Picture an attractive pond in a park or resort garden. It’s surrounded by beautiful little trees and bushes. Maybe there’s a bridge. And always koi, those bright ornamental fish that come in a variety of colors and patterns.
Even though I don’t know you, I’m willing to make an imaginary wager that your marriage is like a koi fish.
I have seen this parallel repeatedly in my thirty-two years specializing in couple’s therapy.
Here’s the little known fact about koi fish. They grow to the size of their environment.
Put a koi fish in a small tank and it will not outgrow it. Move it to a larger tank and it will get bigger and stronger. Move it to a pond and it can grow to two feet or more, with sufficient nutrients.
Marriages that are filled with power struggles, criticism, distancing and lack of collaboration will absolutely limit the emotional growth of each person.
Couples counseling can really help couples add space and nutrients to their marriage, especially as partners begin to function as a team.
When you begin to function as a team you EACH begin to think, “What can I do to contribute to making our roles and responsibilities go more smoothly and collaboratively?” Or, “What can I do to enhance the quality of our emotional and physical connections?”
You probably learned the acronym for TEAM in middle school. It takes on new meaning in a marriage: Together Each Accomplishes More.
When we don’t think as a team, our knee-jerk reflex is, “I’m not getting my needs met so my partner has to do better.” When both partners think like this they are just like two koi fish living in a very small tank.
The divorce rate of 50% would suggest there are a lot of koi fish couples in this country.
If you are ready for a bigger pond, try thinking about a TEAM approach.