It's a fairly commonly held misconception about marriage that if two people love each other they will be able to have a successful marriage. It's a great theory, but has no bearing in reality. Marriage, like most any other important component of life, requires a certain level of knowledge and expertise to thrive. The very good news is that marriage preparation and enhancement opportunities abound in our society today. Our column today details one such opportunity in our local area.
It is written by Laura Marshall, a fairly recent transplant to our community, who comes with a wealth of experience and training in how to do marriage well. Her contact information comes at the end of the column. I urge you, no matter the condition of your marriage at present, to consider investing some time and money into making it all you hoped it would be when you first said "I do."
When love hurts
"Nobody said it was easy. It's such a shame for us to part. Nobody said it was easy. Nobody said it would be this hard. Oh, let's go back to the start." From "The Scientist" by Coldplay
Being in love is perhaps the best feeling in the world: joyous, passionate, fun, alive — when we are in love the whole world feels brighter and it seems as though anything and everything is possible. But when we hit a rough patch, when we stumble and fall, when romance fades and reality sets in, love can hurt. Sometimes the pain is excruciating.
When this happens it is easy to lash out and blame our partners: "Why don't you ever listen to me? You only think about yourself. Can't you get anything right? Don't you love me anymore?"
The problem, however, rarely lies in just one person. The truth is much more complex. We struggle with love because we all have histories, we all have past experiences, we all bring a complicated mixture of hopes and dreams and expectations to our relationships. In other words, we all bring baggage with us and that baggage has a habit of tripping us up. Some of the baggage comes from past relationships, and some of it comes from our childhoods. The suitcases we bring tend to carry a lot of old stuff: needs that didn't get met, wounds that haven't healed, past hurts and fears, and all the different ways we learned to protect ourselves that used to work, but now only make things worse.
On the surface, the things we tend to fight about may seem small: whose turn it is to do the dishes, how to handle an upset child, a tone of voice or an unreturned phone call, or whose family to spend Thanksgiving with. Underneath the surface issues however are usually what I call core issues. These are the heart of where the pain comes from. They emerge from deep unanswered questions: Am I lovable? Am I safe? Will my needs be met? Does my voice matter?
We tend to be attracted to people who are struggling with similar issues, but who have completely opposite ways of handling them. I yell, you give me the silent treatment. I cling, you withdraw. I take risks, you play it safe. I pursue, you flee. The more I hurt, the more I lash out and hurt you. The more I hurt you, the more you do the behaviors that hurt me. And suddenly the love that I thought was a dream come true has become a nightmare.
That's the bad news. The good news is that love doesn't have to hurt. And yes, it does take work to repair a damaged relationship, but if both of you are committed to each other and willing to really look at yourselves and do the hard work of changing behaviors that are hurtful, then you can turn things around, often very quickly.
"Because the heart is bigger than sorrow, and the heart is bigger than doubt. But the heart sometimes needs a little help to figure things out." — From "Wood River" Connie Kaldor
The Imago Getting the Love You Want Workshop provides a safe and supportive environment in which to begin the process of healing your relationship. The workshop starts with exploring who we are, what we need and the impact our past has had on how we behave in relationships. We look at our patterns, both good and bad, and explore where the difficulties come from. In the Getting the Love You Want workshop, participants learn easy to use, practical communication skills to help you resolve even the most difficult issues. The workshop teaches you how to communicate what is important without damaging the relationship, and how to listen to each other with respect and compassion, even when you disagree.
Next we look at what it takes to create a truly strong and resilient relationship and how to keep the romance, fun and compassion flowing as we live our daily, sometimes boring, often stressful lives. The final step is the creation of a relationship vision to guide us in creating the relationship of our dreams: in getting the love we have always wanted.
The next Farmington Getting the Love You Want Workshop will be held at the Sagebrush Center for Relationship Therapy on April 5 and 6. For more information on the workshop and our other services, or to register, you can visit the website at www.relationshipgarden.com.
Imago Getting the Love You Want workshop
You can also contact Laura by phone at 267-218-6227 or by email at Lauramsgarden@comcast.net. I have been somewhat aware of the Imago Getting the Love You Want workshop for several years, and while I have no direct experience, I do know that numerous couples have been helped by it over the years. Some might consider the cost to be a tad high, but compared to enduring or ending a troubled marriage, the cost is miniscule.
So let me encourage you to look further into this marriage transforming opportunity, get the information you need to make an educated decision and then decide if your marriage is worth the investment of time, energy and funds. My hope is you'll decide it is. You have relatively little to lose, but bountiful benefits to gain.
Ron Price is the co-founder and executive director of the Four Corners Coalition for Marriage & Family, a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to strengthening and equipping marriages and families in the Four Corners area. He can be reached at 505-327-7870.