(Let me first say that while this is entitled FOR COUPLES - I mean for it to be read and thought about by YOU. YOU - the individual reading this now - probably one half of a couple. If you find it helpful - please share it with your loved one - or friends. But for now, I am writing this for YOU. Because most often in marriage counseling, the person most people seek to change is their spouse. And that can't happen. You can only change YOU. So for now - read this for YOURSELF - and see if there are some changes YOU might need to make.
I hope it helps. - Jan)

For most of us, our marriage and are our family are our most valued treasures. Are you treating your most valued relationships in a truly cherished way?

Nobody ever plans to mess up their marriage. We don't get married and then CONSCIOUSLY take actions to head for divorce. And yet sadly, everyday - individuals harm and threaten their marriage and their happiness by unconsciously failing to take care of it.

Thoughts on Marriage and Gardening
I've often said (and I'm sure I'm not the only one to think of this) - Marriage is like a Garden. Gardens need tending and care and attention given on a consistent basis to thrive. Gardens take more than just water. Some sun, the right climate, some weeding, some prudent pruning, and sometimes we need to step back to have a good look at the overall garden. Is it balanced? Is it healthy overall?
Am I weeding and watering some areas so much that other parts are neglected and suffering?

In my practice, I see a lot of couples who have not taken care of their relationship. Sometimes they are close to divorce before they ever seek my help. Very sad. Because no one starts out that way - no one intends to neglect their relationship. In fact, couples often pay lots of attention to some aspects of their marriage and family life. They eat meals at home with the kids, they go to their children's events, they attend church together, they have friends over. They may put a lot into providing financially, providing a clean and even beautifully decorated home, putting wonderful home cooked meals on the table. But they still don't stop to look at the real state of their relationship. And sometimes the closeness and intimacy once shared have gone completely to "weeds."

Couples find all kinds of ways to be unhappy in their most cherished relationships. Infidelity is probably the most obvious door to divorce - or at last counseling. But there are all kinds of signs that your marriage may need serious tending.

Take a look at some of these frequently occurring signs of problems:

Don't Go to Bed Together (at same time)? - LOOKING FOR TROUBLE.

Fun with Kids, but No Time Alone Together? - OPENS THE DOOR to TROUBLE.

No regular SEX? Just asking for TROUBLE.

Name calling? Sarcasm? Arguing? Keeping Secrets? "FOLKS, WE GOT TROUBLE - RIGHT HERE IN 'RIVER CITY'!" (Trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with D and that stands for DIVORCE. Ok - my apologies to The Music Man .

Ask YOURSELF these questions- Get really honest about it.
Do you really know what's going on with your partner? How is he/she doing - really?

Are you tuned in with each other? Conversing regularly?

Do you really LISTEN to what your partner says?

Do you have regular - and I mean FREQUENT - dates? For just the two of you?

And a basic -

Are you KIND to the person you live with? Or are you waiting for them to be nicer to you first?

Please - take some time to think about how YOU treat your spouse. Are YOU being the partner you promised to be? Are you loving, honoring and cherishing that person? Think about it.

Maybe taking a look at some of these potential problems can help you now. Make some serious effort to take care of that relationship. Because Divorce is hard. Yes, sometimes it is necessary - but sometimes there was a marriage worth saving that just died out from neglect. And that is so painful - and all concerned .

Treat your partner like your most cherished friend. Treat your relationship - treat your marriage - as the treasure it is. Everyday.
Because relationships are what we treasure most - and it hurts to lose what we hold so dear.

That's all for now. If you want to talk about any of this with me, please give me a call. I'm always glad to help.

Jan Arvin, LPC,
May 2010
(Based on a lot of my earlier talks and writing on relationships.)

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