SYR Podcast # 8 Session Notes
(Scroll down to end of notes for podcast audio)
I’m excited to share the news of my newest book, The 7 Pillars of a Lasting Marriage. This project was percolating in the back of my mind for awhile after being asked by my blog readers and the couples I work with in counseling to describe what I see as the central features of a successful marriage or relationship.
Today I’d like to share my thoughts with you about this important topic. I’ve observed that couples who do well (whether in couples counseling or in general) share certain characteristics—what I like to call pillars—that support and enhance their relationship. Each pillar has a stabilizing affect on the relationship; they often work in tandem, influencing each other in a dynamic way. And, depending on the context of your relationship, certain pillars might be more relevant at a particular moment than others.
Here is a brief excerpt from The 7 Pillars of a Lasting Marriage (I go into much greater detail about each pillar and how you can incorporate them into your relationship throughout the book, as well as sharing how other couples have done so).
The Seven Pillars of a Lasting Marriage
Can you put yourself in your partner’s shoes? Can you imagine what it feels like to be him/her? Can you see him/her as an ally—and more like you than unlike you—even in the midst of an argument? This will naturally help you be a more loving and responsive partner and also will shift your perspective in what can be remarkable ways.
What does it mean to be a mindful spouse? Couples have a great deal of power and influence over each other, and too often this fact is ignored or forgotten. Our primary means of influence are the words we use to express ourselves to our partner. You can make the decision to make your partner feel loved, supported, and connected through what you say to him/her. And making that particular decision doesn’t take any more time or effort than making the decision to choose words (or gestures) that push your partner away (or worse, belittle or demean him/her).
Sometimes people think expressing humility means giving away your power. Not at all. True humility doesn’t mean becoming a doormat; it means putting aside arrogance and the belief that your way is always the best way.
Openness and presence in your marriage require you to remove the clutter from your mind so that you can be more fully engaged with your partner in the moment. It’s hard to put into words exactly what it is, but presence is something your partner will feel (and s/he will certainly feel the lack of your presence, even though you may be sitting an inch away). Some things that oppose presence are: distraction, being too quick to reply to something your partner has said, or reacting emotionally to your partner’s message or in some way that pulls you out of the moment.
When you are not laboring under an arrogant mindset that sends your partner the message (unspoken or otherwise) that his/her reaction to something is unwarranted or over the top, you can be genuinely open to what your partner is needing from you, as well as open to the gifts that s/he brings to the relationship.
Not everyone can be enthusiastic all the time, and certainly we all show it in different ways. My wife, for instance, is a self-described “gusher,” while I am much more quiet and even-keeled in my responses. Someone who didn’t know me might think I wasn’t enthusiastic at all if they witnessed my wife and I both reacting to the same piece of good news.
However, my wife can tell when I’m enthusiastically listening to something she’s communicating, or when I’m enthusiastically sharing something I’d like her to be actively present for. True enthusiasm can’t be faked (at least not with the ones who know us best). And true enthusiasm occurs alongside curiosity: you can’t get excited about something going on for your partner if you’re typically not curious about your mate overall.
As with each of these seven pillars, the goal isn’t to force yourself into feeling something you’re not—it’s to foster healthy, pro-relationship mindsets that are already within you, but that you may have neglected for a while.
Do you feel grateful for what you already have in your life, or are you only focused on what’s lacking? While part of self-improvement is identifying areas where change is desired, if you stop there and fail to foster an “attitude of gratitude,” any changes you make will likely be short-lived or will not bring you long-term satisfaction.
Are you expressing an honest message? This doesn’t mean you have to be cruel (“Wow, honey, that dress makes you look a sofa!”). Rather, are you contributing honesty to the relationship, or are you adding deception into the mix? Are you being your authentic self or are you closing your true self off? You’d be amazed at how many people are less than honest with their mates on a regular basis and then are indignant when they discover they’ve been lied to. What you put into the relationship tends to come back to you.
So there you have it, a brief overview of the 7 pillars of a lasting marriage.
Which pillars are you already aware of in your marriage or relationship? Which pillars do you and your partner need to make a greater conscious effort to incorporate in your relationship?
To find out more information about my new book, click The 7 Pillars of a Lasting Marriage (you will be taken to my Amazon page).
Until next time,
Dr. Rich Nicastro