Are there any marriages that survive?

I know there are but it seems to be so few.

I’m beginning to wonder if mostly it’s a myth.  After receiving the news yesterday evening from my older brother that he and his wife are splitting up as HE ‘hasn’t been happy for years’ I’m beginning to wonder if anyone these days actually understands how to keep marriages not just alive but buzzing.

Stephen you have one hell of a job as it seems that so many people just can’t be bothered .

When I suggested to my brother that he might consider getting help.  He told me smartly that he didn’t want to make his marriage work.  Well, actually, I’m not surprised.  I would have been far more surprised if he had said the opposite! So he’s saying goodbye to 28 years of marriage so he can go off  – on his own (so he says) – and live in Cornwall and sail the boat he’s built.  He may find he’s rather lonely!

So do men these days just not know how to love – how to give – how to unbend and be passionate?

OK I’m looking at this from the side of being dumped and I know women are doing this too.

Well the news rather stopped me in my tracks.  My giving value shot to the top of my values list and all I wanted to do was to rush round to my sister-in-law and give comfort and support.  My brother telling me she was philosophical about it and accepting doesn’t bode well. She could be but I wouldn’t be so sure.  I bet he has no idea how she is, what she’s feeling or what state she’s in.  He’s too wrapped up in his own wishes.  I know him!

So, Stephen – what’s happened in the world? That’s what I want to know. It seems so much has gone so spectacularly wrong when dealing with relationships.  Has separation become so easy that no one bothers anymore?  Why are we doing these dreadful things to each other?  Have so many of us turned into selfish, uncaring people who no longer know how to work at anything that the state of marriage in its long term form is dead in the water?

Has the current throw-away society turned so many people into lost souls searching for their particular nirvana – that elusive solution to perfect happiness which the Ads tell them are theirs by rights – that they feel the only way is to ditch what they have in favour of something ‘greener over the horizon’.  They’re not stopping in their headlong rush for what they seem to feel is theirs by rights. They hardly take a backward glance.

Have we forgotten how to improve things?  Did we ever know?

I’ve always believed that the best things in life are worth fighting for. That’s one of the reasons (but not the main one) that I’ve found it so difficult to let go of my marriage.   That’s how I was brought up – to work through issues and problems – but now both of my brothers  have bolted from long term marriages (the younger one 10 years ago).  So clearly the lessons and guidance I thought our parents gave us appear to have failed to sink in on either of my siblings.

But maybe I’m being too harsh.  Maybe they just don’t have a clue on how to re-ignite the passion they had when they first married.

As I said at the start of this post.  Life Coaches – like Stephen – have one large task on their hands.

Despite the differences my brother and I have over practically everything I found I wanted to help him/them and show them there is another way – and one which could be wonderful.  I don’t have the tools, experience or skills to help.  Yesterday I wish I had.

17 thoughts on “Are there any marriages that survive?

  1. I have a very privileged perspective on the world of relationships. I see so many couples with so many problems all of them very different. What is interesting is there are some common themes that you can’t help but notice.

    I think that surviving is the problem, vast majority know how to survive and put on a public face that all is ok, but have no idea how to live passionately together. The passion is key, couples don’t understand how to keep the passion alive. Passion is what sets the relationships apart from being just friends.

    None have had any form of relationship education. Very few realise that their parents have been their teachers and the impact their past can have on how they behave today.

    They do everything it takes to attract each other and when they see what works, once a commitment takes place they decide to stop. They are then confused why they no longer feel good. What they don’t understand is what they did, that really worked, and to keep on doing what they did when they first met is too much effort and there is no time today for all that dating stuff.

    They have no idea what makes their partner really happy.

    They repeat the same behaviours over and over expecting their partner to change.

    They trade for what they want in the relationship, when they don’t get what they need…

    …they make the relationship all about them when their fears really take hold. This a sure fire way to destroy the relationship.

    Many believe that what they feel is true, this again is an illusion based on no education. Their feelings tell them things like the relationship is the problem so the solution is remove the relationship or the person.

    They try to change their external worlds to feel good, they have not realised that their internal world is the cause of their problems.

    Look at this example: An email to me from one of my clients.

    “My husband and I read the testimonial on your website headed “Please save our marriage” and it could not have resonated more strongly with us. We have put our house on the market and taken steps towards divorce. Although the decision to divorce was mine as I felt I had reached the end of the road, we both want to try and save the marriage if we can. Reading that testimonial made me think that maybe it is possible.”

