When you have done the best you can, and your relationship seems to be falling apart at the seams, what other possibilities exist? What can you do when you have difficulty sustaining intimacy in your relationship?
What options are available when the very foundation of trust is shaken by an indiscriminate act of infidelity? How can you fix things when one love partner outgrows the need for dependence and begins to noticeably relish the freedom that their new-found independence offers?
When you no longer feel exclusively special to each other; when you no longer feel recognized by the other or wanted or appreciated or perhaps you feel taken for granted, what can you do?
When the heart no longer beats faster in anticipation of the sexual intimacy you once shared, what then? How can you mend a broken heart?
Most people resist change in their relationship until they are backed against the wall; until they feel that there is nothing else they can do.
Change takes courage. It means taking responsibility for your relationship and being brave enough to take that first step toward change while you are still afraid.
Change takes effort. You must do something different. Sometimes it is important to accept the fact that you may not be able to do it all by yourself or even with your love partner. If you need help, ask for it.
“To speak of how others should change, in order to heal our world of its growing unkindness, without first looking into ourselves to see where we are a part of this pain, is worse than hypocrisy. The voice of this deluded self finds it easier to condemn the darkness spreading out from its own feet than to embrace the Light that lives just above it: a Light that alone is capable of revealing and healing the source of this secret rift in the soul. – Guy Finley“
Love partnerships die of neglect. Money, sex, and family problems are only symptoms, they are not the cause. If we value our relationships, we must learn that they require lots of love, attention to detail, time, dedication and continued maintenance.
The changes that are required to maintain an intimate and healthy love relationship are often bigger than both love partners can manage by themselves. When there is a desire to move through the rough spots that all love relationships inevitably experience; when love is present, and the desire for change is mutual, it is time to talk about working things out. . . together.
There are many ways to help us heal the hurt. Study after study has shown that when love partners have difficulties, first they consult their friends and relatives and the most common professional they approach is their medical doctor and in some cases, their spiritual leader.
It is unfortunate that many people often associate the seeking of the services of a professional marriage and family therapist as an admission of failure. So what? There is no shame in taking care of yourself. Therapy is one of the choices. It can make clear the way to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
So, you can now make a choice. To sit around, knowing there is a problem and not doing anything about it can be as painful as staying in an unhealthy love relationship because you are afraid of being alone again.
Studies say women are more likely to seek counseling than men. I am a man, so I can say this. Sometimes men are jerks! We often feel that we must maintain our ego-centered macho image by refusing to admit we may need help. What nonsense! Men are human beings, too. Human beings have problems. Some men often view seeking help as a weakness. What a crock!
To seek the advice of a professional when things are falling apart can only be a sign of strength. We use that same argument to justify why people should use our own professional services in our everyday work, yet we are too afraid or too stubborn to admit that we need help. We feel that we are “man enough” to work it out by ourselves.
Face it, men. We need help. All we can get!
We are afraid. We are afraid of what it will look like to our friends if they discover we are having relationship problems. We are men. We are supposed to be in control of things. Who says?
We are often more afraid of what people will think, than how much we value our relationship with the one we say we love. To me, that’s stupidity in action.
We must first learn to acknowledge that we have a problem, then do whatever is consistent with our commitments to our relationship. A problem is anything that gets in the way of our commitments.
When you place a high value on your relationship; when you really love each other, seldom can any problem ever be too difficult to solve. Both love partners, however, must be willing to do whatever it takes. They must have a similar level of commitment to the recovery process.
To go to a therapist or a relationship coach OR watch the slow, agonizing death of your relationship? That is the question. Successful relationships thrive on love. They do not self-correct. They must be worked on. Without love, your relationship weakens and dies.
When considering the option of therapy, some people are willing to put aside their preconceived notions about what works and what doesn’t work. They love each other and can’t seem to work things out by themselves so they finally come to the decision that to delay seeking assistance may cause irreparable damage to the relationship. That’s smart!
They make a choice to care less what others think and with unconditional love as their goal, focus on what must be done. They are able to break through their own self-imposed barriers and look for the opportunity that psychoanalysis and psychotherapy may offer.
