What if a good marriage was not about focusing on fixing problems? What if a good marriage was not learning a new set of skills or tools?
The most common requests couples who are starting therapy have is for communication skills and tools for a better relationship.
This is an understandable but misguided request.
What if couples were taught skills and tools, with penetrating insights on how to improve, but there was no underlying dedication to growth?
What if a great marriage is about character? The sum of moral strength, fortitude, self-discipline, integrity, curiosity and caring.
Tools are about using your mind. They neglect the heart. Merging your heart and mind is what creates the transformation.
You want a relationship transformation? You want the rewards of working as a team? You want the sweet rewards of your kids looking up to you?
Good. But you gotta earn it.
Everything has a price. There is a price to pay to transform your relationship, just as there’s a price to pay for muddling along the way you are.
The “lizard brain” wants the rewards with no risk, minimal effort. (Read my recent blog post on the lizard brain if that’s a new concept for you.)
Highly dysfunctional couples dominated by the lizard brain hope that repeated complaints will get their partner to become responsive, sensitive, and loving. They also want their partner to be self-sufficient. They might as well wear a sign saying, “Don’t ask me to inconvenience myself for you.”
Most partners want a better marriage without becoming a better person. It’s a very rare client who recognizes or says they want to become a better person to create a better marriage!
A better person is more than skills and tools. It is living your values and principles.
A better relationship is not a quick fix. But the lizard brain wants simple and easy. It wants tools and skills that will not take time, effort or the risk of rejection.
Ironically, as you grow so will the size and number of your challenges.
If you forever stay in second grade your personal growth will be limited by a second grade mentality.
Enticing? No. The human spirit wants more. In life we do more and learn more because we have a desire to explore and grow.
Now the big questions become: Do you have an uncommon desire to grow as an individual in your relationship in order to create a better relationship? When you want your partner to change, are you really willing to support the change you seek?
Fixing is about repairing what is broken. Fixing does not explore the land of possibilities and creating something different and better.
Wanna know what makes getting a better marriage easier? Become a great couple team. Work together to support and realize your individual and collective dreams.
Becoming a collaborative team is not easy or effortless. And sometimes it is not enjoyable. It’s just worth it.