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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and have lived in and around Palo Alto since 1969. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background i...  (More)

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The Grass is Greener Where You Water It

Uploaded: May 10, 2015
I saw this quote at the Y, and thought it is so fitting for relationships.

It is up to us to water the grass within our relationship. Here are several suggestions:

- Giving to our beloved in his or her Love Language (Quality Time, Touch, Acts of Service, Gifts, Words of Affirmation). If you don't know what each of your Love Languages are go to: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/ to take the quiz. You can either give them your email or not.
- Getting off our devices by 8 or 9 PM (or earlier) to spend time together.
- Making eye contact each day while we talk about our day, what we've been thinking about, what we might need or want from one another.
- Going to bed together at least three nights a week.
- Doing some chores together.
- Appreciating and sharing gratitude about one another every day.
- Holding hands, hugging, kissing, making love, having wild sex.
- Bringing coffee in bed, making time for each other to exercise.
- Giving a small, medium or large gift.
- Having friends that nurture you and are part of your emotional support (but don't become your primary emotional support).

Sometimes a new person causes us to think the grass is greener outside of our marriage. And maybe it is. Often it is not.

New people cause chemicals in our brain to engage and see him or her with rose-colored glasses, and truly we are not able to make a good judgment call. If you are in an abusive relationship, that's another, different category than what I'm talking about here.

Most marriage issues can be worked through with an excellent marriage counselor. Even when you have little hope. Keep in mind that Individual counseling leads to divorce much more often than couples counseling unless the individual clearly states that he or she wants to work on the marriage, and the counseling is focused on that.

So water your relationship freely: Don't worry about the drought; this is water you have to use at will. Please practice the suggestions above for a month and see how your relationship is at that point. Let me know.

Comments

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Skeptic, a resident of Community Center,
on May 10, 2015 at 8:17 am

You advice is great for couples that are doing ok. But to say that most issues can be worked out with a marriage counselor is suspicious. What scientific proof can you offer? Most research on couples counseling that I've read says the opposite, that its unlikely to work.

This therapist estimates 5% can work it out:
Web Link


Thoughts? Research?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by 0 for 5, a resident of Jackson Park,
on May 13, 2015 at 2:23 pm

I would have to lend my totally unscientific personal observations to this: I've known 5 couples over the years who went to couple's therapy. All are now divorced. I've always considered the stop at the therapists office to be a rest stop before the lawyer's office.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on May 19, 2015 at 10:57 am

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Thanks for both of your comments. Part of the issue is that most couples wait six years before seeking help. Marriage counseling can be done before there are problems (as we would maintain our cars, our bodies, our homes). The couple has to have the will to work through it. From my experience, that is the main criteria.

Most people come into marriage counseling with one of three plans:
1. Work it out (i.e., have the will)
2. Not sure whether to stay or leave (then our job is to work with them so they make their own decision)
3. One person has already decided to leave and is coming to marriage counseling to "show an effort" or to "drop off" the partner they are leaving in therapy.

I don't think anyone has THE numbers, because many therapists work alone. I am sharing what I know from our group of therapists.

Working through issues doesn't always mean agreeing, but finding ways to work together anyway -- for the good of the marriage. A good marriage doesn't necessarily mean thinking alike, but thinking together.


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