February 13, 2007

MARRIAGE: THERE'S NOTHING LIKE IT!

THE "R.U.S.T.I.C." APPROACH TO MARRIAGE


On May 22nd, 2010, Melissa married her best friend, John. She was also kind to pose at the reception while sporting her Stooltime Counseling ball cap. Thanks, Melissa! Congratulations to you and John!


What motivates people to get married? From a psychological viewpoint, perhaps the fear of death prompts a man and a woman to tie the knot. To get married and have kids are ways to cheat death. It is symbolic of feeling immortal because the children are a way of keeping the family gene pool alive. If that sounds like magical thinking, there is the religious aspect of getting married to consider. Marriage is more than an institution. Some religions call it a sacrament. It is definitely a lot of work! It takes effort, persistence and love to keep a marriage alive and breathing. It is not something to take for granted lest we lose sight of its meaning and significance. The application of the R.U.S.T.I.C. approach to marriage can help guide couples toward a meaningful life together.

R-espect.
U-nderstanding.
S-upport.
T-rust.
I-nterdependence.
C-ommunication.


It is sad that about one of two marriages results in divorce. There are many reasons for it:

Some people are not the marrying kind, but still choose to marry for any number of reasons.

We live in a "throw-away" society. This means we throw-away what does not work anymore.

No-Fault divorces. No one is responsible for anything that happens in the marriage.

Abuse of any kind by either partner.

When a couple does more planning for their wedding day than for their marriage.

It is more fruitful to discuss some of the thoughts, feelings and behaviors (three-legged stool metaphor) that contribute to a happy marriage. By way of acronym, they are:

R.U.S.T.I.C.

RESPECT: When I hear the word, respect, I think about Aretha Franklin's song by the same name. As it relates to marriage, I think about two people who hold each other in high esteem. In order to respect our better half, we need to respect ourselves first. Based on the premise, "Love thy neighbor as thyself," if we disrespect ourselves, who wants us to do them any favors? Ideally, mutual respect between spouses sets the stage for a positive relationship, one where good times are shared and conflict is managed.

UNDERSTANDING: Like mutual respect, understanding needs to be mutual. Talking and listening to each other facilitates understanding. Again, we need to understand who we are before we can understand who we married. Who am I? What do I need? What does my spouse need? How can we satisfy each other's needs?

SUPPORT: This exists on many levels. Different types of support include emotional, physical, spiritual, mental, financial. Some people ask why the Three-Legged Stool metaphor (thoughts, feelings, behaviors) doesn't include a Spiritual leg? I say, "Read between the legs. It's there!"

TRUST: This, too, occurs on many levels. A husband may trust his wife to handle the finances, but may not trust her to mow the lawn. Likewise, the wife may trust her husband to be a good male role model for their children, but may not trust him to buy her a dress that she, too, would like. On a serious level, a betrayal of trust can do harm to a marriage. It is difficult to calculate the risk involved in pursuing the thrill of an extra-marital affair. There are other ways to seek a thrill. An affair is always a bad decision for couples who want to trust each other on an intimate level.

INTERDEPENDENCE: Each person has an "INDIVIDUAL" identity, and as a couple, a "WE" identity. Picture a tree. The "WE" part is the trunk of the tree, the foundation. Each person is one branch on the tree. God can be the "roots" or line of nourishment. All three DEPEND on each other to be a tree. This is INTERDEPENDENCE a la the "tree" metaphor. Each of us brings to the marriage our own interests, experiences and values as a way to enrich it. There is a covenant to not only be ourselves, but to be a couple who needs, supports and relies on each other. This is affirmed when both people think, feel and act in dependable ways.

COMMUNICATION: Assertive communication (acknowledging and validating each other's thoughts, feelings, actions) is the ideal. It requires actively listening to each other during good times and bad. This skill compliments problem solving during times of conflict. We are born with two ears and one mouth. This means it is twice as important to listen as it is to talk!

Thanks to Robert Luzenski who taught me the phrase, "Marriage: There's Nothing Like It!"

Written by,
Mark S. Rogers, LPC.
Licensed Professional Counselor
(10/03)

Thanks for supporting Stooltime Counseling, Rob!
Katie & Jason, you rock! Thank you, and congratulations on your wedding day, 10-5-12. I appreciate your support!

Congratulations to Kelly and Jeff, who became man and wife in Breckenridge, Colorado on September 20th, 2014. In this picture, they were kind enough to pose for a picture during their wedding reception to publically show their support for Stooltime Counseling. Thank you very much!

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