During the moments before and after a marriage crisis, multiple feelings and emotions arise, which, due to their intensity, are difficult to handle: sadness, pain, anger, frustration, insecurity, discomfort, confusion, etc. In these moments, it is very frequent that for the people involved the reality takes a dichotomous value: all or nothing, always or never, bad or good, etc. All this makes it difficult to assess what has happened, communication with the other person, the position of both, and the way to go. However, a crisis does not have to lead unequivocally to a rupture and can be reformulated as an opportunity to grow personally and progress as a couple. In Bigmatrimonial we tell you more about how to overcome a marriage crisis or marriage problems and solutions.
Causes of the marriage crisis
In order to find a solution to any conflict, it is important to know the causes of the problem. This also occurs in couples crises, in which it is essential to have a clear understanding of what has happened. To do this, below we list the main causes of marital crises:
- Communication problems.
- Substance use by one or both partners: alcohol, tobacco, drugs.
- Different expectations regarding the couple and the relationship.
- Angry and poorly managed fights.
- Not supporting or not feeling the support of the couple in important matters.
- Do not show affection or attention.
- Lack of confidence and lies.
- Financial matters.
- Narcissistic traits and the presence of emotional abuse.
- Jealousy problems.
- Distance, stagnation, boredom.
- Marriage crisis by in-laws.
Couple crisis: stages
The stages that a couple goes through in crisis are very similar to those of grief, that is, the process of emotional adaptation that occurs after a significant loss. As a consequence, the person who experiences it may experience feelings of intense sadness and despondency, despair, loss of appetite, etc. This is due to the fact that a crisis, for any of the above reasons or others not mentioned, supposes a turning point in which the rules, implicit or explicit, up to now maintained no longer work and it is necessary to substantially change them. If this process is not carried out properly, it can lead to the breakdown of the relationship, which indicates its importance. The stages that a couple in crisis goes through are the following:
- Emotional shock. In this first stage, the person does not quite believe what is happening. It is characterized by the impact and confusion immediately after the crisis, which produces a blockage in the person, being disoriented and incredulous.
- Denial. In this phase, the person is not able to assimilate and accept the existence of the problem. The predominant thoughts are “this cannot be true”, “there must be some error”, etc. to avoid emotional pain.
- Negotiation. This stage is closely linked to the previous one, since the person still does not accept the existence of a crisis in their relationship, so they are willing to do anything to avoid it. This moment is characterized by a marked emotionality, in which the person tends not to behave logically and may even lose control.
- Go to. Although anger, rage, frustration, and anger are frequently labeled as negative emotions, it is important to note that they have their function; And this phase is important because in it awareness of the problem is realized, so that the person begins to notice reprehensible actions on the part of the couple, what has happened and the subjective feeling of loss.
- Sadness. It is a painful but necessary experience to evolve in the recovery process, both personal and marital.
- Acceptance. At this stage, people begin to assimilate what happened, so that it is possible to change the focus, which was located in the painful situations of the past, and begin to redirect it towards the future.
- Readaptation to the new reality. Whether there is a readjustment of the couple, or if the crisis has led to the breakdown of the relationship, at this stage there is a transformation in the lives of people, where greater attention is paid to needs, there is a greater sense of control over situations and more active intervention in decision-making.
How to overcome a marriage crisis
Once we are clear about the cause of the problem and the stages it goes through, the next step would be how to save a marriage in crisis. Here are 10 tips for couples in marital crisis:
- Don’t pretend to go back in time or act like nothing happened. Many people who come to therapy express the wish that things were the same as before; However, this is not possible, life is evolution and time only goes forward, not backward. This is not necessarily negative. The environment is changing, and with it, us. And these readjustments help us evolve and progress. Obstacles can be reformulated as triggers or motors to produce positive changes that can strengthen the couple
- Accept that change takes time. Very often, especially in the case of men, when they are given certain indications of emotional expression, they can even try vigorously. However, a week later they return to therapy with a feeling of failure, with phrases like ” I tried to tell my partner that I was sad and he told me not to be so crying .” At this time, it is important to be clear that a security environment must be created, where it is possible to show vulnerability without fear of being rejected; and that takes time. If we want change to last over the long term, it will take time and we will have to be patient.
