Are your thinking, “There is no way he’ll agree to marriage counseling” Well, you’re not alone!
“He doesn’t think we need marriage counseling,” “He says what happens behind closed doors is our business and besides, we’ve tried marriage counseling in the past and it didn’t work.”
Feeling discouraged about your marriage? Praying for change in your husband and your marriage, but see things continuing to deteriorate?
Things don’t change, we do! If we don’t make significant changes, our relationships won’t change.”
- Dr. David Hawkins
If you find yourself saying, “I know that if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’re going to get the same results. Still, I find myself hitting a brick wall with him.” We can help
To be fair, it certainly isn’t always the man who resists marriage counseling. Many women resist going to a counselor, indicating they’ve been to counseling in the past and it hasn’t worked for them.
Wanting change, whether from your husband or your wife, requires a very delicate dance. Few lean into a change process. Change, by its very nature, is disruptive and most resist it. Yet, if we don’t go through something disruptive, if we don’t look critically at how we are living and relating, we’re not likely to change. If we don’t change, our relationship will continue to decline.
So, you are left to make a critical decision. I ask you to take inventory with these questions:
- Is your marriage all you hope it to be?
- Have you outlined a clear path, with clear expectations, about the change you desire?
- Have you insisted on change, being willing to make the same changes yourself? Have you led the way in making changes?
- Are you willing to draw boundaries, making it clear that there will be consequences if there were not to be changes?
- Have you confronted your own tendencies to enable the situation not to change?
You want significant change. It is possible, but it will require something of you. You must be willing to experience a “breakdown that leads to a breakthrough.” Things must fall apart before they can be put back together in a healthy way.
We can lead you through that process!
Interestingly, you may be thinking he, or she, must have the breakdown that leads to the breakthrough. While that is certainly true, you too must have your own breakdown leading to a breakthrough. You must realize that what you’re doing is not working. You must be willing to experience the disruption that comes from not enabling a destructive process. You must be willing to give up some comforts as you cross over the bridge of change.
Note the Scripture on the process of change and the cost to us:
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” (Luke 14: 28)
Now of course this Scripture is not literally talking about money, though that is part of the process. Change requires that we prepare thoroughly for what the change process will demand of us. You will experience disruption to your life. You will likely receive pushback/ resistance. Therefore, you must be clear, concise and filled with an inner conviction that what you want is worthy of your efforts.
Let’s look a little more closely at the process of change and what marriage counseling can do to bring about change about:
First, begin with cultivating clarity.
You must be clear about what it is you need changed. Sit back, perhaps with a trusted friend, and note what you can no longer live with. Is it his temper that you can no longer tolerate? Perhaps it is his lack of empathy? Get clear about the changes you need.
Second, be consistent with yourself and him.
A little change is not enough. Stop telling yourself that you can live with something you really cannot live with. Stop deceiving yourself as this will not serve you in the long run. Arguing and bargaining with him only leads to more conflict and less change.
Third, armed with conviction, let him know what must change.
Prepared to take a stand, and ready for pushback and greater consequences, let him know you must have change. Do not engage in argumentation. Don’t try to coerce or manipulate him into change. Let him know that you must have him engaged in counseling with you and this is the only acceptable path for change. Don’t be manipulated into thinking a little change is enough, or that you can do this without expert help.
Fourth, determine the consequences if he resists.
A boundary without consequences is not a boundary—it is a hope or a wish. Wishes and hopes have not garnered his respect. It is time for consequences, beginning with something simple and leading to something more severe. He will determine how harsh the consequences need to be—you simply affirm what you need. Have your list of consequences ready and rehearsed.
Finally, follow through with a sense of calm.
Knowing that what you want—his complete involvement in a change process—is reasonable and healthy, you must follow through. While this will likely be met with anger, resistance and even counter-threats, he will ultimately respect you and likely agree to counseling. This may take stopping behavior that enables the destructive aspect of the relationship, and could go as far as a temporary separation. Know that you are doing this for the ultimate good of your marriage.
In summary, marriage counseling is a challenging journey. You will need emotional support as you make changes that threaten you and your marriage. In the end, however, you will both be thankful you took whatever steps are necessary to bring about healthy change.
