• Phebe Brako-Owusu, LMFT

Marriage Monday: Fighting Fair


I'm a firm believer that the best marriages are built on friendship. Your relationship should be a safe haven and your partner should ideally be someone with whom you can be yourself, and who will accept you for all your quirks and flaws. Vulnerability is a key ingredient in a relationship, but it takes time to learn how to open up to your partner. It is a gradual process because for some people, being vulnerable brings up traumatic experiences where one’s vulnerability has been taken for granted. Be gentle with yourself and start small. Tell your partner something about yourself that you haven’t told anyone else before. Eventually you get more comfortable sharing things with each other that nobody else knows about—and those are the moments when true intimacy will begin to flourish between two people who love each other as much as they love themselves!

 

On the other hand, if your partner is being vulnerable with you, be in the moment, allow them to be in their feels, validate their fears and insecurities and just listen. You create a conducive environment in your relation to be truth and honest without fear of being judged or misunderstood. Listening is the most important part of communication, in a relationship. It makes sense that listening is also the most important part of a marriage—and life too! Listening to your partner is an act of love and respect. Listening helps both of you to grow as a couple and as individuals. If you want to become better at listening, try this exercise: Make sure both partners start from an open-minded place by asking questions instead of giving advice or telling them what they should do or thinking about how you would feel if someone else did something similar to what they're describing (or even worse!). Then just listen!


 

Finally, remember why you fell in love. I remember meeting a lady who said "The reason I am married is because of who my husband is and what he stands for." She talked about remembering when they first met, his kindness and generosity. She explained that he was always willing to help his friends out, even if it meant bending over backwards to do so. As time went on, though, she saw how his generosity could sometimes be taken advantage of by others. It cost him some relationships and friendships, but he grew through the process. For some people he might have changed and not the same person they knew 10 years ago, but at the same time, she explained that she know that deep down inside this guy really does care about other people's feelings - he just sometimes doesn't know how to express those feelings in a way that won't end up costing more than what would've been gained from helping out another human being in need.

It’s a great time to love and be loved. But being in a relationship is not easy—it takes work and commitment on both sides.


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