How To Avoid A Divorce

My feeling is that if you are reading this article you are concerned. It might be your own marriage that’s pretty rocky right now; it might be the marriage of one of your children or a friend’s marriage. I will address here one of the most fundamental reasons why relationships break up or why people get a divorce. And I will try to describe a technique with which relationships of all kinds, but in particular marriages, can be saved.

I will not go into detail about specific problems a marriage might be having, be it the children, the money or sexuality. The scope of this article simply doesn’t provide for it. I will, however, talk in detail about communication problems. Without an effective communication no problem that is shared by two or more people, as is the case when a divorce looms on the horizon, can be solved.

Have you ever felt that you simply can’t get through to the other person? You try to tell and explain, but whatever it is that you say seems to fall on deaf ears? You talk and talk, think about ways how to say what it is you want to explain, and it just doesn’t work? And you have this real negative feeling of impotence, because if you can’t even make yourself understood, how on earth can you solve the problem which has to be solved?

Might it be possible that your spouse feels exactly the same way? He or she can’t get through to you? My hallucination is that this is precisely the case, even though you might have not seen it this way so far.

Let’s step back for a second and do some imagination. Imagine that you stand in a container, visualize a barrel, an aquarium, whatever. You stand in that container and the space within is shared not only by your thoughts, but by your emotions as well. It will be obvious by now that the more emotional we are, the less space we have at our disposal for our rational thoughts.

If we are only slightly ‘charged’ with emotions, let’s say they come up to our ankles; the more space is left that allows us to act on a rational level. Imagine now that the level of emotions goes up to our waist – it is becoming more and more difficult to move, isn’t it? We literally have to wade through that mass of emotions, and we begin to say stupid things or act foolishly.

Let’s take this a step further, you have it up to your neck. You’re fighting for survival, your emotions run the show, and there is next to nothing left for rational thought. That’s when we go crazy, which might lead to verbal abuse or violence.

In order to lower this dangerous level of emotions and regain space for our thoughts, there is only one way – we have to feel understood. But we don’t have to feel understood on a rational level. That’s pretty easy, your next door neighbor, if you would talk to him or her, would probably understand the facts of your problem.  We have to feel understood by what the problem at hand is doing to us, the other party has to understand how it makes us feel!  

And once we feel understood, when deep down in our guts we feel that the other person is understanding us completely, not just the facts but what the problem at hand is doing to us, then we are on our way. Because, then, and only then, a magic valve opens at the bottom of the container we stand in, all those emotions and confusions can run out of the container, thus giving us space again for rational thought.
Now, here is the bad news. You are the proactive person, you’re reading this article, you are looking for solutions, and you want to save your marriage. And you have to take the first step.

Because remember what I said above? I said that you are the one who doesn’t feel understood. But I said as well that your partner is feeling most likely exactly the same. So you have to forget yourself for a moment (or for some long moments) here and initiate the process by trying to really understand what your spouse is going through. You will need some strength of character for that, but my hallucination is that you have it.

Talk to him, and try to find out what the situation is doing to your partner, how she is feeling. It won’t be easy, in fact, you might find resistance, depending on how far down the road the relationship has progressed so far, and your partner (particularly if he is a man) might even get suspicious.

Go on, anyway, and explain what you are trying to do. Invite her to tell you in detail not what’s bothering him (you know that anyway), but what’s it doing to her on an emotional level. Put yourself in his place, wear her shoes, see and perceive reality as he perceives and feels it.

You might not get it in the beginning. So give feedback, ask questions. That gives him a chance to elaborate, maybe correct you. And do that until you feel exactly the way she feels. And once he perceives that, then she will feel really understood, because he can sense that you are on the same emotional level as she is.

By all means, ask for reciprocity, just don’t do it there and then. Give it a day or two, mull things over, and then ask your partner to listen to you. Bets are he will, because she probably still loves you and wants you to feel as nice (meaning free from negative emotions) as you made feel her.

Remember, us humans being rational beings is basically a fallacy. We are only rational when we are not emotional. Sounds absurd, I know, and it doesn’t only apply to negative emotions. Have you ever been blindly in love and done some stupid things? My guess is that yes, and here you go. So let’s work on getting rid of these negative emotions, make space for thoughts and this way find a rational solution with which both of you can live, and not only live on a rational level, but on an emotional as well.

1 comment:

  1. A very interesting read, I see where you are coming from. But is there not an argument that by compromising, or giving ground depending on your view, you are no longer being true to yourself? Should you 'reach a solution' by which both parties can live? Could that not be viewed as a truce? And can you ever see it from the other persons point of view? My views are shaped by life experiences, so without them it can't be the same view. But these are just my ramblings, each to his own I say! @Neil_Colbourn on Twitter