Couples & Conflict: Three of a Perfect Pair
If you really want to explore just how awful marriage can be, just marry the wrong person, and spend the rest of your lives together at war. Doesn’t sound very pleasant? It shouldn’t. However, many people fall into marriage as the lesser of two evils.
(Want to learn how to have an awful marriage? Read an excerpt from Haley’s The Power Tactics of Jesus Christ and Other Essays.)
A successful marriage is a careful balance between compromise and individuality. No marriage is more doomed than the one where each partner chooses a mate in an attempt to fix them, to make them how they should be. Although partners should complement one another’s differences, seeking opposites for the sake of filling a gap in one’s life is similar, in some ways, to drug abuse.
Like committed addicts, many people marry the wrong person to escape from something, be it going away to college, having to work for a living in a dead end job, or an abusive situation.
Is This You?
You always have a shot at putting the pieces back together again. But don’t look to “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men”—they don’t know anything except riding around looking to joust people. Seek out a family therapist who can help you reconstruct your marriage.
The downfall of most relationships is a communication breakdown. So eager to safeguard the other, some partners tend to adopt the role of martyr, which only causes feelings of self-defeating guilt and resentment. Avoiding things one enjoys in order to please the other partner backfires when the so-called sacrifice goes unrecognized.
A therapist can help to establish where the communication became muddled without placing blame. The therapist’s immediate goal is to solve the problem, and to help couples identify it and work through issues in an open and reassuring environment.
However, the possibility exists that the relationship cannot be saved. One must be willing to confront this possibility, and though it isn’t a hopeful outcome, it may be the best one. Relationships based on abusive behavior by a partner unwilling to change is an example where immediate separation is in order.
A therapist/client relationship in which both partners grow to trust the therapist is ideal.