    They came to see me one month ago for one intensive session, I spoke to them this week to hear how they were getting on, they had both understood clearly what they had to do and have both taken responsibility for the relationship and themselves.

    They NOW cannot believe the change in how happy they now feel about themselves and together.

    Remember this was just one session no magic, just education.

    This lady did one thing that most don’t she questioned if what she was feeling was true and she went on a search to become educated, they loved each other but love alone is never enough, if a relationship is to last and be passionate the couple has to take action and do…

    So the reason relationships today struggle is simple, no one has taught them how. Poor relationship models from parents and trial and error has been their education. With this lack of education they make decisions that change lives that effect their children, and so the pattern of destruction lives on, in our children.

  2. Thank you both for these interesting perspectives.
    I agree with Caroline that one of the problems is probably a by-product of our consumerist society: If something stops working, you don’t try to fix it, you throw it away.

    Then what Stephen says is interesting too about “Their feelings tell them things like the relationship is the problem so the solution is remove the relationship or the person”. I’ve typically experienced it in some of my earlier relationships and it’s a very powerful draw, questioning yourself and trying to work on restoring the relationship feels so much more difficult than leaving.

    And I’m pretty sure this is what happened to T. Which leaves me plagued with regret…I so wish he’d found the strength to stick around and question!

    Anyway, looking forward rather than back, I’m still not sure I understand to keep the relationship passionate because hey, these things are true too “What they don’t understand is what they did, that really worked, and to keep on doing what they did when they first met is too much effort and there is no time today for all that dating stuff”. Guilty as charged, when I was stressed out of my mind by moving countries, incubating a baby and finding a new job, I didn’t have any will-power left in me to be doing the dating stuff…

    So I’m still not sure I can do better in a future relationship…

  3. As always you have provided us with an interesting and thought provoking post. I think one of the saddest things in relationships is that people look outwardly without looking inwardly. Having been there it is tough being in a relationship that isn’t working and having come through the trauma of divorce I fully understand that sometimes ending things is the only option. I know that for me this was not an easy road and looking inwardly was important as I knew that I had to understand things from my perspective to be able to truly identify with my ex-partners perspective. Looking inwardly can certainly be a challenge but one that I think we owe ourselves and our partner. Thanks for an interesting post.


  4. I love Passion in the marriage. But with family, scheduling, finances etc….it is a natural thing to wane. The committment to marriage for me is that the friendship keeps it alive, during times of passion’s decline.
    That being said…We do fall into ruts. and most of us …even if we are educated on this stuff…often don’t recognize that in ourselves.
    Our own egos get in the way…we get hurt…we misenterpret…the voice in our minds forging defenses to the anticipated questions.
    All these things need to be worked on.
    The committment is to work on them.
    When one partner simply says that they’d rather tale the “easy” road out, then that relationship dies.
    Unfortunately, as Steven points out, one can’t run away from oneself, and all the things that existed, run away with oneself too.
    It ends up that it would have usually been easier to stay and persisit and work on things.
    But…that’s just my opinion.

    • Couples can let life take over as they assume that they have proved their worth with each other in the early days. Now other stuff like money children are more important.

      This is a typical pattern of destruction.

      If you don’t feed whats important it will die. So everything has to have a time, work, children, finances and the most important thing YOUR RELATIONSHIP!

      Most people put no time a-side to learn more about each other and create playful passion between each other.

      Problem relationships create people who are two busy focused on themselves and what they are not getting and this results in them blaming their partners for not giving them what they need.

  5. I’ll not read others’ thoughts but add my own.

    My husband and I have what he called a 99-year lease. In his terms it is automatically renewed after that time. You bet it works. Yes there are difficult moments. Speaking for myself, having asked him out on our first date…we are not giving up. A promise is a promise is a promise. The grass is not always more green elsewhere. So we tend to our own as best we’re able in all moments. And laugh, a lot!

  6. I’ve just had an email reply from my sister-in-law – she’s devastated. Anyway I’ve pointed her in the direction of Stephen’s website and encouraged her to get that ‘idiot’ brother of mine to at least go for one intensive session. I know I couldn’t succeed in getting him to do anything – we don’t agree on much! But maybe she can.

    The trouble is he’s now retired. Their 3 children have all left home (one’s about to get married). And of course they now just have each other and so could be concentrating on each other, His comment to me last night that they have separate interests so have drifted apart maybe true. But couples don’t have to drift apart just because they have separate interests.

    Anyway talk about ‘pattern interrupt’ – I’ve turned into a fierce little tigress in defence of my sister-in-law and my low mood has gone!!

