Can your relationship survive abuse?
The conversation about abuse has been on the tongue of many individuals and organisations in the last few months, especially in the wake of multiple reports of women losing their lives at the hands of their partners.
For me, it's personal, since I have personally experienced physical abuse myself, but honestly, after hearing some of the stories, I know that we have much work to do to really help these women.
I started thinking about the relationship itself. I see questions coming from my website: "Is it possible for a couple to survive abuse together?"
Yes, a couple can actually work on moving forward together in a healthy, happy, non-abusive relationship.
It's certainly not something that many couples can achieve because abuse of any kind is very painful, but for those who are willing to put in the work, it's possible to move forward. What is required?
Accountability and apology
Before a couple can talk about moving forward from abuse, there must be an exercise of accountability and apology.
The abuser needs to openly admit actions, apologise and commit to doing work needed to make amends and earn the forgiveness of the abused.
This process is perhaps the hardest step, but it is necessary before anything else can happen.
It is unrealistic for any couple that has experienced abuse in their relationship to think they can fix things by themselves.
It is critical that they employ the service of a professional, like a therapist. The couple must also commit to the programme that will be set out by this professional, regardless of how uncomfortable the process becomes.
Healthy Conflict Management
Abuse is an indication that the couple has problems managing conflict effectively. For them to move forward, they need to learn how to deal with conflicts as they arise.
This can be achieved as a part of the programme from the therapist, or even completing a conflict management course. There are quite a few available online.
Stress takes a toll on relationships generally. In abusive relationships, sometimes stress magnifies conflicts and makes them even more explosive.
Dealing with stress is not only important for the health of the relationship, it's necessary for the health of the couple as individuals.
Healthy and Fun Routine
Having fun together is a necessary part of the process because it reminds the couple about the good times in their relationships.
It also make communications easier, lowers stress levels and overall increases the happiness in the relationship. Investing in the happy part of a relationship is necessary in every relationship.
The general rule when it comes to abusive relationships is to walk away. However, for the couple who wants to stay together, there has to be a commitment to change.
So be prepared to do the work. Good luck, and ask for help when you need it.