It has now been shown that a healthy, life-long marriage has unique and significant value for individuals, families and communities.
Life-long commitment is hard to achieve. It is especially difficult in today’s throwaway, over-busy, consumer-oriented culture. Most of society’s expectations of us do not support us giving the time and attention that a good working partnership requires.
I am a champion of children’s needs and it is vital to state the obvious i.e. that children have an important stake in the health and endurance of their parents’ marriage.
I believe that the commitment we have made to a marriage brings obligations especially when a relationship is in trouble. At the difficult times it is important to honour the emotional work that is required to at least try to turn things around, before giving up. For example, saying “I am guessing it might be the same for you, but I am concerned about how unhappy I am feeling in this relationship right now”. I am feeling more and more emotional distance and anger between us. I really need to talk about this with you or find someone who can help us with that? Is that something we can do together?”
Often clients come when their relationship has been failing for a long time and many hurts have been incurred by both partners on each other. People will often doubt that they can get back the positive feelings that they once had for their partners. But I do see clients demonstrate the capacity to move past anxiety, distrust, and hostility and relate to each other in mature and healthy ways if they are consciously relating from their higher selves. In other words, where they call upon core values of love, compassion, faithfulness, and commitment to inform their approach, demeaner and communication with their partners in the very difficult moments to reassure them of their value, importance and need to be connected. This is what breaks down the negative cycles that build up between partners and destroy marriages.
Restoring a marriage must not come at the expense of one of the partners. Love and fairness must go hand in hand according to the preferences and needs of each individual couple.
The key is whether both spouses want to restore the marriage to health. This is why discernment counselling is so important. This short-term process can help clarify the different issues for both partners to the point of each one (and each other) understanding more fully what they want and why.
The great news is that when both spouses devote themselves fully and with proper help to restoring their marriage to health, they can usually make it!
Sue Johnson, Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships