Why is it that so often couples come into my office, there marriage a wreck, without a clue about what to do about it? They are totally lost, hopeless and helpless with regards to what direction to go. “How did we get like this?” is a very common phrase that echoes off the walls of my office. My question for them,“ Why did you wait so long to address this situation?”
Marriages do not dissolve overnight. Generally it takes an extended period of frustration to erode the foundation of a marital commitment. Why the procrastination? Let me share a little allegory that might give insight into the consequences of poor decision-making…
Once upon a time there was a man. This man was enjoying a 3D movie in the privacy of his home theater. Needless to say, the room was darkened as the glare from the movie screen lite up the room. Suddenly, there was the sound of the telephone coming from the other room. Annoyed, the man rose to his feet, crossed to the end of the couch, around a small padded leather child’s theater seat then past another, making his way to the screen in order to cross to the door leading out of the theater. He passed another child’s chair, maneuvered past the wooden, cinema poster decorated coffee table, finally opening the door and exiting the theater. In a hurry to get to the phone, he didn’t even bother to stop the video or turn on the house lights. In fact, in his rush it never occurred to him to remove the 3D glasses he was wearing. After all he was coming right back, no need to bother with that! As one would expect, by the time he reached the phone the ringing stopped. The call was obviously not important enough for the caller to leave a message. With a sigh of frustration, he turned back around a headed toward the theater…
Is anyone predicting a problem?
…rushing back into the theater our main character does not take into account the eye adjustment required when leaving a brightly-lite room into a darkened theater, to say nothing of the fact that, don’t forget, he is still wearing those 3D glasses he was too lazy to remove. He crosses the screen, blinded by the intense light from the projector, eyes that are still trying to adjust, and unable to see through the darkness before him, the poor sap bumps the coffee table at the front of the theater. This one action triggers a ballet of disaster! He tumbles forward, curves to the left, hoping to regain balance. He falls forward, bumping an end table next to a chair. To compensate, he pulls back, tripping on the chair which causes him to completely loose his footing. Mind you, he hasn’t hit the ground yet. The situation resembles a giant pinball machine; he is the ball that is bouncing from one furniture item to the next. Now it’s too late to stop the inevitable. Down he comes, crashing on the side arms of the child’s padded leather theater seat. THUD! As he quickly discovers, the padding does a rather poor job of covering the solid wood frame of the chair. Rolling off the chair he feels the pain as the end table crashes upon him, pelting him with the heavy ceramic coasters that adorned the table. CRASH! Lying on his back, a painful groan is the only thing that cuts through the dialog being spoken on the screen. Now he feels it appropriate to remove the glasses that in all the commotion, as if to mock him, refused to fall off on their own. The consequence of these little decisions included two broken ribs, several bruises and many weeks of painful recovery. I’m sure that most of you predicted nothing but bad possibilities in the previous scenario. I wish I had the moment the phone rang.
This is often how we conduct our marriages. Here are a few helpful tips to promote healing in your relationship:
Turn on the lights! We need to be realistic about the issues that face the marriage and stop ignoring reoccurring problems. They will NOT resolve themselves. You also need to accept responsibility for the areas in which YOU have done damage to your spouse.
Don’t be lazy, take off the 3D glasses! It is important to consider the negative consequences if the marriage continues down its current path. Try to imagine a clear image of what your marriage could be. It’s harder to regain your balance once bad behavior, negative marital attitudes and resentments have become a way of life.
Stop the movie for a minute and tend to the business at hand! Look toward the future. Don’t be so focused on the problems of the present that you forget to prioritize what your marriage CAN be if you put forth the effort. You’ll need to rebuild the relationship a step at a time, don’t think you can do it all at once, there are wound that need to heal.
Too many obstacles in a dark room create a nightmarish maze that is bound to trip you up! You need a clear path. Sometimes that takes a third party to help you both sift through the hindrances in your relationship. Clear out the junk! In many cases, small adjustment made sooner than later can eliminate a catastrophe down the road. A good counselor who shares your world view can help you through that process. Here is a great resource of counselors in your area:
You will also find many other resources that will help you to propel your marriage forward. Feel free to have a look around. Take the steps necessary to begin your journey to the marriage that you’ve always wanted, the marriage that you signed up for.
©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design
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