5 Ways to Love Your Man

By: Francine and Byron Pirola

woman hugging husband

Men and women experience love in different and complementary ways. However, a woman will generally express love the way she experiences it, not the way her husband does. Most women primarily experience love through gestures of cherishment, while men experience love most powerfully through the medium of respect.

Here are five ways you can nail it in the love department for your man this Father’s day (or any day of the year).

1. Cut the criticism

Nothing makes a man feel more disrespected and unappreciated than being criticized and put down, especially when it’s in front of others. This applies also to the way we speak about our man when he’s not present.

2. Avoid Nagging

Not only is nagging almost never effective in bringing about the desired reform, most men will dig in and resist all the more forcefully when they feel nagged. If you need a behavior change, make a respectful and unemotional request.

3. Express Admiration

Identify the virtues and strengths of your man and tell him! It’s great for him to hear it, and it’s good for you to remind yourself as it’s all too easy to focus on what is lacking and overlook the many ways he gives without you even noticing because it is so constant.

4. Wait Till Asked

Whether it’s driving the car, finding your way without a map or assembling the furniture without the instructions… butt out! Let him drive, navigate and create without your constant suggestions. You may think you are being helpful, but if he wants your help, he’ll ask for it.

5. Give him the Benefit of the Doubt

It’s common practice when we feel wounded by our husband to make assumptions about his motives; every little gesture and word is interpreted as proof of his mean-spiritedness, selfishness, carelessness etc. So when he does or says something that upsets you, suspend judgment and make a choice to assume loving, generous motives rather than negative ones.

Credit to Francine and Byron Pirola of CathFamily.  

Over-scheduled Couples

By: Francine and Byron Pirola

couple working seperate

Too many marriages suffer from insufficient time. In fact, it’s possibly the single biggest contributor to marriage breakdown. There might be an affair or a falling out of love, but usually, these triggers are preceded by a chronic neglect of the relationship and it’s need for time and attention from both husband and wife.

Whether it’s the demands of career or family, couples need to prioritise their marriage by protecting their time together. Here are some tips to help:

  1. Daily Connection Ritual.  Craft a simple daily connection ritual that works for you. We like to take a brisk walk around the block (weather permitting). Others will take their coffee together while kids wash up the dishes. Some connect by phone several times a day to keep each other in the loop. It  doesn’t  matter what it is as long as it helps you connect and can be done regularly.
  2. Seize the moment!  We call them ‘date-claimers’ — those spur of the moment opportunities to do something together, like picking up a child from a party or dropping off the dry cleaning. We do it together and ‘claim’ the chore as a date.
  3. Date nights. It can be dinner, movies, the gym, flashy outings or simple picnics. Whatever it is, have a regular date night where the romance can flow. If childcare is a problem, there are a number of babysitting cooperatives that are an inexpensive solution.
  4. Invest in the long term.  Do something intentional to strengthen your bond; go on retreat, do some marriage enrichment, read a relationship book together, do an online relationship course.
  5. Schedule it.  If time together is important, don’t leave it to chance, put it in the diary and don’t let it get bumped.

Credit to Francine and Byron Pirola of CathFamily.

 

Spiritual Intimacy

By: Francine and Byron Pirola

 

couple praying

It is often difficult for a couple to share their personal faith experiences with each other. This is so for couples of different faith traditions, but is also true even if they are of the same religion.
We are trained to avoid talking about religion and politics in polite company because these topics are laden with strong feelings. Precisely for this reason, it is very important, for a couple who wants to be close, to trust one another with these feelings and to be open and accepting of the other’s deeply held beliefs and personal experiences.

Sometimes, people think that faith does not really matter to them because they are not overly religious. But even if they have no formal religious training, their concept of God and how they view themself in relationship to God, is central to their personhood and powerfully impacts their behavior and attitudes. If they simply avoid sharing that which is so central and foundational, they run the risk of their relationship becoming shallow and vulnerable to a great deal of misunderstanding.

