5 Practices of Successful, Resilient Couples

five principles of successful couples, communicate

For the next four weeks, as my wife and I approach our 47th anniversary, I will be posting some articles about ways to build and maintain a long-term, resilient marriage.

What would you think if I told you I’d discovered 5 practices of successful, resilient couples, all starting with the letter C, that you could use to give your marriage a jump start?

Recently I was speaking to a group of about 140 folks at Cannon AFB in Clovis, New Mexico. While my presentation was on Resilience and Stress Management, a couple of the participants and I get into a brief discussion about marriage and what makes some marriages work. I mentioned a few things like communication, compromise, being honest, you know the usual stuff and pretty much forgot about it and went back to the session.

Then, the other night we had several friends over for a dinner party, and while a couple of us were visiting we discovered that they had just celebrated their 46th anniversary, another was going to be celebrating 24, and we are preparing to celebrate our 47th next month. That is 117 years of marriage! While we didn’t get into the subject, I have known these folks for a while, and I could safely say, they demonstrate the 5 practices of successful, resilient couples.

So here are the 5 practices of successful, resilient couples or practices you can develop in your marriage.

Ready? Let’s jump in.

Compromise – One of the things you learn about marriage, usually within the first few days or weeks is that a marriage is all about giving. Compromise is a vital part of any successful, enduring marriage. For two individuals to develop and work as a married team, you must learn to give and take. 

5 principles of successful couples, Clear the Air

Communicate – Your marriage will shrivel or thrive based on the number of meaningful discussions that you have. Communication in your marriage is like a life-giving river. When you fail to communicate you dam the lifeblood of your marriage. Do what you can, read what you need, spend the money necessary to guard your communication. Many potentially significant marriages crumble simply because of poor or no communication. 

Clear the Air, don’t hide your hurts. WARNING: I am not talking about downloading on someone. One of the components of a long-term marriage is that you allow your spouse to encourage, nurture, comfort, and support you. As couples learn to mutually do this, several positive things can happen. A few benefits include feeling accepted, which leads to more emotional connection, lower stress, and increased intimacy.

By the way, laughter can help clear the air!

Choose your Battles Carefully. When you have two people sharing the same space, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and sexually, the conflict will ensue. So, don’t be blindsided by this. The critical thing here is to be careful to choose what you will be investing your energy in. Here is a helpful acronym from my friends dealing with addiction, the word HALT is one of the tools they use to avoid “falling of the wagon.” I believe it can also be a powerful way to lower the risks and level of conflict in your home.

H – Hunger is a physical and emotional need. Hungry people can be grumpy people, and cranky people tend to be more combative. 

A – Anger is a normal, healthy emotion that we all experience from time to time. Slow down and take some time to try and understand what is causing the anger and know how to express it appropriately. 

L – Loneliness – If you are feeling lonely and. or misunderstood, do you best not to isolate,but to find meaningful and safe ways to connect with your spouse. 

T – Tiredness impacts us across the board, body, soul, mind, and spirit. Realize that if you or your spouse are experiencing tiredness and fatigue, you are more at risk to fight.

You might want to check out my 10 Rules for Fighting Fair.

Hopefully, this acronym will help you in choosing your battles carefully.

Last, but certainly not least is what I believe is the most important one.

Want to receive my Free Ebook 21 Ways to Improve Your Marriage? Text the word Marriage to 33777.

Capitalize on trust, truth, and honesty. Dishonestly in a marriage is an almost sure-fire way to screw things up. Why?  It destroys trust. It sets a horrible example. It undermines your goals as a couple. 

Being married is at the same time, one of the best and toughest things you will ever do. My hope is that you will be able to use these 5 principles of successful, resilient couples to enhance your marriage.

Ancient Relationship Wisdom

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.  Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT 

So, which of these do you need to work on? Which one could you prayerfully consider doing this week? I’d love to hear from you.

Full Disclosure, this article was inspired by 5 Secret to a Successful Long-Term Relationship or Marriage by Dr. John M. Grohol. It was hard to beat his outline, though I have addressed the different areas a little bit differently.

Hey, I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this, maybe even begin a conversation.

Blessings,

John Thurman

10 Tips for Having a Happy Husband

This is the first part of a four-part series to help you have a meaningful Valentine’s Day. In a couple of days I will publish How to Have a Happy Wife.

