In a marriage, there will inevitably be sometimes when feelings are hurt or when disasters happen. I would like to advise couples in a situation like this for ‘clean up procedures’ ensuring that if, for whatever reason, you or your spouse do begin to face off like injured adversaries, you can restore your sense of cooperative partnership.
The AAA of marital upsets
There are three main creators of marital upsets: Abusive anger, Affairs, and Addictions.
These are totally out-of-bounds behaviors and usually difficult to perceive and admit to. Rather than feeling the embarrassment, shame, and guilt that might arise with admitting that an individual has these problems, one might be tempted to justify, cover up or blame the spouse for their own issues.
An expression of anger, with verbal and physical aggression, that turns out to be harmful in a traumatic way is called Abusive Anger. Often times, abusive anger stems from hypersensitivity. It establishes a relationship of power and control in a marriage. Usually an abusive spouse tends to be controlling, commanding their partners about what to do and makes choices for them without considering their wishes. The severity of this abuse is significantly increased with the use of alcohol or drugs, as most serious injuries occur when the abuser has been drinking. People with abusive anger issues find it hard to acknowledge their anger outburst as a problem behavior as they justify themselves, blaming their spouse; not seeing their fault or taking responsibility for their actions.
The introspection leading towards assessment of anger, being self-aware towards having an anger problem, talking to your spouse and seeking professional help through anger management program is the right course of action towards a healthy marriage.
Often times, affairs start with flirtatious interactions, especially in a culture of drinking and socializing, business trips or individual engagement in personal and emotional talk in private places, with a friend’s spouse, business associate or with a neighbor. In my experience of couples therapy, I often find that the impact of emotional infidelity, such as e-mail romances or excessive intimacy with a colleague, friend or neighbor transferring the affection that otherwise would go to one’s partner, does more damage to a marriage than sexual intimacy. It violates emotional monogamy leading to physical betrayal in the long run.
To prevent an upset related to infidelity, we need to focus upon two factors:
- Maintain the basic rules of marital trust and fidelity by having a transparent life with no secrets to the relationship. If you are doing anything in any relationship that feels secret, you need to take a second look.
- Be wary of flirtatious behavior, a need to confide about our personal life to someone else towards gaining sympathy and emotional attention.
- Evidently, affairs undermine the basic trust in a marriage. Commitment and loyalty is the foundation stone for a loving marriage and partnership and when these stones are removed by betrayals, the marriage falls apart.
Addictions not only destroy a relationship but further damages people in various ways including their families and professional lives.
Whether we have addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography or eating disorder, addictive patterns create a priority over one’s spouse bringing toxic and unacceptable interactions along. Drugs and alcohol usually tend to lead an individual towards destructive behavior, with passive/aggressive demeanor, insult and abuse towards the spouse.
Admitting there’s a problem and seeking professional help is the best course of action to take in this situation.
Overall, whenever we come across an upset, small or large, we should try the cleanup process by identifying our part of the problem, take responsibility and be full apologetic. If this cleanup procedure is unable to detoxify damaging incidents, consider seeking professional help. Most couples wait too long before they get some help, and sometimes it is too late to save a marriage.
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