Advertising
Advertising

Marriages Fail When Couples Get Stuck In These Two Things, According To Psychologists

Marriages Fail When Couples Get Stuck In These Two Things, According To Psychologists

Marriage is one of the most discussed relationship dynamics in the modern age. According to recent research featured in the New York Times, it is one of the best endeavours that you can embark on in life. Being married tends to make people happier and more content with their lives, particularly if they are experiencing stressful periods of their life.

The Complexities of Marriage: Two Dynamics that can Damage your Relationship

While marriage can be an exceptionally rewarding endeavour, however, it is also exceptionally complex and fraught with numerous, toxic dynamics. Along with the numerous independent interactions and responsibilities that bind married couples, these dynamics can undermine relationships and ultimately end even the most stable unions. According to Peter Pearson, a therapists and co-founder of the Couples Institute, however, more than 60% of couples that he deals with find themselves stuck in one of two such dynamics.

Advertising

So what exactly are these dynamics and how do they manifest themselves? Let’s take a look: 

A Conflict-avoidant Dynamic

The first is known as a conflict-avoidant dynamic, which is defined by fear and a situation where the consequences and emotional of speaking out outweighs the potential benefits of engaging in discussion. Such a dynamic usually develops between a dominant and submissive partner, with the latter gradually becoming compliant as they compromise their own thoughts, dreams and desires in order to retain the favour of the former. Toxic in the extreme, such a dynamic can manifests itself through anything from purchase and interior design choices to decisions concerning relocating or starting a family.

Advertising

This does not necessarily means that one partner is controlling over the other, however, but more that each individual’s core value sets and instincts begin to emerge as they spend time in a relationship. This brings out reflex coping mechanisms and instinctive behaviour, leading to a communications breakdown and the decline of a marriage. Over time, the only way to avoid such a fate is to go through what is known as a process of differentiation, through which both parties strive to recognise the character traits of both themselves and their partners.

This enables couples to understand the differences that exist within their relationship, while empowering both parties to allow for these and push positive communication. Given that conflict-avoidance is one of they key, underlying causes of divorce in the modern age, this is a process that couples should strive to go through during their marriages.

Advertising

A Hostile-dependent Dynamic

A hostile-dependent dynamic is another of the primary causes of divorce, and it is most likely to occur in couples where both parties are of high dominance. In this type of relationship, both individuals seek to take control and push their own views within the relationship, without listening or empathising with the other.

One of the most obvious manifestations of this is the development of a blame culture, whether both parties indulge in finger-pointing and unnecessary accusations. So as couples begin to argue more, each member of a hostile-dependent dynamic will attempt to define the problem from a subjective perspective and determine faults in their partner.

Advertising

A similar resolution is required in this instance, although conflict resolution is made far harder by the relatively dominant and stubborn mind-set of both partners. Compromise is the key word here, as it is crucial that each individual recognises their own faults and the impact that these have on their relationship. Most importantly, they must learn to consider arguments and disputes from an objective perspective, while also listening to the views of their loved ones.

The Last Word

While these two toxic dynamics are among the most common causes of divorce and relationship issues, they are not insurmountable so long as couples are willing to work at improving their marriage. Communication and a willingness to listen are crucial, as is taking the time to understanding each other’s innate value sets and outlook on life.

Featured photo credit: Ahmet Kaya / Flickr via flickr.com

More by this author

10 Reasons A Long-Distance Relationship Will Work 12 iPhone 6 Tricks You Probably Don’t Know But Should We Are Often Confused Empathy With Sympathy but What’s The Difference Actually? To Make Wise Decisions, Ask Yourself These Questions Every Time No Matter What You Say, the First Thing People Pay Attention to Is Only How You Say It

Trending in Communication

1 40 Acts of Kindness to Make the World a Better Place 2 6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak 3 How to Train Your Brain to Be Optimistic 4 How to Stop Living on Autopilot with Antonio Neves 5 The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

Advertising

Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

Advertising

How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

Advertising

Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

Read Next