How Is Your Marriage Doing - Really?
Written By: Mark Smith
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Are you happy? Is there very much magic left? Do you feel loved and cherished? How is your love life? Is picking out a Valentine's Day card sort of awkward? Do your marital conflicts get resolved? Is there time and energy in the schedule for intimacy and romance?
Are you being sort of tempted by an attractive someone else? Do you ever picture the future without your spouse?
You are not alone. These are painful and difficult questions to ask in many, if not most marriages. Keeping a marriage passionate and connected over the long haul is not at all easy. Life is too short to settle for a lonely, miserable, sexless disconnected marriage. Wouldn't it be great if the incredible chemistry of the first few months of dating could easily be maintained for 50 years?
Why are relationships so difficult and how can a bland marriage get kick started again? I could write several lengthy books about both of those questions.
Somewhere along the line someone put it in our heads that the purpose of marriage was to provide unconditional love, happiness, nurturing, safety and a little heaven on earth. Actually, that is absolutely, positively not even remotely the purpose of marriage. The purpose of marriage, get this, is to hurt us! You read that right. As children we all sustained some emotional wounds along the way, some more than others, some in more dramatic ways than others. The truth is that most of us are pretty darn dysfunctional and that is normal. Fortunately we came equipped with the ability to protect, defend and bury emotional wounds so that we could cope, grow up and we think, get on with our happy lives. When we hit our late teens/early twenties we are idealistic enough to believe that by physically leaving the premises we have raised ourselves above whatever particular dysfunction our families foisted upon us. As long as our defenses are covering our issues no growth can take place. So nature or God if you will, place these wonderfully appealing, attractive and nearly perfect new love objects before us, we open up the walls of our emotional forts and then once safely inside, enemies of our worst nightmares emerge, crawl out of this vessel and start wreaking havoc. There you go, that is love and marriage. That is why marriage is so painful - it is a can opener that cuts through our protective shells only to reveal ancient weaknesses, vulnerability and deep pain.
When couples come into my office at least one of them invariably feels victimized by the other person. They present the problem as there being a victim and a bad guy. However, I have learned that there is never, ever a victim in marriage and that there aren't bad guys either. The terms I prefer to use for our marital protagonist are teacher, healer and best friend. When the marriage is seen in the light of the normal unconscious reenacting of unresolved childhood issues indirectly with the spouse standing in for the parents like an actor in a play, it all begins to make sense. This person isn't the devil him or her self. They aren't withholding emotional goodies just to be mean. They are who you needed to pick to help you grow and heal. They aren't doing you wrong - they're just being the person that they always have been in their heart of hearts. They are doing you a favor. You should sincerely be thankful. The problem is not your spouse. The real problem is your unresolved childhood pain. The marriage is just a symptom. Ironically, your spouse is actually your cure, not your problem.
When that light goes on for a couple it changes everything. That is the answer to the question of how can a bland marriage be kick started. It all starts when the marriage is understood correctly. Many things have to get really bad before they can get better. It isn't the couples who are fighting with passion who worry me it is the bored couples who have no passion to fight who don't make it. Insightful couples in recovery are no longer enemies lashing at each other - they become caring therapy buddies who support and encourage growth in the other person.
For more information about how to kick start your marriage, you can visit our website at familytreecounseling.com. We have over 60 insightful free articles about relationship issues including "Can This Marriage Be Saved", "Why You Should Not Give Up Hope In Your Marriage", "Healing The Wounds Of An Affair", and "How You Can Re-Build Your Marriage" available to download. Or you can call our free 24 hour pre-recorded TeleWorkshop Line at 524-1650 to listen to our presentations "Keys to Saving Your Marriage", or "Healing Marital Wounds". I know that you will find these free materials helpful. See you next week.
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