The first question that partners in a relationship need to answer is whether or not they share a similar vision for their relationship. This is true whether the partners are making their very first commitment to each other or whether they are looking for healing and reconciliation in an injured and hurt relationship.
John and Elaine Leadem are licensed clinical social workers whose combined investment in the field of addiction treatment spans more than sixty years. Their commitment to helping recovering families has provided the core inspiration for the development of a "A Decision to Be IN Love"© which has helped many couples move from the traditional parallel model of recovery to strong united core support group. They are both certified Sex Addiction Therapist and have co-developed a model for treating couples during the crisis stage of recovery.
Editor: Saad Shaheed
Are you both “IN” – or perhaps one of you is “IN” while the other is really “OUT”?
We never assume that couples who come to see us are in our office for the same reasons as each other. To put it in other words, we never assume that couples who come to see us are in the relationship by mutual consent.
We know you may be thinking, “These guys have got to be kidding.” That is because most of us assume people get married or are in committed relationships because they want to share their lives with each other, and that people who remain married or remain in a romantic relationship do so out of mutual consent. However, our experience suggests this is not always the case.
Some couples marry or form a commitment, not because they share a common investment in the relationship or each other, but with ulterior motives. Some couples want to be married because it is expected of them by their culture, or because of their societal status. Some people “tie the knot” because they believe it will force them to settle down and become more responsible (…those couples usually fight over one of them being too controlling and treating the other like a child. Imagine that!).
A marriage license or solemn commitment does not necessarily insure that a mutual consent for vulnerability exists.
Mutual Consent as we are using the term, is an agreement. The agreement we are proposing is a demonstration that both partners are committed to the development of shared honesty and emotional intimacy. Of course, today’s consent is not intended to be unconditional; therefore, you are not agreeing to remain open and vulnerable if the other important areas of intimacy – such as safety or intimate communication for example – are not soon firmly planted in place as well. But working on areas such as safety or intimate communication in a relationship without the full consent of both partners can be very risky. This is especially true if the relationship is already fragile.