Marriage appears wonderfully endearing to the single individual who has never ever married, and possibly to the divorced man or woman who hankers for something to arrest their longing for companionship or sexual release, but marriage for virtually all of us is fairly a tough perform at occasions. (And I can say this even as a representative of my wife!). We carry so much of ourselves into our marriages – which is each a excellent and a poor thing.
We carry in expectations of being ‘met’ by our partners: that they will satisfy us sexually, not commit too much income, not look for to manage us, that they will want to spend time with us. We also carry in expectations of what our partners ought to deliver to us: their virtues of diligence and moderation and sanctity and kindness – to identify just four. We are disappointed when they don’t measure up to our previously unconscious expectations – that have now turn into aware due to our encroaching annoyance.
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Physical abuse, fertility issues, cheating, or just plain boredom or lack of love. These can break the trust that is so essential to a relationship. So how do you save a marriage that has reached this point?.
But what if you’re afraid you’ve waited too long? Does marriage counseling work if only one spouse is truly committed to saving the marriage? That really depends on a lot of things. The good news is that many marriages and relationships have been saved through the dedicated efforts of one caring partner.
Can you imagine? This woman’s true character was finally showing up at age 52! Amazing! She later admitted to deep feelings of competitiveness with her daughter since she was a teenager. Character is fundamentally crucial to the success of a marriage, the long term negotiation of differences, and marital conflict resolution in marriage.
And I must say that was the hardest part – deciding that enough is enough, taking that first step. After that everything just snowballed down the hill (it was more like up the hill in my situation).
Here is one principle my wife and I have practiced ever since our courting days. Never go to bed with unresolved conflicts. Even if you have to stay up all night to talk things through, do it if it can restore peace between you both. Then you can both sleep in peace. I know it is not always possible but this is a good practice and you should work towards it as far as possible.
There should be a study done with couples who waited to marry for say three years and see if the rate of divorce is better. It would be interesting to see if this would help out as much as it seems like it should.
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What are the root causes of conflicts, tensions, arguments, misunderstandings, fights and the like between couples? Whatever causes you can think of, they all boil down to only one thing – Unfulfilled Expectations. Why do I say that? Let me explain.
Your Old Brain, not your New Brain will tend to confuse your Partner with your Parent. The part of your brain that controls your emotion and your “reactivity” is the Mr. Magoo “act alike.” While your New, Rational, Intelligent Brain clearly knows the difference between your Partner and Your Parent, the brain that triggers and mediates your emotions and reactivity and protective impulses constantly mixes them up.
Accept that nobody is perfect. Overcoming marriage problem is not easy if you and your spouse are blaming each other. Realize that nobody is perfect and people commit mistakes including your spouse. Even if you want everything to be perfect, you and your spouse will not always do the right thing. Mistakes are always part of life and how you learn or recover from those mistakes is all that matters.
Of course, I jumped to the occasion and asked the obvious question… “Who is Nikki? The one your husband Mike met 10 years ago or the Nikki he sees now?” She soon saw the difference between personality and character. Personality, (the nice Nikki) was revealed when things were new and smooth.
Conflict will be present in even the best marriages. A couple that says they never have conflict is either in denial or they just aren’t really living. Unfortunately when couples think of conflict they will often attach negative connotations to it. A better way to understand conflict in marriage would be to look at it introspectively.
In every case it was an incremental change over time, the moment of peace, joy and content didn’t simply occur in an instant. To feel better start by feeling better. Again reflect on those positive events when feeling most alive and fulfilled. Does that conjure up positive feelings from the past? Focus on that joy and content, shifting attention away from what isn’t right about the current situation.
I am not saying you should become like a puppet to your partner without a will of your own. There are certain things that cannot be compromised. For example, having an affair is not allowed and physical abuse cannot be tolerated. But in a marriage, these non-negotiable things are few. In most things a certain degree of compromise is possible and even crucial in saving your marriage.
A great marriage is a gift. The gift needs to be nurtured and cared for to survive and thrive. Growing closer through conflict is an opportunity. Grasp it and continue to grow with your partner. Seek the knowledge of those who can help you move in the right direction, especially when you feel you are alone in your efforts.
In the best of all possible worlds, we would be well prepared for handling conflict before we get married. My experience in my office tells me that is just not the case for most couples. Part of the reason for this is there is just so much in a marriage relationship that can cause conflict. I’ve written before about what’s called the Big Six, the six main areas of conflict in marriage.
It is the part of our brain that makes us distinctively and uniquely human. Some animals and perhaps porpoises have rudimentary cortexes’, but the human cortex is far superior. It would be nice if the cortex controlled our lives and our marriages, but alas and alack, that unfortunately rarely happens in the real world. Most marriages are run on reptilian and mammalian energy.
Expectations on our partners may be very easily reversed as we seek out to realize God’s expectations of us in the marriage. God might count on us to realize our partners’ expectations – and not basically to know them (notwithstanding how peculiar they might be to us) – but to wrestle with our own ability, want and capability to meet their expectations.
But your husband is facing major challenges at work and expects you to be there for him. However, when he comes home, he walks into an empty house. At the end of the day, you are so tired or emotionally spent that you just want to sleep.
So why is it that when things get tough, or we find a problem too difficult to handle, we change the rules and back out on our commitment?. You made a promise. Your spouse made a promise. Now simply agree to stick to that promise. If you do, you will have no choice but to work through whatever difficulties come your way. Go against the flow of society that tends to throw things away without a second thought.
Love is an action, as in something you do. It is not a feeling. Feelings come and go, but your actions need to remain steady. Therefore, no matter what, even if you are angry, work on being kind and loving.
What she needs to do is to complain. But how she does it is very important. This is what she could say to her husband: When you don’t take me anywhere, I feel like you take me for granted and that hurts me. In saying it in that way, she’s very honest, while at the same time respectful. She isn’t judging or attacking, she’s honestly reporting how she’s feeling.
Now for the second response: FLIGHT. When offended, a person may give the silent treatment, pretend there is no problem, act as if the relationship is perfectly OK, tell others about the offense but not discuss with the offender, turn to alcohol, drugs, pornography or any other addictive or mind numbing substance or activity.
Before two people in love decide to become legally bound in matrimony, and take the vows that are supposed to last until death do you part, some “In depth” planning must be done. A marriage is like a business, and every business starts with a business plan. The same type of plan needs to be made for a marriage.
Another step you can take is to always find a way to resolve your conflicts. If you and your spouse allow yourselves to get affected by your fights and don’t talk it out to settle the issues, there’s a possibility that you will end up avoiding each other leading to estrangement. You don’t want that to happen, would you? So make a commitment together with your partner to solve your problems as soon as possible.