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.
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.
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.
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.
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