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Marriage 911 04/24/18

It's Time to Face the Truth

Couples counseling

"I can't stand my life," a woman said to me recently. She went on to complain about legitimate issues in her life. She complained about her health, which has been failing, her marriage, which is less than satisfying, and her job, which she finds laborious and tedious.

As I listened, I couldn't help but reflect on Scott Peck's famous words from his book, The Road Less Traveled: "Life is difficult."

Indeed, we've all been where this woman is at. We've all sat and reflected on our circumstances and said a loud "Argghh. I can't stand my life."

Still, we must all step back and ask some questions of ourselves:

  • Is it really our life that we hate or just parts of it?
  • Are we doing all we can to honestly face our problems and solve them?
  • Do we contribute to our suffering in any way?
  • Do we try to escape legitimate suffering that might help us seek true change?  

Scripture says, "The truth will set you free." While this is true, when we balance that statement with other biblical truths, we also realize we will have problems and those problems can hurt us or help us grow stronger, emotionally and spiritually.

To get help for your marriage from Dr. Hawkins and his qualified staff, please visit The Marriage Recovery Center website or call 206-219-0145.

In helping people live healthier lives, I often find myself asking these questions, the most important being, "Have you truly accepted the reality of your situation?"

Let me offer another example… A 40-year old man complained about the lack of attention he was receiving in his marriage. When I asked what he had done to remedy this problem, he said, "Not much. I've complained a bunch of times and now just figure it's something I have to live with. But, I don't like it."

As I spoke further with him, I discovered that he harbored a lot of resentment that came out passively. He withdrew, pouted, and became sarcastic at times.

Notice this man's passivity. Notice that he puts the problem onto his wife and shares little responsibility for it. Notice that he secretly blames her his lack of attention and has no real plan for solving this problem.

So, for this man and many others, the apparent problem is not really the problem. What makes life so difficult is not facing problems and solving them. Most attempt to avoid problems through various means, such as making excuses for them, projecting them onto their mate, procrastinating and wishful thinking, and other more damaging escapes, such as drug and alcohol use, sexual addiction and overeating.

Notice that these attempts to avoid pain not only avoid solving problems, but add even more problems to the overbearing stack of issues. The attempted solution becomes the greater problem.

What, then, is the solution. Consider these strategies:

1. Name, own, and accept the problem.

You cannot change a problem you don't fully face. Someone wise once said, "A problem defined is half the problem solved." This is true. Once we accept the reality of a problem, we can seek legitimate solutions.

2. Experience the suffering that comes with this acceptance.

There is often pain in facing a problem. Many times we seek to avoid feeling the pain that comes from experiencing a problem, making the problem worse. Feeling the pain of a problem can help motivate us to seek solutions.  

3. Eliminate self-destructive coping strategies.

Identify the ways you avoid facing a problem. Look deeply into a problem to find whether you are truly facing it or causing even more problems by using self-defeating coping mechanisms. Once you name those, eliminate them. Face your problems head-on and find that you can solve your problems.

4. Solve real problems.

Again, facing problems whittles them down to size. When we avoid them, they loom large in our minds. Talk to a trusted friend or counselor or perhaps your pastor. Ask someone to help you problem-solve.  

5. Maintain accountability for facing and solving problems.

Once you have developed solutions to your problems, maintain accountability for your healing journey. Find some people who will hold you accountable for steering clear of unhealthy coping patterns and maintaining a healthy path.    

Do you avoid facing problems? Do you hate to really consider what is bothering you?

We'd also love to hear from you. Share your feedback or email a confidential note to Dr. David Hawkins and his team, and read more about The Marriage Recovery Center and my Marriage Intensives on my website: www.MarriageRecoveryCenter.com. You'll find videos and podcasts on saving a troubled marriage, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.

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