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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: January 2018

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Marital Matrix - Four Truths and a Lie

I just wanted to share a few observations about marriage that I've come to believe.  There is so much information about how to make marriage work these days, so many ideas, therapies, predictions, so much advice.  It's hard to know how to sort it all.  And most of its pretty good, actually.  Tons of books, blogs, vlogs, podcasts... sometimes we just need to keep listening and reading and unpacking and trying to find our truth.  But from where I sit, having been working with couples for over 20 years, I offer you four truths and a lie.  (A bit oversimplified, but relevant nonetheless):

Truth One:    Too much entitlement felt by either spouse can take down a marriage
Truth Two:    Too little self esteem  in either spouse can take down a marriage
Truth Three:  Difficult in-laws can take down a marriage
Truth Four :   Too little or unsatisfying sex can take down a marriage
One Lie:         Its not worth trying to fix it

Abuse aside (and I am not defining it here), it is worth it.  When we thrive as individuals, the marriage does better.  When the marriage thrives, the individuals do better.  Yes, its painful.  Yes, there are lots of feelings, and undercurrents and thoughts and perspectives and beliefs and perceptions and things to sort through.  Sometimes, we'd rather be right than married.  Sometimes we'd rather suffer silently.  Sometimes we just want the other person to suffer, or to understand or change. 

Sometimes we'd rather believe that nothing is going to help.  Sometimes we have an overblown or underblown sense of how things should be, whose fault it is, what our capacity (or our spouse's) for change is, and whether we really need or want help.  Sometimes, we proceed in ways that we ourselves don't even realize.  And maybe we don't care.  Sometimes we are too angry to really listen, or to try or see if maybe we could have an entirely different experience.  Sometimes we are afraid to rock the boat, even if the boat is adrift.

In my office, sometimes I help people separate and resettle well.  Sometimes I help them stay married and make things better.  Sometimes I help them figure out which one of the above they really want to do and why.  And sometimes we just talk through the pain of it all until the next right thing becomes clear and  we know what to do and how to feel better.