Guest blogger Laura Ritchie is a former MMP bride who lives in Scottsdale, AZ with her husband, Skylar. Laura is a licensed marriage + family therapist who loves after-dinner walks with her husband, quiet mornings that start with a journal + pen, heart-to-heart conversations, + good food shared with great friends. She writes over at her own blog on marriage, Love + Faithfulness.
Last week on the blog, Laura shared her thoughts + wisdom on marriage counseling: when to seek it out + how to get the most out of your experience. You can view that post here! Today, she is sharing a little bit more about other resources couples can use to help enrich + strengthen their marriages : )
Where Else Can I Go For Help in My Marriage (Besides Marriage Counseling)?
Before I became a marriage + family therapist, I thought that counseling was something that could be absolutely beneficial for anyone at any time. After seeing a few clients who really didn’t have any identifiable problems or goals, however, I realized that, for couples like these, who simply want to invest in their relationship in a meaningful way, therapy might not always be the most effective or efficient way to do so.
While there are certainly times when a completely happy couple can benefit from counseling (e.g. premarital counseling), many satisfied couples would be just as well-off looking to one of the following. Even for a couple who does have some identifiable goals that they want to work on, these may, for whatever reason, be a better place to start:
1. A pastor: While there are certainly some advantages to talking with a complete stranger about your relationship, a pastor who knows you + your spouse may be able to provide the two of you with personalized feedback + encouragement that is aligned with your values + goals.
2. A trusted older couple: While marriage counselors ensure that the therapeutic relationship stays focused entirely on you + your unique relationship, sometimes it can be nice to learn from another couple whom you trust + respect about their experiences—good, bad, + ugly—in marriage over the years. If there’s a couple at your church, your work, or in your neighborhood with whom you might be able to develop a deeper friendship or mentorship, this could be a great way to grow your marriage in strength + maturity.
3. A marriage retreat: What better way to invest in your relationship than getting away, spending time together + with other couples, + learning how to have a better marriage. Simply ‘Google’ marriage retreats in your area to find one that interests you!
4. A good marriage book: If you are able to discipline yourself to read consistently + are self-motivated enough to put into action the wisdom you acquire from the books that you read, reading can be a very effective way to invest in your relationship. While (in my opinion) Scripture itself is arguably the best place to find good, solid relational advice + tangible examples of true, unconditional love, the following books are also extremely good + among the handful that I would highly recommend:
- Fighting For Your Marriage by Howard J. Markman, Scott M. Stanley, & Susam L. Blumberg
- Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas <<<we have read this book + LOVED it!!
- A Lifelong Love by Gary Thomas
- Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas
- Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
- The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman <<<this is also a must read in our opinion!!
Marriage Is An Investment
Regardless of how or where we go to find it, the important thing is we are always investing in our marriages + looking outside of ourselves to do so—because it is by looking outside of ourselves that we gain clarity, self-awareness, accountability, + the motivation to change for the better.
Though I truly believe every marriage has a very good chance at a happy ending, I also truly believe that, if a marriage is not nurtured, it will never stay as is. If left as is, it cannot do anything but decline + weaken. When actively engaged with + invested in, however, it will also never stay as is—and that is a fabulous thing—because, when a marriage is nurtured + invested in, it is given the opportunity to grow, both in depth + strength + beauty.
So invest in your marriage whenever + wherever you can! Nurture it + watch it grow. Get help in the bad times. Get help in the good times. You haven’t done much in your life without the guidance + wisdom of others, so don’t ever think you have to do—and keep doing—one of the most important things in life on your own.
Laura + husband Skylar on their wedding day last year in Phoenix, AZ. Photo by the incredibly talented Caleb Engel ; )