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Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.
You may open and print this article as a one-pager
for handouts or use in a newsletter:
First comes love, then
couples come to counselling in crisis with their relationship or marriage
at risk. They have little or no understanding of the issues or concerns of
the other and even less appreciation of each other’s point of view. The
infatuation, mistaken as “true love”, has expired in the demands of
often and upon exploration, it becomes clear that couples have missed a
step or two in the mating process. They forgot to become friends and/or
they forgot to court.
at any age is the involvement with another for personal fun, pleasure or
gratification. With any luck, the involvement provides for mutuality of
experience but this is not necessarily an objective. Given the sexual
mores of the day, the intent of dating often includes sexual enticement or
gratification. Luck features prominently in dating because until together,
the couple knows little of each other and hence the outcome is uncertain.
This is the nature of dating. During the dating process, the parties tend
to present themselves in their best light, hiding any blemishes,
physically or personally, that might otherwise undermine the pursuit of
fun, pleasure or gratification. The trouble is that some persons mistake
the dating behaviour as indicative of the party’s true self and rush to
engagement or marriage without taking other crucial steps in the coupling
goes beyond dating and is indicative of knowing, liking and trusting a
person. In getting to know a person and developing a friendship, a truer
and deeper appreciation of personality and traits are gained. We rely on
our friendships for mutual support, encouragement, and entertainment.
While dating is directed at personal fun, pleasure or gratification,
friendship provides for mutual benefit at neither party’s expense. It
takes experience with a person to learn whether or not there is a shared
sense of mutual responsibility to the friendship - reciprocity of mutual
support and caring. Given that this is discovered to be the case, persons
can explore the next stage in the coupling process.
takes friendship to a new level. In courtship, the parties signal an
exclusivity of the relationship with the intent of exploring the potential
for lifelong bonding or cohabitation. Courtship is therefore much more
serious than friendship and requires that the participants take the time
to learn fully, all the blemishes, physical and otherwise that their
potential life partner possesses. This is where couples must truly get to
know each other in all aspects of life; psychological, behavioural,
familial, social, vocational, etc. When we take on a partner, we take on
all their significant relationships too. In getting to know each other in
all aspects of life, the purpose of courting then becomes to answer the
question, “Can I live with this person…and family… forever?”
are best taken on as they are and not as an investment. Whereas we
generally try to limit our risk when investing money, similarly we should
limit our risk when taking on relationships. This is not to say we do not
partner with someone who has issues or problems, but rather, they must be
in plain view, they must be discussed and there must be an agreed upon
plan in place for management. You must decide what you can and cannot live
with. Courting is the time to figure this out.
friendship then courtship undertaken and resolved, persons are ready for
the next stage; engagement. Engagement is the promise to marry. This is
not meant as experimentation or learning, but to provide time for the
preparation of a commitment process to lifelong bonding and exclusive
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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