6 Communication Mindsets More Dangerous Than Affairs
Miscommunication in marriage takes the top spot among the three most threatening issues, with finances and sex following closely at numbers two and three. Despite this, many couples often seek counseling due to an emotional disconnection from their partner. While suspicions of infidelity, betrayal, or hostility may seem to be the primary causes, it is often subtler underlying issues with one of the partners that lead to symptoms such as cheating, betraying, and an inability to manage anger. These behaviors, however, are not the root causes.
As a therapist, my role involves helping couples uncover the underlying problems causing their disconnect. Here are some of the most common issues:
Past Relationship/Family Hurts, Shame, and Unresolved Anger: We bring our individual stories into marriage, carrying past hurts, shame, and anger. Marriage cannot "fix" us, and your partner cannot "fix" you. However, offering each other space to work on individual issues and providing support can strengthen the relationship.
Marriage Isn't Perfect, and Neither Are You: Accepting the messiness of marriage and understanding that both partners are imperfect is crucial. Trying to "fix" your partner can sabotage the marriage, while focusing on positive changes initiated by both partners fosters connection.
The Practice of Kindness Is Hard: Consistently choosing kindness in the face of challenges is tough. Taking each other for granted and resorting to immature ways of handling anger and stress can erode the connection. Emotional maturity and commitment to the relationship, even when it's difficult, are essential.
Prioritizing Children Over Spouse: Placing children above the importance of the marriage is a common mistake. Balancing time between the spouse and children is crucial for a successful marriage.
Competing Instead of Working Together: Marriage is a team effort. Recognizing your partner as a confidante and collaborator in decision-making, rather than competing with them, strengthens the relationship. Setting boundaries protects the relationship from external threats.
Committing to Vows: Marriage requires a commitment to being present, attentive, and faithful. Distractions and societal pressures can challenge this commitment. Regularly spending quality time with your partner and nurturing the relationship through small, loving actions contribute to a successful marriage.
These threats are prevalent in many couples' lives, accumulating over time and causing feelings of being unloved, uncherished, and resentful. Addressing these issues through open communication, feedback, and a commitment to change behavior is crucial for a healthy marriage. Identifying problems is only the first step; true improvement comes from a willingness to change and actively work towards a better marriage.