Tension can arise because couples have sometimes been taught different things about what is right or wrong. They may even hold deeply seated misconceptions about the other’s faith traditions or experiences. Sharing faith can overcome this formation and draw a couple closer together whether or not they choose to practice their faith in the same way.
It is a great act of generosity to free the other to be themselves by sincerely encouraging them to reveal their feelings and experiences in their relationship with God.

Credit to Francine and Byron Pirola of SmartLoving.

Couple Decision Making

By: Francine and Byron Pirola

 

decision making

Behind every behavior or decision that you make, is a value; something that you hold in high esteem and is advanced in some way by the action.
For example, making the choice to working late, may reflect any one of a number of values, such as:

  • having pride in doing a job well,
  • reducing financial debt,
  • avoiding anticipated conflict at home, or
  • being appreciated by colleagues

All of these values deliver a good of some kind. Your values are influenced by your upbringing, gender, personality, experiences, conscious choices and your emotional needs, fears, desires and dreams. While there are some ‘universal’ values, like being loved for example, your value set will be unique to you.

Conflicting Values

When you disagree about something or can’t understand why your spouse behaves a certain way, it is a sign of conflicting values, or a ‘value divergence’. Before you can address the conflict, you will need to clarify your own values. A simple process of self-interrogation can help you:

  1. What do you want? This question forces you to take ownership for what you desire.
    E.g. I want to be admired by my colleagues and to be successful in the eyes of my father.
  2. Why is it important to you? Where does this value come from? In other words, what are the underlying values? Every choice will have some benefit. Identify what good will come from doing it this way. It also helps to know the source of your value, for example: your family of origin, past experiences, religious beliefs, fears, hopes.
    E.g. I feel better about myself when others admire me. I feel accepted by my father. My father worked long hours.
  3. How strongly do you feel about this value? Use the scale of 0-10, or descriptive words to indicate the importance of each value identified.
    E.g. Admiration = 6, Approval of father = 9

Once you ‘decode your behavior’ and identify the values, you will have a better understanding of yourself and what is motivating you. You can then look at trying to understand each other and what values are most important to you.

Embracing your Spouse’s Values

Once you have identified and shared your values with each other, the next step is to embrace your spouse’s most important values, honoring them as your own. Usually, it is not so difficult to see the good in the others values as they always have a positive good as their goal. Then you are in a position to evaluate the best way to act on those values.

To return to our example… Working long hours is one way to win the admiration and the approval of your father. However, it has some negative consequences such as neglecting your spouse and children, your physical and emotional health; values that your spouse has. Are there other ways to honor these values as well as the values of your spouse ? Perhaps you can put some boundaries around how many work nights you have, or perhaps going into work early rather than staying late accomplishes the admiration and father approval you seek, without the family feeling neglected or your health suffering.

Brainstorm together to identify a number of different ways that honours the values of both parties and choose the one that best advances your unity.

Unity — the Most important Value

We call this the ‘trump card’. Among the hundreds of different values you may have, the one that is most important is your unity. If you are serious about your marriage, a value for unity trumps all other values. And so unity is like the litmus test for any decision; will this choice advance our unity? If the answer is ‘Yes’, its a choice that will serve and your marriage well, drawing you closer together.  The call to unity is a call to be predisposed to see things from a couple perspective, taking the other into account and embracing that which affects one as affecting both.  When you make what is important to your spouse important to you, they will feel important to you.  It is a powerfully loving act and the first step on the journey to developing couple values. Deliberately choosing to make what is important to one, important to both, is the way you can intentionally develop your coupleness. It is a conscious choice to accept and embrace the other and to honour their values as we would our own.

Credit to Francine and Byron Pirola of SmartLoving.

Couple Complementarity

By: Francine and Byron Pirola

 

planet earth

Are we from the same planet?

