We all know how complex marital relationships can be, but when things start to go wrong, multilayered complexities can directly affect a persons thoughts and feelings. This impacts how they view their partner and the relationship.
So I’m going to share why so many couple are struggling over a series of posts this is the first one to uncover these destructive complexities.
To set the scene:
Typically someone can find themselves moving from finding their partner attractive to feeling they have to protect themselves from their partner on some level.
This specific experience is a danger for the relationship and can help couples play out patterns of behaviour that go round in circles and usually end badly.
If this is practiced enough this can emotionally empty one or both people, this process is upsetting and emotionally exhausting.
Many people feel they simply can’t be themselves with their partner and so to connect with themselves positively they spend more and more time outside the relationship.
This gives them a clear message that the relationship is the problem, so the seemly obvious solution is the relationship is either bad or wrong for them.
Sadly this process can result in couples/individuals making the wrong decisions for themselves and their children which has ongoing implications especially if the real issues are never learnt.
So I always encourage couples, to respect and appreciate their feelings their mind is giving them, but not to wholly trust what those feelings really mean until they have understood what’s really going on.
So what are the hidden complexities that will stop the couple from reconnecting? What are couple doing that’s destructive?
Because I have a lot to share I am going to run this as a series of posts, this post is Part 1.
I’m going to start with what I call: Marriage Lifecycle Stages.
I see far too many couples simply not on the same page in terms of the reality of the relationships true position and this is a red flag.
To solve your problems you have to understand how bad your situation really is. This is so you know that taking action is the right decision.
And if an action is to be taken, what is it?
So let’s get to it…
1. Marriage lifecycle stages:
1. Attraction -> 2. Resistance -> 3. Resentments -> 4. Detachment -> 5. Checked out
You have to know where your relationship is on this life-cycle because your behaviour needs to reflect where you are, to give your relationship the best possible chance of discovering it’s true potential.
Look at these example of what I see if couples are looking for help from me:
- If someone is in the checked-out phase then the mission is to help them feel safe to reinvest.
- If someone is in the resentments phase, they are likely to still be invested, but they are not going to be happy. They are more likely to be open to looking for a way to a better connection – Please note: this window of opportunity is usually about two years before full marital crisis strikes and the person really detaches, or checks out.
- If a couple is both in the attraction phase then both people are going to be invested and could be open looking to learn how to make sure they secure their relationship for life. Sadly most people in this place are unaware of where the relationship is heading and so don’t learn how to prevent inevitable future problems.
So as you can see the strategy of dealing with the relationship has to change based on these core phases.
Look at this example:
One lady came to me with her husband, she was frequently storming (anger) at him, it started a few months into the relationship. I know what she wanted was to feel safe and loved by him. In the attraction phase when she created this behavior this he was patient with her and looked after her when she became upset and angry, to her he understood her and was there for her.
But as the cycle progressed she still used these same storms to connect with him. In reaction to her storms he began to move into the resentment phase due to the constant battle she was bringing to him which he thought would go if he was supportive.
Eventually full of resentment he slowly detached emotionally and only told her he was leaving her when he was ready, he gave her no warning.
Her fatal mistake was to try to reconnect with him by again storming her anger at him, which only confirmed to him he really should go.
I shared with her that he was not understanding the meaning behind her storms and never had. If she wanted to reconnect to him this had to stop and she had to become valuable to him to help him reinvest.
So to plot a course to a successful relationship you must know where you really are today, or you’ll run the risk of making it worse without knowing, as she clearly did.
Consider this example: Two people who see the severity of their problems totally differently.
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT: Far too many people are waiting to hit crisis before they will really hear their partners issues. I spoke with a gentleman just last week he told me his wife thinks they need help, but he thinks they are OK, so he’s not sure they need help at this stage. This man has put himself in danger with a ticking bomb, without knowing.
In this case one person (him) is still in attraction phase (blind to his partners emotional pain) and the other is in the resentment phase.
The reality of this relationship is they are both in the resentment phase and immediate action must be taken to avoid detachment/emotional disconnection. Unless he wakes up to the pain she is in, the process will start and she can become either a shadow of her true self, depressed and focused on the kids and her family, or she will wait until the pain of leaving him has disappeared, before she makes her move…
“I love you, but I’m not in love with you…”
It’s critical couples understand which phase they are in so they can then work out what steps they need to take with each other.
So my question to you is where are you both today?
- Are you in pain and your partner is not seeing that pain?
- Is your partner checking out and your trying to tell them what they feel isn’t real?
- Has your partner buried their head in the sand hoping you’ll come round?
Not being on the same page with your partners experience, or visa-versa is only going to create more distance, more of a gap, more disconnection.
IMPORTANT: Problems rarely go away on their own in relationships because the person has to really let the problem go before they disappear for good. It’s important to have the courage today for both of you to learn your reality and then take the necessary steps to rebuild your relationship from that truth.
Once the couple get on the same page then it’s far easier to deal with their challenges.
In the next post – PART 2 – I’m going to cover another hidden challenge few couples are seeing, which is critical to understand.
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