Managing Marital Upsets
There are three main creators of marital upsets: Abusive anger, Affairs, and Addictions. These are totally out-of-bounds behaviors and usually difficult to perceive and admit to. Rather than feeling the embarrassment, shame, and guilt that might arise with admitting that an individual has these problems, one might be tempted to justify, cover up or blame the spouse for their own issues.
An expression of Anger, with verbal and physical aggression that turns out to be harmful in a traumatic way is called Abusive Anger. Often times, abusive anger stems from hypersensitivity. It establishes a relationship of power and control in a marriage. Usually an abusive spouse tends to be controlling, commanding their partners what to do and making choices for them without considering their wishes. The severity of this abuse is significantly increased with alcohol or drugs, as most serious injuries occur when the abuser has been drinking. People with abusive anger issues find it hard to acknowledge their anger outburst as a problem behavior as they justify their anger, blaming their spouse, unable to see their fault or take responsibility for their actions.
The introspection leading towards assessment of anger, being self-aware towards having an anger problem, talking to your spouse and seeking professional help through anger management program is the right course of action towards a healthy marriage.
Often times, Affairs start with flirtatious interactions, especially with a culture of drinking and socializing, business trips or individual engagement in personal and emotional talk in private places, with a friend’s spouse, business associate or with a neighbor. In my experience of couple’s therapy, I often find that the impact of emotional infidelity, such as e-mail romances or excessive intimacy with a colleague, friend or neighbor transferring the affection that otherwise would go to one’s partner, does more damage to a marriage than sexual intimacy. It violates emotional monogamy leading to physical betrayal in the long run.
To prevent an upset related to infidelity, we need to focus upon two factors:
- Maintaining the basic rules of marital trust and fidelity by having a transparent life with no secrets to the relationship. If you are doing anything in any relationship that feels secret, you need to take a second look.
- Openness in communication and introspection of flirtatious behavior, a need to confide about our personal life to someone else towards gaining sympathy and emotional attention.
Evidently, affairs undermine the basic trust in a marriage. Commitment and loyalty is the foundation stone for a loving marriage and partnership and when these stones are removed by relationship betrayals, the marriage falls apart.
There is a similarity of Addictive behavior pattern to having an affair. Addictions not only destroy a relationship but further damage people in various ways including their families and professional lives. Whether we have addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography or eating disorder, addictive patterns create a priority over one’s spouse bringing toxic and unacceptable interactions along. Drugs and alcohol usually tend to lead an individual towards destructive behavior, with passive/aggressive demeanor, insult and abuse towards the spouse. Almost everyone I came in contact with regarding addictive behavior, usually minimize negative impact of their addiction on their marital life.
An introspection into negative impacts of addictive behavior pattern with rationale towards the addictive behavior (running away from responsibilities, numbing the pain, depression and loss or lack of closeness with your spouse) and sharing these thoughts with your spouse towards seeking professional help is the best course of action.
Overall, whenever we come across an upset, small or large, we should try the clean-up process by identifying our part of the problem, take responsibility and create full apology. If this clean-up procedure is unable to detoxify damaging incidents, consider seeking professional help. Most couples wait too long before they get some help, and sometimes it is too late to save a marriage.