The popularity of John Gray’s “Men are from Mars & Women are from Venus” (and titles by other authors), signals the widespread recognition of gender differences in our society. It is now permissible to speak of stereotypical behaviors and gender specific abilities without being accused of putting the clock back, oppressing women and being sexist. What everyone has always known and experienced to be true, thankfully, we are now able to discuss.  Everyday experiences reveal this truth for us and now, numerous studies are confirming it — men and women truly are indeed different. We have different ways of approaching relationships, disparate expectations of a partner, different needs for intimacy, and have specialized areas of skill. We even have different brain structures giving rise to gender differences such as language and communication skills, visualization of three dimensional objects, map reading and spatial awareness. Even business theories now speak of feminine management styles as opposed to masculine ones.  In relationships, we see these gender differences in the kinds of friendships that men and women form. Friendships between women are characterized by emotional sharing and verbal communication is always a feature. Men are more likely experience bonding and friendship through shared activity, such as sport or working bees. Of course, every person is an individual and no one fits the gender stereotype in every aspect.

Gender preferences in expressing intimacy

In marriage, our gender preferences can cause a great deal of heartache if they are not well understood. For the wife, the need for emotional sharing and verbal expressions of love and commitment are particularly important to her. She requires emotional closeness with her husband in order for her to feel secure in his love.  The masculine desire for intimacy is primarily expressed through the husband’s need for physical connection with his wife, especially through sex. He feels most connected and secure in the relationship when their physical closeness is strong and vibrant.  This gender bias of intimate verbal conversation for women and physical intimacy for men is a common pattern, but is not exclusively so. Every man will at times feel the need for intimate conversation, and not every woman prefers talking to sex intimacy.

Credit to Francine and Byron Pirola of  SmartLoving.

Couple Communication

By: Francine & Byron Pirola

couple communicating

When we promise to take one another, we promise to take all of that person — body, psyche and spirit. We take one another with all the beliefs, thoughts, feelings and attitudes that each has.  We take the biases, prejudices, fears, and anxieties as well as all the dreams and expectations we each have for ourselves and for us as a couple. In order to know who this unique, special individual is whom we have married and are marrying each day of our wedded life, it is necessary to communicate all these things to one another.  We live in a time when the communication of information is one of the technological wonders of history. But communication of persons is lagging far behind, and we are more isolated and solitary than united. The news brings us the global information so effectively, we know much more about what is happening ten thousand miles away than we do about what is going on inside the heart and the spirit of our husband or wife.

Good Communication Builds Oneness

Chances are that when you were dating, you shared a great amount of intimate conversation as you talked about yourselves, your hopes, dreams, and most especially your feelings. Then you had an urgency for one another. You wanted to know all about each other.  Unfortunately for most people, after they’ve been married a while, they assume they already know all about one another, and there’s no further need for deep sharing. Yet we are all continually changing. The feelings we have when we get up in the morning are not usually the same as those we have by dinnertime. In fact our feelings are continually changing throughout the day as we respond to the events and people in our lives. Each of us has these feelings even though we may not be conscious of them.  Our attitudes are slower to change, yet they are continually evolving as we gain new insights and new information. Even the decisions we made a few months ago may not be the ones we would make today.  Couples who fail to communicate over long periods of time eventually experience loneliness in their marriages. It is literally true that they become strangers to one another. That’s when they turn to friends or relatives to fill the gap. A husband’s secretary may know more about him than his own wife. A woman’s mother or sister may know more about her than her own husband.  The call to oneness in the Sacrament of Matrimony is not being fulfilled.

Difficulties in Communicating

Even in a good marriage, many people find it difficult to communicate on a deep level. Communicating on this level requires a great deal of trust. It may seem strange to talk about trust between a husband and wife who love each other in a profound way. Yet the question remains, do we trust our spouse enough to totally reveal ourselves in areas that are difficult to talk about?  One reason people fail to talk with one another is because they are not sure what kind of reaction they will get from their spouse. All of us fear rejection, especially from someone we love. In order to communicate, we need to create an atmosphere — a regular time just for the two of us — and a regular place where we can be alone. We don’t need a lot of time — 10-20 minutes a day is good, and our quiet place should be somewhere in the house where we are free of distractions.

