“We were together 15 years, I was unhappy for 11 of them.”
“My wife just came to me one day, and said something was wrong in the relationship and that she didn’t want to do this anymore.”
“It was a 5 year process from when I started thinking about separation to when I verbalized it. Once I did, it was a quick process. I moved out of the house a month later.”
“I separated from my husband 4 months after we were married, and we filed for divorce only 6 months after getting married.”
Clearly, there is no one-size fits all timeframe to the breakdown of a marital union.
We like to believe that relationships work in linear ways:
- The dating and infatuation stage
- After a certain amount of time, the couple moves in together to “move the relationship forward”.
- After a certain amount of time, they get engaged and married.
- If the couple decided to split up, it will always be a long and painful process.
None of this could be further from the truth, as demonstrated above. There is no clear-cut timeline or universal emotional process one can expect to go through when it comes to love.
Reasons why couples break up
Couples will cite a variety of reasons for breaking up. Some common ones include infidelity, continual criticism or conflict, boredom, lack of connection or communication, or disagreeing on issues such as money, gender roles, or parenting.
Upon further investigation however, it is clear that each person is up against unrecognized expectations they had for their partner and marriage.
It is crucial to become aware of the fact that everyone has hidden biases and expectations. Every human being has their own unique flavor of personal thinking. Unfortunately, this personal thinking is not objective, is biased on our individualized interpretation of past events, is colored by fearful or predictive thoughts about the future, and worst of all…much of our biases fly under the radar of our awareness.
A huge amount of conflict revolves around issues that have already happened in the past or over things that may happen in the future. However, our memories are quite unreliable and even change over time. Thoughts (in the form of memories and future predictions) actually don’t tell us anything relevant about the relationship as it is now. They put the focus off of the present-moment, which is the only place anyone can take action from.
Does this sound familiar? A couple gets into an disagreement about the “right” thing their child should do this Sunday: go to his soccer team’s game or go to the fishing derby with his father.
Both parties hold fast to their point of view as being the “right” view.
“He can’t let down his teammates, it is a big game and there aren’t many substitutes.”
“We always go to this derby as father and son!”
Then all of a sudden, the conversation takes a turn for the worst, as an disagreement about the logistics of where their son should go this Sunday turns into an all-out battle and personal attack of character.
“You are so irresponsible to suggest a stupid fishing derby is as important as his obligation and commitment to his teammates.”
“You always do this, you are always trying to control him, just like when (insert past situation).”
Now, whoever you think is “right” in the situation above is irrelevant. (Did you notice you wanted to take a side? This is your personal thinking at work).
The point is there are now two people who are convinced that their way is the right way and trying to shove it down the others throat. At this point, neither is really listening and it’s common sense that an ideal or creative solution will not be reached in the throws of this emotionally charged conflict.
How personal bias and expectations plays out in another scenario:
Susan came from a household where her parents were very affectionate and loving with one another. Edward was brought up in a household where conflict reigned. Edward doesn’t see a problem with conflict, Susan does.
Without awareness of how conditioned thinking plays a role and paints a picture of bias, couples cite any number of reasons for a marital breakdown, but miss the fundamental cause. The basic root cause of what causes a marriage to breakdown is the change in how the partners think about and therefore feel about and relate to one another.
With greater awareness of the principle of thought, many marriages can be saved and even strengthened. For those that still decide to separate, couples find that process much easier once they realize the truth that another person can only behave based on the quality of thinking (conscious or unconscious) he or she has in that moment.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by Amy Leo