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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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