“Crucible” is a term that is not used so much currently. It means (from a search on line) either “a container where substances are melted together to form a new substance” or “a situation of severe trial, or in which different elements interact, leading to the creation of something new.” Sounds powerful. But so are relationships with even a bit of commitment and any intimacy.
As a therapist that works with relationships, that was an interesting definition. A definition that could be used for what marriage or a committed is, a definition for what couples counseling is or hopes to be.
So often couples come to therapy and see the problem as being in the other person (their spouse, their significant other). And it seems like all of the time, if the couple is to change and grow, each of the two has to move to see what they are doing and to change what they need to change to make the couple grow. “Differentiate” is the term David Schnarch uses for this aspect of growth. He says, in Passionate Marriage, “Spouses’ interlocking crucibles are an inherent part of the system that is marriage” (page 150, italacs are his). I read that to mean the their ways of interacting lock into a new system that we call marriage. He also talks about how couples often head into a gridlock that is usually seen as a bad thing, but really is the way that they will be pushed by the relationship to grow individually so the relationship can grow. I call that, “to become a couple.” A lot of couples are rather independent of one another rather than go through the “severe trial” of really becoming something new, something different that what was before the relationship began.
It is difficult, the severe trial of really building a marriage. But it leads to emotional and relational riches, growth, and love.