When a couple starts to struggle, and that struggle goes from pain into suffering with no obvious solution, one common thought is, have I made a mistake?
Are we incompatible? Is that why we are struggling?
Whenever I get asked those questions, my answer is always the same.
“You can leave your marriage and always wonder, or you can find out”.
Most people want to know the truth about their situation because they know the same problems could be replicated in future relationships.
Plus, they want to be able to look at themselves in the mirror and say they did all they could.
This trend of getting to the truth is especially common where a life-changing decision is being made and their children will be impacted by it.
So are suffering couples incompatible?
My first observation for most of the couples I see is they have together created a dynamic that makes them incompatible.
If anyone did what they did, they would probably be unhappy too.
So the question is, with the right knowledge and tools could they build foundations and connections that could reconnect them?
Remember, we are only after a Win-Win situation as that’s the only dynamic that equals compatibility.
What does the couple have to know?
Firstly they must know love alone is not enough to create compatibility because it is not enough to get them through the natural ups and down any relationship will experience.
There is much more they both must bring to the table.
Compatibility has four parts.
Firstly, does each person have the ability to learn how to become an effective partner? The emphasis is on the ability to learn.
Effective relationship building isn’t knowledge we are born with so learning how to become a valuable partner is a critical skill.
Secondly, do they understand their relationship with themselves? This point is fundamental to their success because a poor relationship with themselves will only put stress on their relationship.
For example, a person who couldn’t trust their parents growing up could struggle to trust an intimate partner and that will stress their dynamic.
My experience with couples in crisis is each individual’s relationship with themselves when they are around their partner is poor, and their knowledge of how to become an effective partner is missing.
Does each person have the ability to be effective long term and do so whilst heading towards agreed goals?
Many people with the right knowledge can be great for a short period of time, but what will keep each person invested for life?
This part is absolutely critical.
The fear many people in crisis have is if we do fix it in the short term will we slip back into crisis.
This is why the couple must learn how to keep their connection alive.
Many people I meet have sought help, and for a while, it gets better, but when you ask them why it got better, neither knows why.
This is a very risky position to be in.
Couples must be able to replicate what they learn in a way that supports themselves, their partner and their relationship.
If it going wrong why is it and how do I/we put it right?
Most people are unaware of what drives them emotionally, and to compound the problem, they are also unaware of how their partner is driven differently from them.
A relationship can collapse if this foundation is not understood.
It can collapse because they will be unaware of the impact of their differences on their decisions, goals, communication, connection.
Two people driven differently can emotionally jar each other until they know how to get the best out of each other.
This is why profiling all my clients helps me to arm them to understand what they are dealing with.
The people who are not understanding this will be getting their needs met through things outside of their marriage.
Once those three areas above are understood, the next question is, can they bring all this together and be a team?
Being a team member is a skill in itself.
They must understand the purpose of their connection so they are both 100% invested and 100% responsible for the state of the relationship at any given time.
Poor team members think they are in a 50/50 deal, but this leaves them out of control of 50% so when it goes wrong they look at their partner for not pulling their weight.
They are now instantly out of control of their own relationship.
As you can see, no matter how much you love someone, if their needs are not met, they don’t feel they can be themselves, and the future doesn’t have a purpose, most people will struggle.
So to make a bulletproof marriage, the mission must be to understand the moving parts and the impact of getting it wrong.
If you want to rebuild your marriage then these 4 Parts are critical to know.