Then we need to become a good listener as well as a good revealer. Listening isn’t easy; it means setting aside whatever we’re doing to focus only on our spouse. We have to look at our partner, read the body language, listen to the tone of voice, and reach out to touch one another. Listening to someone is not necessarily agreeing with what they say. Listening is attentiveness to the other and calls for generosity of spirit because sometimes it means we have to set aside something else we’d rather be doing.  Many people think they communicate well when they don’t really communicate at all. You cannot assume your husband or wife can read your mind and understand what you mean when you discuss something. You must speak clearly and carefully, and say what you mean. For example:

  • SPEAKING IN CODE. Teresa was willing to visit her husband’s family every Sunday for a few hours, but she didn’t want to stay for a long evening. Rather than say so directly, she continually made excuses about why they shouldn’t stay. Each time she said something, her husband rushed to get whatever she needed (headache tablets, baby formula, nappies etc), while Teresa fumed that her husband didn’t read her signals correctly.
  • THE FEAR OF BEING ACCUSED OF NAGGING. Rather than asking her husband directly to help her, Lucy would say, “The living room needs vacuuming”. Jim would glance up from the TV long enough to agree with her, but didn’t move to help her.
  • FEELING INADEQUATE.  Michael had an inferiority complex about fixing things around the house. Whenever Nancy asked him to do something, he always put it off. Finally he got up the courage to tell Nancy how inadequate he felt, and they came to a new arrangement.
  • MANIPULATING EACH OTHER. Sam felt strongly that they should not spend a lot of money for Christmas gifts, but Gloria wanted to buy lavishly. Rather than sit down and discuss the issue, Gloria said, “Don’t worry about it, I’ll pay for it with my own money.” In this way, Gloria got her way without having to listen to Sam. But Sam likes to play golf with his friends. Gloria doesn’t mind a short game once a week, but is unhappy about the three nights of golf that is Sam’s schedule. So Sam tells Gloria he will take her out to dinner in exchange for his golf games. He tells himself how gracious he is to give her this time, but she feels used and overlooked, and views the weekly dinner date as patronising. Neither Sam nor Gloria are listening to each other. They need to communicate their feelings, thoughts and inner needs to each other.

Most people marry one another because they believe they have found someone who fully understands and accepts them as they are. They have a great deal of trust in this person. After marriage, we keep trust and love alive by honestly and openly confiding in one another everyday and fulfilling our call to become one in mind and spirit.

Credit to Francine and Byron Pirola of  SmartLoving.

A Stress Like No Other: Getting Through A Challenging Pregnancy…Together

By: Dr. Gregory Popcak

pregnant couple

 

I would guess that when couples say those words, “For better or worse…sickness and health…” few couples think of pregnancy complications. We, understandably, tend to have fairly romantic views of pregnancy and when things don’t go as planned it can be one of the most difficult hardships for couples to endure.  Regardless of the cause of your difficult pregnancy, there are some strategies that couples can use to make sure they get through the challenges together.

1. Pray

No doubt you’re praying for the health and well-being of both mom and baby, but make sure to ask God to help you and your spouse be present to each other, take excellent care of each other, and support each other through the challenges of the next few months. Praying together about the well-being of your marriage in addition to the health of mom and baby will open up the channels of grace that remind you that you are each other’s best hope for getting through this trial well.  God has given you as a gift to one another. Don’t forget to ask him to teach you how to be present to one another in ways that matter most and prevent either of you from feeling alone throughout the pregnancy.

2. Encourage

Encouraging each other doesn’t mean being phony cheerleaders or making promises you can’t keep about how “everything is going to be just fine.” It means saying things like, “I am here for you.” “I love you.” “We can get through anything together.” “I’m so in love with you.” “Don’t you dare ever think you could be a burden to me” and “I’m so grateful you’re my husband/wife.”

