No one survives a marriage in which he or she feels more criticized than admired.
Does your relationship seem like an obvious disaster? Do you have relationship problems and close to divorce? Then all hope is not lost. Understanding is the most important thing to get over it and avoid a divorce. Understanding where the knot is in the relationship, for starters. No extensive and complicated problems, but a few very clear types of disaster relationships – recognizable by their behaviour. Are you quarrelsome or silent? These are the 2 options for disaster relationships.
The quarrelsome couples
Either your relationship problems is with a negative cycle: aggressive approach, usually occurs in young couples. It seems you have become enemies instead of the friends you once were. You are quarrelsome.
Or you are already in the truce phase: being together passively, as often happens later in life. You are the ones who don’t care much about each other anymore. Okay, maybe dinner together – but then you don’t really know what to say to each other anymore. Conflict ends in withdrawal by default. You are silent.
1. Stick to one point of criticism a day.
You have no idea how much you criticize your partner, do you? Criticism has become a reflex; swallow it. One may pop out, but make sure it’s realistic and necessary—or apologize if it was unreasonable. Think about what’s important in your relationship (and what deserves criticism if it goes wrong) and let the rest go.
2. Say this during an argument.
The same themes kept recurring and were never resolved. You could edit videotapes together over 22 years and it would look like the same conversation.
What do you do in these kinds of conflicts? Do what the master couples do recognizing that you’ve reached such a vicious point again, and utter this powerful (or actually: disempowering) sentence:
“Hey, this isn’t all your fault. I know I have a part in it too. Let’s see what’s mine and what’s yours.”
Accepting your own responsibility and making it negotiable is the repair kit that you have been missing all this time. Paste that trade!
3. Use humor when you have relationship problems
Are you stuck together again? Do you have a conflict? Do you feel that negative cycle circling around you? Laugh about it.
Think out loud: “Look at us sitting here, fussing over nothing” and laugh together.
It is most easily the healthiest medicine of all, because laughter cancels out physical arousal during conflict. You feel the anger fading away and see that your negativity is – very realistically – completely meaningless.