Kidz on the Coast –Dec/Jan 2019
Christmas and summer holidays offer up postcards of family joy, good times, love and togetherness, yet often the story behind the happy snaps can be one of strain, stress and relationship challenge.
At this time of year, as a relationship coach and marriage therapist, we know it is often the most vulnerable times for couples. Sometimes it can be the last straw for couples just holding it together.
I know when my own marriage was under its greatest strain it was during the holidays. Money stresses were amplified, family was in too close quarters and it just seemed to bring into dramatic contrast all that wasn’t right that we couldn’t escape.
Let me ask you these questions.
In your marriage has the spark gone?
Are you growing in parallel or in different directions?
Not talking anymore or only about the kids and home chores?
Are you missing the affection, intimacy and thrill?
Are you feeling bored, unappreciated or even taken for granted?
Are you looking enviously at other relationships?
Are you having the same fights and never fully resolving disagreements or disappointments?
You still love each other, but you are wondering how things might be if you did leave?
Are you feeling un-resourced and don’t know where to go for support?
Maybe you are at the point of wishing for a miracle?
I know many marriages – even good, solid and healthy ones – can go through phases and times of pain, turmoil, stagnation, blame, change, challenge and crisis.
And believe me, I know, I’ve been there. There was a time when all of the above described my marriage. It had hit such a low ebb that I thought it would need a miracle to turn things around for the better. I couldn’t see a way through. That was more than a dozen years ago…..and a whole lotta growth, learning, responsibility and evolving……. and this year we celebrated 21 precious years of marriage (and 4 weddings – yes, we marry each other every 7 years).
That low ebb, many many years ago, was the turning point for me to find my miracle and it did happen but not in the way I expected. Our financial stress and strain did not miraculously vanish, nor did any of our external circumstances change. Our working conditions remained exactly the same, our children were still small and consistently demanding and exhausting us, my home renovation makeover didn’t miraculously happen and I didn’t drop those 10 kilos overnight (& nor did he!).
My miracle came from within. After a conversation with my wise mumma my miracle was literally the jolt of recognition that if I worked on me (not try to change him or our circumstances – because both those pathways seemed impossible and overwhelming), then things could change.
A traditional explanation might say that a miracle is an act of God, or a manifestation of divine power with results that we consider to be impossible under the physical laws. I’d like to consider a broader definition, one that defines a miracle as a shift in perception, or a change in the way we feel and think. In this way, a miracle is simply a shift in perception that leads to a change in your lived reality.
In one of my favourite spiritual and life transformational texts, A Course In Miracles, a ‘miracle’ is defined as any expression of love. “Miracles are a kind of exchange. Like all expressions of love, which are always miraculous in the true sense, the exchange reverses the physical laws. They bring more love both to the giver and the receiver.” Yes, a miracle brings more love!
As an ‘out-and-proud’ big believer and advocate for marriage as the most amazing and sacred environment for two people to grow, flourish, fully self-express and create something beautiful to contribute to the world, it really is time to allow for the miracle of marriage to be achievable by all.
Once my miracle shift occurred, I saw and experienced things very differently. The lens through which I was looking at things – the lens of blame and victim – was replaced with one of responsibility and empowerment. My orientation to indulge negative emotions such as anger, disappointment and fear, was changed to a motivation to lead with gratitude, forgiveness and love, particularly beginning with self-love.
Major shifts can occur with just one person bringing a new intention, new attention and new skills into a relationship; however the real magic happens when a couple work together. To transform our marriage to where we wanted it to be we had to rapidly ‘upskill’ on both love and communication as well as many other essential relationships skills such as how to manage conflict, that was a biggy.
Over the years we’ve made our relationship a literal ‘love laboratory’ for living and practising the tools and techniques and approaches that saved and recreated our marriage.
This kind of ‘marriage miracle’ is natural and available to any of us. We don’t need to be ‘divinely chosen or worthy’, it just asks of us to shift into a state of grace and love from which we can then invite the changes to occur in the direction we desire….in the direction of “What do you want? (not what you don’t want!)”.
A marriage miracle asks of us to break free from behaving in unconscious and unawakened ways and make the decision to choose to consciously co-create the environment of the marriage. After that, couples need to learn how to purposefully, deliberately, consciously, and habitually practice the skills and behaviours of good loving and communication.
This is what I teach in my marriage preparation and marriage enrichment workshops and how I mentor couples through their marriage when they need help and it is now what I have distilled into an my online relationship course for couples, called Creating a Miracle Marriage.
What we found during our relationship challenge was counselling and there was expensive and on top of that we needed baby-sitters too, and we were tired at the end of the day. What can also happen is couples won’t get the help they need because they think “oh, it’s not bad enough to go to therapy” and then one day, as many couples in marriage therapy find out, they left it too late and the rot and pain of years of disconnection and discontent has truly set in.
The great thing about an online course is it enables couples to bypass the time, expense and logistical challenges of attending relationship coaching or marriage therapy and allows couples to do the work together in the privacy of their own home and in their own time together.