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5 Things I Learned About Marriage From Being a Marriage Counselor

5 Things I Learned About Marriage From Being a Marriage Counselor

5 Things I Learned About Marriage From Being a Marriage Counselor

You may know him from Twitter as @MarriageDr and I had the pleasure of meeting him face-to-face at a MeetUp I hosted in Denver.

Aaron Anderson’s marriage and family clinic in Denver is so busy, that although I made the request, I wasn’t sure he’d ever have time to write an article for Happy Wives Club.

Then he got a question. about marriage he’d never been asked before  A question that stumped him.  One that caused a flurry of thoughts to rush through his mind and he couldn’t rest until he knew the answer.

That back and forth in his mind, led this to post, and when Annett (our content manager) first received it, she emailed me, “I love Aaron’s post!”  And so do I.

Until Monday…make it a great weekend!

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As a marriage counselor, I get a lot of questions from friends and strangers about things going on in their relationship.

The questions are usually pretty ordinary. Things like “How do I tell her I don’t want to go to her family’s house for Christmas” or “Should I tell him I really don’t like his mother’s mashed potatoes?”  But every once in awhile I’ll get a question that really challenges me.

I got one of those questions yesterday. It was from a young man in my church who was about to get married. He asked me “What are some things you’ve learned as a marriage counselor that you wish you knew before you got married?”

I took a deep breath as if to say something but nothing came out. I haven’t thought about that – ever. I told him I’d have to get back to him. When I got home, I became flooded with thoughts. They were coming so quickly I had to write them down. So now here I am trying to sleep and I can’t.

There’s too much on my mind. As I’m writing down my thoughts, I realize this isn’t just info I want him to know, I wish everyone could know these important things about marriage.

5 things I learned about marriage from years of marriage counseling:

1) Marriage isn’t just a commitment. When you get married, you usually make vows that go something like this: “For richer or poorer, through sickness and health, ‘til death do us part”. So when you get married, you make a commitment to stay together no matter what.

Marriage is more than just a no-matter-what commitment. I had one client say it best. She told her husband that “I don’t want you just to be married to me. I want you to love me and like me, too.”  Marriage is a commitment, but it’s also a lifelong adventure and journey of love with each other.

2) Marriage is also passionate. Not only is marriage supposed to be loving, it’s supposed to be passionate, too. Sex is the one thing that separates you and your spouse from being just roommates.

Without that passion that goes along with a vibrant sexual relationship, you’re just being roommates. And marriage isn’t meant to be just living like roommates – that’s why it’s called marriage. When spouses share passion, sex, and everything that goes along with it, then they’re really being a married couple.

3) Sex in marriage is waaay different. I see a lot of couples who come to me for marriage counseling because their bedroom has become bland and boring. They tell me that sex used to be rockin’ before they got married but now that they’ve been married awhile it just doesn’t have the same excitement it used to have. They’ve even tried new things and it still hasn’t helped. It just doesn’t have the same flare that it used to.

That flare comes when you feel connection in the bedroom. When there’s connection in the bedroom, both partners feel that they just had great sex. But when that connection is missing they feel like it was just ho-hum. Once you get married (and after you’ve been married for a while) it ups the connection-ante. You can’t rely on the connection you felt years ago to sustain you today. The connection you feel needs to continually increase or else sex will feel the same as it did a couple years ago – and that gets old. You can’t fake that connection. If it’s not there, the bedroom will always feel ho-hum.

4) Marriage really does have its bad times. You’ve heard it before. You probably even had someone write it on a card they gave you at your wedding. But it really is true. Marriage really does have its bad times. And I don’t mean the bad times you see on TV where it gets solved in a half hour. Heck, it’s not even like the shows where the problems get solved in a few episodes. Marriage has low times that last for a while. And during those low times you question how you could ever feel so low, and whether you made the right choice or not.

But despite how low these bad times feel they are almost always followed by good times, too. These low times are learning times and can help you and your spouse address whatever it is that’s causing the problems so you can have an even healthier and happier relationship.

5) Marriage is the most rewarding thing. A couple of years ago, on a plane back from a conference, I sat next to perhaps the most interesting guy I’ve ever met. He was an older gentleman getting close to retirement. He told me about some of the life struggles he and his wife went through with their family and kids. In the end, he told me that if he never had kids he could have been a millionaire years ago – but he’d rather have the kids.

Today, I say the same thing about marriage. If I never got married I could have done (insert x, y or z here) but I’d rather be married. There’s nothing like feeling the love that comes from marriage. There’s nothing like feeling unconditionally loved by another human being. And there’s nothing like feeling that safety that comes from being able to love another human being unconditionally. Without marriage, I would never know how to love. And that love is the most rewarding thing.


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5 Reasons You Should Have a Marriage Mentor

5 Reasons You Should Have a Marriage Mentor

5 Reasons You Should Have a Marriage Mentor

Mark Twain once said, “No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.” 

Although my love feels pretty doggone close to perfect, I have to agree with Twain.  

Once you’ve been married that long, you know how you will respond to nearly every challenge life throws your way.  You’ve been tested and come through the fire like pure gold.

This is why when I was recently asked by a newlywed for advice, I offered this: Only listen to marital advice from couples whose marriages you’d like to emulate.  

I told her, just as she would never consider taking financial advice from a person in the middle of their second bankruptcy, she should reject advice from those in the midst of a miserable marriage.

In one ear…out the other.

This is not to say there isn’t great wisdom gained through failure. But that should always be put in perspective and held in lesser regard than wisdom gained through proven success.

What I have discovered over the years is couples successful in marriage, are oftentimes those who’ve modeled their relationship after thriving ones.  They disregard the negative comments and choose to believe they can create their own happiness.  

Those who surround themselves with couples who never tear down their spouse, only build up their marriage, and challenge the notion that happily ever isn’t possible, end up with a relationship filled with genuine happiness.

A marriage mentor need not be one married for ages.  There is one couple Keith and I love to be around who are the same age as us.  The difference is they’ve been together since college; roughly twice as long as we have.  What is most important is their relationship is tried and true and thus we’ve gained a much higher marriage IQ from being around them.

So here are the 5 reasons we’ve surrounded ourselves with marriage mentors and why you should too:

1. They help keep you on track.  Just being in their presence will remind you how wonderful life can be when you have a loving partner by our side.

2. They will not allow you to sweat the small stuff.  Try complaining about your spouse to a long-standing couple who are genuinely happy.  They will put a mirror in your face so fast.  Speaking of which…

3. They will put a mirror in your face.  Rarely, is a spouse always at fault.  It takes two to tango, baby.

4. They provide a positive perspective in a world headed in the opposite direction.  Let’s face it, marriage has been getting a bad rap these days.  ”Happily married” has become an oxymoron.  Marriage mentors help you see your relationship through the prism of time and love.

5. They are living proof that real love can and should last a lifetime.  This constant reminder will help you ward off any negative thoughts and encourage you to keep fighting for the relationship you most desire.  It will help you to design your happily ever after.

Until tomorrow…make it a great day!

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JOIN THE 1,000,000 MEMBER CHALLENGE: If you haven’t already done it, what are you waiting for? Join the club! It takes only a few seconds and, of course, is free.

Happy Wives Club Book


THE NEW YORK TIMES® BEST-SELLING BOOK: It’s been described as, “Like Eat, Pray, Love but not down on marriage.” Make sure to check out the Happy Wives Club book.  I had the great honor of traveling to 12 countries on 6 continents, interviewing couples happily married 25 years or more, with 1 mission only: to find out what makes marriages happy…and keeps them that way.  It’s a marriage book like none other.  Guaranteed.