I’m on weekly zoom calls with a professional married couple living in Switzerland.
They joined my Marriage Breakthrough Program because they knew without specialist help, they might not survive another year together.
They had been recommended to speak to me because they had tried other routes and were no further forward.
Their connection after years of marriage was distorted by a mixture of anger, stacked resentments and fears, Covid on top really didn’t help.
Neither person could be themselves when they were with each other, and they were left with no connection, no safe platform to be honest with each other, and so they lived parallel lives in a transactional state.
With teenage children watching them, this was hard on everyone and was not reflective of the role models they wanted their children to learn from.
They noticed they were only happier when they were apart, and they knew this was a slippery slope.
They were experiencing a lethal combination of challenges, and time was not on their side, as each day that felt wrong would solidify their negative position.
They needed something new and quickly.
In marital crisis, it’s so important to take action quickly because time is not a healer in this context in fact time can accelerate the feeling of proof of their perceived incompatibility.
Some do try to bury their heads in the sand or brush problems under the carpet, but the problem will remain and, for many, silently grow.
So the key to helping couples out of a marital crisis is speed.
I know many change consultants will tell us that change takes time, but for a couple in crisis, they don’t have time, and so they need to start to see changes so they can experience new energy and new hope.
Using this couple as an example, we needed a fast pattern interrupt so they could see changes for them is actually possible.
Seeing these changes would contradict their beliefs that change for them was impossible.
The challenge is couples try to change things, but they will usually get worse because they are only using what they know, and for most couples that won’t be enough to help them.
So they fail and wrongly call that outcome the truth.
Setting them up for success
To set this up, it was key that each person became more of who they are, and they were not compromised through the process.
Each person was given different tasks to achieve the first step, which was to interrupt each person’s old and outdated patterns.
Couples will need a strategy to help them out of their crisis in a way that helps both people to feel connected and empowered.
Helping couples out of a marital crisis is a very different process to assisting couples with lighter relationship issues because the person wanting out or who is sceptical can be in an unhelpful bias which can be constantly looking for the negative or what’s wrong.
We need to get the individuals out of their biases and connected to see things as they are, not better or worse.
This is why individuals who use pressure or try to talk things out with their partner are unaware of the problems this causes if you can’t see what you are dealing with.
This couple in Switzerland told me after just four meetings, they had removed some of the key negative patterns, enabling a new constructive level of communication that wasn’t possible before.
All we did was change their mindset and get them to focus on being more of who they are and use that to connect.
The key is to do this in a way that doesn’t create an internal battle or compromise for each person.
When they committed they were surprised at the speed at which their connection could change with a totally new focus.
This new connection didn’t mean they were now fixed, what it indicated was change was possible and they could do it with the right guidance.
This helped them go from feeling helpless to being back in the driving seat.
This fast pattern interrupt is exactly what they needed to put them on a different trajectory to become curious and invested.
The new path created space to learn new patterns that would enable a new collaborative energy.
Meeting needs constructive instead of destructively
Their new patterns were designed to honour the needs both people had been trying to meet.
Now they could meet their needs constructively instead of destructively for them.
Once a person can see how they are hurting themselves then change becomes a commitment to themselves.
Essentially the pattern interrupt had done its job in starting to dialling down what wasn’t working for this couple, so they had emotional space available to learn how to dial-up what would work.
When the negative patterns were in play, they were stuck in an exhausting fear pattern of withdrawing and/or fighting; these were the only choices their reactive minds would let them see.
It’s not helpful and harmful in many cases.
By helping them commit to themselves differently, they both had a different emotional connection to themselves and then each other.
One person has the power to change the relationship
This process is possible to achieve results with just one person as they can change their partners’ reactions by changing their own.
In my next post, I’m going to share how one gentleman was able to change his patterns and win his wife back even after she left him and started dating again.
What’s important about interrupting emotional patterns in crisis situations is it supports each person’s ability to reinvest.
Reinvestment leads to curiosity to discover what else they don’t know, and this helps couples discover what they are capable of achieving.
At the end of the day, the strategy that’s designed for the couple is critical, and it’s why starting a process with a couple without a strategy in place can upset the situation and provide the wrong outcome.
So my advice is to understand what you are dealing with before you take action in any direction.
Every month individuals and couples graduate after learning what they need to know and this allows an average of 3 new couples or individuals into my program each month.
If like this couple you are passionate about your life and want answers they are here for those passionate and brave enough to search.
Rebuilding relationships is as much about personal development as it is about understanding couple dynamics.
Like any meaningful growth-orientated activity each person will have challenges because once they are shown the way, they themselves will have to do the work so they can repattern themselves.