Marriage Boot Camp: Defeat the Top 10 Marriage Killers and Build a Rock-Solid Relationship

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9780451476777: Marriage Boot Camp: Defeat the Top 10 Marriage Killers and Build a Rock-Solid Relationship
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From the stars of WE tv’s Marriage Boot Camp comes a definitive guide to creating and maintaining a healthy marriage.

Marriage is hard work. After the fairy-tale “I Dos” come chores, bills, fights, and plain weariness. Many couples are unsure how to fix their problems and wonder if their relationships really have what it takes to go the distance. (Hint: They do!)

Luckily, relationship experts Elizabeth and Jim Carroll have created a program proven to mend marriages, revive relationships, and make the happily-ever-afters come true. After twenty years of resuscitating thousands of marriages, the Carrolls bring their wisdom directly to readers through this do-it-yourself relationship bible. Filled with advice, exercises, quizzes, and games, Marriage Boot Camp will teach couples to fight the Top Ten Marriage Killers by:

· Keeping the heat in the bedroom
· Arguing effectively instead of fighting dirty
· Managing money
· Creating—or rebuilding—trust
· And much more!

Through each time-tested exercise, couples will discover what matters to them as individuals and as part of a pair, and learn why marriage is not 50/50 but 100/100 at all times. With the right skills, any couple can create the marriage they’ve always dreamed of.

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About the Author:

Elizabeth Carroll and Jim Carroll are the founders of Marriage Boot Camp® and the stars of WeTV’s Marriage Boot Camp.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Introduction: Welcome to Marriage Boot Camp!

1: Communication

2: Sex

3: Money

4: Chores

5: Personality Differences

6: Parenting

7: Cheating

8: Fighting

9: Wrestling with the Past

10: The Need for Forgiveness

INTRODUCTION

WELCOME TO MARRIAGE BOOT CAMP!

HAVE YOU BEEN A fan of the Marriage Boot Camp television series on WE tv? Some of you may have seen every season; the first two seasons consisted of participants from the infamous Bridezillas television show, followed by several seasons of reality stars from various television shows and genres. We’ve found that putting a mix of all different varieties of couples together in a boot-camp environment is helpful; not only will couples see the snarls and tangles in their own marriages, but seeing the struggles of other couples helps them in their own lives.

While these men and women come from varied socioeconomic backgrounds, educations, and places, they all came into the Marriage Boot Camp program struggling with equally daunting marital problems.

Our Bridezillas were really fascinating. We repeatedly heard from fans of the show that nobody was surprised to find those women having trouble in their relationships; it was what they expected after watching how they behaved toward their future spouses during their wedding planning and on the big day.

But through Marriage Boot Camp, we saw what was behind the tantrums portrayed on their shows and how in some cases, their future spouses had a lot to do with triggering their behavior. We saw the pain couples suffer when one or both of them are dishonest and hiding things. All of them finished our program more aware of their spouse’s needs and more understanding of the kind of respect and trust a marriage requires. Some of these women were less Bridezilla divas and more legitimately concerned wives. Really, in today’s world, if you cannot allow your spouse to look at your cell phone, there are much deeper trust issues that need serious consideration.

What many viewers don’t know is that Marriage Boot Camp existed long before the television show first aired in May of 2013. We created Marriage Boot Camp workshops and counseling seminars almost twelve years before we began appearing on television to share our approach to strengthening a marriage. To date more than ten thousand couples have participated in our workshops, and we commissioned a two-year study in 2001 that demonstrated exactly how successful the Marriage Boot Camp protocol is.

Statistically, traditional marriage counseling works only twenty percent of the time. Our study proved that eighty percent of the couples who used Marriage Boot Camp for relationship counseling went on to have happy and successful marriages. There’s nothing else like it—no other therapy program can claim a success rate that high.

Why is Marriage Boot Camp so successful? Because it forces struggling couples to step back and reevaluate everything, which includes looking in the mirror at their own issues. We often say that we have to take the marriage apart and look at every component to get to the root of the problem so we can build the marriage back up and give it a chance to work. Our program forces both spouses to not only hear and learn more about the needs and desires and fears of their partners, but we also put them in situations where they actually experience what their spouse is feeling for themselves.

HOW WILL THIS BOOK WORK FOR YOU?

