Enriching Relationships for a Lifetime   with Dr. Gary Oliver


Sometimes my wife and I talk about sensitive issues while out on a date. We seem to be so busy that the only time we can discuss our problems or concerns is when we’re alone. Is this a good idea?


"Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which [God] has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life..." (Ecclesiastes 9:9). This encouragement was written around the year 935 B.C. Even thousands of years ago, King Solomon realized the importance of spending time enjoying your spouse. Current research supports this same mandate. Marital research experts Dr. Scott Stanley and Dr. Howard Markman conducted a survey to discover what creates a "strong" relationship. To their surprise, the amount of fun couples had together emerged as the strongest factor in understanding overall marital happiness.

If it's important to enjoy our mate, then we must protect our fun times. When conflict or sensitive issues invade our recreation, it's like throwing a red shirt into the washer with our white clothes. Even though it's only one small shirt, it can destroy an entire load of laundry by turning it pink. Likewise, even though you may be discussing only one tiny issue, if allowed to enter into your relaxation, the entire experience can be damaged.

Conflict can be destructive to your recreation because it intensifies emotions. As this happens, it becomes difficult to relax and enjoy each other. If this pattern occurs too often, your mate may lose the desire to do fun things because the experience ends up turning "pink."

Before your enjoyment is destroyed, we encourage you to interrupt arguments or sensitive discussions by agreeing to talk about the issue at a different time. Reschedule the conversation when you can provide the necessary attention it deserves. By not allowing conflict to harm you recreation you are sending a very important message. The statement you're conveying is that protecting your relationship is more important than impulsively arguing about a problem.

Erin Smalley holds a license as a Labor and Delivery nurse and also has earned a Master’s degree in counseling psychology. Greg Smalley, Psy.D. is director of Marriage Ministries for the Center for Relationship Enrichment on the campus of John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Greg is the author or co-author of eight books concerning marriages and families. Visit Greg at www.liferelationships.com.

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©2014 The Center for Healthy Relationships on the campus of John Brown University
2000 West University Street, Siloam Springs, AR 72761 (479) 524-7105 CHR@jbu.edu