December 2016



Marriage is Like a Tabletop With Four Sturdy Legs

By: Dr. Jackie Black

Coupleship is a way to perceive and structure a long-term,primary monogamous relationship.

Emotionally intelligent couples have certain things in common.They are committed to mutual and reciprocal respect, encouragement and affirmation; they can easily and elegantly offer and receive an apology; and they speak with each other in feeling vocabulary that keeps them open (undefended) and emotionally available to each other!

Think about Coupleship as a tabletop being supported by very sturdy legs. The sturdy legs are:

  1. Beliefs and Values of each partner
  2. Personal Style and Temperament that each partner brings in to the Coupleship
  3. Commitments each partner makes to the Coupleship and to his or her partner
  4. Agreements each partner makes to the Coupleship and to his or her partner

Letís explore Beliefs, Values, Personal Style and Temperament.

Concept #1: How well do you know your Self?

What are your personal...

  • Values
  • Beliefs
  • Strengths
  • Skills
  • Personal Gifts
  • Talents
  • Limitations

What Behaviors or Under What Circumstances do you feel...

  • Valued
  • Loved
  • Respected
  • Appreciated
  • Hurt
  • Rejected
  • Scared
  • Angry

Have you ever considered what issues are important to you? Or what you want and need from your partner? From your relationship?

  • What behaviors are acceptable, negotiable, and unacceptable?
  • What can your partner reasonably expect from you?
  • How do your handle your own anger? Your family? Your career?
  • What are your needs for personal space?
  • How much alone time do you want or need?
  • Do you like or have pets? Does the dog sleep on the bed? Or do pets belong outside?
  • Are you a world traveler or a homebody?
  • How do you handle money?
  • Do you have an open door policy, or do you want friends and family to call first?
  • Do you have kids? Want kids? Are you willing to co-parent?
  • Are you a vegetarian, and can someone eat meat in your presence,or does it matter?

Concept #2: Who IS Your Ideal Partner?

Take some time and explore all the questions above and this time, relate them to your partner and see WHO she or he really is; not in your fantasy, but in your reality! Be picky! Don't settle for anything less than your ideal partner.

As you can see, there are many, many questions and issues to consider before you and your partner make the Agreements and Commitments that will become the other two sturdy legs of your tabletop.

Coupling, partnering, marrying, joining another and inviting another to join you in your life is serious business. Take the time and the energy required; learn and apply the essential relationship success skills; and build the life that you love with the love of your life forever!

Remember, only YOU can make it happen!

Copyright © 2016 by Dr. Jackie Black and the Relationship Coaching Institute. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.

Dr. Jackie Black, is a Marriage Educator, Author and Coach; and the co-developer of RCI's Couples Coach Training Program. She is the author of the Cracking the Code series of relationship-focused books, a popular Internet syndicated columnist, a highly regarded relationship blogger and podcaster, and a frequent guest expert on traditional and Internet radio throughout the world. Connect with Dr. Jackie at

Ask Our Coaches

I think my husband is having an affair. What should I do?

Dear Coaches,

I'm almost positive that my husband is having an affair but I have no proof and I don't know what to do. He tells me that he's working late or out with friends, but I've caught him lying more than once. When I confront him he always makes excuses and tells me that I'm paranoid. I have always believed in respecting his privacy and I don't want to sneak around checking his phone texts or emails but I'm thinking about it. I don't want to live like this anymore, but what if I am just being paranoid? How can I find out the truth? What should I do?

Leah Cochrane

Leah responds ...

How difficult and painful it must be for you right now! The one you would most like to turn to for support appears to be right in the middle of your dilemma. And that's bound to feel very confusing until you connect with your own inner resources--they're in there, even if it doesn't seem like it right now.

When people ask if I think they're being "paranoid," I always wonder whether they themselves believe they are over-reacting, or if they are only hoping they are over-reacting, that the situation isn't as bad as it seems. Which is it for you, do you think?

I was also wondering--you've asked your husband about his behavior, but said you don't trust his answers, and you also said you don't want to invade his privacy. Do you think there are options other than these?

What could you do or say to take care of yourself and your heart at this moment? What would you wish your spouse to do or say? What do you think would happen between the two of you then?

In reality, the only behavior you can control is your own. That probably doesn't feel like much right now, but in truth, it is immense. It means you have choice. It means you have a voice that is your own, that can speak your truth as no one else may do.

Losing trust in the bond you have with your mate is a relationship 911, regardless of the "facts" and even if you "have no proof." Something is going on between the two of you that is damaging the intimacy and trust.

Your gut feelings can be an important source of information. What are yours telling you about your experience? I support you to find a quiet space and really check in with yourself about how you feel, what's happened, what outcome you want. If you have a trusted friend, family member, coach or therapist, or spiritual advisor, you might want to consider their counsel along with your own. However you choose to proceed, you have your answer inside you. You may be in turmoil at the moment, but your truth is there, if you open to it,

Leah Cochrane |

Lynn Goodacre

Lynn responds ...

First of all, congratulations on taking the high road and respecting your husband's privacy and being reluctant to check his texts and emails. It's really tough when a marriage lacks trust and it sounds like you're in a very difficult position where you have suspicions, but no proof.

One of the most valuable components in a marriage is a vision for what the two of you want. It sounds like you want to feel confident that he is being faithful. Your husband may want things he isn't getting, so how would it be to sit down with him and have a discussion about this? You've made a commitment with your marriage Ė now how can you get it to work for both of you?

It sounds like you and your husband could benefit from some coaching around communication. If you're "confronting" him and he's calling you "paranoid", there isn't a lot of respect being shown here and you don't seem to be making much headway toward resolving this situation. A relationship coach could help you and your husband improve your communication skills and co-create a vision for a marriage that supports and fulfills both of you. You say you don't want to live like this anymore so perhaps it's time to get a relationship expert on board!

Lynn Goodacre |

The opinions stated are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the staff, members, or leadership of Relationship Coaching Institute.

This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your question here and it will be forwarded to our coaches all over the world. Each issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.


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