Does your relationship need a little tweaking? Perhaps it needs a major overhaul?
Most people are drawn into counseling by a relationship that is not going the way they had planned. They want to “fix” the relationship. That is understandable. We all want a good, healthy, intimate relationship with another person. Once I get involved, however, I try to help couples see something different.
I cannot count the number of times I’ve had someone on my couch who is riddled with anxiety because they just had to know how the relationship was going to turn out. I always ask the question that drives people crazy. . . What would you be doing differently if you knew?
The sense of urgency surrounding the outcome tells me they are focused on the relationship and as soon as the anxiety is relieved, their recovery stops.
Marriage is supposed to make us grow, but most people think it is to make us feel good. When people are so focused on the outcome of the relationship, they are in it for the “feel good” and not for the growth. Sad. They don’t get it. The person may get a little bit of recovery work done during the crisis, but as soon as they are reunited and it is feeling good again, they will slowly go back to old habits and the relationship will begin its slow decline.
When relationship troubles come to a head, it is an opportunity to get healthier. There is something that YOU need to take away from whatever went down in your relationship. It is hard to look in the mirror and see our own stuff – defensiveness, control, inappropriate anger, addiction, obliviousness, counterdependence, codependence, inventorying our partner’s faults, denial, selfishness, pride – but these are all things we need to explore if we want to be healthy in the world, let alone in a relationship!
Most people have an idea of what kind of person they want to be while they are on this journey through life. If you are focused on being the best person that you can be, then let the troubles in the relationship reveal to you what you need to learn about yourself. If it kicks you into recovery, that means you’ve discovered some things about yourself that you need to change and you’re committed to making those changes (and more) – regardless of the outcome of the relationship! You can see a bigger picture than just the snapshot that ends with a romantic reuniting.
The relationship is not the destination! Getting healthier and constantly working towards being healthy and mature and being the best person you can be should be the goal. That improves your life all around you – with your family, your kids, your co-workers, your friends, as well as your intimate relationship!