Our lives are full of crossroads. We are born and embark on a journey which for many leads to marriage. None of us welcome a horrible or broken marriage relationship. But statistical data suggests that about half of marriages are unsuccessful and eventually lead to separation and divorce.
We don’t seek out a marital partner with the thought that things could become horrible and that the marriage can result in a break up. But as we look around, broken marriages abound. What is one to do? It sure is not part of our relationship game plan to toil in the pain of a difficult marital relationship.
Saving Yourself from a Difficult Marriage
We would like to think that there are many people out there that we can form a close and loving relationship which eventually leads to marriage. I mean, really, is it not true that the world we live in is full of all types of people and today more than any time in our lives, there are so many ways to connect, communicate, and grow to know and love someone who we wish to be part of our lives.
Before I forget, please take a look at this post on whether you should try to save your marriage. It fits perfectly with the theme of this article you are reading, so I wanted to share it!
With all of the online dating websites and the plethora of social media platforms that exists, the ways we can come to know discover the person we think could be our soulmate are plentiful. And this is the way it starts for most of us. One would think with all these opportunities to screen out the men or women that don’t meet our very own marital compatibility checklist, our odds of avoiding a horrible and broken marriage would be much better. Yet, what we see more often than not are relationships between two people that get off to really good starts, but don’t stand the test of time.
You see, what we can typically expect when a relationship unfolds are phases of development. There is what I call the courtship phase. During this period, seldom does the couple encounter much anger, conflict, or horrible episodes of strife. On the contrary, this phase is usually colored by the close intimacy between two lovers and more often than not, the love struck individuals are walking on cloud nine as they experience all the charms of their “made for each other” bond.
This period of intense happiness and contentment will eventually give way to the good, bad, and ugly phase. Now let me just chime in a bit more about this phase. How much is good versus bad or ugly varies from couple to couple. Usually, there is much more good, but invariably, some bad experiences….even horribly ugly can be visited upon the couple. I guess to be more precise, it is really the couple that brings upon themselves these experiences. There is really no outside force that has cursed the couple to live in a relationship ranging from harmony to conflict. Both the husband and wife must bear responsibility for the outcomes of their marriage.
Eventually, the third phase of a relationship takes shape. It is often defined by the lessons learned from the past experiences the couple has enjoyed or endured. This is what I call the “maturation” phase. The couple has learned to coexist and work through their issues and the number of deposits into their love or relationship trust account, far outweighs the withdrawals.
This is usually what is seen in a healthy, functional marriage. It is as if all the love has come right out of the marriage. What happens and what should you do. Well, it so happens I wrote about this specific topic. Feel free to dig in!
But sometimes a marriage gets off kilter and it leads to a break up that either both parties agree to or it just turns messy and strung out. For those who are married, but later become (sooner than either would have expected) separated or divorced, there can be any number of reasons why things come apart.
This article is too short to discuss and debate all of these variables. But often, the downward slide in marriage can owe itself to a couple that did not spend enough time working through Phase two. If a couple rushes from the early blissful moments and skips over the Good/Bad/Ugly phase, straight into the bonds of marriage, the couple may find there are experiential gaps in their relationship. The foundation may not be as strong as it needs to be.
So what do we do when we realize we are in this horrible situation in which we feel broken and the marriage is presumably in shambles. Well, first off, be careful about drawing any lasting conclusions. Your journey through the “aftermath period” is usually full of surprises….often good and bad.
How does one go about saving themselves from all of the unnecessary suffering? How does one ensure they so don’t make more mistakes that further exasperates the situation? I guess an even better question you might want to ask yourself is what can be done to ensure that a future relationship or marriage does not turn sour?
Start First With Understanding Why Some Marriages Fail
I will tell you now, just so that you are not left wondering if there is some kind of golden ticket that will allow you entrance into the world of a foolproof marriage. No such foolproof system of marriage repair or future marriage assessment exists. The reason why around 50% of marriages crash and burn is not due to bad luck or the fickleness of a marriage partner. The reasons for so many marriage failures are not altogether different than they were during your parents time and their parents time.
I want you to think about the complexity of all of the emotions and feelings you have at any given time. From minute to minute, do you feel you have it altogether? Do you always know what you want? Do you feel you are experienced enough to deal with all of the challenges that life may throw at you? Do you always understand what you are feeling…what you want….why you feel or want something? Do you feel you have a handle on managing your anxiety? Do you always like yourself and do you have any unreasonable fears?
