Life in the trenches of marriage brings with it fears, burdens, and losses. Tough times of stress and embattlement may inflict wounds, which are often left either ignored or haphazardly bandaged. Sometimes issues with parents are a precursor to endless turf battles in a fight for identity. Left unresolved, the irresolution of this singularly critical bond has the power to play itself out in relationships throughout the course of life.
Sometimes when new babies bring sleepless nights and the inevitable routine of development, dreams may be compromised. Young couples may hide away the hopes and consolations that once provided the energy to overcome any obstacle. The seeds of midlife crises are sown early into soils of doubt and panic.
And sometimes death comes without warning and buries with it the irreconcilable and leaves a wake of grief and paralyzation.
There is no end in this life to the heartache of conflict and the danger of misunderstood affections and unrequited forgiveness. We all find ourselves trudging through the swamp of despair from time to time. And we often find that the heart of the matter usually pumps, not merely within us, but between.
The angst that brings into question our worth, our most intimate relationships, and our most carefully guarded prayers for the future is not borne in a vacuum of self. Relationships—and not just any relationships, but staggeringly family relationships—are our super-charged vessels of dejection and resentment. When we submit ourselves, one to another, it is possible to achieve a means to unbinding despair, as well as creating a wider grace. Marcel Proust observed, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” An examined life begins alone but bleeds into togetherness and enlivens love.
Marriage and family therapy offers respectful provocation of inclinations toward doubt and panic, the cultivation of strengths and creativity, and a deconstruction of destructive messages we have lived by. This flow from static numbness to fluid engagement can transform our inner dialogue, the dance of our love lives and our family lives, and the narrative by which we make sense of it all.
Returning to living as we once imagined may mean the task of laying down many masks and many debts. In that course is the weaving of humility and initiative, of gratitude and determination. And in it lies a hope for real change.
© Copyright 2011 by Blake Edwards. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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