We’re available to help…
Fortunately, there are many thinking errors we can make in our marriage and survive.
We can overreact in anger at times and receive forgiveness. We can miss an important anniversary and still be able to make amends. We can even experience the occasional unkind action and make it up to our mate.
There are other ‘mistakes’ however, that are not so easily forgotten. There are actions taken which, if they occur consistently, erode the very fabric of our relationship. These ‘thinking errors,’ what the 12 Step Program calls ‘stinkin’ thinkin,’ are corrosive. These ‘errors,’ over time, corrode trust, vibrancy and the very health of the relationship.
You may think I’m exaggerating to make such a statement, but our work at The Marriage Recovery Center has proven the horrific power of these thinking errors.
These actions are so corrosive because they are grounded in the primary Thinking Error—Denial.
Someone has said denial—the avoidance of taking responsibility for one’s action—as Don’t Even Notice I Am Lying to myself. Because I am lying to myself, I cannot nor will not fully own the damage of what I am doing to you. Hence, nothing changes and the destructive behaviors continue—eroding the relationship.
Here are some of the major ‘thinking errors’ that interrupt our ability to take responsibility. Judge for yourself how you see them impacting your relationships.
- Denial: “I am not doing anything wrong. I have no problem.”
- Blame-shifting: “It’s not me that’s doing anything wrong. It’s not my fault. It’s your fault.”
- Victim Stance: “I’m getting a raw deal. Nothing ever goes my way. I’m getting the blame for everything.”
- Minimization/ Sanitizing: “Sure, I did something wrong, but it’s not that big of a deal. You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.”
- Projection: “You are the one who has all the issues you’re blaming me about.”
- Excuse Making: “Yes, I suppose I did it, but I didn’t mean to do it. It certainly wasn’t my intention to hurt you. If it weren’t for _____ I wouldn’t have done it.”
- Power Play: “You can’t make me go to counseling/ treatment/ recovery groups. I’m not going to go and you can’t make me.”
- Black and White Thinking/ Extreme Thinking: “I never get any credit for anything I do. You’re always the one who gets everything you ask for.”
- Catastrophizing: “If you make me get help we’ll go broke for sure.”
- Grandiosity: “I know what I think and what I need to do. I don’t need any help. I’ve got a handle on things.”
Can you see the terrible damage that is done by even one of these thinking errors?
Scripture tells us to…
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (I Peter 5: 8)
I can think of no easier way for the Enemy to wreak havoc than through the destruction of our relationships by way of our ‘stinkin’ thinkin.’
How can we cultivate sober mindedness and avoid thinking errors?
Here are some suggestions:
Recognize your innate tendency to lie to yourself.
Yes, that’s right. You must look candidly in the mirror and admit to yourself that you have ‘thinking errors.’ We all do and if you think you’re immune from these, you’re really in denial!
Ask for feedback from a trusted source.
Yes, I know I’m asking a lot from you. This is scary business, but we must obtain feedback from someone who really knows us. Find someone who sees your shadow side, knows what you are like on your worst day and has your wellbeing in mind—trust that they would not tell you something to hurt you, but rather for your growth and welfare.
Own the full weight and damage of your ‘thinking error.’
Closely examine the ramifications of your ‘thinking error.’ Look at the ripple effect of how your thinking causes damage in your relationships. Feel the full impact of what you are doing and take responsibility for your actions. Sit with the pain of how you are thinking and how this impacts your behavior.
Replace your ‘thinking error’ with the Truth.
A lie cannot exist side by side with the Truth. For example, if you have a tendency to minimize a problem, ask for the truth about a particular situation. Is ‘excess drinking’ really alcoholism? Is ‘problem shopping’ really an addiction to materialism? If your ‘thinking error’ is grandiosity, practice humility, deferring to your mate and allowing him/ her to make more decisions in your relationship.
Pray for the courage to change.
