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What is the secret to a long and lasting marriage?

Ask an MFT #1

Ask an MFT is an opportunity to answer questions from my followers on social media who would like some insights into the world of marriage and family therapy on many different topics. As I begin this platform, I want to reassure my readers that their identities are protected. While I get many questions, not all of them are useful for the general public so I can only respond to a select few each time. Ok, let’s dive in!

Q: What do you recommend I do about my wife’s drinking problem?

Robin: There are many things to consider here, and of course, many unknowns. I should probably start by saying that there are specific licensed professionals who specialize in drug and alcohol counseling, and I am not one of those. Having said that, the first question I would have is, does your wife see her drinking as problematic?

If she’s not there yet, there are still things you can do to support her. You can stop buying alcohol. You can stop drinking alcohol (at the very least, stop drinking while you’re around her). You can attend support groups that are just for the family members of people who struggle with addiction.

If she does admit that she has a problem, it can be helpful to have her join a support group such as AA or call a drug and alcohol treatment center in your area. There are fabulous programs that are aimed at helping the individual learn how to manage their addiction and begin their journey of recovery.

Q: What is the secret to a long and lasting marriage?

Robin: I’m afraid there is not one secret. Sorry! There are however, key traits that couples who are in long lasting and satisfying marriages have in common. For instance, the couples who stay together and are truly satisfied in their relationship tend to:
-Have a strong friendship with one another in which they feel emotionally secure to share anything with one another.
-Depend on and rely on their partner, and know that even when things go wrong, they give their partner the benefit of the doubt.
-Identify when a disagreement is starting to become a fight in the very early stages and slow down their communication process to listen for understanding before interrupting with a solution or rebuttal
-Make daily efforts to connect and share appreciation for one another
-Have clearly defined roles in their household for who will do what
-Have a solid understanding of what their partner’s life goals and dreams are
-Have a way to deal with stressors outside of the relationship such that these stressors do not “split up the team mentality” of the couple
-Create and maintain rituals of connection for real intimacy, romance, passion, and of course, great sex

As this is the first official Ask an MFT post in what will undoubtedly be a long running series, I’m afraid these two were the only ones that qualified with regards to my criteria for responding. Keep your questions coming!

Robin S. Smith, MS, LCMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in clinical practice in Bethesda MD, and specializes in relationship issues for couples, families, and individuals, for improved quality of life. His clinical specialties include: transition to parenthood for new and expecting parents, infidelity, sex and intimacy issues, premarital counseling, and trauma. Robin has given talks to various groups including hospital administrators, graduate students, therapists, and child birth educators. He is the primary contributor to Your Couples Therapist Blog.
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