15 Apr Marriage and relationships: working together for relationship success


Marriage and relationships aren’t always easy. Things get easier when partners work together to create relationship success.

couple walking photo

When we are unhappy in a relationship, we are normally pretty focussed on what our partner is doing wrong.

People often tell me that if only their partner would stop doing this thing or start doing that thing, then things would get better.

It’s human nature to see what’s not right rather than what is, and to see it in more readily in others rather than we do in ourselves.

Once people make a conceptual shift and stop looking at their relationship as a combination of two people, but rather, as an entity or system in it’s own right, then productive and positive change can more readily occur.

As a marriage counsellor, I sometimes ask my couples to visualise their marriage or relationship as something separate and outside of themselves. Say, for example, as a ball, with which they have agreed to play a game of catch and throw. It’s something that exists beyond and outside of themselves. It’s something they can each hold. They can throw it back and forth between each other.

If one partner makes a wonky throw, the other will need to try harder to make the catch. If one throws too hard, or too short, again, his or her partner will need to compensate. If that ball falls to the ground, whoever is closest will pick it up, and return it to play. In sharing a common goal to keep that ball in play, they will happily contribute what skills they have, and the commitment required to ensure the game continues.

When a relationship is just beginning, couples are in what’s known as the “honeymoon phase”. Keeping the ball in play when love and longing are high is easy.

But no relationship stays in the honeymoon phase indefinitely, and sooner or later, the work of creating a lasting partnership begins.

All couples, if they stay together long enough, enter what marriage counsellors sometimes call the “working phase” of a relationship. This is when differences, conflicts, and tension naturally arise. However, only few couples interpret the working phase for what it really is: a normal and healthy opportunity for relationship growth.

As for that game of throw and catch, the shared goal of keeping that ball in play meant that each partner was focussed on the game itself, rather than on one or the other’s shortcomings. Regardless of who throws a wonky throw, or who fumbles and drops the ball, successful relationships and marriages are the ones who keep focussed on the end game: a sustained and continued partnership, regardless of what bumpy bits may be encountered along the way.

When problems arise, approach them together. After all, you’ve both chosen each other to partner up in playing the best game of all.

Contact Pamela to book an appointment; schedule a complimentary (and confidential) phone assessment; or request more information about fees, services, and relationship workshops on the Sunshine Coast.