At The Marriage Recovery Center, we encourage people to pray for courage and humility to change. We understand that change comes from a changed heart—and this requires the work of God in our lives. We understand that change comes from experiencing a ‘godly sorrow’ that leads to repentance. (II Corinthians 7: 10) We encourage practicing ‘living amends’—acting in direct opposition to the ‘thinking error.’ If you have blame-shifted, take responsibility. If you have minimized a problem, maximize the problem. If you have pushed your weight around emotionally, defer to your mate. There is no room for pride in the process of change.
In summary, there is no such thing as a small ‘thinking error.’
Even one ‘thinking error’ in a relationship can create monstrous problems. Healthy thinking leads to healthy relationships. We are here to help and offer phone/ Skype counseling on issues related to this article. Please contact us to discover more information about this as well as the FREE eBook, A Love Life of Your Dreams, as my gift to you!Contact Us
“My husband is NEVER going to change! He keeps promising things will be different, but words are all I hear.”
I cannot even begin to tell you how often I hear this from women calling or emailing the Marriage Recovery Center. Countless women continue to struggle in dysfunctional marriages because they feel completely hopeless to change the problems in their relationship.
The problem I find is that couples are content to be comfortably miserable in their relationship. They are not happy at all BUT the man continues to function in his same old patterns, despite constant reminders that he must change, and the woman just gives in believing that “this is as good as it gets. I must get use to life this way.”
So you may ask…why don’t things change in dysfunctional relationships?
Here are some of the reasons why:
Non-existent boundaries – The most common problem I see is not putting boundaries around unacceptable behavior. Therefore, nothing ever changes. Words may be full of promises, but commitments are never kept. Frankly if boundaries are not put in place…why should he change??
Inconsistent consequences – If boundaries are created and implemented, then the next breakdown I see is consequences are not enforced or not enforced consistently. Women often feel mean as if they are “punishing” their husband with a consequence. Therefore, the husband quickly realizes that his wife really is not serious about these boundaries.
Here is what I see as the solution:
Very clear request for action – Your husband must know exactly what you are asking for him to change. You can begin with collaborating with him about what you are asking for. Hopefully through this process you can both come to an agreement and hold him accountable to these changes.
Boundaries – if his commitment and his actions are not in alignment, then a boundary may need to be set in place. A boundary around anger would sound like “I cannot tolerate being yelled at or being spoken to disrespectfully.”
Serious consequences – Consequences are always applicable to the boundary and typically progressive. The first time the boundary is broken surrounding yelling, the consequence may sound like “I cannot continue to engage with you in your anger, I will be disengaging from you until we are both calm.” The 2nd time becomes more serious “I cannot tolerate being spoken to in anger, I must have you leave for the night.” The 3rd step is not for the faint at heart “You have broken my boundary around anger, and I have no choice but to ask you to move out until you show you can learn to work through your anger.”
This last consequence is when I start to feel some pushback from women I am counseling.
Yes, you may think it is odd to hear a Christian counselor suggesting separation as a consequence, but often there is nothing more powerful to create change. In my marriage, I found that just communicating this last consequence to my spouse was enough to create an immediate change in his anger. It really does work! At the Marriage Recovery Center we often hear from incredibly desperate men who were just asked to leave their homes. They always want to know “what do I need to do to get my wife back.” I know there may be tremendous fear of loss surrounding this extreme consequence, but please be assured that 99% of the marriages that we see result in a separation have a happy ending. We see a separation as a purpose for reconciliation. Honestly, it takes a breakdown to have a breakthrough in your marriage. Your spouse may need to experience life without you for a while to realize just how much he values you and your marriage. At this point he will do anything he can to create change in himself so reconciliation is a possibility.
If you find yourself struggling with the same old dysfunctional patterns without any hope for change, please reach out to us at The Marriage Recovery Center. We can help guide you in a plan for change. We offer Skype, phone or intensive counseling to serve you.
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The majority of the couples that come to the marriage recovery center are in a reactive state of mind.
They’ve come to a place where they are so stuck in their position that feel they are right and their partner is wrong.
I see these couples as defensive, angry, stubborn, and downright self-righteous.
They act this way due to what is irritating them at their core, but are unaware of how to talk about these feelings.
They often believe that the only way for the marriage to change is if their partner changes.
As a therapist, I typically hear partners building a case highlighting how they personally are doing everything perfectly BUT their partner is a mess.
