Lessening Marriage Madness

June 30th, 2010

The specifics may vary from couple to couple, but one thing is certain: every couple has their disagreements. Arguments are rarely what they seem; they’re not really about who is doing more housework, or whose turn it is to balance the checkbook.  Underneath it all, it’s often a hidden need that’s causing the spat. Whether you’re preparing for marriage, newly married or going on 50+ years together, it’s always a good idea to step back and try to understand the underlying causes of arguments.

couple-arguingKey underlying causes of marital conflict include:

  • Not feeling appreciated.
  • Not getting enough affection.
  • Not feeling respected.
  • Feeling insecure and vulnerable.
  • Old resentments.
  • Feeling overburdened with responsibilities.

Think about the last argument you and your partner had; If you examine the content closely, you’ll discover that it really wasn’t about the dishes or the laundry; it was likely about feeling underappreciated or taken advantage of.  As a marriage therapist, I’m not against conflict; conflict actually breeds intimacy. What I caution against, however, is the disrespect and disregard that too often accompanies the expression of frustration.

Here are few tips to keep in mind for fostering a happier, more peaceful marriage, even amidst the inevitable differences:

  • Be Empathic. See things from the other’s perspective.
  • Cease Proving Your Point. Do you want to be right or free?
  • Be Kind. Avoid name-calling and hurtful remarks; they’re not an option…..ever!
  • Own Responsibility. Admit wrongs, apologize, and improve!
  • Express Appreciation. Notice and comment on your partner’s positive efforts.
  • Maintain the “Big Picture.” Keep your eyes on the prize….and all the reasons you fell in love in the first place! Whatever you focus on GROWS!

~Dr. Liz

Image courtesy of here.