When couples call me for marriage counseling they often site the reason as ‘communication problems’. I’ve heard this hundreds of times as a family therapist. This phrase has come to be a catch phrase for many different issues – known or unknown to couples. As I do therapy with these couples in my Provo counseling center, I often find that these couples actually communicate very well, but have not built the positive connections that successful couples have. There is more to marriage therapy, then, than just helping couples ‘communicate well’. Simply learning how to do reflective listening, or practicing ‘I statements’ is not sound couples counseling. John Gottman, a renowned marriage researcher, has devoted his professional life to understanding what makes some marriages work, while others fail. I will be outlining much of his incredible work in the coming months along with anecdotal evidence that it works.
Dr. Gottman’s proposes that there are three types of happy, stable couples: volatile, conflict-avoiding and validating. Each approach is right and works! This is if couples are able to maintain a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. This is the ratio that Dr. Gottman has found to be important to maintain for successful couples.
The volatile couple can be heated, passionate, emotionally expressive and loud. They can call each other out and disagree. They are direct and don’t beat around the bush. This isn’t bad! These couples also show a lot of humor, affection and interest in each other and have been found to be the type of couple that stay romantic after years of being together.
The validating couple will engage in emotional expressiveness to a certain degree and only around main issues. They emphasize the togetherness and partnership of their marriage and strive to honor each other. They might start an argument softly by validating the others point of view and perspective.
The conflict-avoidant couple will often ‘agree to disagree’. They will never, or at least rarely, say to their partner that they are wrong and that they disagree with them. This types of confrontation is uncomfortable for them and they avoid it. They emphasize their strengths as a couple, their commitment to each other, solidarity and philosophical optimism.
Which couple are you? No matter which category you fall in, you can still have a happy and successful marriage. I have done counseling with many couples who fall in each of those three categories. If you have concerns that it’s not working for you and your partner, call me to see if therapy is right for you.
Here’s to happy marriages!
Triston Morgan, PhD LMFT
Marriage is not just founded on love and intimacy – it is also based strongly on trust and commitment. Infidelity is like a wrecking ball that can demolish this foundation and leave the marriage in shambles.
What is Infidelity?
Infidelity can be manifested in various ways, depending on how an individual and couple see it. The bottom line is that there are strong feelings for someone else other than your spouse. These feelings of connection are usually surrounded by deceit and secrecy. This can be an outright sexual affair, an emotional affair, a fling or one-night stand, an online dalliance or even unrequited feelings by a spouse that does not involve any physical contact.
The discovery of your spouse’s infidelity can turn your world upside down – the emotional morass of denial, anger, bitterness, shame, fear and guilt can be overwhelming. The pain of finding out your spouse’s betrayal can make you ready to call it quits. But then, you need to look at how strong your commitment is towards marriage and your belief of whether the marriage is worth saving or not.
Trust, once it is lost, will be hard to bring back. The same goes with respect and loyalty. Rebuilding a marriage that has been shaken in its very foundations will take time and commitment. But with hard work, two spouses can come out with a stronger marriage.
Here are some things that two spouses who have committed to the marriage can do:
– Put an end to the affair. First, before the work of rebuilding can be done, you must stop the things that harm the marriage. Cut the affair cleanly, with no plans of going back to it.
– Be responsible. Apologize without making excuses or assigning blame. Don’t say, “I only did it because you were not paying any attention to me.”, “I was drawn to him because you don’t make me feel sexy anymore.” You are responsible for your choices. For the one who was cheated on, think about what you could have contributed that led to your spouse having an affair.
– Take a break. The time after the discovery of an affair is an emotionally-charged time. Give each other time to think things through by not pressuring him or her to make a decision at a time that emotions are running high. Don’t rush the betrayed spouse into “forgetting about it and moving on”. Give him or her time to lick his or her proverbial wounds and let them heal.
– Get help. If you have both decided that the marriage is worth saving, you can consider getting into marriage therapy. Utah marriage counseling can provide a non-confrontational venue for the two spouses to talk with an objective third-party facilitating. Each spouse must be willing to work it out with the help of a Utah counselor to put things in proper perspective for both of you, one who will help you thresh out the issues without being swept away by emotions.
