PAUL BECKOW: Marriage; a laboratory for personal growth and learning

Receiving counselling is a good way to work on issues

Re: Parents find way to unburden themselves (Greater Victoria Family, June 13)

It was not long into my work as a professional in private practice that I came to see one of the strongest beliefs many people had about counselling was that if anyone was in counselling there  must be something definitely wrong with them. Seeking counselling was evidence of a failure of some kind.

I suggest nothing is farther from the truth – that perhaps to search out the support for yourself and/or your partner when you meet a difficulty you cannot seem to move past, to inquire into a persistent problem and explore what the problem has to offer you is truly a very intelligent thing to do.

Truth is, when any couples marry, there are no guarantees.  We do not come into marriage experienced, trained and certified. Becoming an expert in the matter of  loving and relating is a training and  invites our commitment, intention, practice, and openness to learn.  Relationship is set up that way, a curriculum for our personal growth and development.

Currently the divorce rate in Canada exceeds 50 per cent. That is, 50 per cent of first marriages end in separation and divorce. Our track record therefore implies there is lots for us to learn about how to make ourselves happy and satisfied in relationship.

So if we are to remain in love and satisfied in marriage there will be lots of “breakdowns,” lots of confusions, confrontations, challenges and difficulties. And if something feels to us like it’s not working this gets our attention. You could say this is life getting our attention.  Life, relationship, suggesting to us we have something to learn.

New learning, then, invites stopping, examining  inquiring and exploring, often getting beyond ourselves, having the space to see ourselves, understand ourselves and others, explore the choices in front of us and explore what new skills and understandings the “problem” is asking of us.

People who live that way have the most power in relationship. Living from the commitment to be genuinely satisfied, to learn and grow, to not avoid, but address and learn from difficulties that appear.

It makes perfect sense therefore, when difficulties or problems  persist, to find someone who has training and insight in the field of relationship,  can support and enhance such a valuable  inquiry and do the work with them.

Paul Beckow M.Sc. is a certified clinical counsellor and can be reached at The Victoria Family Institute at 250-721-2477.