You’ve picked up this book because you’re struggling in your own relationship and you’re wondering if reading this will help. Or you’re a massive fan of the show, in which case you’ll also enjoy reading about the process and gaining more understanding about what you’re seeing on television. The original Marriage Boot Camp seminar program tools are what you’re seeing on WE tv’s reality show, but the show gives us the ability to more graphically and vividly let the campers experience certain aspects of drills that couldn’t be executed in a classroom. The book breaks the program down into the steps we use to get these couples from a dark place to an enlightened understanding of each other’s needs and wants. And eighty percent of the time, it’s been proven to work to save a relationship in distress.

The foundation for this book comes from the Marriage Boot Camp seminar series and WE tv’s reality television show. We’ve taken many of the games, drills, and exercises we teach and put them in a readable, functional format to bring you an experience of healing that you can do at home. The chapters contain some guided visualizations that drop the reader into the world of the imagination to consider life from a different perspective. Stories and anecdotes from those who have already gone through the Marriage Boot Camp will illustrate how others have applied our teachings to their own lives. Then we give you several exercises that apply topic-specific activities to your life. By the time you’ve finished the book, you will have tools for living life and experiencing relationships more fully and more effectively. While there are many things that can negatively impact your marriage, after close to twenty years of shepherding spouses toward their own happily ever after, we have boiled this book down to the top-ten marriage killers: communication problems, sex problems, money disagreements, battling over chores, personality differences, parenting challenges, cheating, inability to resolve conflict, refusing to let go of the past, and issues surrounding the need for forgiveness.

If you can master these areas of challenge, then you, too, may find purpose in spreading the word: You can have the marriage you’ve always wanted!

WHY IS MARRIAGE SO HARD?

We all desperately long for a happy relationship. We were born into relationships, helpless and vulnerable, and had it not been for relationships, we would have perished. Not much has changed except the fact that we can physically survive, but a part of us dies without an intimate connection.

We are created to love and be loved, and there is no greater opportunity for this love than in marriage. We are called to become one with another so that we can touch each other’s deepest needs: the need for security—knowing that we are loved—and the need for significance—knowing that we are valued. So why is marriage so hard? It is hard because in order to be successful in marriage, you have to be solid and whole. That means you have to love yourself, delight in the unique creation of you, and appreciate the unique creation reflected in others. You have to be able to love yourself before you can love anyone else . . . yet marriage will not tolerate selfishness.

The dissolution of marriage through divorce has become commonplace and widespread, with a marriage success rate hovering around fifty percent in the United States. If a disease affected more than half of the populace, spreading suffering to all age groups, we would frantically search for a solution, but the disease of divorce is virtually ignored. Politicians may talk about returning to family values, and current events may inspire discussions of how the dissolution of the family unit has caused the havoc going on in some cities, but at the end of the day, nobody is doing anything about it. It’s all rhetoric.

Well, not anymore. This book takes on the divorce disease and more. It will help you understand who you are, why you are the way you are, and how these traits result in the marriage that you have. Once you understand the reasons that your life is the way it is today, we give you the tools to choose different beliefs and actions to get to a different outcome. The result is the marriage that you’ve always wanted.

Maybe you’re reading this book because you’re struggling with your relationship but your partner isn’t willing to embark on counseling together. That’s okay. You can start this program alone. Our hope is that once you’ve read the book, you’ll be better able to communicate with your partner based on the exercises and tools we’ve provided you.

However, it’s worth the struggle to ask your spouse to work the Marriage Boot Camp program with you and try to make progress in your lives together. Even if he or she isn’t ready to tackle the whole enchilada with you at one time, you may be able to navigate some of the steps and drills together without making your partner feel tested or judged. You may even find him or her more amenable than you thought! So be prepared just in case your spouse says yes when you initiate the discussion; some of the exercises are fun but require a little prep work for the uninitiated.

WHAT KIND OF “REAL” COUPLES DO THE MARRIAGE BOOT CAMP?

All kinds of couples participate in Marriage Boot Camp. Fans of the show know that the backgrounds and relationship problems of the couples all vary dramatically. Every human being is different, and each of us processes our relationships differently.

