Marriage – A Core Connection in Marriage Conversation:
“If you cannot tell me three things your partner cherishes about you in 30 seconds, your marriage is marginal.” This challenge was put to some 50 couples who were attending a weekend retreat in the hills above Santa Barbara, California.
Most, tentatively, came up stumped or perhaps guessed at one. Why is this challenge difficult? In our recently published “From Marginal to Magnificent: How to Make your Marriage Sing” we offer six indicators of marginal marriages. Marginal marriages are not necessarily dysfunctional marriages, not necessarily toxic or abusive either. But they are the biggest pipeline for divorce court and the reasons are important to understand.
Something in us easily gives up on our need for intimate connection. Many of us have high tolerance levels for distance. We are comfortable with isolation, comfortable in a strange sort of way with using entertainment, work, shopping or food and/or alcohol addictions to self medicate and so not feel the longing we naturally have for belonging, connecting and sharing. Look around you, check out couples in restaurants, families in church, husbands and wives at weddings. You will not see a lot of genuine connecting going on.
So, I asked the 50 couples to split up and pair up with someone they did not know and who was of “the other gender.”
Then I asked them to spend five minutes each telling that stranger what they cherished about their partner. They wrote it down. Then they rejoined their partners and with the lights dimmed and some soft classical music playing in the background, and sitting back to back I asked them to share those things they cherished about each other.
The feeling in the room changed from a kind of dispassionate seminar to deep resonance. You could feel it as couple after couple reached backward to hold hands, some with tears streaming down their faces. The connections were real but were they sustainable? What would happen when they left the beauty of the retreat center, the safety of a darkened room, the luxury of no children, no laundry, no work day, no bills?
Consciousness in a marriage requires attentiveness, inner work, willingness and the basic tools to make it happen. These are the same disciplines needed to continually cocreate a viable democratic society. Work on your marriage and you’ll make your country a better place to live, and a healthier and safer one for your children.
So name one thing your partner cherishes about you, and, when you have that, think of one thing you cherish about living here, in this country. When you have that, put it in a letter or email and send it, without further comment to your congressman or woman and senator.
Let’s all watch what happens.
Stephen W. Frueh PhD is a coach, consultant, writer and speaker. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 805 338 4286
“Healthy marriages make the world a safer place for children.”
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