Valentine’s Day comes once a year, but what’s the state of your union? Experts weigh in on how the strongest pairs make — and enjoy — the whole cake.
By Christine Sherk
Photos by Collin Andrew
Published: (Wednesday, Feb 1, 2012 11:42AM)
For Jeanne-Marie Moore, a licensed social worker and couples counselor at InSight Works in Eugene, the perfect metaphor for the foundation of a healthy marriage is a layer cake.
Say you’re trying to bake a cake, but you don’t think you have all the ingredients; you may tell yourself, I’m OK, but if I only had the eggs.
“Some people walk around and look for the eggs instead of understanding ‘I’m an already baked whole layer of cake just right here the way I am,’” Jeanne-Marie explains with a warm laugh.
She is serious, however. Believe you’re “a good, whole person” going into the relationship. That means you address personal issues, you face your inner demons. Most importantly, you don’t rely on your partner to compensate for the inner work you haven’t done. Or to provide the eggs, as it were.
Two wholes make the layer cake. Frosting is all that extra stuff you get to enjoy as a couple, Jeanne-Marie adds. “But you can’t if you don’t believe you have everything already for the cake,” she says.
There are other components to a healthy partnership. In the month of February — or any month, for that matter — it’s appropriate to ask the experts what makes a good union and how to preserve and strengthen the bond. Couples may even need help if they think they’ve lost that special feeling, or worse.
Diane Thurlow, a licensed clinical counselor at Healthy Marriages in Eugene, turned from a career in divorce mediation to counseling when she realized she would rather work with couples who are trying to figure out how to be together successfully.
“I’ve had so many couples who come in here,” Diane says, “and one of them has already filed, or they’re going to file, or they think they hate each other; and a week or two later, they’ve got their arms around each other. That’s how close love and hate are. It’s amazing.”