- Focus on the present and look to the future. Try to leave the past behind. Constantly reminiscing on old quarrels or taking out the “dirty rags” of the past not only is useless, but arouses bad feelings. Focusing attention on the future makes the goal constructive.
- Look at the other side of the coin. If your partner does not communicate with you, you may blame him for indifference to yourself and the relationship. However, consider whether there is another alternative explanation. Is it possible that your silence is the way to represent pain and disappointment? Is your partner insensitive or is it her way of avoiding conflict?
- It cuts down negative interactions: criticism, complaints, blame, accusations, sarcastic comments, etc. Nobody likes to be told that they are doing things wrong or, what is worse, that they are a bad person. With these types of comments, you will only get your partner to be defensive and look for arguments to refute yours, which will perpetuate this dynamic and contaminate the positive parts of your relationship.
- Learn to express concerns constructively. The previous point does not mean, in any case, that you have to agree with everything your partner does and says, or that you are afraid to express your wishes. Neither end is recommended. Rather, it is about reformulating a critique in the form of a petition. Thus, instead of saying to your partner “I’m sick of you yelling at me,” it would be more appropriate to express the following: “I like it when you tell me things without raising your voice and we can argue calmly.”
- The problems, one by one. Many people fall into the mistake of trying to cover everything at once, or of taking advantage of a subject to bring up another that was not addressed at the time. Do not mix situations or conflicts, dedicate yourself to one at a time, or none will be solved.
- Try to be as specific as possible. That is, avoid articulating phrases in a vague and general way, such as: ” You could do more things at home.” It is more appropriate to formulate concrete and specific phrases, such as: ” I would like you to take care of setting the table on Saturdays, so I could take the dog out .”
- Learn to make decisions cooperatively, not try to get away with it. Thus, the approach we take is the “win-win” approach, in which a satisfactory action plan is drawn up for both parties. After a conflict there are no winners or losers, since the result pleases both.
- The positive energy in the couple increases exponentially. Through his research, Gottman found that marriages generally survive if the ratio of positive interactions is 5 to 1. Do you want your marriage to just survive? Or do you prefer to save the marriage in a way that makes it prosper? Smile more. Play more. Embrace more. More timeshare and shared projects. More appreciation and affection. More praise and gratitude.
How to overcome a marriage crisis due to infidelity
Infidelity is one of the most cited reasons why marriages end. However, it does not have to mean the end of a relationship unequivocally and you can work to save the marriage in 3 phases. Below, we explain how to overcome a marriage crisis due to infidelity:
- Crisis. The discovery of an infidelity by the couple produces devastating pain, so it is important to pay attention to what needs the most urgent attention. At this critical moment, it is necessary to foster a safe and unbiased environment for the intensity of emotions. Tranquility, clarity and structure are needed, as well as hope.
- Construction of meaning. At this stage, it’s about delving into why the adventure happened, what factors in the relationship contributed to it happening, what role both parties played in the story, and what external factors influenced it.
- Vision and future construction. The couple must ask themselves what awaits them together, if after the previous process they have decided that they want to rebuild their relationship. It is at this time that it is essential for the couple to review what it means for them to forgive and move on, the potential benefits and costs of forgiving, assess potential resistance and explore the direction their relationship will take.
How to improve my marriage
Couples who have problems or who feel that their marriage cannot be repaired can improve it. While this may seem impossible to some, relationships can change. How we behave, how we think about our partner, or how we think a marriage is supposed to be are variables that influence marital satisfaction. All of them are variables over which we can exercise control.
So when you feel overwhelmed, make a deliberate effort to calm down. This strategy helps you stop being defensive, which prevents unproductive fights that undermine the relationship. Letting your spouse know that you understand is also one of the most powerful tools to foster positive feelings in your relationship. It is an antidote to criticism, contempt, and defensiveness. Instead of attacking or ignoring your partner’s point of view, try to see the problem from their point of view, which may have the same validity as yours. It is also important to address and adjust the expectations we have for our partner and relationships in general.
This article marriage problems and solutions is merely informative, in Bigmatrimonial we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.