Sometimes, by being thoughtless, couples can ruin a completely great relationship. Here are a few things I suggest you be mindful about to enjoy a great marriage.
1. Constant comparing of your relationship
One of my client, let’s call her Ruth, had a history of jumping into a relationship being filled with excitement and hope. She believed that she had “finally found the one”. Once she was in the relationship, she began to become dissatisfied as she compared her current partner with previous ones or her current relationship with other relationships. Through the counseling process Ruth is only now realizing that her dissatisfaction is more about her unrealistically high standards and her tendency to be intolerant than about the man she is with or the relationship she is in.
2. Always wanting to be right
Another example is that of Tom. He acknowledges that he needs to be in control and to be right. Exploration revealed that this is because he feels very anxious and out of control. He feels it diminishes his anxiety by being in control. This comes across in his repeatedly telling his wife what to do and how to do it. His wife feels criticized and resentful. She then becomes short tempered and standoffish and withdraws emotionally. She also withholds sex which is very disturbing to him. Tom is slowly realizing the painful consequences of his actions and that he’d rather have more sex than be right.
3. Past experiences
All of us come into our relationship with what I refer to as a “big bag of stuff”. I will often say that one bag plus one bag is way greater than two bags. This “stuff” or unresolved hurts and pain come from previous romantic relationships as well as our childhood.
As I counseled Bill and Sara we learned that Bill’s tendency to be verbose and digressive triggered Sara to the point where she could no longer pay attention. She’d have a buzzing in her head accompanied by a blank look on her face. She looked like a “deer caught in the headlights”. Her body would still be in the room yet her mind and emotions would be far away. We learned that she was feeling intruded and overwhelmed by Bill and that this related to trauma in her childhood. When Bill would see Sara looking like this he’d feel like he was “talking to the wall”. He’d then feel ignored, hurt and angry. This related to his being ignored as a child. Their understanding lead to greater sensitivity and compassion. We also explored ways to communicate in ways that they each can be heard and understood.
4. Thinking you’re the same
Healthy people grow, heal and develop over time with a result being that they have different needs and wants. One person can not meet all the needs and wants of their partner. It is important to learn to meet some needs alone and/or with friends other than your partner.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
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More by Jeff Schneider