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5 Steps to Stage a Successful Intervention

  • Dr. David B. Hawkins The Marriage Recovery Center
  • 2015 3 Nov
  • COMMENTS
5 Steps to Stage a Successful Intervention

I have said it many times, but it bears repeating: A boundary without consequences is not a boundary. It’s a hope or a wish or a whine.

Yes, those are hard words. Yes, the words have an edge to them and edges cut. They remind us of the severity of a situation. Anything less lulls us to sleep or complacency. 

Every day I hear a story such as Janene’s. 

“My husband and I fight all the time,” she said. “It’s not all Bret,” she continued. “I have become accustomed to fighting back. I am so tired of feeling unheard that I yell louder than he does.” 

“Tell me more,” I said, anticipating hearing a story like ones I hear all the time. These stories are tragic. They are stories of people who live with feelings of disrespect. They are stories of people who want desperately to be heard, to be valued, to be seen as important. 

“I just don’t know what to do,” Janene said, “or I’d do it.” 

“Would you?” I asked. “When we talk about ‘boundaries with teeth,’ it can be a scary proposition. Many believe they would take action if they knew what action to take, but when it comes down to it, many settle for feelings of safety instead.” 

“No, really,” she continued. “I wonder how to get Bret’s attention. I’ve tried yelling and that does no good. I’ve tried clamming up, and that does no good. I’ve tried withholding my affections and that doesn’t seem to do any good. I don’t know what else to do.” 

“Okay,” I said. “Let’s have the conversation that many avoid. Let’s talk about gradations of interventions. Remember, however, that you must really think through your goal for an intervention.”

Janene was quick with her answer. 

“My goal is to have a loving, collaborative relationship. My goal is to work with Bret to make decisions together so that he hears my heart and I hear his. I don’t want to power over him and I don’t want him to power over me. I think God wants that for our marriage. But, I need changes for that to happen.” 

“So, let’s talk about how to think about boundaries and what to do for an intervention. It’s important to think about gradations of intervention, with the understanding that you must be willing to take whatever steps are necessary to get someone’s attention.” 

“Yes, I get that,” she said. “Give me some specific ideas.”  

First, you must recognize your need for radical change. Most people settle for a little bit of change. They seek a little bit of counseling, read a few books and make minor changes, discouraged in the meager results. They tell themselves that their problems are not as big as they really are. 

Second, you must identify what needs to be changed. It is common to point the finger of blame externally, suggesting you play no part in the destructive process. As long as you continue to engage in blaming, shaming, blame-shifting, accusing and provoking, it makes it very hard for the relationship to improve. It’s time to accurately name the problems and prepare for an Intervention—radical change. 

Third, you must acknowledge ways you both enable the destructive process to continue. As long as you complain about the problems but don’t seek radical intervention, you enable the process to continue unchanged. Complaining, arguing, blaming and attacking are useless and even destructive processes. You must take ownership of your part in the problem. 

Fourth, you will need help to significantly change a destructive process. Just as we seek health professionals when our symptoms reach a tipping point, so too we need mental health professionals to assist us in changing a destructive dance. We need help in creating an intervention whereby we will not continue destructive processes that we cannot see or allow destructive processes to happen to us. 

Five, you must initiate an intervention. This can be done in gradations: it can begin with a firm word, stating what you are feeling, what you’d like to feel and what specifically you’d like from your mate. The Intervention then takes the form of temporarily breaking the fellowship with your mate if they refuse to listen or collaborate with you. This break can be for a short time or can lead to a weekend apart or even a brief time of separation. Again, it must be emphasized that this action is not being taken to be punitive but to establish a mutually respectful relationship.     

Finally, you must be held accountable for the intervention process. I believe it is helpful to have pastoral supervision if the situation leads to a physical separation to ensure that motives are pure and actions are healthy. The intervention is also best done with the help of a trained, Christian Marriage Counselor. When done properly, both parties will ultimately feel respected, safe and healthy change will be the outcome. All actions are being done for the restoration of a healthy marriage. 

 

We are here to help with your Intervention and offer phone/ Skype counseling on issues related to this article. Please go to our website, www.marriagerecoverycenter.com and discover more information about this as well as the free downloadable eBook, A Love Life of Your Dreams, including other free videos and articles.  Please send responses to me at [email protected] and also read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website. You’ll find videos and podcasts on sexual addiction, emotionally destructive marriages, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage. 

Publication date: November 3, 2015


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