A note from Dr. K
Lesson 10 Chapter 1 Module 2
I want to take a moment to address a difficult question that some of our couples ask themselves at this point, maybe you are too.
How do you know when it's over?
Gottman’s standard answer is: “When the Friendship and Admiration System is dead.”
Bill Doherty, Ph.D., creator of Discernment Counseling separates out “Hard” vs. “Soft” reasons for divorce. Hard reasons include violence, drug and alcohol addiction and related issues.
My answer is that it’s over when one of the partners is:
- Self-content with the way things are and refuses to accept that something is wrong, even when they are told that divorce will be the result.
- Bitter in holding onto past resentments and closing themselves off to being consoled.
- Or if the couple got bad advice from an individual therapist, which they believe, telling them their marriage is doomed.
That last one deserves a post all by itself, but let me just say that a lot of divorces have been caused by an individual therapist blindly siding with their patient AGAINST their spouse, and telling them that the marriage is fatally flawed.
Self-contentment can be because of a narcissistic adaptation, or a blindness of mind (seen in Asperger’s’), or even an exploitative posture. If one person is “doing it all,” and the other person is fine and dandy with that, even when asked to do more, this is problematic.
It is a curious fact that often a spouse is happier when they are doing their “fair share” in a relationship, which might not look like “equal.”
Bitterness can be a bad habit of mind, developed as a result of an earlier trauma that has been left unresolved. Like the monkey with their hand in a glass jar grabbing the banana, these struggles can go on for years and you have to let go if you want to get a happier marriage.
Sometimes I structure an “ordeal” for the couple where, when completed, the couple can move on.