Why It’s Not Too Late To Save Your Relationship
Why it’s not too late to save your relationship
C lients ask me all the time, “Is it too late to save my relationship?”
My only answer to that is, if your lungs and eyes still work (if you can breathe and see), then no, it’s not too late to save your relationship.
The reason why it’s not too late to save your relationship is because where there is a will, there is a way.
The only challenge we face is determining if we are up to the task of doing something different in our relationship.
What is it that we must do differently?
Well, doing things differently starts with changing the lens through which we view our relationship. Hence, my emphasis on our sight.
If we can see our relationship in a different light, then I believe it is 100% possible to save it.
Without making a vital shift in our perception, it becomes infinitely more difficult to build on our strengths, successes, and resources as a couple.
By not changing our perception, we flounder in our mistakes and become entangled in our failures.
That’s why, if we want to make a change, it simply starts by seeing what is going well in our relationship.
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We Get To Choose What We See
When I think back to one of the most impactful couples I’ve ever worked with, I can’t help but remember the visceral feeling I had inside me that told me I had latched onto something powerful.
As a new couple’s therapist, in that moment, I became connected with the power of changing our perceptions.
When the wife of that couple declared that she no longer saw an alcoholic when she looked at her husband, but rather saw a dad, I was floored.
That moment of clarity struck me like a ton of bricks. It really showed me just how much we are impacted by what we choose to see.
Now, the husband still struggled with a drinking issue and had not decided to give up his drinking.
But to his wife, that didn’t matter anymore.
Instead, what mattered most to her was how much he cared for and loved her children.
Seeing Solutions Not Problems
Isn’t it surprising that someone can completely disregard the original problem they have with their partner just by changing the way they view their partner?
I was amazed at how she could move past her original, presenting issue of his drinking when she had decided to see him for who he really was: a dad, a husband, and a good partner in life.
That young woman changed her marriage by deciding to change her perception.
This example of someone undergoing a shift their perceptions is one of the reasons why I often have difficulty with the labels used in the medical-model approach to mental health challenges and self-help programs aimed at helping people struggling with addictions.
It’s why I reject labels such as major-depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, alcoholic, and gambling addict (to name a few).
These labels ignore vital information about the individual.
These labels ignore all the other wonderful attributes about a person and instead emphasize the negative or maladaptive ones.
Now, I’m not denying the existence of any of the symptomology that individuals or relationships face during times of difficulty or struggles.
I just disagree with the overly liberal use of applying labels (in our day to day lives) to people and relationships to the point that our identities become more synonymous with our problems than they do with our strengths and successes.
Finding Hope And Optimism
When it comes to the relationship with our partner, is it helpful to see problems?
Is it helpful to look at the most important person in our life and choose to see their shortcomings, their problems or their mistakes?
Is it helpful to look at all the things that are failing in our relationship?
I say no.
I reject our desire to see what is wrong and argue that it’s more important to look for what is right.
I do this because I know that when we see what is working, we improve.
When we see all that is going well, we find hope.
When we see solutions, we find optimism.
Nothing is a more potent catalyst for change in relationships and the human spirit than hope and optimism.
Try it on for size. Try putting down what isn’t working in your relationship (or life) and pick up what is.
Just for a moment.
I promise, if you get tired of seeing what is going well in your relationship, then you can always go back to seeing what isn’t.
You can always pick up where you left off and hold onto your problems again.
But, I have a sneaking suspicion that you won’t.
I think you’re going to like what you find when you change the lens through which you view your relationship (and the world).
I know your partner will.
I know your relationship will benefit from your shift in perspective, too.
This shift in perspective could also mean the difference between losing and saving your relationship. And really, what have you got to lose? If you’re asking the question “is it too late to save my relationship”, why not give this simple adjustment a try?
It’s simple, not easy. But I guarantee you that it’s worth the effort. Let me know if you try it and how it goes for you!
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About the Author
Jonathan Van Viegen is a full-time online therapist and relationship coach helping adults and couples improve one of the most important relationships in their life – the one with their partner. Jonathan’s approach has helped 100’s of clients struggling to maintain a lasting, loving relationship while navigating the challenges of parenting. Jonathan’s goal with this blog is to offer you a behind the scenes look at his life to show that it is possible to create the kind of relationship you desire – using simple skills that anyone can learn.