This activity should be considered in conjunction with the
next three activities. Collectively,
they are at the heart of effective marriage participation. This activity samples the elements from the
next three activities, viewing the sample as representative of the individuals
marriage effective functioning. If both
the individual and his spouse rate the client high on all fifteen elements in
this activity, she is clearly a marriage effective individual. If not, attention to the next three
activities will serve to clarify and expand on any problems or issues raised
through consideration of this activity.
The next three activities being friends, being partners,
and being lovers stand alone without discussion sections. The experience and expertise of the
consultant need to be a rich source of information, suggestions, and specific
advise. In addition, the bibliography at
the end of the book is a rich source of additional materials. At the same time, though, the consultant must
be prepared to enlist the services of supplementary consultants who specialize
in the specific interpersonal areas needing additional attention. Simply keep in mind that the approach is educational,
competence-based, and oriented to increasing skill and interpersonal
Focusing on the current activity, the individuals being
clear about what is important to him within the marriage should always be one
of the first focal areas within the process involving the individual and the
consultant. In fact, this area should be
discussed even if the individual and his spouse see no particular problem here.
The client should articulate the four or five things that
are most important to him, the most important benefits of being married. Similarly, clarity should be developed in
terms of what is most important to his spouse.
Suppose that each spouse has five items on their most
important list. It may be that some
items appear on both lists, although the consultant will find that almost
always there are items on each list that are not on the other. The result is ordinarily a list of seven or
eight factors that the couple have on their most important list when the two
lists are combined. Here is the critical
factor. For the marriage to be
successful, all of the elements on the combined list need to be understood and
responded to in the marriage if the marriage is to be successful. Both individuals need to derive from the
marriage all that they see as really important.
At an importantly fundamental level, this is what they understand as a
successful marriage: deriving those benefits that are viewed as most important. As a consultation focus, the consultant will
want to incorporate all of these elements into the marriage enhancement plan.
Being fun to be around may be one of the most important
qualitative ingredients within an effective marriage. In the last activity, attention was given to
an orientation to quality versus effectiveness.
Being fun to be around, of course, gives emphasis to the quality side of
the variable, the quality of life within the marriage. A point for consultation focus relates to being
fun in terms of its being a continuing and ever present factor in the marriage. Of course, there are those difficult times,
times when things are frustrating, times when things are more serious. The perspective needs to be one that
understands and takes into consideration the continuing nature of both the
serious times and the fun times. They
are interactive and continuous processes that represent important threads
within the tie that binds. Sometimes
one is more apparent than the other.
Over time, though, the importance of both fun and seriousness need equal
attention. In fact, if one is going to
be emphasized more than the other, the marriage would be well served if the
balance is in favor of having fun and being fun to be around.
The last item in the activity incorporates and summarizes
what may be the central and essential ingredient in being married with style,
all the time, on purpose. If I were my
spouse, I would enjoy being married to me.
Keep in mind the idea of style as being all the time, on purpose. Would you always enjoy being married to
you? Are you a model of effective
marriage functioning? Would it be
comfortable for you if your spouse were to function in a manner defined by your
functioning for the next six months?
Importantly, this does not mean that the spouse behaves
exactly as the individual behaves.
Rather, it means that the behavior of the spouse is based on the same
assumptions, skills, attitudes, and priorities as are the behavior and
functioning of the client. Almost
always, a commitment on the part of the individual to marriage participation
that meets this criterion has the effect of improved martial interaction and
substantially increased socioemotional gain for both participants in the
Once this activity has been completed, the next three
activities may be understood as behavioral mandates and as marriage effective
criteria on which the client and the consultant may focus and through which
they may move toward more effective and satisfying marriage involvement of the
client. In short, the next three
activities may be understood as a guide to relationship building within the
core triad that constitutes the marriage, within the internal triangle.