Marriage and Frequently asked Questions
Statistics show us that One in two marriages will end in divorce … what are the top factors contributing to this trend? Can this trend be reversed?
Most couples do not know how to create a deep and sustained connection. They tend to focus on personal needs rather than relationship needs. Divorce occurs when the relationship does not meet their needs. The major cure for divorce is to make the relationship top priority rather than each other’s needs. The question that begs answering is not "What do I need from the relationship?" but rather " What does the relationship need from me?"
What are the attitudes and skills needed to help improve a troubled marriage?
The major attitude is openness to new awareness and information, and to mutually take responsibility for the difficulties in the marriage. Couples co-create their difficulties, and they need to know they can co-create improvement. The major skill is to learn how to have a conversation that is safe so they can relax their defenses and be vulnerable with each other.
What are the specific communication problems that couples experience?
The specific communication problem most couples experience is being negative, blaming, putting each other down and critisising each other. Each partner tends to want the other to see their way and each has difficulty accepting that there are always two realities.
How great of an impact does childhood have on the martial relationship?
The impact is great. From my perspective, the drama in marriage is a replay of the trauma and unmet needs of childhood. The purpose of marriage is for partners to help each other finish childhood. That is non-negotiable.
Can conflict be used to strengthen a marriage?
Yes, conflict is growth trying to happen. Each partner uses conflict to try to get something done that can not be done in another way. Every frustration that produces conflict is a wish in disguise. To strengthen marriage, partners need to translate the frustration into the embedded wish, communicate the wish by asking directly for what they want, instead of complaining about what they do not have, and then each has to stretch into giving to each other unconditionally.
Doesn’t human nature make it difficult to embrace one another’s differences?
No. The difficulty of embracing each other’s differences is a result of being emotionally wounded in childhood. Emotional pain creates self absorption and destroys the child’s proto-empathy. This creates so much anxiety that it is hard for others to embrace difference.
Is there a secret to a happy marriage?
Absolutely. The secret to a happy marriage is to learn how to talk in a new way – replacing parallel monologues with horizontal dialogues, embrace difference, ending all negativity in all forms and on all occasions and replace conflict with curiosity, acceptance and affirmation.
Is there a process to follow that partners may become more fulfilled (satisfied) in their relationships?
There is a paradox that when you meet the needs of your partner, your own needs are met by that same act. When that ismutual, then each partner receives the gift they give as well as the one they receive.
Quite a few therapists suggest “date nights” as the cure for marital woes. Is it really that simple?
No. But date nights is useful if it is part of other rituals of safety.
Is it possible to save a marriage without the help of professional therapy?
Yes, thousands of couples do that every day. But they need some new information—a book or lecture—and a new skill.
Which marriage is more toxic, the one in which couples argue on a daily basis, or, the one in which the partners have become emotionally detached from one another?
Both are toxic in different ways.
What are the first steps a couple should take when they recognize their marriage is failing?
Acquire some information that will help them change their patterns—an education course, therapy, etc.
Sourced from various writings by Harville Hendrix.