I read a lot of advice about what creates a successful marriage, and from my perspective, they seem to circle the biggest challenge and this means the foundations are weak.
Without knowing this critical part how do they get back on track when things inevitably go wrong.
They talk about the importance of being close, doing things together, emotional connection, and being sexually connected.
They also talk about sharing values to have good shared core energy.
These are all essential, and nothing is wrong with what they are saying – but!
What they are not talking about is the step(s) before all of that can consistently happen?
What does the couple need to know before they are both free to realise their true potential?
You see, the couple needs to know how to connect and keep all those amazing qualities alive when life is ever-changing.
Situations change, roles change, people change, values hierarchy change, needs change, people grow differently, identities shift and change.
Changes can cause confusion and this is when the real problems start.
People can become comfortable in one dynamic for years, a change happens and that old dynamic breaks and now they are under stress.
With so much change, how on earth can people stay passionately connected when their natural problems lead them into upset, resentments, and self-protection?
What are the foundations that will always keep the couple’s connection safe and alive?
Recently a couple came to see me with a message I have heard a lot.
They said they went for help many years ago, and their relationship did get better.
So I said, why come to me, why not go back to where you had that success?
I knew what they were going to say.
They said that even though it did improve, they didn’t know what they had to do to get it back when it went wrong.
You see, for me, what’s missing is this. Life is naturally full of problems, and the real skill of a successful marriage is knowing how to repair it when it does break.
You see, the challenge isn’t to try to live in a utopian world with no problems.
That doesn’t exist.
The challenge is how to deal with life’s inevitable problems as a team, couples need a foundation they can rely on and most don’t have it.
I’ll never forget one gentleman who came to a session on his own. I asked him to describe the problem he was facing, his answer and expectation were really interesting.
He said he was sick and tired of his wife getting angry with him.
I asked him how often this happens.
Wait for it…
He said, ONCE A YEAR!
I had to ask him to repeat it.
His illusion was the perfect marriage meant no arguments and no problems.
99% of the people I see who don’t argue have dead sex lives.
The fundamental problem is that couples do not understand their problems, so when they try to fix it, it gets worse.
This means they are either in a constant battle of trying to get through or giving up trying to talk.
Many avoid talking as they know where it will end up.
Couples consistently struggle with this, which builds resentment that enables one or both people to feel the need to protect themselves from each other.
I see many couples who have made their relationship better, but it gets harder because they are unclear about what broke it and what made it better each time they fall out.
They end up in a fix and fail model, which is just exhausting.
Couples can make their relationship better by focusing on behaving better and showing they care, but it won’t last.
It won’t be long before the trying stops, life takes over, and something goes wrong again.
Now at least one person is seeing the cycle as a sign of incompatibility.
For many, the fix is one person reluctantly submitting or both people compromising, which means neither gets what they want.
So what does a successful marriage need?
It needs foundations that keep them connected no matter what life throws at them.
It needs a focus that enables both people to be free to really be themselves when they are with each other, many have no idea what this means or how to get there.
Each person will have very different emotional requirements and critical needs and if this isn’t understood each person will end up having to look after themselves and that will feel lonely.
The challenge I see too often is each person is so disconnected from their partners’ emotional system they wrongly conclude they are the same and this is jarring when things go wrong.
The conclusion so many make is their partner is wrong when the truth is they are just different.
You see when the husband comes to me saying their wife keeps repeating the same thing over and over again and it drives them mad, I have to show them why this is happening.
When a wife tells me her husband seems so disinterested in what she says and tries to shut her down, why does he do this I have to help her understand.
You see my point today is in relationships each person is different and unless those differences are understood in a way that leads each person to feel great about themselves when they are together the relationship will always struggle.
A committed intimate relationship is a very unique connection unlike any other so it’s important to understand what will keep the attraction and passion alive through all of life’s changes.
Not understanding this creates erosion chipping at the marriage year after year.
People without these foundations can end up feeling a historic love for their partner but will struggle to be in love and this isn’t because it’s not possible they just have not understood how to keep that love alive.
My clients are discovering these foundations and are resetting their expectations to be in alignment with what will create more connection and more attraction.
They are using this new understanding to then bring an energy that will align them to themselves and bring out the best in their partner.
We are looking for a win-win foundation.