Marriage Success: More About Skills Than Feelings

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When Love May Not Be Enough


A young couple sits on our coach, excitedly telling us of their wedding plans: the venue, the guest list, food, and where they are going on their honeymoon. Although their conversation focuses on the wedding ceremony, we’re happy that they decided to invest in their marriage by signing up for our premarital coaching. I ask, “Why are you getting married?” They look at each other as if it’s a trick question. Then they turn toward us and in union respond, “Because we love each other.” By the tone of their voice, it’s obvious they are punctuating their answer with a question mark.

Marriage Statistics

If nearly all premarital couples say they are getting married because they love each other, and if nearly 50% of first marriages and 70% of second marriages end in divorce, you might comfortably conclude that “love” is not enough to sustain a healthy, long-term marriage. Why is love not enough? Perhaps, whether they are aware of it or not, the way these couples are referring to “being in love” is actually a physical response of “feeling in love” that is wholly driven by the chemicals Oxytocin and Serotonin. Unfortunately, studies show these intense chemicals diminish over 6 to 24 months and cannot sustain themselves during a long-term relationship or marriage.

Love Chemicals

When the “love” chemicals dissipate, couples who rate their marriages as fulfilling and happy have tools in their toolkit which allow them to communicate and solve problems that are a normal part of two people becoming one. Countless couples argue and never resolve or manage their conflict, and their marital issues continually recycle and present themselves in different ways. Spouses who rate their marriages as strong and satisfying have effectively dealt with their differences and sores.

What is love? It’s more than a feeling and rooted in knowing a person on a deep human level in conjunction with accepting who they are. Accepting doesn’t necessarily mean liking everything about them. No one can genuinely love someone they don’t truly know. I feel my husband’s love, because I am completely vulnerable in showing him who I am. He knows me as well as myself and chooses to accept my good, bad, and ugly.

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Marriage Strengthening

Marriages need strengthening now more than ever. Societal forces are conspiring even more to undermine couples and marriage. The rate of marriages is declining in favor of increasing rates of cohabitation. Few would argue against equal rights, opportunities, and pay for women, but this shift is changing women’s attitudes toward men. As women grow in independence, they view men as less essential. Now more than ever, we need to fight for marriage and protect its legacy for the couples and their families.

Where does a couple start? Whether you are in a serious relationship, premarital, or married, find a highly recommended marriage coach who can meet you where you stand, help you define your marriage vision, and then take you on a journey that includes communication and conflict resolution skills, budgeting, marriage needs and relationship expectations. Find one who will help you self-explore to understand how you show up to your significant other based on your worldviews and values. Get the support you need to have a fabulous marriage!


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a marriage coach along with her husband, Darin. She helps couples across the world via seminars, workshops, and private sessions. Sandra customizes a relationship journey for her clients based on her expertise and curriculum content from Prepare & Enrich, SYMBIS, FOCCUS, and Marriage on the Rock. Couples design their marriage, learn tools, and then work toward achieving their vision. Learn more about the ministry or sign up for a session by contacting Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

10 Questions to Build Greater Intimacy

brooke-cagle-Y3L_ZQaw9Wo-unsplashThe discipline of asking open-ended questions paired with intentionally listening is a powerful gift in building intimacy. Intimacy is built first on a foundation of trust and then a belief that your partner truly knows you. You may have the trust part down but struggle with how to build greater connection. If you want to learn more about your partner and what makes him or her tick, you need to ask lots of questions.

suzana-sousa-IC1_YWQn6so-unsplashMany people are not gifted in the art of formulating and asking questions, so let me offer 10 questions that will help you know your partner at a deeper level. Each question should also be followed with asking, “Why?”

  1. What was the happiest moment of your adult life?
  2. Who has been the most important person in your life?
  3. If you had a crystal ball, what one thing would you want to know about your future?
  4. What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken?
  5. You’ve just won $1 million in the lottery; describe what tomorrow looks like? How would your answer differ if your winnings were $10 million?
  6. What’s on your bucket list? What have you scratched off your bucket list because you’ve done it?
  7. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, whom would you choose?
  8. Describe what love looks like in action.
  9. How would you describe yourself to a stranger in one, two, and three words?
  10. What are your non-negotiables or must-haves in a forever relationship?
  11. Bonus [for the older readers]: If you had a CB radio, what would your handle be?

