Most couples wait too long to get help. Unnecessary suffering occurs in secrecy and isolation when you are too embarrassed to ask for assistance. The time to get help for your marriage is when one (not both) of you feels the need for it. Putting this agreement in place before things deteriorate will support early intervention and prevent painful, time-consuming arguments later on. Getting help when you are unable to work things out isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of intelligence.
We’ve bought into the illusion that if we love each other, that should be enough. There are some things that a relationship, no matter how good it is, cannot provide. We need good close friends, especially of the same gender. Some things we just can’t hear from our partner, and we need someone else to tell us.
It is difficult in our culture, which emphasizes independence, competition, and material success, to create long lasting, fulfilling relationship. To co-create a long term loving partnership, we all need a great deal of support. Most couples don’t receive the level of support they need, and they especially don’t know how to deal with conflict when trying to have their needs met. Because of the tendency to have a limited perspective, lacking the ability to see the bigger picture, it is not easy to get unplugged from our desires on our own.
In our culture, we are faced with the choice of grow or divorce when things get tough. Tough usually means having to change or give up something that I am attached to. In a culture where that change isn’t available but enormous group support is, individuals can be assisted on the path of continual growth and transformation, instead of bailing when it gets difficult.
We Need the Help of Family and Friends to Thrive
Families were never intended to live outside of the context of community because how they are impacts upon the group as a whole. In the past there was much outside social pressure to keep marriages together; today there is little. It is only with the help of family and friends that we can find the glue that helps us to hang in there and weather the storms that leave us reeling in the presence of stress and strife.
Beware of the Attitude of Disposability
We live in a world in which we have all taken on a consciousness of disposability. It is helpful to examine what disposability means to each of us, and to discover where such an attitude might be showing up. For such a belief can get transferred into our relationships. We may adopt a stance that if this doesn’t work out that we can just get another partner. Or else we decide that we can be just as happy, if not more so, without a partner. Yet somehow we hold on to the hope that we can find somebody even if we would rather live alone. For most of us, it is difficult to let go of the hope of living with a life partner even when part of us would prefer not to take on that big challenge.
We are essentially social beings. We were designed to live in the context of community. For this reason, the fear of abandonment and its cousin, fear of rejection, are primary fears for us. We fear living outside of community because on a deep level of instinctive knowing, we are aware that we need others in order for us to make it in this world. There is literally nothing that we have that doesn’t involve the efforts of others. We are well aware that our physical survival depends upon involvement with others. But in addition to literal survival, some deep natural wise part of us recognizes that we require connectedness with others in order for our sense of well-being to be sustained.
Linda Bloom L.C.S.W. has served as psychotherapist and seminar leader practicing relationship counseling almost forty years. Check out her OMTimes Bio.
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