Unrealistic expectations play a role in a marriage not working out. Sometimes the fantasies of the wedding day eclipse the actual marriage. Romantic illusion can be responsible for ignoring the faults or qualities of a mismatched potential mate. And when the fantasy is never realized, the marriage begins to implode. Often people are looking for the unconditional love that they never received from their parents which puts unrealistic expectations on the spouse.
Miscommunication is another major reason people divorce. Differing communication styles are often at the root of marital problems: he shows his feelings through actions and she shows her feelings through words. He says things once and feels that should be the end of it and she repeats her message to be sure she’s heard – because she doesn’t get the verbal or non-verbal cues she’s looking for in response.
Not fighting fair is a symptom of a marriage communication style that does not work for anyone. Couples who attack each other rather than focus on the issue at hand often do so at risk to their marriage. Words can be as powerful as actions in the sometimes irreversible damage they cause. And when there are children involved, the damage multiplies.
We may choose a partner who has the same traits as a parent – mirroring their relationship by imitating the marriage patterns of our parents – whether it’s good or bad. And sometimes power struggles can occur between partners when there are unresolved issues with parents for independence and control and we repeat the pattern with our mate.
There are predictable stages in any divorce. Although the process of divorce and recovery from divorce has their own unique dynamics, most divorcing spouses can expect to go through the following stages:
- The Pre-Divorce Decision Stage
This is the initial stage when dissatisfaction with the marriage is escalating. Usually one partner is feeling more disconnected than the other. The intimacy in the relationship slides and they may begin fighting in public or in front of their friends or even their children. At this point there may be a consultation with a divorce lawyer. Family therapy is helpful in sorting through the emotions and lessening the damaging effect on the children.
- The Decision Stage
The couple may feel relief or even exhilaration during this stage. A sense of freedom may be followed by reconciliation followed by fighting. This cycle may continue for a while as the partners come to terms with their fears of being alone and the unknown territory they are facing. Even the familiarity of conflict may feel comforting during this period.
- Final Acceptance
When the alternating cycle between reconciliation and fighting slows down or abruptly ends, the couple recognizes that divorce is inevitable. Anger may rear its head again and be asserted through settlement fights.
- Period of Mourning
Following the acceptance of the divorce, a sense of failure usually sets in – bringing with it loneliness, depression, guilt, sadness, low self-esteem and self-reproach over the breakup. Although the positive aspects of the marriage are usually recalled at this point, the couple understands the wisdom of ending it and begins the process of divorce recovery.
Usually hostility toward the former spouse fades or disappears altogether. The now single former spouse forms new friendships and new interests or hobbies. Adjustment takes place as a new life begins.
A good therapist will help you to understand what went wrong in the marriage so that you don’t repeat destructive relationship patterns. Divorce recovery is easier when you talk with an experienced professional counselor. Call today and begin your new life.
Montville Counseling Center also participates with Employee Assistance Program (EAP). An EAP is a benefit offered by some employers to their employees and their family members to help resolve personal issues with professional and confidential counseling services. Check to see if you are covered by your employer with this benefit.