Sadly, many have waited to come in for so long that arguments, hurtful events, affairs may have caused so much damage that repairing the marriage is at best very difficult, maybe even impossible?
The first decision is, 100% work toward reconciliation, or part ways with dignity?
Compared to a disease, like say, cancer, the disease is at stage 3 or 4…likely terminal.
Even then, once the couple decides separation is best, we work toward the most respectful and amicable separation protecting as much dignity as we can for the couple and for any children in the family who are also so impacted.
In The Road Less Traveled, Dr. Scott Peck starts the book with: “Life is Difficult” A real page-turner, right? This book in the 70s was one of the most read and thought about books in the 20th Century.
To start with, the word “marriage” is a blacksmithing term.
In the day when weapons or farm implements were made by the village blacksmith two pure and whole metals, (remember the Periodic chart in chemistry class?), were blended by putting them together in a white-hot fire, almost to the melting point, then cooled and hammered into the shapes and purposes for which the weapon or farm tool would be used.
A small amount of each 100% pure and whole part of both metals will melt, leak, and be “forged” together, and…if they stayed together, they were considered “married.”
Imagine the time, effort, care, and knowledge of how metals relate to one another. This must have taken to make a plow with one metal for handles, another metal that made the tines so that a farmer could count it being a successful marriage!
The need to forge a successful marriage
If life/marriage is difficult, then why would we not get the knowledge and information needed to forge a successful marriage?
Daily, in my sessions, I hear “like my mom” or “like my dad” or “in my family, we did things this way, so I do too.”
This happens because we have watched our family of origin and formed beliefs about how to be in a relationship by the main model we have had for the 18 or more years we are being raised in our family of origin.
We are copycat beings; we often go on automatic pilot, wonder why others do not do things the “right way,” and, for most of us, our family of origin did not model how to resolve differences.
To “forge” a successful marriage, the white-hot fires, hammerings are the place where the real work is done to find win-win solutions to the often minor things we spend vicious cycles of time arguing about in our most important relationships.
And…our children are watching and will copy what they see in their futures.
So, now we have two pure and whole people trying to get “other” to see it “my way,” which, of course, is the “right way.”
Therapists working to help forge successful marriages spend most of their time helping couples learn the strategies to maintain healthy relationships and see many ways that life could be processed, to offer each other love, shared power or control, freedom, and, most importantly, fun.
When couples come to me, of the marriage vows most marriage ceremonies incorporate into the promises, the one that is no longer felt or followed is to “honor and cherish” one another.
We do not “fall in love,” we climb rung by rung, hot fire and hammering by hammering. To be successful, like the blacksmith’s process, great care is put into the process for the “tool/relationship” to become a successful marriage where honor and cherishing are felt daily.
We felt this when we were dating, before “life” like how to spend time, money, how parenting, jobs, tasks all got in the way.
The key to a happy marriage is ‘NEVER STOP DATING!’ By this, I mean speak compliments often, when there are problems, work in respectful ways to find mutually agreed upon compromises.
Share thoughts and feelings respectfully out loud. What we think or feel can only be known through our words out loud.
So, forging a successful marriage takes two “blacksmiths” forging a win-win honoring and respectful bond for both parties in the relationship loving and being loved in a successful marriage.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
I am, as my website suggests, a gentle therapist with many years of experience as an educator in both public and private schools, over 25 years as a teacher and later school counselor. In 2003, I earned licensure in the state of NC as a clinician and worked part time in this capacity. In 2010, I retired from the school system and have practiced as a clinician from my home. I not only have professional experience, but more many years in life experience to share with my clients as a fellow journey mate as they navigate lifes challenges.
I believe that to every problem, there is at least one good solution, usually more than one. I use person centered approaches and reality therapy to seek and plan for forward steps to the presenting issue during each session together. Life is a series of transitions, often, my clients come to seek couples counseling.