A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by a colleague who challenged me with the following:
“If you could offer couples only one piece of advice or guidance on how to save their marriage, what would it be?”
As I was pondering upon this question, I had to pause for a moment because every couple is just as unique and individual as every person. No generic solutions would do much justice when it comes to relationship issues.
Though uniquely different, every couple evolves in their relationship as they endure various phases of life. It is not always easy to surmount those challenges which can sometimes result in a seemingly insoluble impasse.
In the course of my work with couples from all walks of life, I have discovered something that seems to be a recurring theme. Many couples do experience relational pain mostly because they are lacking ample knowledge about each other. Irrespective of the number of years they’ve been married or lived together, I am learning with my couples that there’s still a lot more to learn about each other as individuals and as couples.
There’s nothing more painful than not feeling heard, understood, or validated in an intimate relationship with someone we love and care about. Sometimes, familiarity begets apathy. The best antidote to growing callousness is to rekindle curiosity about each other. Surprisingly, many couples have not taken the time to get to know each other more deeply via proactively consistent efforts. More often than not, conflict emerges from not knowing completely which invariably leads to misunderstanding.
As we work together, we are jointly unraveling this shocking mystery. If and when couples are willing to invest necessary time and patience in allowing this process to unfold, a new possibility can transpire. What was once construed as irreconcilable differences could be turned into a transformative opportunity to learn and reconnect at a whole different level of empathy and understanding. This learning process alone can be truly eye-opening for many couples, inviting them to a new chapter of their relationship.
Separation or divorce is a trying experience, however smooth or positive. Its impact can be lifelong and often devastating. Before considering this route, every couple deserves a time to be more openly curious so as to explore novel prospects together.
It is my humble hope that couples may consider alternative perspectives and options prior to making any life-changing decisions.
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