*One mature adult
*Another mature adult
A healthy relationship is often referred to as the union between two mature adults.
But what IS a mature adult?
Someone old enough to drive? Old enough to vote? Rich enough to finance kids?
An eclectic definition, once offered, states that adult maturity involves the ability to take responsibility, make logical decisions, empathise with others, accept minor frustrations, accept one’s social roles, and know oneself (secure identity).
Why take responsibility in marriage?
Nature offers some insight. A marriage is not a union of parasites. In nature, dependent ticks feed off dogs – a one-sided benefit to the detriment of the other. Rather we are to be like the symbiotic and equally beneficial relationship that exists between the ox and the ox pecker. We each take responsibility for our own thoughts, feelings and actions and then we come together in an interdependent and mutually satisfying relationship where both parties gain.
Why make logical decisions in marriage?
Because we are not children. We aren’t meant to have self-serving emotional knee-jerk reactions to situations that don’t please or suit us. We are to exercise self-restraint and engage our minds, so that heartfelt reactivity can be delayed long enough to appeal to rational, reasonable and well thought out cognitive responsiveness.
Why empathise with others in marriage?
Because it’s no longer all about ME. Our task as married partners (and indeed as humans) is to engage in the US: cooperative, mutually beneficial living rather than competitively, where we deliberately assign room for only one beneficiary in the relationship. We understand that life is difficult at times. We recognise the struggles of others because we have insight into our own struggles and can relate. We do to and for others, therefore, what we would appreciate done to or for us.
Why accept minor frustrations in marriage?
Because we don’t live in utopia. We understand that life and people aren’t perfect. So we give grace to the minor imperfections that exist, as opposed to torment our partners into unrealistic and unattainable perfection. We do this because we stand before a mirror and recognise that the person staring back at us in the reflection is also imperfect!
Why accept one’s social roles in marriage?
Because men and women are distinctly different. They were made differently to fulfil different purposes in their marriages. Accepting and accommodating these differences (and how these are executed within the context of marriage) is the key to success with the opposite gender. We recognise that the two genders have complementary (not competitive) roles and so we seek to fulfil our own unique roles in the marriage, while encouraging and supporting our different partners to fulfil their different unique roles.
Why know oneself and have a secure identity in marriage?
Because we don’t get married to MAKE EACH OTHER HAPPY. Happiness is largely a choice. We seek to know ourselves and create our own happiness, within the context of consideration for our partners. Our partners seek to know themselves and create their own happiness, within the context of consideration for us. With little else added to that, security can be established.
Selfish ME gives way to Selfless US.
“In youth you find out what you care to do and whom you care to be - even in changing roles. In young adulthood you learn whom you care to be with - at work and in private life, not only exchanging intimacies but sharing intimacy. In adulthood, however, you learn to know what and whom you can take care of” (Erikson, 1973)
Written by Debbie Collaros, Psychologist
This week we have had the news that the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie love cord has snapped. The tension of the past probably caught up and with it came a break – divorce. We do not know them personally, and yet, you may have noticed a tinge of sadness that this couple who seemed to represent a model of united human compassion and unconditional love have come to their own love end. Relationships require a certain degree of flexibility, give and take, a kind of elasticity. Here are our 5 tips for the week to keep some give and take in yours:
Paint a positive picture
When you “fall in love” everything about your partner seems to be perfect and you only see the positive aspects of their character. At some point you’ll notice the negative traits of your partner, after all they are only human, and they might annoy you. Avoid the temptation to keep a mental log of these annoyances. Negativity is a powerful lens and it takes very little for a small behaviour to be seen as an overall character flaw. Instead make a mental note of every unique and positive behaviour you note in your partner – and tell your partner. Don’t head for a Perfect picture, head for a Positive one.
