Marital, Family or Individual Therapist serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana



Want To Save Your Marriage?
Written By: Mark Smith



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'The BASICS for a Healthy Life and Marriage' Understanding the Basics of
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Communication is vital in building healthy lives and marriages.
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The prospect of divorce is terrifying for most people. However, there seems to come a point where one's unhappiness becomes weightier than even the fear of divorce. Therapy is usually a last ditch effort to salvage a marriage. Not that most couples actually believe in the therapeutic process, as of yet - it is a complete shot in the dark, a way to maybe avoid falling into the abyss of emotional, social, and financial ruin. An old battlefield axiom states that there are no atheists in foxholes. Impending doom has a way of making believers of us all. So, in front of me I frequently see a couple of veterans of marital warfare, complete with fresh wounds, as well as old battle scars. They have come in an attempt to build on their newfound, and extremely shaky faith in the saving power of marital therapy. The answer that I frequently give to their desperate question "can our marriage be saved" is usually quite conditional, due to the fact that the effectiveness of marital therapy actually has more to do with the clients than it does with the power of the process, or the talent of the therapist. In this column I will describe six vital building materials, which are essential in order to not only salvage a marriage, but also to re-build it into something solid, intimate, joyful and life lasting.



The first building material required in re-building a marriage is motivation. Marital therapy is like gutting a duplex while you are trying to live in it. I believe that almost all marriages are both salvageable, and worthy of being saved. I believe that most people would be ultimately happiest remaining married to the person they are currently married to, as long as issues are resolved and changes are made. It will require hard work and commitment.



The second, and perhaps the most important marital building block, is teachability, or the ability to have what I call "insight". Insight is having an epiphany. It is having an "Ah-Ha" moment. It is the ability to stand back from yourself and openly observe and examine your issues without being defensive in the least bit. You must be insightful in order to re-build a marriage. It is all about taking a fearless and searching moral inventory of yourself, rather than reactively pointing your finger at your spouse. The more insightful you are, the more progress you will make.



The third building material needed to re-build a marriage is the willingness and ability to embrace and work through whatever emotional pain might come up during the therapeutic process. Basically, it means dealing directly with sadness, and anger, and fear, rather than fleeing from them. Most people employ a variety of addictive behaviors in their efforts to "numb out", and avoid their pain. We have learned that allowing painful feelings to well up, and pour out has tremendous healing properties. It is like cleansing your heart and mind. It is like having a heavy weight lifted off of your chest.



The fourth building material involved in re-building a marriage is trust. Trust in your partner and in the marital therapist, and in yourself. Some people are so trust damaged from their childhood experiences, that it is virtually impossible for them to trust. Trust is earned as a result of progress made, new insights developed, as well as the provision of a consistent, safe, caring, connected environment.



The fifth needed building material used in order to develop a new and greatly improved marriage is trustworthiness. The lack of personal trustworthiness has sabotaged many attempts at marital therapy. In this context, trustworthiness means following through with your commitments. Doing what you say that you will do. Many times people are well intentioned, but they lack the discipline, focus, and responsibility that they would need to complete any type of re-building project.



The sixth building material is an obvious one - lots of patience, and lots of time. People are used to instant results. They want quick fixes. There really are no quick fixes if your goal is to truly make your marriage significantly healthier. We work with most of our clients over a matter of years, rather than weeks, or months. Think about how deeply ingrained issues are. They are part of the foundation of our personalities. They literally have been part of us for decades. That simply will not change very quickly. The change will be genuine, and long lasting, but it won't be quick and easy.



Most marriages can be saved. People just need direction. Before they come to therapy, many times they are fumbling around in the dark, cursing the darkness that they think is their spouse. When both parties are work hard on their own issues, and they are patient and realistic in their expectations for change, the divorce rate is almost non-existent. See you next week.






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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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