Clark Counseling Solutions | Indianapolis, Carmel, Zionsville
Founded by Sarah E. Clark, LMFT, LMHC, CVRT

Make Your Relationship Last

Build a Strong Marriage

 Photo by  Gabby Orcutt  on  Unsplash
 
 

How to make your relationship last

More than 50% of marriages end in divorce, and an even higher percentage of long-term relationships fail. These statistics have led to a great deal of research and consideration into what the differences are with those relationships that last a lifetime. Chances are that the answers are not what you’d expect. It is not compatibility or how often a couple fights that predicts their odds of success. The primary factors are how they fight, how they repair damage, and how much thought and effort they put into maintaining their connection. If you are one of the many people who values their relationship and their partner, and are wondering what they can do to make it work, then focus on these areas.

manage problems

All marriages and relationships have their share of problems and disagreements. How you handle those problems is what makes the difference. Many problems are solvable, but others are not. You will learn in couples counseling how to tell the difference between the two. The solvable problems can be dealt with easily once you have the communication skills to negotiate and compromise. The unsolvable problems are handled differently and take a separate set of skills.



repair damage

You are going to have fights, and you are going to disappoint each other from time to time. Learning good communication skills and maintaining a healthy attachment within the relationship will reduce the frequency but can’t eliminate it all together. How you go about repairing the damage to your relationship is the important part. A simple apology is not usually the answer. You can’t agree to disagree and live with the emotional tension for days or weeks. You can’t continuously punish each other for past mistakes or hold grudges. Disappointment and frustration with unresolved problems lead to resentment. In order to maintain your relationship/marriage, you have to be able to repair the damage in a way that works for you both. This unique style of relationship repair is identified during couples therapy. I will help you learn what your partner needs from you in these moments of repair, the same way you learn to communicate in their language. 

Consistent maintenance

Think about how much thought, time and effort you put into your relationship in the beginning. And contrast that with how things are now. There’s typically a drastic difference. This is a big part of why relationships fall apart. We put all of our effort into getting the person we want to be with, and little to no effort into keeping them. We make the mistake of believing that once we are in a committed relationship or make vows of forever at our wedding, that it’s a done deal. The truth is that we make the choice, consciously or subconsciously, every day to stay with our partners or not. Remembering that choice will help your relationship last, while believing that they are yours leads to taking them for granted. 

Make the choice to keep your relationship thriving by putting in the same kind of thought, time, and effort that you would in the beginning. It doesn’t happen naturally. You have to consciously choose to prioritize your partner. Learn what they value most. Learn what efforts improve your connection, and which keep it balanced. The longer you are together, the easier it is because you are continuously learning what works best for you both. Whether you are just starting out, or have been together for decades, it’s not too late to start prioritizing your relationship. No matter what is going on in your life, you don’t let life get in the way of maintaining what you value. 

 

Express gratitude

Appreciation is one of the simplest and most effective strategies for maintaining a marriage. We all want to be valued and appreciated. If that is missing in a relationship, then we lose our emotional connection and feeling of security. You may be grateful for your partner and everything that they do for you, but are you expressing it in a way that is being received? How you express gratitude is just as important as how often you do it. You can simply ask your partner what makes them feel appreciated. They may or may not be able to tell you. Which expressions of gratitude work for you both may need to be processed during therapy if past hurts are getting in the way. Once the methods are identified, chances are that you will find differences in what works for you both or what comes naturally to you. I will help you learn to speak each other’s language, and consistently show your appreciation in ways that are effective.

cope with unsolvable problems

Unsolvable problems just need to be viewed through a different perspective, and then a couple can agree on how to manage them.  One of the most common examples of an unsolvable problem is differences in personality. Almost everyone has experienced this. When the relationship is going well you really admire how your partner’s differences compliment yours. When things are going poorly, their previously adorable quirks get on your nerves. Perhaps your partner is more introverted. And although you use to appreciate how well they listened to you and how thoughtful they are, when you are upset with them you really resent how much time they take to process things and how they shut down during fights. You can fill in any personality trait into this scenario and it works the same way. We all know that we can’t change our basic personality traits, but for some reason we still expect that our loved ones can just eliminate the down sides to the characteristics that we appreciate in the good moments. Even though it’s unsolvable, this is completely manageable. Once you’ve identified it as unsolvable, you apply the skills you learn in therapy to manage the differences.