From my perspective, I essentially see two children in the midst of a tantrum standing in their own separate corners. Full of pride, they both refuse to take the first step in to compromise or collaborate with their mate.
This leads to both partners feeling unloved, uncared for, hurt, and dismissed. Many are ready to be done with their marriage.
Last week I was pleasantly surprised by a couple I work with periodically for tune ups.
The wife shared with me how she had been betrayed by her husband through an addiction, and her trust had been broken. However, the vast difference with how this client handled the betrayal compared to most couples, was in her attitude. She kept extremely calm when she clearly stated that her husband’s addiction must be resolved BUT she would be by his side while he struggled through it. She treated him with respect, kindness and compassion.
This wife showed the exact opposite of reactivity. She used kindness, grace, and forgiveness with her husband.
Fortunately, it created in him a repentant heart, a sincere apology, and deep connection between the two of them.
So you may be asking how you can turn from reactive to kind.
Here are some tips:
- Managing your emotions. Determine what is really bugging you? What are the feelings at the core of your irritation? What do you need to ask your spouse for to resolve this issue? Speak from a calm, clear voice.
- Know your value. Knowing who you are and what you believe in will create a strong conviction within you. You feel a strength rise up in you when you speak from your convictions.
- Having good boundaries. Be very clear with your spouse on what behavior you will and will lot tolerate. This includes what you will chose to do if your boundary is broken.4. Kindness is often speaking the truth in love. Your spouse may not like what you call him/her out on, but often he/she really needs to hear this truth to come out of denial.
- Refuse to enter into a conversation or remain in one that is angry, accusatory or unsafe. I challenge you to put aside your pride and strive to practice humility.
By practicing these tips consistently you can create a rich, connected marriage.
If you are struggling with reactivity in your marriage, we can help. We offer phone or Skype coaching and intensive couples therapy at the Marriage Recovery Center in Hansville, WA.
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Have you experienced an affair in your marriage?
Do you feel hopeless that your marriage will survive this trauma? Do you find yourself to be bitter and angry? If so, you are not alone!
We see many many couples at the Marriage Recovery Center who have just experienced an affair in their marriage. We see both men and women who have been unfaithful, but for the purpose of this blog I will be referring to the husband as the mate who was unfaithful.
It is incredibly common to see a wife who comes to a Marriage Intensive with a lot of pent up anger and bitterness. She is so hurt and betrayed and has not learned what to do with all of these emotions. So in order to protect herself she becomes rigid, cold, and withholding, often withdrawing completely from her unfaithful spouse.
Another way of coping is to attempt to cause her spouse to feel the pain she is experiencing. This comes through constant jabs and painful arrows thrown at him about the affair. “How could you be so cruel?” “What kind of man does that to his family?” These comments leaves her husband feeling ashamed and hurt, typically leading him to retreat to a safe place far away from her. This way of coping causes total brokenness in the marriage.
So how can you heal from an affair in your marriage? Here are a few critical steps:
- Develop good boundaries – what is causing you stress that you must create security? Do you need to let him know that any contact with the other woman will not be tolerated?
- Communicate your feelings & needs – let your husband know what feelings you are struggling with. Are you feeling sad, betrayed, inadequate?
Tell him a soft but direct way.
- What needs do you have from him?
- A repentant heart when you share your feelings, taking responsibility?
- A heartfelt apology
3. Let your spouse know how he can built trust again. Do you need total transparency? Passwords to his email, phone?
4. Stay connected to your spouse. Even with all the hurt and anger, try to sit and talk with your spouse.
5. If you are separated due to the affair, don’t move too quickly into reconciliation. Allow trust to be built and if there are areas you need to see your spouse make changes, allow enough time to see consistent change.
For your Partner, he can help you heal by:
- Apologizing and taking responsibility for the pain he caused. – show ongoing remorse and repentance about the affair.
- Listen intently & empathize with your wife’s feelings.
- Work on creating a connection with your mate.
- Communicate your needs. What needs were not being met prior to the affair?
- Ask your mate to go to marriage counseling. You cannot repair this on your own.
