Written by Seanne Emerton
My current “go to expert” in the field of marriage therapy and who I look to for training and evidence based interventions as I work with couples is Dr. John M. Gottman. He’s worked with thousands of couples and has done great research, resulting in books and
resources to help not only couples but therapists as well. Two of my favorite books he’s written are “10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage” and “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.”
I love to use many of his checklists and one of my favorite is the Gottman Marital Poop Detector.
It includes things like:
• I have been irritable lately.
• I have been feeling emotionally distant.
• There has been a lot of tension between us.
• I find myself wanting to be somewhere else.
• My partner has seemed emotionally unavailable to me.
• I have been emotionally unavailable to my partner.
• We are not making love very much.
• I wish my partner would touch me more often.
• I have been feeling sorry for myself lately.
Who can’t identify with some of these at times in a marriage? It’s normal to feel these every now and then because we’re all human, life happens and stress happens. Yet the key is what we do about it.
If you’re stubborn like me, we often want to turn away from our partners during these times. We can get good at justifying our stance, even going into “martyr land” with it all. But what does this do? It turns us AWAY from our partner, precisely when we really need to move TOWARD him.
So…take a deep breath, swallow your pride and take positive action by doing something like:
- First, assertively and calmly speaking your feelings…i.e. “I feel______and I
- Acting glad to see your partner at the end of the day
- Remembering what attracted you to him in the first place.
- Doing something fun with him, (yes, even if you have to make yourself.)
- Genuinely showing interest in him.
- Showing solidarity and an attitude of “let’s figure this out” together.
- Listen FIRST
- Stay non-defensive…(yes, that’s a hard one, at least for me.)
Keep your focus on the Greater Good by choosing to Go Toward. Your choice can make or break a marriage over time.
I’m not suggesting you ignore issues. But they can be better addressed when you are going toward vs. away from each other. Remember there are many good therapists who can help you resolve issues and master these “marriage hygiene” skills. It’s better to be smart and
consult early rather than later. I have lots of couples who come in for a “check up”, just like their regular dental check up’s. It’s worth the investment.