Later, under stress, negative habits and relationship patterns may become established and be much harder to resolve.
3. The Mature Love Stage
If you can get premarital counseling, either before or during the Power Struggle stage of your relationship, you can avoid much pain and agony, as well as circumvent the formation of bad relationship habits.
With guidance from a trained Relationship Therapist, you can learn an effective way to communicate better, resolve conflicts and deepen intimacy.
In other words, you can leave the Power Struggle behind and move toward Stage 3: Mature Love.
The thing that you will learn in the pursuit of deep and lasting love with your partner is that we don’t get married to be happy. While being happy is nice, actually, marriage has a higher mission. Its mission is to assist each other in transformation.
When we experience conflict it is the opportunity for growth and expansion of our highest selves.
Our spouse becomes our ally in helping us to reach our highest potential as human beings. Your marriage becomes a living laboratory where our deepest wounds are triggered and, hopefully, healed.
The healing, however, can only take place when you have the right tools. Arguing and fighting about or burying and ignoring issues, will not promote healing. In fact, this is more likely to cause even deeper wounding with the person you love most.
What are these tools?
- Deep listening without judgment
- Connection through touch and eye contact
- Curiosity about your partner’s world
- Zero negativity
- Learning and speaking your spouse’s love language
- Creating sacred relationship space
- Mutual goal setting
In an ideal world, we would all have the capacity to stay centered and present in the face of our spouse’s upsetting behaviors.
We would be able to employ these tools easily without emotional reactivity. The truth, however, is that it’s difficult and requires coaching and practice.
John Gottman, PhD, a leading researcher in marital relationships, found that couples who stay married work to keep criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling (refusing to discuss) out of their relationships. He calls these “”The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”.
Indeed, these patterns can become apocalyptic in your relationship, especially when repeated over time. In premarital counseling, you can begin replacing those habits with good, healthy communication patterns including the tools listed above.
Now you know that it’s important to get some help learning and using good communication tools before the wedding. But what are the topics you’ll want to address with your fiance during your marriage preparation? Start with these:
- Shared goals
- Lifestyle Expectations
- sexuality and Intimacy
- Families of Origin
- Religion and Values
- Personality Traits
Couples today face more demands and have less support than ever before.
The typical marriage is complex and includes managing two careers while rearing children without much support from extended family. Gone are the days where Mom and Dad live next door and are available to help in tangible ways.
Parents are likely to still be young and vital enough to be working, traveling and pursuing their own interests. It is more necessary than ever to build a strong foundation with your spouse that will get you through the stresses and strains of modern life.