With all the static about the Gillette commercial and the APA’s discussion about toxic masculinity, I thought this would be a great time to do a few posts about marriage. Since Valentine’s Day is around the corner, I thought it would be fun. After all, I have been married to the same woman for 46 years. In those forty-six years, we have had our ups and downs, great times and times that were pretty bad. We have had beautiful seasons of growth as well as seasons when things were pretty sucky and we could hardly wait until Springtime. Two key ingredients to building a resilient relationship are extending grace to one another and having an appreciation for the differences between men and women.

What Men Need

Ever wondered if there were any way to tell if your husband is a happily married man?

While every relationship goes through its seasons, here are some proven indicators that your man is happy in your relationship.
Shaunti Feldhahn, a bestselling author and nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, author of For Women Only, shares some critical insight into men. Her book and its recent revision surveyed thousands of men across multiple socio-economic levels and cultural backgrounds. Here are seven revelations her research revealed. This is taken directly from her book.

10 Signs of a Happy Husband

Our Surface Understanding      What That Means in Practice

Men need respect. Men would rather feel unloved than inadequate and disrespected
Men are insecure. Despite their “in control” exterior men often feel like imposters and are insecure that their inadequacies will be discovered.
Men want more sex. Your sexual desire for your husband profoundly affects his sense of well-being and confidence in all areas of his life.
Men avoid issues by “checking out.” Men address issues by first pulling away to process and think-so they can better talk about them later.
Men are visual. Even happily married men struggle with being pulled toward live and recollected images of other women.
Men are “unromantic clods.” Actually, most men enjoy romance (sometimes in different ways) and want to be romantic-but hesitate because they doubt they will succeed.
Men care about appearance. You don’t need to be a size 3, but your man does need to see you making efforts to take care of yourself, and he will take on significant costs or inconvenience to support you.

Remember, these insights are from a well-respected author and columnist. She and her husband have also written a companion book For Men Only.

Here are some proven ways to help your man experience a more meaningful life and relationship.

  1. He knows that he can be himself without being judged or criticized. You see, there is nothing that can kill a relationship faster than criticism. Just to be sure, this goes both ways. Guys, being critical towards your wife is a guaranteed way to shut her down.
  2. He smiles a lot. He feels that you notice him and appreciate all that he does for you and that you do not take him for granted.
  3. He realizes that you love and accept him for who he is, but he also knows that you will not put up with any bad behavior. He knows that your love is the “real deal” and respects it because he sees that it is not based on submissive compliance, but a loving choice.
  4. He likes that you care about looking attractive in your own personal way. He doesn’t expect you to look like someone you aren’t, but seeing that you care about your appearance makes him feel you value yourself and your relationship with him.
  5. He understands that you desire him and express it through physical intimacy. Every man wants a wife who loves physical intimacy. What do most wives want? A man who provides the intimacy that her soul longs for. You see men only need a place, but a woman needs a reason.
  6. He is around the house more, partially because he feels respected and admired by you. There is no love outside of respect. Feeling the admiration and respect of the one you love boosts self-esteem, increases intimacy, and promotes communication and passion.
  7. He speaks highly of you primarily because he rarely or never feels belittled, berated, or humiliated by you.
  8. He sees that you do not hold on to grudges, keep score or consistently feel victimized by life. The helps your relationship develop flexibility and adaptability, and keeps the possibility of a rewarding future intact.
  9. He is faithful to the vows he made with you.
  10. He seeks you for comfort and consolation. When your husband makes a choice to share his problems with you, it is an excellent indicator that he is happy with you even when he is feeling dejected and vulnerable.
    Take a moment to reflect on your feelings about these 10 indicators.

Are you happy with where you are? If so, outstanding! If you feel you need a little work, then pick one or two and try them out as a pilot project with your honey.

Need a great laugh? Check Mark Gungor’s In Two Minds Video


Seven Ways to Have a Happy Husband

Ever wondered if there are any ways to tell if your husband is a happily married man?

While every relationship goes through its seasons, here are some proven indicators that your man is happy in your relationship.

1. He knows that he can be himself without being judged or criticized. You see, there is nothing that can kill a relationship faster than criticism.

