Addressing relationship problems through marriage counselling can be like going into battle …
When I’m doing couples and marriage counselling, clients will inevitably describe a problem or several problems to me that are apparent in their relationship. It might be an anger problem, a communication problem, a conflict problem, but the reality is, the problem is never the problem…
OK… so before you stop reading and shake your head in confusion, let me explain.
For us to have any chance of winning a battle in life, to deal with the real issue, it is important that we actually identify the parameters of the battlefield. In other words, we need to know what and where the battle actually is and what the enemy is. We need to work out what the REAL PROBLEM is.
Sometimes we can be fighting a certain battle in our lives… but without realizing it we are fighting the wrong battle in the wrong place. We can think that we have to deal with this problem or that problem… but many times in the areas of relationships, emotions and thoughts we are fighting the wrong battle. As Henry Cloud said, “The problem is never the problem.”
Let me give you an example.
In marriage counselling I’ve encountered a dynamic where anger is a common response to an issue. In our Western culture, like most cultures, ‘anger’ is a culturally acceptable expression (especially for men). But often times we find that if we dig a little deeper below the surface, there is something else there- triggering the anger. Often it is actually fear. Unfortunately it isn’t quite so culturally acceptable to admit that you are afraid, but often times ‘fear’ is the real enemy on the battlefield.
In the context of effective marriage counselling, where fear of judgement, ridicule or shame is dis-empowered, the real enemies to relationships can be fought and overcome. Someone once said, “Our greatest fear is to be known and then rejected” but our greatest need is to be known and accepted”. For that to occur, vulnerability is key. Seek out safe people that you can fight your real enemies with, otherwise you may find yourself fighting people whilst you are unwittingly in agreement with your enemies.
This dynamic is particularly important for couples to grasp. Sometimes couples can be fighting each other because they think the other person is the enemy. This is rarely the case. More often than not, the real enemy is something like fear, insecurity, resentment or unresolved emotional distress from the past.
Find a marriage counsellor who can help you identify the real enemies of your relationship and equip yourself for the fight so you can win.