Love never fails when two people are committed to the relationship. In the “Sound Relationship House,” created by the Gottman Institute, you will see that Trust and Commitment are the pillars that hold up the foundation of the house, wherein the seven principles for making a relationship work (the latter part of this sentence is the title of Dr. John Gottman’s best selling book, only with the word marriage in lieu of relationship) lie within. When either of these two are fractured the partnership “can” fall apart but does not have to. In order for the couple to continue being together they have to revisit the conflict and then repair so that they can then rebuild what they have together. Not returning to the same relationship but to a much stronger and more aware partnership.
This is what I tell couples whenever they ask “Can this partnership be saved?” Sometimes the relationship is on its last legs and ego is stronger than love. When this happens, no, it cannot be – although this is not a hard and fast rule. If a couple is prepared, even then, to awaken to a new consciousness toward each other, than yes, we can work on the ego. If not, the couple has come into counseling simply to have closure.
What is a healthy relationship? This is stated in the above photo and it is a verse found in the Bible. You don’t need to be a Christian to adhere to the tenets of this statement. If two people come together with the same values that they wish to be in a healthy relationship and believe this means to have mutual trust, respect, loyalty, commitment, love, healthy boundaries, and other terms they deem meaningful to each other, they can weather any storm.
Conflict is necessary in a relationship as this challenges the couple to grow. Many times when people face a challenge, they run away. This has to do with past wounds that they “react” to rather than “respond” to in the here and now. Often couples fall asleep at the wheel after falling into a routine. The conflict shakes them up and forces them to re-evaluate their relationship. The challenge is giving you an opportunity. It is saying “It is time for you to look back at what you have built and decide if you like what is going on.”
Challenges that keep couples from moving forward (or the ego) are a partner who 1. Lacks self-awareness; 2. Has no empathy for the other or does not validate their concerns; 3. A sense of entitlement: I am smarter, better at, know what is going on here, or something along these lines that they don’t feel a need to listen.; 4. Does not respect boundaries. These type of partners are not people you want to share a home with because they are not in love with you and do not wish to have a relationship with anyone but themselves. This type of couple may benefit from a Schema Therapist. If that particular partner would be willing to consider this. Often they will not. They may say “it is your fault; not mine.”
Other challenges that keep a couple from moving forward are a partner who is addicted, has mental illness or trauma mental health injuries. This person then needs to go to treatment for these issues first. Couples counseling is not healthy when one partner is unwell emotionally. In regard to domestic violence, couples counseling is not safe. Other therapists may feel differently about these things, however, and it is always best to consult with the person you are considering being in the room with.
Healthy relationships are really not that hard to be in. It is impatience and ego that causes the boat to capsize. The best way to keep the partnership in check is to do a “State of the Union” weekly and you can look this exercise up through the Gottman Institute. When couples pay attention by talking to each other, specifically about the relationship, this keeps them from falling asleep at the wheel. When a partner is not open to couples exercises, they simply are not committed to the relationship values. Another sad reality check.
We all want to be loved. When a break-up occurs, it is easy for the one who has been left to struggle to make it right. To want to fix, to want to repair, to want to seek change. Sometimes this is possible if, again, that person who ended is committed to repair. If not, there is no magic wand to cure what ales your aching heart. However, honoring the pain that comes from this ending by allowing it in and taking the journey – will awaken your own consciousness and help you to find that someone who really will love you. Love does not fail, it is a lack of commitment to values toward each other that causes the decline.
What do you have?