Wednesday, March 15, 2017

When your marriage isn't working, all the advice columns in the world won't fix it. It takes action - and both sides being willing to take it. Aside from infidelity and drugs (or any serious problems with addictive behavior for that matter... like shopping, exercise, gambling, etc.), I firmly believe that the root of all marital problems is a lack of proper communication. When you love someone, you have to make an effort to understand them and view things from their perspective. What seems logical to you, may not even cross the other person's mind. This does not mean anyone is right or wrong, it just means we are all different. In recognizing that you cannot read your significant other's mind, they cannot read yours either. Here are some ways you can learn to communicate, resolve conflict and make your marriage work: 1. Never Assume. Let the other person know what's on your mind. This can be anything that you may have questions about. The only way you can really know what a person is thinking, what their words mean, or their intention is to ask them. Making assumptions will only cause you more grief. Assuming allows you to take your uncertainties and fill in the blanks yourself, creating a whole separate story that is likely untrue. 2. Address Issues Immediately. Holding on to hurt or anger and burying it only feeds the beast. 3. Change Your Behavior First. Understand that just like in physics, every action causes and equal and opposite reaction. If one party is verbally abusive, it affects how the other reacts. If one party threatens divorce constantly or refuses to talk about financial issues, it can only make the situation worse, not better. Change how you react to the negative stimulus and you may find your partner reacts differently, too. 4. Don't Assign Blame - while the actual activity or incident may be the focus of a problem, you are supposed to be a team. Often times, the mistakes people make in a marriage have a root causes other than what you are arguing about. It goes back to behavior and why people do things. Did you contribute to the problem by doing something that may have caused a reaction or event to occur? While the person who carried out the act or incident is still ultimately responsible and accountable for it, you may actually have been a contributing factor. Don't assign blame, work on solutions together instead. 5. Identify Repeating Patterns and Work on Solutions- identify issues that continue to repeat themselves and work on how to overcome these obstacles. Try sitting down together and writing a list of the challenges you have by taking a positive approach instead of a negative one. Again, for every action there is a reaction, so instead of telling someone why you are so miserable, try telling them what you need to be happy and work on getting there. How do you do that? You can start by telling them how you feel and asking the other person what they need from you. For example: Negative Approach: "I hate it when you..." "What you do is wrong because..." "I wish you wouldn't..." "You did this to me..." "You always..." "You need to stop doing..." Positive Approach: "I am hurt when..." "What needs do you have, that I can work on?" "What can I do to make you feel more... (happy, secure, loved)?" 6. Dont Sweat the Small Stuff -- If it really truly bothers you that the toothpaste is squeezed from the middle then say so. But you are going to have to take some of the bad with the good. Most people don't do things exactly like you would, and no one is perfect. Small things like this just aren't worth fighting over. 7. Revenge/Teaching Someone a "Lesson" -- Do you hold grudges? Before you decide to teach your spouse a "lesson", consider the fact that kicking a grown man or woman when their down is not the kind of loving relationship you should be striving for. It may take time when it is a big mistake, but you most of you took the vows that held the phrase "for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, for good times and in bad..." Remember that? When you love someone and have committed to marriage, you may not always like them or what they do, but making them pay over and over for mistakes is counterproductive. 8. Counseling - Sometimes this is the only option, and I consider it to be a last resort. Most of us do not want open up our can of worms to a stranger. Don't look at it as a bad thing, though. Often it's not that the two of you are so messed up individually, it's just your relationship is to the point where it is just too dysfunctional and you require some mediation. Choose your counselor carefully and if you feel they are biased go to a different counselor you both agree on. There may be situations in which only one person is willing to work and the other is indifferent and uncooperative. At that point, you have to decide if it is something you can live with for now, or something you can't. No one else can give you the answer, and we can't change anyone but ourselves. Do the best you can, especially if you have children. The bottom line is, if you love each other and value your family, you can never stop working on it. People are individuals who grow and change constantly - and not always in the same way our partners do. Article Source:

Why do conflicts arise so often in a marriage, and why do they often escalate to the point where a couple is more than willing to throw away the good things about each other and dissolve their union altogether?
Obviously this is not an easy answer. Conflicts arise between two people under any circumstances, not just between married couples. Friends have conflicts and arguments, as do family members, coworkers, and even neighbors. Different opinion, different needs, and different attitudes all lead to conflict at one time or another.
But of course divorces don't typically rise up out of minor disagreements and different opinions. As said, a couple will usually have so many positive experiences together that the few negative issues they face aren't going to dissolve their entire marriage.