How Marriage Counseling Can Help
Couples counseling in Utah can provide a great benefit to spouses seeking to survive the storms of infidelity. It can:
– Deal with negative feelings. This can include guilt, shame, anger, depression and fear that can result from the infidelity.
– Help thresh out issues. Infidelity can be a symptom of deep-seated problems in a marriage. Family counseling in Utah can help identify the issues that need resolving so that each spouse recognizes his or her part in making a stronger marriage that puts a premium on openness and honesty.
– Give support to the healing and forgiving process. Couples can start forgiving. For the betrayed, to forgive the unfaithful spouse for his wrongdoing. For the one who cheated, to forgive himself or herself for what he or she did and start the process of recovery.
– Equip with essential tools for repairing the relationship and building a better marriage. Provo marriage counseling can provide couples with tools that can lead to a union that is more open, more receptive and with each person recognizing his or her accountability towards the marriage.
– Determining whether the marriage could or should be kept intact. Sometimes, the foundation has not only been shaken but utterly torn down. It may be that the other spouse is not willing to work towards the marriage. Counseling can help you towards the decision to keep or let go of your marriage, but with the benefit of an experienced and impartial party providing guidance.
“So I made a mistake. Pooh, pooh. I already said I’m sorry. Why can’t we not make a big deal out of this?”
“It wasn’t that serious. Let’s forget about it and move on.”
We go into marriage recognizing that our significant other is not perfect – nor are we. We are bound to make mistakes – and some mistakes may have more serious consequences than others. Our mistakes (willful or otherwise) will have negative consequences on our union. When one strays and commits adultery, it will hurt the other spouse. When a wife is addicted to shopping and spending, it will not only strain the family’s finances but the couple’s relationship as well.
We sometimes have negative behaviors. What is important is learning how to deal with mistakes from both sides of the coin. For the person who was offended to be able to deal with it and forgive the erring spouse, as well as for the offending party to take responsibility for the consequences and to recognize and validate the other spouse’s hurt feelings. In doing so, a couple can take further steps towards addressing the issue and changing for the better.
Minimizing – A defense Mechanism
“It wasn’t all that bad.” This is the recurring theme of someone who has a tendency to minimize his negative behaviors and its effects. It is a form of denial where one justifies his behavior to avoid dealing with the root cause of the problem and to allow him to continue with the negative behavior.
Minimizing also means having the sense that something one does, thinks or feels is less important as compared to if someone else had the same actions, thoughts and feelings. For instance, a person who is prone to minimizing will try to justify that his being a workaholic isn’t all that bad. He will tell himself that it does not have serious consequences on his family and that as soon as “things settle down in the office”, he can ease off on the work load.
However, when the same person sees the same things happen to another workaholic, he can immediately see what’s wrong with the behavior. He already knows how the persons can act towards correcting their negative behavior. The sad thing is, the things he sees in other people in a similar condition as he is, he can’t see in himself because he has already minimized the consequences of his own behavior.
In the case of an alcoholic or substance abuser, he will try to minimize his addiction by saying, “I just had a couple of drinks, nothing major.” Or, “I was just experimenting; other people were doing it as well.” When he gets into trouble at work, he will respond by saying, “Even if I had a few beers in me, I still manage to do a lot of the work. In fact, my work performance is better than other people’s.” And, if his spouse will suggest going to a Utah substance abuse counselor, he will say, “Why spend good money when there really is no problem. I don’t need Utah counseling– I just have a few beers now and then and I can stop when and if I want to.”
Minimizing and Your Marriage
This kind of defense mechanism will have a negative impact on the marriage as well. Since the problem “isn’t a big deal”, the problem is not faced and dealt with as it should. To address a problem, both spouses must first be able to acknowledge that a problem exists.
Minimizing also sends out the message to the spouse that his or her feelings do not factor in. His or her feelings aren’t recognized and validated. As a result, the negative behaviors can breed resentment, bitterness and hurt. Ultimately, the failure to deal with the problems head on will lead to serious rifts in the marriage.
