One typical topic appearing in each couples’ counseling or coaching session is the lack of communication between them. It is not that they do not talk. They do, but they talk to themselves in a never-ending self-talk that happens to be negative.
One theory about the reason for marriage breakdown is that one or two of the married couple seem to be trapped in a conversation, in which they talk and they answer on behalf of their partner. In this conversation, their partner is critical and demanding, which makes them treat them with anger later on. When I ask them about their communication, they are very surprised to discover they never actually had these conversations with the other person.
Self-talk is a natural emotional outlet for people. Self-talk is the internal conversation a person has with himself or herself. It is the way to verbalize a person’s thoughts. Self-talk is a good way to handle stressful situations. When they are too overwhelming, people talk to themselves to find ways to handle the situation. They tell themselves the problem is not that big, they tell themselves they have solutions, they tell themselves things that will encourage them to “survive” the situation. Self-talk can be very helpful.
The problem in every relationship appears when the thoughts are negative and later on, the attitude towards the partner can be hostile and negative. People fearing a reaction may tell themselves things on behalf of their partner and react to them as if they have already happened.
Negative self-talk gives freedom to many feelings that do not support marriage like fear, jealousy, anger, frustration and even hate. Such feelings are fertile soil for divorce. It is impossible to find a divorcing couple having feelings of joy, happiness, love or satisfaction. In many cases after divorce, it takes years for people to awaken such feelings.
A young man in a 4-wheel drive was stuck in a remote desert place. He got out of his car and was very disappointed to see his front tire blown. He hurried to the back of his car for the spare tire.
“Thank God”, he said to himself, “The spare is fine”, and he took the spare out. When he reached for the Jack, it was not there.
“Where on Earth did I leave the Jack?” he asked himself, trying to remember. He looked all over but found nothing in the back of his car. He looked around him and saw only sand with no sign of life. Far in the distance, he saw some smoke going up, figured he would follow the smoke, and hoped he would find someone to lend him a jack.
As he walked, he saw a tiny house in the distance. The walk was long, the sand was soft and the walking was hard.
“Who lives in such a remote place? … There is only one house on the horizon, so he must be a loner? … Otherwise, why would anyone come to live in such a place if he wasn’t a loner? … He could be a runaway criminal … I would run away to a place like this if I was a criminal … What if pulls a gun at me? … Nah … Why would he pull a gun at me? … Maybe he is scared. Scared people do silly things … How does he get in and out of here, anyway? … Where does he buy the bullets for the gun? I just need a jack … It’s my car … I can’ find my jack … I will say thank you and go … But then he won’t have a jack … I’ll bring him back the jack … Will I? … I’ve been walking for 4 hours and I’m not there yet … I can’t walk 4 hours back to my car and than another 4 hours to give back the jack … It’ll be dark by then … Maybe he has a spare jack? … Why would anyone have a spare jack? … But I must find a jack … OK, Ok, I’ll bring it back, I promise … I can give you my driver’s license as a guarantee … The license is all I have … You can always find me if I don’t bring it back, see … What do you mean you don’t trust me? … Why on Earth would I come here and ask for your jack if I didn’t need it? … I’m stuck in the middle of nowhere and I really need your help … Please …”
The young man got closer to the little house. It was getting dark and the lights in the house were on. He knocked on the door, hesitating.
“What if he is watching TV and doesn’t answer the door? … It’s only TV. Surely he’ll understand that if someone knocks at this time of day, it must important … Some people think TV is more important … I just need a favor … Some people are so preoccupied with themselves, they won’t help a dying person on the street … People can be so cruel, like this guy here, sitting and watching TV … I’ll probably get stuck here and starve to death …”
The door opened and an old guy stood at the door, looking surprised.
“You know what?” said the young man, “I don’t need your help. You can take your jack and shove it”.
How many times did you shove your thoughts and fears in your partner’s face as soon as he or she opened the door?
Join me next week for the continuing discussion about self-talk in marriage and discover self-talk of men and women that sometimes leads them to divorce.
Surely, you have had similar experiences too. I invite your to share with everyone via the comment box below.
This post is part of the series Save Your Marriage:
- Self-Regulation in Your Marriage
- How to Save Yourself from Divorce
- Marriage and Divorce Statistics
- The Marriage Institution
- Marriage is the Foundation of Families
- The Unpleasant Side of Divorce
- How to Get Things Wrong in a Marriage
- Marriage and Self Talk
- More About Self Talk
- Facts vs. Meaning in Marriage
- All Men Are… All Women Are…
- When Two Do Not Become One
- Marriage and Money
- Be Your Partner’s Best Friend
- Relationship Between Two Onions
- The Greatest Gift: Staying Married
- Marriage of Singles
- The "Right" Trap
- The Intention Trap
- Best Marriage Quotes
- 10 Rules for Civilized Dialogue
- 10 Tips for Re-Building Trust
- The King and His Servants
- The Nitpicker
- Expressing Feelings in a Marriage
- Don’t Be On Guard
- Don’t Clam Up
- Have Good Sex to Save Your Marriage
- Trust (or The Boy Who Cried Wolf)
- Emergency Relationship Coaching Essentials
- Save Your Marriage with Better Time Management
- Choice Theory Can Save Your Marriage