According to the American Psychological Association about 40 percent of marriages end in divorce. Though every couple and their relationship is unique, there are common causes for unhappiness and dissatisfaction in marriage that remain similar across the board:
Communication– Lack of communication and/or unhealthy patterns of communication are one of the most common impediments to marital bliss
Some of the patterns of unhealthy communication are:
Blame- It was your fault…; It was your responsibility to…; It is always about you…
Victimising self- I have done so much but you..Everybody does the same with me…; Why does it happen to me only…; It is a selfish world…
Labeling- You are a liar…; You’re lazy, You’re stupid..You’re irresponsible.. You’re selfish.. You are the worst person i have ever met…
Sarcastic/Taunting/Offending- Ya right…; Ya why would you call me now…;
Silent treatment (Stonewalling)- Just leave me alone; Dont talk to me…
Generalizing- You always do this…; You can never understand…;
Past mistakes- You have done this in the past as well… (mentioning past mistakes to win the argument)
Threaten- I will leave you if it happens again
Revenge- I’m gonna do this to make him/her suffer/repent/regret
These are faulty communication pattern and ends leaving your partner hurt and defensive fight) Even then you did not care about my feelings…
These are faulty communication pattern and ends leaving your partner hurt and defensive
Tip- 1. More of ‘we’ & ‘us’ statements rather than ‘me’ & ‘you’ statements- Using we or us statements conveys that both the individuals are on the same side. It helps to foster connection even if there are conflicts.
2. Separate the person from the behaviour- Instead of saying you make me angry/irritated/frustrated say this behaviour of yours makes me angry
Expectations-When two individuals enter into the institution of marriage, they come with their own set of expectations from their spouse based on their perceptions and beliefs about relationships and marriage. If these expectations are not clearly stated or turn out to be unrealistic then it starts affecting the equation they share with their spouse and results in marital conflict.
Tip– 1. Clearly convey expectations in specific statements in order to ensure clarity.
- Analyze whether the expectations are realistic and the partner’s ability to fulfill them
Sexual Dissatisfaction– As life starts to take over, the romance aspect of a relationship be it through physical affection, emotional connection or sexual intimacy starts taking a backseat. The marital alliance is now based on more of a responsibility and obligation rather than intimacy and connection that defined the initial few years of marriage.
Another aspect is an incompatibility that leads to this dissatisfaction. One finding claims that 30% of all marriages in India end as a result of sexual dissatisfaction, mismatch of sexual drives and preferences, impotency and infertility. These factors might lead to anger, resentment, unhappiness, feeling unwanted, irritability, sadness, lack of motivation, or resistance to physical touch or intimate gestures in individuals.
Tip- Due to discomfort, embarrassment or shame partners are unable to open up about their sexual desires or preferences. Creating a safe, non judgemental channel of communication helps in increasing comfort and security
Infidelity-Trust is fragile and sensitive. The openness and vulnerability that shatters with cheating, though not impossible but is very challenging to reconcile. It is difficult to imagine that a person that we built our life with could betray us and this leads to a negative spiral of hurt, guilt.
Tip- 1. After expressing to each other about the feelings and thoughts associated with the infidelity, one can take their time and decide whether this one incident holds more value when compared to the whole relationship we built together
2. Trust takes time and efforts from both the partners to rebuild. Let each other know what you are expecting and how you both can work towards feeling more reassured about this relationship
Adjustment with Family- Marriage is not just a union between two individuals but a social institution in many cultures like India. One of the spouses may face difficulty in adjustment to new values, belief systems and culture or family setting. Whether this becomes an issue in the bond shared by partner depends on the support received by the adjusting partner.
Tip- Bringing in focus to how the two people’s perspectives differ from each other and what can be done to bridge the gap between both of them.
Control-When one of the spouses become dominating and tries to control the other’s lifestyle, social interaction, job and day to day decisions then it slowly but surely starts becoming a subtle covert form of abuse.
This may lead to suffocation and lack of space for the partner on the receiving end and is proven to be a death knell for healthy relationships. If continued for long it might even lead to a far more severe concern of domestic violence.
Tip- Assertively drawing boundaries as to what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour
Personality Clashes- As individuals we are unique made up of our subjective pasts. Our childhood experiences shape our personal attributes, where we fall on the introversion and extroversion scale, our attachment styles, decision making and how we express and receive love.
These differences can play a major factor when couples are faced with various circumstances in their married life like taking couple decisions, personal goals, parenting etc. Often committed partners might not see eye to eye and may have frequent temperament clashes which starts to affect their closeness and ability to come to middle grounds on important life decisions.
According to research, criticism of temperament by one’s partner maximizes resentment and depression in one partner, while increasing anxiety, and anger in the other. The idea that our partner is trying to change us can make us feel defensive and lead to emotional blocks in the relationship.
Tip- Acknowledging that as individuals we are unique and our ideas, beliefs and approach towards life are shaped by our subjective past experiences hence trying to accept a difference of opinion and coming to a common ground
Finances- Budgets, debts, loans, income sources, investments or other financial assets may not be the most exciting topics to discuss with our spouse but according to a study by SunTrust, Financial issues are responsible for 22% of all divorces yet it is also one of the least discussed aspects in a marriage.
If one partner is the breadwinner and is lacking any form of financial support then it might put a strain to support the whole family. Another scenario is when there is excessive spending by one partner or there is discrepancy in the lifestyle the couple wants and overall income. These scenarios might start creeping in and disrupting other aspects of a marital bond.
Tip- It’s a good reality check for a couple to sit down once a year, no matter where they are on the financial spectrum, and discuss household budget.