three together: facilitating personal goals, fostering resilience against challenges, and promoting personal development and you can really see how a happy marriage fuels personal growth. That’s a huge blessing that comes from creating a happy marriage. #4: Health High marital satisfaction has positive effects on both physical and mental health. This happens through various routes[v]:

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#16

How To Make The Most of an Unhappy Marriage

April 03, 2019 • 19m

So what if you are in a marriage that you are totally committed to but really not enjoying or appreciating. You are unhappy but it is quite a stable situation. And you aren’t leaving. How can you make the most of this situation? We’ll look at how folks find themselves in a spot like this and how to make the most of it. Long Term Unhappy Marriages Let’s start by looking at what we mean by “unhappy” in this situation. Overall marital quality is a combination of marital satisfaction and marital stability[i]. Using these two dimensions you can categorize marriages into four groups: High satisfaction, high stabilityHigh satisfaction, low stabilityLow satisfaction, high stabilityLow satisfaction, low stability Long term unhappy marriages fall into the third category: low in satisfaction but high in stability. Why Do People Stay? There are various reasons people may choose to stay in an unhappy marriage, divided into "reasons for staying" and "barriers to leaving" (from Heaton & Albrecht, 1991) Reasons to Stay Economic: you may be financially much better off even if you aren't happy in the marriageFamiliarity: even if you aren't truly happy in your marriage, after many years together you may appreciate the stability and routine of lifeBelief that marriage is sacred: your religious commitment to marriage may keep you there. Barriers to Leaving Fear of being single or not being able to find another spouseStigma around divorceInability or doubts about your ability to fend for yourself (e.g., if your spouse is the main earner or handles important household issues and you don't know how you'd cope without them)Not wanting to distress your children by separating (even adult children). How To Make The Most of It Find Positive Reasons to Stay This first point is to do with a change in your mindset, rather than trying to change your circumstances. A research study from 2004[ii] interviewed unhappy couples about why they stay together. They found that couples whose only reasons to stay together were barriers to leaving were much more likely to end up divorced. So you need to try and find positive reasons to stay together, rather than thinking you have no choice. For example, wanting to stay in the marriage because you believe that God values your marriage and values your efforts to stay together is a better way of thinking about things than only staying together because you believe divorce is sinful. That’s putting a more positive slant on the reason for staying. This slight shift can have a big impact. It's Better Than Divorce Couples may be able to take comfort from the fact that staying together is often better for you than divorce. A research study from 2002[iii] found that, even in unhappily married couples, divorce generally did not increase their levels of happiness or life satisfaction. So sticking together and working on issues is often the best thing to do. Don't Disengage Couples in an unhappy marriage often end up withdrawing away from each other. This leads to a breakdown in communication that can ultimately make divorce much more likely[iv]. Our recommendation is that you try to keep talking and engaging with each other even if you are unhappy. Even if you cannot manage to be develop a lot of closeness, just remaining friendly and respectful will make the situation much more bearable[v]. Accept Who Your Spouse Is Spouses in long-term unhappy marriages should try to accept the person their spouse is, rather than trying to change them or remaining bitter about what they wish their spouse was like. Trying to change who your spouse is often ends in resentment and conflict. On the other hand accepting and supporting who they are can improve how you relate to them, as well as freeing you from the "responsibility" of who they are and what they do. Personal Growth Another effective strategy is instead of trying to change your spouse,

