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Marriage Is Not What You Think It Is
Written By: Mark Smith



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I love attending weddings. The beautiful music, the innocence, the joy and the unbridled faith in eternal love never cease to make me shed a few tears. The message is almost always given that marriage is THE source for such priceless goodies as unconditional love, bliss, happiness, fulfillment, joy and a life blessed by God. In the weddings that I attend the stars of the show are usually in their early 20's. Bless their hearts; they have no idea #1 who they are, #2 who their beloved is or #3 what in the world they are committing to. I can't help it though it still makes me cry. During these lovely services I frequently day dream about the young couple asking me, as the renown expert on marriage to the microphone to say a few uplifting and pithy statements about the blessed institution of marriage. The bride and groom swell with anticipation as I clear my throat and direct the following statements in their direction: "You have no idea what you are about to get yourself into. Marriage is not at all what it has been painted as in this wonderful service today. In fact, marriage in reality is ultimately the following : a reenactment of the most painful experiences of your childhood, a Trojan horse, a seemingly cruel cosmic double cross and the great un-masker of your unresolved childhood issues, an opportunity to heal deep emotional wounds, and just plain brutally hard work". In my daydream after an awkward moment of silence, at this point the bride breaks into uncontrollable tears. Consider article this a "consumer's reports" type of assessment on the product called marriage. The wider your eyes are opened the better.

#1 Marriage is a reenactment of the most painful experiences of your childhood - absolutely positively, amen. Every one all of us sustains some woundedness during our childhood experiences - be they abuses, abandonment or run of the mill mild dysfunctions. We naturally develop highly effective psychological defense mechanisms which help us to cope, keep us from seeing who we really are and help us to avoid feeling the emotional pain of our childhood wounds. However, the wicked truth about love is that we are instinctively attracted to a hidden version of our parents' worst qualities so that we are forced to work on our stuff. THAT is the meaning of love and marriage.

#2 Marriage is a Trojan horse - When we fall in love we fall under the powerful grip of what we therapists call "enmeshment". Enmeshment is blind, heart felt, head- over-heels intoxicating passion. However, lurking un-noticed on their insides are the very dangerous and hurtful traits of our parents.

#3 Marriage is a seemingly cruel cosmic double cross - I've heard some awful stories. I have talked with people who were devastated, shocked and completely un-done after their "perfect" spouse abandoned and betrayed them by finally showing their true colors. This is where the truth about what marriage is can be so incredibly helpful. I help these wounded souls proactively embrace their relationship's lessons. It is about them. I teach them that relationships are all good and all fair. We get what we need. We can learn and grow from our relationship pain or we can become bitter, cynical, jaded and miserable.

#4 Marriage is the great un-masker of our unresolved childhood issues - The trip to the therapist's office usually coincides with an unmasking of the marriage's real nature - a scary burst of rage that explodes out of a seemingly gentle young husband or an intercepted e-mail from what he thought was his happy and forever faithful young wife's new lover. In this work couples face both the loss of innocence in their relationship as well as the beginning of real growth and communication.

#5 Marriage is an opportunity to heal deep emotional wounds and it is just plain brutally hard work - Marital pain is an opportunity to work as hard as you have ever worked on anything. If your spouse breaks your heart it doesn't mean that they are the wrong person for you - it means that they are the perfect person for you. Enjoy the wedding season.




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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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