Virtual marriage checkup

By: Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed. and the Ontario Association for Marriage & Family Therapy

Author: Canadian Living


Virtual marriage checkup

By: Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed. and the Ontario Association for Marriage & Family Therapy

The starry-eyed bride and puffed-up-with-pride groom believe their marriage was made in heaven and trust it will work. Some time later, that same couple may sit in front of a marriage counsellor and say, "Our marriage just isn't working" or "I'm not in love any more".

Marriage styles
Marriages don't just automatically work, but couples can work to create the style of marriage they desire. Agreeing on a marriage style, from traditional male-dominated to female-dominated or partnership style, can be an important first step. It is also important that both members of the couple are working on the same goal.

Genuine marriages are based on agreements the couple make with each other. Not only do they make deals, they work to hold up their part of the responsibilities they assume. For example, if one agrees to do the laundry and the other to handle the garbage, they accept the job and do it without having to be asked, nagged or reminded. In a well-functioning marriage, each partner takes his or her roles and responsibilities seriously.

They do not:
• see their partner as a parent.
• treat their partner disrespectfully.
• shrink from the practical jobs of running their home.
• blame their partner for their unhappiness.
• run home to Mom or others and complain about their spouse.

They do:
• act like a responsible adults.
• speak politely without swearing and name-calling.
• accept that it was their choice in partner.
• make time and have energy for sexual activities.
• laugh and play together.

Romance and responsibility
So often when responsibility walks in the door, romance flies out the window. Romance and responsibility are opposites, but every marriage needs both.

Couples can rekindle that in love feeling
One way to work at a marriage is to keep time, money and energy for adult couple time. Another is to discuss problems with your spouse and not with someone who has no power or ability to solve the problem. Too often people turn to a family member, a friend or start a new relationship instead of clearly identifying the problem and working it through with their partner. Problems can be solved, but it takes two willing partners who are committed to being married to each other. Sometimes it takes professional help.

Page 1 of 2 -- Give your marriage a "mini-check up" on page 2

Trying to decide if your marriage needs a tune-up? Take the Ontario Association for Marriage & Family Therapy's (OAMFT) marriage mini-checkup with your mate and check the health of your relationship. Review the following statements and see if you and your partner agree with them. (Checklist adapted from the Gleam Powell Checklist.)

Marriage mini-checkup
1. We are often playful together. We have fun, just the two of us. (Agree or Disagree)

2. I feel comfortable telling most of my feelings to my husband/wife/partner. (Agree or Disagree)

3. I feel understood when my husband/wife/partner listens to me. (Agree or Disagree)

4. How we manage money as a couple is a strength in our relationship. (Agree or Disagree)

5. Sex is a strength in our relationship. (Agree or Disagree)

6. We understand and respect each other's basic values. (Agree or Disagree)

How did you do?
If you and your partner agreed with all these statements then celebrate your accomplishments and your healthy marriage! However, if you found yourself and your partner disagreeing with one or more of these statements, then maybe a more formal marriage checkup is needed to help you get your relationship back on track.

Get a FREE marriage checkup!!
As part of their mandate to advance the welfare of couples and families, OAMFT and its members are offering this free Marriage Checkup service across Ontario the week of February 9th to the 14th. Through a one-hour interview with a highly trained Marriage and Family Therapist, couples can learn about the strengths in their marriages, potential trouble spots, and resources to help strengthen their relationships.

For more information about the Marriage Checkup or to register for the checkup in your area, contact OAMFT at 1-800-267-2638 or 416-364-2627. You can also visit the OAMFT website at Registrations will be accepted starting the week of February 9th and OAMFT suggests that couples register early as spaces are limited! Checkups are also available in British Columbia from The British Columbia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

What is a marriage checkup?
• Time to stop and take stock. We check the oil in our car regularly but how many of us ever stop just to check on our marriage, and ask each other, "how are we doing?"
• The marriage checkup is conducted by a highly trained professional who is specially trained as a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT).
• The certified MFT has a minimum of a master's degree in a related field, a minimum of two years' post-graduate clinical experience, and maintains membership in OAMFT, and governance by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).
• The checkup is a confidential 50-minute interview with you and your partner. It will shed light on the strong points in your marriage as well as any potential problem areas.
• It's a way of strengthening and protecting your marriage.
• It's an early warning system that helps you recognize and deal with the small problems before they become more serious.
• Helpful resources will be given to each couple that participates to help keep the dialogue going.

Who should get a marriage checkup?
• The checkup is offered to all couples, whether young or old, married or common-law, newlywed or longtime partners, same-sex or heterosexual.

Why you should consider a marriage checkup
• Because healthy relationships and healthy families are the lifeblood of the community.
• There's a lot to be said for prevention.
• Marriage can be a real challenge as the statistics on divorce clearly show.
• Taking a preventative approach can help you face the challenges with greater success.
• Whatever you're dealing with -- stress, bereavement, child-parent conflicts, sexual problems, care of elderly parents, substance abuse -- acting sooner rather than later can help you weather the storm and protect your marriage.
• The pace of daily life can get pretty crazy. It's easy to coast along and only deal with things after they become a problem. Marriage and family relations are no exception.

When should you get a marriage checkup?
• Try a free marriage checkup during the week of Valentine's Day, February 13-17, 2006.