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Archive for March, 2013

images[2]In my personal life, as well as in my twelve years as a couples therapist, I’ve seen a great many marriages crumble and die, including quite a few that at one point appeared to be “made in heaven.”  I’ve also seen quite a few that seem to work, against all odds.   The most solid couples I have seen, stand strong on a tripod of interconnected principles: Role Agreement, Formation of a joint culture, and Realistic Expectations.

  • Role Agreement:  Each partner knows his or her role in the      marriage (responsibilities vis a vis the household, children, and      providing of income).  Each partner      has agreed upon how chores and finances will be handled between them.
  • Formation of a Joint Culture:   This is huge.  Regardless of each partner’s ethnicity      and culture of origin, there must be a joint      culture in the marriage made up in part of mutual interests or values,      for examples, a shared sense of humor, ideas about socializing, living      situation and parenting.  Before      going into any marriage, you want to agree on how big a role religion will      play in the one-day-family.  How      will we raise the children, how connected to extended family will we      be?  The joint culture can and      should include traditions that the partners bring from their families of      origin, creating a sense of two histories flowing into one.
  • Realistic Expectations:   This means both partners went into the      marriage knowing who the other is and neither partner expects the other to      change in terms of personality or lifestyle.  For example, you will never convert a      quiet homebody into a wild partier.       Also important are realistic expectations about sex.  The odds of a partner’s libido      increasing over the years are fairly slim. Partners should also have realistic      expectations of one another in terms of the balance of autonomy and togetherness      within the marriage.

Based on my professional and personal observations, if a couple is successful on these three points, the spouses will be able to function together as teammates rather than opponents; the marriage itself will be resilient as well as satisfying.

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