Every couple that gets married has the desire at first at least to create a successful marriage but unfortunately some fail to do so and later wonder what happened to their marriage. To help understand common mistakes couples make in their marriage and what couples can do to create a successful marriage, I have interviewed therapist Steve Moore LMFT.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I have been licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist in California since 1987. Throughout the past 23 years I have seen clients in private practice with a variety of presenting problems, ranging from substance abuse and addiction to depression and work-related issues. However, I specialize in working with couples and partners on their relationships.”
“I consider my approach to be fairly atypical. For the past 12 years, I have incorporated a number of alternative modalities into my work, including Reiki (energy healing) and shamanism when these approaches are useful for clients. My greatest skill is my ability to meet my clients “where they are,” without judgment, and my work with alternative approaches has taught me that one of the most important roles I play in my client’s lives is as “teacher,” helping them to find their own answers and assisting them in finding their own truth and place of wholeness. For many clients this can be both an extraordinary and painful experience — but well worth the effort.”
“I have been married to the same woman for 26 years and my own successful relationship has also been a tremendous teacher for me in terms of my work with couples.”
What are some common mistakes couples make when creating a successful marriage?
“Without a doubt, one of the common problems in any relationship is poor communication skills and/or a complete lack of communication. Such problems arise for a variety of different reasons including each partner’s background and the “baggage” they bring to the relationship from their own family of origin. It is very common for couples to try to recreate their parents’ relationship regardless of how dysfunctional that relationship may have been. Of course, this is not a conscious intent, but it manifests when a person has not dealt with issues from his/her family of origin and these issues become more pronounced when the couple faces (inevitable) adversity.”
What type of impact can those mistakes have on a marriage?
“When couples meet and go through the courtship, they are usually motivated by surface attractions, sexual desire and a typically unrealistic image of the beloved. Of course, this unrealistic image is very difficult to maintain over time- one because we all grow older and two, because marriage is not only a sexual union, it is also a financial partnership, a child-rearing partnership, a career partnership, etc. Partners’ lack of agreement on these fundamentals will inevitably lead to issues in the relationship later on, when sexual desire and romance tend to wane. I should note that happy, healthy sexual relations in long-term relationships are also critically dependent upon healthy communication and the trust that develops as a result.”
How can a couple create a successful marriage?
“To create a happy long-term relationship, it is extremely important for the couple in therapy to once again get to know each other ‘” a marriage “reality check” if you will. Within this process the therapist’s role is to create a safe space in which honest communication can take place about each individual’s hopes, dreams, values and motivations, individually and as part of the couple. Through this process, it is also the therapist’s job to help each partner work through the very different ways men and women communicate.”
“I often see a situation in which a woman talks with her husband about a problem she is experiencing and his response is to offer a “solution” to quickly “fix the problem” and move on. Women frequently feel denigrated by this common type of interaction, because it feels as though he is trying to be smarter or somehow the more logical of the two. What she really wants is to be heard and have her feelings validated.”
“So in working through relationship issues in this way, a therapist helps the couple to “re-train” their learned modes of communication and behavior, creating a safe place for both to listen and be heard. This is “practice” ‘” very much like meditation and is learned by each partner throughout the therapeutic process.”
“Fundamentally, the success of any marriage will depend upon whether the partners are people who see the relationship as an invitation to become more conscious, and have the motivation to alter behaviors that are not working. Marriage is an opportunity to see a mirror of oneself and to learn to love oneself and partner unconditionally. In other words, if there is something about my partner I don’t like, it is often because I am seeing a reflection of something in myself I need to change. Marriage, at its best is not fragile but dynamic; a fluid relationship that encourages both partners to become stronger, healthier, happier individuals.”
“Since the middle of the last century, marriage has shifted from a mutual dependency to a spiritual partnership. We honor marriage because of its gift to us as a beautiful method of discovering ourselves in the eyes of another. So successful marriages are not created; they happen when the partners are authentic [honest] and are able to express their love for themselves and each other. Differences of opinion are a vital component of a loving relationship and can foster creativity and a unique and powerful expression of synergy.”
“Finally, there are some marriages that truly do need to end due to a lack of commitment to authenticity. When this is the case, the therapeutic process makes this abundantly clear fairly quickly. Very different skills are required to find a potential life partner, begin a relationship, maintain a relationship and end a relationship that is no longer functional. It is rare to find someone who is adept at all three without the aid of therapy or other kind of intervention at some point in the relationship.”
What type of professional help is available for a couple that has the desire to create a successful marriage but is having a difficult time doing so?
“There is a plethora of licensed therapists in most localities as well as life coaches and other healers. I think it is vital to find someone who can see the issues clearly and doesn’t have an agenda or bias related to relationships. Surprisingly, many couples spend more time choosing the color of their new car’s interior than investigating their preferences in a therapist. A good therapeutic relationship will be one in which both partners feel that they are being heard.”
“I love to work with couples that want to discover themselves and are able to see their marriage as a way to become more aware of whom they are ‘”to discover more of themselves. We all have this capacity. Through my years of work with couples and individuals I have come to understand that we human beings are infinite awareness having a human experience. Coming to know that about ourselves as individuals and in our intimate relationships is the ultimate gift of the universe and the birthright of every man and woman on the planet.”
Thank you Steve for doing the interview on creating a successful marriage. For more information on Steve Moore or his work you can check out his website on http://www.stevemoorecounseling.com.
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