When a marriage starts to turn sour we automatically want to jump into therapy with our spouse. Although, not everyone is so keen to talk to a stranger about their problems they may be facing in their marriage. In addition, there may be times when a therapist may be seen as being partial to one side or the other, which leaves the other party feeling the partiality. Many couples are facing financial dilemmas which could be the primary cause of marital tension and a therapist or marriage counselor may not be in the family budget.
However, if your problems seem insurmountable, a marriage counselor may be your only option to save your marriage. On the other hand, if your marriage simply needs some tuning-up, we have some tips that may be helpful.
You may be a team, but you can only control and change yourself. That is the only person you have complete control over. Once you accept this fact your whole outlook to therapy will change. You have to stop focusing so much on your partner and focus on your issues. While you are focusing so much on your partner’s shortcomings, they are focusing on yours. Listen to what they are saying and then take those words to heart. If you focus on how you talk to your partner, how you react to your partner, and how you treat your partner – you will eventually start to see a change in your partner too.
Reacting in the moment is usually what gets us in trouble. It is hard to stop ourselves from reacting when a conflict arises. However, if you can exercise restraint and think first before acting first, you will find that you can stop yourself from being reactive in the moment and thus prevent the conflict from escalating into seriously destructive territory. When you recognize a conflict arising take a moment to step away and focus on something besides the conflict for a while. This will help you from being reactive.
Many times at the moment of the conflict our perception is skewed and that is what sets off an avalanche of negative thoughts and hurtful comments. For instance, a husband and wife are getting ready to go out for the evening. The husband asks the wife if she would like to wear her other black dress. The wife immediately takes this as an insinuation that she doesn’t look nice in what she is currently wearing and takes offense. Her feelings become hurt because she is insulted by the suggestion that she is improperly dressed. However, he was actually asking because he thought she would be warmer in her other dress. Before this simple matter could be resolved, it would escalate into her accusing him of being controlling and critical and he would end up defending himself and declaring her too over-reactive or childish.
It is in these moments of tension, that we must take a break and reflect. Feeding into your feelings of hurt is what got you into this mess. Instead, consider stepping aside and ask yourself what you are actually reacting to and why. Consider, what are the consequences of your immediate reaction versus taking a moment to reconsider your next move?
Air Out Your Dirty Laundry.
How many times has your spouse done that one little thing that just rubs you the wrong way and you just let it go, but inside it just eats away at you? Then it just starts this slow build-up of resentment and anger. Then one day something completely unrelated happens and you lose your temper for no reason and blow up.
About once a week ask your spouse if you have done anything that has made them feel disrespected, unloved or unappreciated. At first you will probably get a look of amazement and a reassuring “fine,” but do not believe them. Politely, keep encouraging them to be honest with you and eventually you should get an answer.
When you finally do, listen to what they have to say. Naturally you will want to defend yourself, instead ask them something like; “So, when I leave my dirty plate on the kitchen counter and not in the dishwasher or hand wash it – you think that I am leaving it there for you to clean and feel like I’m disrespecting you and our home? Why?”
Take the time to understand how they feel. Once you have opened the door of constant communication that door will stay open. This will also allow you to face conflicts head on together.
Don’t Forget To Touch.
After many years of marriage, we often forget to touch each other. When was the last time you held hands with your spouse? Or simply sat side by side touching while watching a movie? Chances are it probably has been awhile. At first it may be a little odd to start holding hands again but the simple act of touching releases oxytocin. Oxytocin is released during hugging, touching and during orgasm in both sexes. So, go ahead, make a habit to reach over and take the hand of your spouse. Before long you’ll be holding hands like two teenagers again and your passion will be reignited.
It is hard to admit that your marriage needs a little help, but there is no such thing as a perfect marriage. No matter how much that couple down the street likes to pretend they are perfect. At some point we all need to do a little marriage up-keep and hopefully these tips will help you out.
Written By Alisa Bashaw for the 50 Plus Report