    I just wish I had more of the skills to help her. I may tell her about this blog!

  7. What is so sad is that he is convinced separating is the only option. I think people think that working at a relationship is going to be grim and not give them what they want.

    Really what they should be told is “How about re-igniting the passion you had when you first got together” Would you like that as a possible option? Then people might view things differently!

    And why are they quite prepared to go to a car mechanic to mend their car, a dentist to fix their teeth, rely on a qualified airline pilot (he is a retired airline captain) to fly them safely on holiday BUT when it comes to a broken relationship they think they know it all and no-one can help. Since when did they qualify?? (Sorry Stephen I pinched that bit from your email today! – but please feel free to add!!!). I’m sharing this blog post with you – and anyone else who wants to add their view!

  8. Been here 26 years and counting. It’s been hard work sometimes (often!) but worth it. Maybe I’m lucky. I have a man who still leaves me love notes and considers my needs and wishes. There are still some left, I promise.

  9. Caroline,

    I couldnt help but wonder if your divorce is what started the wheels turning in your brothers head. Could it be that he thinks you are better off alone, maybe even happier without Alex. And that maybe he is jealous of this new life you have built for yourself. Thinking the only way for him to be happy too is if he too gets a divorce just like you.

    Maybe he hasnt realized how much suffering and pain youve gone through, how hard it was to go through a divorce, how shattering it still is, how much you would have prefered to do your learning with Alex rather than without him.

    Just some things that came to my mind seeing as, if he doesnt have another woman 28 years is not something you just throw away to live alone. why?

  10. A good point. Though having just bumped into him in our village high street and having had my head bitten off – at the ankles – I’m not sure!! Wow is he angry. My attempt at a sisterly hug was avoided and I was told very smartly to keep out of his life, not to involve myself in any way whatsoever. He didn’t want any suggestions from me – he was going to do it his way and his wife didn’t want any help either!

    Oh dear oh dear is he in pain. Clearly a lot of bottled up rage, jealousy and probably fear. He has always been a ‘controller’ but today he was totally out of control of just about everything on an emotional front. Clearly the thought that what he is doing might not give him the outcome he wants was enough for him to ‘have a go at me’. I won’t hold it against him. How can I when the person I saw was clearly having a huge problem liking himself so was unlikely to show much affection for anyone else.

    The amazing thing for me is that for the first time in my life his clear dislike of me had no effect on me whatsoever! At last! I’ve spent too many years attempting to win his approval and never getting it! And I think my new confidence in me showed – which probably irritated him even more!

    He knows where I am if he changes his mind. In the meantime I will do as bid and keep out of his way. I think he has to reach rock bottom on pain and loneliness before it dawns on him there might be another way. Who knows. Only he knows why he is on a self-destruct mission – or maybe he doesn’t.

    I just hope his wife is OK. I’m much more concerned about her and how his children are – especially the 21 year old who doesn’t have a partner to talk things through with.

  11. I think he is in fear of losing the approval of those around him – friends and people he likes to think look up to him. He’s always craved significance and loves adulation.

  12. If you don’t mind I’d like to comment about passion and having good guides. My parents divorced when I was nine. I’ve never actually recovered from that. I’m lucky in that through the grace of God, I’ve been in a loving relationship for 16 years and have been married for 13.

    This post is scaring me. I cannot believe adults after years of marriage just change their minds and decide they want something different and better because they are not ‘happy’. Is that possible? Can people just be used, consumed and set aside? Seriously?

    I offer no answers except to say my prayers and heart felt sypmathies go with Caroline and her sister in law who now finds herself after years on their own left only with questions.

    How many pairs of socks have been washed and put back in the drawer before someone decides they are better off sailing? My God! It makes no sense to me.

    Where is the light? Where is wisdom? Where is giving? Where is devotion? Did anybody actually LISTEN to their vows?

    I’m exagerating but this whole divorce thing just makes me ill. I know it too well. As far as keeping the passion alive. I just say that’s a long shot. My apoligies to the v. nice councelor. Real world enters and life can be hard. Sure there is passion. There is also real life drama and stress of day to day life. Period. I say the only thing that is working for me is throwing myself on the floor to the mercy of God’s will and thanking Him daily that he has found me worthy of the gift of love and that it may last.


    • Thank you for everything you’ve said. All I can say is keep the passion alive – and read Stephen’s blog. I wish we had found this before as it could have helped us no end. We didn’t. But don’t ever let happen to you what happened to me.

      I wouldn’t wish that level of pain on anyone.

      Good luck and thank you again

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