Ah the beauty of the married life! “Over the past year or two, we have been going through a rough patch. I love him very much but all these routine problems of life started to get on top of us. Arguments blowing out of nothing, word after word, and before you know it, we are two opposing parties rather than a unit.” Sounds familiar?
In the beginning
When people are dating all their energy goes towards finding things in common, the things you like or finding cute. You concentrate on his handsome smile, his sense of humor. He cooks for you for the first time and gets the kitchen in the state of a war zone: grease, spills, and dirty dishes everywhere. You look at these all and you think: “Ah, isn’t he adorable! He even knows how to cook!”
So what becomes different in 7-10 years’ time?
The first crisis comes when you start living together. This is when you notice your energy starting to deviate towards finding differences and dislikes rather than things in common. That could be lifestyle, upbringing, life perspective and – most importantly – habits.
Years go by, and both of you keep “practising” to notice what you don’t like about each other, what annoys you. It becomes the main focus of attention. You have now programmed yourself to respond with frustration, anger and resentment to the majority of everyday situations. Other areas of your life together (affection, sweet talks about nothing, sex) start to fall out of the picture.
Your thoughts and feelings now sound like:
- I can’t stand this any more!
- I’m better off to be by myself!
- Life is completely out of order!
- Where to next?
The reality of life is like a snowball, rolling… and all the stress, money problems, ethical disagreements are growing fast around the heart of our love and affection.
And so hence is the question: where to next?
The rest of this article is written for those who still love their partner and who wants to save the relationship.
I would like to introduce you to the term ‘logotherapy’. It is a psychiatric theory which was founded by Viktor Frankl, a Jewish psychiatrist who was imprisoned by Nazis during the WWII. When he had nothing left, all his family being destroyed in concentration camps, alone and severely beaten, he started to become aware of one thing: no one can rob him of the right to decide within himself how it would all affect him. He had the power to choose his own responses.
Logotherapy is a term derived from “logos,” a Greek word that translates as “meaning”, “knowledge” and therapy. Logotherapy is prompting you to stop thinking ‘Everything is sh…!’ ‘There’s no way out!’ It’s helping you to save what good you still have left, through choosing your attitudes and responses. Through the awareness of what ‘bad’ or ‘unwanted’ is developing and is about to blow out of control (another argument..), and through realising it and pretty much ‘calculating’ your approach to it.
It is not easy, I can tell you. Years of resentment and frustration towards your partner is a habit that had developed over time. Like any bad habit, it will take time to overcome it.
So here is a challenge. Over the next month try to pre-analyse your responses when going through difficult and unpleasant situations and talks. My own experience tells me it is much easier and natural to react rather than respond thoughtfully.
This simple chart will help you understand the cycle and how to break it.
Here is to keeping peace with your loved ones! Go, get back to that person you once started dating and found so amazing! And by all means, do use the same approach with your parents and kids.
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