Breaking down the defense of Minimizing
This habit of minimizing may not be as easy to conquer. It may be more ingrained than you think. You may need the help of an experienced Utah counselor to help you recognize this behavior in you. With the help of Utah marriage counselor, you can start learning appropriate communication and coping tools in order to gain insights into your spouse’s feelings about your negative behaviors. This is one step towards learning to acknowledge and validate your spouse’s feelings. As you communicate with an effort of building empathy and understanding, you will also learn to take responsibility for your actions.
One step is acknowledging that even if you don’t see anything wrong with your behavior is to acknowledge how your spouse feels about it. Even if you don’t have a problem with the issue, if it hurts your spouse, then there is an issue. This sends out the message that your spouse’s feelings are important to you.
Provo marriage counseling can help you get have more emotional equipment in your marriage toolbox that can strengthen your marriage. This includes learning to empathize with your spouse and accepting the consequences of your behavior.
What makes a marriage last? Although there are no cut-and-dried formulas to a happy, successful marriage, there are common characteristics that are found in happy unions, ones that stand the test of time.
Here are some ingredients that make for happy, lasting marriages:
– Communication. The ingredient of communication is key to a successful union. No one is a mind reader and a spouse cannot expect his or her partner to know what is in his or her mind, what his or her needs and wants are. Communication leads to a deeper understanding of the other spouse. In that way, issues are resolved and expectations clarified. Sometimes, couples find it hard to effectively communicate because of past experiences and family background. It may take some couples counseling in Provo to get equipped with effective communication skills and to identify responses and actions that hinder communication.
– Clear expectations on each other’s roles. Spouses often have clear expectations of the roles they play in the family. This applies to responsibilities in finances (Who pays for what? Will one spouse stay at home with the kids or will both spouses work?), child-rearing, household chores and dealing with in-laws. Conflicts can easily arise when one’s expectations in the relationship are not met by the other spouse (who may not have a clue about the expectations in the first place). Sometimes, Utah marriage counseling may be needed to help you establish clear role expectations for each spouse.
– A friendship. Not only are they lovers but also friends, partners that have a deep-rooted friendship. This means that they can enjoy each other’s company, even without the sex or physical intimacy. As good friends, they remain loyal to each other. They refuse to accept attacks on their spouse; rather, they defend him or her. They are also able to be emotional intimate and open with their spouse – to show their trust for partner and be completely themselves when they are with him or her. As friends, they share and keep each other’s secrets.
– Shared vision and goals. A healthy union tends to have shared visions and goals – as to which path they will take, what goals to pursue, what values to hold on to.
– A sense of humor. The ability to laugh with each other even (or especially) during hard times is what can strengthen the bond that couples have, making them the soul mates they are meant to be. Shared laughter can build a relationship in a way that other experiences can’t.
– Respect. A long-lasting couple recognizes and cherishes each other’s intrinsic worth as individuals. This means that the other partner is worth their time and effort, the partner is not someone to be taken for granted but given honor and special attention. This also means respecting each other’s space, respecting healthy boundaries in the relationship and not forcing personality changes on your partner.
– Physical intimacy. Happy couples feel the need for physical closeness. More than sexual intimacy, this also includes the need to touch and be touched. Couples with lasting marriages tend to desire to keep a physical connection – to hug, cuddle, kiss or hold hands. There are also clear expectations in the area of sex, considering the partner’s needs and preferences. Usually, married couples will have tacit or implicit agreements of sexual fidelity.
– Humility. Long-lasting couples don’t let pride get in the way. They are ready to say sorry when they are wrong. They are ready to forgive when the other spouse apologizes. They are also able to accept loving and constructive criticism. They are also willing to grow together as a couple.
– Know how to fight fairly. It is important to recognize that happy couples are not the ones that never fight – rather, they fight and argue, but do so fairly. This means no “below the belt” tactics such as name calling or using hurtful words. Rather, the two have an agreement to be willing to talk it out until the issue is resolved.
– Willingness to make compromises. Happy couples know the art of give and take. It is not letting the other always get their way.
– Willingness to ask for help. It is important to acknowledge that there may be challenges in a marriage that cannot be surmounted by just the couple. There may be the need to seek the help of Provo marriage counseling.
The challenge is to look into your marriage and commit to developing these characteristics. With the help and guidance of family counseling in Provo, a marriage can grow into a happy and long-lasting union. Utah counseling can help establish healthy relationships that can be the foundation of a happy, long-lasting marriage.
