HOW TO PREPARE FOR
YOUR MARITAL COUNSELING
To get ready for marital counseling, to avoid either of you being expected to work on something you don’t want to address, and to make sure you hit the floor running, you would both do well to:
- Write down your hopes for any marital counseling you may do. Make your goals specific, focusing on behavior. List separately any goals you’d want to propose for either of you to work on separately in individual counseling. For marital counseling goals, you might say, for example:
To learn better, pro-marital ways to approach to spending and saving
To make love more often, and to have both of us satisfied physically and emotionally
To set healthier boundaries for our behavior in relating to our parents about privacy
To learn better ways of sharing with each other our hurts and fears
To learn better ways to settle power struggles and disagreements
To establish and live by healthy guidelines for opposite-sex friendships
To work good programs of recovery from addiction & traumatic betrayal/codependency
To become more effective parents, and work more as a team so the kids don’t divide us
(for more possible goals, see the following page)
- When you have both finished, exchange lists. Keep a copy of yours to compare it to the list you get from your spouse. Think and pray about these lists silently for half an hour at least, trying to understand what is hurting and concerning your partner, and what you both might need to do to resolve each concern on each list.
- When you have both finished, and made your peace with the other’s responses, make a new list of things you want to work on together in marital counseling, your mutual goals. Bring the old lists and the new combined list into your first marital session with me. Be prepared to tell me what you’ve already tried to do about these issues, and how much good it did. This way I won’t try to reinvent the wheel for you.
For Personal and Family Integrity mynewlife.com Your Alternative to Managed Care
SIXTEEN GUIDELINES FOR MARRIAGE:
HOW DO WE MEASURE UP?
It is sad and silly that we can get a marriage license without knowing anything about how to be married. Here are some practical guidelines that can serve like a how-to manual for marriage. You might want to send this to a marriage you know that’s in trouble. For yourself, give you and your mate letter grades on each item below. Then ask your mate to do the same, exchange your papers, and allow a couple of days for each of you to digest your mate’s responses. Schedule an hour and a half time without stress or distractions to explain your answers to each other. To keep this sharing free of argument or anger, one or both of you may need to discuss or vent first as needed to a third party who is well married and wants you to be. . . .
- We try to accept and celebrate each other, not control and correct each other.
- We live help and praise to each other freely, out of love and faith, not guilt and fear.
- Living for something beyond ourselves, we love our spouse as we love ourselves.
- We do not lie to each other, or cover up what our partner needs to know.
- In arguments, we seek first to understand, and only after we do, to be understood.
- When we can’t agree, we seek a third opinion together.
- We try both to earn and give trust, but we give forgiveness freely as it benefits us both.
- When we’re wrong, we admit our mistakes, our motives for them, and we make amends.
- We keep our love lively by mutual giving of communication, co-operation, and affection.
- We value and support each other’s friends, family, careers, health, religion, and interests.
- We don’t give to others time, money, or attention needed more by our marriage or children.
- We delegate some responsibilities, but we minimize double standards of rules and privileges.
- To keep our power balanced, the strong one at the time makes the lion’s share of sacrifices.
- Financially, we both appreciate earning, saving, sharing, enjoying life, and living simply.
- We only have eyes for each other, so all our romantic sexual energy goes into our bedroom.
- We apply these guidelines first and foremost to ourselves, and only then to our mates.
Dr. Paul Schmidt is a psychologist life coach with offices in Lexington, Shelbyville and Middletown,