|Marriage Counseling & Conjoint Therapy:
Relationships are 90% emotional and 10% attitude. Successful relationships are the result
of learning and practice, not luck. Couples in trouble are typically the result of one of
three factors: 1) An immediate or recent event is so horrendous or awful an enormous split
in the relationship occurs. 2) One or both of the partners brought into the relationship
old emotional wounds, unresolved shame or rigidly held fantasies in direct conflict with
reality, or 3) No previous knowledge of how to build a successful, healthy, intimate and
The first factor includes events like extramarital affairs, the death of a child, loss of
a career, substantial life style change, victimization by physical or sexual assault,
catastrophic body changes due to injury or sudden illness.
The second factor includes situations such as previous unhealed abusive adult
relationships, past love relationships that are still active, alcohol and other drug abuse
habits, compulsive gambling or inappropriate sexual behavior, and beliefs closely
resembling the story lines of Cinderella and Pollyanna.
The third factor is the result of roll modeling. This is the most powerful and lasting way
students learn. Children are like sponges absorbing what they see: the good, the bad and
the ugly. By not seeing parents in a consistent loving relationship, they have no modeled
foundation on which to build healthy attitudes and functional expectations for their own
adult love relationships. They are left to learn by trial-and-error, maybe even saying
they will never do the things they saw growing up. Unfortunately, the absence of positive
knowledge results in a lack of confidence and reactive interactions.
When there is no consistency between what a parent says and what the parent does, the
child will focus attention on the doing. It is human nature to trust our eyes more than
our ears. That's why parental advice is usually unheeded. If you want your children to
learn about healthy adult relationships, show them your healthy relationship.
Can adults learn better ways of relating rather than just reacting to the other?
Absolutely. Can people with histories of bad love relationships change and have good