You, too, can learn to enjoy making your marriage work

COPING

November 12, 1991|By Barbara Turk, M.S.

Your spouse says you need to work on your marriage. You don't need more work. And, besides, a marriage shouldn't need work. The relationship should just come naturally, be spontaneous -- right?

Spontaneous would be nice, but that's not happening or your spouse wouldn't be advocating "work."

With job, chores, kids, finances -- that stressful stuff -- you can't muster the effort to "work" on your marriage.

Since you associate it with stressful things, the word "work" is getting in the way here. It puts your marriage in the category of obligation when you already feel stressed out by so many obligations.

So, how do you change that?

Do two things. First, substitute the

word enjoy for work. Take the mindset that your marriage is to be enjoyed, an oasis in the midst of obligations.

Then, in the enjoyment mindset, try a little TLC:

* T for time. You find time for obligations. Isn't it at least as important to find time for each other?

* L for laughter. Laughter adds fun to a relationship. Wouldn't you both enjoy that?

* C for communication. Communication, both verbal (especially listening) and sexual, provides genuine sharing and so builds closeness and trust. What more could you enjoy and cherish in a marriage?

Remember, the only things you have to do to keep your marriage joyful are to cherish it in your heart and to enjoy it.

Barbara Turk is a psychotherapist in private practice.

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