Marriage isn’t just about raising kids, splitting chores and making love. It can also have a spiritual dimension that has to do with creating an inner life together — a culture rich with rituals, and an appreciation for your roles and goals that link you…” Gottman, 7 Principals of Making a Marriage Work

There are different elements that help build and support a shared meaning, all of which should be established and then built on over time. Read through each element and answer the questions after each section, making note of any thoughts that pop up you want to share with your lover.

Four Elements that Build a Shared Meaning and Purpose

Marriage Counseling Tip 1. Rituals of Connection
Marriage Counseling Tip 2. Shared Views
Marriage Counseling Tip 3. Shared Goals and Dreams
Marriage Counseling Tip 4. Shared Values

Marriage Counseling Tip 1. Rituals of Connection

A ritual of connection refers to the small things you do as a couple or a family which build and strengthen the emotional and spiritual connections between you all.

Ask yourself these questions:
How do you and your partner connect with each other?
Have you developed your own family rituals?
This could be a special meal on the weekend such as a takeaway on a Saturday or Sunday roast or movie night every Friday.
In what unique ways do you celebrate religious holidays?
Do you have a ritual for love making?
Do you dedicate a day or night per week for family or romance?

Many couples find love and connection flourishes when they have an intimate ritual to look forward to. The key here is to find something that you do together regularly that you can look forward to.

Answer the above questions and think about the rituals of connection you have: do they work for you? Could you improve them to increase your connection or create some new ones?

Marriage Counseling Tip 2. Shared Views

Support for Each Other’s Roles
When couples come to me a lot of the problems stem from the fall out of what they think their partner “should” be doing versus what they are actually doing. I often hear: “As a husband…” he “should” be doing this, fixing that, paying for this or giving me that. Similarly I hear it the other way round too: “A wife “should” look after the home, stay in with the family and contribute to the finances.” The problem stems from the fact that these assumed roles are often never discussed so each person develops their own views on situations without taking the time to understand the perspective of their partner. This where resentment builds. The happiest couples agree on the roles they define for themselves and support each other with them. This is crucial as it helps to build a shared meaning.

Family and Parenting
Having similar views on parenting also adds to a strong sense of shared meaning, so does your views on the level of interaction you expect to have with your parents, siblings and cousins. For example, do you both consider extended family part of your daily family life or do you prefer distance and more of a nuclear family?

Work and Career
Even the views on what it means to work and the significance of work in your life is important to discuss. How much work is part of your life can be disputed, potentially causing friction, so having a shared outlook is crucial. Where you can talk about its importance in your life and share your experiences. Some individuals I work with get jealous and annoyed at their spouses involvement with work and staying late or socializing with colleagues on the weekends and this can cause tension for some couples. Compared to couples who agree that work comes first and encourage each other to be the best they can possibly be. Which couple are you?

The extent to which you feel similar about these issues, the stronger your marriage and connection becomes. This doesn’t mean you need to agree on everything but often it’s the couples that are more closely aligned in their views and approaches that are happier and more fulfilled.

What views do you share when it comes to living out your life? Are there any expectations that are a cause of frustration for you that you have not communicated? Could you benefit from some more support when it comes to your roles, family or career?

I will discuss shared goals and values in part 2 so stay tuned for that.

From my heart to yours, Nicola
Marriage Transformation Specialist and Founder of the Save My Marriage Program

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Author's Bio: 

Nicola Beer is an International Relationship & Divorce Coach who helps her clients find peace and create a new beginning after Marriage Breakdown and Divorce. This includes helping couples on the verge of a breakup to resolve their relationship issues once and for all so that they can revive the love, passion, respect, and fun that's been missing.

As well as helping clients during and after Divorce to manage stress, create more income and adjust to new financial realities, redefine who they are, create a new social life, and when they are ready to attract someone great. Nicola also runs 2 parenting programs that support children through and after divorce

Nicola has combined 11 years' experience helping people with emotional issues. This comprises 7 years private coaching and 4 years as a volunteer for the Samaritans where she supported callers dealing with any emotional distress. She is UK certified in Coaching, Grief Recovery for Adults and Children, NLP, Time Line Therapy, Hypnosis.

Nicola's passion for supporting people before, during and after divorce comes from her own childhood, where due to the stress of divorce her mother suffered a mental breakdown. As 1 of 5 children the divorce was devastating for her family and affected each of her family in different ways. More recently Nicola's older sister with 4 children is going through a difficult divorce. Having experienced and seen the pain and stress associated with divorce Nicola is focused on proving solutions. She knows divorce doesn't have to mean disaster and takes her clients and their children from surviving to thriving. She is equally passionate about saving marriages, so has a program to overcome relationship problems.

Nicola works with expats and locals, Muslims and Non-Muslims from all over the world, mainly from Dubai, London, India, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, either in person for a 2 day intensive package or further afield US, Australia via video conference and phone.