Short circuiting a couple’s impulse to oppose each other is a simple powerful tool
At the bottom of the relationship distress cycle many people feel despair mixed with other emotions and they can end up numb. Each can think, “Would any kind of help could fix this mess?” Later, as they lift out of the distress cycle and back to feeling okay, going for help loses its urgency – until the next time. Committed relationship can go through multi-year up-and-down cycles, and yet this may only lead one of the partners to seek help.
Three out of four unhappily married adults are married to someone who is happy with the marriage. That is the first problem in mending. How to bring the one happy with the situation alongside the other’s unhappiness in a way that the cycle of distress can be resolved collaboratively. Too often a team effort doesn’t kick in until it is almost too late for one partner. External constraints such as financial loss or impact on the kids, which often delay separation, are not enough in the end. Commitment requires a personal dedication to a sense of ‘we-ness’.
In the absence of intimate partner terrorism, in my clinical experience long term committed relationships can mend just about anything except the absolutely unforgivable or a profound lack of a personal dedication to ‘us’. What follows is a map of the landscape of mending couple trouble, with tips and tricks for getting there, all of which can work as a relationship tune.