Getting Out of a Marital Rut
By Amber Hasbun
Next to the birth of a child, your wedding day is remembered as one of the best days of your life…assuming a tolerable amount of family drama. Many vow to love, honor and cherish the person that they have chosen to be family. You commit to building a future and embarking on this shared adventure of life with someone you see as a source of support, comfort and safety.
And anyone who has been in a relationship knows that complete bliss is not possible 100 percent of the time. As with any other relationships, the relationship with your spouse is marked by highs and lows. When you commit to someone, it means doing your best to make the highs last as long as they can and doing whatever you can to climb up from the lows. You know this going into the marriage…hopefully.
In reality, happily married folk spend the majority of their time on the plateaus. Content to share their lives as they move throughout the day. And at the end of the day, the stress of life is manageable because you will get the opportunity to go home and reconnect with your spouse.
However, there are many who struggle to recall the joy they experienced on their wedding day. The peaks become scarce and sometimes it feels as if you are living in the bottom of the valley. Rather than providing comfort and safety from the stress of the day, the tension between you and your spouse is just another headache you have to deal with. Sound familiar?
If this characterizes your relationship, then you are not alone. Almost half of all marriages end in divorce. And if you think this is a fatalistic view of relationships, then ask anyone who has ever been divorced: how long did it take you to come to that decision? The truth is they were unhappy and stuck in a rut long before they took steps to go their separate ways.
So how do you know if your marriage is just in another valley or if you are headed for a divorce?
First, ask yourself if you are tired of living like this? Of feeling this way towards your spouse? If your answer is “yes,” then you should look into getting help. However, as therapists, we are also concerned with the question to the following: Who do you turn to when life is stressful, chaotic, or if you need comfort? If your spouse is not somewhere at the top of that list, then you have a problem.
Your partner or spouse should be a safe haven, a secure person that you can turn towards when life becomes stressful. You should be able to share your truth, without fear of shame, ridicule or disregard.
Now, that’s not to say that the expectation within a marriage is total agreement all the time. That’s unrealistic. Actually it is impossible, since the person you live with is bound to annoy and irritate you. Inevitably leading to arguments or a stand offs. However, the difference between couples that resolve these differences and those that stew in them, is determined by how one see their partner.
Couples for whom there is safety and security in the relationship can crawl out of the valleys. They don’t linger in them or establish a permanent residence. For these couples, arguments have resolution and conflicts are temporary. Sounds wonderful, right?
Many believe that couple’s counseling is a last ditch effort on the road to divorce. Even, that if you are not happy in your relationship and you decide to try couple’s counseling, that you are admitting your relationship is in more trouble than you believe it to be. However, that is far from the truth.
You do not need to forgo years of happiness and struggle alone. Don’t resign yourself to waiting until the valley becomes the Grand Canyon or your emotional walls are so high that you can’t see over them. Think of your relationship as a car. You can choose to get a tune-up and have your oil changed as needed, or you can ignore the issue until your engine blows up.
There is hope. People can change the way they feel and act in their relationship. You can see your partner differently and rebuild the bond you once had. It just takes work and help from a therapist. You deserve to be in a relationship where each of you respect, admire, and appreciate one another for who you were on your wedding day, as well as, the person that you have become.
Here, at the Family Guidance & Therapy Center, our dedicated staff of seasoned therapist will work with you and your spouse to reestablish the bond you once had. If you are considering couples counseling, call us today at 619.600.0683.