Maybe you are beginning to wonder if this marriage is going to work. You went into your marriage choosing this spouse thinking it would not be this difficult. Maybe you have known your spouse for five or ten years and you thought after this amount of time, why are we not happy? You have invested 10 years or longer into this marriage and you thought by now you would be further along, but instead you are noticing the same patterns over and over again and feeling alone but not together?
In general, the issues are different for many couples but the confusion is often the same. One spouse feels something is missing, but he or she can’t figure out what it is. So this spouse tries to do the right thing, by giving, sacrificing, and honoring the commitment by trying their best, but in the end, each spouse does not achieve the intimacy and connection they had hoped and longed for.
For example, maybe you are married to someone who has an addiction, or is irresponsible, controlling, or can be verbally or emotionally abusive. You think or draw this conclusion that if this problem person were to get fixed, then the marriage would be better. Partners often think that they can explain why their relationship lacks intimacy by the presence of a ‘problem’ in their marriage. But soon spouses learn that even if the problem goes away, the person with whom they love still can’t connect or be available emotionally for them.
In other cases, there may be no ‘problems’ but the marriage does not live up to the promise that one or both of the partners had in the beginning. So commitment may be strong and you know he or she is a good person, but love, intimacy, deep sharing, and communication is absent. There is a lack of confidence that your partner will be there for you as you are lacking the assurance your partner can be empathetic, understanding, or caring. He or she is a good person, but how come my spouse avoids showing love to me?
For example, consider these three unhealthy patterns in your marriage:Blame: You and your spouse are arguing and someone asks you why? You replay: “My husband is just so angry all the time. He gets so mad at me that it really hurts: he is so mean sometimes. He seems to be selfish as he is into his own things and I cannot get his time or attention. I feel hurt and alone.”
So what happens is one spouse is labeled the problem person and the other spouse is alone, and the reason for this problem is a sense of blaming the problem person for how they are feeling. In your mind, you conclude that how you are feeling or doing is caused by the other person. You blame your spouse and you secretly conclude: If it were not for you, I would or I could be a more loving and caring person. Thus you blame your spouse for how you are doing or feeling. In other words, your choices are dictated by the labeled problem person, and how you are feeling gets explained by blaming him or her. Control: A second unhealthy pattern between couples is a lack of responsibility on one spouse’s part, and then the other spouse tries to fix, nag, or control the other person to be more responsible. So one spouse says, “If only he or she would grow up, stop doing what they are doing, and take responsibility for themselves, then our marriage would be better.” No matter the problem in the marriage, one spouse concludes that they can control the problem person by trying to get them to stop that problem. But when the alone spouse recognizes that he/she is responsible for his/her own misery or unhappiness, then this spouse can be empowered to change that helpless, powerless stance by concluding he/she or he can change no matter what the labeled problem person is doing. If we are waiting for the other person to change, and we think we can help change them, we are falsely concluding, my happiness is dependent on controlling that person. No Freedom: A final unhealthy pattern that can happen in a marriage is when one spouse starts to feel they lack the freedom or choice to do something about a problem in their marriage. So one spouse feels stuck or angry or resentful for how they are feeling and don’t know how to change and be free to make those changes. For example, a spouse may conclude: “His or her irresponsibility is making my life miserable. I feel stuck by his or her character flaws and choices that I don’t know what else to do.” So when freedom is taken away in a marriage and rules, expectations, and demands are placed on each spouse, then the marriage will lack freedom and each spouse will feel that their choices are being controlled because of the other person’s rules or expectations. Each spouse will then falsely conclude: If I am good, my spouse will like me, but if I am not good, my spouse will not like me. When there is no freedom, then we feel enslaved to each other to please one another rather than finding the freedom to choose to love one another. Love has to be a free choice. As a marriage counselor and someone who has been married for 15 years, I know that having a good to great marriage does take a lot of work. Becoming bonded and close to my wife has taken a lot of work, but in the end it really has been worth it. My wife and I have sought counseling for our marriage and it has worked. Even though we still argue now and then, we have found a way to resolve our conflicts and get back to love and happiness. We both know the loneliness each can feel in a marriage, acting like roommates rather than a marriage. Today we have learned to stay together and work together to stay bonded and not be alone. If you find you do want to stay with your spouse and do want a close intimate relationship, but recognizing your ways of creating this is not working, perhaps it is time to seek help. If you break a leg, you would find the rationale to see a doctor. If your marriage is broken, can you also see the value of seeing a marriage counselor?
As a licensed and marriage therapist, I specialize in helping couples get close again. I know you are defeated and lack hope, but please, don’t give up without asking a good marriage counselor to help. If you will allow me, I can walk with you and your spouse out of conflict and into connection. When you are ready, give me a call at 626.791.1488 or use my online calendar to make an appointment. If you would like to call, we can also answer any questions you may have. Also feel free to E Mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t give up, allow someone on the outside to help you find the hope and security you are seeking in your marriage and really do believe you can move from conflict to connection. Each spouse can learn new ways to respond to each other to create a close connecting love relationship with each other. Stop the madness of fighting and conflict and let me help you find the way to increasing love and closeness between the two of you.
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