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Many partners strive for the ‘perfect marriage’ and to be the ‘perfect partner’. At its core, you grow up through marriage as you learn how to give, stand on your own two feet – and have children. Spiritually, we become better christians in a relationship.
Dr Corey Allen joins us in today’s interview, where we discuss what makes a happy marriage. With over 15 years experience as a marriage and family therapist, he holds a PhD in family therapy, runs his own private practice, and co-hosts Sexy Marriage Radio. He just finished his new book Naked Marriage.
Corey has set himself a goal: to reduce divorce rates to zero. It’s a big task, but he believes marriages and relationships cannot only survive, but thrive.
“Stress removes the barriers of how we really are”
For a healthy relationship to grow, you need to be yourself around your partner and allow stressful moments to happen. This is why dating is so important – test the waters and see how you handle things together.
Opportunities open through obstacles, and you grow closer. Equally, if there’s a conflict as a result, that’s when you address the issues.
Knowing that you can rely on each other’s strengths is important. When big changes happen like having children, you need to support each other.
Corey quotes Dr Schnarch, that ultimately “nothing prepares you for marriage but marriage”. Just be prepared for changes as you share responsibilities together.
“Marriage at its finest is two fully-functioning people together”
You need to like yourself to be comfortable in a relationship. People can be driven into a relationship for the wrong reasons: high expectations, fear of rejection, fear of failure.
Pay attention to your character and behaviour, and how it can affect your partner. Focus on nurturing yourself, work on your problems. If the partner does the same too – the bond strengths two individuals.
“Sex is a language – it’s not just an act.”
A big element in marriage is sex: it’s a way of connecting and it makes babies. It’s a deeply personal experience that can complicate things and often brings couples to therapy.
People have different needs, so it’s important to know that sex is not just an action. It’s a place to explore and think of each other.
“Everything in life is choice.”
Hold yourself accountable and don’t blame all the bad things on your partner; you have to own the choice you make. Corey highlights that by even allowing the ‘bad thing’ to happen from your partner, you are still involved – you could have addressed it.
“Marriage can be very empowering as you take ownership of your choices and actions.”
“A gridlocked marriage”
Corey often finds his clients reach to him when they are at ‘crisis-level’ – either they are about to or are filing for a divorce, or there’s been an affair. As such, going to therapy is seen as the final choice.
Why leave things so last-minute and suffer for so long? Feel comfortable to address issues and make a change. There’s no point communicating your point of view, instead explore what you can do to make a change if the relationship feels rocky.
Corey shares that life’s driving force is about growing up; and marriage does just that. In a happy, loving marriage, you become stronger individuals.
Explore what you both want, don’t bury things or put on an act – and it is better to seek help earlier on than too late.