Here’s a little snapshot of a real (as in non-reality-television) couple who attended our active, experiential seminar:

It is ten o’clock on a Wednesday morning and forty couples enter the Marriage Boot Camp room. There’s a crackle in the air, but it is not the crackle of excitement. It is the crackle of pain. All of the couples are here because their marriages are in trouble. Many of them don’t want to be here but have come because they deeply love their spouse despite their relationship problems and they want to try to fix their marriages. For more than half of the couples in the room, this is their last-ditch effort to save their marriage. Many have already filed for divorce. We also have pre-marrieds doing the hard work before the wedding. Smart.

Some of the people in the room are here because they were dragged, coerced by their spouse, family, friends, or children to try one more thing before ending their marriage. Most of the people in the room are desperate for help even if attending Marriage Boot Camp wasn’t their idea.

Take the example of Bobby and Melissa:

Bobby and Melissa have been married for six years. They have two children, ages six and three. At nineteen years old, they found themselves accidentally pregnant and unmarried. Their dreams of education and individual successes were dashed in that instant. Bobby carries a deep-seated resentment toward Melissa, feeling that she manipulated him by getting pregnant. Melissa feels unfairly accused because the pregnancy was as much Bobby’s fault as hers. They ended their relationship during the pregnancy, dated other people, but kept coming back together out of their love for their son and a powerful sexual attraction. When Bobby decided to enter the military, he found that his benefits would be much greater if he were married. Plus, he didn’t want to travel the world alone. So for all the wrong reasons, Bobby and Melissa got married.

They tried to do marriage right, even having a second child together, but over time infidelity, deception, and lengthy absences poisoned whatever love they felt for each other. Both of them wanted to have a happy marriage, but they also both realized they didn’t know how to achieve that goal. They read every self-help book they could find and also participated in marriage counseling. Coming to Marriage Boot Camp was their last-ditch effort to avoid divorce.

Bobby and Melissa both grew up in dysfunctional homes with revolving father figures. Neither had ever seen a truly healthy, loving marriage, and they were well on the road to giving their children the same dysfunctional home that they had grown up in—the last thing they wanted to do. Their primary motivation for working out their relationship lay in the fact that they didn’t want to see their children suffer the way they had.

Upon arrival, Bobby and Melissa were both challenged to give one hundred percent to the Marriage Boot Camp program. They were promised they would be given the tools to have a healthy, happy, fulfilling marriage. But they were also warned that just having the tools wouldn’t be enough to save their marriage. We asked this question: “Do you want to grow and heal and learn so that you can have a healthy marriage, or do you want to drag all of your dysfunction from this marriage into your future?”

Bobby and Melissa committed to giving one hundred percent. Both had little hope that their marriage would survive (some couples who travel to attend our boot camps actually arrive dreading spending even a few days in their hotel room together, much less contemplate spending the next ten, twenty, or forty years together), but they knew that they would have to co-parent their two small children whether or not they remained married. They both knew firsthand what it was like to have parents who couldn’t work together and who made life miserable for the children, and neither wanted to be that parent.

It was a difficult seminar for them, but the end result is that Bobby and Melissa were able to forgive each other, and themselves, for past transgressions and move forward. They learned how to communicate their needs and fears in a healthier manner. Marriages are never perfect, and they all require work and attention, but for now Bobby and Melissa both feel more safe and secure and able to provide the kind of family life for their children that they themselves had craved.

WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP?

You, too, can be “happily married,” but you have to be willing to give one hundred percent, dig deep, and work your butt off. This book will take you through the process of Marriage Boot Camp, and if you are indeed giving it your all, you’ll be pushed, prodded, and guided to become the best possible version of yourself. It is our experience that if you grow, your marriage will grow and you can have the marriage you’ve always wanted.

1

COMMUNICATION

WITH GOOD COMMUNICATION SKILLS, you can solve virtually any problem. With bad communication skills, you will struggle to solve even the smallest issues. We’re going to show you how to breathe new life into your relationship, and love into your hearts, through skillful communication.

Com·mu·ni·ca·tion noun: the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of “communication” is pretty straightforward. Why is this the biggest problem in relationships? Because it’s not just the act of communicating; it’s also the manner in which you communicate. Is what you’re saying what is really true for you? Did you convey the message you intended? Good communication requires self-awareness and the courage to share your inner life with another person.

Communication is the bridge between two people. It takes our ideas, thoughts, and feelings from inside our heads and presents them as a gift to the listener, in this case, someone you care about. Communication is the solution to the problem of guessing what’s going on in each other’s heads. Communicating...

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