Many couples who come to see me wonder if they made a big mistake getting married. They’re frustrated and hurt, and they don’t know how to deal with all the conflicts that keep flaring up. They wonder if they will ever trust each other and be emotionally or physically intimate again.
There are lots of steps we can take to help repair this situation, but three conditions will help the repair efforts to succeed. Here they are:
Condition 1: Repair attempts have a greater chance when each member of the couple knows how to be emotionally intimate. That means neither person has a deep-seated fear of closeness. Instead, they enjoy intimate emotional connection and miss it when it is not available. If each person has the capacity to be emotionally close with another, we have a much greater chance of rebuilding the closeness in the marriage.
Condition 2: Repair attempts also require commitment. When both people think the partnership is important, they are motivated to put in the necessary work to rebuild it.
Condition 3: Finally, the couple needs to be able to negotiate. They must be willing to learn how to put aside anger and the struggle for power so that they can resolve their differences and plan for the future together.
When these three conditions are met, we have fertile ground on which to plant. The new ways of doing things the couple will learn in counselling have a good chance to grow, and the marriage will likely flourish again.
Does that mean if all three conditions are not met right away, there is no hope? No, as long as people are willing to try, things can get better. If fact sometimes I am amazed at the difference I see in just a few sessions. At times, it does make sense for one or both of the partners to be in individual counselling for a while (to explore anger and fear, for example), so they can be ready to make breakthroughs as a couple.
Each case is different. What couples coming to me can be assured of is that I care, and that I will use all the experience and knowledge I have acquired on your behalf. I want you to feel your marriage was not a mistake, because now you know what to do to get the best out of your marriage.