Tuesday, February 4, 2014
What I Learned From Earthquakes
I began seeing couples as a marriage family therapist intern in California in 1996. To be honest, I dreaded them at first. It seemed that most people waited until the last minute to come to therapy to resolve their issues. So often I saw relationships dissipate under the pressure of frustrations and resentments that had been built up for years.
I always pondered this. People don’t call the fire department after the house has become engulfed in flames. Why do they wait to see a therapist until the minute before the relationship is over? I aspired to find a way to help couples get help before the crisis that leads to the relationship 911 call.
Living in California lends itself to a certain degree of uncertainty and instability. The ground may literally shift beneath your feet at any given moment, putting a great deal of strain on building structures. I was living in the Bay Area during the destructive Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, and saw firsthand what became of buildings that had a brick foundation with very limited range of flexibility or movement. Those were the first to collapse under pressure because they simply had no ability to withstand the trauma of the shifting ground below.
However, most of the newer buildings did withstand the shock. They were built to be able to endure and survive the stress of a major earthquake and its subsequent aftershocks. Many had damage, but because they could shift and move with the earth, they were better able to remain standing, as they still are today.
It occurred to me that relationships operate in very much the same way. The unions that are built on weak foundations, with limited or no ability to withstand stress and trauma, are the ones that collapse. Similarly, the bonds that are initially built on solid ground, with the flexibility to shift, change, and adjust, are the strongest and most resilient.
Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in New York, who has helped hundreds of couples and individuals create joyful, peaceful, and pleasurable, relationships. He is the author of the books, “Rational Relating” and “Absolutely Should-less.” His trainings have helped thousands to learn practical skills for living an empowered and fulfilling life. To speak with Damon about counseling, speaking engagements, or media appearances, please contact Damon at Damon@DamonLJacobs.com, call 347-227-7707, or visit www.DamonLJacobs.com