The Continental Drift

   Written by on September 14, 2017 at 10:39 am
Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Do you remember back in high school learning about the continental drift theory?  Do you recall, in science class, seeing a map of the earth’s land masses?  The land masses were once all one, over time the masses split apart and then moved to opposite sides of the globe.  Amazing, right?  Did you wonder about the forces it took to move that much land mass?

How can we make this question more personal?  Have you heard a friend say: “We are getting a divorce.  I don’t know what happened, we just drifted apart.”  So what happened?  You were at their wedding; a loving couple who seemed so much in love with the hope of a lifetime together.  How could a couple so filled with hope and plans for the future drift apart?

For most couples, it is not one big atmospheric blast that blows the marriage part.  It is just small movements.  Movements that indicate something is beginning to go wrong.  If you hear these phrases consider them warning signals of a continental drift beginning in the marriage.

“I can’t remember the last time we talked about us.”  What a change from when the couple was first married.  Regretfully, many couples experience this reality.  Hectic schedules take over as the couple’s primary focus.  Dr. James Dobson calls this “routine panic.”  A couple forgets about date night.  They forget to spend time without the kids, away from the house, doing something they both enjoy and just talking.

“I just feel like I do more.”   Creating a mental scoreboard is a force that will push the continental drift.  Couples begin gradually to keep score.  A spouse begins mentally checking off who contributes most to the relationship.  That is, creating a scoreboard to keep track of the tasks that are part of daily life.  I do all the cooking.  I spend all day working for a paycheck.  I do all the parenting.  I pay all the bills.  I am the only one who helps the kids with homework.  The drift begins with a hidden scoreboard.  In a sports game, the scoreboard is clearly visible to all.  In a marriage, the hidden scoreboard only creates frustration and push on the continental drift.

“He/she is just not what I expected.”  Initially, couples experience the honeymoon period; everything is perfect.  However, this fantasy begins to fade with time, pushed to the background by life’s responsibilities.  In addition, the fantasy may be based on unshared expectations.  Expecting the other person just to know is a force that can support continental drift.

“I’d rather be at work/go hunting/go shopping than be at home.”  Continental drift is at work when other activities become more attractive than being with a spouse.  This consistent pattern can create resentment and anger at home.

This list is not an all-inclusive list of the continental drift forces but hopefully it provides an idea of how subtle and devastating these forces can become.  With a busy and hectic life, the focus often shifts from the relationship to simply surviving.  Kids, finances, careers, over-commitments; the list can go on and on and on.  All are forces that move a couple apart.

How does a couple avoid the continental drift?  The forces causing continental drift are subtle.  Overcoming them takes focus.

Schedule a specific time to talk.  Talk about how you first met.  Talk about how you began to realize that you wanted to spend your lifetime with this person.  These memories can easily fade when we are in one of the patterns described above.  Practice gratefulness and voice your appreciation.  Look for qualities and behavior that you can appreciate.  Tell your spouse thanks for the little things.  Seek counseling from a pastor, a counselor, or a wise friend.  It is so difficult to change the course of a relationship without help.  Remember forces that cause continental drift are small but have tremendous effect.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  And, we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.  I John 3:16,18

Call us with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions; our phone number is 434-808-2637.

About Cheryl & Dennis Gowin

Cheryl Gowin, Counselor and Dennis Gowin, Director of Discovery Counseling Center. Contact us with your feedback, comments, issues or questions at 434-808-2426 or dgowin@discoverycounseling.org.

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