If you are struggling with your spouse having an affair, we can help. We offer phone and Skype coaching as well as intensive counseling at our retreat center in Hansville, Wa.
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We recently had a couple at the Marriage Recovery Center who stated from the beginning that they truly despised each other.
Their past was full of lies, betrayal, and infidelity. They believed the only reasonable option for them was divorce.
This couple came to us as a last ditch effort to show their friends and family that they “tried it all.”
As we began to unpack the many issues this couple had, we discovered that there were years of unresolved issues, as well as inadequate communication methods to achieve a resolution. Unfortunately, this problem is all too common.
Couples end up feeling hurt, betrayed, and begin protecting their heart to avoid further hurt. Essentially this leads to incredible resentment, and downright hate for one another.
We see this deep hurt also leads to total isolation, which manifests itself through the silent treatment and total coldness. This is the typical state most marriages come to us in.
I want to encourage those who are reading this blog that there IS hope. The bitterness and hurt can come to an end and healing can occur.
Before you decide to divorce, try this:
- Put aside your pride. Pride keeps us separate from our spouse. If we become so focused on being right and justified, it is difficult for us to see our spouse’s perspective.
- Begin opening up with your spouse and share your deep wounds from your marriage. Come from your feelings. “The affair makes me feel betrayed, distrusting and unloved”
- Take responsibility for wounding your spouse. Allow your spouse to share his/her feelings with you and let him/her know that you understand their feelings. Also let your spouse know specifically how you have contributed to her/him feeling betrayed, unloved, etc.
- Identify the issues that need to be addressed to ensure transparency and trust. What do you need from your spouse to begin trusting? Be specific.
- Seek intensive counseling. This is a key component. Many couples are so wounded from infidelity and betrayal that they cannot work through these difficult issues on their own. Intensive counseling gives you 8 hours each day to unpack all of the pain and work through each issue in a healthy way.
These tools can radically restore your marriage, helping you to find those feelings again that you once had for your spouse.
The Marriage Recovery Center staff would love to help you through your marriage crisis.
We are here to help…to inquire about a marriage intensive at our retreat center on the Puget Sound in Hansville, Wa.
Contact Us Today
At the Marriage Recovery Center we encourage couples to end the fighting.
As we teach these couples how to share their deeper feelings and learn to really hear each other, we see a deep deep connection like they have never experienced before. Profoundly powerful!
However from what I have found, men (and often women) don’t typically wear their emotions on their sleeves. They can easily feel threatened when asked to share their emotions. Which will essentially end in the man shutting down and retreating to his man cave.
Sometimes we just need to let our men passionately fight it out with us.
This will allow them to get to the core of the pain and emotions. If you are willing to try this out, it must come with some serious ground rules to fighting fairly.
Here are some Do’s and Don’t’s:
- Allow him to attack your character. Name calling and demeaning comments are off limits.
- No wild accusations. The conversation must end if he starts reading your mind and telling you what you are doing and why you are doing it.
- Don’t tolerate extreme escalation or anger. Nothing can be resolved in escalated anger.
- Don’t get defensive in response to his arguing. If you really want to hear your man, you need to manage your emotions through this process.
- Encourage him to speak “passionately”
- Listen for the root of the problem. What is really bugging him? Tune into this.
- Do ask questions and encourage him to share more.
- Discern what he may be feeling. Is he feeling scared? Inadequate?
- Check in with him about the feelings you are seeing. “Are you feeling fearful of ______?”
- Do empathize with his feelings and thoughts. Once you confirm his feelings, let him know that you can completely understand how he feels this way, and that his feelings are valid and real.
Many women have the innate ability to see through the chaos and discern what is at the root of an issue.
Ladies use this God given gift to really understand your man. Most men are really yearning for their wife to truly hear him and relate with him, despite his rough way of communicating.
Let him know:
- That you are not only on his team, but you are his #1 fan.
- If you can really master hearing him through his gruffness, and understand him.
- He WILL let you in and a deep connection will be established.
If you need help learning to hear him, while having good boundaries yourself…we can help. We offer Phone or Skype coaching as well as intensive couples therapy at our location in Hansville WA.
