Would You Risk Choosing A Better Marriage?
How does your partner typically feel when something you've said
causes disagreement? Is your mate annoyed, angry, hurt, or deeply
discouraged? Maybe what you were really communicating was your need
to achieve power or control. Maybe you intended to "keep the peace"
by hiding your true feelings. Instead you've forfeited an opportunity
for genuine intimacy.
"We shared the same house, and that was about it," is how Nate sums up
his marriage to Lois. "I thought about divorce constantly."
"We'd become strangers," Lois agrees. "After years of being together,
to start believing you're wrong for each other is devastating."
Wisconsin psychologist Jon Carlson describes a healthy marriage as a
safe environment in which partners are equal or congruent -- free to
be themselves, express their feelings, fortify their self-esteem, and,
in turn, nourish their relationship. "Each partner plays an important
role in creating an atmosphere of love and support, or in sustaining
marital conflict," he asserts. "If either partner changes to a more
effective pattern of behavior, the other has to respond differently.
A good marriage begins with you!"
In the re-release of their book, TIME FOR A BETTER MARRIAGE:
TRAINING IN MARRIAGE ENRICHMENT, Dr. Carlson and co-author
Dr. Don Dinkmeyer, Sr. point out that the skills necessary for
creating and sustaining a happy marriage are learned. "Unfortunately
many of these skills were never taught to us. So all of us have blind
spots and skill deficits."
Overcoming these deficits takes effort, patience, and the courage
to take risks -- all of which can be achieved in small, daily steps.
TIME FOR A BETTER MARRIAGE outlines a wealth of changes
couples can make to correct negative interactions, take responsibility
for their choices, and develop greater empathy and understanding for
each other. "Congruent partners," the authors explain, "focus on
the potential and resources in their relationship instead of the
Important choice-making skills for an equal marriage include:
- Learning to identify the instant when you have the possibility to choose.
- Assessing your alternatives and the potential gains and drawbacks of each.
- Assuming responsibility for making your choice work.
- Remembering that a choice can be changed.
Among the powerful positive activities this candid guide offers are
developing a marriage mission statement and participating in a Daily
Dialogue, Encouragement Meetings, and Marriage Meetings. Handy
tear-out Daily Focus Cards help partners apply new skills as they
chart their progress and evaluate their current level of satisfaction
on various marital issues.
Carlson and Dinkmeyer acknowledge that potential sources of marital
conflict are inevitable and unlimited. "Many marriages that seem
terminally incompatible can be transformed into satisfying relationships
when partners learn to define conflict as challenge requiring creative
compromise," they insist. "A healthy, satisfying relationship is never
JON CARLSON, Psy.D., is a psychologist in Geneva, Wisconsin, and
professor at Governors State University in Illinois.
DON DINKMEYER, Sr., Ph.D. (deceased), was a psychologist and co-author
of the popular book Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP
TIME FOR A BETTER MARRIAGE is available from Internet
booksellers and local bookstores or directly from Impact Publishers at
1-800-246-7228 or www.impactpublishers.com.
TIME FOR A BETTER MARRIAGE: Training in Marriage Enrichment
by Jon Carlson, Psy.D., and Don Dinkmeyer, Sr., Ph.D.
144 pages -- Trade paperback -- ISBN: 1-886230-46-3
$15.95 -- November 2002