Is that all there is to relationship or marriage?

Frank Michel urges you to improve your relationship or marriage by asking the right questions.

Is that all there is to relationship or marriage?

Is that all there is to relationship or marriage?

Is that all there is to relationship or marriage?

Relationships and marriage are a lot of hard work.

When they're good, you're over the moon. When they're troubled, you've got a problem that can intensify and stress you out. The issues you don't address today only get worse tomorrow. You've got to deal with them sooner or later.

A couple experiences good times together when a relationship or marriage first begins. However, add children to the mix, and ideals of love and wedded bliss can seem as hokey as family life in reruns of 1950s TV shows.

Add piles of bills, credit card debt, demanding careers, parenting small children, stress, isolation, alienation, and putting yourself last. Then the grind of daily living becomes overwhelming. Two people who love one another easily fall into patterns of dysfunction. There really is no fun in dysfunction, and not much love either. The honeymoon is over.

Communication, cooperation, and trust become strained. Ambivalence and apathy may set in.

Where did things go wrong? Why does one feel alone even with a loved one in the same room? Should a dialogue become a diatribe, or a discussion become an act of defiance? Whose opinion needs airtime?

Just like television, couples sometimes need to lower the volume, change stations, or turn off the boob tube. Sometimes they need to exit the room separately. The love seat is empty. No popcorn necessary.

Who has experienced power, control, manipulation, and domination when a person exerts one's will over another?

Who's got the clicker? Who's always hogging the TV to watch their favorite shows or a ball game, shushing everyone, and tuning out? They're not listed in a couple's handbook or the TV Guide. Are you a Monday morning quarterback?

On the other hand, as a couple, who is enabling or overlooking selfish and narcissistic behavior? Who is placating their partner so things don't escalate into verbal or physical abuse, or both. Who's overspending or acting as if they're single again?

Who's afraid of confiding in their partner, or even sharing a gentle touch, a sweet kiss, a gaze into the eyes to reveal one's soul? Who's standoffish and refusing intimate contact? Who is sleeping on the couch or in the guestroom? Who is straying or having thoughts of infidelity?

Who whittles away their personality and sense of identity to please others. Who can give more when they've given all they've got?

Is the drama on TV or in real life?

Is your life becoming a sitcom with emotional extremes and daily exchanges that are right out of The Outer Limits or The Twilight Zone? Does the evening news look like a cakewalk compared to your own life?

Is your relationship or marriage needing major repair or even resuscitation? Have anger and rage taken over? Are you suffering from depression, or self-medicating to lessen the pain? Are you clueless on how to proceed so things don't completely fall apart?

Are you getting up the courage to go for counseling, or are you saving money for an attorney? Is divorce on the tip of your tongue, or is it your favorite threat? Do you have pet names for each other, or are you using epithets instead?

Time out. Step back. Turn off the TV in your head since you're ready for quiet time. Alone time. Meditation time. Downtime. Me time. Walk in the woods time. Prayer time. Affirmations too.

Slow down to calm your emotions, clear your mind, set your goals, and take the first steps of action. Nobody moves mountains overnight, but setting the right intention and following through with small changes will create a positive pathway for you to walk.

You may feel now as if you're crawling instead of walking. You're definitely not running. But in time, you'll be marching confidently, determining what works and what to discard, the boundaries to set with your partner and the barriers to break down, the type and level of communication that are effective, as well as how to become team players again. Trust will be reestablished with a new baseline.

You do want to be on the same team, right?

Or is the game over? Are you ready to turn in your uniform and leave the ballpark, instead of hitting a home run?

To repair or resuscitate your relationship or marriage, you must make up your mind that what draws you together is stronger than what tears you apart. You can, and will, revamp your life from disappointment and despair . . . to hope, joy, and love.

It's easy if you follow your instincts, remain open to change, honor yourself, look at the big picture with your partner, and establish love as the greatest tool for couples counseling.

Extend yourself. It's a start. Love yourself. Love your partner.

Remember what you once had together. Set aside the differences and bickering. Trust in yourself. Trust in your partner. Trust in the process. The time is now for peaceful coexistence and healing.