Your Marriage Might Be More Salvageable Than You Think
Written By: Mark Smith
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Do you feel trapped in your marriage? Would you walk if the price of walking weren’t so steep? Have you lost hope in your ability to positively impact your sad and chronically stuck marriage? We get frequent individual sessions with cash paying miserably married people who plan to come just a few times basically to vent about their unloving partners and to seek some sort of absolution for their guilt before they file for divorce. Boy do such folks get the shock of their lives during their feedback sessions. We basically rock their worlds with a paradigm that is both difficult to argue with and quite hard to swallow. If this is where you are at with your marriage then try real hard to open your mind up for a 5 challenging, hope building concepts that could very well be the beginning of your marriage’s salvation.
1. Your Marriage Is About YOU; It Has Very Little To Do With Your Spouse! Huh? You lost me there Doc. Didn’t you hear me when I told you that my spouse was a stinker, a louse, a workaholic, an alcoholic, a lair and a cheat? Yeah, I heard you. Here’s the thing though – we are all responsible for creating our own worlds. Of all the billions of people on the planet for you to choose to put solely in charge of loving you for a lifetime you picked a stinker. Why would you do that to yourself? I know. It was not an accident or bad luck – it was actually quite deliberate on your part. How were you wounded as a child? The answer to that question has everything to do with whom you will select as a spouse. Marriage is a re-enactment of childhood. During courtship we are so blinded by love that we don’t see that our beloved actually has many of the worst qualities of our parents. That is what marriage is. Your life is on you. Marriage is fair. You get what you picked. Marriage is an opportunity to work at healing your deepest childhood wounds.
2. Your challenge is to pleasantly but firmly require your spouse to meet your needs – in effect, to get blood from a turnip. You unconsciously but deliberately selected a spouse who is uniquely unqualified to meet your needs. What made them wrong for you made them right for you. What exactly are your needs? In effect by coming to your spouse (your parents’ representative in your current life) with your needs you are doing what you could not do as a child – directly asking for the love that you need. When a person with the same psychological DNA as your parents hears you and then meets your needs then that really means something.
3. Anger Is A Powerful Force That Can Impact And Change Even The Most Resistant Of Spouses. Every spring on our way to Myrtle Beach my family and I drive through tunnels in the mountains of North Carolina. The engineers who built those tunnels used a great deal of dynamite to blow the right sized hole in the mountain. A stubborn, resistant spouse is the unmovable, stone mountain, you are the engineer looking for a way through the mountain and the dynamite is your anger. The problem is that many of you only have enough dynamite to blow up a few coke bottles. Your anger is more like a firecracker – it gets lit up from time to time, but after all the color, smoke, and noise the mountain still stands completely unfazed. You need to get in touch with a whole lot more dynamite.
4. Be Careful To Not Triangle A 3rd Party Into Your Conflict. Relationships between two people are often like a stool with just two legs – it doesn’t work very well. That is when a third leg to the stool is instinctively introduced to help bring stability into the system. The classic 3rd party is the extra marital affair. An affair is an illusion. It will take a bad situation and turn it into an absolute disaster. Guard your hearts. If you taste the forbidden fruit of an affair you will live to regret it. If a 3rd party is needed, make it a skilled and objective therapist.
5. The Recovery Work That You Do Will Splash Over Onto Your Spouse. Recovery is simply knowing the truth about your issues and then working hard on them. Whatever your issues are, as you change everybody around you will change as well. Do not wait for your spouse to be ready to come to therapy before starting if you are ready. It isn’t about them it’s about you. As you introduce being accepting and non-judgmental, having a pleasant but powerful voice, placing your vulnerable needs at the feet of your spouse, humbly and non-defensively owning your own stuff without pointing fingers, changing dysfunctional patterns, being accountable, being positive, valuing your spouse and generally being happier it will impact your marriage in a very positive and powerful way.
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