After you get your Valentine - then what?
February 14, 2009
Paul Beckow M.Sc. R.P.C.
Individual couple and Family Counsellor
Remember when Prince Charming kissed his valentine, the beautiful Sleeping Beauty, then carried her over the palace threshold?
The story ends there. And we’re told they lived “happily ever after.”
Yet notice no one followed the happy couple behind the palace gates to see just how they resolved who does the dishes after dinner or feeds the baby when she’s crying at 2 in the morning?
In real life finding your prince or princess is not the end of the story - it’s the beginning. And the real question is - After you find your Valentine, then what?
From my experience counselling with couples, knowing the challenges that face any couple, here are some tips - six keys to keeping your marriage strong, healthy, and satisfying.
Tip # 1. Learning to make yourself Happy
here is nothing more important in relationship than learning to make your own self happy. It is an art. It begins as you let go of the hope and expectation your partner will make your life turn out and access the wisdom and the resourcefulness within you to look after, and take care of your own well being.
This is a clear life skill and can be learned.
By discovering your own capacity to be satisfied out of life’s simple moments and its predicaments and challenges we are taking care of our selves and taking care of our relationship.
There is nothing more empowering than two people who each know how to look after their well being, and express this satisfaction into the relationship. Rather than trying to get happiness out of the relationship somehow. Even if only one person practices this skill it makes an enormous difference.
Tip # 2. Relationship is an Inside Job
Most people think a relationship is something outside themselves. Our relationship is out there - and we work on it. That’s one view. However consider just as true, a relationship is an “inside job.” In other words a relationship exists within you - in the things you are saying to yourself, what you believe to be true, about the other and the relationship.
What we are thinking in our heads, our story -becomes – no - IS our reality.
Being in relationship is like growing a garden. And your thoughts, decisions, views and stories are the seeds that grow in your garden.
Tend to your garden regularly - by pulling, and clearing any weeds that appear. Let grievances and disempowering stories go and disappear. That way you have fresh soil in which new life can appear.
Tip #3. Take off the gloves
I find it strange that couples frequently communicate when they are most upset or troubled. That is the worst time to communicate.
Just “letting it all hang out” may feel better for the moment, but if your words do harm, they have a big cost.
You don’t create safety in a relationship when you harm another and words, of blame and judgement can hurt.
Communicate difficulties after you‘ve settled down, when you are clearer in mind and body and know better what you really want to express and are connected with your commitment to do no harm.
Tip #4. Think of your spouse as your friend
A relationship includes moments of misunderstandings, conflicts, personal reactions and sensitivities. Given these moments, your partner can begin to feel like an adversary sent to puzzle and bewilder you, to bring trouble and difficulty to your life.
Want to break this pattern? Do it by remembering you began your marriage as friends and you are learning together. Let this awareness of “being their friend” colour your actions, and watch the difference it makes.
Tip #5. Accept Differences, because you have them
You and your partner are very different. Many couples spend a great deal of their time resisting and quarrelling about their differences, trying endlessly to improve, fix, or change the another.
These efforts to change the other produce “protective circles”, a feeling of defensiveness and distance, displacing the experience of intimacy. They are tiring.
Consider this. Part of the spark of a marriage is produced precisely by your differences - and - there is no right way to be.
Think of your differences as being like two sides of a coin. In this view your different ways of being – your different ideas, styles, approaches – support and expand your range of responses as a couple to life.
Make peace with your differences, accept them, even celebrate them – because you have them.
Tip #6. Intimacy is a creative affair
A relationship is a knowing understanding and appreciation of another person’s way of being. This is the solid foundation of a relationship.
Notice however, that if you are going to have appreciation and regard, they don’t just appear on their own. We become lost in the responsibilities, roles, concerns demands of our busy lives.
To have appreciation and regard in your life, it must be consciously searched for, found and expressed, communicated.
In this way, taking this on, relationship becomes a creative affair.
Paul Beckow is a certified individual, marriage, and family therapist. If you have a relationship, personal issue or family concern, he can be reached at 250 721 2477 or contacted through his website at www.paulbeckow.com
For personal or couple counselling, for more information, or to register for a course - please contact Paul Beckow at The Victoria Family Institute.