Depending who you are and many other factors, the answer to these questions will vary. So I think it is not difficult to surmise that it can be quite a chore to just manage one’s self, never mind trying to manage all these feelings and challenges within the framework of a serious and committed relationship.
As with any relationship, the way you manage your own feelings can be impacted by the issues and challenges your partner may be experiencing.
When you are a couple, you do not exist in a separate silo. As a couple, your needs, desires, worries, and issues are integrated and commingled. This makes for a very complex chemistry of feelings and behaviors. When two people can get the chemistry of their feelings and desires right…when they are both reading from the same sheet of music….magical things can happen. The results or outcomes can be explosively good. I am talking bonding in the the strongest of ways. I am talking passionately embracing each other physically and emotionally in a powerful and positive way. I am talking about more than the synergy of the sexual act and the closeness gained from that experience.
So we are talking about things coming together to breathe positive fire to the relationship. Let’s flip the relationship coin to it’s other side. When passions burn bright, bear in mind that they are not always positive or supportive or loving. When a couple brings together all of the “good” about themselves, many positive, even remarkably beautiful things can come of it. But a couple can also bring chemistry to the relationship originating from their own faults and weaknesses and this can have a detrimental effect on the marriage. Humans are full of good. But we are also full of bad. We can “break bad” and by doing so, we can bring the marriage to the edge of dysfunction.
Hence, it should be no surprise to any of us when we see couples fighting or struggling to make the marriage work because after all, it is not easy to overcome some of our primal ugly animal urges. Marriage partners can exhibit emotions and behaviors like selfishness, anger, resentment, cruelness, mean spiritedness, and a host of other undesirable traits.
If you get a lot of these kinds of negative interactions or behavior”transactions” occurring in the marriage, you end up with dysfunction and pain. And the saddest thing about all of this is that the deck is sort of stacked against marriages that are deteriorating due to compatibility issues or a frequent expression of negative behaviors. As things spiral out of control, a domino effect can take hold and the couple can find themselves in a rut of repeating the same behaviors over and over again.
Save Yourself From Marriage Heartache
So how do you save yourself? Some people, who have experienced great difficulty in their marriage or relationship, tend to take on a more “avoidant” attachment style. They simply won’t commit for fear that they will get involved in something that might just not work out. Their reasoning is if you avoid commitment, then you need not have to concern yourself with trying to extract yourself from the clutches of a close relationship. So they avoid allowing themselves to really get close and open up in a relationship as a way to “save” themselves from any future heartache.
Unfortunately, this type of attachment style….”avoidance”….is often one of the primary reasons why marriages and relationships don’t work. Adopting such an approach….if one is willfully doing so……is usually part of the problem, not a solution. It is believed that about 25% of the population practices an avoidance style. Such people avoid intimacy and open communication and trying to build a serious, long term relationship with such individuals is usually unsuccessful.
So if you are of the mind to employ an “avoidance” style in your dating practices or marital behaviors, think twice. It might save you from heartache, but you will seldom be able to embrace all of the fulfilling moments that a couple should enjoy if they strive to be as perfect of a “union” as possible.
And on that note, if you are seeking to build a relationship and are in the process of selecting who you think you may wish to be married to, then I strongly recommend you find a partner who does not exhibit avoidance behaviors. If you are an individual who is secure with sharing openly yourself with another, then find a partner who is also willing to open up and invest their full trust with you. Such individuals are referred to as having a “secure” attachment style.
Without a lot of details, I cannot truly advise what is the right thing to do for your individual marital situation. But if you have made multiple efforts to save the marriage, yet you still feel the relationship and marriage is broken and you are discovering that too many days are filled with sadness, then it may be time to step away.
Sometimes, just moving away, as painful as that may sound, can help you get better acquainted with what you truly want. Sometimes our choices in individuals we choose to spend our life with in marriage are flawed. We often start off thinking we made the right choice. But later we may discover that for whatever reason, whether due to maturity or deceit or the blindness caused by the hormones raging within us in the early days of courtship, that our choice of a marital partner was deeply flawed. It happens and it’s the fault of both individuals that make the couple.
We are all human and experience and wisdom only comes upon us after we live some life. So if you are separating or divorcing your marital partner, take time to heal yourself. And take the lessons learned from your relationship and realize the vast complexity associated with human emotions and accept that there is no such thing as perfect compatibility with another. Strive to be proactive and choose wisely in the future. Your choice of a marriage partner is a topic I will be talking about in more detail in future posts.