2. He feels that you notice him and appreciate all that he does for you and that you do not take him for granted.

3. He realizes that you love and accept him for who he is, but he also knows that you will not put up with any bad behavior. He knows that your love is the “real deal” and respects it because he sees that it is not based on submissive compliance, but a loving choice.

4. He likes that you care about looking attractive in your own personal way. He doesn’t expect you to look like someone you aren’t, but seeing that you care about your appearance makes him feel you value yourself and your relationship with him.

5. He sees that you desire him and express it through physical intimacy. Every man wants a wife who loves physical intimacy. What do most wives want? A man who provides the intimacy that her soul longs for. You see men only need a place, but a woman needs a reason.

6. He feels respected and admired by you. There is no love outside of respect. Feeling the admiration and respect of the one you love boosts self-esteem, increases intimacy, and promotes communication and passion.

7. He sees that you do not hold on to grudges, keep score or consistently feel victimized by life. The helps your relationship develop flexibility and adaptability, and keeps the possibility of a rewarding future intact.

Action Plan:

Take a moment to reflect on your feelings about these seven indicators. Are you happy with where you are? If so, outstanding! If you feel you need a little work, then pick one or two and try them out as a pilot project with your honey. After all, it is a budget-friendly, powerful tool that you can use to enhance your marriage!

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments!

 

A Man’s Guide To Valentine’s Day Shopping

 

Want to build a happy, resilient relationship? If you answer is yes, then continue to read.

We are into February, and we all know that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.

So guys, for heaven’s sake, get your shopping done before Feb. 14. If you wait too late, the roses will be wilted, and the selection of cards and chocolates will be pretty much picked over. It seems simple enough, but how many times have we men suffered from procrastinitis (my word), a condition related to waiting until the last minute to shop for your wife or girlfriend. Good news: There is a cure – buy early!

Waiting to purchase her a last-minute gift is not a good thing for your health or maybe even your life! It sends a message that you don’t see her as a high priority. It lets her know that you don’t know who she is and what she likes.

Here are five guy tips that will help you in your Valentine gift selection:

  1. If you buy chocolate, make sure you don’t get it at the grocery store or the pharmacy. Buying high-quality chocolate shows her how special she is. You need to know if she likes milk chocolate, dark chocolate, soft centers, assorted nuts or just plain chocolate. Hint: One of my favorite Chocolatiers in Albuquerque is Theobroma Chocolatier.
  2. I spent part of my young life helping my mom out at her florist shop. It was always interesting to see stressed-out men coming into the shop on the 13th or 14th of February hoping Mom could work a miracle. She usually did.

Don’t wait until Valentine’s Day to pick up flowers at a florist shop or grocery store. A quick way to earn extra points, spend a few extra dollars and have them delivered to her work site or home.

Women have this incredible quality: While the other women at her workplace will ooh and ah over the flowers you sent your spouse, they will walk away with envy, wishing their man had done the same.

  1. When looking for a card, try to avoid the “I know I don’t say it enough…but I do love your card.” I promise she will not be impressed. Instead, you might ask one of the women at the store to help you pick the right card. Make your card purchase based on words she would like to hear. For an additional bonus, write a short hand-written note of love and appreciation.
  2. Help your kids select a card or gift for their mom.
  3. You do have permission to get your wife some cute, flattering pajamas. Just don’t buy anything too revealing, flamboyant or trashy. If you decide to get something on the naughtier side, just make sure she has pre-approved it. Or better yet, ask her to go with you. Remember the gift is for her.

I enjoy feedback, so leave me a coment and let me know your thoughts, or even better if you have a good story feel free to share it.

Get a Free Chapter of my new book, The No Fear Entrepreneur by signing up for my email list by going to www.johnthurman.net

 

Shades of Grey, Shades of Love: 4 Ways to Cultivate Romance

Sex Begins in the Kitchen is a fun and informative book that my friend Dr. Kevin Leman wrote several years ago. His second book on marital intimacy is called Sheet Music. Both of which are still in print. I encourage couples to add these books to their reading list. Kevin has an uncanny ability to communicate in a clear and fun way about crucial things. Years ago he and I shared the microphone on national radio show called Parent Talk. It seemed that whenever he and I were on the show the topic of sexuality came up.

I mention that because physical intimacy consistently stays in the “Top 5,” concerns of marital conflict.

