No one wants to live with a feeling that disaster can strike at any time. However, we all take precautions to make sure that in the event that something bad does happen, we’re covered for major, albeit unlikely or seldom occurrences.
Many of us take precautions to make sure that we can live with peace of mind. Those of us with valuables have home and contents insurance, in the event a thief invades our home and takes off with our precious belongings.
Those of us who have a car take it in for a regular service so that it’ll drive more smoothly, so that we feel safe and protected when we’re on the road.
We don’t wait for our teeth to go rotten before seeing a dentist. Therefore, we visit a dental hygienist from time to time.
For some reason, when it comes to general health, even though we may have health insurance, many of us tend to utilize it only once disaster has struck as opposed to taking advantages of its preventative services to keep us as healthy as possible.
Similarly, when it comes to our relationships, many simply rely on fate. They think they should just suffer and face the music when the time comes. For now we love each other, and they hope and pray things will carry on that way.
Given the divorce rate is very nearly 50%, it seems like throwing caution to the wind may be a dangerous way to run our lives. To just hope for the best, rather than take actual preventative measures to ensure our marriage runs as smoothly as possible doesn’t sound like much of an insurance policy.
I believe that one of the reasons many people don’t avail themselves of preventative relationship services is a lack of awareness. There are several health prevention programs around, yet still most marriage therapists focus on helping marriages in crises. Few are trained in preventative approaches.
Many read self-help books about how to keep their relationships healthy and think that alone will ward off all gloom and doom in their marriage.
While self-help books can help a lot with encouraging healthy behavior patterns, they do little to help a couple who have, for example, experienced challenging relationships in the past. Moreover, people can have all the information at their fingertips about what they need to do to create a more loving relationship, but applying the information in real time when faced with a partner that looks and sounds like a wild dragon spewing fire out of its nostrils, is another story entirely.
Dr Sue Johnson, an acclaimed expert on love and relationships, says that when we feel triggered by something our partner does, even if their intentions are good, this can make us feel like they are against us. When we feel threatened and our sensors are down and we’re not expecting it, we react badly.
Self-help books don’t give couples awareness about their past and knowledge about how this may influence their future relationship dynamics.
The more aware we are of what we bring into a relationship the better able we will be to choose a partner who will trigger us less and with whom we can be our most real and vulnerable selves.
Furthermore, the more aware we are of our past relationship wounds, the more we can heal these and become more reflective as opposed to reactive, the better able we will be to withstand relationship challenges.
Being able to support and be supported by our partner is probably the most fundamental part of any healthy and successful relationship. The more subconscious triggers we have, the less safe we’ll feel with anyone. By becoming more aware of our trigger points, we can calm them down and be less hurt by our partner.
Avital and Asaf are a loving couple. But occasionally when they talk about finances they trigger one another. They both came from poor homes; however, Asaf felt his safety was always on the fence. He always felt he had to fend for himself as his parents weren’t capable of creating financial security.
As a result, Asaf pushed the idea of being on top of their finances in a very intense way which freaked Avital out. The more Asaf pushed to discuss this, the more Avital ran away. The more she ran away, the more alone and afraid Asaf felt. Each of them was triggering the other up the wazoo over this issue.
They came to work with me once they were already married which made the stakes higher. The more aware they became of their relationship towards money, the more they realized that their dynamic was causing them strife. When they were each able to own and share their feelings and fears around poverty in a safe space they calmed down substantially. They were able to become more vulnerable and share their softer side with each other and not triggered each other in this way. They were then able to support one another rather than hurt each other.
Many couples aren’t aware of their trigger spots going into a relationship. They suffer for a while and some get help. But others allow these trigger spots to destroy their relationship and don’t believe anyone can help them. This is setting up their relationship for failure.
By investing in learning about your trigger spots before you get married you can drastically reduce your chances of reacting badly every time a trigger is hit. The more calmly you communicate and share your feelings, the more your partner will feel invited into a supportive conversation that makes you want to connect with one another.
The more positively you can deal with challenging material, the stronger a couple you will be.
Think of relationship therapy as marriage insurance, but without the heavy premiums.
Consider some of the trigger spots that get hit while you’re dating someone. Feel free to share them with me, I’d love to hear about what they are and how you are currently dealing with them. Feel free to email your stories to: [email protected].