On Mondays, intensive work begins at Transformed Hearts, and the office was busy with couples arriving. Many were cautiously optimistic, feeling anxiety and fear as well as a great deal of hope.
I warmly greeted John and Rebecca in the lobby and got them started on some paperwork. Once completed, we walked back to my office to settle in. With the formalities aside about the flight, hotel and sleep last night, we got started. I asked them what their goals were for the week. John slowly stated that he would like to save his marriage and get some tools to overcome his sexual addiction and the “virus” of intimacy anorexia.
Rebecca became very emotional. John grabbed the tissue box for her, and she shared that she would like John to be honest and stop lying to her. She would also like help to deal with her hurt, betrayal and anger she has felt toward John. She didn’t know who he was anymore, and he is not the man she thought she married. Rebecca felt she was only here because of him and his addiction. She stated this week is their last chance. Otherwise, she will be filing for divorce, because she had already consulted an attorney.
Together as a couple, they were able to get through my initial questions without too much blaming. Before we went any further, I wanted both John and Rebecca to know how proud I was of them for taking the time to come to Transformed Hearts and investing in their marriage. They were both very courageous, and I shared how much I appreciated their boldness.
I explained to them the first half of the week was going to be very painful and difficult. However, by the end of the week, they may begin to experience a great deal of hope. By Friday, they will feel a little overwhelmed with all the information and what they have learned, but they will leave with a plan in place for the future.
For us to have a successful week, they will need to understand and follow four basic principles in their marriage from this point forward.
First, everything in life is not about right and wrong, but it is about being wise or foolish. Like parenting, I want my children to self-regulate and make wise choices when I am not around. How you spend your money, what you eat today, how you spend your time are not about right and wrong but about what is wise or foolish. Couples ask me all the time about what they should tell their children, parents, friends, boss, or employees. These are not right or wrong questions. What may be wise for one couple may be foolish for another and vice versa.
Second, contrary to popular belief and Hollywood, marriage is not about, nor has it ever been about, making YOU happy. However, marriage is about making you HOLY. Holiness is about dying to your selfishness. I explained to John and Rebecca that I did not understand this, so God gave me a beautiful daughter. Anyone with children quickly realizes your selfishness will die, as you serve to pour yourself into that child. You see, I did not get this after marriage or even after my first daughter was born. I was still selfish, so God gave me three more beautiful daughters.
Next, when I work with couples, I don’t care who is at fault. Blame gets us nowhere and only b-lames the marriage. I explained to John and Rebecca when my amazing, beautiful daughters make a mess or spill something, I don’t care who did it. I just want to know who is going to be the responsible one and clean it up.
I looked at John and explained to him that up to this point Rebecca had been the hero and the responsible one. He had been the irresponsible one, and I challenged him to start being the responsible one. John agreed and promised he was going to begin to do that.
Finally, I explained to John and Rebecca that I don’t care what they want from each other this week. Rebecca may want and even demand honesty from John, but the human condition is to shut down when this type of confrontation occurs. However, I am very interested in what each of them is willing to give this week. You see, unless John is willing to give honesty, we are not going anywhere with Rebecca’s demands.
We reviewed the four principles again. John and Rebecca stated they understood and believed these principles would help them this week and in the weeks to come. With all of us understanding and agreeing about the rules of engagement for the week, we were ready to begin.
Cory’s original article, Part 4: Four Principles that will Save your Marriage, can be found on TopAddictionsNetwork.com.
Cory Schortzman is an author, speaker, teacher and licensed mental health professional. Since 2008, he has served as the Executive Director of Transformed Hearts Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, CO. He is the founder of SARA, the Sexual Addiction Recovery Association. Cory is passionate about helping couples and individuals overcome sex addiction. He is also passionate about bringing awareness to the public and supporting the elimination of sex and human trafficking. Cory has been married since 1998 to his beautiful wife, Kerry, and lives in Colorado with their four daughters. He and Kerry have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery. He has also been heard on numerous radio programs.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.