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  • When the Illusion Ends


     Some couples marry into an ideal,
    which turns into an ordeal,
    and then a raw deal,
    but there’s always hope for a new deal!
                                          — Dr. Reid Doster
    The real relationship cannot even begin until the illusion ends, and disillusionment can shake you to the core.
    Are you grieving over what feels to be the loss of your relationship, or actually grieving the loss of your dream for the relationship?
    Are you desperately trying to hold onto what used to be, when “used to be’s” don’t count anymore?
    Have you been in love with the real person or an idealized image you’ve projected onto the relationship?
    Love is a decision, not just a feeling we start to feel when feeling something we’ve never felt before. We choose to give up certain options so energy isn’t drained away by distractions. Mutually agreed upon self-imposed boundaries increase potential for true intimacy and protect your investment.
    Commitment is neither an intellectual concept nor glandular gladness, but the glue that holds everything together through thick and thin. I’m convinced it can sometimes take forty years to learn how to love each other. After all, men are from earth and women are from earth, and we’re just earthlings made of clay.
    Commitment asks such practical questions as: “What are we doing? Is it working for us? If not, what else can we do that might work for us?” It’s not about who is right or wrong, smart or not so smart, winner or loser, good or bad. It’s about what works for both.
    There are two processes you never want to begin prematurely — embalming and divorce. You can’t speed up the healing of wounds inflicted by deception, betrayal and failure. As with cooking a roux, turn down the heat and keep stirring slowly, otherwise you’ll end up throwing away something of value. Trust me, when you’ve exhausted every option, you will know it is over, and you’ll never look back. Yes, to perpetuate some marriages is to perpetuate a lie, but just make sure you’re not lying to yourself.
    National surveys suggest 60% of couples, who five years ago reported being miserable with each other, now insist they are happy together. Never forget: your love was born in hope, and hope doesn’t give up easily. Beneath the ashes, embers might still glow.
    Live long enough with someone and you will suffer a deep hurt. Rebuilding trust is like stripping a piece of fine furniture to the raw wood. Layer upon layer, with hard work and patience, the original patina can be restored, perhaps even more beautifully because it’s “stressed” with age.
    Much of my work as a counselor involves validation: “Yes, that really did happen and it really hurt that badly, but the worst is probably over. Yes, it brought painful changes, but you’re now in the present. You’re safe and worthy of care. You deserve protection. Your life is not naturally toxic and, although intense at times your feelings cannot destroy you.
    Some couples marry into an ideal, which turns into an ordeal and then a raw deal, but there’s always hope for a new deal!

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