Couples want honesty with each other. Most marriages also want emotional closeness, trust, respect, clear communications, and joy. When those things are lost in relationship, the stunning truth is that couples can recover those qualities with the help of a good and realistic marriage counselor.
Here’s the secret many counselors overlook: It is not you or your loved one who’s at fault for misery in marriage. People don’t screw up marriage or significant relationships. Patterns of thought and interaction you use to do marriage mess things up. Those then lead to troubled marriages.
It starts with myths and other long held, but outdated beliefs, about what makes for solid, enduring coupled life. Why people doubt themselves and each other when things go wrong instead of the model or ideas they are using to guide their thinking and expectations I will never know.
At one time common “knowledge” held that the earth was flat. This knowledge, when used, prevented people from sailing to the horizon for fear of falling off. Some would not even get in boats. It’s easy to see in this example how the people were not crazy. It was the ideas they used for guidance that was crazy.
No one is born knowing how to do marriage or intimate relationships. We learn a way of doing couple life from how the people around us are doing it. Each culture teaches its people a way of doing marriage and family life. People are people, but thoughts and patterns do vary. In turn, depending on which method we use, we get differing results.
If your relationship is struggling, it’s not you and your loved one to blame. The startling truth: it’s the patterns of interaction you’re using that creates the problems, not you guys. Take heart. There’s hope because patterns of inaction can change, especially with the help of the right coach or counselor.
Two major ways we trip ourselves up and keep heading for divorce courts, generation after generation:
- Couples who marry are expected to make promises to each other they cannot keep. At the wedding ceremony many couples believe that if they make a vow about what they want to happen with each other that will make it happen. I suggest they be honest with each other and instead of vows, state their intentions toward each other. No one knows the future but we can pledge to each other that we intend to do the best we can to stay together “in sickness and health…etc, etc.” They can also add that if they run into trouble during the course of the relationship, they intend to get some help.
- Since we marry nowadays for love and not by arrangement (by parents, match makers, etc.), we believe love is enough to make the relationship work and last. If the marriage is in trouble it must be because we lost our love for each other.
Making marriage and significant relationships work is no less demanding and difficult than flying a jet airplane or doing brain surgery. No matter how much a person loves flying or doing surgery, love alone won’t cut it. Those things take lots of education, training and skill. So does marriage.
Before you blame or bale on your partner, consider some other possibilities. Get some counseling. Learn to use realistic, honest, and successful ways of thinking and relating to each other. Use skills based on solid knowledge, not myth, and things will get better.