Couple Spotlight: Meet Joan and Frank (and how an old song turned their marriage around)
To say that Joan and Frank were constantly arguing is an understatement—marital conflict and relationship problems had become the norm, and to adapt to this painful reality, the couple simply started avoiding one another. What little communication occurred centered on their children and other household practicalities.
Like many couples caught in the grips of negativity, each felt the other was being unreasonable and a poor communicator.
After reading several relationship advice books and marriage help articles, the couple realized that the added stress of a recent move was probably a major factor in their relationship struggle, but this information wasn’t enough to reverse the downward spiral.
Marriage Help: So What Helped Them?
One evening Frank was listening to music online, and an 80s song that he and Joan used to love started playing. As he tells it, “I started thinking about the way we used to get all silly and dance together, so I called out to Joan to ask her if she remembered this song. I could see her face light up when she heard it…”
On the surface this might seem like a trivial exchange, but what ended up happening is that Joan and Frank spent most of that evening reminiscing about the good times they shared throughout their twenty-three year relationship. The more they reminisced, the more each began to soften emotionally (become less defensive and start to express warmth toward one another). Slowly a door of opportunity opened that allowed them to take the steps needed to break the cycle of negativity.
A one-time event wouldn’t have been enough
Rather than let this positive moment quickly fade into the ongoing backdrop of marital conflict, Joan asked her husband if he’d be willing to spend each day talking about positive memories they shared with each other. Frank quickly jumped on this invitation and for several weeks the couple began discussing one positive memory after another. This led to conversations of what they’re grateful for in their marriage today.
While there wasn’t an immediate turnaround, the couple slowly regained their emotional footing by increasing their mindfulness of all that has and continues to work in their marriage. Embracing a gratitude mindset (which takes time and effort to cultivate) can be a powerful antidote to the stresses that impact so many relationships.
Is there something you can use from Joan and Frank’s story to strengthen your own relationship?