“Til Death do us part…” Is it time to attend a couples workshop?
Till death…that’s a long time! Most of us enter into marriage thinking we have found “the one,” and that there is no way we are going to get a divorce. Then, the honeymoon phase ends—pretty quickly, I might add. Questions begin to surface like “What happened to the person I married? Did they trick me? What do we do now?” A couples workshop may be just what we need to wrap our heads around this promise.
Between %40-%50 of marriages end in divorce, and the rate goes up with subsequent marriages. My personal opinion about why the divorce rate is so high is that marriage is no longer a sacred contract. There is a lack of spirituality, duality, and connection in our marriage. Sometimes we find ways to escape our spouse by finding a hobby that doesn’t involve them, such as long distance racing, golfing, and other things that seem “healthy”. Other times we can escape by becoming engrossed in our smart phone, laptop, or television. Before long, we are hardly communicating at all.
My husband and I went through some marital struggles recently. Now, it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of psychotherapy. I talked extensively with my therapist about what to do, and I asked my husband to go to individual therapy as well. Thankfully, things started to turn around for the better!
This past June, we went to Kripalu in Massachusetts for a couples workshop called “Getting the Love You Want.” My husband bought the book and workbook by Harville Hendrix and his wife Helen LaKelly Hunt, and when we saw that they were doing this workshop, we signed up. At first, I was resistant to sitting down and reading the entire book, but what I did read sounded interesting.
To be honest, I was a bit nervous about the workshop. I didn’t want to talk about our marital problems with other couples. What if we got into a fight in front of other people? I soon realized there was no reason to worry. Even though there were 100 couples in the workshop, it was a very personal experience. Here’s a summary of the material: When we enter a relationship and feel “in love,” we subconsciously think we’re getting what we missed in our childhood. After the honeymoon phase, we are actually being challenged with the difficult parts from our childhood.
I wanted to share this with you because it was paramount in changing how my husband and I communicate with each other. It helped us both be more vulnerable and open. It also gave me the tools to listen instead of just reacting, something every couple could improve on. I wish that we took this workshop years ago. In fact, I think it should be a prerequisite to marriage.
I am certainly not saying that every marriage should last a lifetime. There are certainly situations where it is just not going to work. However, I think that when we get into that negative space with our partner, we tend to place blame rather than thinking about our own reactions and behavior. If we stay in this space, our relationships are not going to be fulfilling. Oftentimes, when I see people leave a marriage and get remarried, the same issues are repeated in the next marriage.
If you or someone you know is in a downward spiral and you think the marriage is worth fighting for, please take or share this information with them. Check out the couples workshop “Getting the Love You Want,” or order the book of the same title. Harville and Helen present all over the world, but they will be back in the northeast in December 2015.