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Self-reflection is key to strong marriages: counselors
Failed marriages or relationships sometimes are blamed on social media or technology like text messaging that are said to enable people to stray from their partners.
Sometimes the blame is placed on a struggling economy that in turn leads to a job layoff and accompanying financial strains in the household.
But these are not only the tough economic times in our history, says Jose Amparo, a child and family counselor in the Yuma area for the Easter Seals Blake Foundation.
Down through the generations, he notes, couples have held together marriages through all kinds of challenges — an achievement they can celebrate each year on Valentine's Day.
Those couples who stay together are those who continually reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of their marriages or relationships, then take the necessary steps to correct the shortcomings, says Amparo, one of several counselors who recently put on a series of relationship-building lectures for couples in south Yuma County.
At some point, couples must make time for themselves, putting aside for the moment all other demands that are placed upon them, adds Mily Gomez, a mental health counselor with Project PPEP in San Luis, Ariz.
“Make time for your partner: no children, with talk about work prohibited,” said Gomez, who assisted Amparo in the lecture series. “This is your time. If it's hard to start a conversation, remember when you met one another or the first time you kissed,”
Amparo and Gomez don't discount the affects of the economy, social media and other factors in breakups.
“Unfortunately in the daily life, we see more and more causes of couples having trouble because financial issues, and it's seen a lot among couples where one of them has lost a job and the family therefore has lost that income,” Amparo said.
He cited statistics that place the divorce rate among first-time married couples at around 50 percent and among couples on their second marriage at 62 percent.
“That is something that should concern us. The problems among today's couples are the same as for prior generations, but changes in society present different challenges for this generation.”
Apart from money problems, Amparo said, infidelity not only threatens relationships but often lead to vicious cycles, with spouses or partners who have been cheated having affairs of their own in retaliation.
In situations like these, social media and text messaging have enabled affairs, Amparo said.
Married people face a challenge in “accepting the fact that our spouse is not a replica of us,” said Yolanda Renteria, who joined Amparo and Gomez in presenting the lecture series for south county couples.
“We all have our own ideas, our own likes, values and beliefs. A big part of the problems from day to day is because we try to force the other person to see things the same way we do,” Renteria said.
“Instead of that, we should value our partner's qualities, we should stop to think consciously of what pleases us about our partner and what we appreciate about him or her.”
Couples need to continually remind themselves of what brought them together in the first place.
“Just telling one's partner how much they are loved, how nice their hair or clothes look can make a big difference,” said Amparo. “And why not use a text message at whatever hour of the day to remind a partner how much they are loved. These are details that are getting lost among couples, but it's not hard to regain them.”