Ken and Cyndy were as discouraged as any couple I’ve ever seen at The Marriage Recovery Center. They had called twice before arriving indicating they were tempted to cancel.
“It’s just not worth it,” Cyndy had said on the phone during a pre-Intensive interview.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I don’t think he’s really ready for change,” she said, her irritation quite evident.
“Why do you say that?” I asked.
“You don’t know Ken,” she said. “I can’t expect you to understand. But, he has resisted coming to your Center ever since I first mentioned it to him. I ask if he’ll go and he says he will, but his heart is not in it.”
“I think I do understand, Cyndy,” I said. “Many people come to The Marriage Recovery Center less than fully motivated. They’ve been through so much pain that they have a hard time envisioning true change. They are filled with distrust and that can be hard to overcome. But, the point is to start. Just start.”
“Is there any point in coming if he’s not fully committed?”
“Absolutely,” I said. “Even small changes can lead to big changes in connection. People often make the mistake of thinking everything has to change for them to feel better. Fact of the matter is, even small changes can create positive changes. You will have to trust me and trust the process. Can you do that?”
Cyndy affirmed that she would try to trust the process in spite of her long history of discouragement and distrust with her husband. She and her husband of fifteen years did come to The Marriage Recovery Center and, as is the case with most couples we see, small changes began to make big changes in connection. Here are some additional truths that may be helpful to you as well.
First, discouragement is a natural reaction to longstanding relationship problems. Many people are discouraged by feelings of discouragement. (Yes, I meant to say that!) Discouragement is a natural byproduct of longstanding problems. Many people have a history of distrust that is hard to overcome. Inertia is strong and must be overcome. While discouragement and distrust can be overwhelming feelings, we don’t need to be thrown off course by those feelings.
Second, trust the process of change. I’m reminded of the process of piano lessons. If progress was measured on a week to week basis, most piano students would quit. However, if you stick with it over time, you’ll see positive changes. The same is true of emotional and spiritual growth. Trust the gradual process of change. Trust the process!
Third, notice the positive changes over time. Again, using the piano lesson analogy, ‘perfect practice makes perfect.’ Stick with it. Find a good marriage counselor and follow their lead. Disrupt those old patterns that caused connection disruption and practice new skills that lead to healthy connection. Small changes, over time, create big feelings of connection.
Fourth, invite God into your feelings of discouragement. While your mate will fail you, Father God can offer you strength and encouragement to sustain you in the change process. Scripture repeatedly tells us that God is like a wonderful father to us, (Abba/ father) encouraging us and sustaining us during difficult times. “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (I John 4:8).
Finally, celebrate the small victories. While there are times of discouragement, notice those times of victory. What small changes is he making? How is she working to make positive connection to you? Catch each other doing things right---this increases the likelihood that they will happen again!
We are here to help 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@example.com 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: March 10, 2014