What are the Basic Rules?

1. Life-long Committed Partnership. Spouses need to be fully committed to God, each other and the church, be committed to playing the love game through good times and hardships, and become the best spouse (player), learning, practicing and building all the required skills.

2. Acceptance. Spouses must truly accept the other for who they are, not try to demand change.

3. Mutual Love and Respect. Throughout their lives, spouses must cultivate love and respect for each other. Never neglect the romance that once came so easily.

4. Manage Conflict. Spouses must manage all conflict in a loving and respectful way, always working toward a win-win resolution.

5. Change Oneself First. It is crucial that spouses realize that the only person's behavior they can control is their own. Instead of trying to force each other to change, it is more effective for partners to honestly assess themselves and think about what they can do to make the relationship better. When husbands and wives stop trying to change each other and instead shift their attention to improving their own behavior, they will likely be more content, even if their partner continues to do the things that they do not like.

6. Remain Best of Friends. A marital relationship must be built on a solid foundation of friendship. Spouses must keep their friendship alive. A relationship without fuel will crumble.

7. Forgiveness. Spouses must forgive each other whenever necessary. Forgiveness is the only product that can wash/heal spiritual and emotional wrongdoings/wounds. If spouses do not forgive each other, their wounds (grudge, bitterness, resentment, anger, etc.) will fester and grow into emotional infections, causing spiritual, emotional, physical and relationship problems.

8. Rewards and Consequences - Consistently reward/praise each other and apply consequences whenever rules are broken. (Example of a consequence: Pay $5.00 fine for mismanaged anger).

What are the Skills?

1. Positive Attitude. You maintain positive thoughts, feelings and actions, despite negative interactions that occur around you.

2. Assertive Communication. Direct, honestly, and appropriately stating what your thoughts, feelings, needs, or wants are. You take responsibility for yourself and are respectful to your spouse. You are an effective listener and problem solver.

3. Empathy. You put yourself in your spouse's shoes and are good at understanding his or hers thoughts and feelings.

4. Conflict Resolution. You define the problem of disagreement, state how each contributes to the problem and list past attempts to resolve the issue that were not successful. You brainstorm and list all possible solutions. You discuss and evaluate the possible solutions and agree on one solution. You agree on how each person will work toward the solution.

5. Flexibility. You have the ability to change, adapt, and switch responsibilities when necessary.

6. Couple Closeness. You have the ability to balance separateness and emotional closeness. You establish a satisfying balance between dependence and independence.

7. Personality Compatibility. You have great understanding of each other's personality traits/skills. You have a great ability to work with each other's strengthens and are an effective coach in maintaining balance for self and your spouse.

Author's Bio: 

John Schurmann is the founder of Schurmann Counselling & Life Coaching. www.coachme.ca

He is a registered clinical social worker, individual, couple and family psychotherapist, and life coach. He has worked closely with individuals, couples, families, groups and organizations for the past twenty years.

John holds three degrees including a masters degree in clinical social work from Wilfrid Laurier University. He has extensive training in specialized areas of counselling; marital and family therapy, mental health issues, child and adult ADHD, psychiatry, spirituality, sexuality, family violence and alcohol/drug abuse.

Since his college years, John's focus has been on turning individuals, relationships and families around -- equipping them with the skills and ability to make their lives healthier. It is often said about John Schurmann, "you are outstanding in helping me, making me feel calm, giving me new skills to handle my situation, giving me new hope, a new outlook and a sense of adventure". "John got me back on track, helped me improve my life, marriage, relationship, work situation and believed in me in resolving my life issues.

John is married to Rita and enjoys spending time with his family, Matthew and Daniel. He loves to learn, travel, snow ski, spend time with his extended family and friends, and he loves his relationship with his God.

John Schurmann is a registered Social Worker with the College of Social Workers and Social Services Workers. A member of the Ontario Association of Social Workers and an associate member with the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy.