20170916

What Your Marriage Really Needs To Get Better

Marriage is difficult. A recent Marriage Intensive reinforced those words again in my mind.

Leslie and Cam had traveled a great distance for this “last effort to save our marriage”. While they were to be applauded for this effort, they hadn’t fully counted the cost of this effort. Like others, they had apparently hoped change would not be so difficult or exact such a personal cost.

It didn’t take long for me to see this attitude had gotten them into so much trouble.

I began in a routine fashion, telling them marriage, and specifically relationships, become troubled by behaviors and attitudes, and if those are changed, relationships can thrive.

After sharing some of the patterns that get couples into trouble and hearing their background, I invited them to begin sharing some of their issues with each other.

“I want to talk to you about hurt I’m still feeling,” Leslie said softly.

“Okay,” Cam said. “But I don’t want this to only be about me.”

“It won’t,” Leslie reassured him, slightly put off by his comment. “So can I share some things that are bothering me?”

“I don’t know,” Cam said. “I’m bothered about a lot of things too.”

“You’re going to get a chance to share,” I reassured Cam. “Can she begin and you can practice some of the things we’ve talked about regarding active listening, empathy and validating.”

“I didn’t know she was going to chew me out,” Cam said, showing what would turn out to be an ongoing surly attitude.

“I came here to talk about what is bothering me in our marriage,” Leslie said defensively, now becoming more agitated. “I don’t consider that ‘chewing you out.’”

“Cam,” I said firmly. “Do you remember what we talked about at the start of our session? Actually, you even signed a form that you were inviting each other to share critical feedback with each other if they did it in a loving and respectful manner. Leslie seems to be following those guidelines.”

“You’re going to get a chance to share,” I reassured Cam. “Can she begin and you can practice some of the things we’ve talked about regarding active listening, empathy and validating.”

“I didn’t know she was going to chew me out,” Cam said, showing what would turn out to be an ongoing surly attitude.

“I came here to talk about what is bothering me in our marriage,” Leslie said defensively, now becoming more agitated. “I don’t consider that ‘chewing you out.’”

“Cam,” I said firmly. “Do you remember what we talked about at the start of our session? Actually, you even signed a form that you were inviting each other to share critical feedback with each other if they did it in a loving and respectful manner. Leslie seems to be following those guidelines.”

[written by Dr. David B. Hawkins]