As some of you may or may not know, I studied marriage and family therapy in grad school. Because of this, I have the skills to work with couples, families, etc. in order to help them have healthier relationships. One of the perks of going through the program that I did is that I now have a full network of amazing therapists and counselors with lots of helpful tips and suggestions that I would like to pass along to you. While this blog is dedicated to my photography and weddings, I feel that it is important to not just focus on the wedding day, but on the life together of the couples I work with after the wedding day as well. Whether you have been married for 50 years or are newly engaged, you know that being in a relationship will have its ups and its downs. I’ve enlisted the help of my friend, Brandon Wheeler, LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) to give us all some tips on how to keep the honeymoon alive long after the wedding day has passed. So without further ado, here is a few thoughts from Brandon:
Picture entering a honeymoon hotel suite: You step through the door and first feel a soft breeze flowing in from the open windows. The sheer curtains lightly dance, partially blocking the magnificent view from the balcony. Billowing linens overflow a luxurious four-post bedframe. This is it; the room where you and your new partner for life begin your marriage.
Now, imagine closing the balcony doors; the curtains dance no more. Step away from the cloud-like bed and back to the entryway. Turn out the lights… and then flip on a black-light. Uh oh. Suddenly your hotel suite is stunning in all the wrong ways; stains on the floor, the apparent stains of cigarette smoke on the walls, and a bathroom that hasn’t seen bleach in far too long. Let’s not even think about the linens.
This can be what many people experience in their romantic relationships. A person may discover a perfect mate; the epitome of what they want in a spouse. In all relationships, eventually the shine comes off the apple, and the bumps and bruises are more easily seen.
I expect that your relationship has experienced something similar to this. Most people who make it to the alter have become aware of their fiancé’s quirks, limitations, oddities, and challenges. And those relationships are often stronger for it. If you were to poll every person in your life about what they believed to be the most important qualities in a mate, honesty would likely be top-ranked as the most common answer. Healthy relationships require the kind of honesty that is difficult and – at times – painful. This honesty is difficult because it requires complete vulnerability and because great skill is needed to communicate honestly without offending others. It can feel painful because no one enjoys a close examination of their frailties.
However, if you and your partner face the challenge of total, unrelenting honesty, your friendship will concretize. Your understanding of the whole person is the true fount of love. Honesty. Empathy. Love. These are the highest ideals of human nature. Make your marriage a shining example of difficult, painful, dirty, deeply strengthening honesty.
If you are unsure of where to start, linked to this blog post is a list of questions that all couples should discuss with open curiosity and not judgmental skepticism. As always, you may contact me if you and/or your fiancé wish to discuss these issues with a licensed marriage therapist.
-Brandon M. Wheeler, LMFT