I am an expert at helping couples experience their second marriage with their first spouse.
I’m not exactly sure how that happened though, given I, myself, was in a marriage only once for less than four years.
But Pat Riley didn’t need to be an extraordinary basketball player to lead the Lakers to multiple and historical championships.
My curiosity was piqued when I noticed how so many spouses who seemed hopelessly unchangeable to their partners in their first marriage, appeared completely transformed in their next one!
So, I became obsessed with finding out whether one can experience this second marriage phenomena — without making divorce lawyers richer in the process!
In my opinion, three things are required to become an expert at anything;
Time and Attention are literally the currency of this work we call coaching.
However, Intention is much more personal and mine, as it relates to understanding the secrets of long lasting marriages, has its roots in my own deep desire to experience growing old with one person.
In the sacred and confidential coaching space, I would often hear my clients share their quiet unhappiness about their marriages. They all had different stories of discontent that mostly had one element in common — their partners were not being, doing or saying the “right” things.
They often compared the “inside” of their marriage to the “outside” of other people’s marriages and were left wondering why everyone else has it figured out but them.
And here’s what I saw.
Short of physical, mental and emotional abuse, almost every single marriage was the same, in that there were cyclical visitations of good and bad times.
I so admire people who make this most demanding of commitments and stay in the game through the inevitable and often overwhelming thicks and thins of a rich and multifaceted marriage.
To be clear, I don’t espouse staying in a marriage just to be deemed successful by society, or while quietly cooking up our own cauldrons of resentment against our partner.
I have learned from my clients how to cultivate high achieving habits in marriage, as they and I aspire to, in our professional lives. And what I continue to learn is so simple that it feels almost ridiculous!
It’s five steps that can actually be summed up into one, namely;
Do your own work.
And more specifically;
- Get started on your own work of self-growth and mastery. To be clear, this is separate from couples therapy.
- Look for evidence that normalizes a more true understanding of marriage — Hint, you won’t find it on social media.
- Shift your perspective to understand the difference between a fee and a fine as it relates to marriage.
- Keep returning to your own work of transformation — this takes a lot of discipline and is where most of us fall off the wagon.
- Remember that the most underrated element of success is longevity.
Simply knowing we are not dumb, incompetent, and uniquely incapable of being happily married — and more importantly shifting our perspective through the knowledge that others are experiencing the same challenges — is often enough to lift the judgement we place on ourselves and our partners.
And in doing so, we create powerful spaces for personal and ultimately, joint transformation.
Science shows that when we look at our neighbor’s grass, it actually does look greener!
But that’s simply a visual anomaly that’s hardwired in us. Even nature wants to make it harder for us to do our own work!
But don’t give up.
From where I stand, marriage, when we do the work, is worth it.
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