Try random acts of kindness
This is one of the more fun tips, and it can be done in so many different ways. Just think of one random act of kindness a day, and surprise them with it. This could be giving him a surprise gift, cooking a surprise dinner or even telling him a simple, but unexpected ‘I love you.’ Affirmation can be a powerful key to a happy relationship. Giving compliments and thanking them for things they do are forms of affirmation as well. Letting your spouse know how much you appreciate that they cleaned the house or that you think that they’re beautiful can lift their mood greatly. How much simpler than a few nice words does it get? Need some ideas? Check out https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas.
Spend quality time together; Keep it fresh
Elastic love cords requires a bank account of positive moments together. So make the time to share a little quality time every day, even just talking ten minutes before going to bed will do. And don’t forget that marriage isn’t a reason to stop dating each other. Go out on a romantic date at least once a month, and change up what you consider a romantic date. Explore a new city or simply visit a different restaurant. Growing together and exploring new activities together might carry the excitement into the relationship, input new topics of conversation and builds up memories of good times. For some ideas of what to do
Choose what you remember
Holding on to grudges and remembering the disappointing aspects of the relationship breeds contempt, and is not only tiring, but also a sure sign that your relationship is heading for rocky waters. Choose to remember the benefits in your relationship, count your blessings, and write them down, just like you would in everyday life. Before going to bed, remember one thing you are grateful for in your relationship and in your partnership.
Trust is priority number one
Maybe the most important thing in any relationship is that you can trust each other fully. Ask your partner what it is that helps them to feel like you trust them. Ask them where they are struggling to feel trusted. Make a mental note of what this is and protect this area. Be prepared to work on the trust fortress, it goes a long way in extending the benefit of the doubt and keeping those love cords elastic.
Statistically, 100% of all divorces started with marriage. Although recent figures (McCrindle Research, 2015) have shown that the divorce rate has declined slightly in Australia over the past decade, the stats still indicate that 1 in 3 marriages end in divorce. Divorce continues to be a pervasive feature of Australian social life and with it, come major social, emotional and financial implications. Co-parenting, re-partnering and the formation of step and blended families (with its accompanying complexity of family and household arrangements) contribute to the diversity (and often difficulty) of family and household forms in Australia.
Furthermore, the Australian Bureau of Statistics also states that in 2014, divorces involving children represented 47% of all divorces granted. That means that nearly half of the country’s children who initially reside in married households, will need to face the emotional and practical repercussions of divorce. Sadly, the parental divorce itself becomes the most consistent family background risk factor for the children’s marital breakdowns in the future: an intergenerational transmission of divorce. A longitudinal Australian study (Burns & Dunlop, 2000) found that children of divorced parents had more behavioural problems than children of intact families, which in turn adversely impacted the quality of their intimate relationships a decade later.
Based on their intensive study of marriages, John and Julie Gottman conclude that emotionally intelligent marriages are those where there is shared meaning, where inevitable conflicts are kept in their place and where positive sentiments override the negative ones on a daily basis. It has been said that marriages often die by ice rather than fire. Positive sentiments (with understanding, honour, respect, humour and affection) limits the physical symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression as well as poor health/immunity (for the couple and their children). Australia is a diverse nation and it has also been argued that a higher rate of divorce in cross-ethnic marriages is most likely due to the cultural differences between husband and wife in their expectations of the institution of marriage and how those differences are to be negotiated. Recognising the warning signs and equipping oneself with the tools necessary to create functional relationships at home, is the responsibility, privilege and learned capability of every married person. I believe it!
If this is your desire but you’re struggling to get there, ask for help!
It is an honour to partner with spouses in their continued service to the health and wellbeing of their marriages and homes.
Location 1: 130 Duffy Avenue, Westleigh 2120
Location2: Suite 112, 33 Lexington Drive, Bella Vista 2153
Ph: 1800 832 588
Location2: Suite 112, 33 Lexington Drive, Bella Vista 2153
Ph: 1800 832 588
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Hornsby and Hills Psychologists. Pennant Hills, Thornleigh, Normanhurst, Beecroft, Turramurra, Baulkham Hills, Castle Hill, Bella Vista, Norwest Areas.