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14" YouTube video provides perspective on making three
wise courtship choices. The video mentions eight
self-improvement lessons in this site - I've reduced
that to seven:
This is one of a
seriesof articles in
self-improvement Lesson 4 - optimize your
relationships. In these articles,
marriage means a committed primary
relationship between two adults.
Primary means the relationship is consistently preferred
among all others. Divorce means
the psychological ending of primary commitment by one or both mates. It may or may not mean
the legal dissolution of marital responsibilities.
This article provides...
four reasons most U.S.
(and other?) couples divorce psychologically or legally, and...
13 practical options for
protecting your primary relationship;
This article assumes you're familiar with...
to this nonprofit Web site and the
Try saying out loud what a relationship is.Thensay how relationships form, and how they end. Then
compare your ideas to these:
Arelationshipexists when someone feels that one or both people are
"significantly affected" by the existence, values, and/or behaviors of the
other person. Relationships form to
fill a mix of each partner's personal needs - i.e. to reduce significant
emotional, physical, and/or spiritual discomforts.
Do you agree? Relationships vary from superficial and temporary to primary
"Commitment" is a conscious decision to
invest time and energy in something of value.
Consistently giving high priority to someone or something
major stress indicates significant
commitment - or dependence.
In acommitted primary relationship, one or both partners
assign consistently high priority to filling their relationship needs
in stressful situations. That means they want to
rank other things and needs second when necessary, to
protect their relationship.
is many things...
a special evolving emotional -
spiritual - physical relationship,
personal-identity factor ("I
am married, not single"),
a state of mind ("I
an emotional, religious, and
merger of two family trees
in most (all?) mainline religions;
an environmental protection
for children and teens;
a unique source of adult
personal, family, and social ritual and event,
a traditional criteria for
personal and social codes of
moral conduct and values;
a (declining) social permit
for adult intercourse and child conception.
a personal and family status
Can you think of other
definitions of marriage and married?
point: when marriage is being discussed, it
may be useful to define which of these meanings is the
current topic to avoid misunderstandings.
is a voluntary religious and/or spiritual, social, legal, (usually) sexual, long-term,
relationship between two
to the other hoping to fill psychological, physical, mental, and spiritual
needs. A "good
or healthy marriage" is one that fills enough of each partner's needs "well
enough," in their respective opinions. What needs?
Common Primary-relationship Needs
A need is an urge to reduce
emotional, physical, and/or spiritual discomfort. Though every couple and
culture is unique, typical mates seek to satisfy some universal needs. If you are or were in a
committed primary relationship, see if you've experienced each of these needs.
relationship, I need to
feel genuinely and steadily
- i.e. I need to feel
by you among all your other relationships and priorities;
needed emotionally and physically
by you, but not over-needed (codependence); and...
by you as an equal; and...
you, often enough; and I need...
(vs. agreed with) by you,
often enough; and...
trusted with your
deepest current dreams, fears, shames, doubts, and joys;
And I need...
to trust that you'll always tell
me your truth, and will honor your promises to me; and to feel...
you, as we co-create an interesting, growthful life together; and...
with all my priorities,
wounds, needs, and limitations; and...
encouraged by you
to free my
true Self and discover my
separate enough from you,
so I can have my own friends, activities, goals,
When one or both partners don't get enough of these needs filled often enough,
decays. Lessons 1 thru 4
here offer practical ways mates can fill their primary-relationship (and other) needs
despite significant problems.
This YouTube clip summarizes key partnership needs, and this
worksheet provides a way to assess how well the
needs are met in a primary relationship. Use it after you finish reading
Sociologists estimate that recently, almost half of U.S. legal marriages
fail. Millions more committed couples endure psychological divorce.
Why is this? My research, including listening to hundreds of typical
unhappy mates in my therapy practice since 1981, suggests these...
Psychological and legal divorce begins in courtship, when two needy,
unaware, wounded people decide to commit to each other.
Our dysfunctional society allows one
or both people to unintentionally choose the wrong
person, for unwise
reasons, at the wrong
After the commitment decision, the relationship decays because of...
wounds in one or both partners; and...
four roots combine with public unawareness and indifference to promote
increasing stress after committing. "Stress" means "unfilled needs."
So what can courting and committed couples do
to fill their relationship needs well enough often enough?
Guard against the
four primary stressors above by working at these
1) Study and apply
Lesson 1. Help
each other understand the ancestral [wounds + unawareness]
that stresses most families. Then
yourselves and each other honestly for significant psychological
wounds, and commit to helping each other
any you find. If your partner is significantly wounded, select
from options like these.
At the same time...
and apply Lesson 2. Help each other grow proficient
with effective-communication basics,
skills. Steadily use these together to resolve the inevitable stream of
internal and relationship
conflicts you'll encounter for many years. Evolve strategies to master
relationship triangles as teammates,
not adversaries. Then model and teach these basics, tools, and skills to kids
and other important people in your lives.
3) Use the skills of
digging down periodically
(a) what you each need
from your relationship, and
(b) whether your respective needs are satisfied
enough - specially in the several years following your commitment
vows. As you do this, help each other learn to...
5) Study and apply
Lesson 3. Helpeach other learn and apply healthy grieving basics, and intentionally
relationship and family together.
for and finish any incomplete
mourning together, and teach your young people how to do this.
Become experts on mastering these nine
together.They are the roots of any troubled
7) Help each other stay clear on - and
honor - your personal and shared
Commit to keeping your relationship second to yourrespective integrities
except in emergencies. If you have kids, keep
their welfare third except in emergencies, to protect them from
possible future divorce trauma.
8)Make three wise courtship decisions. When you partners have progressed well on
the seven options above,
you'll be better prepared to choose the right partner, for the right
reason, at the right time. As you decide, discuss these
Q&A items together, and
heed these common
danger signs! If you don't, one or
both of you is probably controlled by a false self. (#1 above).
your commitment vows.
Combine key elements from your marital vows
and your respective relationship needs into a
mission statement that inspires, guides, and refocuses you on what
you want to celebrate together as
a contented old couple. Put the statement where you can see
it every day, affirm or update it on anniversaries, and use it in
stressful times. If you don't, what does that suggest about your
Use and discuss this inventory periodically
to appreciate your relationship strengths and limits, and affirm your
relationship progress together.
13)When you're stymied, use qualified professional help.
Even well-balanced relationships hit
stressful conditions once in a while that are too much to work out
alone. Here, "qualified" means (a) licensed and experienced at marital
therapy, and (b) open to using the prior 12 options. See this
article for perspective.
You just reviewed 13 options for protecting your primary relationship,
starting in courtship. Do they make sense to you? Are you
motivated to work at them now? Is your partner?
This Lesson-4 article proposes...
specific needs typical people try to fill by
committing to a primary relationship
causes of most legal and psychological divorces, and...
13 practical options for people who want to
protect their primary relationship from decay. The options are based on the Lessons in this online