So what are the most common reasons for couples to experience a marital breakdown to the point of divorce? What things do they face that make them question their entire relationship to the extent that they doubt it can even be salvaged? Examining the various causes of conflict can certainly help a couple to identify where their own conflict is coming from, and from that examination can come the first steps toward resolving those conflicts. You might compare this to seeing a doctor when you have a severe pain in your knee - he or she will do an exam and perhaps run some test to get to the cause of that pain so that in turn it can be addressed properly and hopefully corrected.
One of the most common causes of conflict between a man and a woman is that very often women react to how they feel whereas men react to what they're thinking. This isn't meant to stereotype or to say that women don't think and men don't feel, it's simply saying that women are often more attune to their feelings whereas men usually see things from a more analytical point of view.
Here are a few examples of what we mean. A woman often needs to hear a man say that he loves her. When she hears the words it makes her feel reassured of his love. To a man it's not necessary to say it so often because after all, he married her and is still married to her so of course he loves her. You see how her feelings can sometimes be different than his thinking on the matter. As another example, a husband may purchase his wife something practical for an anniversary or birthday present, and the wife is angry. To her, this means that he only sees her as something practical in his life - that blender means she's just a cook, that vacuum cleaner means she's just a maid, etc. - and so she feels disrespected and undesirable as a woman. To the husband, a gift is something that is meant to be used. Since she loves to make banana milkshakes or keeps such a clean house and those appliances need to be replaced, why not wrap them up as a gift? So again, his logic thinking and her deep feelings create conflict.
When considering how one person's feelings might conflict with another person's thinking, it's a huge mistake to assume that one should win out over the other. A woman's feelings need to be respected but at the same time she needs to understand how her husband is thinking and not make assumptions about what his actions really mean. Both are entitled to their motivations and both should be respected - and we'll talk in a later section about how to do just that.
Communication is very important in any relationship, whether it's the "relationship" between a teacher and pupil, boss and coworker, or husband and wife. Without clear communication there is misunderstanding which often leads to hurt feelings and eventually a breakdown in the relationship.
There are many ways that communication can break down in a relationship. Here are some of the most common examples:
Passive aggressive behavior.
The term passive aggressive refers to a type of behavior that is obstructive and resistant but not in a direct and straightforward way. It refers to purposely doing or communicating one's resistance to a situation or person in an indirect fashion. For example, if someone doesn't want to take care of a certain chore that's waiting for them at home, they conveniently "forget" and go out after work with friends. Rather than directly stating "I don't want to do that chore" or finding some other means to take care of it, they simply avoid the situation by passively staying out with friends.
Passive aggressive communication might refer to making indirect statements or accusations, such as "I guess you really never cared about this marriage since you don't want to talk about this." You might immediately realize why such statements are so hurtful in a marriage - not wanting to argue about a particular issue shouldn't mean the other person now needs to defend themselves about how they feel about the marriage overall.
Another way that spouses are often passive aggressive is giving the other one the "silent treatment," or purposely doing things that they know will annoy their spouse. All of these behaviors break down the marriage bonds and put a dent in their communication rather than build it up.
One common problem when it comes to communication in marriage is that when problems arise, spouses tend to simply blame one another rather than trying to address the problem overall. Very often communication stops once one spouse starts blaming the other because then this person is busy defending themselves and tossing back their own blame, and the problem itself never gets addressed.
Dismissive attitudes.
Another block to effective communication in marriage is a dismissive attitude by one or both spouses. A wife says that when her husband takes calls from his mother and listens to her complain incessantly about the wife it makes her feel disrespected, and he dismisses those feelings as being silly or childish. The husband doesn't appreciate the wife making jokes about him to her friends and feels emasculated and put down, and the wife dismisses that because they're just jokes.
Apart from feelings, a dismissive attitude can also happen when spouses disagree over important issues. The wife wants to cut back on spending to save more money and the husband ignores that and plays golf as often as he wants, or the husband wants to save more and the wife ignores him and continues to charge designer clothes on their credit cards. Each is dismissing the other's viewpoints and opinions, and communication about these problems is stifled.
Very often financial problems are listed as a reason for marital breakup and while it's typical to assume that this means the couple just doesn't have enough money to make ends meet, in reality the problem that threatens a marriage bond is that they cannot agree on how to handle the finances. After all, there are many people that don't make much money but that manage to keep their marriage intact and many wealthy people that get divorced, so a couple's income level is not itself not the reason for their breakup.
Lack of communication and agreement.
