August 28, 2015

You Never Marry the Right Person

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Doing couples counseling can be some of the most rewarding and exhilarating work I do as a Houston therapist, but sometimes it is also heart breaking stuff. By the time couples come in to see me, they usually have years of frustration, anger and resentment coursing through their veins. They may even view their partner more as adversary than ally. Life is incredibly lonely and conflictual when you can not find peace in your home and in your marriage.

But, if through therapy, couples can start to tear down the walls they have erected to guard their hearts, it is a beautiful thing to see the healing take place. I genuinely believe that marriage is one of the best places to heal all of the brokenness that world has thrown your way, but it requires consistent and often challenging work.

One of the biggest myths about marriage that poisons the well for couples is the idea that if you find the "right" partner, marriage will be smooth, natural, even easy. If you believe this, it is simple to see why couples assume that when marriage is difficult or even bitter, then maybe they married the wrong person. You may have felt this way along the line. "Did I make a mistake?" "Wouldn't my life be better without ____" Ultimately, I think marriage is not really about marrying the right person as much as it is about being the right person. Duke University ethics professor Stanley Hauerwas put it this way, "The primary challenge of marriage is learning how to love and car for the stranger to whom you find yourself married."

Theologian and pastor Tim Keller explores this idea in an article entitled, "You Never Marry The Right Person."  He points out that any two people who enter marriage are inherently broken and therefore are selfish by nature. He goes on to quote Dennis De Rougemont who says ,"Why should neurotic, selfish, immature people suddenly become angels when they fall in love....?"  Our expectations for marriage and for our partners are completely unrealistic. Ultimately, I think this is to our detriment.

When couples come in to see me and both of them want me to fix their partner, I know there is going to be a problem. If no one in the room recognizes that they are a problem, then we have nothing to work with. I do feel that some relationships are broken beyond repair. If you are married to a person who is abusive, for example, I am not suggesting that you stick around hoping that things get better. But for most of us, our relational problems are fixable.

Before you try fixing your partner, I recommend that you try to focus on yourself. Ask yourself, what are the things I am bringing into the relationship that are not helpful? Start working on those things first. As you experience transformation in yourself, you will be more stable and capable of working on your marriage. One step at a time, your marriage can be a place of healing and peace. As long as you live, your relationships will require cultivation and nourishment to flourish. I know working on your relationship may sound like a drag, but the alternative is a relationship that withers and dies before it has a chance to become something beautiful.

If you are struggling with pain or feeling stuck in your life, professional counseling can help. You can contact our Houston therapists by phone at 713 - 591 -3612, via email at nancy @ wilsoncounsleing. org or visit the Wilson Counseling website at www.wilsoncounseling.org  to find out more. Help is just a phone call away!

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