You have waited with joyful anticipation for the coming of your little one. You excitedly embarked on projects to welcome the baby. The nursery is all decorated and filled with the necessary equipment. You have bought the baby a complete wardrobe (and then some). And when that moment came, when you first saw your baby, you experienced such delight at finally holding him.
And then… comes the 3 a.m. feedings, the non-stop crying jags, the need to juggle your schedule around the baby. The sleepless nights, lack of sex and overall fatigue takes a toll on you and your spouse. Your relationship feels strained. You can say goodbye to spontaneous dates, to quiet evenings by the fire, to sleeping in. Yes, a baby is a gift and a blessing, but you must also prepare for the challenges of being a parent and a spouse.
The mother may feel resentful that they take the role of the primary caretaker and feel that the husband has more freedom and more opportunities to rest and relax. This resentment may also be exacerbated by the feeling that as primary caretaker, they assume more “difficult” roles with the baby – breastfeeding, bathing, changing the diapers while the father gets to simply enjoy and play with the baby.
Meanwhile, the father can feel left out of the excitement and this can also lead to feelings of resentment. Commonly, it is the mother who gets the supports from loved ones and friends. The busyness of taking care of baby’s needs may also result in a feeling of disconnection between the husband and wife. If the wife is the primary caregiver, the husband may also feel guilty about feelings of jealousy that crop up as a result of the wife spending more time with the baby.
So, how do you manage your relationship and maintain your connection with your spouse even as you take care of your baby?
– Establish your bond before the birth. If your marriage is already rocky prior to the baby’s birth, it would be good to consider getting Utah marriage counseling. You see, if there are problems with the marriage even before the arrival of the baby, the stress of caring for the baby may add another strain and your marriage bond may start to unravel. Provo counseling can help strengthen your marriage and prepare it for this challenge.
– Establish a relationship that is couple-centered, not baby-centered. Arranging your relationship around your children will only set you up for a never-ending round of meeting their needs while ignoring you and your spouse’s needs. Remember, the best gift you can give to your children is for you to love your spouse.
– Don’t be Mr. or Mrs. Perfect. In caring for your baby, have realistic expectations about what you or your spouse can and should do. Your house does not have to be immaculate and you don’t have to eat off the kitchen floor. Having unrealistic expectations about your housekeeping skills coupled with caring for the baby may just be too much. The same goes with being a parent to your child. Compulsive parenting (or that desire to do things or parent in a certain way, to be the “supermom” or “superdad”) will cause strain on your relationship with your spouse.
– Strive for balance. Of course, the demands of a crying baby will be more urgent that you find little time to take care of yourself and your spouse. However, strive for balance by hiring a sitter or asking mom to watch the baby while you go out for a quick date with your spouse. Make sure you also get enough rest – catch a nap while your baby is sleeping, cuddle with your spouse during this time of quiet.
– Get what help you can. If loved ones and friends offer a helping hand, gratefully accept. You don’t have to go at it alone. If you also struggle with negative feelings about the baby, you can also consider going to Utah therapists for help in coping with the stress you may be feeling.
– Keep communicating. Provo marriage counseling can help equip you with positive communications skills so that you can openly discuss your own reactions and feelings about the baby, the changing needs of the family and discuss your changing set of expectations. Be open about your fears about being a parent, how chores can be divided between you and your spouse, what you need and expect from him or her at this time. Make sure to set aside time to touch base every day.
One good reminder about the roller coaster ride of parenting is the mantra, “This, too, shall pass.” Our little helpless bundles of joy will eventually grow up to become independent adults. Thus, it is important to remember to also strengthen your bond as a couple, even at a time when you seem to have your hands full with the baby. To get more help with this, you can also go for couples counseling in Utah.
What happens to Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt after the last scene in “As Good as It Gets”? Jack Nicholson’s unforgettable line in that movie where he suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder is “You make me want to be a better man.” It will be interesting to see how the characters played by Nicholson and Hunt live the “happily ever after”, knowing that one spouse has OCD.
