Inevitable Crisis-Challenges in Every Marriage

Inevitable Crisis-Challenges in Every Marriage

All relationships will face an inevitable crisis.  No matter how we much we plan, how hard we try or how educated about relationships we become, we will face a challenging moment in our marriage or partnership in which we are forced to review our commitment or future with one another.

 

Dream Marriages:
Exchanging wedding vows and the celebration of couple's union in marriage is always an exciting moment. Most of us, even with our mixed histories have great expectations for our romantic futures. As children most of us watched Disney and romance movies or read romance novels. Younger generations are flooded with social media and reality television about finding that special someone who will "just get us".

When we meet someone that fits our imagined picture, most of us have hopes and dreams with good intentions to commit to the relationship's success. Generally, when couples commit or exchange vows, it is done with the intention of living happily ever after, through thick and thin, til death do we part, and we are sincere.

Actual Marriages:
Actual marriages are legal contracts for partnerships that provide tax benefits, enable couples to share insurance, make financial decisions and purchases together, and fulfill a social norm to demonstrate that we are doing what society says we are supposed to be doing.  While that doesn't sound romantic, it is the true definition of a legal marriage.  In fact, the reality of actual marriage contracts isn't romantic at all.  Add children into the picture, working full-time, home expenses, dirty laundry and diapers with sleepless nights, and now you are partners in real life.  

If parenting isn't a wake up call to reality, it is certainly a wake up call to be a "grown up" and that the world does not revolve around us or our dreams. Even without children, pressures in society about finances, health insurance, fatigue and personal differences, will force us to face the fact that romance stories are called stories for a reason.

The statistics for divorce in the state of California can provide a clear reality check.  More than half of all marriages fail within years. It is no wonder that over 50 percent of youth are uncertain whether they will marry or have children.  They are watching us, not reading romance novels.  Perhaps younger generations have a more realistic view of what marriage is and what it is not.  Marriage is definitely not a fairy-tale but a journey with a selected partner with a possible expiration date. While this may not sound hopeful coming from a marriage therapist, it would be dishonest not to present the actual statistics about marriage and divorce rates to couples who are seeking support. Most couples come to therapy after their relationship becomes unmanageable. The majority of couples do not seek therapy before problems develop, they arrive in therapy after they have reached an inevitable crisis. Often, they have already made the decision to exist the relationship.

Couples marry for reasons of compatibility, mutual attraction, and the belief that the other person would be a great partner to raise children with or grow old with.  Whether we picked our life partner for similarities or complimentary differences, there are generally flaws in our selection process. The result is nearly always an inevitable crisis. Partners are eventually challenged to review or re-boot their relationship at some point. The irony, is that the very thing that brought us together, will inevitably be the very thing that creates the "crisis" in the marriage. 

While this data may sound discouraging, the fact is that most of us did not do our research about marriage or seek consultation from marriage experts prior to making one of the biggest decisions of our lives. On the bright side, marital challenges are predictable, they are not life threatening and the outcome of any relationship will not determine your future opportunity for happiness.

What you do before or after marriage to live a joyful life is a personal choice. Regardless of how we arrive at the need to re-evaluate our relationships, we still have choices.

So, how do we know what our inevitable crisis will be?  What can we do to prevent a crisis or potential negative outcomes?  Can we avoid or predict dissatisfaction or disruption in our relationships? No. What you can do is become educated about intimate relationships, self-aware, develop emotional intelligence, and learn how to communicate effectively in relationships.

Couples entering therapy  need to be committed to knowing who they are and how they became who they are. Both parties must be open and willing to do hard work to resolve challenges in relationships.

Questions to consider prior to entering couples counseling include: Are you willing to let go of dysfunctional patterns of interacting and commit to hard work? Are you willing to do homework, practice new ways of relating and share responsibility in the successes and failures in the relationship? Can you compromise or do you need to win? The biggest question is do you Both want to stay in the relationship? A therapist can provide you with guidance, strategies and tools for re-connection to improve the quality of your interactions and intimacy. However, success in couples counseling without fail requires that both partners are invested in the same desired outcome. 

 

 

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