For every couple, multiple things require attention; such as finances, children, extended family, friends, colleagues, social and sporting events, etc. These responsibilities and relationships pull people out of their intimate, marriage bubble. We all want to feel beholden to others for various reasons. We want to be liked and respected, and to achieve this we have to invest time in others to keep the relationships going. But sometimes these very obligations can create a divide between couples. For example, I have seen first hand how in second marriages, previous partners and stepchildren can do enormous harm to relationships.
"To put your marriage to the forefront is crucial. This marriage bubble must only have two people in it. While it is true that children come high on a parent’s list of priorities, they cannot be in this bubble, because they often try to divide parents or side with one parent. "
Now, don’t misunderstand me and think I am saying that you should neglect your children or other interests in favour of spending all your time and energy with your partner. Rather, what I am saying is that by ensuring that your relationship is strong and healthy, you will have the core strength, both physically and emotionally – to pursue your other interests. For example, a strong partnership with your spouse allows you to discuss, implement, and monitor fair division of roles and responsibilities for kids. This can free up time and energy for you to pursue your hobbies, to catch up with friends and extended family, or to dedicate focus to your work. And you will feel like a team at all times.
I have conducted narrative marriage therapy with a couple who were torn between children and loyalty to ex-partners. Their situation was a real mess. However, by getting this couple to work as a team and to identify <name> all other interferences as 'the idiots', they went from turning on each other to viewing issues objectively. Each spouse switched mindset from the other party being the problem to the problem being an external thing. Shortly after therapy with me they got married. And they swear by this method and often refer me to new clients. ★★★★★ Couples Counselling Testimonial: "Ghita, thank you so much for what you have done for our family!" Mr & Mrs Lees (36 and 39), (Couples Counselling), Gold Coast.
Normal Problem Solving:
Partners or One Person Being the Problem = Defensiveness or Difficulties Examining the Issues
Creates Circular Arguments (come up over and over) and Kitchen-Sinking
Narrative Problem Solving:
Problem Externalised and objectified = Problem Overcome
Couples and Families Agree on One 'Story' and Move on
Subsequently, when people don’t feel torn or under attack by their spouses, a lot of the ‘mental pressure’ is removed. It is easier to focus on solutions when you don’t think that you are the problem to be worked on. Also, everyone has a level of loyalty and protection around their children or family of origin, but if people can objectively see where the problem lies or who it is with, it is easier to stand back and observe how to fix or repair issues rather than to get defensive. When both parties feel heard, supported, and loved it makes your partnership stronger and improves intimacy. You will know that you can have the confidence and comfort to pursue other interests knowing that you have the unconditional love and support of your spouse to fall back on. If you are struggling to balance your many priorities or are in a second marriage, or your partner has children from another marriage, Narrative Marriage Therapy is for you. In just one session, you can start taking meaningful steps towards a ‘team’ based union. Call me for a FREE 10-minute chat on 0439 888 070.