by Debbie Fleet and Bary Fleet
Lacking strong social connections is as detrimental to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, being obese or being inactive.
There are plenty incentives to maintaining a healthy marriage. Aside from being one of the strongest of all social connections, a healthy marriage is a predictor of happiness, sexual satisfaction, income and mental health. A good marriage helps us fight illness by calming the cardiovascular system and fostering stronger immune functioning. It also is a better predictor of healthy aging than having a low cholesterol level.
Getting married isn’t difficult, but staying happily married can be, especially when that cute idiosyncrasy turns into an annoying habit. It takes work to maintain a healthy marriage, but specific strategies and techniques can help couples negotiate the rocky patches.
Four behaviors guarantee a doomed relationship: criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling. Strategies exist to help partners set realistic expectations and get more of what they want from their partner. For instance, during a fight, it is helpful to stop and think about what we want for our partner, instead of fixating solely on what we want from them.
Problems don’t arise because of what we talk about; they arise because of how we talk about them. There are ways to “fight fair”, using the conversation to grow closer instead of creating a wedge that drives each other further apart.
In a healthy relationship, a marital Bill of Rights includes seven specific behaviors that each party has a right to. For example, everyone has the right to their partner’s attention and willingness to try to work out the differences. If these essentials are lacking, techniques can be learned to improve upon them.
Marriages can be made in heaven yet can be hellish if we aren’t using these important guidelines. Reflect on where you are in your relationships and resolve to deepen what you already have. To learn how, join Debbie and Bary Fleet for an informative workshop from 6 to 8 p.m., February 26, at the 401 Café, located at 100 Fortin Road, Kingston. The cost is $30 per person and $40 per couple. How do readers get tickets? We need that information.
Debbie Fleet, LICSW, has years of experience as an independently licensed clinical social worker, working in larger agencies, as well as having her own private practice in Warwick. Dr. Bary Fleet has spent years as a seasoned pastoral counselor, with his own private practice.