M. Scott Peck, the author of “The Road Less Traveled”, says that the tendency to avoid problems and emotional suffering is the primary basis of human mental illness. According to him, “some of us will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid our problems and the suffering they cause.”
I have to agree – the Save My Marriage team handles a lot of couples who experience some form of sickness in their marriages because they have trouble facing the reality of their problems.
Denial is a defensive mechanism that serves to protect us from external circumstances. All people experience this at one point or another, but the problem is when couples are so stuck in denial that they can’t muster the strength to find a solution.
In marriage, this denial often occurs when serious problems begin to creep into the relationship. A lot of couples go into a state of shock because they’re unaware that relationships naturally go through different phases.
In our “Save My Marriage Today” book, we call this as the Life Cycle of a marriage.
The first stage of marriage is characterized by romance and infatuation. During this time, couples are extremely passionate about each other and get caught up in a tide of intense emotions.
However, Peck states that this is not true love and even believes romance to be a harmful myth. He probably saw it as such because people often assume in the beginning that their feelings of infatuation will last forever and that their partner will always remain perfect.
During the next stage, known as “reality check”, they’ll begin to see each other’s flaws and realize that their marriage is not the ideal relationship that they assumed it was.
This is why a lot of couples go into denial. When the illusion is shattered, they fall into an intense period of disbelief.
Swallowing The Bitter Pill
As you your personalities and values begin to clash, will you accept this reality and discuss it with your spouse? Or are you going to sweep it under the rug and keep it out of sight?
Denying the existence of your marital issues is only going to make them worse. Your differences will resurface at some point in time, and you can only run from your problems for so long.
Maybe it’s hard to acknowledge the imperfection of your marriage because you think that it’s the same as admitting you’ve failed as a spouse.
Perhaps you believe that your friends have perfect marriages and you feel ashamed for having to deal with marital issues.
If you feel this way, you should stop comparing your situation to others because I can tell you right now that NO couple is perfect. To some extent, everyone has trouble in their own marriages – even if you don’t see it.
Those Things That Hurt, Instruct
Remember that it’s human nature to make mistakes, especially when it comes to marriage. More importantly, don’t be afraid to admit that your marriage wasn't the perfect relationship that you once thought it was.
Try to see it this way: challenges can be your greatest teacher. Though you don’t have total control over what happens to you, you have the absolute power to decide how to make the most of your circumstances and learn from them.
Every marriage goes through change. However, the difference between a happy couple and a miserable one is that only the former chooses to embrace the imperfection of their relationship.
Remember: marriages stuck in denial can’t move on to the other stages of its life cycle.
As soon as you stop resisting the reality of imperfection, you can start taking the necessary steps to save your marriage. For instance, you can see a counselor, learn how to strengthen your relationship, or sign up for a marriage-saving course such as ours.
Taking these measures will help you accept one another for the people you’ve become. In time, you’ll learn how to work around your differences, and even agree to disagree.
Ultimately, imperfection in a marriage is inevitable, just like everything else in life. What matters is how you choose to deal with it.
By making the right choice, you’ll reach a higher level of emotional and spiritual development – even if you get hurt along the way.