BY: SIMONE JENNIFER SMITH
Hello again Toronto Caribbean Newspaper readers.
I am happy that you are still here with us and I am sure many of us are beginning to prepare for the upcoming school year. For many of you, this means backpacks, school supplies, new school clothes, the works. It is also the end of a season that I like to call MARRIAGE SEASON. This made me think about a few things, that, of course, I want to share with you Toronto. With children going back to school and work life keeping many of us busy, I have always wondered how married couples handle all of this? I am in a strong, impactful relationship and with our work schedule, sometimes it is hard to take care of each other. It is important that we understand the importance of taking care of each other in a relationship because life has a way of tearing you up. If you are unable to find peace within your relationship, this can be a difficult existence.
I find myself analyzing my relationship in many ways; one thing that I have made a habit of is reading articles and books from experts on the topic. I also have gotten into the habit of turning to my elders who have survived years of marriage. I use the word survive because marriage can create such internal turmoil, and many of us do not make it. This is why the divorce rates continue to grow and single parent families are on the rise. The last article I read was written by John Gottman and Nan Silver. The title of the article is The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work, published by Crown Publishers in New York. The book was reviewed by Bea Strickland, and I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is working on their marriage. I am going to briefly outline some points in this book and share knowledge from elders who have been married 30- 50 years. If anyone knows about how to make a marriage work, I figured they would be great candidates to question.
I realize that this might be one of my article series because there is a lot to discuss. This series falls in line with my commitment to being a mental health activist for my community. Peace in your home brings peace of mind; in the reverse, adversity in the home can cause serious mental health issues. I want to offer myself to the community, and I want you to email me if there are any issues or questions you have. I will ensure that our conversations are confidential; it is an important element of the work that I do. So let’s start this series by looking at some of the warning signs that there is trouble in a relationship. Gottman and Silver (1999), providing a list of warning signs that are worth reviewing and considering:
- A harsh start to a complaint (This is what men see as nagging, and women see as criticizing.)
- Criticism: being negative about character or personality or name calling. (This can easily turn into emotional abuse. I want to emphasize that emotional abuse can go both ways; women are capable of it as well.)
- Contempt: sarcasm, sneering, hostile humour, put-downs. (This all falls in line with psychological and emotional abuse.)
- Defensiveness and Stonewalling: refusing to talk. (This type of communication pattern can heighten the issues that exist within the relationship.)
- Failed repair attempts: rejected apologise, unable to de-escalate the tension.
- Bad memories: forgetting or rewriting past happiness.
Please review this list and begin to examine your behaviour. Reflect on it and next issue we can begin to work on any of the items on the list that triggered you.