3. Be Honest

When a couple goes through stressful times, they tend to want to isolate and not burden each other with their feelings. She doesn’t want to burden him with her fears about the baby because he’s already doing so much to pick up the slack from the things she can’t do. He doesn’t want to burden her with his loneliness, or fear, or frustration, from not being able to do anything to make things better. All I can do is encourage you to talk, talk, and then, when you’re done, talk some more. The more open you can be with your feelings the more you know where each other stands and how you can be present to one another. If you keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself, you will start to feel alone, isolated, depressed and, irritable. You don’t want to be any of these things when you are going through a challenging time. These feelings tend to shut down your thinking brain and kick your feeling brain into high gear. Pretty soon, you’re reacting to everything and you don’t even know why. Talking things out keeps the feelings in front of you and enables you to respond to concerns promptly and effectively.

4. Caretake

This is the time when little acts of kindness are going to matter a lot. Look for small ways to demonstrate your loving care for one another. In my book, For Better…FOREVER! I recommend the LoveList Exercise. Write down 25 small things (love notes, taking out the garbage, getting the door for me, holding my hand, taking walks with me, calling me from work to say, “I love you.”) that make you feel cherished. Exchange the lists. Every day, try to do at least 1-2 things on the list for each other. Don’t keep score. Just take care to be as present and loving to one another as you can manage. Knowing that, despite all the stress, you took 2 minutes to call in the middle of the workday and say, “I just wanted to take a minute to tell you that I love you and to pray that you have a great rest of your day” can mean the difference between a terrible day and a day that might be challenging but bearable because of your care for one another.

5. Seek Help

Friends and family often don’t know what to say to a couple going through a difficult pregnancy and what they do say often makes things worse. Don’t let that stop you from reaching out to family and friends who do know how to support you. Also, organizations like ElizabethMinistry.com can be a tremendous help to moms, especially, who are going through difficult pregnancies. Visit their website to learn more about all the resources and supports they offer. Don’t be afraid to ask family and friends for temporal support like meals or help keeping up the house. Good nutrition and an orderly environment can be a huge blessing to mom in particular, especially if she doesn’t have to do it! Likewise, even if there isn’t a crisis (in fact, especially if there isn’t a crisis) getting good counseling can help decrease your stress, manage differences and conflict more effectively, empower you to overcome your anxiety and, in general, enable you to do whatever is necessary to create the best environment for your baby in the womb and the best environment for the two of you on the outside. Don’t forget to ask your pastor for Anointing of the Sick for both you and your baby. Make use of this sacrament of healing to receive all the graces God wants to grant you.

Conclusion

There is no way to dress it up. Problem pregnancies are scary, frustrating, and difficult times for both the husband and the wife. But the more you can respond to the challenges together the more you will come to experience this as a time when you grew closer together because you managed to stand at each other’s side, bear each other’s burdens, and learn deeper and more powerful ways to be present to each other.     No one wants the hard times, but if you can face them together, you will see the wonders that God can do in your hearts even through the most challenging experiences of your life together. Be not afraid. Know that God is the Lord of all. Know that you love each other. And when you’re tired, lean on him and each other.

If you and your spouse are struggling with a challenging pregnancy and need additional support, call your PaxCare Tele-Coach today and get the help you are seeking. Call us to get the skills you and your family need to succeed.

Discover your Unique Love Profile

By: Francine and Byron Pirola

loving couple in the sea

 

Do you know your love needs and love busters? Do the quiz below to determine your top five love needs and worst three love busters.

Love Need:  a behaviour or gesture which communicates love to you and helps you feel close and connected to your spouse. Of the following list, choose the five Love Needs that are most effective in communicating to you that you are loved.  That is, if you could only have five Love Needs, and no more, which would you choose?

