Your 3 Choices
If you’re on this site thinking “I need help for my marriage” or help with a relationship problem, you essentially have three options. And I’m only interested in helping you with the last one.
I work with couples who love each other, place a high value on their marriage or relationship and want it to make it better.
People who want help with their relationship usually think of traditional counseling or therapy. The problem is, it doesn’t work for most people.
I don’t believe there is any real ‘counseling’ or ‘therapy’. There is only training and education.
“Experience is a hard teacher – because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.” —Chinese Proverb
So, when a marriage is in trouble, the problem is always a lack of skills, sometimes a lack of perspective, or holding on to old patterns of how you do things that isn’t useful now. And that doesn’t mean you’re ‘broken’, or ‘dysfunctional’ (I hate that word…so psychobabbly). It just means you don’t know everything you need to know to make things different. Or maybe you haven’t yet learned the lessons from the experiences you’re going through. Either way, If you expand your perspective, know more, you can do better.
The answer isn’t to analyze or label what’s going on. That often makes things worse.
You need to fix it. Figure out the skills you already have and the skills you need to get, and create relationship you want to have.
What I do is relationship training. Whether you saw good skills and stable respectful marriages when you were growing up doesn’t matter. You can learn them now. And the good news is those skills and abilities are not a mystery. There are common threads – common behaviors and attitudes – through every successful relationship you can learn. How the couple sees things, how they talk to each other, and the problem-solving skills they have creates the quality of the relationship. Some of these you already know, some of them you do not. Some of these you are already doing, some you are not. Together, we will quickly figure out which ones you have, which ones you need, and which ones you just need to implement.
More about what to expect
Letting Go of Old Concepts
For those who want significant change in their relationship, please believe that it is entirely possible. People do it all the time.
However, one of the first things that has to happen if you want a lot of change is that you be very willing to set aside some of your old thinking. That might involve perspectives, beliefs, opinions, attitudes, or whatever else that keeps you thinking like you used to. We all know that saying, ” if you keep doing the same thing and expect something different to happen, that’s the definition of crazy.” Therefore, one of your first challenges is going to be to let go of how you used to see things.
The perspective you have on all kinds of things in your marriage is very likely not accurate, but at the very least, not useful. So they have to go, or change. And they will be replaced with perspectives that work much better.
Staying in the Past
A word of caution. This is a process of taking your awareness from ‘what used to be’ or ‘what was’ into what it could be next.
Another way to say this would be that here, we believe there is absolutely nothing you’ve gone through in the past or experienced previously that necessarily has anything to do with what you choose to do next.
In other words, if you believe that where you need to spend your time and effort is in the present and future, you are free. No matter what has happened to you before, it cannot dictate what you are or do next. You are free to make whatever move you need to, free to think whatever way you need to think, take action in whatever way you need to, in order to create what you want next instead of what you have now. This is a very important point, because most people are quite stuck in the past and it cripples them from moving forward.
Remember: Thught without action is simply irrelevant thought.
That means since the past is behind us – meaning it’s over – we can’t take any action in the past. We can only think about it. We can’t make any change in the past. We can only analyze it. It would actually be better just to learn from it, take this positive earnings forward with you in ways that would help you in the future, which is what part of the training will teach you how to do. But it starts with the agreement that spending very much time at all in the past is really a waste of time.
Using the automobile body shop example, you’ll notice that the auto body shop guy doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about what hit your fender, how fast they were going, what it was made out of, what shape it was, what time of day it was, etc. He just sees the obvious problem, and spends all of the rest of his time changing it – fixing it to be what you want it to look like next.
You can expect that you will learn a lot in a short period of time. You can expect to be challenged, held accountable for the change you say you want to make, and start implementing new behaviors and perspectives right away. In a way this is kind of like teaching you how to swim. We can stand by the side of the pool for a very long time with me explaining how to move your arms, how to kick your feet, how to take a breath before your face gets in the water, etc., but you really learn the most when you actually get in the water. And that’s my goal: to teach you things you can begin using right away to start getting results right away. I don’t believe that fixing your marriage should take a very long time. Assuming you are both interested in that goal, and are willing to put forth the effort to create the changes and learn the training, it should not take long at all. In the end everyone does go with their own speed, and that’s fine. If you want to move quickly, we can – it’s really up to you.
It may seem obvious, but I do have to point out that your process of learning the skills attitudes and beliefs necessary to create a stable loving marriage depends completely on your willingness and ability to pay attention, follow directions, and yes, even mind. Many of you are not good at minding. You don’t like to be told what to do and you’re still unconsciously in an adolescent fight to get out of responsibilities or avoid having to do things against your will. This is, in the end, immaturity drama, And it plays a big part in why people struggle as much as they do in their relationships.
The definition of maturity that we will use is this: maturity is the ability to manage frustration, or not getting your way, without acting out. The ability to withstand anger, disappointment or hurt, without the drama and consequences of responding based on those feelings, is the behavior of the mature person. Maturity is a requirement in any relationship, but most especially a marriage relationship. Generally, it is what parents spend a lot of time trying to teach their children.
The idea of putting aside your natural desire to let feelings out, and respond instead based on how you want that conversation or that situation to go (for the betterment of all concerned) is what people in successful marriages learn how to do very well. You wouldn’t for a minute allow your four-year-old to have a complete screaming meltdown in the grocery store because you said she couldn’t have a candy bar, but sadly many married people think nothing of screaming meltdowns with each other over topics that are often just as unimportant. The difference of course, is that when you’re an adult and you have a screaming meltdown, you say things that are much more hurtful and take actions in ways that are much more damaging.
“Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause, of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all.”
— Norman Vincent Peale
All success has an action immediately preceding it. If you want success in your relationship, start by taking action toward what you want to learn next.
I look forward to hearing from you.