Newlyweds classically believe that all they need in marriage is LOVE. They reject learning relationship skills early on because they think, ‘We can deal with anything because we love each other’.  They think ‘Why work on a relationship and learn skills for a successful future when we are already a great success together?’. The basic attitude is, love conquers all.  We’ll deal with problems when they arise. Of course by then it may be too late.

Love is not enough to keep marriages together. If love were enough there wouldn’t be staggering divorce statistics. When the going gets tough love gets going.  Couples are left adrift.

Couples who begin all lovey dovey with stars in their eyes, are blind to the small things that irritate them. It’s inconvenient to focus on the way he slurps his soup, the way she leaves her laundry on the bathroom floor or is perpetually late. Research shows that when couples are engaged, they notice the things they like about their partner. Only once they’re married do they begin to notice the things they dislike. And as we all know it’s the little irritants that accumulate until they become THE issue.

One of the greatest problems that lead to couple meltdown isn’t the problem itself, but rather the delay in seeking help. The reason a couple often wait so long to receive help for their difficulties isn’t because they didn’t know they had issues.  Rather, they felt they could deal with these issues by themselves. Only problem is, they lack the skills.  They spiral down into dark places where relationships die a speedy death.

By this stage it’s not about the problem anymore. The real issue is the way they’re dealing with it. Emotions like fear, anger and hurt erupt around the problem, spilling over into the relationship, clouding rational judgement. The fight is on!  Neither spouse is aware of the deeper, unspoken issues that underlie the foundation of their relationship.

Now we ask, “Where is the love that will rescue this battling couple”? It’s long gone. Love alone can’t save a relationship. If a couple don’t know how to deal practically with conflict and difference, which will inevitably arise in every relationship, their relationship won’t survive.

So contrary to popular thinking, investing in relationship education early on is buying relationship insurance. Pre-marriage education teaches the necessary communication skills and emotional tools to identify and resolve issues that inevitably crop up for every couple. The earlier a couple learns these tools the better. Advisably before the two year mark, by which point most habits become hard wired.

Love is a precious gift at the beginning of every marriage. It’s worth investing and insuring in it so that you can enjoy the happy, long lasting relationship you both deserve.

Which relationship skills do you think will take your relationship to the next level? Email me: mlavinpell@gmail.com

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