Cherishment

  • Caring for me, being tender and gentle with me
  • Being of service to me, doing things for me that I enjoy
  • Nurturing me, doting on me
  • Affirming my attractiveness
  • Being considerate and thoughtful, giving way to my preference
  • Being protective of me
  • Self-sacrificing to save me from an unpleasant task or reality
  • Listening to me, being interested in my inner life
  • Trusting me with your feelings and inner thoughts, being emotionally open
  • Being truthful and honest with me
  • Providing materially for me
  • Touching me affectionately, hugs and kisses

Respect

  • Expressing appreciation for me
  • Acknowledging the sacrifices I make for the sake of our future
  • Admiring me, especially in front of others (particularly my friends of the same sex)
  • Affirming my strength in body and character
  • Trusting my judgement
  • Allowing me to initiate and be the leader, being willing to follow me
  • Expressing your desire to be close to me sexually
  • Doing things together, recreational companionship
  • Taking care of your appearance, dressing to please me
  • Giving me time to do the things I like to do
  • Supporting me domestically, with house work, child care etc.
  • Showing an interest in the things that I value

Love Busters: a behaviour pattern or action which actively undermines your sense of being loved and destroys your trust in your spouse. Identify the three Love Busters to which you would react most negatively. That is, the three things which totally undermine your sense of being loved.

  • Lying to me or withholding information from me
  • Breaking promises, being unreliable
  • Being emotionally distant or closed, withdrawing emotionally from me
  • Not consulting me when making decisions or disregarding my preferences
  • Conveying that I am just being ‘tolerated’, that my feelings are not important
  • Not talking with me, ignoring me or getting impatient with me when I’m talking
  • Organising me, making commitments for me without consultation
  • Criticising me, especially in the presence of ………..
  • ‘Servicing’ me sexually, not enjoying being physically close to me
  • Nagging me, reminding me of the things I said I’d do
  • Being indifferent to, or not noticing, the sacrifices I make for us
  • Letting your physical appearance go, dressing in unappealing ways
  • Teasing me, especially in front of ………….
  • Making negative judgements about me, jumping to conclusions about my motives
  • Not trusting that I love you or am committed to you
  • Not trusting my judgement, questioning my decisions
  • Not spending time with me doing things I enjoy
  • Spending a lot of time with your friends

Credit to Francine and Byron Pirola of SmartLoving.

Commitment

By: Francine and Byron Pirola

commitment

Recent work by Scott Stanley (USA) has provided some very useful insights into the nature of commitment. He identifies two types of relationship commitment: constraints and dedication.

Constraint Commitment

Constraint commitment refers to the ‘forces’ that resist the separation of a couple even when one or both partners would prefer to leave the relationship. Constraints tend to accumulate with the relationship and begin from very early on, before marriage has even begun.  While each person will experience a unique set of constraints specific to their emotional needs and social circumstances, there are typical constraints associated with each stage of relationship development:

  • For the DATING COUPLE  constraints might include dependency on the partner to meet social needs, fear of hurting the partner, resistance to re-entering the ‘singles’ market’ and a fear of disappointing expectant friends or family. Longer relationships also carry a resistance to ‘writing off a bad investment’.
  • COHABITATING COUPLES  accumulate constraints rapidly as the amount of jointly owned furnishings and shared resources increases. Separating means at least one having to find alternative accommodation, increased living expenses associated with maintaining two homes, and potentially difficult negotiations over the distribution of their material possessions. This is known as ‘commitment creep’: the couple often never actually makes a conscious choice to commit their lives to each other, but as the constraints accumulate, they become increasingly tied to each other.
  • MARRIED COUPLES  may experience the additional constraints of disrupting the web of extended family relationships, guilt associated with religious beliefs, the dread of acknowledging the failure of the marriage and the loss of a dream, the possible loss of their home if neither is able to ‘buy’ the other out, social embarrassment, and the potential loss of mutual friendships.
  • PARENTS face even further constraints. The responsibility of caring for children and minimising disruption to their lives, social disapproval, complicated negotiations regarding the distribution of financial assets and future support and the fear of damaging the children’s sense of security. For parents with independent adult children, some of these constraints decline as evidenced by the tragic incidence of divorce around the 20-30 year mark.