As you and I continue to move through Shades of Love, I want to give you some tips that will improve physical intimacy. “Quantity” is the most frequent complaint that counselors hear. Unfortunately, couples often define their physical relationship in terms of “the count.” How often do we have it? How many times did one or the other reach orgasm? How much foreplay was there? How long did it last?”

It’s sad that we haven taken the beauty of lovemaking and reduced it to numbers. Some couples make it worse by attempting to negotiate the numbers, comparing their numbers with the “average couple,” whatever that is, or agreeing to trade physical intimacy for help with cleaning the dishes.

Here are some proven tips to improve your intimacy:

1.    Add some variety to your lovemaking. Some of us are too restrictive. Change the locations, times of day, or the lighting. Try some candles, new perfumes, or aftershaves. Put on some different music.

2.    Vary your routine. I did a Google™ search on, “how many ways you can cook a potato”, and the search came up with thirteen different ways. Amazing! If you can cook a potato that many different ways, you can be equally creative in finding ways  to share physical intimacy with your partner. A nice full body massage is nice. And don’t forget the shower.

3.    Communicate more openly. Don’t let intimacy become a guessing game. Two physically different individuals with unique personalities, life histories, backgrounds, preferences, and hangs ups must learn to talk openly about intimacy. Be careful about making assumptions. It is fine to have these conversations because communication will directly impact physical intimacy.

4.    Increase the desire for physical intimacy. One of the easiest ways to enhance your passion towards your partner is to let your mind wander over pleasurable thoughts about them throughout the day.

Three tips for guys:

•Sex must become something you give to your wife and not something you take.

•You will improve your physical intimacy dramatically if you learn to give first to   your wife emotionally.

•Increase your nonsexual touching. This means hugs, holding hands.

Have fun and be safe as you discover new ways to Cultivate Romance.

Want to read a great article about Marriage from a GenXer? follow this link to Relevant Magazine

You can also listen to a 29 min and 55 sec talk I did on Marriage here is the link 
I would love to hear some of your thoughts and ideas about cultivating the romance. Feel free to post your comments.

Shades of Grey, Shades of Love – 5 Levels of Intimacy


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(c) 2012 istockphotos.com
What is intimacy? One definition of intimacy is that it is an act of a familiar expression serving as a token of familiarity, affection, and love.I believe as a culture we have lost some of the important components of intimacy by limiting it to just a physical response.

There has been some breakthrough research that shows which there are at least five different areas of intimacy! Take a moment and grade yourself in each area, and then ask you partner to do the same.

The first is intellectual intimacy. On this level couples are able to talk about current events, share ideas and thoughts, even debate political and religious topics. They are able to participate jointly in the exchange of thoughts and ideas.

The second area of intimacy is recreational intimacy. This means that there are some recreational activities that a couple enjoys together. It does not mean that they do everything together.

The third area of intimacy is social intimacy. After decades of marriage, my wife and I realized that its completely okay for her to have her friends and me to have my friends as long as we share some “we” friends. Couple friendships can be a bonus to the relationship by being a sounding board, providing feedback, and accountability.

Spiritual intimacy is the fourth level of growing deeper together as a couple. While this area of intimacy is the most subjective, due to the various religious backgrounds & practices a couple may have, it is still a crucial component. In my opinion, one of the most important because a growing relationship is at its core spiritual in nature. Spiritual intimacy is also an important factor when and if children become a part of the family.

The fifth and final level of intimacy is physical intimacy.  Sexual expression is part of our hard wiring and can be both exhilarating and invigorating for a couple, in the right context. In recent years, a major focus has been primarily on physical intimacy. We have reduced physical intimacy into a series of positions and practices based more on applied physics than on building relationships.

Could it be that one of the reasons we see so many relationships falling apart is that we have failed to understand that intimacy works on several levels? If a relationship is based primarily on sexual expression, it is doomed to fail in the long run. However, if a couple can grow in their understanding of these different levels of intimacy their relationship will experience growth in all areas. As you grow in these other areas then, sexual expression within your relationship will become more intense and meaningful. This is because it is based on getting to know your partner and being known by them.

So how can you have a better sex life? Be mindful of the five levels of intimacy and how interconnected they are.

I’d love to hear your opinion. What are some ways that you have increased intimacy in your relationship?

This list is adapted from my workshop: Get a Grip on Your Relationship, a half-day or whole day workshop for churches, ministr