What do Michelle and Barack Obama, Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka, Dax Sheppard and Kristen Bell, and Patrick and Jillian Dempsey have in common (other than being famous faces)? They all attribute the strength and success of their marriages to couples counseling. That’s right!
We look at couples who have to live out their private lives in the public eye, often under scrutiny, and wonder what happens behind closed doors. There are particularly beloved celebrities who seem to be accessible, likeable, and appear to have it all together (drastically from the many disaster celebrity couples out there — you know who they are!). Which is why it is so refreshing when those aspiring couples are willing to publicly share that they are or have been to marriage counseling. As loving and successful as their marriages may be, they know the importance of seeking high quality help from a couples therapist. Not because their marriages were terrible, but because they knew there was something special they wanted to hold on to.
In fact, these celebrities attribute learning to take responsibility, being able to air-out differences productively, arguing fairly and respectfully, and even saving the marriage from the brink to taking that time for each other to see a couples therapist.
I’ve discussed in a past entry about what could prompt a couple to see a therapist before the relationship is on life support. Working on your marriage rather than trying to resuscitate your marriage will not only make it more likely that your marriage will last, but more importantly it will be a healthy and thriving one.
A great marriage takes work. Scratch that. It takes intentionality. Work implies a laborious process, devoid of enjoyment. Intentionality, on the other hand, implies presence, thoughtfulness, and desire to give it your best.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, when it comes to almost anything else of importance in our lives, we take the time to read, research, converse with others, or consult an expert: think of your career, or your kids, or your golf game. How many books have you read, how many people have you talked to, how many experts or consultants have you enlisted to ensure that you are “the best” at what you do? Now think about your marriage….
Why is it that we assume marriages should be easy? Maybe the logic is “Hey, I did the work up front: finding, impressing, compromising. All that was intended to make the rest easy.” While marriages are not about duty and servitude, they are, like all living organisms, always evolving, changing, transforming.
Recently I was spending a beautiful Fall Sunday morning with a friend and colleague who agreed to teach a few of us how to make bread. While showing us all that bread making entails, my friend pulled out a canister with a very potent smell: “It’s live yeast!” He explained the importance of attending to it, finding the right temperature to keep it alive, how you need to add warm water to enlive it, and how you have to keep “feeding” it. All this work, for yeast and home-made bread?! And what a wonderful metaphor for marriage.
Your marriage is like bread-making: it calls for careful measurements (although, it can be quite forgiving), it requires remembering to frequently attend to what allows it to rise, all orchestrated in the spirit of feeding yourself and those you love with something warm and delicious.
*** If you are ready to attend to your marriage, contact me for a free 15 min. phone consultation to discuss how to keep your relationship thriving. ***