Very often the lack of communication and agreement on how to handle the finances and how to spend the money are at the core of a divorce that occurs over financial problems. Let's look at some ways in which these two areas can be at fault.
A lack of communication means more than just one partner not talking with the other. It can also mean one partner not listening to the other as well, or refusing to be educated and knowledgeable about the cost of many things. Very often the person who isn't doing the purchasing can be shocked at the actual cost of necessary items like groceries and items for the children, and may blame the person that is doing the purchasing for the money spent. Let's assume the wife buys the groceries, it's easy for the husband to get angry at her for the cost of food for the month, but what does he know about how much it actually costs to feed the family for the entire month - and how much food is actually needed for breakfast, the kids' lunches, snacks, and so on? In a scenario like this it's not that the wife is not communicating, it's that the husband is not doing his part for that communication.
A lack of agreement in how the finances will be handled can happen in many different ways. It might include the husband and wife making large purchases without consulting with the other person or without any regard for the budget. It might include one partner spending more on personal items than the other.
Finances are thought by many to be the cause of a divorce but in reality it's usually a power struggle or lack of consideration for the other person's needs and feelings that develop over those finances that are really at the heart of the problems that cause a divorce.
People that enter into a marriage usually have specific expectations as to their needs and what their partner will do for them, and needs that will be fulfilled. Typically most assume that marriage will fill their need for companionship and friendship and of course for sexual intimacy. They may also have the need for validation and reassurance, women typically have the need to feel beautiful and to think that someone finds them physically attractive while men usually have the need to feel respected and for someone to view them as being tough and strong.
Some may also have the need for children and extended family. Each person's needs as an individual and as part of a couple are going to be very different.
What unfortunately happens with some marriages is that two people enter into a marriage with certain needs but then those needs and their priorities change over time. Two twenty-something people may have no desire for children when they get married but after a few years one feels as if he or she is missing out on something. Sexual intimacy may be very important when they first get married but as years go by, one's desire may not be as strong as the other's.
Very often people have needs that they don't even realize and then are left wondering why their marriage leaves them feeling unfulfilled and dissatisfied. A woman may not realize how important it is to her that her husband find her physically attractive, in the beginning of their relationship he may have been full of compliments but after a few years he stops commenting on how attractive she is. She may not even realize how important that reassurance was and doesn't now realize how much she misses it. This situation can happen in many different ways with both men and women.
Listing all the exact causes of marriage is appropriate and of course helpful, but let's face it - often problems and conflicts in marriage exist because of pure selfishness on the part of both spouses. Each person wants what they want, when they want, how they want, and they have little regard for how their actions affect the other person.
When you're single and have no one to consider but yourself, a measure of selfishness is typically acceptable. If you want to go out after work with your coworkers, you don't need to think about who might be at home waiting for you. If you see something you want to buy, it's up to you to decide if you can afford it or not. You can decide where you're going on vacation, what you're going to watch on television, and how you're going to spend your Saturdays.
But when you're married the selfish behavior should go away - emphasis on the word should. Unfortunately many don't like having someone else's feelings to consider and simply want to do whatever they please with little or no regard to the others in the family. Even when there are conversations about different issues and decisions are made, those decisions and agreements can be easily disregarded in favor of selfish desires. You've set a budget but then one spouse sees that shiny new "something" in the window of a store, and the agreement about the budget is ignored. You agree Wednesday is family night, but Wednesday rolls around and someone just doesn't feel like staying in - and he or she is out with the friends.
So what are your conflicts that are causing your marital breakup?
By this point you may realize that it's not just the problems you're both facing but it's your communication style, your attitudes, and your lack of agreement on how to face those problems that is really at the root of your discord.
Along with that you may be experiencing a gross lack of emotional intimacy at this point. Couples that feel close to one another and that feel like real friends are the ones that will have the strong marriage bonds, but when there are unresolved conflicts that are allowed to build and build, it seems as if the couple cannot enjoy their time together no matter what they're doing. Instead of being best friends, marriage mates now see each other as enemies and this just escalates the tension and conflicts.
Deciding why there are conflicts in your marriage is something that both spouses need to be a part of. It's very easy to think that it's all his fault or all her doing, but in most cases it's both partners have at least some contribution to the marital discord and breakup. Coming up with a list of reasons and conflicts may be something you want to do separately or something you do together, but caution is needed. Before you start deciding that you need to make your list or the two of you start making a list together - which can result in even more conflict and problems - it's recommended that you read through this article first and then decide which conflicts you need to address and how. Starting out the healing process with even more anger and space between you will only escalate things, not make them better.

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