more on...Building a Healthy Marriage through Family Constellation Work

A provocative question I have heard facilitators of constellations use is, "If your parents had divorced, who would have left whom?"Constellation work is certainly an appropriate modality to help individuals gain an understanding of why they cannot stay married. There is little consensus about the root causes of multiple ​divorces, which can cause so much anguish for adults and children alike. We know the discouraging statistics for second and third marriages. It is common wisdom that people keep taking similar partners, often not only looking alike, but carrying with them the same basic flaws that supposedly led to the divorce in the first place. 

​But what is truly going on?In a constellation, we look at the dynamics within the family system, and often the repetition of the patterns within three or four generations is very striking. One is that the one of the children takes the place of the parent of the same sex in the affections of the other parent. This typically happens because that parent is just not emotionally present: he or she is fixated on a deep childhood loss, and therefore cannot function as a spouse, so one of the children, out of misguided love and loyalty, will step in to give warmth and love to fill the abandoned spouse's loneliness. This is not necessarily an incest dynamic, although it can be. Often it is just the family system's way of righting something that is out of balance. But, as usual, it does this on the backs of its youngest and most vulnerable members. As the constellation comes into the resolution phase, the individual who has sacrificed him or herself in this way has to hear the parent say, "I release you from doing this for me. This has nothing to do with you. This is between your mother (father) and me.