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Why Marriages are Failing Outside Looking In

Why Marriages are Failing

Outside Looking In

Why Marriages are Failing

Why Marriages are Failing and how it looks from the seat of a therapist who has been in practice for 16 years. I have lately been perplexed as to why my client load has been nothing but couples for the past few months. To tell you the truth, I really would rather not do couples therapy. Couples therapy when working with me always turns into individual work. That I do love.

I can’t speak for all therapist but I think many would agree that they find it the most challenging sessions to conduct. Walking into the session I am prepared to watch the mudslinging and the “below the belt digs and nasty comments that will arise”. I do my very best to start these sessions with a statement that sounds like the following:

“Before we begin session I just want to note that it is really important that in order for there to be real effective change we must drop the Mr. and Mrs. Right and Wrong game. Stay open to the idea that both parties have played a role in getting the marriage to point where it is now. Let’s just take an inventory as if we are throwing up the story on the wall and watching a movie. Try our hardest to not place judgement and blame. Let’s allow our egos to back down. As your therapist I am an outside witness to seeing the broken patterns and can listen to your communication and help to point it out. There is nothing to judge and no one person to blame.”

Each look so excited and relieved after I make this statement, eager to really do the work. I would say that usually withing 5-10 minutes of session one of the partners has caught a resentment and starts to raise their voice. The couple might as well be in their house and forget that they came to seek counseling. They get offended, cut each other off, start the blame game and from there start to shut down and one will refuse to talk. They may even completely turn their body away from their partner while throwing a temper tantrum. At this point the boxing gloves are on and they are going for each others throats. Fear, anger and resentments are telling the story now.

Why Marriages are Failing

Love and Expectations

I ask them both to stop and individually give me their definition of what love means to them. Not one of the clients I have seen have ever been able to give a good working definition close to what I would consider unconditional love. They may say that love means to support each other, care about each other, be a provider, etc. What kind of definition is that. I will then ask for them to expand on what caring means. What does it mean to “be there for each other”. Suddenly the walls come crashing down as they see that they are staring at each other and have no idea what it means to love not just each other but self.

Let’s get really honest I will tell them. A couple before getting married never sits down and says: “So, what are your expectations of me in a husband or wife? What is your definition of love ? Forget unconditional love I tell them. The truth is that in their blind sleep state they married their partner with all of their conditioning and expectations from their upbringing. A list of what the other should and should not do.

Why Marriages are Failing
Why Marriages are Failing

I ask them both to stop and individually give me their definition of what love means to them. Not one of the clients I have seen have ever been able to give a good working definition close to what I would consider unconditional love. They may say that love means to support each other, care about each other, be a provider, etc. What kind of definition is that. I will then ask for them to expand on what caring means. What does it mean to “be there for each other”. Suddenly the walls come crashing down as they see that they are staring at each other and have no idea what it means to love not just each other but self.

Let’s get really honest I will tell them. A couple before getting married never sits down and says: “So, what are your expectations of me in a husband or wife? What is your definition of love ? Forget unconditional love I tell them. The truth is that in their blind sleep state they married their partner with all of their conditioning and expectations from their upbringing. A list of what the other should and should not do.

Why Marriages are Failing

Top 10 most commonly heard Phrases from Partners

  1. Why don’t you care about what is important to me? Your selfish and only care about yourself.
  2. Both are yelling “You don’t listen to me”.
  3. You expect me to just get over certain things about you that I can’t accept or forgive.
  4. Why don’t you do enough to pull your weight? I feel like the only one trying in this relationship.
  5. You always seem to ignore me when I have something important about myself to talk about.
  6. You are not motivated to do anything in the relationship. It’s like I don’t matter to you.
  7. Your always so angry that I don’t come to you because I am scared about how you will react.
  8. You listen to everyone outside the marriage except for me.
  9. You would rather spend all of your time working or talking to your friends or on the computer or your phone. We don’t talk anymore.
  10. You tell our problems to your family and tell everyone about me and what’s wrong with me. You never admit that your at fault for anything.

Why Marriages are Failing

How to break the Cycle

Couples come in with all of their expectations and assumptions from their childhood. They are not even aware that they are also bringing in their conditioning from their family and all that they were modeled as a child. If one was from a broken or abusive home then they are constantly the victim. They see the other partner as responsible for care taking their emotions. They take no responsibility that as individuals it is our own responsibility to create our sense of happiness and well being.

We catch resentments because the other person does not “get us”. Well guess what? The truth is that if you do not “get you” and can’t understand why you feel the way you do, no one else will. Why do you get so easily offended? Why can’t your partner see things from a different perspective? What are you so defensive of? If you can’t answer these questions than how can anyone else “get you”. As your having your resentments pile up the other partner is doing the same thing. You both feel your right and the other is wrong. How can this be?

With 8 billion people on this planet there are 8 billion different perspectives and ways we each see the world. It’s your job to understand yourself and no one else will ever love you more than you can love yourself. Seems to me individual counseling is the path to self realization and awareness.