It’s amazing how many millions of us pair off with someone we genuinely love, get married, have children or not, then ultimately see our primary love relationship end in divorce or deteriorate into a numbed out existence with our partner or become mired in addictions that eventually destroy all our relationships.
The most preparation any of us have for this major part of our lives called marriage and family is what we experienced in our own families of origin. A few fortunate ones among us may say, “I only hope my marriage can be as strong and loving as my parents’ was.” But too many of us learned unhealthy and dysfunctional patterns of relating to those we love.
It’s as if we’re given the task of driving a standard-shift automobile with no clear instructions, no manual, and no positive personal experience to guide us—only an imaginary picture in our minds of what driving a car should be like. So, “doing marriage” has been a form of uneducated, unsupervised on–the-job training.
Statistics on marriage and divorce let us know how poorly we’re doing, if left to our own devices. Being able to sustain and enjoy long-term, committed love relationships calls, I believe, for significant education and learned, practical skills. When couples or families come to my office to work on their relationships, I begin teaching them what I’m calling the Twelve Foundation Stones, so that they can begin building a love that works.
The Twelve Foundation Stones are a simple way of identifying the underlying dynamics that can do great damage to our relationships or even destroy them, if we remain aware of them and their effects. And we need this awareness in order to benefit from the positive potential that lies buried within these Foundation Stones.
Although I began writing this book to assist my clients in their therapeutic work, I’ve come to see its broader application to anyone wanting a healthier, more enduring marriage. It’s become clear to me how much our society romanticizes and mystifies love. So much so that very few of us know how to sustain a long-term connected relationship when the “good stuff “ of Romantic Love evaporates, to be replaced by the Power Struggle’s pain. We have difficulty associating work and effort with love because our definition of love between two partners is so heavily loaded with only the romantic version. Generally, partners wreck their marriages, then one or the other concludes that he or she has “been hurt so deeply that the damage is irreparable.” Blaming our partner for the pain is much easier than recognizing and acknowledging that we, too, have been doing considerable damage of our own.
The purpose of this book, then, is to help partners understand in practical and simple language how they hurt one another—usually without intending to—how to stay connected through the rough times, and how to work through their differences, instead of bailing out, shutting down, and retreating into a frozen reactive stance. My hope is that this enlightenment of the Twelve Foundation Stones will give couples a head start in restructuring their relationship. I welcome the challenge and opportunity this work provides, for if we know all the systems operating—The Twelve Foundation Stones—we can better master the course. My book is designed as a starting point for understanding these dynamics. As you begin to read and explore, I hope you will be inspired to start anew with your partner to carve out the marriage you have both always wanted.
THE 12 FOUNDATION STONES:
1. The Power of the Unconscious Mind or “What in the World Made Me Do That?” 2. Let’s Talk About Feelings or “How Does That Make You Feel?” 3. Learning to Handle Anger or “I Can’t Believe You Got Mad Over a Little Thing Like That!” 4. Emotional Safety in Committed Love Relationships or “How do We Get Back To the Good Stuff?" 5. What is Reality? or “Where Did You Ever Come Up With Such an Idea?” 6. What Our Past Can Teach or “Getting Mom and Dad Out of the China Cabinet” 7. Healthy Adult Boundaries or “Where You Stop and I Start” 8. Matching Up The Stages or “Well, You’re Acting Like a Two-year-old!”
9. Addictions or “If You Really Loved Me, You’d Stop Doing That!” 10. Stepping Out of the Victim Box or “But It’s Not My Fault!” 11. Getting Real or “Are We Ready To Tell It Like It Is?” 12. Your Partner is As Emotionally Healthy As You Can Tolerate or “I’m Not Sure I Know Who This Person Is Any More!”