Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang - 3 Marriages Saved This Week!
Written By: Mark Smith
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I understand the powerless feeling of being trapped in what feels like an eternal marital limbo of disconnection, finger pointing and lack of progress. You don't see any light at the end of the tunnel and you are bone weary. Your spouse feels more like a combatant or your worst enemy than your lover, your partner or even your friend. You are tempted to just go ahead and pull the trigger on a process that at least promises the possibility of a new and much more fulfilling life at the end of it. If you have an excellent therapist who rightly and aggressively shifts the focus away from the marital conflicts to the real issues, the childhood wounds of both parties, then just get busy doing your own work and be patient! If you don't have an excellent therapist who rightly and aggressively shifts the focus away from the marital conflicts to the real issues, the childhood wounds of both parties then fire your current counselor immediately and call our office at 317-844-2442 right now! Your marriage and family are on the line. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Frankly, your counselor was missing the entire point of what your marriage is really all about and they were very probably doing more harm than good. By the way, the blog isn't a movie review this week - just stole the title cause it fit.
I had some amazing moments this week in working with couples. Trust me, every week is not like this. Couples do get divorced and they do give up on therapy or worse. But sometimes miracles happen. Three chronically stuck, mean, cold, broken marriages with precious little hope broke through this week to expose sad and wounded little kids who then reached out to sweetly nurture each other. It was beautiful. I was honored to be there to observe those sacred moments. It could happen to you and your spouse if you learn what I am trying to teach you.
In the first marriage, the wife (we'll call her Suzy) came to therapy filled with bitterness, judgment, righteous indignation, disgust, contempt and cutting anger at her husband (we'll call him Dave) for years of ball dropping, porn watching, job swapping and passive aggressive marital battling. Suzy clearly saw herself as the victim and she saw therapy as another venue to spank, punish, humiliate and emasculate her husband. They had tried marital therapy several times with zero results. My office was their last stop before a bitter divorce. In my mind's eye I pictured Suzy at the beginning of the decisive marital session verbally brandishing a razor sharp knife that she planned on using to further emasculate her passive, reactive husband with.
I would have none of that. I powerfully took the knife from her hand and I used it to cut the cancer of thinking like a victim out of her heart and mind and left her crying in a puddle of vulnerable, sweet, raw, non-victimy little girl tears. I redirected her anger to the people who set her marriage up for it to go down the way it did - her parents. She finally got that her marriage was just Mother Nature's tool to break down her tough, isolating psychological defenses so that the wounded little girl inside her could heal. She has been a different woman since then. Most of the cancer has been cut out. That was three weeks ago. This week after she came in a few minutes after Dave and I started she reached over and sweetly gave Dave a kiss on the lips! I guarantee you that their marriage is going to not only be salvaged but built into something better than they have ever had. When I commented on the kiss there was yet another kiss!
These two aren't adversarial any longer, they are therapy buddies. With standard, focus on the here and now, try to shape up the 'bad guy' while kissing the 'victim's' boo boos marital counseling this couple would currently be tragically dismantling their family.
Mike, a successful attorney and his wife Beth had been coming to see me for about six months. He had briefly left the home after an affair. She had historically had very little power in the marriage and he just didn't seem capable of talking with her. She had been working hard in group therapy developing her voice, raising her sense of entitlement and gaining an understanding of her family of origin issues. He was still walled off and they were both getting frustrated. With 2 minutes left in the session 2 weeks ago he said something to her disliking. She then left out a powerful verbal punch that was heard several rooms over by my gathering Men's group. Bang!
They were communicating now! She was longer a door mat. The next morning they discussed the possibility of divorce. But something really amazing happened in the next session. Mike, who had shown no emotion and had barely strung 7 words together during the whole 6 months started the session humbly and vulnerably crying! I about fell out of my chair.
He spoke about how dear his wife was to him and that he didn't want to get a divorce. Then he reached over and held his wife's hand! Okay, I did fall out of my chair then! It was really cool and again, beautiful and sacred! Their marriage is well on its way to being rebuilt. In this case Beth needed to become more powerful than her husband's rigid psychological defenses. She had to pound the door down so that he would let her in. Hey, whatever it takes! She too was grounded in a paradigm that taught her that she was not the victim, even of the affair. Her marital wounds were reenacted in her marriage, which is what marriage is. I can't tell you how sweet the room felt as those two crying wounded little kids held hands. That could be you and your marriage!
Shane and Cathy have been married for 15+ years. He was so workaholic, driven, oblivious and self absorbed and she so conforming, lacking in identity, enmeshed with her family and passive that they really barely ever had a real marriage. After 5 months of therapy things had gotten worse in many ways between them as I had promised. They could not even meet to have therapy sessions because she didn't feel safe. He was in touch with his needs, filled with insights about his childhood and their marriage, feelings his feelings and pushing to fix the marriage. She was feeling for the first time in her life, starting to have a psychological pulse of her own, but so filled with anger and bitterness that she couldn't wait until he moved out of the house. She was filled with disgust, repulsion and hatred for the man she married those many years ago.
But a very strange and wonderful thing happened this week. After several weeks of separation that offered her an overwhelming sense of relief and freedom, Cathy surprisingly came back to talk after dropping her kids with Shane. She then shocked by crawling up unto his lap and sobbing deeply for 3 straight hours while talking about still being in love with him. Bang! It was like a miracle. Him having the strength and courage to leave broke something loose deep within her. They have a lot of work to do but their odds of rebuilding their marriage is now exceptionally good. It could be you.
I had a pretty painful dream last night. Even though it has been 3˝ years since my own tragic divorce I dreamed that I was walking with my ex begging her for a chance to fix things, telling her that I still loved her and making attempts to show her the sincerity of my heart only to have her coldly decline. Unfortunately, we were not blessed with an excellent therapist who rightly and aggressively shifted the focus away from the marital conflicts to the real issues, the childhood wounds of both parties. I tried to communicate these life changing truths, but my ex-wife wasn't able to hear them (as to her, I was just her knucklehead husband). Knowing these truths doesn't fix deep childhood wounds in and of itself. The wounds have to first be unearthed by marital crisis and pain, then felt, dealt with and worked on. The sad truth is that with the kind of therapy that the couples discussed above got, my marriage too would have gotten some kiss, kiss, bang, bang. Divorce is unnatural. Ripping a family apart is like ripping your own flesh.
I can't recommend it, not in any way. Do everything that you can to salvage your marriage. Marriages and families are too precious and sacred to be lost and forsaken. Put your focus on healing your own childhood wounds. Be thankful, not bitter for the pain that your spouse has brought to you. Your marital pain is a great opportunity to fix things deep down at the core of your soul. You know that needs to be done. You can do that work even if your spouse isn't able or ready to. If you aren't getting the type of therapy I have described, know that it is available here. Don't give up on your marriage, don't ever play the victim card, be patient, hang in there, do your own work and who knows...there just might be some kiss, kiss, bang, bang coming your way down the road!
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