Some time ago, we visited our good friend Neil, who is married for the second time and lives far away from his son from the first marriage Nathan. Neil had last seen Nathan 11 years before. He had some Photos of Nathan in an album created by his younger son Ben. When Neil had said goodbye his son and moved to another country, Nathan was just 9 years old.
In “Save your marriage (part 6) – How to get things wrong”, I explained how negative self-talk becomes an obstacle in a marriage.
Although the story about the Jack was about a man, self-talk is typical for men and women alike. In this post, I give you two examples of such imaginary scenarios that can lead to relationship breakdown. I hope that you will be able to recognize yourself in them, learn to “catch yourself in the act”, and switch to positive self-talk and open communication with your partner.
Going Out for a Romantic Dinner
Allan called home from work and invited Sally to a restaurant for dinner. They had discussed this some time before and had both agreed they needed some time out, to refresh and renew the romance between them. Allan invited the babysitter, booked the restaurant and there was nothing Sally had to do but dress for the occasion.
Read Marriage and Self Talk »
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.
Getting married is entering into a contract – but it is probably the one contract that is the easiest to break. This is because divorce has made it easy for husbands and wives to walk out when they go through unhappy periods in their lives.
John Crouch, Executive Director of Americans for Divorce Reform, says that the most important economic contract of our lives – marriage – is no longer legally protected.
Just think – lawyers will fight tooth and nail to protect corporations in their contractual relations between you and your landlord, your mechanic and your doctor, but they cannot prevent you from breaking up with your spouse.
Individuals make couples, couples make families and families make communities. It is people’s natural instinct to get together. According to Dr. Mary Pipher, a therapist and anthropologist, the family is still an essential unit of the community. When people get married, their hopes are linked to building a home and a family.
I remember the day my daughter was born. Gal and I moved from being a couple taking care of ourselves, concentrating on our needs and aspirations, into being a family. It was a big feeling of responsibility mixed with joy. It was the beginning of a different journey.
While marriage is a later invention in human development, family is an ancient institution. Now, many people have kids but having kids and having a family are totally different things. Bringing kids into the world is a much simpler task than creating a family.
Happily married couples say that marriage has taught them to accept each other’s strengths and possibilities. They argue that by doing that, they transform themselves from the ordinary to the extraordinary.
Therefore, marriage is an “enabling” situation, providing the freedom for each person to be who they really are, to reach for the stars and discover what they are meant to be without ridicule or rejection.
After all, it is a question of attitude. When you are happy, you are able to grow and evolve. With the right attitude, every honeymoon excitement can last longer.
Many of us have read reports, which drive home the message that married people are healthier and happier, and therefore live longer than single or celibate individuals do.
Read The Marriage Institution »
In part 1 of Save Your Marriage, I gave you 3 simple steps to stop your divorce and save your marriage. This week, I thought some marriage and divorce statistics would give you insight into what happens in the reality of relationships.
Eye-opening marriage and divorce statistics:
As a daughter to parents who are still married and a long-time partner to my beloved boyfriend, I was very surprised to read some of the statistics about marriage and divorce. Yes, I have many clients thinking of divorce, but when they come for coaching, they are in “solution mode”, which makes it easier for them to find their love again.
I believe the marriage situation has reached a level of social disaster.
Soon, Gal and I are going to celebrate our 28 years of our life together. Every year that passes, we get more and more requests for our relationship program from people who are considering divorce.
The good news is that they look for solutions before they “turn off the light and send the actors home”. The bad news is they are in an emotional turmoil and are very very unhappy.
If you have seen the movie Mrs Doubtfire or Kramer vs. Kramer, you have probably had a glimpse of what it means to divorce, although a movie cannot describe even a small portion of the emotional stress people go through when they think about separating.
Many of the conflicts between parents and kids are related to household chores. What usually happens is that parents are (of course) responsible for the household chores and find it very difficult to handle everything by themselves, so they ask the kids to share the load of cleaning and taking care of the house.
In the stereotypical house, Mom is in charge of what happens inside the house: cleaning, washing and feeding, while Dad is mostly in charge of what happens outside: swimming pool, fixing and mowing. I believe that this separation of responsibilities is the source of the conflict between parents and kids. If one parent needs to do one thing and the other is the other, where is the sense of togetherness and where is the sharing?
I remember my childhood years, when cleaning the house was no fun at all. My mom left for work very early, my dad worked two jobs and we had to clean the house, over which we had many, many fights.
Fighting over who was going to wash the dishes was the “story” of my family. We would hate each other, tell on each other, fight and cry just to avoid washing or cleaning. There were five of us and even now, 30 years later, we all remember the nasty fights over house chores.
My client Meg came today very emotional and sad. She had been successfully working on her relationship with her husband for over 3 months but doubts had crept in after a serious argument.
Meg has been with her husband for over 10 years. When he started talking about having kids, she started talking about divorcing.
“I do not know if we love each other anymore. We don’t have fun together, the sex is not what it used to be”, she thought and came to me for coaching to make the decision about staying or leaving.