Many in our community are celebrating Easter today, and, to those of you who do, may I wish you a truly happy and blessed holy day. For all of us, Christian or not, this time of year represents a time of renewal as nature begins to blossom and the temperatures finally begin to rise. It can also be a time of renewal for your marriage — if you want it to be and if you are willing to do what it takes for that to happen.
As the spring season intensifies, I want to remind you that your marriage will also go through seasons. I visited with a young couple recently who are very much in the glow of their five-month marriage. I hope they are prepared for the fact that this "glow" cannot possibly last. Researchers have concluded that it typically fades after 18 to 24 months. And this is not necessarily a bad thing. If we all remained in that gaga, euphoric state of heart and mind we'd never get anything done, and we'd all have 20 kids.
It is natural, normal and even healthy for this stage of love to transition into a more settled, confident and secure form of love, which by the way, is a decision along with a feeling. I wish more couples would realize at the beginning of their marriage that their felt love and appreciation for each other will ebb and flow over their lifetimes together. Were they better prepared for the fact that storms will come, they would be far more able to withstand and overcome those storms.
For those of us who have progressed out of that original state of exhilaration and ecstasy with our mate, let me remind you also that difficulties in marriage are normal and in no way an indication that you married the wrong person or that you are doomed to a life of misery and despair. Unfortunately, too many folks, when facing those hard times, decide it is better to "cut and run" than to weather and ride them out. For most, this is a mistake.
There is a commonly held finding in the field of marital research that couples in a troubled marriage have a greater chance of being happy if they decide to work on their relationship and fix it than if they end it. One study I have seen looked at couples on the verge of divorce and checked back in with them five years later. Of those who decided to divorce, approximately 50 percent reported they were happier post-divorce. Of those who decided to stay with their marriage, approximately 80 percent reported being happier now than they were previously. So if your marriage is not where you want it to be, it seems your best decision would be to do whatever it takes to get it back to a better state.
So here's some good news and bad news. First the good. Help for your marriage is readily available to you. There is a plethora — I just love that word — of resources in the form of books, classes, workshops, counselors and coaches, which can help bring you to a better place. I'm very familiar with a program designed to help couples in horrible marriages come back to a state of togetherness.
Now the bad news. It is usually very difficult to fix a problem in which you are a major contributor to the problem. We certainly live in a self-help culture. In fact, my favorite book of all time is "How to Stop Buying Self-Help Books." Actually volume seven is the best in the series. OK, that's not really my favorite book. I got the idea from an old Frank and Earnest cartoon strip, but it just seemed to fit so nicely with the point I'm trying to make that some problems require outside assistance and there should be no shame or embarrassment with that realization.
We are fortunate to have counselors and coaches in our area who are ready, willing and quite able to help you fix a broken or malfunctioning marriage. One problem, however, with traditional marriage counseling is that each spouse goes for the express purpose of blaming or trying to get the other to change. This is not a prescription for success, so if you are going to go for marriage help, please make sure you go with the right attitude and a sincere willingness to do your part.
A very common source of marital discord is that either or both parties are not functioning at optimum levels. When a spouse is unhealthy and needy, it is difficult — if not impossible — for him or her to give to their partner what he or she needs most. So I want to leave you with two recommendations to consider to help both husband and wife get to a better place individually so that they might get to a better place together.
My first recommendation is for men. Several times each year a Warrior at Heart men's retreat is held at Camp Redcloud in Lake City, Colo. This retreat features horseback riding, repelling, skeet shooting, mountain biking, high mountain fishing and more fun recreational activities. Also during the weekend, participants go through a film series by John Eldridge, author of "Wild at Heart" and other great books. The focus of the weekend is on what it takes to succeed as a man, especially in his important roles as husband and father.
My second recommendation, as you may have guessed, is for women. On Saturday, May 3, a Woman 2 Woman conference will be held at Crossroads Community Church, 2400 North Butler Ave. in Farmington. The featured speaker is Debbie Taylor Williams, who will be sharing on being a Plan 'A' Woman in a Plan 'B' World. More information is available by calling the folks at Crossroads at 505-325-2600.
So often in life, we get to operating on cruise control and that, my friends, is not a good place to be. Individuals and marriages that are not growing tend to atrophy and die. So please consider these two suggestions as ways to learn, to grow, and to be a better person and spouse.Ron Price is the co-founder and executive director of the Four Corners Coalition for Marriage & Family, a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to strengthening and equipping marriages and families in the Four Corners area. He can be reached at 505-327-7870.