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Sheila and Jim have been married for 15 years, but they say their constant fighting is driving them apart. When asked to describe their marriage in five words, both Jim and Sheila paint a bleak picture. Jim describes his relationship with the words "sucks, boring, on-edge, tiring and empty." While his wife sees their marriage as "sad, lonely, lacking, definitely on-edge and tiring."

Both Jim and Sheila—a self-described "screamer"—admit that they argue every day. There have been days when Jim has considered divorce, but he says he's determined to make his marriage work. "I would endure hell, torture, punishment...anything to hold our family together," he says.

Gary believes that there's still hope for Sheila and Jim. He asks the couple to call upon the love they have for each other and start infusing spiritual partnership into their marriage. "You have the opportunity to realize that you can use these painful interactions to grow...not to change each other," he says.

First, Sheila and Jim have to address what Gary says is the real root of their problems—fear. Anger typically hides pain, and in turn, pain hides fear, he explains. "Instead of looking at each other in the judgmental ways that you have been, understand that the person you're speaking with is frightened," Gary says. "The ultimate fear [is] that I'm intrinsically flawed."

Ultimately, Sheila says she wants her husband to make her feel like she's somebody, but Gary says that can't happen until Sheila believes it herself. "When you develop in you the strength and the clarity that lets you know that you are a soul on this earth with gifts to give, and that your painful experiences are self-created, you can begin to create differently," he says.
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FROM: What Five Words Describe Your Marriage?
Published on January 24, 2007

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