Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Marriage Building

by Deb Baker

First, I have an announcement that really thrills me. Berkley Prime Crime has accepted my proposal to write a mystery series about a Wisconsin beekeeper named Story Fischer. To celebrate, my gift to the winner will come from the sweet labors of the honeybee. Comment on my post and your name will go into the drawing. My winner will be announced next Wednesday. Good luck.


Last year was a bad year for my marriage. My husband didn’t seem to know it. He was completely happy and totally oblivious to my concerns, which might clue you in to part of the problem. Without going into all the messy details, we have committed to making a new start, to restoring the feelings we had for each other before mortgages, kids, careers, and other stuff interfered with our relationship.

Instead of sitting in a therapist’s office, ripping each other to shreds, pointing out all the faults that led to our present conflicts, we decided to go with a program called Marriage Builders. Two things I learned immediately were:

1. I didn’t even know what my needs were, so how could my husband learn to meet them.

2. My needs were nothing at all like my husband’s needs.

Our first assignment was to put aside fifteen hours every week to spend together. That seemed like more than we could possibly find. Our kids were grown, though. Why couldn’t we? It wasn’t like we had to find fifteen hours in one block of time. We could slice it anyway we wanted. But there was more – we couldn’t multi-task by spending any of that time with friends or family. And we couldn’t spend it watching television or going to the movie theater. We had to (gasp) interact.

What were we to do for fifteen long hours together? Marriage Builders had that planned for us. We were to use the time together to satisfy four emotional needs we all have – affection, sexual fulfillment, conversation, and recreational companionship.

Guess which one of those four convinced my husband that this was a great plan?

Anyway, we have had trouble making time, but even spending ten hours together has improved our relationship immensely. Next on the agenda, we have to prioritize our own needs and work on fulfilling our spouse’s most important ones. That’s the step we are on now. Deciding what’s most important.

Marriage Builders even gave us a list of the top ten needs that most people care the most about. What a relief, because I was still clueless. I have to rank them by imagining which five will make me the happiest, assuming that the others will never be met. Here’s their list:

Sexual fulfillment
Recreational companionship
Honesty and openness
Attractiveness of spouse
Financial support
Domestic support
Family commitment

What five to pick? I want them all.

After that’s completed, we move on to our hours together. He is going to teach me all he knows about our new photoshop program, something I've wanted to learn. I’m going to coo over his photography. We are going shopping for snowshoes. Sunday is the Titanic exhibit at the museum, and the rest…well that’s between him and me.