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How to Work on a Relationship
Gary Brainerd
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Work on relationship How to Work on a Relationship Home Page

For some, the idea of "working on" their relationship may seem strange or unusual. After all, don't you just "do what comes naturally"?

The fact is that most relationship experts believe that "work" is just as important in relationships as is love. Love is never enough. Successful relationships also need intelligence, information, skills, courage, commitment, tolerance and persistence. Developing these skills and abilities requires "work."

There are three phases in what we mean by "working on" a relationship: an Understanding Phase, a Skill Building Phase and a Practicing Phase..

The Understanding Phase - or Consciousness Raising Phase

The Understanding Phase of How to Work on a Relationship consists of learning about the wonders and complexities of romantic love. There is an incredible amount of important and essential information that couples must understand about intimate, committed relationships. Brain physiology, the unconscious mate-selection process, the real sources of conflict, the role of emotional "scabs", etc. are not commonly understood by most couples. Yet these are vitally important concepts to understand.

This "understanding" happens in different ways for different couples. Some will get started by reading a book, by attending a workshop or seminar for couples (See bookstore and Workshops) or by a series of therapy sessions with a couples’ therapist. In the membership section of this WEB, the Understanding Phase consists of a series of Educational Modules designed to explain the dynamics and complexities of intimate, committed relationships. Check out the Tour for a fuller view of the educational modules that are available. Also be sure to read additional articles in the article section.

The Skill Building Phase

In the Skill Building Phase couples will need to learn a series of dialog, communication, sharing and enhancing skills and processes. Understanding by itself is rarely if ever enough. Understanding or awareness can give you clarity as to what needs to be done, but it is action not understanding and the wise use of relationship skills that will ultimately make the difference. Of course, skill without understanding is also not helpful. But the combination is a winning team in virtually every area of life--especially in that thing we call love and marriage. Learn these skills, practice them, master them.

Again theses skills are taught in books, workshops, seminars, and therapy – and in the Couple's Workstation area of this web.

The Practicing Phase

We use the "term" practicing in the same way a physician "practices" or a psychologist "practices". This is not the practicing to learn the skills. Once you have learned and somewhat mastered the skills and the understanding, the next task is to do them, live them, exercise them, practice them. We believe these are skills and processes you will use throughout your life, and so the practicing phase section of this WEB site gives you a variety of ways to apply all you will learn. In the early years you will want to "practice" more frequently and more often, but later you might consider the Marriage Month approach (taking one month out of each year to renew, focus, fine-tune, practice your marriage skills). From the tool kit of options and suggestions you can create your own short-term and long-term plan for practice.

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