Email Teri at email@example.com to learn more…
Most of the work we do at the Marriage Recovery Center is with couples in crisis.
One of the common problems I see is a partner who is extremely volatile in their emotions partnered with a mate who is stuck in a pattern of enabling her destructive behavior.
If you have read my blogs in the past, you know I typically speak to women about the dysfunctional patterns in her husband. However, this is one issue I see more frequently in women, then I do in men. So men I am speaking to YOU. You may be known as the nice guy, who cares deeply for his family, friends, and co-workers. You are extremely stable, loyal and provide well for your family.
The courtship process frequently goes like this; you have a nice, stable, and unexciting life and in walks “the one.” She is beautiful, adventurous, and fun. She is like a whirlwind of excitement, who has you bound in infatuation. You find you just cannot live without her, and soon you are planning a wedding.
Fast forward 4 weeks from the wedding day, and life looks MUCH different. The adrenaline from the excitement has now turned into adrenaline from fear, as you watch her quickly move from a tender moment to a full on rage. Rage then escalates into a physical altercation or an episode of self harm.
Keeping the peace in this type of relationship can be downright tricky. Here are some tips on what NOT to do:
- Don’t try to reason with a woman on fire. As the anger flares, the inability for you to calm her down or speak rationally with her is nearly impossible.
- Don’t engage in the courtroom. Don’t allow the chaos she brings to pull you into a big fight. Fights will always escalate and nothing is resolved from this place.
- Don’t try to restrain her if she becomes physical. I find that most men feel helpless as they watch their wife throw valuables around the house. If you chose to restrain her from your own fear, she will escalate even more…and you are off to the races.
What CAN you do?
- Do try to catch your wife before she begins fully escalating. As you feel the tension rising, lean in and ask what is bothering her? If she can share her feelings in that moment, you may find that there is a bittersweet connection between the two of you if you become more aware of tension even when it is at a lower scale.
- Do try to slow down and be careful what you say. Most of the highly emotional women I have worked with suffer with PTSD. All it can take is one word which comes out as accusatory or argumentative, and you can be off to the races. Anger floods her and she becomes overwhelmed with emotions, and no longer able or willing to hear you.
- Iron clad boundaries must be implemented with your mate around her intolerable behavior. An example of this could be “If you choose to rage, I will leave the house for a few hours.” Follow through is absolutely critical for her to understand that you will not stand for this type of behavior, period!
- Do commit to only speaking to your wife from a calm, caring and respectful place. You can do your part to change this dance. I know all of this is A LOT of work, but if you challenge yourself to stay in a good place emotionally, she eventually will respond to your new way of approaching her.
If this sounds a lot like your marriage, we really can help. We see breakthroughs constantly in marriages which are highly emotional and volatile. With our intensive based model we see the dysfunctional patterns quickly and strive to create change in your relationship.
A huge part of my job at the Marriage Recovery Center is helping couples to set boundaries in their marriage. I find these couples have incredible success once there are limits set around dysfunctional behavior. Marriages are saved by implementing boundaries.
As you can tell I am serious fan of boundaries. However, the downfall is realized when couples and individuals begin using their boundaries in harmful ways.
Here are some of the dysfunctional ways I see boundaries used:
Rigidity – this is an area I have been personally convicted in. Boundaries have changed my own marriage drastically. However, my husband found me to be too rigid. I missed the opportunity of extending grace or compassion in even the smallest offenses. This can cause real disconnection in marriage.
Pointing the finger – “you need to change” is often the clear message the receiver of the boundary hears from their mate. The mate empowered on setting boundaries can become ultra focused on the problems in the marriage lying solely on his/her partner.
Conditional love – spouses can be made to feel that if and only if you meet all the conditions of the boundary, then you will be loved and accepted. This can feel hopeless and overwhelming to the partner living under this conditional love and acceptance.
Selfishness – boundaries can allow a person to become too focused on their own needs. In this selfishness they forget that their partner still has real needs that must be met while change is occurring and boundaries are being honored.
Essentially, when boundaries become rigid, self serving and conditional both partners end up feeling alone and disconnected.
Boundaries are really meant to pull a couple closer together due to the safety it creates when honored.
