As you already know by now, I curse. Actually, I can swear like a sailor. Thank you, thank you very much. There is, however, a word too vile for me to utter, hurl, spit, or snarl. It's the "D" word. You know the one of which I speak:
I now have 4 sets of friends who are bandying about with that word. That's some dangerous territory. Far be it from me to offer advice. Darling and I work hard on our marriage, but that doesn't mean I'm in any position to tell my girlfriends what to do. All I can do is offer my perspective.
That makes me wonder, though, whose advice is more helpful to the woman whose marriage is troubled: advice from the friend who's on her subsequent marriage or advice from the never-divorced, married friend? I don't know.
I do know it pays to have girlfriends who value marriage as more than just a vehicle for personal happiness and children. There are times when I feel overwhelmed with frustration in my marriage. There are times when I sound as if I could venture beyond basic griping and my girlfriends reign me in quickly and remind me of my commitment before God to honor my marriage. I know this happens because periodically, in the midst of gritching, a friend will say, "but you know he loves you and have you thought about...(insert helpful marital advice)." I know that surrounding myself with women who value the sacrament of marriage helps keep my marriage healthy. My friends love me and they are on my side, but they are also on the side of marriage. When I'm having a rotten day or week or month with Darling, having friends who love me enough to love my marriage is vital.
Another thing that helps keep my marriage healthy - and offers serious solace about my marriage - is Dr. John Gottman's The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. I'm not a huge fan of self-help books, but this book is different.
I didn't realize, for instance, that most marriage counseling is based on research gleaned from self-reporting surveys, not science. A woman who's happy in her marriage will generally say she's a "7 or 8" on a scale of 1-10, "10" being the happiest. A woman who's being abused will say she's a "10." Needless to say, self-reporting surveys are not necessarily accurate pictures of what makes a successful marriage. Most marriage counseling does more damage than reconstruction. Well, duh. Look at the research on which they're basing their advice.
Gottman's approach is based on decades of scientific research. He's studied couples - newlyweds and also couples married for 40-50 years - to determine what makes a marriage work. He uses blood samples to track stress hormone levels, blood pressure, heart rate, perspiration levels, etc to support his findings. Reading his book is like sitting down with my parents, aunts and uncles, and elders in the church and hearing what makes a working marriage. The only difference is I'm not defensive or reading between the lines or discounting solid advice because it's not from some buttinsky relative or churchy chick, but from a researcher sharing defensible theories.
Anyway, my brain is on overload thinking about my friends. My heart hurts for their struggles. I do think, however, that those who want to save their marriage and are willing to work to save it, will. And I do know that when you and your spouse work together to get through a struggle, you come out stronger and healthier on the other side. And that is worth it.
P.S. I am an Amazon Associate, so if you purchase the book (which I do happen to own), I get some kind of financial incentive. I'm new to the whole "Amazon Associate" thing, so no idea what I actually "get."