What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
Also called OCD, this is an uncontrollable urge to perform rituals (opening and shutting the door three times in a row, avoiding cracks in the sidewalk, washing in very hot water and only using a new bar of soap). These rituals are performed with the hope of warding obsessive thoughts. For one who has OCD, not performing the rituals gives a feeling of impending doom and anxiety. According to Provo therapists, the rituals are his or her way of coping with the anxiety that may creep up.
OCD can sometimes rule a person’s life. The need to perform the rituals can prevent one to live normally. It affects his or her work, relationships and health. About 2% of the population (or 5 million Americans) between 18 to 54 years old has OCD, which usually has its onset during the teenage years.
OCD and Marriage
OCD does not only affect the person who has it, but also the people around him or her, particularly his or her loved ones. The struggle with OCD becomes even complicated with a relationship. There is pressure to “want to be a better man”, and it also takes patience (and the help of therapists Utah) for the partner to help the spouse with OCD deal with his or her condition.
Living with OCD at the sidelights can lead to conflicts between the spouses. Arguments and tension can crop up due to the one spouse’s behavior. And this, in turn, makes the symptoms of OCD even worse. There is also the temptation for the other spouse to overcompensate for the spouse with OCD by helping him or her perform his rituals or allowing the rituals to dominate their lives. This is also an unhealthy way of dealing with the OCD.
Don’t agree to “help” him with his rituals. At least, not for all the rituals. You can provide support by making him or her choose the one ritual you can help him or her with, but not for the other rituals he has. Before starting this, though, you should get Utah marriage counseling.
Provide support but eliminate rituals slowly. For the spouse without OCD, it will be helpful to start eliminating ritualistic behavior. Begin with the things that feel the least scary for him. Once you have successfully eliminated these, you can work your way to the other ritualistic behaviors. Encourage the spouse with OCD to make use of his or her willpower to stop doing one ritual, but still be able to do other compulsive behaviors (at least, for this time). It is important to also have Provo counseling while you are working to eliminate the rituals.
Be open. Especially for the one with OCD, it is important for the spouses to have a deeper understanding of their feelings. Don’t be afraid to tell your spouse how you feel.
Provide understanding. Make the spouse with OCD understand that you are there to support him or her and that you know how hard it is for him or her.
Therapists in Provo make use of cognitive behavioral therapy to deal with OCD. Utah marriage counseling can benefit by getting support for the OCD symptoms, as well counseling to improve the relationship in general.
A song by Weird Al Yankovic has this tongue-in-cheek take on Passive-Aggressive behavior:
I knew that we were having problems when
You put those piranhas in my bathtub again
You’re still the light of my life
Oh darling, I’m begging, won’t you put down that knife
You know, I even think it’s kinda cute the way
You poison my coffee just a little each day
I still remember the way that you laughed
When you pushed me down the elevator shaft
Oh, if you don’t mind me asking, what’s this poisonous cobra
Doing in my underwear drawer
Sometimes I get to thinking you don’t love me anymore
Exaggerated as this song may be, sometimes couples are guilty of some degree passive-aggressive behavior. On the surface, things are “okay” when they are actually not. And to express that there is something wrong, we behave in a way that tries to send the message indirectly, act in such a way as to punish our spouse or show our disapproval.
Being passive-aggressive is one way of communicating. However, this kind of “communication” is can be considered dishonest. We deny that we are angry and pretend that everything is just the way we want it when they are actually not. For instance, a spouse who doesn’t want to clean up the garage will put that undesired task indefinitely. Or, complain and sullenly complete the task. Or, when asked to go for Provo marriage counseling, a spouse will make up excuses to delay the visit or always be late for the appointments.
According to Provo marriage counselors, passive-aggressive behavior is not healthy for a marriage. The first step towards more open and honest communications between you and your spouse is to identify some passive-aggressive behaviors you or your spouse may be doing. With an increased awareness of these behaviors, you can already make efforts towards avoiding the said behavior.
Here are some characters that show passive aggressiveness:
The Turtle. Like the turtle, instead of engaging in dialogue about what’s wrong or what the problem is, this kind of behavior will withdraw from the situation and the argument. Whenever you open up a discussion, this spouse will respond with “whatever” or leave the argument outright. The result is that the issue is not threshed out and there is no real communication.
