Most couples are aware that obvious issues like adultery can destroy a relationship but what is more insidious is that it’s the little-noticed pressures that can quietly destroy marriages from the inside.
Notes Loh Mei Ee, who has been married for 15 years, “As long as their spouses are not close to anyone of the opposite sex, they assume their marriage is safe. However, they forget that big issues like adultery begin with small things that build up over time.”
#1 Assuming that marriage is the solution to relationship problems
Hoping that being in love is all you need to power your marriage? Time to ditch this dangerous mindset.
“Marriage doesn’t make people compatible ― the individuals need to do the work,” says Tammy Fontana, clinical sex therapist (USA) and director at All in the Family Counselling Centre. “People don’t understand that marriage is not an external thing controlling an individual’s behaviour. Rather, the couple is the marriage.”
“When each spouse is allowed to voice out their beliefs and willing to hear the other out, it provides a wonderful opportunity to construct a new set of shared beliefs for a strong marriage.”
The couple is running the show, which means that no one else can make them want what the other wants, have sex, or cooperate and be nice to one another, she adds. You and your spouse are responsible for these.
If the both of you are unable to work through your marital conflicts, Fontana advises seeking marriage therapy. “But if the marriage wasn’t built for the right reasons, therapy can’t fix that,” she cautions. “Couples will need to decide if they can live in that situation.”
#2 Enforcing your beliefs about marriage on each other
“When two people come together in a relationship, they are likely to each have their own set of beliefs and values,” notes Willy Ho, clinical director at The Counselling Paradigm. “Rather than enforcing your beliefs on each other, it is more constructive to discuss what you both can agree on, allowing opportunities to voice out differences and create strategies for dealing with them.”
Sometimes, a partner may not be aware of the need to articulate beliefs, Ho acknowledges. Many often assume that their spouses should understand them well enough to know what they want.
However, this assumption is often not the case, given that beliefs may evolve in the future, depending on personal experiences.
Ho advises, “The discussion can start with foundational matters like household duties, finances, as well as parenting roles. When each spouse is allowed to voice out their beliefs and willing to hear the other out, it provides a wonderful opportunity to construct a new set of shared beliefs for a strong marriage.”
#3 Over-dependence on one’s spouse
Sure, it may sound romantic proclaiming that your spouse is all you need, but there’s such a thing as too much dependency.
“Emotional, financial or psychological over-dependency in a relationship is not healthy and leads to severe problems for the couple,” Fontana cautions. “People need to be highly emotionally developed, well-adjusted and self-reflective to be successful in life, work and in relationships, including marriage.”
So, marriage is not suitable for someone who wants to be taken care of in a parent-child manner. A successful marriage requires two individuals who can articulate what they want and are responsible for themselves emotionally, psychologically and financially, Fontana stresses.
“These types of people are able to enter into a marriage confidently articulating themselves,” she explains. “They also choose partners wisely and do a lot of hard work deciding what kind of couple they will be and the purpose of their marriage.”
Ask yourself when was the last time you showed gratitude towards your spouse, or acknowledged the many sacrifices he or she has made.
#4 Taking your spouse for granted
Ho says, “In early stages of the relationship ― during courtship ― couples express their appreciation for each other through words, gifts or even other forms of action (such as. taking each other out for a nice dinner together).”
Notes father of two William Lee, who has been married for 35 years, “We often assume that after many years of marriage, we already ‘understand’ each other, thus taking things for granted by not being thankful or humble enough to say sorry.”
So, ask yourself when was the last time you showed gratitude towards your spouse, or acknowledged the many sacrifices he or she has made.
Ho points out that gratitude does not necessarily have to be in the form of expensive gifts. Sincere expressions of appreciation include heartfelt words or going to a place where you and your hubby can spend quality time together.
It happens to all of us at some point in our relationship, especially with the humdrum and familiarity of everyday routine.
Ho observes. “When they [couples] enter a marriage, years in, they can often slip into complacency.”
So, don’t let boredom hijack your marriage! Years of tedium might just cause spouses to lose interest completely in one another ― a dull marriage quickly leads to infidelity and other ways to escape.
Loh advises, “Find fun things to do together ― we attended Japanese classes as a couple and constantly challenged each other through them. We also try new restaurants at least once a week on date nights.”
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