Family Frameworks

Myth #1 You Both Have to Work on the Marriage


Mar 2014


Sometimes myths or plain old lies are told about marriage.  Some are very hard to break and hard for me to see perpetuated.   The lie that bothers me the most is that it takes two to make a marriage work!  Well, it does, but it just takes one to change the dance.

Somehow the thought that you HAVE to have both partners working all the time on the marriage just is NOT true!!

Dr. Jim Talley

About ten years ago I heard Dr. Jim Talley  speak on marriage counseling and how he even does counseling on the phone, and emphasizes not divorcing.  He did not believe in the conventional “if you’re both not willing to work on this then I’m not going to bother counseling you.”  Well, he found that if he worked with one of the partners that was willing then many times (not always) the other partner comes around).  Dr. Talley’s Book, Reconcilable Differences, goes into the how to even more. (No longer in print)  This started to make sense to me.  I found that when I changed the way I reacted to my husband, he tended to react differently back.

I then heard these thoughts again from Michelle Weiner Davis when she spoke at the NARME conference last year, and even showed therapy sessions where she would work with only one partner and how the relationship changed drastically using some simple changes in their skills and actions.  Once again, I was very impressed.

Recently I experienced this with a colleague of mine that had gone through several counselors and was about to give up on her marriage.  I had her read Michelle Weiner Davis Book Divorce Busting  At first she was skeptical.  I continued to encourage her to do what Michelle was saying and change her reactions.  Within two weeks she came back and said, thank you so much!! My marriage is totally different and it’s wonderful.  She had changed herself and totally got it that she had changed the dance.

There will always be some hard time in our marriages.  You have two people with two different ideas.  I know my reactions are totally wrong in dealing with John at times and if I would take a different approach I would have a much easier time getting what I need and giving what he needs.  It’s all about the dance.

I have never wanted to be a counselor.  Many think that’s what Family Frameworks is all about.  Actually, it’s not at all.  We want to just encourage people in the marriages that they have.  We know that when hard times hit if you read work on  changing yourself and make you a better person, in five years you will have a very satisfying marriage.  Is this easy,  “Heck NO!”  I don’t know about you, but I DON’T want to change!  We usually want our spouse to change, if he would do this or she would do that then everything would be ok.  Uh, NO! It doesn’t work that way.  The only person that is going to change is the one that is willing to change!  And hopefully it’s the one that is seeking help.

I want to encourage you if you are having a hard time.  Yes, there are times, when physical or substance abuse are present that a couple needs to separate.  But you know what?  I don’t believe that all of those need to end up in divorce.  I’m not putting anyone down if they have, because I will be the first to say that I divorced after a year with my first husband.   I’m pointing out that there is hope.  Try some stuff first before you give up completely.

What do you think?


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