BY: SIMONE JENNIFER SMITH
Welcome back to A Better Tomorrow!
The only way to make a better tomorrow is to work on making a better today. Every week, I will provide the information needed to develop the mental health of our great community here in Toronto. If this is your first time reading the Toronto Caribbean Newspaper, I hope that you will find something that will move your soul and promote the need to make necessary changes in your life.
Last week, I started a series on relationships; I have decided to focus on this area because I have noticed a decline in productive, positive relations between men and women both in marriages and in courting relationships. What I have decided to do, is tackle some of the issues that I have witnessed by providing insights from elders who have been married 30-50 years and relationship experts. The goal is to allow individuals to analyze their roles in their relationships and find ways in which they can work on their own individual issues. Many of us in relationships are quick to point the finger when things go wrong; what many of us don’t do is take into consideration our own subjective experiences objectively. I will reference written work 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.
Last week we introduced the subject matter and reviewed how to identify when you might be facing some complications in your relationships. Some signs were: criticism, contempt, and defensiveness. I asked readers to analyze theses signs and see if they could identify any of the signs in their relationships. I want readers to understand that having one or more of these signs does not mean the end of your relationship; it means the beginning of the understanding of your relationship. This week let us take a look at the resolution. We are going to start looking at the seven principles outlined by Gottman and Silver; each week I will outline exercises that can be utilized and questions that can be asked to spark conversation between couples.
The first principle is Enhancing Your Love Maps. Like any map, this principle involves knowing the terrain in your relationships. Knowing your partner in an intimate way; knowing their history and innerstanding your own history.
The second principle is Nurture Your Fondness and Admiration. This principle involves revisiting the reasons you fell in love with your partner, to begin with; what did you admire, and do you still admire those traits. This principle allows you to focus on the positive and not always the negative.
Turning Toward Each Other means connecting with each other again. This principle deals with the communication in a relationship and rebuilding your friendship.
Principle four is Letting Your Partner Influence You. Sometimes in relationships, we may feel we have lost our voice; you can still have a voice and accept your partner’s point of view. It is possible to still learn from one another, team up to solve the larger problems that exist.
Solving Your Solvable Problems means letting go of the complaints that you have and learning to accept apologies and attempts at repairing your relationship.
Principle Six is Overcoming Gridlock means to keep working on unresolvable problems; Gottman believes that you will be more satisfied than if you give up on them.
The last Principle, Create Shared Meaning is about growth in your relationship; really identifying what it means to be a part of the family that you have become, and what you are going to do to enhance positivity in your family.