While constraints have a negative connotation especially in situations of abuse or dysfunction, they perform a very positive and important role in marriage. Constraints slow down a person’s decision to depart a relationship when things get tough. They act to hold a couple together during periods of deep unhappiness and so help a person avoid drastic decisions that may be regretted later.

Dedicated Commitment

While constraint commitment may help a couple avoid impulsive decisions at critical times, it won’t help a couple build a happy, fulfilling marriage. Personal dedication — the decision to willingly invest in building the relationship — is needed to sustain marital happiness over the long term. Stanley identifies four crucial components to dedicated commitment:

  1. A desire for a future together.  Having a long term view of the relationship motivates couples to invest more in the relationship. It also helps them weather the inevitable stormy times.
  2. A sense of being part of a team.  When  spouses feel partnered in their ‘life quest’ each experiences the positive benefits of the other’s support and encouragement.
  3. Giving high priority to the relationship.  Dedicated couples know that they can’t neglect their relationship and expect it to stay healthy. Singles’ activities must make way for interests that can be shared or that support their marriage.
  4. Willingness to sacrifice for the other.  All good marriages are built on the principle of self-sacrifice. Sometimes this means surrendering a prized recreational activity, redefining career goals, or simply watching the other’s preferred TV show or going to their preferred restaurant rather than our own.

A Catholic perspective on Commitment Theory

The Catholic perspective on the marriage commitment has four clear features as articulated in the vows:

  1. Freedom. The marriage must be undertaken “freely and without reservation”. Every engaged couple will experience some constraint pressure that mounts as the wedding gets closer, making harder to ‘call it off” if there are  doubts about proceeding. The presence of this constraint pressure itself is not necessarily an indicator of problems, provided that there is a strong measure of dedicated commitment by both fiances.
  2. Totality.  The marriage vows demand a total commitment and specify in sickness and health, poverty and wealth, better or worse, “until death do we part”.
  3. Fidelity. The wedding vows also specify the commitment to sexual exclusivity and the exchange of rings are taken to be a sign of this commitment “of love and fidelity”.
  4. Life-giving. The vows also require the couple to orientate their marriage towards children and to be open to life and generous with their love in their community. In a Catholic wedding, the couple also commit to raising any children as Catholics.

Credit to Francine and Byron Pirola of SmartLoving.

Getting Help: Finding the Counselor You Deserve

By: Francine and Byron Pirola

couples counseling

If your marriage is in strife and you need some help, it’s important to make sure you get the right help.  Unfortunately, many counsellors and therapists will accept couples for couples counselling without having any specific training. Couples therapy is a unique and one of the most difficult counselling tasks and you deserve a therapist that is fully qualified.  Another common pitfall is a therapist who is ‘neutral’ towards saving the marriage. This position often comes about because counsellors are trained to not impose their values on their clients. The problem is, it’s an inhuman expectation — we all have values about marriage and we bring those values into the work we do and the conversations we have. Regrettably, many counsellors are themselves divorced and will have a bias towards marriage dissolution. If you are looking for support in rebuilding your marriage, this is not the right kind of therapist for you.

So how do you find a marriage-friendly therapist?

  1. Ask around for recommendations, and importantly, ask why that person is being recommended.
  2. Before committing to therapy, ask the counsellor some questions about his attitude to saving a marriage when there are problems, his specific training in couples therapy, what his success rate is.
  3. If you’re not happy with your counsellor and feel that your values are being compromised, find another one!
  4. Keep in mind that many marital problems can be successfully ‘treated’ with marriage education. In fact for some issues, marriage education has been shown to be more effective than counselling. For more information on whether the  SmartLoving Marriage  seminar would be of help to you, click  here  for your local contact.

For more information and suggestions, we recommend Dr Bill Doherty’s work on  ‘Take back your Marriage”,  Questions to Ask your Therapist, What to  Look for in a Therapist.