ERP 094: 4 Reasons Why Creating Lasting Love Is So Difficult
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A while back, I received a question from a listener who was going through an extremely painful time with his wife. One of his greatest pains was she was pulling away, just as he was starting to learn how to be a better partner. He described trying to encourage her to belief in them and believe in their marriage. Yet the harder he tried, the further she would distance from him.
“Having listened to your podcast constantly and really trying to practice what I am learning in therapy I have, in some ways consciously and with effort and in some ways seemingly unconsciously, been changing my behavior/the way I talk, listen, and respond. The problem is that it seems as though I am the only one doing any work/making any effort. My wife will be the first to admit that she avoids confrontation at all costs. Is there something I or our therapist can say/do to help my wife realize that she is going to have to do some things that make her uncomfortable/things she doesn’t necessarily want to do because they are good for the healing of the marriage?”
We can’t control our partner.
As much as we would like to at times, we can’t choose how our partner will think, feel, and behave. Trying to fight with them or trying to convince them will probably only make things worse…like getting into the distancer-pursuer dynamic.
The beauty & the Risk
The beautiful and yet risky reality is we co-create relationship together in relationship. Both people participate in this process. If one person isn’t willing or isn’t interested, then it is almost impossible to move forward in a life-giving and sustainable way.
Will they come around?
Maybe. In my dissertation research, I found that sometimes when one partner started to grow and develop a growth orientation towards relationship, the other would later follow. However, this is not a guarantee. As we all know, the divorce statistics are still very high…50% of marriages end in divorce, and the divorce rate is even higher for second marriages.
Ellyn Bader and Peter Pearson have a developmental model of couplehood and they talk about 4 reasons why people get stuck in the process. Partners typically get stuck in the second stage, as they stagnate, break-up, or seek help.
(Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear my stories and examples to describe these points.)
4 Reasons Why Partners get Stuck in relationship:
1. We do not have the emotional strength.
- We don’t have the capacity (tolerance to deal with emotional upset). We label negative emotions as bad. We don’t know how to be with our pain or be with the pain of our partner.
- It feels too hard and we want to quit.
- Substance issues.
- Physical or mental health illness.
Resiliency research. “Ready For Anything” By Steven M. Southwick and Dennis S. Charney: Fast Facts: Armed against adversity:
- Ability to modulate and constructively harness the stress response – a capacity essential to both physical and mental health.
- Success can hinge on resilience. Setbacks are part of any endeavor, and those who react to them productively will make the most progress.
- A personal can boost his or her resilience. Strategies include reinterpreting negative events, enhancing positive emotions, becoming physically fit, accepting challenges, maintaining a close social network and imitating resilient role models.
2. We do not have the awareness and understanding of what is required to develop further.
3. We have ineffective ways of dealing with conflict.
- We are scared of conflict.
- Fear of being blamed or shamed.
- Fear of feeling not good enough or not okay.
- Fear of being rejected or abandoned.
- Fear of feeling unsafe (i.e. emotional attacks).
4. We don’t have a model or path of successful relationship. Without a model, it is easy to worry, doubt, and want to quit.
- Good feelings = good relationship
- We don’t have a growth mindset.
- We don’t see what is possible
What you can do differently:
- Build emotional strength and resilience.
- Build awareness of what is required of you to develop further.
- Gain effective ways of dealing with conflict.
- Develop a successful relationship model.
Stay tuned…I have been hard at work creating a really great program to give you the support, structure, and guidance to do exactly this!
In the meantime, check out this free ebook “7 Ways Relationships Fail (And what you can do to save yours)”
Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: ERP 094: 4 Reasons Why Creating Lasting Love Is So Difficult [Transcript]
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If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Empowered Relationship Course or doing relationship coaching work with me.