I asked a couple in a session recently how much time they had both spent on their careers. I then asked them how much time they had spent on their children.
As you can imagine they were hard working caring parents so they both agreed they had spent significant time in both those key areas.
I then asked them how much time they had spend on their relationship. We came to an honest answer of “not very much”, this was due to life being so busy.
I agreed that modern life was busy.
This couple had come for help because their relationship had died and they were at the point of divorce, but they were aware of the dramatic impact a divorce would have on their children. So they wanted to see if it was possible to create a dynamic that could work with professional help.
I asked them how their broken relationship had affected their lives. They both shared how unhappy they had both been and how it really had affected everything.
Their work had suffered, the children had become unhappy and increasingly naughty.
I then asked them to imagine the effort in time they had spent on their relationship. I then asked them to imagine the impact if that same level of effort was transferred to their careers and their children. What would happen to the children and their careers.
Both people agreed that was unthinkable, they would almost certainly get fired from work and the children would be severely neglected.
What this couple started to see was they had severely neglected their relationship and by neglecting this key area of their life the other key areas were being affected negatively as a result.
As we talked we discovered that this couple didn’t know how to be successful with each other and so they had naturally gone to areas of life that were easy to be successful in.
This couple were intelligent, smart, caring, lovely people, but they were missing the knowledge of how to create a successful relationship for life and so they weren’t able to safely guide themselves and their own children.
So rather than both agreeing that what they were doing wasn’t working and seeking the right knowledge they ignored the problem and hoped it would sort itself out.They did from time-to-time try to talk, but just when they thought they had got through to each other they were both seeing how little they both really understood about each other.
They had successfully created a loveless marriage.
When a couple ignores their reality it is only a matter of time before something happens and their reality wakes the couple up.
This can be an affair, loss of love, detachment, to name a few.
This couple had destroyed their family by not making their relationship one of the most important part of their lives.
As a result the relationship was starved of the food it needed to survive.
The problem was this couple really didn’t understand the consequences of their actions, or lack of them. They had blamed each other and their busy lives.
These people were lovely people and yet without knowing they were hurting their own family and the future of every person in it.
Thankfully they wanted to learn where they had gone wrong and were committed to learn what was actually possible.
For this couple we discussed what was critical for them to learn and together we formulated a plan that would cover the main topics that were important to both of them and the topics they were both unaware of that were also impacting them both.
With a clear plan in place the couple were confident they would able to track their progress towards the goal they had both created.
They were not trying to blindly fix the relationship at all costs. They wanted the relationship to work naturally because that was the only way it could last.
This couple had now understood the importance of making their relationship the most important part of their lives. They realised that unless they learnt how to become effective partners in their marriage they were only really married on paper.
They realised that to guide their children to learn how to have a successful marriage they had to show them how.
They discovered that being married is not something that will magically happen. It takes skills we are not naturally born with. They discovered it takes skills to really understand each other and build a safe connected life and future.
All couples have the ability to learn and so they can learn these skills it they want to.
Personally when I started this journey of understanding relationships I knew I didn’t want to look back on my life and regret not doing all I can for myself and those I love.
Many of my clients share that view, they too don’t want to live a life they will regret.
This is why I encourage all couples if your relationship is failing a divorce is not the only solution. Just because you don’t have the answers it doesn’t mean they don’t exist.