Occasionally, self-discovery needs a boost. Therapists and relationship coaches are excellent boosters. The good ones boost with questions that become guides to self-awareness, a commitment to personal integrity, self-confidence and overall self-discovery. Perhaps this is the very best way to become aware of what you didn’t know you didn’t know. This may be the number one reason to consider therapy. What do you have to lose? It may be a better choice than what you are now doing, which may be nothing, which as you know, isn’t working!
So you have decided to go to therapy? Good decision. You must now decide to participate in therapy. Notice. I said participate. If you refuse to participate in therapy like you may have refused to fully participate in your relationship, you will find you will get the same results you now have in your relationship. Not fully participating does not work.
When you trust your heart, any decision you make to participate in therapy will be okay. Your heart only speaks the Truth. That’s one less thing you have to worry about. Any decision you make with your heart will always be in your best interest. You can count on it!
You must learn to distinguish between head-talk and heart-talk. You will want to only heed the voice of the heart. Some call it intuition. Some call it the voice of God. Call it whatever you want. Only learn to recognize Its voice.
Refuse to listen to your head feeding you its varied menu of conversations of the past. They are designed to keep you somewhere in the past. Isn’t that what you are now running from? There is no future in the past. The future love relationship you have dreamed about is before you and cannot be driven to advance itself by a daily diet of messages from the past.
It is my opinion that you can best be served by going to therapy or relationship coaching for questions, not answers. You may get a few fresh ideas or new perspectives (you can call them answers if you choose), but generally speaking, a relationship coach or therapist who asks a lot of questions will soon help you get back on track. And it is only my opinion.
Other forms of therapy also have redeeming value and work equally as well in most cases. However, ‘what’s good for the goose is good for the gander’ may not always be the truth. Different strokes were invented for different folks.
The answer is most often found in the question. A good therapist or coach will ask many questions. Until you are ready to make some changes you may not be ready to deal with what you know needs to be done. It may also be difficult to understand that you already know the answers.
When you are in the midst of worry, pain and the fear of separation, it is tough to focus on the answers you already know. You allow fear to keep you from mustering up the courage necessary to face the truth of what must be done. The carefully designed questions of a skilled therapist can assist you in uncovering the answers you didn’t know you knew.
When you discover answers to a therapist’s questions given from a professional perspective and your answers are grounded in a commitment to personal integrity, you experience a sense of personal achievement and a feeling of self-confidence. You have experienced a breakthrough of the heart! It’s that voice we were talking about earlier.
When you go to therapy only to appease your love partner or when you view therapy as a waste of time or just another phase in the relationship that will pass with time, you may be wasting your time and your money. It’s like taking a step in the right direction for all the wrong reasons. You are only fooling yourself.
Further, you may find that your lover will choose therapy in spite of you. They may discover the answers they were looking for. Because of your resistance to self-discovery you may feel left out in the cold. You may find yourself out-distanced by your love partner’s own personal recovery and may experience the feeling of being left behind. The danger of actually being left behind could become a reality.
If, for any reason, going to therapy together is not possible, begin the journey alone. It is far better to be on this path alone, than to hold back because your love partner refuses to go, and as a result, you delay making a connection with the information that could assist you in the healing of an often painful and unhealthy relationship. Making YOU your number one priority in this scenario is a healthy choice.
Therapy and writing have assisted me in working through the denial, loneliness, guilt, rejection, grief and anger. I highly recommend Bruce Fisher’s book, “Rebuilding When Your Relationship Ends,” to assist in this process.
Stepping into the therapy arena must be done with love and an attitude of expectancy for positive results. Having an open mind is a good idea. When you love someone and have a desire to work things out, it is essential to put your ego aside and do what must be done.
Therapists are trained to assist you in moving beyond the anger, resentment and criticism to acceptance, forgiveness, understanding and the fulfillment of mutual needs. Therapists have no magic answers, only helpful questions and a few suggestions offered as possibilities for choices. They can assist you by asking questions that lead you to discover your own answers that point out how these needs can mutually be met.
In therapy, a wise counselor will not take sides with either love partner. They are not there to judge or give advice, but rather to help identify the problems and initiate an inquiry that both sides can participate in to reach their own healthy conclusions.
Therapy can effectively move you through the paralysis that problems with money, sex, family issues and many other issues cause in a relationship when you let them. You will be encouraged to listen to what your love partner has to say; to really listen. This is not a time to continue arguing about; it is a time to listen for what’s missing in the relationship.
