Lee Kaufman from the Marriage Recovery Center describes the learning process, the importance of patience in marriage and giving your spouse time and patience as they work toward change.
The Importance of Patience in Marriage
Learning the Art of Patience in the Journey of Love
In 1991, George Leonard penned a book that forever changed our understanding of the learning process. Aptly titled “Mastery,” Leonard’s work delved into the science behind how we acquire new skills and knowledge.
Surprisingly, his insights apply not only to traditional learning endeavors like playing the violin or mastering the art of driving but also to the intricate dance of becoming a better spouse through improved communication, compassion, empathy, and other vital soft skills.
While we often view learning as a linear progression, Leonard’s research illuminated a different reality – one characterized by prolonged plateaus, intermittent skill enhancements, occasional setbacks, and the slow, often unpredictable, journey of self-improvement.
Understanding the Process of Learning
Lee Kaufman, a professional working with a Marriage Recovery Center, shares an insightful story that underscores the importance of patience in the context of marriage. He recounts an email from a wife who expressed concern that her husband, currently undergoing therapy, appeared to be regressing into old habits. While Kaufman empathizes with her worry, he underscores the need for a deeper comprehension of the learning process, one that can empower partners to provide the support necessary for personal growth and the strengthening of relationships.
The husband in question is 69 years old, implying nearly seven decades of habits, behaviors, and experiences that have shaped his identity. For him to integrate new ideas and healthier habits, it’s crucial to recognize that this transformation won’t occur overnight, in a week, or even within a few months. It’s a long and winding journey towards becoming a better version of himself for his sake and, ultimately, for his spouse.
Four Key Ideas to Remember
- Learning Isn’t Linear: As illustrated by Leonard’s research, the learning curve is more like a series of plateaus, with intermittent bursts of growth. Understanding that progress isn’t always visible can alleviate frustration.
- Learning Slowly Allows for Depth: Patience enables individuals to delve deeply into the learning process, noticing nuances and subtleties that a rushed approach might overlook.
- Investment in Change: When one invests time and effort in self-improvement, it reflects a genuine desire for change. The pace of change may not align with expectations, but the commitment to the journey is a powerful statement in itself.
- Backsliding Is Natural: Mistakes and regressions are inherent to the learning process. Everyone experiences them when trying to incorporate new habits and skills.
Focusing on the Positives
While it’s easy to get caught up in the small missteps and mistakes along the way, it’s equally important to celebrate the positives. Acknowledge the progress your partner is making, no matter how small it may seem. Remember that the journey is characterized by both peaks and valleys, and even in the most challenging moments, growth can still be occurring beneath the surface.
Questions to Reflect Upon
As the partner, consider the following questions:
- Can You Allow Your Partner Their Process?: Resist the urge to micromanage your spouse’s journey of self-improvement. Give them the space to work with their therapist, engage in journaling, and test new ideas, even if it means occasional setbacks.
- Do You Recognize Their Involvement as a Statement?: Your partner’s active engagement in the process signifies their commitment to change. Their efforts, including attending therapy sessions and doing homework, are powerful indicators of their desire for growth.
- Can You Provide Unconditional Encouragement and Support?: Especially during times of struggle, your unwavering love and support become paramount. Let your partner know that they have your backing throughout their journey, regardless of the setbacks they encounter.
At the Marriage Recovery Center, the focus is on identifying and addressing unhealthy relationship patterns while fostering the integration of healthier ones. However, they emphasize that partners must play a vital role in this process by allowing change to unfold naturally, without imposing unrealistic timelines or expectations.
By practicing patience and offering unconditional support, partners can become invaluable allies in the journey towards healthier, happier, and more fulfilling marriages. In return, they may find themselves pleasantly surprised by the transformations that occur over time. After all, true mastery in marriage, like any other endeavor, often requires the art of patience.
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.