10 Zappers to Marital Satisfaction
As a child, I used to wonder what happened to the couple
after they walked off into the sunset at the end of a Hollywood
movie. As an adult, I know that sunset strolls and happy endings
take lots of hard work and planning. Here are 10 life situations
couples may face...post credit roll...and some ideas about how to
keep the music playing!
- Fighting Fatigue: Careers, children, caring for aging
parents and on it goes. Life’s responsibilities take every
ounce of creative energy that we have, often short-changing our
couple time. Five fatigue busters: Good nutrition, proper rest,
adequate exercise, recharging social times as a couple and grounding
- The Battle of the Budget: Stretching finances, unforeseen
expenses, different perspectives on money and power differentials
can all cause feelings of hurt and insecurity. Be responsible
and be fair. If necessary, involve an objective third party to
help establish and monitor a mutually workable budget.
- Failure to Honour: Our primary relationships are about
as healthy as we are. Shaky self esteem, poor physical fitness,
depression, untreated illness and unrealistic expectations can
sometimes lead to poor coping mechanisms like addictions and even
affairs. We have the right and the responsibility to take good
care of ourselves, our partner and our relationship. As needed,
seek the best medical and emotional care that is available.
- Friendly Invasions: As an adult, your new, chosen family
needs to be your first priority and demands your strongest loyalty.
Does your spouse take second place to other people in your life?
Who gets your time, your energy and therefore your respect? A
healthy and undivided home, surrounded by appropriate boundaries,
allows for the greatest enjoyment of friends and extended family
- Words that Wound: While differing opinions are necessary
in healthy relationships, criticism, hostile humor, avoidance
and dismissal will surely poison even the most committed unions.
As you talk to or about your spouse are you building strong connections
through your words, your facial expressions and your body language
or demolishing your own happiness? Do yourself a favor, love your
- Erogenous error messages: Unrealistic expectations,
previous abuse and lack of creativity can stifle even the most
ardent of lovers, causing distress, disappointment and disconnect.
Good sex happens when two people discover ways of being intimate
that feel mutually satisfying and safe. Great sex is assured,
over a lifetime together, when we are open to really knowing and
being known by our partner. Talk and listen more about what both
of you are feeling, thinking and wanting in this important area
of your relationship, the doing will follow.
- Right on time: Like clockwork, life brings change…kids,
careers, mortgages and menopause. You’re in this together.
Do your homework, make healthy choices and maximize couple time
to draw on the resources you both bring.
- Losses and Grief: Loved ones, job or home. Often there
are people and things in our lives that we weren’t quite
ready to let go of, leaving us bereft, confused and in pain. Give
the gift of unhurried listening to your partner. Help them hold
their questions and their pain. Don’t try to fix them, just
love them with your gentle, healing presence.
- Mediocrity and More of the same: Forgetting to invest,
to be playful and spontaneous. Take turns being creative. Celebrate
every chance you get! Meet at unusual times and places, an afternoon
matinee or an unscheduled coffee break. Go to bed earlier as often
as possible. Bring home a balloon, a card, a flower, a bag of
your buddy’s favorite candy. Give coupons for backrubs and
- Blast from the past: Previous wounding, unresolved
conflict, unforgiveneness. Time seldom heals all wounds. Sometimes
our best, most intimate selves are held hostage by fear, sadness
and anger over old bruises. Minister to your wounds, expose them
to the light of truth, talk them through, accept what can’t
be changed, change what can. Soothe your soul and be free to invest
new love and joy in yourself and your partner.
Everything we do or neglect to do registers on the barometer
of our love life. While we often can’t predict stormy weather,
we have more control over the amount of sunshine in our relationship
than we think. Applied logic, humor and liberal doses of good will
support life-affirming connection with our partner and remind us
that we’re not alone. How are you doing? What do you need
to change individually or together to maximize intimacy and minimize
Two basic couple check-in questions: “How are we
doing? “What do you need from me right now?” Ask them
regularly and respond sincerely. We both have primal needs to feel
connected, accepted and loved. Times of playfulness and spontaneity
are just as important as times spent together for stillness and
healing. Above all make regular deposits of good will in your relationship
account through kind and affirming words and actions. You’ll
need the accumulated collateral when life threatens to drain your