Divorce-A Mistake in Thinking
Written By: Mark Smith
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I tell every couple who comes to see me that my goal is to change their paradigms: how they view their problems, themselves, their spouse, their parents, their kids, their work, their money, their perspectives of reality, etc. Most people who have gotten divorced did not really need to. They got divorced because they felt like they were out of other reasonable options. In this article, I am going to discuss 3 common myths that result in people ending up believing that divorce is their best option. So many times, in my experience, early in therapy, couples have gained new insight into their situations which have exposed these myths as what they are-destructive, incorrect ways of thinking. Once these thought patterns are challenged and changed, not only is the marriage saved, but, in fact, it begins the couple on an exciting journey of insight, growth, and hard work which ultimately results in a healthy, vibrant, lifelong, interdependent marriage.
MYTH #1: A huge myth responsible for countless divorces goes like this, I am not happy with my wife. It was a mistake marrying her. Im going to divorce her, then find somebody who I know will definitely make me happy some day. Im sure she is out there. I deserve to be happy.
If it were only true, it would be great. The downside with that logic is that the nature of the marital problem is misunderstood. Your spouse is not the problem. In an indirect, somewhat perverse way, they are actually a big part of the cure for the problem. The problem actually lies within us-our unresolved issues from childhood, our selecting and settling for inadequate love. We must first fix things deep within ourselves. I tell people that they can learn the hard way, or the harder way. The hard way is opening up their core issues during an extended period of therapy. The harder way is not learning from the past, not gaining insight into their own responsibility for their lives, and then repeating the very same dysfunctional relationship with a different name and face. We never marry the wrong person. We select exactly who we need to select in order to help us heal ourselves. We do this instinctively and unconsciously. On an unconscious level, we know exactly whom we are selecting when we fall in love. Divorcing and looking elsewhere is a real nightmare. It is not necessary. If we do the work that we need to do, and our spouse is willing and able as well, we might as well stay with the one person we have children, history, and an estate with already.
MYTH #2: Once people are confronted with the obvious connection between their here and now marriage and their childhood relationships, I sometimes hear I do not get it. The past is the past. I can not do anything about my childhood now. It is over. Move on. The here and now has nothing to do with my childhood.
The past is not the past. We marry our pasts. Sometimes we do it several times. We attract and settle for the same type and quality of love that we had as children. That is deeply wired into us. Usually this argument for not wanting to work on marital therapy in order to clear the way for a divorce is offered up by well-guarded individuals who do not have the strength or the courage to face the pain that dwells deep inside that has its roots in childhood.
MYTH #3: Perhaps one of the biggest reasons people divorce is due to hopelessness. They just don't think it will ever get better. They question their partner's willingness or ability to change.
People can and do change. They just need effective professional direction. They need a road map (a paradigm) that is proven and true. They need to be understood and not judged. They need to be heard. In such an environment, most people are willing to experience some initial pain and adjusting in order to avoid the pain of divorce. I tell my clients that you only really need three things in order to build a healthy Interdependent marriage: (1) At some point having some chemistry or psychological connection; (2) Two people who are accountable, psychologically open, teachable and willing to roll up their sleeves and work hard; and (3) Time-lots of time.
I hope this article has comforted those of you who have been disturbed about the pain, distance, and lack of fulfillment in your marriage. On the wall of the YMCA where I play basketball there is a poster listing the keys to a happy life. Number one on the list is marriage. Getting it right is so important to the rest of our mental health and happiness. There is hope. The key to your spouse changing for the better is you getting the focus of your unhappiness off of them and on to yourself in a proactive program for personal growth. I hope that this article also has disturbed those of you who have been comfortable or contented in an unhappy marriage, or those of you who are mistakenly looking for freedom and happiness in divorce court.
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