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Prescription for a Happy Marriage

Prescription for a happy marriage: one cup of tea or coffee, to be taken each morning before rising.

Sounds simple, doesn't it? And yet every year thousands of couples head for the divorce courts, or make pre-nuptial agreements in the expectation that the marriage will fail.

One factor contributing to this breakdown in relationships is the greater stress caused by uncertainty about job security, financial worries, political instability and so on. Constant worry about money, fear of redundancy and continual pressure to devote more and more time to work can leave a marriage stretched to breaking point.

It's no co-incidence that the age when most divorces occur is also the age when couples are beset by other concerns such as establishing a career, raising and educating children and paying off a mortgage.

Hectic Lifestyle Leaves Little Time for Each Other

Even if you feel relatively secure financially, living in the first year of the new century creates pressures unknown even a decade ago.

You're now expected to be available to the whole world -- 24 hours a day -- via the Internet, mobile phones, answering machines and lap-top computers.

One of you always seems to be working late or bringing work home; you feel obliged to give your children all the opportunities their friends have so you ferry them to music lessons, sports training and the movies with their pals. As a modern couple, you also have your individual sport or hobby commitments; you may be involved in volunteer work with a charity group or the children's school; coaching the basketball team or serving in the school canteen ... and so it goes. And that's not even taking into account running the house, the garden, the menagerie of pets ... and then there's your family and friends ...

It seems as if you never have time to draw breath, to slow down, to talk to each other.

While the causes of the resulting stress may be largely out of your hands, the way you react to it is completely up to you. Stress is a bit like steam in a kettle, it builds up until it finally blows the lid off, unless the pressure is relieved. You can let pressure build up in your life until you finally "blow your top" or, you can take positive action to release it.

THE EARLY MORNING CUPPA

By setting your alarm clock (or body clock) a half-hour earlier, you can give yourselves time to spend together, uninterrupted. You now have the best part of the day to spend with the person you love!

Take it in turns to be the one to get up and make the tea or coffee, and make it into an occasion by having special mugs or cups that you only use for this first cup of the day, or choose a special blend which you only have in the morning -- better still, make a herbal tea. Select something light and refreshing so that you'll have a spring in your step when you get up.

This is your time together -- to natter about nothing in particular or to make your grand plans. Lying in bed, sipping your tea and knowing you don't have to fly out of bed as soon as your eyes open, relaxes you without any effort on your part.

You don't need to practice any special breathing techniques, because you'll be breathing slowly; you don't need to concentrate on relaxing different muscle groups - they're already relaxed.

GETTING UP

Sometimes, you'll be so relaxed that you may be tempted to stay just a few minutes more.

Don't do it.

Don't spoil the mood you've created for yourselves by lying in and then having to rush through the morning. Your stress levels will go up and you'll be blaming each other for being late.

Turn on the radio when you wake up and make it part of your routine that you get up after a particular broadcast; it's always easier to have an external trigger like this, and it saves one of you having to be the "bad guy" who decides it's time to get up.

LASTING BENEFITS

By easing yourself gently into your day, you avoid a great deal of stress. The extra time you've made not only allows you to spend an extra precious time together, it also relaxes you for the day ahead.

Whenever you feel yourself getting tense through the day, take a deep breath; remember how relaxed you felt lying in bed sipping your tea; smile; try to recapture the actual physical feeling of relaxation and smile again when you realise that you have that special time to look forward to again tomorrow!

Jennifer Stewart is a freelance writer. She and her husband have been married (to each other) for 37 years and have two adult children. Visit her website at http://ww.write101.com and subscribe to free, weekly Writing Tips: mailto:WritingTips-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

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