I've asked my friend and colleague Rick Quevedo to write this week's column for me. Rick is the co-founder and chief executive officer of the Desert View Family Counseling, a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to improving the quality of life and well-being of individuals and families in our community.
Rick and Marianne Crom, a therapist on staff at Desert View, will be my guests on TWOgether as ONE tomorrow at 6 p.m. on 107.1FM. They will be sharing valuable information about marital challenges and solutions. I hope you can join us then, and I hope you enjoy Rick's article today.
Don't wait to act
Did you ever wonder why some people find that perfect mate to marry; they do so and enjoy their marriage for a lifetime? On the other hand, some marry a mate who is not the right person for them and their marriage turns into years of relationship struggles. This article today is about loving the mate you have and repairing or "tuning up" your marriage when necessary.
So what if you and your spouse are having problems? What if it feels like it cannot be fixed? Anyone who has been married knows there will be ups and downs in their marriage. It's how we deal with these situations that will make a difference. Do we address them as a "team" and as "one" or do we each face them in our own way? Sometimes, we can't make that reconciliation on our own, and therefore we stay disconnected. Could this perhaps be time for marriage counseling?
Divorces not only brings the separation of two people, but a division of assets and complete brokenness, especially if there are children involved. While divorce will indeed solve some problems, many find out too late that it also creates many more -- and often more serious -- problems.
The truth is couples often wait too long before they seek help. This is the most common situation we see at Desert View Family Counseling. Sometimes, both spouses may not be ready to come in together. Maybe it starts with individual counseling for one, and as that spouse learns new tools and techniques, perhaps it will spark the sincere interest of the other spouse.
Marriage counseling can break the dysfunctional patterns that are keeping your marriage from growing. Prepare yourself for hard work, though. You wouldn't use a Band-Aid for a large wound; your marriage should be no different. Protect your heart and ask your spouse to protect his or her heart as well. If you are a person of faith, pray for protection over your marriage.
Come out of denial; a quote we use here in the office is "Denial: Don't Even Know I Am Lying" to myself. You and your spouse need to name the problem, something to identify before you can begin to deal with it.
Complaining about a bad marriage is not the answer either. It takes two to break the relationship, and it will take two to fix it.
Desert View has been providing services in our community since 1995. Formerly being in Aztec until the late '90s, our programs are family-focused, providing families with the resources they need to create and maintain a stable home. Our services are designed to provide families with the tools and support they need to deal with their own circumstances. In addition, we do offer parenting classes. Most of our services are low to no cost.
Initially, couples will see a therapist for a few sessions. I really would like to emphasize the intensity of this commitment. It took years to develop the dysfunction, it will take a while to fix it. Prepare to do the work.
Here at Desert View we use the three C's as a tool for any healthy relationship. Be consistent and say what you mean and mean what you say. Over time, being inconsistent with your communication with your spouse can lead to mistrust. Show your spouse you are serious and earn your credibility back.
Another C we use is be clear. If you want to be heard and heard correctly, make sure the message you are sending is clear. Ask yourself, "Do I want to be simply heard or really understood?" At home with my 18-year-old son, we always say, "Use your words," and what we mean by that is be clear with what you're trying to say so others can understand.
The third C is to remember to be courteous, not cruel. Remove all name calling and judgment when arguments get heated. That kind of language and tone immediately puts the other person on the defense. In these situations, you should consider giving yourself and your spouse a "cool down period" even if that means removing yourself from the situation temporarily.
No one ever said marriage is easy, but it sure can be worth the effort. My grandparents have been married 74 years, and I still love to hear their stories of how they were victorious over their struggles because they hung in there together.
I'm back, and I thank Rick for his helpful thoughts. I also join him in encouraging you to consider seeking help if your marriage has gotten beyond your ability to fix it on your own. There is no shame in this, or at least there certainly should not be. None of have all the answers to life's challenges and we can all benefit from engaging with others to seek helpful solutions.
For more information on Desert View Family Counseling, you can call 505-326-7878 or visit Desert View's website at mydesertview.org.