Marriage is a partnership between two individuals that is meant to last a lifetime. Why do so many marriages fail? Why do 50% of the marriages in the United Stated end up in divorce? This is a million dollar question. This article will address three important areas that cause marriages to crumble.
#1 Emotional Management – One of the answers to this question is that often individuals in a marriage don’t know how to manage their emotional pain. Life events occur that cause emotional pain. People die, jobs are lost, tragedy occurs, relationships break and the natural result is emotional pain. If a person does not know how to manage this emotional pain, he or she will act out this pain in some form. He may act it out by some unhealthy sedation, such as alcohol or drugs, or he may act it out through over reactive anger or isolation. The end result is damage to the marriage relationship. If a person does not manage their pain, there pain will manage them. How well do you manage your emotional pain, and what is the toll of unmanaged emotions on your relationship? There is an saying in the counseling field, “What is not talked out will be acted out.” After almost 20 years of counseling married couples, I see the truth of this statement. Painful emotions must be given a voice, and released through communication with a caring friend or spouse, or it will negatively affect the relationship.
#2 The Godless Marriage – The most successful marriages have God as part of the partnership. If each individual in the union has a living, vibrant and real relationship with God, the issues between the two individuals will be mediated through a higher power. The bible teaches an important lesson in the third chapter of Genesis. Adam and Eve lived in harmony with each other until they sinned and ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. After this sin, God withdrew his presence from Adam and Eve. The result of the withdrawal was guilt and shame, followed by the first recorded marriage fight in the scripture. Adam said, “She gave me the forbidden fruit to eat.” This dispute was the result of Adam and Eve deciding to separate themselves from God. The principle is God will create harmony and peace in a relationship when it is founded on the presence of God. The opposite principle is also true; strife, anger and feuding will result if the relationship does not have the presence of God.
#3 Focus on the Other – Whenever a couple is disputing, both partners have a role in the dispute. A common occurrence in marriage counseling is one partner trying to convince me that the other one needs to change. When one person constantly focuses his attention on the partner’s behavior, and fails to look at his own, marriage trouble will result. I constantly say, “I understand that you have been hurt by your partner, yet what are the behaviors that you are doing to contribute to the problem.” If each individual will shift the focus from the outside and begin to focus on how to change my unhealthy behavior, good things will happen. When both parties shift the attention to his or her own behavior, we start making some positive progress in counseling. Do you take responsibility for your own behavior, or are you fixated on the behavior of your partner?
These are not the only elements that make up a successful marriage, yet these 3 are extremely important. Learn to manage your emotions, embrace a living and vibrant relationship with God, and take responsibility for your own behaviors. When each partner commits to these 3 suggestions, you will quickly move towards a successful marriage.
Dean Sunseri, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Baton Rouge, LA. He specializes in individual, marriage and family counseling. He can contacted by calling 225-290-7252 or firstname.lastname@example.org .