“My Marriage/Couples Marathon” is one elaborate session lasting hours we accomplish so much. First, I do a complete bio-psycho-social on one partner and right after or in conjunction with, I do the same for the other partner. Each partner is present while the other partner is getting their private individual therapy, to insure full disclosure and true transparency. We discuss and go over their past traumas and experiences in order to figure out if anything in their past has caused or has been a contributing factor to the demise of their marriage/relationship. I try to explain their toxic and dysfunctional behavior by pointing out past chaos and trauma that may be responsible for wreaking havoc on their present relationship. Couples come into my “Marriage/Couples Marathon” looking like a train wreck and are crying out for “Solution Focused Therapy” which is included in “My Marriage Marathon”.
Couples coming to “My Marriage/Couples Marathon” want to make a lifetime commitment. I guide my couples how to come together and repair their many ruptures in their relationship by making plans that begin during the session. During “My Marriage/Couples Marathon” the couples are encouraged to talk about the here and the now. Each day is a new day; and we manage best when we take one day at a time. We do discuss future goals to make sure these couples are on the same page in terms of reaching important milestones. I ask questions like: “where do you see yourselves living five years from now?” I ask them when or if they want to have children and if yes, then I continue to ask when they see this happening.
Most of my patients have tried very hard to get each detail told, in order to be an accurate reporter. They accurately report because they want me to be able to interpret and explain to their partner what part of their past is responsible for their incomprehensible behavior. They are right to make sure I have all the details. The more I know, allows me to be a better interpreter when it comes to finding an important clue from their past, that in fact, sheds some light on why they have a pattern of negative repetitive behaviors leading them down the wrong path. Once they understand their traumatic past which hopefully, I can often link their past to the present by finding just one more piece to put into their personal puzzle. That very last piece may or may not tie their story together. I have bailed partners out due to the way they were parented or something else that occurred in their past; but not everyone is entitled to a reprieve.
I need an accurate version of what each partner experienced while they were growing up in their family of origins, in order to figure out why they brought so much chaos into their present relationship. Misinterpretations about their past could be cleared up during their individual bio-psycho-socials. I told each partner that the retelling of their story is crucial; and both partners will gain clarity about their partner’s respective pasts, which often leads to one partner or both lending empathy to one another. I insist that they divorce their relationship in the past but not divorce or separate from one another. Having empathy for what each other has been through during their past, sets the stage for creating a more stable, solid and stronger foundation in regard to their present relationship. Once there is a stable foundation, we get to address each partner’s past grievances. I teach you skills and techniques how to drop those terrible topics. During my sessions couples can choose to save their relationship if they discuss all past grievance and agree to forge forward by rebuilding their emotional bond which has been severed.
Sharing and retelling their life story can be very empowering and stimulates their ability to accept and own what negative contributions they have brought to their relationship. This is a turning point in “My Marriage/Couples Therapy”, when the remorseful partner owns his own baggage and steps up and takes responsibility and becomes accountable for the damage he or she has brought to their relationship. Meaningful moments happen here, because the person who betrayed their partner can take the right action and apologize to the betrayed partner. Apologies from the heart are very powerful and can cause a catharsis to take place.
There can be two remorseful partners and they simultaneously can learn what negativity they have brought to their relationship. Each spouse/partner accepts accountability for their negative repetitive patterns of behavior that have been distressing their relationship; and at this point many people have a chance to admit that they are aware of what they did to cause the other so much emotional pain and disappointment. The partner who owns and confesses his share of the problems now begins to understand why their partner felt betrayed and wanted to flee from their relationship/marriage. Prior to getting to this stage of “My Marriage /Couples Marathon”, many betrayed partners were thinking about divorcing their spouse/partner in order to survive emotionally and preserve their self-esteem.
Many couples were able to give their stories meaning and the sharing of those meanings empowered both partners to leave their past behind and forge ahead to create a better emotional bond. After addressing all past grievances, I teach couples how to reinvent their relationships; and the first step they are instructed to take is toward building back the trust they lost. Trust takes years to build and a moment to destroy and by taking baby steps we begin to get back on track and begin to build back the trust that was destroyed. I teach couples how to use their emotional intelligence to navigate more smoothly through their marriage/relationship. Listening to each other regale one another with their past life review helps each partner to feel understood, and true empathy serves as an agent of change and /or healing and they are able to soothe each other and set the stage to reinvent their marriage/relationship without going through a painful divorce, separation and/or an ugly break up. The couples are compelled to get it right, right then and there, so that they can maintain a functional marriage/relationship throughout their future.
Most of my couples, Pre-Covid, stayed so many hours, because they were interested in learning how to have a functional relationship that was not toxic. Most couples got it right before they left my office and were fully aware that their personal families of origin had a dysfunctional dynamic which was responsible for the demise of their past relationships, and which was about to set the stage for the demise of their present relationship. They did not want to continue their parents’ and grandparents’ legacy where they had miserable marriages causing them to betray their partners. Understanding that one partner or both came from a toxic family of origin and is responsible for ruining many of their past relationships, made my couples listen intently to what I was teaching them throughout “My Marriage Marathon”. My “Marriage Marathon” is intense; but “My Marriage Marathon” motivated married couples/unmarried couples to set up a double boundary to protect, not only their committed relationship, but to also protect their intimacy and privacy so that they do not air their dirty laundry to their close friends and/or relatives, and this also insures that their confidential conversations remain within their relationship.
“My Marriage Marathon” dwells on saving the marriage/relationship by making the couple realize the importance of divorcing the past, but not one another. Reinventing their marriage and not getting divorced is a huge piece and a theme that runs throughout “My Marriage Marathon”. I try and bring couples together so that their day to day living is no longer where they are each traveling down parallel lanes and I have them living new lives where their daily activities are intersecting and they begin looking like a connected couple who have formed a team to travel together down “the road less traveled”. Each partner has a sense of referring to themselves as “we” or “us” which goes well together when you are now on the same team and rooting for each other’s personal successes.
Couples who continue to grow together are couples who will have thriving, flourishing and fulfilling marriages/relationships. Most couples have pasts that are quite compelling and intricate. I can usually unravel many parts of their past and explain to the couple why those incidents, although occurring in the past, do not allow their marriage/relationship (which is taking place in the present) to flourish and thrive. The past dysfunction turns toxic so many years later; and just when they wanted to do it differently, in order to create their own family of origin. Their toxic past will cause my couples to repeat the mistakes that their families have made while parenting them. After our day of “My Marriage Marathon” they are taught to do the opposite and change the course of their relationship so that they can have happy children who are able to thrive. Relationships while parenting is hard to get right without acquiring a psycho education on how to be good parents and spouses/partners at the same time. Learning about maintaining a healthy respectful marriage while raising a family is a great idea; and that is why my “Marriage Marathon” makes so much sense.
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