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How can I feel they're the one and only?

A couple came to me with an interesting story. I learned very important insights from them that I want to share with you.

They've lived together for about ten years. Both of them need ongoing medical treatments. Both of them! Medicine helps keep them afloat, living normally, more or less. From the outside, a nonprofessional probably wouldn't detect any problems, as they act like "normal" people. However following their drug treatments, they experience emotional outbursts against each other. Relatively speaking, the outbursts are mild, and they manage to live together in peace.

They came to me for counseling on a very specific issue they wanted to learn about. What I learned about them is that they share a wonderful attitude toward each other. Their communication, harmony, and the flow of love is truly wonderful.

How does this happen?

I perceived that the husband is completely invested in his married life. As the consultant, I am entrusted to affirm the client's positive qualities. I waited for the opportunity when we were alone in a meeting, and I expressed my appreciation of his investment in his relationship.

He then explained his motive: his wife is special to him. She is his "one and only." Only her! And why? Because she is the only one who can understand what he goes through health-wise, the only one who is able to accept and receive him as he is, the only one who would be willing to suffer the side effects of his treatments. Why? Because she goes through the same things he does.

His wife felt the same way about him. For her, there were "no other options." He is the only one for her.

Now in truth, of course they have other optional partners in the world. They do actually have a choice. But what they choose to feel is that there is no other wife/husband in the in world for them. This is the sure-fire foundation of an exemplary and happy married life, no matter the disadvantages of their situations.

By the way, Adam and Eve probably also had this mindset because of the simple fact that there really wasn't anyone else in the world. So this is our question today: how can we all live with a feeling that our spouse is our one and only?


A few months ago a woman came to me who didn't know if she wanted to continue her marriage. She had dreams of marrying a husband who had such and such and behaved so and so. Her husband did not fit any of her dreams — none of them. Her hard landing into reality was painful, her disappointment severe.

I asked her what she preferred, to break up right away or continue anyway, i.e., suffer through? I also gave her a third option, which was to give the marriage a chance for a specific period of time. During this time, her focus will be to work on herself. Her goal during that period is to reach the point where she appreciates her husband, actually likes him, for all his "flaws," as is.

She chose the third option, and then we got to work. One of the things we did — and in my opinion this is what "did the job" — was creating two lists. On one list she recorded the dreams she lost, what she lacked in her husband. She listed everything, even those details that seemed petty to her.

The second list detailed her husband's positive qualities, what he does have, the qualities in him that suit her, and his special attributes. Several days passed, and I didn't hear from her. I asked her how she was doing with regard to her doubts about the future of her marriage, if she still felt the same disappointment. Her reaction was very emotional: "Oh, of course not! I'm staying with him forever and ever!"

At this point, you might be thinking, so what's new? Everyone knows that you have to focus on the other person's virtues to develop an appreciation for them. However, that's exactly what this example shows: not everyone knows it because not everyone knows how to do it effectively.

Here's how: you write what bothers you about the other person's personality or conduct. Let your thoughts and feelings flow freely onto the page like a flood. It is also possible to pour out your heart to someone close (not from the family), on the condition that the listener understands that their job is to listen and accommodate you by listening, not to provide "clever" advice, such as, "So leave him" or anything close to that message. Your listener's role is to be a listening ear and feel the emotions you share without judgement.

Only after that, write your spouse's virtues in full color. You can return to your list multiple times in the course of the day as you think of additional virtues. Everyone has good points, much more than he himself knows! You just have to search, focus, and think about it.

The reason for the writing stage is that undefined thoughts sit on the psyche like an unrecognizable black cloud, oppressive and disturbing. They prevent any possibility of seeing another side. When we define for ourselves what we're thinking and feeling and clearly put it on the table, then we can also lay it aside and start to see the good.

Another issue that I've mentioned several times before is that if someone feels that the other person owes them something, then he or she will never be able to see the other's virtues. Reality demands this approach. If you integrate the attitude that the other person doesn't owe you anything, then everything the other does is a wonderful advantage. You'll feel gratitude for the little things they bring to your life, and life will feel wonderful. Gratitude is the foundation of a good marriage, even ahead of giving to the other.

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