THE BLOG
08/16/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Mother Nature's Six Tools for a Thriving Marriage

Why are some marriages more successful than others? Startling research in the evolutionary sciences reveals that we are all "hard wired" with natural instinctual tools whose purpose is to help marriage thrive. Natural selection, naturally, favor those marriages that thrive because thriving marriages increase the chances of reproduction, and family cohesiveness, factors that allow the family genes (and life) to continue. Thriving marriages are life enhancing.

Yet, it's been my observation and I bet if your marriage is in the survival mode this is true for you, that most marriages are disconnected from these natural marriage enhancement tools. Instinctual disconnection spells a surviving marriage, one in which both partners feel as though they are stuck. Furthermore, surviving marriages often break up making it harder for the children to secure their place in the world. Surviving marriages are life draining.

If you are in the surviving marriage category (contemporary data would suggest you are) don't despair. If you listen to your mother, Mother Nature that is, you can begin to make your marriage thrive! All you need to do is start to use Mother Nature's six tools for marriage enhancement.

Here is a overview of each and briefly how you can use them to enhance your marriage (reflect upon how well your marriage uses each instinctual tool). In subsequent posts, I will provide innovative applications of how to use them to help your marriage thrive.

Shelter Seeking. We are all hardwired with shelter seeking instincts, their purpose being to help us find an environment that provides us with the emotional nutrients that we need to develop ourselves.

Do you and your partner feel you are continually growing ? If you both feel frequent joy, engagement, and interest, you have the basis for a thriving marriage.

If not, It's time for both of you to get back to the basics of shelter seeking to create an empowering marriage-one in which both of you are growing; that being the case, the marriage becomes reenergized, and valued by both partners, as it is an "environment which promotes their joy, engagement, and interest.

For starters, each of you makes a list of your emotional nutrients-what you think and feel you need for your marriage to grow. Share it with each other. A partner who knows what you need to emotionally grow is in a better position to help you grow, and vice versa.

Care-Soliciting. Everybody has vulnerabilities, be it health, potential job loss--that is why we are hard wired to care-solicit, to ask for help. It is Mother Nature's way of ensuring that we can protect our vulnerabilities. In thriving marriages, both partners feel comfortable in showing their vulnerabilities and this allows them to ask each for help, and thus, help each other so they can thrive..

Partners in surviving marriages hide their vulnerabilities, keep their problems to themselves, and this results in feelings of isolation. If you are in a surviving marriage, you and your partner will be helped by sharing your vulnerabilities which will allow you to feel comfortable in asking each other for help.

Care-Giving. Do you and your partner care-give, or tend, to each other? Mother Nature has given us all care-giving instincts, their purpose being to develop the future. In thriving marriages, partners tend to each other, for example, by paying each attention to the physical and mental health needs of each other and in doing so, ensure that their partner stays healthy so their marriage can continue.

If you are in a surviving marriage, it is a safe bet that you rarely focus on taking care of your partner. Begin to and you will make things better. Also, both partners will benefit by reflecting on how they can be better care-givers to their marriage.

Beauty. The evolutionary function of your beauty instincts is to pull things toward you. In thriving marriages, partners are well connected to their attractive instincts. Besides looking their "personal best," they develop attributes that keep their partner attracted to them, like being dependable and supportive.

Partners in surviving marriages have little interest in each other, so they need to reconnect to their attractive instincts. An easy beginning: develop your humor skills. There are few laughs in a surviving marriage and all of us are attracted to people who have a good sense of humor because humor makes us feel good.

Cooperation Thriving marriages are able to work out their problems, meet the adversities thrown upon them and enjoy each other because they cooperate--you and your partner are hardwired too. Ever since early man hunted, and early woman gathered, marriage has been a team game. Thriving couples utilize their cooperative instincts by having a division of labor, create a positive marriage identity, and practice reciprocity.

Surviving marriages too often fail to cooperate. They play "Tit for Tat," a losing scenario because if one partner acts counterproductively, the other partner does so too, making it difficult to initiate positive behaviors. Surviving marriages are emotionally competitive; partners consistently maneuver to be in control.

How can surviving marriages begin to reconnect with their cooperative instincts and break the tit for tat cycle? The first step is for each partner to Commit to Cooperate-offer cooperation and be nice to your partner even when they are not; in other words, play tit, tit, tit, tit, for tat.

Curiosity: The evolutionary function of your curiosity instinct is to increase the chances that you will encounter items in your environment that can enhance your life. In essence, curiosity accelerates your learning so that you can stay ahead of the pack. Thriving marriages, for example, apply their curiosity instincts by trying new fun things together, and give "hints" of fun surprises to come. Curious activities create shared "positive arousal," energy that helps the couple thrive.

Surviving couples engage in little exploratory behavior together and naturally, show little interest in each other. The net result: each person stagnates and so does the relationship.

What can the surviving couple do to become a curious George and Georgette? It takes energy to explore new environments or even to show interest in your mate. Because a surviving marriage is emotionally and physically draining, the first step is for each partner to Alpha UP-increase your energy level so you can put energy into making your marriage thrive. Proper rest, eating healthy, motivational self statements can help both of you.

Future posts will provide innovative applications of how you can use The Genius of Your Instincts to reduce marital discord, enhance your sex life, get your marriage budget under control, and keep your house clean too!

I would sure be interested in hearing how you apply your instinctual tools to your marriage.

drhendrieweisinger.com