One of the biggest traps couples find themselves in in relationships is what we term, “Tolerable Recovery”. Welcome to the “Dead ZOne”
If you are functioning in this place your relationship is dynamically “dead” in the water and you are basically tolerating one another. Interesting that when we first got together, we felt as though we could conquer the world with the “love” we have for each other. I’ve heard it a thousand times, and I love the one with this tag line; “we just know we are “soul-mates” and God has put us together.”
Many of these same people show up for counseling within 6 months.
The other scenario is that when they do come for counseling, the only go so far in repairing the relationship… they reach…”Tolerable Recovery. The Dead ZOne.”
The barometer of the quality of their recovery? They are not fighting as much as they used to. Seriously? Is that it? What about the perpetual development and growth of the relationship? WHat does it mean to “become one” with someone?
Here are a few excerpts from a powerful article I give many people. (If you want a copy please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org) It’s called, “My Marriage Wasn’t Meant to Be“.
The article is using a Nicholas Sparks, (who is now divorced), novel as the “romantic” basis on which many believe is how life actually works.
“My experience with Sparksian fairy tales doesn’t extend very far. But reliable sources inform me that all of his stories follow the same basic outline, like a romantic “madlib”. And, hey, they might be hackneyed, mawkish, overwrought, and emotionally manipulative, but it’s all rather harmless, right?
Not quite. Unfortunately, men and women are profoundly impacted by how pop culture depicts romantic relationships. Sparks isn’t the only culprit — and he’s certainly not the first — but he’s part of the problem.
Granted, his schlock is much more a symptom than it is a cause, but it’s a symptom that spreads the disease. The disease is the fanciful, unrealistic, fictionalized perceptions that both males and females harbor about marriage.
For example, think of the glamorization of the “mysterious” and “damaged” guy from the “wrong side of the tracks.” Hollywood makes him seem alluring and sexy, but forgets to mention that most of the time, in the real world, that dude probably has herpes, a coke habit, maybe criminal record, and a boatload of unresolved trauma.
Still, that bit of propaganda is nothing compared to the underlying misconception that so many of us carry around consciously or subconsciously, because we’ve seen it on TV and in the movies, and read it in books a million times since childhood: namely, that there is just one person out there for us. Our soul mate. Our Mr. or Mrs. Right. The person we are “meant to be with.”
We think that our task is to find this preordained partner and marry them because, after all, they’re “The One.” They were designed for us, for us and only us. It’s written in the stars, prescribed in the cosmos, commanded by God or Mother Earth. There are six or seven billion people in the world, but only one of them is the right one, we think, and we’ll stay single until we happen to stumble into them one day.
And when that day happens, when The One — our soul mate, our match, our spirit-twin — comes barreling into our lives to whisk us off our feet and take us on canoe rides and deliver impassioned romantic monologues on a beach in the rain or in a bus station or whatever, then we’ll finally be happy. Happy until the end of time. We can get married and have a perfect union; a Facebook Photo Marriage, where every day is like an Instagram of you and your spouse wearing comfortable socks and sitting next to the fireplace drinking Starbucks lattes.
Yeah. About that. It’s bull , sorry. Not just silly, frivolous bull crap, but bull crap that will destroy you and eat your marriage alive from the inside. It’s a lie. A vicious, cynical lie that leads only to disappointment and confusion; ultimately to; The Dead ZOne – Tollerable Recovery. The Marriage of Destiny is a facade, but the good news is that Real Marriage is something so much more loving, joyful, and true.
Until we were married, she was one, I was one, and we were both one of many. I didn’t marry The One, I married this one, and the two of us became one. I didn’t marry her because I was “meant to be with her,” I married her because that was my choice, and it was her choice, and the Sacrament of marriage is that choice. I married her because I love her — I chose to love her — and I chose to live the rest of my life in service to her.
We were not following a script, we chose to write our own, and it’s a story that contains more love and happiness than any romantic fable ever conjured up by Hollywood. [This is why people plan expensive big weddings, but not big relationships or big marriages, then reach the “ZOne”.]
Indeed, marriage is a decision, not the inevitable result of unseen forces outside of our control. When we got married, the pastor asked us if we had “come here freely.” If I had said, “well, not really, you see destiny drew us together,” that would have brought the evening to an abrupt and unpleasant end.
God gave us Free Will. It is His greatest gift to us because without it, nothing is possible. Love is not possible without Will. If we cannot choose to love, then we cannot love. God did not program us like robots to be compatible with only one other machine. He created us as individuals, endowed with the incredible, unprecedented power to choose. And with that choice, we are to go out and find a partner, and make that partner our soul mate.
That’s what we do. We make our spouses into our soul mates by marrying them. We don’t simply recognize that they are soul mates and then just sort of symbolically consecrate that recognition through what would then be an effectively meaningless marriage sacrament. Instead, we find another unique, dynamic, wholly individualized human being, and we make the monumental, supernatural decision to bind ourselves to them for eternity.”
One alternative is to realize this foundationally, and enter into the journey oriented reality that in order to have a thriving loving long lasting, (forever), relationship, is to do it the way God designed it. It will be full of challenges, trouble and disappointment, and you will learn to allow all of it to weld you together.
Get out of the “Dead ZOne” today, and get into a Process of transformation that lasts a lifetime!
BH/ Adapted article by Matt Walsh