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Build More Trust in Your Marriage

Does Your Marriage Need a Referee? : Relationship Advice to Restore Trust, Connection and Peace
By Susie and Otto Collins

Shouting, tension, glaring and maybe even name-calling. None of these are preferable in a marriage, but too often they rear their ugly heads-- sometimes occurring quite regularly.

Do you ever feel like you and your mate are almost always in the
midst of some type of conflict?

The struggle between you two may either be overt and in your face or suppressed yet very apparent.

It might seem that having a referee step in to resolve the conflict
is the only way it's ever going to be settled.

One of the major television networks has announced a new upcoming television series called "The Marriage Ref."

According to previews for this show, celebrity guests will offer marriage advice to couples who are having troubles.

Ostensibly, the situations and advice are supposed to be comedic and outrageous.

One couple featured in previews argues incessantly because the wife keeps her deceased first husband's ashes on the mantle in their home and his artificial leg in their clothes closet.

This show might provide plenty of laughs and perhaps a few morsels of useful advice-- this remains to be seen. But the truth is, conflict and tension in marriage is never a laughing matter.

Of course, disagreements and arguments happen. When you live together and love together, misunderstandings and personal issues can lead to points of disconnection from time to time.

If you feel like you and your spouse mostly live in a state of
conflict and tension, however, you're probably not laughing much, if at all, together.

This ongoing dynamic between you can erode trust and take the two of you far apart.

In your desperation to get out from under all of the mistrust and
turmoil, you might wish you truly did have a marriage referee!

We don't know your specific situation. But we can offer this
relationship advice to help you begin to restore trust, connection
and peace in your marriage....

Know your tendencies
You can actually learn how to be your own marriage ref.

It is quite possible for you and your partner to work as a team to
recognize the habits and tendencies that you both have (and that you have as a couple) and then consciously make a change.

In order to do this, it's vital that you start with your own self.

It might seem easiest to identify all of those things that your mate
does that drives you crazy, undermines trust and, in your opinion,
causes the bulk of your marital problems.

For the moment, we recommend that you focus mainly on the habits that you have.

What are your usual ways of communicating with your partner? How do you tend to react when you feel triggered, irritated
or tense?

We're not suggesting this the disconnection is all your fault. But
we are reminding you that the person whose behavior you can change most quickly and thoroughly is your own.

When you talk with your spouse about refereeing yourselves, take responsibility for your own habits that might contribute to the
misunderstandings, tension and clashes.

If your mate seems unwilling to take ownership for what he or she does to create and intensify conflict, you can use "I feel"
statements to bring up a particular behavior or habit.

For example, you might say to your spouse, "I felt worried and
unimportant to you when I saw you flirting with that group of women at the party Saturday night."

After that, you and your partner could talk about what flirting
means to each of you and then possibly create some agreements around this issue.

Be willing to take a "time out"
Now that you have acknowledged that you have a tendency to get defensive, yell, withdraw, lash out or even throw things when
conflict arises with your mate, your job is to recognize the signs
that you are about to react in this usual way.

Be aware of what you usually do that contributes to the disconnection and mistrust and then be willing to interrupt yourself.

Take a "time out" in order to regroup and clear your mind.

You can do this by asking your partner for 5 or 10 minutes alone.
Set a timer if you need to.

The important thing is that you stop before you react in your usual ways AND that you agree to come back together again to seek resolution at a particular time.

Again, if your spouse seems to be unaware that he or she is
launching into a habitual pattern that feels negative or
disconnecting to you, you can use "I feel" statements.

You might say, "I feel nervous and a little afraid when you use
that tone of voice with me. I'd like us both to take 5 minutes in
separate rooms to calm down and then return to our discussion of this topic. Are you willing to do this?"

Seek help
There may be times and situations that truly do require outside
help. Don't hesitate to seek assistance from a trained counselor or coach if you feel like you could benefit from it.

A professional can provide an outsider's perspective on the dynamics between you and your mate.

He or she can also teach you both strategies and skills that can help you resolve the conflict and begin to rebuild trust and connection.

There are also many quality courses and programs available for
couples that provide exercises and activities to help teach
strategies and skills.

If you feel like you and your partner need a referee for your
marriage, sit up and take notice.

You don't have to live with a relationship that is riddled with
conflict, tension and mistrust.

With a willingness to look at your habits and then make changes, you can bring about the improvements that you desire.

Relationship coaches and authors Susie and Otto Collins have
developed a FREE mini-course to help couples who want to rebuild trust after infidelity. Visit for more information.

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Contact Info
Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins, PO Box 14544, Columbus, OH 43214
Contact Susie or Otto about Relationship Coaching by calling (614) 568-8282.
For all other inquiries, contact us by email.

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