Linda and Charlie Bloom
1. Pay Attention! More marriages die of neglect than of irreconcilable difference. Relationships require on-going maintenance in order to thrive. If your relationship isn’t thriving, it’s dying; there’s no middle ground. Many people take better care of their cars and trucks than they do their marriages. And although most of us wouldn’t think of driving 50,000 miles without changing the oil in our vehicle, we go months without saying “I love you,” going on a romantic getaway, or simply taking a few hours to be alone together without any competing distractions. Relationships thrive when given adequate attention but they wilt like a dying flower when neglected.
2. Address problems when they come up; don’t wait until later. Waiting until you feel like dealing with problems isn’t a good idea. Problems generally don’t get easier to deal with over time; they get harder. Breakdowns and disappointments are inevitable in all relationships. Acknowledging and addressing difficulties early on rather than waiting for things to get bad can make a world of difference. Pain denied is pain prolonged.
3. Take care of yourself. The best gift that you can give your spouse is your own well-being. The more healthy, happy and fulfilled you are, the more you have to offer your partner. Taking care of yourself involves more than what you eat and how much you exercise, it includes the responsibility to know what nourishes your soul and spirit and seeing to it that you bring those experiences into your own life.
4. Learn to appreciate the differences. In relationships, differences are inevitable; conflict is optional. There’s a reason that opposites attract. It’s because each partner has something to offer that the other. We seek out others, not despite our differences, but because of them. Yet the differences can devolve into conflict when we try to coerce others to agree with us rather than appreciating the value of the unique gifts and perspectives we each bring. This is often easier said than done, but it’s a powerful antidote to conflict.
5. Take time to make love. One of the first symptoms of a distressed relationship can be a diminishment in the frequency of sexual activity. For some reason, couples that once thrived on passionate lovemaking are often willing to tolerate a desert of physical intimacy where a lush garden once bloomed. Great sex is more than just an experience of sensual pleasure. It’s a means through which we delight in each other’s bodies, give expression to our desires, show our love, and share the joy of losing ourselves in bliss. If the flame of sexuality is neglected too long, the spark may go out. Don’t wait until the embers are cold, that may be too late.
6. Don’t take your relationship for granted. There’s no such thing as a divorce-proof marriage. If you think your marriage is so perfect that divorce isn’t even a possibility, think again. This belief can lead to a kind of complacency. While this may not always lead to divorce, it can lead to something equally dangerous: a flat, or even dead marriage. Staying together isn’t the goal of a great marriage, thriving is.
7. Don’t let disappointments turn into resentments. In an effort to avoid conflict many of us try to ‘get over’ feelings of anger or disappointment. There is no problem with doing this when we can genuinely and completely let these feelings go. If we can’t, they are likely to turn into resentment, and become a toxic presence in our relationship. Telling the truth about difficult feelings in a respectful and non-blaming way can often bring about greater closeness and understanding, while stuffing those feelings can have the opposite effect.
8. Don’t wait too long to get help. The average couple that enters marriage counseling has been troubled for six years. By this time, it’s likely that workable difficulties have disintegrated into entrenched patterns. By all means, do everything that you can to handle challenges on your own, but be willing to recognize when your best efforts aren’t doing the trick. When you hit roadblocks that you’re not able to overcome on your own, bring in professional help.
9. Don’t forget to Play. When work and play get out of balance in a marriage a correction needs to be made. Those times that we think that we don’t have the time to take time out to relax and play with each other are when we most need it. It doesn’t require a long tropical vacation to reinvigorate a relationship. Sometimes a short break from a life of ongoing responsibilities can be enough to remind us of why we wanted to be together in the first place. Enjoying each other’s company is one of the best forms of marriage insurance that there is!
Trained as psychotherapists and relationship counselors, Charlie Bloom M.S.W. and Linda Bloom L.C.S.W. have worked with individuals, couples, groups, and organizations since 1975.
They have lectured and taught at many learning institutes throughout the USA, including the Esalen Institute, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, 1440 Multiversity, the California Institute for Integral Studies, the Meridian University, John F. Kennedy University, the Crossings, Omega institute, the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology, Sonoma State University, University of California at Berkeley Extension Program, the Hoffman Institute, the World Health Organization and many others.
They have offered their seminars and lectures seminars throughout the world, in countries including China, Japan, Indonesia, Denmark, Sweden, India, Brazil, Mexico, and Canada.
Charlie and Linda are the authors of three published books, including their best-seller, 101 Things I Wish I Knew When Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last (Over 100,000 copies sold).
Their new book That Which doesn’t Kill Us: How One Couple Became stronger at the Broken Places was published in April 2018 by Sacred Life Publishers. They blog for several on-line journals on a regular and frequent basis, including, Huffington Post, Psych Central, OM Times and Psychology Today where their posts have received over 5 million hits. Charlie and Linda have been married since 1972 and are the parents of Jesse and Sarah and grandparents to Devin, Ashton, and Seth.
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