In the concluding discussion to an important Australian research review paper Robyn Parker (Why marriages last: A discussion of the literature. Australian Institute of Family Studies Research Paper Number 28, July 2002) makes some important comments about good quality marriages:
“Long and satisfying marriages are often more complex than those that might be called 'survivor marriages' in which spouses are resigned to staying together…”
“Couples in enduring marriages report the same sorts of troubles and difficulties as other couples and point out aspects of their own marriages that are less than ideal…”
"In a broad sense, the distinguishing feature of these relationships is the sense and primacy of 'coupleness': that both spouses are committed to nurturing and sustaining the marriage, and both have the goodwill necessary to learn and engage in the behaviours that keep alive the emotional connection that brought them together in the first place.”
As we work with couples that are “just starting out”, we need to be aware that the goal of staying together might be attractive and valued but it is also very daunting for many couples.
It would be helpful to encourage couples to understand that successful couples DO have their troubles and difficulties, and their survival depends on something that is complex and hard to define, BUT that mutual goodwill - the partners working together to nuture and sustain their “coupleness” - is one of the key processes in their survival. This is an emotional connection that most couples already possess, but they need to make sure that they maintain and express it, and allow it to develop and increase over time and new circumstances.
This is a simple idea, but one that when acted upon right from the outset, consistently and with commitment, is highly likely to lead to the kind of helpful and satisfying complexity that can be recognised as a quality in long-term and satisfying marriages.
#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.
For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or support with a couple or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich