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How To Save Your Marriage By Creating A Relationship

Consider this situation: John and Sue-Anne are both in their late twenties and have been married for 19 months. As a young couple they have had a lot of fun with their friends spending weekends surfing and most evenings at each other’s places.

Just recently their life has entered a transition as their best friends have become parents and are no longer free to share activities with them. And at the same time their other friends have gone their separate ways for various reasons.

John and Sue-Anne for the first time since they became a couple find themselves on their own with only each other’s company to amuse them. Sue-Anne has never really been much of a surfer and had spent most of her time on the beach talking to her friends while John hit the waves. And it is only now that they realise that surfing is not a shared interest.

John also was not really that much of a socialiser and tended to follow Sue-Anne’s lead, visiting friends and inviting them to their home. He happily sat back and let everyone talk around him.

From a life crowded with other people in which evenings and weekends were planned, they are now experiencing a vacuum. John has quite easily filled this space. He has not bothered finding other surfing buddies and has given this activity a miss. Instead he is now spending every spare minute he has playing computer games.

As a teenager and young twenty John rarely left the house and immersed himself in the latest games on the market. This interest was put on the back burner when he met some colleagues at work who introduced him to the surf which then became his passion. On one of his surf weekends with these friends he met Sue-Anne, and after a year long courtship in which John and Sue-Anne shared their time with their friends they married.

Sue-Anne until she met John had no pressing interests and enjoyed chatting with her friends and fantasising about their futures. A loyal friend Sue-Anne was always ready to help and she compassionately listened to everyone’s woes. When John was surfing she spread out her beach towel and made herself available to hear her friends’ stories.

When her and John’s long term friends disappeared from their lives Sue-Anne was at a loss as to what to do with her time. Her initial instinct was to throw herself into John’s life. She found opportunities to help him and made herself available to listen to his job stresses. But this was not working for her. John was not responding and showed no interest in wanting to spend any time with her as he was slowly disappearing into the world of games.

When you look at the information presented you may not be that surprised by John and Sue-Anne’s present predicament. It is more than likely that this couple has spent little time alone together without the company of friends, and therefore they have not really had an opportunity to get to know each other. Now without the presence of their friends John and Sue-Anne are lost in a relationship that has no boundaries, no familiar landmarks and no comfortable safe spots.

This situation is probably even more complicated as John has been able to adapt to his new lifestyle and is more than happy to play games in his spare time, offering an occasional hello to Sue-Anne. It is Sue-Anne who is suffering. She is feeling very much alone in this relationship. She is unclear on what to expect from it. And she has become resentful of John who does not want to spend anytime with her.

To get this relationship back on track John and Sue-Anne have some serious questions to ponder, such as: Who am I? Who is John? Who is Sue-Anne? What values do I bring to this relationship? Are they the same as my partners? What do I want my relationship to look like? What do I bring to this relationship? Can John’s excessive game playing be accepted if this relationship is to survive?

Who am I? Who is John? Who is Sue-Anne?

I know it sounds ridiculous for two grown adults to ask such basic questions. For except for some obvious exceptions everybody must surely know who they are. But the reality is many of us wander through life with a hazy self identity. And looking at John’s and Sue-Anne’s story it is quite possible that so far they have drifted along without giving too much thought about what makes them tick, responding reactively to what falls along their path.

In this process John has learned that he likes to be on his own playing computer games. He can socialise and enjoy physical pursuits like surfing, but he does not seek this out.

Sue-Anne’s focus seems to be on friends and socialising. From what we have seen she does not appear to have any special interests and is really quite dependent on her friends for fulfilling much of her life.

As has been hinted John and Sue-Anne’s situation is not that unusual. You yourself may be in a relationship in which you are lost not really knowing why you and your partner are together. Part of your confusion and uncertainty may be due to your ambiguity surrounding your identity.

A journey into the self can be both exciting and daunting as you become familiar with the core of your being which until now has been an unknown factor. By learning more about yourself you can take the initiative in creating a life and a relationship you want. To gain such self knowledge you can begin by asking yourself some more questions such as: What are your strengths, your weaknesses, your likes and dislikes, your interests and points of boredom? What movies do you like? Do you enjoying reading and if so what kind of books? Do you like yourself and feel confident about most things in your life, or are you passive in responses, fearful of rejection and abandonment? Are you a sports nut, a lover of the arts, a homebody or an adventurer? Do you like your eggs poached or scrambled?

