Friday, April 9, 2010

Underestimating The Threat

As a relationship counsellor I work with alot of couples in crisis. People who seem to have it all together and suddenly everything seems to hit the fan. Then either one or both people are left wondering "What happened? Where did this come from?" Maybe it is infidelity, an addiction, abuse, or something else. I feel for such people, their pain is intense and their hurt is immense. If you have experienced any of these things in a relationship you know the kind of pain I am talking about.

While sometimes people are completely blindsided to relationship crises, most of the time there is a feeling that something is wrong beforehand. Something just seems "off" or there is nagging sense of something not being right. It seems to me that almost every couple lives with a certain amount of "taking for granted" of their marriage and their spouse and they ignore the reality that even the best marriages are somewhat fragile. It only takes something little to completely put a relationship on the rocks. It could be something like:

-A wife starts a warm friendship with a male co-worker or neighbor.
-A husband starts drinking a little more then usual.
-A wife catches her husband on a "smutty" internet site.
-A husband starts getting verbally cruel or pushes his wife during an argument.
-A spouse realizes that they have felt emotionally or sexually distant from their mate for some time.

The tendency of most of us is to simply to "let it go," either not mentioning anything or failing to assert oneself with one's spouse over a boundary violation. "Maybe it's not that serious," we say to ourselves, willing ourselves to trust that it was a onetime indiscretion. It's so much easier not to say anything, not to look distrusting, not to appear oversensitive or overcautious. But is precisely these times that spouses need to address each other and do the hard work of checking in on these things. Fears must be mastered and difficult questions asked. Requests for change (and the consequences if they don't) must be voiced. For all of these things can be threats to one's marriage and to not address them is to court disaster.

When a spouse isn't challenged on their behavior, their human nature will usually cause them to do even more of what they are doing - either openly or in secret. The Law Of Boundaries says that "whatever you put up with, you will keep on getting it - and more of it!" We need to always be vigilant in our marriage relationships and carefully and sensitively address any possible threats to it. I'm not advocating paranoia, interrogations, or fear but I am advocating vigilance and assertiveness. Every marriage will have threats introduced to it over its lifespan. Is there anything you need to address in your relationship? What's holding you back? And have you seen what happens when people ignore the signs that something is not quite right in their marriage? Just curious.

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