9 out of 10 couples would stop suffering with each other if they changed the way they think about their relationship and their problems. When a couples thinking is challenged, they can start to understand why they have been on different pages for so long.
One of the most critical aspects of my work is to challenge a couples thinking to help them get back on the same page.
The reason this is so important is the way we think and the meanings we attach to that thinking is what creates our understanding of our world and how we feel in it.
So if someone is going to create a habit of thinking in a particular way, it’s important they know if it’s going to make their life easier and happier or significantly harder.
Sadly so many people have a way of thinking their way out of a perfectly good marriage without knowing the marriage is not the problem at all.
The problem so many couples face is they struggle to fix their problems because they are limited by what they know, and it’s not enough to connect them to their truth.
This results in someone generalising about their marriage with destructive dead end messages. “We’re incompatible, we’re too different, they can never change, it’s too late for us”.
Changing the way couples think is a significant part of helping them reconnect and solve what they considered to be impossible problems.
This mindset shift is critical to help them to see their problems in ways that are actually solvable.
Look at this example.
I was speaking to a lady on the phone she was in trouble in her marriage; her husband did not see how much trouble they were in, and she was getting to the point of no return.
She only had one perspective, her own, and this is a significant problem because it’s only part of the story. She was using this very narrow perspective to assess her husbands’ behaviour.
She was convinced she knew what her husband was thinking and feeling and why he communicated the way he did.
Unfortunately, she had fallen foul of a common misconception that she was right about her husbands’ actions.
She would have been right if he was a woman, but he isn’t, and so her translation of him was untrue and destructive to their relationship.
This type of conversation I’ve heard a 1000 times.
She was convinced her husband was different from other husbands. She had tried to get through to him without success. She couldn’t change him, so in her world, he was impossible to change.
She was 1000% sure she had been crystal clear to him, and so clearly he was a faulty or broken husband.
This thinking of course I understood, BUT unfortunately, it would take her into a dead end, and this would break their connection and one person would eventually give-up and permanently.
If this thinking was not challenged, she could change her life forever, and her family would have suffered for all the wrong reasons.
She needed to expand her thinking to understand why he was struggling with her words and not assume he was broken.
She had not considered she didn’t understand him either.
What she needed to understand was he understood her collection of words perfectly but couldn’t understand why they were important to her, to him, they were insignificant.
My next sentence is critical to understand for both men and women.
You see men and women have totally different reasons for communication. Women who are struggling with their husband think men communicate for the same reason they do – they absolutely don’t and not understanding this is foundational in getting on the same page.
So until couples get on the same page with this, they will always feel disconnected.
This lack of understanding about communication on both sides is responsible for significant conflict and disconnection and can make the simplest conversation dissolve into a trauma.
Let’s look at a different couple; this gentleman created the thinking that constantly made him their problem.
He turned up to a session with his wife. I had already discovered he had learnt how to be a victim in his life and so he would run this very unhelpful pattern when life wasn’t going his way.
So he turned up to this session in victim mode – dejected and hopeless.
If I had gone along with his habitual pattern of thinking, the session would have dissolved into chaos. I could see his wife was stressed, and she needed him to wake up to what this was doing to her.
I knew he was trying to meet his critical needs, but the way he was was going to meet them would hurt him and the marriage he actually wanted to save.
He said “…she just doesn’t love me” he looked heavy dejected head in his hands as if the world was weighing him down. Essentially he gave a sentence that was a dead end for their marriage.
I knew this wasn’t true, but she was struggling with years of this pattern, and so when he went to it, she protected herself from his weak and needy energy.
She didn’t see a man, all she saw a boy – not a good energy for a sexual attraction at all.
I asked him to ponder his statement and question its truth.
“Is it really true she doesn’t love you?” I asked.
I knew the right answer was within him.
He took a moment and shook his head and said: “no, it’s not true.”
“So, what is true?” I asked further connecting him to his true self.
“She can’t love me if I act this way” he suddenly realised what the real problem was.
“That’s right!” I replied
His energy shifted as this new thinking enabled him to take back control, and now the session was productive.
The way someone thinks can help them to feel terrible about themselves. They now have the ability to attach that horrible feeling to what they think is causing it; getting this wrong can bring a life of suffering.
In relationships, the wrong interpretation of what’s really going on can be catastrophic for a couple’s connection.
One lady had a way of thinking about her husband, and this thinking helped her switch off her feelings for her husband, and now she was thinking of leaving him.
She was shocked to learn his actions were perfectly normal, and it was her history had helped her look for problems which resulted in her protecting herself from a man she was totally safe with and that actually really loved her.