When couples come to marriage counseling, there is often one person desperately seeking change, while the other person doesn’t appear to have any sense of urgency about addressing the problems in the relationship.
It’s as if they are standing at the center of a blazing fire and they don’t understand the gravity of the situation or the danger all around them. Dr. Hawkins talks about how to create change in your marriage, which will not happen without focus and urgency.
How to Create Change in Your Marriage
Marriage is a journey, and like any journey, it has its ups and downs. Sometimes, the path takes unexpected turns, and you find yourself facing challenges that seem insurmountable. Imagine walking down a street, and you witness a scenario where a woman stands on her porch, urgently screaming, “Fire! Fire! Fire!” The husband, on the other hand, continues raking leaves in the front yard, seemingly unfazed by the urgency of the situation. This vivid metaphor paints a picture of the disconnect that can occur in many marriages when one partner feels the urgency for change, while the other remains complacent or unaware of the looming crisis.
Dr. David Hawkins, the director of the Marriage Recovery Center, specializes in helping couples navigate the complexities of marriage, including issues related to narcissism and emotional abuse. In this article, we’ll explore the concept of creating change in your marriage and why a shared sense of urgency is essential for healing and strengthening your relationship. We’ll break down the key elements required to foster this urgency and ignite positive change in your marriage.
The Urgency of Change
The story of the woman desperately shouting “Fire!” while her husband carries on with his yard work serves as a potent illustration of the disconnect that often plagues relationships. The woman in the story represents countless individuals who, in their own way, are sounding the alarm bells in their marriages. They want their partners to recognize the urgency of the situation and take action.
It’s important to clarify that seeking urgency in your marriage is not about assigning blame or taking sides. Instead, it’s about fostering a shared sense of responsibility and action to address the issues that threaten your relationship. Urgency is the fuel that powers change, and it’s a vital component in saving a marriage that’s in trouble.
The Challenge of Communication
One of the primary challenges in creating urgency for change in a marriage is effective communication. Often, one partner may be diligently seeking resources, such as books and videos, and trying to encourage the other to participate in the process. However, the response they receive is lukewarm, with promises to “get to it” or “read the book” that never materialize. This disconnect in communication can be frustrating and disheartening for the partner who feels the urgency.
In marriage counseling, it’s not uncommon to see one partner express the desire for the other to be urgent about their situation, and in response, they hear assurances that may lack conviction. The partner seeking change may want their spouse to read the books they’ve purchased or attend marriage counseling sessions promptly, but they’re met with delays and procrastination.
The Need for a Clear and Definite Plan
To bridge the gap between the partner seeking urgency and the one who appears complacent, a clear and definite plan for change is essential. This plan must outline the steps required to address the issues in the marriage and create a roadmap for healing and growth. A well-defined plan can help both partners understand the urgency of the situation and the concrete actions needed to save the relationship.
Accountability in Marriage
In addition to a clear plan, accountability is a crucial component of creating change in your marriage. Both partners must hold each other accountable for their respective roles in the process of healing and transformation. Accountability means acknowledging your part in the issues within the relationship and actively working to address them.
Marriage is a partnership, and like any partnership, it requires collaboration and shared responsibilities. When both partners take ownership of their actions and their contribution to the marriage’s challenges, it becomes easier to foster the sense of urgency required for meaningful change.
The Role of Change Agents
Dr. David Hawkins describes himself as a change agent, someone who actively facilitates and guides change in relationships. In a troubled marriage, change agents can be marriage counselors, therapists, or trusted individuals who provide guidance and support. They help couples understand the urgency of their situation and offer tools and strategies to navigate the path toward a healthier, more fulfilling partnership.
Fostering Urgency for Positive Change
Creating a sense of urgency for change in your marriage is a collaborative effort. Both partners must be willing to play their part, and this effort should be characterized by the following:
1. Open and Honest Communication
Effective communication is the foundation of any healthy relationship. Both partners should express their needs, concerns, and desires openly and honestly. Create a safe space where you can share your feelings and thoughts without judgment.
2. Define a Clear Path Forward
Sit down together and outline a specific plan for change. What are the issues that need to be addressed? What steps can you both take to work on them? Setting clear goals and objectives will provide a sense of direction and urgency.
3. Seek Professional Help
Sometimes, a qualified therapist or marriage counselor can be the catalyst for change. They can provide valuable insights, guidance, and tools to help you navigate the challenges in your marriage.
4. Set Milestones and Track Progress
To maintain a sense of urgency, it’s crucial to set milestones and regularly review your progress. Celebrate small victories and make adjustments as needed.
5. Cultivate Empathy and Understanding
Understanding each other’s perspectives is vital. Try to see things from your partner’s point of view, and encourage them to do the same. This fosters empathy and strengthens your emotional connection.
6. Be Patient and Persistent
Change takes time, and it’s essential to be patient with each other. Consistency and persistence are key. Understand that setbacks may occur, but they are part of the process.
7. Reinforce the Importance of the Relationship
Remind each other why your relationship is worth saving. Focus on the positive aspects of your partnership and the joy it can bring to your lives.
Creating change in your marriage requires a shared sense of urgency and a commitment to the process. The story of the woman urgently shouting “Fire!” serves as a powerful reminder that addressing the challenges in your marriage is critical. Both partners must actively participate, communicate openly, and hold each other accountable. With a clear plan, professional support, and a dedication to progress, you can navigate the path to a healthier and more fulfilling relationship. Remember, it’s never too late to rekindle the flame of love and connection in your marriage, as long as you both share a sense of urgency for positive change.
Also read: How Relational Stress Affects the Body
About Dr. Hawkins:
The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.
Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.
He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.
In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.