Strong Marriage Foundation

In my email newsletter, I recently explored the importance of the marriage foundation. It is important to understand that ALL marriage issues are rooted in a weakened or broken marriage foundation. A strong marriage foundation helps couples endure and thrive during hard times like health issues, job loss, raising children, financial burdens, and relationship conflicts. 

This is Part 2 of a 2-part series explaining the Marriage Foundation. If you have not read Part 1 yet, please do so now. Read PART 1 HERE.

When you experience:

  • Communications issues
  • Anger issues
  • Defensiveness
  • Not enough appreciation
  • Not enough respect
  • A closed partner
  • Not enough sex

These are NOT the issues. These are ways a marriage problem can manifest, or express itself. The problem lies below the surface. What is commonly referred to as marriage problems are just the SURFACE ISSUES.

I have indicated many times that common marriage advice fails because it lacks context and execution. My answer for ALL marriage problems is to build a strong marriage foundation

You may be wondering how I can make such a bold claim. Inevitably, someone will ask about infidelity, abuse, or narcissism. The answer is still YES. A strong marriage foundation can resolve even those issues. The question is whether or not each partner will do the work to build a strong marriage foundation.

As I covered in my email newsletter, and in Part 1 of this series, the marriage foundation consists of three parts:

  1. 1
    The 13 personal needs
  2. 2
    Emotional intelligence skills
  3. 3
    The marriage friendship

It’s one thing to KNOW ABOUT the marriage foundation, it’s totally different to SEE how it works.

In this blog post, I’m going to show you WHY and HOW a strong marriage foundation can improve the quality of your marriage.

Common Marriage Advice Fails

I’m sure you’ve seen or heard common marriage advice. Common examples include going on date nights, spend time in intimate conversations, read a marriage book, and use active listening to communicate better with your partner. The advice is not bad, but it lacks context and execution.

  • WHY do you go on a date night?
  • WHAT do you do on a date night?
  • WHAT do you talk about?
  • WHY spend time in intimate conversation?
  • WHAT do you say?
  • WHY do you say certain things?
  • HOW do you say the difficult things?

These are the questions that point to context and execution.

Proper context is WHY you take an action.

HOW you do it is just as important. That’s what I call the execution.

You are on a date night. The expectations are high. You want it to be a good night. It starts off fine. However, during the course of the night, one or both of you says something that irritates the other. It happens once, twice, and by the third time, the happy mood is gone. Irritation builds and leads to one or both saying things that are aggressive and mean. The night ends with a poor result.

Sound familiar? It doesn’t have to be that way.

Strong Marriage Foundation

Jon and Liz Build a Solid Marriage Foundation

Here’s an example of HOW it works. This is a compilation example of folks who rebuilt their marriage foundation to achieve a happier marriage.

This is a story of Jon and Liz. They have been married for 7 years and have a 4 year-old daughter, Megan. Jon is an auto mechanic and Liz is a mortgage broker. They knew each other for 3 years prior to getting married.

Jon complains that Liz is always trying to change him, doesn’t show him the respect he feels he deserves, and doesn’t give him credit for the things he does.

Liz complains that Jon doesn’t help out enough around the house or with Megan, spends too much time with his friends from work, and he spends too much money on an antique Indian motorcycle he is refurbishing. They’ve tried going on date nights, but they usually end up arguing or complaining.

They’ve tried having intimate conversations, but Jon usually storms out of the room or just stops responding to anything Liz says.

They both read The Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. They report it helped, but didn’t go far enough to help with their issues. His love languages are physical touch and words of affirmation. Her love languages are acts of service and quality time.

They’ve been to a counselor for 6 sessions but stopped seeing her. They stopped seeing the counselor because they felt she cost too much money for the value they were getting. They do report that the counselor helped them to better understand each other, but didn’t do anything to help them with their specific issues.

Jon and Liz were stuck. They felt it. They cared about each other, but found the love slipping away. Life around the house was getting sensitive, like walking on eggshells. They didn’t want to show their problems in front of Megan, but their time together with Megan was not very loving. They started doing more and more thing separately. The path they were on did not bode well for a long-term, happy future together.

One day Liz came across the Happy Marriage Coaching website and talks to Jon about what she read. They both took the Marriage Health Appraisal. Both of their scores indicated moderate issues. They each read the free downloads. They discovered their awareness of what was going on with each other was pretty shallow.

They knew something was missing from the marriage. They were willing to try something different. They did the initial one-on-one 45-minute call. After that call they decided to continue with several more coaching sessions. They liked that the coaching included the online course Reignite the Love.

After a couple short weeks, Jon and Liz started talking with each other. Really talking with one another.

Jon Learns to Love Liz Like They Were Dating

Jon discovered there was so much more to Liz than he ever imagined. There were times he described it as a light bulb turning on and revealing details he never knew existed about Liz. What he was learning made him want to learn more. He started to "dig" Liz again, like when they were dating. These new revelations gave Jon plenty to talk about with Liz.

