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Will My Marriage Survive?

The latest research suggests that 67% of recently married couples end in divorce. Expectantly, second marriages, third and so on, the percentages increase exponentially. This is a worrying statistic and appears to be on the rise including a gender shift in infidelity with an increase of more than 45% of married women now claiming to have had an affair/s in the last 10 years.

Although many factors contribute to a marriage breakdown, people citing "excess baggage" being brought from one relationship into another, in reference to their partner, ie THEIR children, THEIR past relationships, THEIR family as a key feature in the demise of the marriage. However, the hangover from a previous marriage is not about the people but rather the relationship that they had with those significant others.

I know that it may seem like I'm splitting hairs here, but what I'm really talking about here is YOU ie how you relate to another person, your traits, your behaviours, your emotional responses. In other words, how you communicate "in relationship" with another person.

All too often, couples go to counselling to "fix" their spouse. My general response is "I can't fix them, but I can help you". Wherein, the one question that should be asked by couples in counselling is, "what can I do to repair this relationship?" This question shifts the focus towards having you think about the way you interact in relation to this other person, and how this may impact your marriage. This provides a positive platform to undertake discussion around working together on specific areas for improvement, rather than the defensive position that most couples adopt, not dissimilar to those preparing for battle.

I realise that this is a monumental step and often very difficult for anyone to take, particularly amidst the heated emotion of marital disputes, but a necessary one as you move forward in life, whether that is with or, unfortunately, without your partner.

A Successful Divorce or a Destructive Divorce.

You have to work as hard to get out of the marriage as you did to get into it and it is only complete when you have no unfinished emotional business with the other person.

Counselling provides the necessary skills and tools for couples to better relate to each other, in particular, resolving conflict. In other words, how to "fight fair". You see, airing grievances is considered healthy, yes, that's right very healthy. What most people tend to lack is the ammunition to fight in a way that does not have a negative impact on their significant other.

"It's not what you say, its the way you say it". I know this sounds cliche but truly think about this, how did you learn to fight?? Are you an overt fighter - do you end up screaming and yelling, throwing things, name calling.. Or are you a covert/passive fighter - do you "stonewall" that is not talk (the dreaded silent treatment), not engage in the fight or give any response or if you're lucky a shrug or mumble - - it sounds like I'm describing a 4yo in the midst of a tantrum and a belligerent teenager.

Well, would it surprise you to learn that this may be your natural default response position? Often these default positions may have served us well in the past, particularly through childhood and adolescence, but now are no longer effective. Through counselling, together, we deconstruct your default position and develop a new way of working though relationship issues that benefit not just this relationship but all people you are "in relationship" with and all future relationships including work, family, friends, etc.

Why is this so important? Because if the marriage is irreconcilable, and if we are to believe the statistics - many are, what have you learnt from that marital experience that you take into the next relationship:-

a. more excess emotional baggage or

b. better communication and relationships skills.

Narelle Brigden

Post Grad. Dip., Counselling


Manly, NSW 2095


Mobile: 0419 264 852

*Names change for privacy.

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