Marriage problems can feel like an enormous emotional weight. Where there are marriage problems we are, in effect, at battle within our sanctuary — our home. We are also at battle with our legal life partner. Battling within our home sanctuary against the person we have a binding agreement to share life with is, obviously, not a happy scenario.
The good news is there are a variety of methods for coping with marriage problems. Let me address three of them within this writing.
Leave the marriage.
Physically leaving a marriage, through separation or divorce, may be the most obvious solution to marriage problems. It’s a solution that typically isn’t taken lightly however, and is often postponed or avoided altogether.
There are understandable reasons for this.
Sharing our life with someone means a number of circumstances have become intertwined including, potentially, living arrangements, money and other material goods, and children. Stepping away from these things and attempting to reorganize them as an individual can seem very daunting indeed.
Is leaving a marriage the right decision? It is when that’s the path we are ultimately led to. Along these lines I believe a marriage will dissolve if it’s meant to. In the meantime, consider the following method.
What is the cause of your marriage unhappiness? If you say the cause is your spouse then you are expressing a common idea — and a wrong idea. In fact all emotional disturbances come from the self and not from external sources.
Do you believe this?
Consider how negative emotional reactions actually occur: A thought stream comes into our conscious awareness. This thought stream may arise in response to an external stimulus and it may not. The thought stream delivers the essential message that something is wrong. We accept this thought stream and its message as truth. An emotional reaction occurs in response.
This is how negative emotional reactions occur, whether the reaction be anger, fear, despair, sadness, or whatever else. This is a quite different cause for negative emotional responses than what most people presume.
Most people believe negative emotional reactions happen in this way: something in the external world occurs that upsets me. But this scenario is an impossibility because events have no significance without interpretation. Without interpretation all external events are completely meaningless.
Isn’t that interesting. All of this time we thought the world was upsetting us when, in fact, believing a story about the world was upsetting us.
So what does this have to do with marriage problems?
It puts marriage problems into proper perspective. When you know that it isn’t your spouse’s behavior that is causing a negative emotional reaction but, rather, an interpretation of their behavior then you inherently consider things differently.
You might even begin to see your spouse as something of a teacher, in your life to help you understand and master your emotional states. Or not…
In any event with this new insight you are, ideally, no longer blaming the world and the people within it for your emotional reactions. You have a distance and clarity now, and from this place you are in a much better position to respond to your marriage and your spouse. This doesn’t mean that you excuse their behavior — only that you see the behavior, and your reaction to it, more clearly.
Will this new outlook save your marriage? Maybe, and maybe not. What it will do, if you truly embrace it, is give you a sense of empowerment about your life. You really are responsible — and also in emotional control, no matter what the outside world may look like or do.
Coming to accept this sort of responsibility can be very difficult but it can also be a great help in dealing with marriage problems, and any other sort of perceived difficulty.
Let life figure it out.
What should you do about your marriage problems? How about nothing?
Most people assume that without some sort of input from them, problems will not be resolved. But is this really true? I believe that the best course of action in the face of problems, at least some of the time, is to step back and allow life to work out the details. In other words, do nothing.
When we do this, when we give life a real chance to solve things for us, that trust can be repaid and then some. This doesn’t necessarily mean that circumstances will work out exactly as we expected — this probably will not happen — but life circumstances often do work out without any input from us, and we are subsequently allowed to go on our way.
If you’re not sure what to do in regards to your marriage issues, consider doing nothing. Have some faith that one way or another, in time, life will resolve everything that needs to be resolved on your behalf.
For more about emotional responsibility as a means for ending suffering, and allowing life to operate on its own terms, consider the works of Byron Katie and Eckhart Tolle. Visit the Recommended Resources page of this website for additional life help resources.