As a therapist, I don’t often know the “outcome” of the clients after the termination of the therapy. I only have the information as to how the clients were doing when the session ended but how my clients afterward, I don’t often know.
This past weekend, I have a privilege to spend the weekend with a couple whom I worked with a few years ago. This meeting was the third time we spent the weekend together. It was such a humbling experience to me that I have to write this down to share with you. I see this as my “lesson learned from my successful couple.”
Lesson # 1: Acceptance
Many couples walked through my door and asked me: “is there a chance to our marriage?” My answer is always: “I don’t know. I had learned that my most “successful” couples were often the ones whom I didn’t believe they had a chance when I first met them. However, their determination to make the relationship work is often the reasons they find their way back to each other and create something better than they were before. ”
It is not about how they got to my office in the first place. It is about what they did in my office.
And, many times, it is about accepting one’s responsibility that gets them to where they were.
It is easy to assign the blame: “You cause it! If you didn’t……… I wouldn’t……”
The cause could be an affair, extended family, children, work, friendship, even politics.
No matter what it is, “I” play a role in there.
I remembered that first weekend when I met that couple. They sat in my office talking about their history together. On paper, I didn’t think they have a chance to fix the issue. However, within an hour, I found myself thinking: there is a possibility.
Why? I heard silence. I heard silence when one of them were talking. The other one truly listened. The listener often said: “I didn’t realize that’s how he/she felt or went through when that happened. When that happened, I only thought about me and how horrible it was for me.”
“Of course you only thought about you!” I said. That’s only human nature to experience how you feel and what you think.
However, what about afterward?
Did you try to understand your partner’s experiences?
Did you try to see it from your partner’s perspective?
Did you try to understand the impact of this event on your partner?
As they sat there looking at each other and felt the pain the other person felt, I knew there was a chance for them.
Acceptance is not just about accepting the situation or the other person. It is also about accepting my role in the process as well as accepting my role in the process of change. If I don’t accept my responsibility in contributing to the relationship success, I won’t have any power to make changes. When I don’t feel any power to make changes, I start to blame my partner because, one, anger makes me feel powerful, and two, I expect my partner to make changes as I am powerless to make any change.
Take Away Points:
Accept Your Power: You have the power to make you and your relationship different. You DON’T have the power to change your partner. The power to change only within oneself.
Accept Your Responsibility: You have the responsibility to make yourself and your relationship different.
Accept Your Limitation: None of us are perfect. I often joke with my clients about this: “the only one person in the world is perfect is GOD and do you know how many people complain about you every minute?” Therefore, we all in certain ways contribute the interaction of the relationship that causes us unhappy.
You have the power to make the changes of the relationship, for better or for worse. We can only accept what we can do and try our best but we can’t control the outcome of the relationship because our partners are shouldering the other half.
However, if we are expecting our partners to be the only one who makes the change, and, at the same time, our partners are expecting us to make the change, who is going to make the change for our relationship?
(To Be Continued…..Click here for the second lesson.)