The Sabotage Trap
In the early days of my career, I often pondered why marriages failed and what were some of the reasons people gave. Well, as one would expect there are numerous ways in which the destruction of a marriage can happen but did you know there are often three real indicators that can be observed in any marriage that will guarantee failure- if not checked- that is. Much of what is here was researched by John Gottman from Seattle Uni. Think of these as the three big DON’Ts of marriage:
- Blaming (Or dodging personal responsibility): Spouses have been casting blame on one another since Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent. Blaming your partner is simply an attempt at shifting responsibility for your own unhappiness onto them. When they react angrily to your accusations and blaming, the cycle of anger, blaming, anger begins. Antidote= take personal responsibility
- Feeling Sorry for Yourself (Or having a pity party): When you are in the habit of wallowing in your own self-pity, it will eventually consume every aspect of your now ‘miserable’ Your primary form of communication with your spouse is now complaining, and this bleeds into other relationships as well, including family and friends. Feeling sorry for yourself makes your partner miserable, and self-pitying couples make their friends and families miserable. Your marriage can’t be happy if you’re stuck in self-pity. Antidote = an attitude of gratitude
- Resenting Your Spouse (Or holding onto grudges): This is a real big one. John Gottman even mentions resentment in his research. It’s normal to feel pain, anger, and disappointment when you’re treated unfairly, especially by the person closest to you. But be warned, if you are in the habit of brooding and holding onto those negative emotions they will eventually create resentment. Holding onto hurt means cultivating resentment which when allowed to thrive, grows like a cancer under the surface of your marriage. Antidote = Better communication
If you can identify any of these issues in your marriage or relationship then you need to act fast. If they have already become rooted firmly in your life, you really should seek professional counselling. Find someone with Gottman training because evidence-based therapy has the best chance of successfully changing the direction of your marriage. Remember: If no action is taken, the relationship automatically defaults to its current trajectory. Change takes time, healing, and hard work to change course, but it will be worth it. Keeping your marriage free of blame, self-pity, and resentment, means you are well on your way to lifelong happiness.
Marriage itself doesn’t make you happy. Instead, you make your marriage happy.