The Denial King. As they say, “Denial is not just a river in Egypt.” Persons who fall under this type of behavior will say, “No problem. I’m not angry. Do whatever you want. I’m fine with it.” But their behaviors belie their smiles and assurances that “it’s ok”. This type of behavior masks the true feelings of anger so that they don’t rock the boat.
The Saboteur. This behavior will agree and actually do the things he or she does not like, but will do it improperly so as to irritate the person who asked him or her to do it. The act of doing it postpones an argument or disagreement but also results in anger on the part of the person who initiated the task. Another way to try act like the Saboteur is to make the other person wait a long time before a task is done.
The Hasta Mañana Specialist. This behavior will try to put off doing a task even though he or she has already verbally agreed to do it. Another version of this will be to conveniently “forget” the task until it exasperates the other spouse.
The Victim. Instead of accepting responsibility for something or for an action, this type of passive-aggressive behavior will feel that you are unfairly on his or her case. He or she is a victim of unfair treatment. The other spouse is the one who has very high and unreasonable expectations.
Looking at the behaviors, you can see that a marriage can suffer from a lack of communication, an overflow of unexpressed anger and no healthy interactions to solve a certain issue. Now, what can you do to ward off passive-aggressive behavior? Here are some simple steps:
– Remove ambiguity. Be clear and specific so as to avoid misunderstandings or any room for someone to “misinterpret” what you said. Doing so will minimize the potential for conflict.
– Be aware of your behaviors and responses. If you have a spouse who has a tendency to act passive-aggressively, or if you tend to act the same way yourself, be more observant of your own behaviors and reactions. This can be a start of your exploring the patterns that are unhealthy for the relationship/
– Be realistic. Don’t expect too much than what your spouse can give or do willingly. Measure the extent by which he or she will change realistically and work from there.
– Help your spouse accept responsibility for the behavior. It is tempting to shield your spouse from your unhappy feelings (and thus be tempted to be passive-aggressive yourself). However, this will not help your relationship. Using “I” statements rather than “You” statements, tell your spouse how his or her behavior affects those around him or her. Do not let your spouse give excuses for this kind of behavior. When doing this, though, remember that you are pointing out his or her wrong behavior, not attack him or her as a person.
– Fight fair. Avoid trash talking. If things get too hot or off track, you can agree to have a cool down period before you resume your discussion.
These are just simple things you can do. However, it is still recommended that both of you go for Utah marriage counseling to help you be more aware of some passive-aggressive behaviors you may (consciously or unconsciously) be practicing. With the help of an experienced Utah marriage counselor, you can explore the reasons behind the passive-aggressiveness and find ways to resolve these issues.
You can be equipped with a number of communications and coping tools from couples counseling in Utah. With these, you and your spouse can start making headway towards positive communication and away from passive-aggressive behaviors.
Let’s start off by acknowledging that fights between spouses are normal. When two people live and relate to each other in the closeness of marriage, they are bound to get into a disagreement. What is important is how they fight and what the couple does after the fight.
The heat of an argument can result in raised voices, unfair accusations and hurtful words. During that time, you may get mad at your spouse. However, after the argument is over, what do you do? Do you kiss and make up? Do you apologize if ever you resorted into unfair fighting practices? When two spouses are able to reconcile and talk about the matter more calmly after the storm has passed, it is a good sign of the strength of a marriage. It shows that despite the anger you felt during the argument, it doesn’t take away the love.
When a couple is able to talk it out after a fight, that very fight can become a learning experience for the couple. First, it teaches the couple to communicate in order to resolve conflict. Second, it enables the couple to explore the ways by which the issue can be properly resolved whenever it comes up in the future. You can also get into an agreement about how you can fight fairly and how you can avoid fighting unfairly whenever you get into a spat.
Talking, reconciling and resolving the issues calmly are ideal behaviors for a couple, according to Utah marriage counselors. However, not all couples behave this way. There are some negative behaviors that a couple can resort to after a fight. Sadly, though, these behaviors are destructive and can wreak more damage on the marriage.
Engaging in passive-aggressive behavior. Passive-aggressive behaviors make a pretense that everything is okay while doing things that say otherwise. For instance, after a fight, one spouse could do the task being argued about but do it so badly that it irritates the other spouse. Or, after an argument, one tries to make it hard for the other person to complete something. Passive-aggressive behavior is rooted in anger which is suppressed and unexpressed. The spouse who tends to behave passive-aggressively may need the help of family counseling in Provo to fight against the temptation of acting that way.
