Articles by Gil Milburn-Westfall
Nurturing your Relationship
There is nothing in our personal training, culture and education to prepare us for the demands of marriage and parenting. In our formal education, we are not taught the relational and emotional coping skills necessary to nurture our adult relationships. Beyond needing to learn about communication and active listening skills, we go into marriage with little knowledge about resolving interpersonal conflict or negotiating our needs, wants and desires with a loved partner. Although some individuals have been raised in nurturing homes, resolution of conflict by your parents often occurred behind closed doors, and few of us have been given adaptive models for the negotiation of interpersonal needs within the context of marriage.
On the Road from Divorce to Healing
Heading toward Divorce
While there are many reasons that marriages fail, it is rarely due to a lack of good intentions. So how is it that these good intentions are not enough to sustain a satisfying marriage? Various factors may come into play: there may be issues of neglect, infidelity, abusive words and/or actions, mental illness, substance abuse, imbalance of power and control, disengagement and submission.
Resolving marital issues requires an honest effort from both spouses. If one partner tries to address the conflicts, while the other partner responds by feeling attacked or criticized and then disengages from the discussion, the avoided issues go underground, where they fester like poison, eroding trust and intimacy in the relationship. When the conflict of values, ideas and control remain unresolved, the capacity for positive, caring connection breaks down. This can leave each partner feeling alone and abandoned in a marriage–a wounding that is difficult to survive. Many spouses seek to leave the relationship in order to end their emotional pain, but not without a deep sense of failure, inadequacy, grief and loss.