For example, he thought he knew what Liz needed. He was shocked at what he discovered. He discovered she had other needs he didn’t know about. Liz likes being in her job because of how it made her feel successful. She liked being the main source of income for the family. She likes the feeling, a human need, of significance. She was getting significance for doing good work at the office, but she wasn’t getting significance at home from Jon. Learning this shook Jon to his core. He realized he had to step up his game. This was just one of several needs he wasn’t aware of.

Happy Couple

Jon was always upset when Liz told him he wasn’t doing enough around the house. He felt he was. During the first two weeks of the coaching, he learned exactly what Liz was expecting from him, and what he could do for Liz that specifically helped to show his love for Liz.

Jon was always stressed that he was OK with being home, taking care of Megan, and not wanting to work his way up a career ladder. He had an internal conflict about being more for the family, and the inner peace he wanted from puttering around the house.

One thing Jon learned that surprised him was how much Liz loved having sex, and also wanted to be the aggressor sometimes. Having Liz initiate and guide the sexual encounter helped bring out a confident and secure side of Liz that Jon was thrilled to see.

Jon learned dozens of ways he could specifically show Liz how much he loved her. He learned not only WHAT to do, but he also learned new skills HOW to control his anger and handle himself. Often, he felt overwhelmed by what Liz was putting on him. Now, he learned the signs of that overwhelm and how to deal with it.

Liz Discovers Her Inner Being

Liz learned a lot in those first two weeks also. Liz found out about herself and her need to accomplish. She always thought she was a typical woman wanting love and affection. It is important to her, but she discovered she has a strong need for variety and personal growth. She discovered it’s OK for her to desire learning new things and be ambitious. The exercises in the Reignite the Love online course helped her to understand the cravings she’s been having and why she did certain things that always perplexed her.

Liz always felt guilty being the main income earner. She pushed Jon to learn new skills and take on new roles at work. Liz wanted Jon to stop the work on the motorcycle and take night classes. Jon usually pushed back and that caused anxiety for Liz.

Liz discovered that Jon likes certainty and routines. It bothers him when she would work late or want to do wild things on the spur of the moment. Liz learned new ways to talk with Jon and how to connect with him.

Liz really liked learning about controlling her emotions and reading the feelings of others. She sees those skills benefiting her job and helping more clients. She likes being on the same page with Jon and having each one on the lookout for signs of tension and anxiety.

Empower Yourself

Jon and Liz Switch Traditional Roles

During the weeks of coaching and taking the Reignite the Love online course, Jon and Liz discovered a new way they need to look at life and their household. They discovered they needed to switch the traditional roles husbands and wives usually take.

For their specific situation, they understand that it’s OK for Liz to be the main income earner, make riskier decisions, and be aggressive. Jon is OK with being the one with a routine job, work routine hours, and assuming a larger role in taking care of the house and Megan.

Jon and Liz found out that as they entered the workforce and started a family, they each discovered their life blueprints changed. It’s what works for them.

Today, Jon and Liz are happy with their lives and each other. Megan experiences a loving mother and father interacting well together and doing things together.

What Will You Discover?

Every person and every couple are different. Learning new things about yourself and your partner can radically change a marriage. It opens up new opportunities. It makes life more exciting again! Developing new communications skills affect every part of your career and personal lives.

Date Nights Have New Meaning

Imagine going on a date night, but this time, it has a purpose. You choose the dinner location now based on the needs of you and your partner. You discuss topics based on your new discoveries. You choose specific topics and avoid certain topics based on your new understanding. Your awareness of your own emotions and those of your partner are heightened, sensing when either of you starts to feel anxious or triggered. The ENTIRE night is different. Both of you are focusing on topics that strengthen the marriage.

Intimate Conversations That Are Really Intimate

Imagine being OK with exposing your vulnerabilities, and trusting that your partner will comfort you. Imagine being able to talk about topics you and your partner struggled with in the past. Imagine feeling the freedom to express your innermost thoughts and feelings, knowing you are safe and secure with your partner.

Developing a strong marriage foundation changes everything. You feel strengthened and secure. Every person and every marriage is different. Your situation may not be like Jon and Liz. That’s OK. Developing a strong marriage foundation helps every couple bring out their individual and combined strengths.

The best way to experience what a strong marriage foundation can do for you is to enroll today in my online course called Reignite the Love. It is a 7-week program full of video, written, and audio instruction.

You can have the marriage you desire. Take control of your marriage and enroll in Reignite the Love.

About the author

Mark Jala is a certified marriage coach, researcher, and consumer advocate. Certified in Strategic Interventions, Mark bases all of his services and advice on verifiable research. With nearly 40 years of problem solving experience, Mark has developed a holistic approach to marriage coaching which provides a context and execution plan not seen in ordinary marriage services.

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