Marriage coaching is a growing service. If you are like me, and I was late in my 40's when I met Julie, my wife, I still had a bit of starry-eyed naivete about marriage.
We were a couple for several years before we married, and I thought I was really committed to her and our son, so I was surprised at what happened when we tied the knot.
I felt a deeper commitment than when we were just cohabitating, and that has grown as I have come to recognize the ways she blesses my life, and the choices she forgoes to stay with me.
That is a humbling experience.
And even though I have that realization and the feeling of humility frequently, there are also moments of frustration around issues like money, sex, parenting, and follow through on promises made, and at those moments of frustration, I need to very effectively manage my thinking and feelings so that I do not turn the self-talk in my head to an accusation making her the persecutor and me the victim.
When I do that internal process, I need a rescuer to save me, because I have given up my power to be anything other than a helpless victim.
I can no longer ask for what I need, offer choice, negotiate, or make decisions, all part of what my marriage coaches, John and Julie Schwartz-Gottman, say are part and parcel of The Art and Science of Love, their workshop which is available to the public.
I really like the Gottman model, in part because John Gottman has written about domestic violence extensively, and I run a small program for perpatrators of domestic violence. The Gottman's work rings true for me.
I have used their model with couples referred for domestic violence counseling with good results, and what I find is that when couples sit down the the Gottman model and videos, they are very easily able to complete the exercises, complete them cordially and even with a laugh or two.
However, in that proverbial 1/18th second that Csikszentmihalyi talks about in his book FLOW, that same couple will revert to victim-persecutor-rescuer thinking and feelings, which can quickly escalate to divorce talk, and get stuck in it the drama triangle, and stay there for years.
In fact, even with all my experience with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, I can get stuck in that kind of thinking pattern and find it difficult to extricate myself back to a place of gratitude.
So marital coaching for me must involve a significant amount of coaching about thinking and how my thinking patterns need to be flexible.
I want to be able to create the thoughts and physiology of love or at least contentment much more often than I create the physiology of resentment or fear.
Marriage coaching programs that I have seen do not offer enough of that kind of awareness, although the Gottman model gives us many opportunities to create what they call Creating a Shared Love Map, and Building Fondness and Admiration, and recognizing invitations to Turn Toward Each Other During Everyday Events as a way to build an attitude of gratitude.
It is here that my marriage coaching would begin to include HeartMath training, which is a tool that folks can use to create a physiology of contentment by cuing the hearts intelligence, which is an affiliative and cooperative intelligence.
The heart has a sophisticated nervous system all its own, which is now being studied by neurocardiologists who are creating another new field of knowledge.
It turns out that the heart impacts the brain emotionally much more than vice-versa and I can train my heart to beat coherently using the HeartMath tool, so I can switch into the gratitude is the attitude thinking and feeling literally heart beat by heart beat if I want to.
I no longer need to remain in the victim place cognitively or physiologically, I can move to a place of coherence that opens up the higher perceptual centers in my brain for insight and access to my listening and communication skills as I talk to my wife about the issue we need to negotiate today.
Does it sound implausible to be able to manage my physiology heart beat by heart beat or my thinking thought by thought?
The research is showing us that both can be done, with excellent benefits to both our brain and our heart, which translates into more loving communications with your mate, and that can happen in the proverbial heart beat.
Here is a link to the HeartMath tools, one for you and another for your child.
Benefits of Marriage
There are many health benefits resulting from a solid relationship, including a longer life. Interesting and vibrant relationships are also a key piece of the brain fitness puzzle.
The writers out there like Simon Evans,Ph.D. and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D, co-authors of Brainfit for Life, who are describing the pillars of brain fitness all say that interaction with other humans is very important to encouraging neuroplasticity and neurogenesis in our brains, and as a Boomer, I want all the neuroplasticity and neurogenesis I can get.
The pillars of brain fitness are, physical exercise, nutrition, including lots of omega 3 fatty acid, stress management, sleep, and novel learning experiences which might include using computerized brain fitness programs like Lumosity, the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program, or Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro.
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