One of the greatest challenges seen in marriage is individuals focused on their spouse and not themselves. When I meet couples, I encourage them to step back from the situation and do some self-reflection. Marriage challenges are exasperated when spouses focus on one another versus on themselves. I often share with others, my prayer is to see my spouse as God's great gift to me. When we look at our spouses, we see them through a distorted, judgemental, perverted, sinful lens. We see them through the lens of our expectations, judgements and needs versus who they truly are. When I learned to have an awareness of my flaws versus my husbands, I had more peace. I realized, I could love him differently. As individuals, we enter marriage with the residue and pain of our past. That includes but is not limited to previous relationships, past trauma, childhood history, disappointments, hurts and so much more. We look at our spouses as the problem in the marriage, often dismissing the obvious role we play. Once individuals have this view and perception of their spouse, they rarely look introspectively to see anything different. This causes a challenge within the marriage and takes on the image of "marriage problems".. I tell couples (it's a Sharhondaism), "I don't believe there are problems in a marriage. I believe there are problems with individuals and they manifest themselves in the marriage". This being said, there are two fragmented people, rubbing up against one another cutting each other. Those cuts hurt and quickly become scabs. Those scabs are often knocked and rarely get the chance to go from scabs to scars. That is where the problems lie. Healing doesn't take place individually or collectively. It is essential for couples to do the work individually so they can be their best selves in the marriage. Couples reviewing and evaluating their personal mental health is essential to wellness within a marriage. I challenge you to take a personal inventory of where you are in your life and marriage. Here are a few questions to ask yourself on your journey toward a healthy marriage:
How am I feeling about myself?
Do I feel loved?
Do I love myself?
Do I display love to my spouse?
What is it I desire to feel whole?
Am I expecting that from my spouse?
Do I aid in my spouse feeling whole and complete?
What role do I play in the challenges within our marriage?
What role does my spouse play in the challenges within our marriage?
Can the challenges in my marriage be resolved individually? Collectively?
Once you have answered these questions, determine what steps you want to take next. Do you want an individual therapy session? Do you want a couples therapy session? Marriage inventories can be an integral part of marriage wellness. However, personal inventories are a priority. Challenge yourself to know where you are individually so you can determine what role you play collectively. For more information and to schedule an appointment contact the office. Oneness in marriage is ALWAYS the goal. "When YOU heal the Marriage heals"! ~Sharhonda L. Ford, LCMHC
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