Put Lots of Jelly Beans in your Sweetheart’s Jar
Written By: Mark Smith
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Love isn’t as complicated as we try to make. Think of love as a simple jar of jelly beans. When the jar is spilling over with colorful tasty jelly beans you can do no wrong in the eyes of your beloved. He trusts you. He sees you as a consistently safe source of meeting his most important emotional needs. You have invested time, energy, kindness, listening, touch, thoughtfulness, gifts, encouragement and sensitivity into that relationship. Then when circumstances and your issues cause you to take jelly beans out of the jar, the relationship can handle that withdrawal. If couples went out of their way to deliberately put lots of jelly beans in the jar of their relationship, they could weather the storm when things get really difficult.
Since so many things can cause jelly beans to be taken out of the jar – unresolved conflicts (read ugly fights), the stress of making a living, the challenging task of raising children, in-law issues, illness, depression, addictions, the attraction of other people, different hobbies and interests, you had better have a large jelly bean jar. But, more importantly, you need to work hard at keeping it full or your relationship might very well some day be in danger. In my work as a marital therapist I employ three strategies in my efforts to rehab a relationship…#1 help the couple understand why they are making so many destructive raids upon the jelly bean jar, #2 help them to heal emotionally so that they stop making raids on the jelly bean jar and #3 help them to figure out just how to fill that jelly bean jar up and keep it filled.
Let me elaborate on each of these strategies… Therapy is about truth – facing the truth about who you are. It is amazing to me that we can know so little about ourselves when we are in our skins 24/7. The clinical term for embracing the truth about ourselves is ‘Insight’. Insight changes lives. Stephen Covey says that the quickest way to effect a change is through a paradigm shift. I tell my clients that I try to comfort the disturbed and I try to disturb the comfortable. More change happens when the comfortable are disturbed. Just this week I had a macho non-therapy believing fellow darken the door of my office. After his feedback session he was really surprised. He said he was ready to point out the psychobabble bull_ _ _ _ , only to discover that therapy did have something to offer when it came to helping him understand the truth of his painful relationship. If you could fix your relationship by yourself it would be fixed my now. Reading books only works well for individuals who are extremely open psychologically. A book can’t call you on your defensiveness or your walls. It can’t elaborate on a misunderstood concept. The first step in stopping the loss of jelly beans is waking up and smelling the coffee when it comes to the truth about you and your relationship.
Everyone has childhood wounds. Some people’s wounds are worse than what others have to deal with. Once you know the truth about how you are hurting your spouse you can get to work on healing the underlying issues that keep you doing those harmful things. Therapy is a gift to yourself. Therapy is a gift to your children. Therapy is a gift to your spouse. While therapy is messy and painful, it beats having your issues destroy your life.
Once the bleeding has been stopped, the healing in a marriage can begin. Jelly beans won’t just magically appear in the jar. It takes time and energy and, sometimes, even money. It takes intentionality. It takes thoughtfulness and kindness. It takes a re-alignment of priorities. It takes the dethroning of kid worship or work worship or money worship. You have to schedule time to go out on dates. Dinner and a movie followed by love making refreshes a marriage. If people maintained their houses the way they maintain their marriages roofs would be coming down on a lot of heads.
What type of intervention does your marriage need? Do you just need some effort and some investing in the relationship to spice it up? Or is there damage being done that needs professional intervention? What would you spouse say about that? Go get some jelly beans.
See you next week.
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