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Counselor Recommended-Misery in Marriage:

The Awful Truth about Toxic Assumptions




  DR. Michael Shery, clinical psycholoGY

  2615 Three Oaks Rd, Ste. 2A, 

  Cary, Illinois 60013  847 275 8236 (24 Hrs);




“Since 1976, state-of-the-art counseling which treats the problem, not just the symptom…”




Doctoral degree: University of Southern California, 1975





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Counselor Recommended-Misery in Marriage:

The Awful Truth about Toxic Assumptions 



People have deeply held assumptions about how marriage is supposed to work and, while some of those assumptions are helpful, many of them are so harmful, I call them "toxic." Toxic assumptions about relationships is one of the central reasons that many people today are unable to stay married for life.

It's important that we take an inventory what toxic assumptions we hold about relationships. For example, one of the most common is that to make a relationship satisfying "Enough love will take care of everything."

Infinite numbers of people who want to be married and who actually commit to it are shackled in misery by this toxic assumption. For many, it has been the cause of relentless anguish.

Think about from whom you modeled your relationship behavior. Look at how you behave in your marriage, particularly when you are under stress, and ask yourself, "After whom did I model my behavior?"

Reflect on your model's behavior and his success with staying happily marriage. Looking back, do you think that person was a good model to follow?

If not, who would be a better model to emulate? What new relationship skills might you need to boost the feeling of well-being you receive from your relationship?

IMPORTANT: Relationship and coping behaviors are learned, not ingrained. Some people are fortunate because good relationship behavior was modeled at home and they grew up with it.

However, others are not nearly as lucky. Often terrible, destructive coping skills were exhibited in the marriage and the unfortunate kids born from it grew up learning them.

Are you one of them? If so, you have a lot of work to do, not only for yourself, but for your spouse and kids as well.

My patients, initially, are unable to isolate the core assumptions they learned and now practice, consciously or subconsciously, about how to be married and how to resolve the inevitable conflicts that occur. Consider the following question: Would you hire a surgeon without first identifying the skills, credentials and experience he should have to treat you?

After all, the success of your surgery is crucial to obtaining symptom relief and enhancing the quality of your life. It would not be prudent for you to randomly select someone from the Yellow Pages, not knowing the doctor's credentials and experience.

Unfortunately, many people have adopted the notion that a body of knowledge and experience is not necessary to be happily married to one person for life. The notion is that
happily married people are happy because they just "click."

And it continues, that if you "click" before marriage, you'll naturally "click" afterwords. What a misconception!

Studies clearly demonstrate that "clicking" is mostly irrelevant. What is relevant is that those who are happily married purposely focus on ways to become better spouses throughout their relationships.

Purpose-driven effort is applied regularly and frequently by successful spouses on the task of becoming better at "spouseing." What are the skills these spouses usually target for improvement?

Not surprisingly, most involve some form of communication and problem-resolution skills. Many people focus on the development of more accurate and attentive listening skills.

IMPORTANT: Others concentrate on learning to express their unpleasant feelings without attacking their partner. Another toxic assumption about how marriage should work: My partner should be so sensitive to me that he should meet my needs automatically, without me having to explicitly request what I want.

While some unaware spouses label this as expecting a partner to be" sensitive" or " intuitive," therapists have labeled this as expecting "mind-reading" from a partner. Spouses holding a dysfunctional belief that expecting "mind-reading" from their spouse is appropriate must "get" that it is unrealistic and self-defeating.

Instead, they should focus on learning how to explicitly ask for what they want with poise and good-will.

Most people entered marriage without any purposeful training in "how" to be married. However, if you really want to stay married for life, it's crucial that you not let this be your demise.

Rather, read, take classes, go to seminars. Volumes of help are easy to access from the Internet, community colleges, churches and libraries.

Study proven relationship skills in a format that is purposeful and organized. Identifying and practicing these skills will dramatically boost your chances of having a successful marriage- for life!

Practice may not make perfect, but, done diligently, it usually improves results. After all, a better marriage is most closely tied to your commitment to improve, not to the notion that you and your partner, at one time, happened to "click."

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