As you answer each of these questions you begin to flesh out your self image and become more familiar with yourself. For the first step in saving your relationship and that of John and Sue-Anne requires the main players to have some idea as to who they are.

What values do I bring to this relationship? Are they the same as my partners?

As you get to know yourself you begin to realise that your life is directed by values. These are the beliefs, ideals and qualities that bring meaning to your life and influence the choices you make. They include concepts such as: honesty, hard work, spiritual/religious beliefs, friends, safety, personal space, money, commitment and so on.

Each of us has our personal values that motivate our daily actions, and we also have values that specifically relate to our relationships and the expectations we have from them.

The importance of knowing your values can not be over emphasised. They are central to your identity and help you determine who your friends and associates are, what career choices you make and who you want to marry. It is therefore crucial for you to spend some serious time discovering what these values are.

Although we do not know that much about John and Sue-Anne we can guess at some of their values. John appears to value fun and games as well as personal space, while Sue-Anne appears to value friendships and socialising.

In their case it is more than likely that they have never given much thought to what is important to them. The opportunity to do so may result in a number of ‘uh huh’ moments as they begin to gain additional clarity as to who they are and what is important to them as individuals and as a partner in a relationship.

What they discover about themselves and their values will be one of the determinants as to whether or not they can continue their relationship. You can see already that John and Sue-Anne hold different values. This may not be a problem in their relationship as long as they hold other values in common, do not adhere to values that are strongly offensive to the other, and are willing to compromise on points of difference that are not too dissimilar.

What do I want my relationship to look like? What do I bring to this relationship?

I think I am safe in saying that not too many people want a relationship in which they feel disrespected, judged and hurt, and would therefore not willingly sign up for such a union. Most people want a relationship in which they can easily love and be loved; in which care and nurturing is mutual; and in which partners support and bring out the very best in each other.

We therefore can assume that even though John and Sue-Anne had not really given much thought to their relationship requirements the above requisites would be essential if their marriage was to have a chance. These core qualities make up the framework upon which John and Sue-Anne can shape their ideal relationship.

And what is an ideal relationship? When you are given unlimited freedom to describe the relationship you want to be in it is quite easy to freeze and not know where to begin. However once you have insights into your separate identities and values, and have given some consideration to your family history and the influence of your relatives and friends, you are able to take a hard look at how you want to “live” your relationship and are ready to tackle some clarifying questions which will bring some definition to your marriage.

Questions such as: How much time do we spend together? Do we eat breakfast and dinner together? And also lunch on the weekends? Who does the grocery shopping and the cooking? How often do we go out? And where? Can one partner go out on their own? Can you pursue different interests? What tasks do we do together? Separately? Do we plan a future or take life day by day? Are we big socialisers and have many friends or do we not bother? Where do children fit into our relationship? How important is our sex life? And what are our sexual pleasures?, when answered enable you and your partner to understand each other’s role in your marriage.

Once John and Sue-Anne have put an effort into understanding themselves and the relationship they want to be in they can take the first steps to live the marriage they want. As they communicate their values and wants they can listen respectively, negotiate assertively and problem solve willingly.

If you are in a similar situation to that of John and Sue-Anne and have taken time to answer these questions you may discover that you and your partner have similar visions of the relationship you want to experience and can now begin to close the gap that separates you both. By ensuring that your relationship is one of love, care and respect you will be constantly strengthening your marriage as you and your partner walk a shared path.

We started this article by focusing in on the relationship of John and Sue-Anne who found themselves in a tricky predicament. From the time they first met until the present they had spent very little time together without the company of their friends. Recently this had all changed as their friends had become parents or had moved unto other things. Alone with themselves in this relationship John seemed fine as he withdrew into computer games which had always been a passion of his. Sue-Anne however was at loss as to what to do with herself.

This relationship which had not ever really defined itself was beginning to flounder and action was required to get it back on track. John and Sue-Anne professed their love for each other and slowly by answering questions about themselves, their values and their ideas they began to develop a picture of the life they wanted and were taking actions to make this happen.

And so we end this article here. But there still remains one question to be answered: Can John’s excessive game playing be accepted if this relationship is to survive? The answer to this question and a solution to this problem is the subject of the next article.

It is only when this problem is laid to rest that an honest commitment can be made by John and Sue-Anne to their relationship.


1 comment so far ↓

#1 Live to Coach » Blog Archive » on 12.06.10 at 11:59 am

[…] a previous article (click here to read) you witnessed how easy it can be to find yourself in a relationship with someone who is […]