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#18

Four Reasons Why You Must Do Pre-Marital Coaching

April 21, 2015

My own daughter asked me today, “So, why do people do pre-marital counseling?” She’s 13. I’m glad she’s asking. You are likely wondering the same thing if you're reading this and so I’d like to make a case for it. Not just for my own benefit – I do offer pre-marital counseling/coaching – but for your sake especially. You see, it does help. A lot. Is Pre-Marital Counseling Worth It? One meta-analytic research review we looked into showed that the mean effect size for premarital programs was 0.80. In plain English, this means that the average person participating in a program was significantly more better off afterwards than 70% of the people who did not participate. Okay, that's still not plain English... In simpler terms, most people benefit greatly from Pre-Marital Counseling. Marriage is a big thing. It’s not to be entered into lightly. Verlynda and I hope to build a house in the near future and part of what we will do is sit down and figure out exactly what it is going to take to complete the project. We’re doing that because we want to count the cost before we start and be sure of a positive outcome. Pre-marital counseling is an opportunity to count the cost before you get into marriage and help secure a positive outcome. It is a time to really take stock of what you’re going to be building for the rest of your life. You have the chance to learn about the resources you’ll need to finish what you are starting. You'll gather essential resources and information like communication skills, shared values, shared vision for your future, shared dreams, goals and so on. Verlynda and I actually had very, very little pre-marital counseling. But I am so thankful for what we did have as I did some major learning about how to be the husband I needed to be. It would have been very painful for me (and more so for Verlynda!) to learn that by trial and error! What Should You Be Looking For in a Pre-Marital Coaching/Counseling Program? There are basically three varieties of programs: Self-directed Therapist-directed Assessment based One study we looked into compared these three and noted that the assessment based programs were the most effective both immediately following the program and 6 months later. This is the approach I use. Rather than being purely something I create extemporaneously, I begin with an assessment to determine strength and growth areas for the couple and follow through with skills training leading from what is revealed from the assessment. We then go on to discuss what each couple feels is most relevant to creating a successful marriage. What Are The Benefits of Pre-Marital Counseling? There are plenty of good reasons. But here are four backed by research from a 2001 article in an academic journal called Family Relations. First, pre-marital counseling slows couples down to foster deliberation. You will be compelled to stop and think seriously about your marriage. You will learn to become explicit about your expectations and beliefs. In fact, you may even discover dynamics that are unacknowledged or unnoticed that lead you to not marry at all. On that note, we found another study that showed that 5-15% of pre-marital coaching resulted in a breakup. That might scare you off, but think about it. Would you rather have the pain of breaking up with your fiancée now? Or would it be easier to dissolve a marriage seven years in? We therapists believe that both the breakups and stronger marriages resulting from pre-marital counseling are success stories. When you’re forced to deliberately clarify your expectations about marriage, you’re given the opportunity to discuss the most crucial (and possibly problematic) areas of your life together. Second, pre-marital coaching or counseling sends a two-fold message to you as a couple: That your marriage, as an institution, matters How your marriage turns out depends on your attitudes and actions

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#20

How to Recover From Betrayal

April 27, 2016

Betrayal is such a ground-shaking event. Probably because it so deeply challenges your beliefs about someone incredibly significant in your life, and that, in turn, challenges your beliefs about yourself. So: what does the road forward, after betrayal, look like? Unfortunately, betrayal is a journey that every couple goes through at one time or another. It is sometimes something as severe as an affair but other times, it can just be that we’ve let our spouse down in the every-day-living of life. If you’re in this place as either the betrayer or betrayed, you’ll definitely benefit from this article today. If the betrayal in your life is a recent event, the pain you’re experiencing may be so fresh and raw that this information will be difficult for you to process. If that’s the case, after you read this, bookmark this page and come back to it in a little while. Give yourself permission to grieve and hurt and heal. The Three Stages of Recovery from a Marital Betrayal Betrayal is defined as “the perceived violation of an implicit or explicit relationship-relevant norm.”[i] It may not be that you, as a couple, have ever spoken about this “norm”, but the fact is you perceive it to be in place, and when your spouse violates it or crosses that line, you feel violated. When a spouse “knowingly departs from the norms of decency and fairness that are assumed to govern a relationship, thereby causing harm,”[ii] betrayal has taken place. This can be something as simple as secrecy. Sometimes we think that there is no harm if our spouse doesn’t know what we’re doing, but in fact, secrecy is more damaging than most things. I have heard wives of porn-addicts say over and over that the porn use hurt, but it was the secrecy and lies that were the most damaging. “If he lied/hid this, how do I know if I can ever trust him again?” is a question I hear a lot of. The definitions of betrayal (above) may sound rather technical, but don’t let that take away from the severity of the experience. I know, for example, that over half of the spouses who find out their spouse has had a secret porn addiction develop most of the symptoms of PTSD. Betrayal can be a very, very traumatic experience. What makes is even more difficult is that betrayal is something we don’t want to disclose to our support network – really, it would be a betrayal for them too – and so we carry it alone. How can a marriage recover from something like this? Recovery from a marital betrayal is a process that goes through three stages.[iii] In the First Stage couples must grapple with the effects of the betrayal on themselves and the relationship. This is the Impact Stage of Recovery, and it is characterized by the following responses: The betrayed spouse realizes that important assumptions about their marriage have been disrupted.[iv] The betrayed spouse must process various violated assumptions including: (1) “beliefs that one’s spouse can be trusted, (2) that the relationship is safe, (3) that one can predict how one’s spouse will behave, (4) that one has reasonable control over one’s own relationship, and so on”[v] Injured spouses no longer can trust their assumptions to guide their daily interactions or to predict future events.[vi] During the impact stage, the injured spouse often withdraws from the relationship to protect themselves. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it may help the betrayer seek proper help and recovery as they grasp the significance of what they have done. Betrayal has a huge impact on a relationship, and the betrayed spouse’s ability to think about their marriage as well as their personal life. Everything they thought was truth, has been turned upside down. The effect is traumatic. To move forward, both partners must move through the next two stages of recovery. Stage Two is called the Meaning Stage of Recovery in which the injured spouse seeks to “discover why the betrayal occurred in order to make the partn...

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