What if framing the high divorce rates as a problem with individual people is, in fact, part of the problem itself? What is the divorce rate has far less to do with anything going on inside of us as individuals than we’ve been told? What would that mean? First, it would probably mean that people could be freed from the sense of guilt and failure that often co-occurs with the decision to divorce. It means that there would be less blame to be used as ammunition. It would also mean that we would need to come up with a new, more complex explanation as to what’s happening. We might even have to admit that marriage as we have designed it, is nearly impossible.
It's important to start our relationships on a foundation of understanding. Understanding flows from a place of interest and curiosity. If you've ever said about your partner that you know everything there is to know about them, then it's time to take a step back. People are fluid and dynamic and ever-changing. When we say things like this, it often means we've got blinders on and are at risk of missing something important. Premarital counseling helps you become curious about each other and to avoid these sorts of dangers in your relationship.
As a couples therapist, I often have couples that tell me how much their phone is interfering with their lives and their relationship. When they reunite after a day at work, couples say that their phones serve as an all-too-easy distraction that reduces the quality of their time together. It can keep them from having important conversation. It can keep their mind partially at the office instead of being fully present at home. It’s a real problem – we’ve talked about it a previous blog post, too.
And when that happens – when you’ve communicated and shared and loved and grown – the needs that they have can seem less like nagging and more like those needs are your very own. You can celebrate when they are happy, and not be jealous. You can hold them when they are sad and not feel the need to fix it or a sense of blame. You don’t just understand them intellectually, you can begin to see the world through their eyes and experience the world through their senses.
If you ask any therapist who works with relationship issues, they will tell you that every single couple they see will say, at some point in the process, “We just need help communicating.” If you’ve ever thought that – or said it aloud – know that you are definitely not alone.I have to admit, though, I think there is way more going on than just that.
Understanding and empathy are the keys to healing and growth. If you’ve been told for your entire life that you’re not good enough, having a relationship with someone who provides you with support can be a healing and restorative experience. If that person gets frustrated with your low self-esteem or your hesitancy to connect with others, it’s an indication that empathy isn’t really present.
If you venture out into the world at all during this time of year, you will probably be overwhelmed by hearts and chocolates and silhouettes of Cupid. Don’t get me wrong; it is great to have a time on the calendar when we focus on love and romance. It can benefit every relationship to have seasons like these that encourage partners to express their love. Do it. Love it. Enjoy it.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone who really listened? It’s remarkable, isn’t it? Perhaps we go through most days with so many distractions and interruptions that we aren’t necessarily aware of all the things that compete for our attention. But when someone truly listens to us, we notice.