Ignoring the other spouse. Giving the other spouse the silent treatment is another negative behavior after the fight. It is one way to punish or wreak revenge on the other spouse – albeit in an immature and manipulative way. It sends out the message, “Since you did not give in to what I want, I will withhold pretend that I don’t see you, that you don’t even exist.” It is manipulative since the silent treatment attempts to get what the spouse wants. Also, giving your spouse the silent treatment means there was no dialogue between you, your spouse does not fully understand what he or she did wrong. Thus, there is no understanding as to how the situation can be rectified.
Delivering ultimatums. Threatening divorce every time you get into an argument is not helpful, especially if your spouse knows that you don’t really plan to go through with it. It’s a lose-lose proposition. If your spouse recognizes that you’re not serious with your threat, he or she won’t take you seriously. If he or she does comply due to your threats, your spouse will do it but resent it because you are forcing his or her hand.
Keeping tabs on your hurt feelings. Love, as the Bible describes it, keeps no record of wrongs. However, there are people who simply can’t get over the hurt and holds on to the anger (and to the hurt caused by the actions of the other spouse). Past hurts are brought up and rehashed. Over time, the grudges and resentments grow. When left unattended and without the help of couples counseling in Utah, refusing to grant complete forgiveness to a spouse can wreak serious damage to the relationship.
Learning from Fights
Fights are opportunities to learn more about yourself and your spouse. Nothing brings out the worst out of us than that kind of tension. But it is also how you can learn and grow by discovering positive ways to react when you and your partner disagree. Provo marriage counseling can provide you an increased awareness of you and your spouse’s reactions.
Utah marriage counseling can equip you with essential communication skills so that you can effectively resolve conflicts. This includes learning to recognize the negative behaviors you do during and after a fight. It is particularly tempting to indulge in these behaviors but it is important to recognize that these won’t do your marriage any good.
Is your spouse having an affair? What do you do when the admonition “love one another” is misinterpreted to mean “love another one”? Often, it is the other spouse who is the last to know. However, in hindsight, he or she can recall telltale signs that point to an affair.
Seeing the red flags can help you confront the situation sooner rather than later. It can give you the opportunity to try to rebuild the marriage before the situation makes a turn for the worse – where the affair gets past the point of no return, where it’s too late for marriage counseling Utah to help. For instance, the cheating spouse decides to leave the marriage or the affair resulted in pregnancy.
Here are some warning signs that indicate that your mate may be unfaithful:
– Unexplained and drastic changes in behavior. Your partner starts lavishing you with gifts – perhaps as a way of assuaging guilty feelings? She starts putting on makeup and dressing up more than the usual. He starts putting on cologne. She acquires this new taste for music.
– Changes in temper. You may notice him or her acting “weird” – being uncomfortable when you do something nice for him or her, or being quick tempered and quick to pick fights with you. Often, the fight escalates into threats about ending the relationship. Managing an affair can be very stressful and this can be made evident by mood swings. At one point they may seem exhilarated and at another they may seem depressed and moody.
– Change in communication patterns. Your spouse may avoid communicating and interacting with you, often for fear of saying the wrong things. He or she may even act coldly or rudely towards you. He or she may avoid eye contact and have excuses to avoid spending time alone with you. For instance, he or she may extend activities at night to avoid getting into bed with you.
– Changes in sexual interest. One sign is that there is a change in the level of sexual contact between you. It may go both ways. The cheating spouse may avoid having sex because of guilty feelings. It may also be the opposite, where the spouse seems to have revitalized sexual energy that it spills over to your relationship.
– Discrepancies in finances. If your bank account has unexplained withdrawals or your credit card billing has entries you don’t know about, this may be a cause for you to look deeper. Also, if a spouse suddenly becomes concerned about how money is spent or saved or suddenly suggests having separate bank and credit card accounts.
– Increased work hours or frequency of travel. Is your spouse traveling for work or business more often than before? Is he or she taking larger blocks of time for work, calling about required overtime or deadlines to be met? Is he or she hesitant to take you up on your offer to accompany him or her during business trips? It may also be that your spouse suddenly has a lot of errands that he or she didn’t have – such as more trips to the dry cleaners or to the supermarket.
