What Is The Prognosis For Your Marriage?
Written By: Mark Smith
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Recently a client of mine brought in the following short story for me to read: "There is a little boy, an only child, and he has a chronic illness. His doctor, who also happens to be his mom, doesn't know if she will ever be able to cure him. She spends a lot of time trying to find a cure and taking care of him, but she just doesn't know if he will ever get better. The boy's dad is the president of a company and is around very little. He works very hard to provide for his family, but is not available very often to spend time with his son. One day, the son is rushed to the emergency room, and the mom is there to take care of him, and he's in bad shape. The dad shows up at the ER, but he is on the phone with the office in the waiting room. The son actually starts to revive a little bit, but the mom is cautious and knows that things could easily become worse again quickly. Soon, her worst fears come true and his heart stops. She works harder than ever to try to save him."
After I read the story she said, "this is where I am. I'm the mom. My husband is the dad, and our marriage is the son. I realized that the sound I heard last night was my marriage coding. No heartbeat. Can it be revived? It remains to be seen." This got me thinking about the health of marriages in general. How healthy is your marriage? How happy are you in your marriage? What would you change about your marriage if you could? Is your marriage already dead, but no one has had the courage to bury it as of yet? What is the prognosis for your marriage? Is it suffering from just a few minor aches and pains? Does it feel like it is dying a slow death? It takes a great deal of hard work and pain to revive an injured or diseased marriage. Life is just too short to live in misery year after year after miserable year. You say that your spouse refuses to go to therapy? Here is the thing - your spouse does not need to come to therapy in order for your marriage to get better. It takes one person - you, to take ownership of your 50% (yes, you are a full 50% of the problem) of the issues.
If you do decide to finally drag your suffering marriage into a qualified "emergency room" you will receive the following treatment. The focus will immediately be shifted away from the marital complaints and towards the root causes of your marital struggles - your unresolved childhood issues. You heard me right. Your marriage isn't the root cause of the disease - ironically it is actually part of the cure. We don't get married in order to get our needs met - we get married in order to NOT get our needs met. We very deliberately but quite unconsciously select a partner who ultimately is quite ill equipped to meet our needs. Their job is actually to hurt us - to tear down the longstanding psychological defenses that keep us from both truly knowing our selves and from healing deep issues within us. There are NO victims in the business of marriage - ever, period. Marriage counseling to be quite frank, if it is sitting in a room and chatting and brain storming about how we might make this marriage better is, in my opinion, pretty worthless. If both individuals do not do the hard work of figuring out their unresolved childhood issues and openly and non-defensively process how they are being played out in the marriage during insight oriented recovery therapy then marriage counseling will likely just make things worse, not better. Your marriage is about you. If it is going to get better you will need to be #1 Motivated to work on you and only (well at least mainly) you, #2 Teachable, humble, and open to critiquing #3 Willing to embrace and co-operate with whatever deep emotional pain that we might uncover from your childhood wounds, #4 Trusting your therapist and the process and #5 Trustworthy in following through with your individual, couple and your group therapy. Yes, I said group therapy. It is the most powerful and effective type of therapy there is for the kind of personal recovery work that I'm describing. It is not only the most effective form of therapy, it is much less expensive and a whole lot more fun.
If your marriage sounds like the patient described in my client's story then it really would be wise to make your way to the nearest therapeutic "emergency room" ASAP. Get healthier. It is a choice that you have the power to make for your marriage, for yourself and for your children today. That's all for now. See you next week.
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