As a newcomer to the world of marriage blogs, I’ve been spending a lot of time checking out what relationship advice others have for their readers. What I’ve found has run the gamut from truly thought-provoking and inspiring to useless and impractical. The most troubling, however, is the overly romantic and idealistic advice— advice that perpetuates dangerous myths about marriage that can send a struggling couple right over the edge at a time when what they need is support.
Are they kidding? I thought when reading a recent Huffington Post blog that talked about couples striving to be “two souls merging into a beloved unity.” How useful is it, I wondered, to set the bar just this side of the stratosphere by telling couples that together they can make “time stand still?” Countless bloggers talked about soul mates in perfect harmony and a surprising number of them used the word “bliss.”
When I sit across from a struggling couple, bliss is the farthest thing from their minds. In fact, Continue reading →
Most couples come into therapy seeking something they cannot have. Whether they’re struggling with trust or facing challenges in sex; fighting about money, or kids, or the day-to-day nonsense like who left the half-and-half out on the counter; whether they’re reeling from the impact of an affair, or a job loss, or a death in the family, or pushed to the edge because one partner works too much, or spends too much, or drinks too much. Even if they aren’t quite sure what their real problem is, most people believe that the solution lies insomeone else’shands.My job is to help them see that it doesn’t.
Though there may be couples who seek therapy to make “a good thing even better,” I rarely encounter them. Most of the couples I see are in the throes of a crisis,a good number of them quite near the breaking point. All are worn out and discouraged by the ways that they’re stuck and many believe that they may be beyond hope. The couples I see have come in looking for answers, hoping I can tell them exactly what steps to take to get out of their quandary.
One of the first questions most people ask when seeking couples therapy after an affair is, “Can my marriage survive? Are people really able to heal after a betrayal like this?”
It can be reassuring to hear that, yes, a great majority of couples are able to not only survive, but eventually thrive in the wake of an affair. Yet for many, repair can, at first, seem beyond reach and forgiveness can seem all but impossible.
Today’s New York Times ran an article about the need to reestablish trust after an affair. Molly O’Shea, the marriage and family therapist interviewed in the article, said that she asks the betrayed spouse “what it would take to regain trust and what the cheating spouse can do to prove the affair was a mistake.”
Most of her clients tell her that they have no idea what it would take for them to regain their lost trust. Many assume that nothing will help. The problem, she believes, is that “they’re just so angry.”
The difference between involvement
and commitment is like ham and eggs.
The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.
– Martina Navratilova
When I first met Beverly, she was a newlywed— for the fifth time. Though she’d assured friends and family that this one was for keeps, several years later she was, again, getting divorced.
“Why do you marry these men?” I asked when she announced her engagement to husband number six. “Why not just date them, or move in with them?” I said, knowing that one time she’d married a man she’d met only four weeks earlier while having coffee in Starbucks.