Obviously, both love partners have differing opinions. Part of the therapist’s task is to help you find the common ground from which you both can begin to rebuild or repair your love relationship. Both love partners must be motivated to preserve the relationship.
Enrolling in therapy to seek questions re-enrolls you in your love relationship. It requires getting back to the basics. You get active in the relationship with yourself. You become excited about what you are learning about you and who you are becoming. For me, this style of therapy suggests that we already know what must be done and we have but to discover this Truth through individual inquiry. A skilled therapist or relationship coach can assist you in getting to the heart of the matter. I value this lofty ideal for the Truth it is. It will always set you free. . . often in more ways than one.
Therapy personal relationship coaching promotes lasting personal development. You remember most and cherish most dearly that which you discover on your own. You begin to see some possibilities. You discover a zest for living. You become excited about life once again! Therapy is truly an adventure in self-discovery. Achieving this state takes diligent effort, a commitment to be your best and a strong belief in the benefits of the desired results, both to you and to your love partner.
You feel the need to share your personal discovery with anyone who will listen. . . perhaps even your love partner. Isn’t that a novel idea? It’s like giving away love as fast as you receive it. What you give has a profound effect on what you receive.
Putting more love into the relationship, in most cases, will create more love in return. Love is the answer to all questions. I have discovered that my universe works best when I acknowledge and am grateful for the Truth of this Divine idea.
Egos aside, a common excuse for not going to a professional therapist is money. Some insurance policies will cover part, if not all, of your investment in therapy. If you have no insurance, find a way! Therapy doesn’t cost. . . it pays. To obtain the rewards of therapy may require sacrifice. Giving up something in favor of having your relationship work demonstrates your commitment to it.
Healing and growth take time. Remember, infants want things now. Mature love partners can wait. Building healthy love relationships is a never-ending process. Don’t rush things. Patience is required.
Another thought. Often counseling is considered as a last resort. After talking with friends, relatives, a medical doctor or spiritual leader, and sometimes anyone who will listen, many often feel they are at the end of the proverbial rope. There is nowhere to turn. They come to therapy after exhausting all hope.
In some cases they come to therapy to validate their own idea that they truly may be incompatible. The unfortunate thing is, if you wait until you reach this point, it could be too late. It is rarely too late if the commitment to spiritual and personal growth is present.
Preventative maintenance is also a good idea. This can serve as a wonderful tool for supporting love partners in a healthy love relationship. It is wise to review and assess your relationship at regular intervals.
Attend workshops and seminars. Read books designed to have love partners working together to foster the restoration of integrity in love relationships, unconditional love, better understanding, forgiveness, acceptance and all of the values we cherish as part of a healthy love relationship. We must consistently work together to change our past behavior.
Where do you go for good therapy? My suggestion is to call your local Mental Health Association. They can offer referrals based upon your needs and ability to pay. Now, now, be careful that you don’t become turned off by the words mental health. The truth is, everyone is a little crazy anyway! We are all crazy about different things at different levels.
Acknowledge your responsibility in the matter and be wise; stretch yourself. Seek assistance. Now is the time to put aside what you think and do something. Every love relationship has difficulties at various levels. That’s right. Every relationship.
Men and women are different. With so many variables in a relationship, it is a wonder that men and women get along as well as they do.
So, if you want to work things out, dump your preconceived ideas about what people will think or what your love partner will think if you choose to pursue therapy on your own. They are going to think whatever they think and there isn’t anything that you can do about it. Besides, it doesn’t matter what they think. It’s your problem. You must do what you must do. At least, you will be taking a brave step forward; a step that, with time, can dissolve the obstacles that are currently preventing you from the healthy love relationship you so richly deserve.
Just do it!
NOTE: It’s time to make a choice.
Choice is your greatest gift. If you need help… ask for it. If not, prove it!
Larry James is available for personal relationship coaching (by telephone) for high functioning singles and married couples; people who are committed to “doing” whatever it takes to make their relationships work.
Go to our Personal Relationship Coaching page for references and more details.
Remember: “Relationships are something that must be worked on ALL THE TIME, not only when they are broken and need to be fixed.”
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Copyright © 2010 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” Larry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and an award winning nondenominational Wedding Officiant. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere. Something NEW about relationships is posted every 4th day on this Relationships BLOG.
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