How Hot (Or Not) Is Your Marriage?
Written By: Mark Smith
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"One advantage of marriage is that, when you fall out of love with your spouse or they fall out of love with you, it keeps you together until you fall in again." Judith Viorst
You passed 40 way too long ago, maybe you've put on a few extra pounds, the kids are almost out the door, you feel young, you're actually still pretty hot but you're lonely as hell. There is a wall of unresolved conflicts, seething anger and sheer apathy a mile thick between you and your not so beloved beloved. You can literally feel the life-blood draining out of your marriage. You truly love your spouse but there is an ache developing in your heart that just won't go away. When you think about your marriage you feel old. Sex ain't happening and that's tragic. Who wants to live that way? Am I hitting any nerves out there?
So how do you fix this? Well, if you are going to inject some energy and life into your dead marriage one of you has to be ready to WAKE UP, feel the depth of your neediness and pain and act like you are sexually and emotionally alive. If both parties are satisfied with sleep walking through life with no passion, then while the marriage is (temporarily) safe from the clutches of divorce, it will be boring, dissatisfying and empty. This psychological and marital awakening happens when defense mechanism wear down and stop protecting us from our pain and from the truth about our situations. Just because one spouse has such an awakening there is no guarantee that the other spouse will be ready or able to do likewise. However, it is at this point that you need to get some serious help. I don't mean "trying harder" as men like to do or skimming the latest Dr. Phil book. Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures.
After a few intense battles where his newly aware and alarmed wife flung the "D" word at him one too many times Mr. "I ain't going to no damned therapist" finds himself squirming miserably on my waiting room couch. I always feel a great deal of compassion for these poor guys. I assure them that while therapy is initially awkward and is certainly painful, if done properly it rocks. Therapy is about truth. If the therapist is able to truly figure out what the issues are and then articulate them in a very powerful, sensitive, caring, courageous and convincing manner, then that is priceless marriage saving stuff. I tell my clients that doing effective marital work is like gutting and remodeling a duplex that you are living in. It is messy, difficult and expensive. You have to WORK HARD to build excitement, connection and fire that endures.
Now fast forward to a walk on a beautiful beach holding hands with your spouse at age 58. The kids are raised, money is in the bank and your career is in the books. The air is fresh, the sun warms your bones, the waves are soothing and there is a naughty twinkle in the eye of your beloved. You are in love again! You have history, family, resources, time and a raging fire in the bedroom. That may not seem possible, but it is. Get to work now on your own issues as they get played out in your marriage. While you can't make your spouse change, you can create a positive, painful, intimate, accepting, and challenging environment that will encourage growth and change on their part. It will be worth the work.
We would love to work with you in marriage counseling here in Indianapolis or anywhere in the English speaking world via Skype!
Mark Smith, LCSW founded Family Tree Counseling Associates in Carmel in 1989. He holds a Master's Degree in Clinical Social Work from Michigan State University. You can also learn more by listening to his dynamic free 24-hour recorded TeleWorkshops at 524-1650, by visiting his website at familytreecounseling.com, by calling 844-2442 or e-mailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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