Here are some ways to implement boundaries and still be focused on connecting in a healthy relationship.
Show compassion – boundaries must be implemented and enforced with love and compassion. Communicate clearly that the goal is these boundaries are to create a healthy relationship that will grow and be mutually fulfilling.
Fight for your marriage – boundaries should not divide you and your mate. So don’t let them. Fight for a healthy marriage. Let your mate know that you are FOR them and your marriage. Show this in your actions by moving towards your mate while still enforcing your boundaries.
Concern for your mate’s needs – become aware of what your spouse’s needs are. How does he/she feel loved? Be mindful of meeting their “love” needs daily to balance the weight of the boundaries. If your spouse feels loved and cared for, honoring your boundaries will be much easier for him or her to do.
Unconditional love – consistent love is key for your mate to feel reassured of your feelings and commitment. As long as there is physical and emotional safety you can even extend a hug, touch, a kiss in the midst of conflict to break through the barrier of pride and disconnection.
I encourage you that boundaries do NOT need to be mean and rigid. If you balance being firm about your boundaries with the goal of health for your marriage, with compassion, selflessness and love. Your marriage will grow to be incredibly joyful and fulfilling.
If you and your mate become stuck in the rigidness, blame and downright disconnection, then we can help! The Marriage Recovery Center offers phone, Skype or intensive marriage counseling at our retreat center on the Puget Sound. Feel free to contact Teri at Teri@MarriageRecoveryCenter.com
I always thought I had a normal marriage. I was well aware that I was not living in marital bliss, but growing up with a single mother I did not see a good example of a healthy marriage. It wasn’t until friends began making comments about how my husband spoke to me, or would constantly question me on why my husband was always working and never spending time with my girls and me.
Their questioning really woke me up and after much research, I realized that my marriage was far from normal. After the shock wore off from this new discovery, I began to see the extent of the dysfunction that I was tolerating day in or day out. I learned that I was a tried and true PLEASER!!
To be a pleaser means that we become so incredibly focused on making others happy, either because we are scared of losing that person or concerned about them getting angry with us. Unfortunately, pleasing others is often at a great sacrifice to us and our needs. When we give in to others constantly without having our needs met as well, it keeps us in complete turmoil as well as feeling powerless. This powerlessness stems from giving up our personal power.
In marriage, we can also feel powerless when boundaries are set with our mate and then violated by the one we love. I work with many many clients who tend to just give up when their boundaries are violated. Unfortunately, new boundaries WILL be violated especially by a mate who has lived a boundaryless life. This can become destructive when we fall into self-pity which tells us that we are not valuable enough to have our boundaries respected and honored. Giving up on our needs and boundaries enable others to continue making bad choices without any accountability.
Unfortunately, life for the pleaser who lives without boundaries and a clear voice is chaotic and stressful. Eventually after years of sacrificing to please our mate, we lose ourselves completely.
Bottom line…without boundaries, conviction and a strong, clear voice, change never in your marriage will never occur! However, there are steps we can take to create change.
- Speak from our conviction – often in our gut we know what we need and what we really really want. If these convictions are clear to you, then you must stand firm in them and become unshakable. Take a few minutes today to sit down and tune into your gut. What is important to you? What must you have in your life and your relationships?
- Intolerable behavior must have boundaries – Now that you know your convictions, you may be able to determine your intolerables…essentially behavior that you cannot tolerate another moment. Put boundaries around this behavior. “If you choose to continue drinking excessively, I will not be able to continue in this relationship.”
- Consequences must be enforced for boundaries violated – The most difficult part of implementing boundaries is that real consequences must be enforced if our loved one choses to violate it. If consequences are not consistently imposed, the violator may not take us seriously. If we say that we have to take a break from our spouse when a boundary is bulldozed, then we need to separate until our loved one shows that they are serious about change.
- Seek help – If the dysfunction in your marriage continues to occur, then seeking help to change these patterns is critical. A therapist can help highlight the areas that are destructive and can coach you in how to make changes.
At the Marriage Recovery Center, we can help! We offer three day marriage intensives to help you and your mate identify the core issues in your marriage.