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Fight and not flight response, urges Davidson

Published:Saturday | May 7, 2016 | 5:00 AMShanna Kaye Monteith

Following up with last week's Lessons On A Successful Marriage, family therapist and chief executive officer of Family Life Ministries, Dr Barry Davidson, encourages spouses to take the 'fight response' and not the 'flight response' which usually leads to separation and divorce and, according to him, in order to do so, you have to know what makes a marriage last.

Davidson pointed out that Jamaicans tend to spend more time getting ready for the wedding than preparing for the marriage and, as a result, many beautiful wedding days are followed by years of misery or, at best, minimal happiness.

Sharing from a survey done in Jamaica on people who have been married for more than 45 years, Dr Davidson listed a few things that will guarantee a successful marriage.

"Similar values [that is] having the same social and or religious backgrounds. Lasting relationships depend more on 'I like you', than on 'I love you'. Spouses need to establish a friendship.

Intimacy also, involves listening, and "listening is the language of love", he outlined adding that happy couples encourage intimacy through praise and mutual reinforcement.

Other factors leading to a successful marriage as outlined by Dr Davidson and his research include fighting fairly and equally.

According to the family therapist, when lovers grow apart, it can often be traced to how conflicts are resolved and lovers with the best chance for happiness contribute equally to a relationship.

Tolerance was also listed as a very important factor.

"Most successful couples, acknowledge that many problems are unsolvable and learn to work around them. They focus on what's good about the relationship, so that it becomes the core of the relationship, while negatives become peripheral.

Virtually all researchers agree that sexual attraction peaks within the first year or two of a relationship. But the happiest couples still have plenty of sexy feelings left. Staying at a peak isn't necessary for a happy union. An enduring attraction is. An ongoing sexual relationship with one person is the most intense, fulfilling experience any human can have," he said as he added passion to the list.

And though Dr Davidson admits that the feeling of love may wax and wane during a relationship, he was keen to outline the importance and constancy of trust.

"Infidelity is the most devastating betrayal of trust a couple can experience. Commitment also, is an ideal factor leading to lasting marriages.

"Successful couples don't take each other for granted but work constantly at rejuvenating their good feelings for each other. The most satisfied couples put the thought and energy into their relationship than they put into their children or career.

Commitment serves as the cornerstone of marriage, first a commitment to God and then a commitment to each other," he advised.

familyandreligion@gleanerjm.com