Marriage therapists are much more likely to see a couple after the marriage reaches the breaking point, rather than early in the process of breaking down. Both partners at this distressing juncture will often be experiencing despair, and they’ll ask the therapist’s opinion about whether they should “just end it.” The real feelings lurking behind such a question actually sound more like this, “We’re so tired of trying the same old things and getting nowhere in our relationship. Can’t you give us something new to try?” The answer is yes, if you’re willing to work hard at it, and learn the signs of marital trouble. Divorce remains at historic highs compared with the 1950s. According to the U.S. Census, one-half of the first marriages of baby boomer couples will end in divorce or separation. Both men and women experience marital disaffection or the dying-out of love between two spouses. The process is painful for everyone; sometimes as agonizing for one or both partners as the death of a loved one. What’s also true is that many married men and women come to the conclusion that their marriage is over prematurely. That is, they give up from exhaustion and despair when there are still things that can be done to save the marriage. When a relationship begins to turn sour, inevitably people blame their partner. Being right and making the other wrong starts to hold more value to each spouse than the goal of maintaining love, peace, and harmony in the relationship. Underlying whatever the couple is arguing about, be it housekeeping, an affair, or one partner’s long hours at the office, there are deep unacknowledged hurts and disappointments. A woman often feels unappreciated or unloved. A man feels nagged or neglected. The danger is that the couple never goes below the surface of the antagonisms reigning in the present, never knows what they’re actually fighting about, and each blames the other for the standoff that results. In this scenario of battling spouses, the ego reigns supreme and love begins to die. When harsh words, physical distance, and immature behaviors such as irrational spending have replaced the gestures of love, it’s sometimes difficult to understand what’s actually going on in your marriage. It appears to have fallen completely apart and you can’t recall why you ever “fell in love” with this person in the first place. From an article by Stephen Martin, MFT, and Victoria Costello http://www.netplaces.com/happy-marriage/danger-signs-in-a-marriage/dont-give-up-too-soon.htm

It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages. Friedrich Nietzsche

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