Here’s Why Your Marriage Is Struggling

“What can I do?,” cried Sharon, “I can’t do anything! I don’t even know where to start! I want to save my marriage, but he refuses to even think about it.”

by Lee Baucom, Ph.D.

And with that, Sharon launched into a discussion that lasted at least 25 minutes, telling me why nothing could be done, why her marriage was a lost cause, and how she was useless.

After several attempts to slow down the avalanche of hopelessness, I finally got Sharon’s attention:

“Okay, so there is nothing you can do. This is helpless. And your marriage is over. Is that correct?,” I asked.

Sharon, looking out through tearful eyes, blurted “Yes! It is useless!”

“Then why are you here?,” I implored. “You know I work to help people save their marriages. So my guess is you have some hope.”

“Hope, no. Maybe wishful thinking,” Sharon replied.

“Well,” I noted, “your first problem IS your thinking, but it is not particularly wishful. You already have placed limits on yourself. You have very limiting beliefs. And that is your first problem.”

Sharon had no idea what a limiting belief was, and had less understanding on what it mattered. So I explained.

What are Limiting Beliefs?

Below our conscious thinking, we have a built in group of beliefs that actually form and create our thoughts.

They are filters that allow us to see the world in certain ways and blind us to seeing the world in other ways.

Our built-in beliefs flavor our daily life, our thoughts, and our actions in ways that we are only slightly aware.

These beliefs can be aspirational or fearful. They can be freeing or restraining. Some beliefs show possibilities and some show limitations. Most are only partially correct or entirely false.

Your beliefs about how to save your marriage are usually limiting.

Our fearful beliefs are powerful, and dangerous, for one important reason: they operate invisibly — at least until we identify and name them. These same beliefs lose their power when daylight is cast upon them. When they can be examined, they evaporate.

Aspirational beliefs, on the other hand, grow stronger by being seen in the light of day.

They begin to move us in stronger and more powerful ways when they are understood and embraced.

So bringing fearful beliefs into the open destroys them and bringing aspirational beliefs into the open strengthens them.

Which raises the question of why we don’t bring them into the open more often?

First, many people fail to notice these beliefs in operation. Second, we have to poke around a bit in areas that make us fearful.

But if you want to save your marriage, you need to examine those fearful beliefs and let them go. They do not serve you!

Think of the limiting beliefs as chains that keep you stuck to the ground, bound to one place. Think of your aspirational beliefs as freeing — cutting the chains to allow you to fly! They allow you to shift to new places and new possibilities.

Where Do Limiting Beliefs Originate?

Our limiting beliefs are built over a lifetime.

It is a result of what we witnessed with our caretakers, how we were loved and cared for, how our siblings and friends related to us and us to them, and how other relationships in our lives have progressed.

Here is the interesting thing, and very important to know: Our Aspirational Beliefs and our Limiting Beliefs (fear-based) are mirror images of each other!

What you most hope for, and what you most fear — mirror images. You may, for example, hope for a loving and caring, well-connected marriage. What you fear, then, is a marriage that is unloving, uncaring and disconnected.

This next point is equally important: when that Limiting Belief is made conscious and examined, the Aspirational Belief grows and the Limiting Belief dims. It is like the negative side of the mirror steams over and cannot be seen anymore.

Why Limiting Beliefs Can Stop Your Attempts To Save Your Marriage

If you want to save your marriage, you need to be much more clear about your limiting beliefs.

For example, if your limiting belief is that someone cannot truly love you, you will unconsciously rebuff the attempts of somebody trying to love you. Over time, the other person will tire of trying to prove his/her love.

This makes it even harder to save your marriage, as your spouse has become frustrated with the process.

Or what if you say you want to save your marriage, but you do not believe your marriage can be saved.

Your actions to save your marriage will be short-lived. You will take some action to save your marriage, become frustrated, reinforce your belief, and give up on your efforts to save your marriage.

In other words, your limiting beliefs will sabotage both attaining the marriage you want, then work against your efforts to save your marriage.

Now it is your turn. What do YOU see as YOUR limiting beliefs?

Lee Baucom, Ph.D. is a best-selling author, therapist, coach and speaker, and has over a quarter of a century of experience helping couples and individuals learn to thrive in their relationships and their lives. He is the creator of the internet marriage program, Save The Marriage.

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