Finding objectivity to a stressful marriage can be difficult. What went wrong? Why do I feel this way? Why can’t we work through this? Should I consider divorce? are all common marriage questions people ask themselves. Yet, sometimes asking the wrong questions can lead to more marriage problems. Here are six marriage questions that can help you gain insight into the state of your marriage. You might also want to take a quick marriage quiz that can help you identify areas you need to work on.
1. Have you already given up on your marriage?
Paul Amato, PhD, professor of sociology, demography, and family studies at Penn State, conducted a 20-year study on 2,000 newlyweds and found that 55 to 60 percent of divorcing couples are leaving marriages that still have real potential. Most of these people say they continue to love their betrothed but are bored with the relationship or feel it hasn’t lived up to their expectations. “It’s important to recognize that many of these marriages would improve over time,” Amato says, “and most of them could be strengthened through marital counseling and enrichment programs.”
Unfortunately, repairing a relationship is much more difficult if either or both spouses have already assumed the marriage is over. Look deep into yourself to see if these marriage questions are true – it may be an unconscious assumption that then contributes to withdrawal from the marriage. Then take heart! The odds of rekindling love and reclaiming a happy marriage are actually in your favor. Ready to try? Let’s go!
2. Do you think that this is the best you can do?
Do you believe that your current marriage is the best you can manage or even that you deserve to have an unhappy marriage? Every person is deserving of love, respect and appreciation. And, no matter your past experiences, it is possible for you to move on and grab hold of the warm, positive and safe marriage that is your right! Consider seeing a counselor, therapist, or other trusted figure to help understand what feelings of inadequacy, guilt, or shame may be holding you back and come up with a game plan for empowerment.
3. Are you expecting your spouse to change?
When facing marriage questions, spouses are likely to look outward for the root of the problem. That is, they can come up with hundreds of little things that other people could do to fix the marriage. “If only my spouse did X everything would be better.” “If only my in-laws weren’t so overbearing and miserable.” The truth is, each person is only in control of his or her actions. No one can make another person change, and furthermore, it is not your job to do so. You can, however, change yourself. In a marriage, all problems are joint affairs, even while more responsibility may lie on one spouse or the other. Recognizing how your behavior contributes to the unhappy marriage is the first and most essential step in doing what you have in your power to fix the problem. Ask yourself, “Other than getting my spouse to change, what can I do about this issue?”
4. How often do you insult or become physically aggressive with each other? Marriage questions
Psychologist Dr. John Gottman found that, rather than frequency of conflict, the number one predictor of divorce among couples was how nasty they were to
each other during fights. The meanest of these conflicts weren’t necessarily the loudest. Rather, these aggressive couples used sarcasm, personal insults and disparaging comments that have no place in a marriage. A marriage should be a safe and supportive place, even in the face of disagreement. If you find yourself calling your spouse names, using insults or sarcasm when you are angry, stop immediately. Power of Two can teach you some tricks for keeping anger levels low and responding to your spouse’s anger in a way that diffuses the situation instead of escalating it.
Any behavior from your spouse that makes you feel unsafe should be a big flashing warning sign. Physical assault, including throwing objects, is unacceptable. Any repeated bodily harm towards you or your children is a sign that you should seek the counsel of a trusted friend or professional immediately. Behavior like this is considered abusive and is likely to worsen with time. Constant insults, emotional manipulation, threats and other behavior that attempts to control you or makes you feel worthless or dependent is also a form of abuse. Call the free and confidential National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1−800−799−SAFE(7233) for more information.
5. How do you clean up after upsets?
Dr. Gottman further found that couples who were able to joke about their conflicts even while in the middle of one had more positive marriages and less likelihood of divorcing later on. These couples defused stressful situations using humor, compliments, and other neutral cool-down techniques. Even if you end up in a food-fight after an argument over who does the dishes, as long as you can quickly de-escalate, apologize, and regain positive, loving feelings for each other, you will be in a solid place. From this point, you can learn the skills to avoid angry episodes altogether using emotional climate control.
6. Have any big life events occurred, such as a death, birth, stressful project, or job loss?
Stress, grief, depression, and anxiety from big life events impact both the brain and body in just as real a way as an infection or injury. Yet Americans in particular tend to downplay or downright ignore this impact, instead opting to “get over it” and plow on. If your marriage has taken a sudden turn for the worse, reflect upon any external circumstances that may have impacted you or your spouse’s mental state. Then, take time to support each other in healing from and working through these emotional experiences. A healthy, happy marriage is built upon the foundation of two healthy, happy individuals. Taking care of yourself is far from selfish – it is essential! marriage questions
6. Have you truly tried to improve your relationship?
Couples counseling, marriage education, retreats, therapy and support groups can work wonders for almost any marriage. Have you had a negative or unsuccessful experience with one form of marriage help in the past? Don’t give up! Marriage counseling is not one-size-fits all and while one therapist’s approach may not have worked for you, another’s likely will. One marriage help method that tends to work well for most marriages is called marriage education. Rather than focusing on specific issues or past experiences like traditional talking therapy, this method teaches couples the skills they can use on their own to improve communication, positivity and intimacy.
The Power of Two program has been scientifically proven to be just as effective as the most effective in person marriage education programs. Try it out now with a FREE 3-Day trial.