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That Good Day
Written By: Mark Smith

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I got married a week after Prince Charles and Princess Diana did, decades ago. Our married life began with a bit less fanfare than theirs and much less grandeur in the wedding day and honeymoon arrangements. But both marriages met with tragedy eventually. In my weekly Men's Group the guys were moved by something that I shared and they have insisted that I share it in the blog. I believe that marriages are priceless. Divorce is unnatural and psychologically jarring for everybody concerned. Our approach promotes the salvaging and and rebuilding of marriages. It eliminates the roles of good guy/victim and bad guy/perpetrator. Our practice as had the privilege of saving and revitalizing thousands of marriages in our 23 years of service. But the very sad truth is that the physician could not heal himself or his own family. Over three years ago I suffered through a divorce myself. You might think that a marriage counselor discussing his own divorce might not be the very best form of marketing. I have found the opposite to be true. My divorce was not a reflection of any insincerity in attempting the live the principles that I teach and it certainly in no way indicates that the concepts of Recovery, Shame, Abandonment, Addiction, Marrying Your Issues, Boundaries, Codependency or Counterdependency are not startling immutable truths. Not everybody is born into an equal situation. In my case, I had severe abandonment from very early on from both parents. This developed a voraciously needy little boy at my core that didn't come out and start wreaking havoc until my 45th year.

In most circles this condition is referred to as a 'mid-life crisis'. Unfortunately we could not locate a Recovery based, 'there are no victims in marriage', powerfully assertive, non-shaming therapist in time to pump any hope or positive vibes into my former wife before the patient died on the operating table. The well meaning therapists that we saw supported a picture where I was the bad guy, my wife was the poor victim who had a license to be bitter and punishing and childhood wounds were almost never even brought up. The thing that ends marriages isn't the long list of horrible marital sins. The singular issue that ends most marriages is when one partner (or both) get entrenched in a victim paradigm that locks them into bitterness, being judgmental and never being able to forgive.

Last Monday would have been my 30th Wedding Anniversary. Our marriage made it just short of 27 years. But I am still working on grieving that immense loss. I process my feelings with writing and poetry. Here are the words that came up for me when I started to process August 15, 1981...

That Good Day

hot and humid that day, threatening rain
two naÔve babies posing as grown ups
making promises
filled with fairy land hopes and dreams

my bride so very sweet, solid and good
we thought God would heal and protect
and make us into what we never were
deep wounds hidden by bible verse body casts

it was a very good day
celebrating love that built a family
pretending that we knew who we were
pretending to not come from where we came

thirty years have slipped away
since the magic of that day
but I remember everything
and I will honor that good day forever

in the test of time we were who we were
our destinies off on a crooked unexpected path
uneven, choppy, broken and so disappointing
why couldnít God seal us away in our pretending?

I am filled to overflowing with gratitude
for memories, adventure, the grit of family, what was
for the three evolving miracles of August 15th
it was a very good day!

I share this to help you understand both the immense value of saving your marriage and to teach you about the true meaning and purpose of marriage. The purpose of marriage is PAIN! Not a very romantic notion I know. Let me explain. The truth is that we all have experienced some childhood wounding. This world of ours is an extremely flawed place and we all get our fair share of emotional bumps and bruises when we are tiny, unprotected and vulnerable.

If you do not know this about yourself then you really do not know who you are or where you came from. Thankfully, complex hurting little human beings then have fortresses of powerful psychological defenses rise up to provide integrity, protection and safety. We learn to rationalize, cope, act out, devalue, intellectualize, idealize, deny, undo, disassociate, minimize, displace, project, repress, regress and otherwise numb all the bad stuff out. The purpose of our psychological defenses Ė get us the heck out of childhood in one functioning piece with the misguided impression that we are all grown up now and weíre free to go live our lives without any significant impact from dad, mom, and the rest of that bunch. I wish that were true.

The truth is that our particular family dysfunction conspires to form and twist us into who we uniquely are Ė both good and bad. It actually determines who you are attracted to. Whatever wounding you are repressing from childhood develops and morphs into your love life type. I wish it wasnít true but it is. Nature would very much like for each of us to heal our deepest emotional wounds. We are pretty much stuck liking who we like. We are intensely attracted only to lovers who are hidden versions of dad and momís worst and most hurtful traits. We all have 100% unfailing radar systems that draw us the people who are so wrong for us that they are right for us. It is natureís way. It is the true meaning of love. It is why the bad boys get the really hot girls.

The hundreds of couples that I have worked with over the past 23 years who have gotten this concept have proactively healed, thrived and blossomed into healthier and happier people. Not all of their marriages could be salvaged but the vast majority of them were not only salvaged, they were rebuilt from the ground up into something truly solid and wonderfully special. The divorce rate for those who didnít get the mind blowing secret purpose of marriage was astronomical, as in ironically the case of my own wife not buying into these concepts. They left their marriages bitter, clueless, jaded and full of anger to take out on the next hidden version of their unresolved issues that their unerring radars drew into their lives. This is not a small truth, it is not psychobabble, and it is not something that only applies to some people. This is about you. It applies to you if you are headed to the alter for the first time as a 24 year old, it applies to you if you are in your early 40ís and you are desperately lonely and unhappy in your marriage and it applies to you if you are still looking for the good stuff in love in your 60ís.
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It is Natureís way of healing us. It is Godís way of healing us. Marriage and relationships truly are all good. I encourage squeezing every ounce of insight, healing and growth out of the pain and difficulties that the gift of your particular dysfunctional relationship graces you with. We can help you with that. build your marriage into a solid and true vessel that carries you into and way past your 30th year of loving marriage.

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This article was authored by Family Tree Counseling Associates, a marriage, individual and family counseling center serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana. If you would like to contact us, please fill out a contact us form or call us at 317-844-2442.
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