There are so many ways that peace in our relationships can become threatened. Some of these challenges are external; they threaten the peace from the outside in. Other challenges are internal; they begin within the relationship itself.
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. In addition to being the co-directors of Leadem Counseling & Consulting Services, Elaine and John are seasoned therapeutic retreat leaders in working with recovering couples.
Editor: Muhammad Talha
When, for instance, relationships face a clear financial danger such as the national economic slowdown, there is an outside force threatening the peace between partners. Coping with the illness or death of a mutual friend is another possible stress that can potentially affect the serenity of the relationship. Many couples find it possible to work through their individual fears because they view the threat as if they are joining against a “common foe.” Thus they learn to be a source of support for each other.
However, when financial fears have developed in reaction to the spending habits of one’s romantic partner, or, when one of the partners’ physical ailments begins to negatively disrupt the couple’s normal functioning routine, the threats that these may pose are more internal.
Unfortunately, when the peace of our relationship is threatened from the inside, we tend to blame or attack each other. We look to blame him or her for the condition of our checkbook, or for the frustration we are feeling.
What does it take for one of us to channel peace back into our relationship when the threat is coming from the inside?
For starters, let us remember that no one can make us feel anything! That means that we must take responsibility for how we think, how we feel, and how we behave. As long as we see change in another person as the solution to our problems, peace will continue to elude us. When we look towards others waiting for them to change, we cannot be a channel of peace.
In order to serve as a channel of peace to our partner, we will first need to accept responsibility for the quality of our own life. If we can learn to take responsibility for how we feel, our problem is no longer our partner but rather how we react inside ourselves to his or her behavior, illness, or character defects.
When we do this, it is possible to remember that the “common foe” remains the partner’s behavior, illness, or perhaps character defect that the coupleship can seek to confront together. We can once again work through our individual fears and band together to support one another.