How does a marriage go from happiness, fun, and intimacy to sadness, anger, and the avoidance of touch? It seems to happen quickly, but the truth is that a series of events over time are what contribute to a bad marriage. The good news is that these things can be addressed, but you have to recognize what they are first.
Problems Go Unresolved
Small and big, all problems should be resolved before you move on to the next day or week in your relationship. Not fixing issues that come up may seem like the easy way out, but all it really does is cause resentment, hurt feelings, and ammunition for future problems. And, each unresolved problem adds up to create more animosity in the relationship, which contributes to the overall poor health of the marriage.
For instance, a wife who feels upset that her husband doesn’t listen to her may brush it off and use the reasoning that he is simply not capable of listening. But, the fact that she is upset demonstrates that it is a core need for her to have her husband to listen to her. That need doesn’t go away just because of an excuse. It lingers in her unconscious and waits for the next time it feels unfilled. Then she becomes even more angry, hurt, and resentful of her husband. The problem grows from an annoyance to a huge issue and that’s when it starts to cause problems in the marriage.
When you get married, you marry someone with a particular set of beliefs and way of doing things. That person is great! You know that person and you have accepted them for who they are.
As the marriage progresses, the person you married looks less and less familiar. They adopt new habits. They develop new beliefs. And they have a new attitude towards life that dictates how they will behave.
That change can be frustrating for someone who doesn’t recognize the fact that everyone changes – even their spouse, and then accept the changes that are occurring or work with their partner to make the changes more acceptable.
Just like with problems, some changes are small and some are big. When big changes occur, it is important to work together in a way where compassion, acceptance, and maybe even curiosity comes in.
My parents were on the same page when they got married. They viewed life in the same way and accepted each other for the uniqueness they both had. As they have aged, my mother has become more curious and focused on personal growth while my father has become more fearful and focused on a very strict routine and small comfort zone. Instead of talking about the changes in each other, they became resentful of them. My father hates the new ideas that my mother is developing and makes her feel bad for them. And, my mother hates that my father is so close-minded and she feels trapped. The result? An unhappy marriage.
A great way to work through changes is to sit down and discuss them each week. Discuss issues you are having. Discuss changes you are noticing in your partner and yourself. Try to understand where your partner is coming from. And work towards a way to accept the good and change the bad or unhealthy.