There are times when a relationship hits its lowest point. During these times, people wonder if the relationship can be saved. Since two people always get together at their common level of woundedness, here is what I say to the partner who has sought my help: As long as you choose to remain in this relationship, there are things for you to learn. Each partner contributes their 100% to the relationship. While it is often easy to see what your partner is doing that is harmful to the relationship, it is often difficult to see what you are doing. Yet until you learn about your part in this relationship system, you will take your own dysfunctional behavior with you into another relationship. It’s generally a waste of time – unless there is physical abuse – to leave a relationship before healing your own end of the system. The time to leave is when you have learned to make yourself happy regardless of what your mate is doing. When you learn to take 100% responsibility for your own feelings and needs, and if your partner is still behaving in ways that are unacceptable to you, then it ís time to leave. You need to discover how to respond to your partner in ways that are loving to yourself and that support your own joy and highest good.
When the partner who is available to counseling does his or her inner work, one of two things happen. Either the other partner likes what is happening and becomes more open, or the relationship becomes more distant and difficult. It is a 50-50 deal – half the time things get better and half the time they get worse. They need to be okay with either outcome. In fact, I encourage them to let go of the outcome and just be in the process of learning how to take loving care of themselves.
Let’s take some examples. Craig is unhappy in his marriage because his wife, Gloria, is often angry and judgmental toward him. Craig sees himself as the victim of Gloria’s unloving behavior, blaming her for his unhappiness. However, Craig is an equal part of the relationship system. He generally reacts to Gloria’s anger with compliance, giving himself up in his covert attempt to control Gloriaís anger. He believes that being a nice guy will control her feelings and behavior. So, while Gloria is attempting to overtly control Craig, Craig is attempting to covertly control Gloria. Until Craig starts to speak his truth rather than give himself up as his form of control, he will feel resentful and distant with Gloria. If he has the courage to take loving care of himself by speaking his total truth without blame or judgment, and take loving action for himself based on his truth, then either things will get better or they will get worse. The only way Craig will be able to be honest and take care of himself is if he is willing to lose Gloria rather than continue to lose himself.
Can this relationship be helped? Maybe. Do your own inner work and find out!
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Abi Apalara loves sharing insightful information that helps couples flourish in life and their marriage relationship. I have enjoyed both good marital pleasures and challenging times in my marriage. I came to realise, the points where I missed it, were areas I lacked information on how to.
Making it up along the way, only meant I was going the wrong way. Desperately seeking to get back into marital bliss, I started exploring and reading about those areas of challenge. I also reached out to counsellors and began to see what I was missing.
After a surprising move into relationship study, I have found peace of mind and happy with my marriage. I have authored the book Are you ready? Marriage expectation versus realty to share my experience and encourage men and women to work on their
marriages, by seeking knowledge and apply it to their marriage relationship.
My latest book, Are you ready? Marriage expectation versus reality focuses on discovering some of the unrealistic expectations we bring into a marriage. It comes with practical advice and a guide on how to get it right before and after getting married. You can also preorder the book here
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