The list of intimacy-building questions is endless. If you liked these 10 questions, think of 10 more. Then ask your partner to answer them. I’d love to know your favorite question from either the list or one that you’ve thought of yourself. And don’t forget to tell me why it’s your favorite. You can comment below or email me.

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About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in premarital/marriage, finances, ministry, and leadership. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves. You can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

What’s the Greatest Sin that Wrecks Relationships?

Judgment Free Zone

Sin is a topic that Christians love to debate. Everyone seems to have an opinion on sin. Is one sin worse than another? Are all sins equal? How will God hold us accountable for our sins when we get to heaven? How should sin be punished? Who should be the punisher? The list of “sinful” questions goes on and on?

I’ll admit two things about sin: (1) I have as many opinions on sin as you do, and (2) I also believe I’m probably dead-wrong about my opinions. Why? Because I believe that our human minds can’t comprehend the fullness of God, the dimensions of His universe, and the depth of His views on sin. We can’t escape sin, but we can do our best to identify it and understand how it shapes our worldview and impacts our relationships. Only then can we choose to do something about our sin.

Sin That Unravels Relationships

What’s the greatest sin that prevents or unravels connection with others? After much thought, I believe it’s the sin of Judgment. Sure, many things can undermine relationships such as one person cheating or abusing another. Most people would easily agree that these extreme behaviors are sins. However, your connection with your mother, father, siblings, children, co-workers, spouse, and friends are likely on a continuum of closeness dependent on the number and quality of your interactions.

What’s happening when you feel more or less connected? I’d suggest you feel closest when you feel accepted, regardless of whether the other person agrees with you and that you feel more distant when you feel judged. Judgment causes separation.

Judgment

How easy would it be for you not to judge someone? Difficult? We judge everything from (1) what people wear, (2) the tattoos, piercings, and education they have, (3) how they speak and the words they use, and (4) what type of car they drive, house they live in, and what job they hold. These are just a few areas of judgment. How often do you find yourself making unsolicited suggestions in how someone should change for the better? Even if you don’t say it, how often do you think it? Despite your honorable intentions, I bet he or she felt judged. The result? Likely more emotional distance between the two of you.

Can you accept someone without agreeing with them? Suspending judgment means you will still love and accept the person and be appropriately helpful even when you don’t agree with their opinions, decisions, and behaviors. I’m not referring to extremes, where severe personal boundaries and protection are needed, but in your typical relationships.

How to Get the Plank Out of Your Eye

If you want to grow closer to someone in your life, think about how the sin of your judgment is interfering with your relationship. Will you love and accept someone without judging them? One of my favorite Scriptures:

“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5, NIV).

I keep this Scripture in the forefront of my mind, because I wrestle with this very sin more than any other. My husband even has permission to quote me that verse when he sees the judgment coming out, and he has said it a few times. All of us need a little reminding at least every once in a while.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership, premarital/marriage, finances, and ministry. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her at www.shinecrossingsministry.com

 

 

 

Marriage Coaching: The Best Gift a Parent or Friend Can Give

How would you feel if a family member told you that you’d given her the best gift ever? What would you do if a friend shared that your gift improved or saved his marriage? You’d probably smile and do it again.

Gift certificate VISTA frontDespite the depressing divorce statistics, for those who go through premarital/marriage coaching—not counseling—they say, “If I’d only gotten coaching sooner, it may have saved my marriage,” and “This is a relationship game changer.” When many parents are gifting their children with a “big” wedding day, the most valuable gift they might give may be premarital coaching that lasts from “I do” until “death do us part.”

Most premarital journeys cost less than $500—the cost of a long weekend get-away. Many people believe they are good at relationships, but the divorce statistics prove otherwise. Many troubled couples, who choose to stay married, may not have a true marriage. How many spouses create separate lives including sleeping in different bedrooms?

If you know someone who is dating with the potential for marriage, an engaged couple, or a struggling married couple, consider gifting them with a relationship coaching certificate. It may be the best present you give them this year and for years to come.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon, The People’s Coach, is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com