Emergency toolbox for difficult relational times

Graeme Dawson our Focal Point columnist

By Graeme Dawson

In my last article I wrote of the fear many have had coming out of the (lockdown) cocoon, only to be in another one of a different kind – maybe a new cocoon but with a different set of rules and restrictions.

Some walked out through the exit door of the sixth lockdown slap bang into a door that said, ‘Unvaxed-Unwanted’. However over 90 per cent can now go through that door yet there are varied reasons why the remaining 10 per cent can’t or won’t comply. I don’t want to get into the whys and wherefores, except to say that it is an extremely difficult time for all.

However before we might tend to lay it all at the feet of the Victorian Government, we may note that big private enterprise kicked off the ‘no vax no entry’rule:

QANTAS, AFL, MCC re cricket over summer, the Grand Prix Corporation, to mention a few.

Whatever group you are in, we have all been through torrid times. With those times causing us to battle with comfort eating, excessive alcohol use and struggling with relationships.

When we got a grip on Covid-19, and the Delta variant, I warned about the tsunami wave on the horizon – (the psychological one). Well it has hit and as for oceans, lesser rogue waves are still coming in behind it and breaking on our personal and community shores.

In this article I just want to concentrate on relationship breakdowns. There has been an enormous rise in separations and there have been over 50000 applications for a divorce placed before the courts this year alone. Statistics say that these days, relationships only last 14 years on average.

Being a former relationship counsellor, I would want to be exploring why this is so. Sometimes there is poor development as to what a ‘real’ understanding of expectations in a marriage or de-facto partnership is like, and virtually no tools in the relationship tool box to handle difficult times which will always come.

Just think for a moment that most are forming new relationship with someone coming out of another failed relationship.

If the ‘merry go round worked’ – great, but we have become blinded by what we call love, and especially by what we mean by the term, ‘falling in love’. Relationship love is not to be compared to, ‘I love the movies – I love ice cream – I love my car etc.

Last year in one of my articles I quoted the writer to an early Ephesian church as he was teaching about what love really was. I will quote his definition.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not readily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres”. Imagine a love like that – but if two work at it, it is possible.

When counselling toward marriage I always insisted on six weeks of sessions before I held the ceremony. Dealing with questions like: Why marriage If you’ve lived together for 16 years? What do you think getting married will do for you now? Will you have a better relationship? What plans do you have for regulate checkups? Do you plan to have a mentor couple, and other questions to tease out a plan – to build a tool box for dealing with brokenness?

(Feedback and need for help can be fielded to my email – csrsmokey@gmail.com)

Graeme Dawson Chaplain to Community