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Improve your marriage

How Long Does It Take To Improve Your Marriage

When it comes to couples counseling, we all want to know how much time, energy, and money it will take for lasting improvements. A common question is: How long does it take to improve your marriage through relationship counseling?

It takes more than 21 days to improve your marriage

The 21-days-to-make-a-habit advice has been a myth all this time with no scientific backing. Through Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever program, he quoted that it really takes an average of 66 days depending on the particular habit.

In my work with clients, I tell them it takes 90 days for new neuro-pathways in the brain to form new associations. Different ways of thinking, behaving, and relating takes consistent practice. Just as regular workouts in the gym train our muscles, our intentional thoughts and behaviors train our neuro-connections.

Whether you’re learning a foreign language or ballroom dance steps, it takes about 90 days to learn a new skill. Click To Tweet

Your idea of empathic communication with your spouse may be as challenging as learning a foreign language. If you can’t keep a beat to a radio pop song, you may initially be just as clumsy when you learn dialogue skills with your partner. But you can learn. Your brain is designed to learn new things.

Muscle memory and mental associations in our brains are made to connect.

We are all wired to grow, connect, and continue growing in relationships. Click To Tweet

Beyond the counseling stereo-type to improve your marriage

My work with couples is different than the stereo-type of what you see on movies or TV. You may imagine a couple sitting on the couch together side by side, looking to the counselor to equally hear both partners’ sides. The therapist is neutral, balanced, and unbiased. (sounds a bit un-human to me)

Although a first session may look like that, Imago Therapy is different. Instead, the couple sits across from each other face to face. The therapist sits “outside” their relationship, coaching them with speaker-listener skills. With gentle guidance, encouragement and awareness, they learn how to make the space between them emotionally safe.

How many counseling sessions to improve your marriage?

“How many sessions does it take?” you ask.

The answer varies. For some it’s twelve weekly ninety minute session. For others, it’s weekly for the first month, and twice a month for the next 90 days. Beyond that, ever other month check ups are a great plan. Some may only need six month check-ups similar to regular dental cleanings.

Beyond the neuro-pathway factors other considerations are these:

  • Are you in a crisis or just need a tune up?
  • Do you both have an attitude of I’ll-do-anything-it-takes?
  • How motivated are you as a couple to follow through in-between session?

In order to begin dialogue skills to improve your marriage, keep in mind it takes about 90 days. It will take additional time to master it for continual growth, intimacy, and connection. And don’t forget the periodic booster sessions to keep growing toward each other.

Questions to improve your marriage

On a scale of 1-10 how full is your love tank?

How do you feel in each other’s presence?

Sign up for 10 Ways to Build Trust in communication

Be Your Partner's Hero - Listen

How To Be Your Partner’s Hero – Listen

Here’s how to be your partner’s hero, listen.

My husband and I are just as imperfect as any couple. But I must say, he is my hero.

It’s not easy being married to a relationship therapist.

I’ve never been married to one, but my husband and others have said it’s not easy.  Although he and I have been married nearly eight years, I have more than 35  years of marital experience.

Not only have I spent my entire adult life trying to make marriage work, I’ve studied it, gotten my degrees around it, professionally developed it, and practically eat, sleep, and breathe efforts into creating and nurturing healthy relationships.

The challenge is that my husband has been a single man most of his adult life. You can only imagine what it might be like for him to be married to a professional relationship therapist.

But here we are, very ordinary, passionate, intense, different, and similar. In all the messiness of our lives, I must say that he’s my hero.

Here’s why my husband is my hero.

He sat through another relationship therapist’s office and did an amazing thing. He stayed with me during a heart-felt, yet difficult dialogue. He could have walked away. But he stayed.

A short youtube video called, “It’s Not About The Nail” shows a couple on a couch, struggling to communicate. When the guy points out that she has a nail in her head, she reacts.

She just wants him to listen. He tries so hard to just listen as she talks about her headaches and snagged sweaters and how difficult it is for her. She just can’t understand.

He struggles to just sit. He tries hard to listen empathically and give her loving eye contact.

That’s what my husband did for me. Only I didn’t have a nail in my head.

Being listened to is the most remarkable feeling we can ever have as human beings. Click To Tweet

I believe we’re designed by God for deep emotional connection in our marriages. When our spouse really hears our longings and desires, our love tank is full.

The way to be your partner’s hero is to listen. 

  • If what you’re hearing from your spouse seems as crazy as a nail in her head, instead just listen.
  • If you’re on the verge of telling her what the problem is, instead just listen.
  • When it takes every ounce of your being to refrain from fixing, instead just listen.

You’ll soon discover that the nail is something much deeper than what the cute video clip shows. It takes a willingness to understand. Be willing to assume your spouse makes sense, even if it looks like a silly nail to you. Allow those crazy feelings to be heard. Those “unrealistic” feelings are likely to be replaced with  remarkable feelings of connection with you.

One simple way to be your partner’s hero is to continue listening.

Our lives are always changing and our love tanks need daily filling. This requires a daily habit of listening. Seeking to understand.

When our love tank is full we have motivation throughout the day. We have a sparkle in our eyes for each other. Our differences are not so threatening. We laugh and play. For my husband and I, we dance.

And it’s not about the nail.

Questions to Ponder

How full (or empty) is your love tank now?

What can you do to make sure you listen?

What’s the next step for you?

The skill of listening doesn’t come natural for most of us. Consider the next step for you to create connection beyond conflict and be your partner’s hero. Sign up for a free consultation to find out what best fits your needs.

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