Traverse City Record-Eagle

Body & Soul

October 6, 2012

Joseph Sanok: Make any marriage better

Marriage is really hard work. Weddings tap into the optimism of love and the Hollywood ending. We join couples in their joy and are often inspired when we leave a wedding.

Now that the summer wedding blitz is closing, the autumn of marriage is beginning. Here are some tips that can help your marriage as the summer wedding buzz wears off.

Protect your time

Marriage researcher, John Gottman, talks about a couple's tendency to drift away from one another. He uses the term "parallel lives." It is easy for a couple to drift into being more like roommates than life partners. When you protect your time from overcommitment and things that seem necessary but really aren't you can focus on things that invigorate you as a couple. More information can be found in John Gottman's book, "Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work."

Care deeply about something together

Have you ever volunteered with someone? It is amazing how a kinship develops when you help make the world better. It is easy for couples to care deeply about kids and family and soccer games. Volunteering together outside of your house is a surefire way to build intimacy and connection as a couple.

Build open and honest communication

Even as I write this, I think, "duh." Yet, small secrets and not knowing about the nuances of one another's lives can pull couples apart. Also, minor dishonesty will slowly build into more. In past articles I have discussed boundaries with opposite-sex friends and how those boundaries improve depth in the relationship. Each day we have the opportunity to be more open and honest with our partner to strengthen the relationship.

As you protect your time, care deeply about something, and build better communication, you will see that you improve the dynamic of your marriage away from parallel lives and a little closer to the excitement of your wedding day.

Joseph R. Sanok is a licensed counselor and owner of Mental Wellness Counseling in Traverse City. Check out his website where you will find numerous marriage and relationship resources: www.mentalwellnesscounseling.com.

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