My marriage is dying
My marriage is dying. Do you disagree with your spouse about how to parent step-children? Do you find that your partner wants more or less sex than you do? Do you feel you spouse is getting it wrong? Do they are simply ignore you, making you feel sad, lonely, angry and fearful of the future? Should they simply listen to you, understand your point of view and change their ways?
If the answer to these questions is “yes” then the likely hood is that you are stuck in a pattern that is all consuming. You probably feel helpless, resentful and part of you is probably looking at other options.
When our relationships become like this we can feel powerless because we feel our happiness is wrapped up in the decisions and choices another person makes.
Change starts with you
We can experience profound happiness again by establishing a mind-set that is more concerned with how we conduct ourselves than with how others conduct themselves in relation to us.
How to make it happen
Let us take a simple CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) approach to this problem.
Put simply CBT guides us to challenge out Thoughts because our Thoughts impact on our Behaviour and our Behaviour impacts directly on Feelings.
1. Identify a time that you know is problematic for you and your spouse.Let’s look at two examples
A, The children leave their bags and shoes in the living room when they come in from school, it annoys you particularly as your partner does not challenge them. You feel like the bad guy.
B, One of you wants to have sex more than the other.
2. Next, look at how these thought impact on you life. Ask yourself, “When do I start to Think about this situation?”, “Could it be that I never really stop Thinking about it and that I never really expect a positive outcome?” Do these Thoughts go round and round in your head, to a greater or lesser extent, all day? Maybe these Thoughts inadvertently interrupt your day during work or when you are in the car?
3. Now look at the physical consequences of these thoughts. Check out how these Thoughts are impacting on you physical Behaviour. Could be you feel tense in your shoulders? You may have butterflies in your tummy? You may find yourself eating comfort food or having the odd glass of wine at night or at lunch when previously this has not been you pattern. You may absentmindedly browse the internet or maybe you go shopping on Ebay or look at Rightmove a good deal.
4. Now look at the consequences these thoughts have on your relationships. Check out how these Thoughts impact on the way you behave with your spouse. It might be that as soon as you know you are going to be coming into contact with them, either at the start or end of the working day or as you get into bed, these negative Thoughts become magnified and your body Behaves exactly as it should when preparing itself for trouble. It releases adrenalin and sugars that can be used quickly to fuel the fight or flight response. This has kept Homo Sapiens alive over the millennia but in fact may not be useful for you at this time because you are not fighting for your life!
5. Finally let us look at the consequences these thoughts have on your feelings. After looking at your thought patterns and looking at their consequences, and seeing how the stress response is created in us night after night, we are now able to fully understand why we are feeling “sad, lonely, angry, fearful about the future, helpless, and resentful” and we can see that it makes complete sense for us to be “probably looking at other options” as we Think that things will never change.
What if things don’t change?
Think of the consequences on your life it you take no steps to change your Thought processes.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Start the positive change process today
Let’s look our examples and see how we can change things:
1. Agree with yourself that you are going to change your internal dialogue from negatively talking yourself into stress and divorce into wondering why the kids leave their bags out or why do I want sex and my partner does not?
2. Take this inquisitiveness to your partner and you children. Not to subtly “ask” your way into getting your own needs met by “really getting others to understand how horrible they are being to you by not doing as you want” but rather, become inquisitive to find out more about the people you love and look after.
3. Begin to take a genuine interest in life around you and find out what is going on for other people.
It could be that the kids need to feel they can be chaotic at home because most of the day has been spent in an institution, with that institution’s uniform on, taking instruction from the institution’s employees. (Be careful, what will happen if you Think, ”It was OK for me, they can get on with it?”)
This obviously does not mean that they have the right to do as they please but it might mean that by understanding what’s going on you are able to empathise better and it will probably mean that clarity of thought comes from this empathy.
Making a plan once you start to understand what’s going on
1, For example, you could all devise a mutually agreeable strategy with the main focus not being on keeping your house tidy but rather on teaching the kids that you have heard them and love them enough to want to take action.
Part of this action will be having a discussion, “I understand how difficult things are for you, it might be that if you leave the communal areas of our house messed up with school stuff that you avoid the communal areas because this mess reminds you of school and the stress associated with it.”
2, In our second example, around one of you wanting more sex than the other, set aside some time to discuss your sex life with your partner. Ask you partner about what sex means to them. Talk about what you like and what you need from sex, find some common ground and understand that differences are good because they allow you both to think about the other and, with love and respect, respond positively to their needs. Remembering that they are not there simply for your sexual gratification and a relationship that is devoid of sex can leave you both feeling lonely, undesirable and confused.
These are just examples, they are not blue prints. Trust yourself to experiment and be committed to the elimination of the blocks that get in the way of you communicating with your loved ones.
Counselling is more than just CBT
If you are interested in finding how counselling can help you or someone you love then please get in touch. I am always happy to talk out through the counselling process and outline the services I offer. Bear in mind that CBT is a good start but it does not have all the answers. Sometimes there’s a lot more to it than just thinking differently. Look after yourself and thank you for reading my article.