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Staying the Distance When Relationships Get Tough.


I was listening to an interview with Hedy Schleifer, American guru of relationship therapy and the brains behind the Encounter Centred Couples Transformation methodology.  She was being interviewed by Benito Vergotine of the South African radio station Smile 90.4 FM. She was asked by the Benito "Is it harder or more challenging for couples to remain together in this day and age than say 20-30 years ago?". Hedy’s reply implies that couples today are more likely to respond to conflict and difficulty in their relationship by saying – ‘this isn’t working, lets gets divorced’. Hedy makes the point that when a couple reaches that stage, instead of it being the end of the relationship, it is in fact opening up the potential for relationship growth and a more mature outlook on the relationship.


The problem today is that couples do not realise this, its hard to put in the work, it requires self-sacrifice and a commitment to the long term no matter what. People have affairs and think that this is the right person, the person that they should have married, that can make them happy, and that their current spouse was just the ‘wrong’ person for them. Sadly, the excitement of affairs presents a real challenge to a couple and the idea that the ‘other’ person is the solution is an extremely flawed notion. The chances that the relationship with this new person will end up in the same place as the previous relationship, are very good. This is because our background, our baggage, our upbringing will always come into conflict with the world of our partner, no matter who they are. Unless you can work through this hiatus in the relationship you will never reach maturity and growth in your partnership and you will simply repeat the mistakes of the past.


Society needs strong families to uphold good morals and to give their children the opportunity to grow up in a secure and safe environment. Children suffer from divorce whether you like to believe it or not. Their foundation for their lives is the family, that provides a ‘go to’ place when things go wrong. Children who live in divided families, do not have this privilege; it affects their self confidence and it limits their potential in life. Another thing to remember is that children do what their parents do, not what they say. A divorce is in the family is setting them up for failure in their own relationships in the future.


If only couples would reach out for help at this point instead of thinking that the relationship is at its end and divorce is the only option. I always ask my couples, is it not worth it to take 6 months and try to heal the relationship before they end it – what do they have to lose? When they do, amazing things tend to happen.

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