– Engaging in secretive behavior. Suddenly, your spouse becomes very particular about privacy. He or she abruptly turns the computer off when you’re around. He answers telephone calls in the bathroom and insists that you don’t answer his phone calls. She changes her email password when she previously did not feel the need to. These may be clues that point to a straying partner.
The next step would be to decide what to do about your suspicions. It is up to you to decide whether to confront your spouse about it. The aftermath may require you to work harder at your marriage by going into Provo couples therapy to help both you and your spouse deal with issues underlying the possible act of infidelity.
If you are willing to work towards protecting your marriage or need to heal from the devastation brought about by infidelity, you can consider getting help from an experienced marriage counselor. Dr. Triston Morgan of Provo, Utah, provides marriage and family therapy to help couples and their children recover from the pain of infidelity. Dr. Morgan is also PREPARE/ENRICH certified.
How do you view and handle money? Is your tendency to spend or to splurge? Were your parents indulgent and bought you everything you asked for, or did they require you to save up for what you wanted? Were your parents constantly arguing about money? Our experiences, the way we were brought up and the values inculcated by family all contribute towards our “money personality”.
Money personalities may include one or the combination of the following:
– Spender. This is one who thinks that money is to be enjoyed and that things you buy can be used to enhance your life. Shopping is a thrill. The spender has no compunctions about swiping that credit card.
– Saver. This is one who feels the compulsion to cut corners to increase savings. The thrill is in getting a good deal. Thus you will find the saver armed with coupons and would be first in line during sales.
– The Play-It-Safer. Risk averse personalities would invest but choose something that has low rewards but low risk as well. They like seeing money grow slowly but surely.
– Budget-beaver. This is one who likes to ensure that everything is by the budget and expenses are well-planned.
– The Gambler. Gamblers are not scared with the toss of the dice – investments that have risks but yield high rewards.
– The Dreamer. This is someone who has certain goals and is willing to work and save towards these goals.
Marriage and our money personality
And we bring this money personality into our marriage. And often, this is what causes conflicts between couples. When two individuals with differing money personalities unite and decide to combine finances, you can expect conflicts to arise. A husband may raise his eyebrows at the credit card statement that shows a wife’s shopping spree. A wife may complain about the household expense account. A spouse may feel that the other partner has unrealistic expectations on savings. There may be disagreements about how much to spend, whether to have separate or joint accounts and so on. A couple may need time to adjust to each other’s money personalities.
So how do you deal with the differences in money personality? Here are some tips:
– Recognize that there will be differences. You can’t expect you and your spouse to have the same money personality. What is key is for you to understand you and your spouse’s money personality and that each personality has its own advantages and disadvantages. This is your starting point as you and your spouse discuss how you can deal with your differing personalities. It is also important to recognize that money personality differences can be helpful if you are able to communicate and deal with your differences effectively.
– Discuss money personalities prior to marriage. Ideally, money personalities prior to marriage. This is where pre-marital counseling can help.
– Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. Your spouse is not there to make things difficult for you. His or her financial decisions are driven by his or her money personality. Recognizing this will help you communicate better and avoid accusing.
– Talk about money while there is no conflict. Schedule times when you can both sit down and discuss your budget, investments and bills. It is best to have these discussions while emotions (and tempers) are not running hot. It will also be helpful for you to set guidelines on how you will handle your money.
– Understand your spouse’s needs and expressions of love. Your money personality will also point towards how you perceive love. For instance, a spender will take delight in showering his spouse with gifts. However, if his spouse is a saver, it will only annoy the spouse to see that her spouse is spending money on “unnecessaries”.
– Get counseling. Oftentimes, it is helpful to go for couples counseling in Provo when the conflict becomes too complicated for you to handle. Therapy can help you gain deeper insights on your and your spouse’s money personality.
Marriage therapy in Provo, Utah
For Provo, Utah marriage therapy in Provo, Utah, you can visit Dr. Triston Morgan. Dr. Morgan has years of experience in helping build relationships and providing couples counseling. He is a marriage and family therapist licensed to practice in the state of Utah.