Information & Insight to the Marriage Crisis Phenomenon
If you are reading these words, chances are your marriage or relationship is in deep trouble and you are agonizing about what to do about it. If you had all the answers and understood exactly what’s going on you wouldn’t be looking here now and I know that.
Please don’t beat yourself up for feeling uncertain and confused. It’s perfectly fine and normal to not know what to do, as no average person should know or understand what’s going on or what the best thing to do is when a relationship reaches the crossroad of the decision, “Do I stay or go?” for the person who is leaning out of the relationship (I call this person The Decider), and “Will he/she stay?” for the spouse who is anxiously wanting to save the marriage (I call this person The Rejected).
The answer to that question is almost never clear-cut and can be wildly complicated. Add to that the terror of possibly making a choice that you’ll regret, otherwise known as the dreaded WRONG CHOICE, and most often a person stands miserably in his or her indecision and chooses not to choose.
Point #1: It’s normal to feel confused and to not know what to do.
This period of being dreadfully unhappy, confused and uncertain may go on for a very long time, and this is no good, because now a husband or wife stands halfway in AND halfway out of the marriage with little positive energy available for fixing it. Limbo will be the result, and all the while no one is happy or getting their needs met.
Ultimately, the stress of the crisis combined with the stress will affect your mental and physical health – hey, when the experts say stress kills, they really mean it. Your body doesn’t know you are having relationship issues, it thinks you’re being attacked by a bear, so it will shut down nonessential systems in your body, including growth, ovulation, digestion and, yes, your immune system. That is why therapists will always, always tell you that it is imperative for stressed people to deal with their issues head-on and as quickly as possible rather than sweep them under the rug. So please understand that we want to minimize the amount of time that you remain in a stressed state of non-action.
This Marriage Crisis Manager (MCM) wants people to make the healthiest possible decisions during their relationship crisis, and we are dedicated to creating an intelligent plan of action that limits the amount of time you are in limbo, but also taking the time to give this important decision the consideration it deserves. We recommend strongly against making snap or quick decisions once the truth of your unhappiness in the marriage is revealed, but at the same time we want you to be dealing with your stuff during the time you are deciding whether to go or stay. We want you to look within yourself, flaws and all, and to be a study of your relationship, both good and bad. We will encourage healthy and safe conversations with your estranged spouse when the time is right, and you will find the tools needed to take intelligent and well-thought-out actions. Openness and honesty is King, secrets, hiding and misleading are against the rules of integrity in marriage crisis. The most important thing is that during this fragile time, we don’t want couples to make a bigger mess than they’ve already got.
So we will keep the ball moving toward positive action, which will be a new idea for most of you. It is a rare Decider who has not been disillusioned in the marriage a very long time. They may have mentioned they aren’t happy or sent off a warning shot or two, but the level of unhappiness they have been experiencing has been a secret for a very long time. Well, keeping secrets is a very unhealthy thing in marriage, and starting now we need to be honest with ourselves and learn how to express the truth about what we are feeling to the person’s whose future is in your hands. Being able to be open and express yourself is part of growing up and being an adult.
Point #2: It’s normal to become stagnant in your decision-making and action-taking process while in the midst of a marriage crisis, but falling into non-action and prolonged limbo must be minimized because it is not a healthy state to be in on any level.
We will achieve this by having you spend these days and weeks by vigorously doing self-examination, an examination of your relationship and partner, and finally be able to pinpoint where you and it went wrong. You will also be working toward not keeping secrets about how you feel … it is time to grow up and communicate what is going on.
Something that will be very important as we move along in this marriage crisis is for The Decider to be aware of how your decisions and actions affect others. Freud wrote about the parts of the personality – the Id, Ego and Super Ego. The Super Ego,* and I really want you to be aware of these parts of yourself:
- The Super Ego – The responsible “parental” part of your personality. Pays bills, stays within the law, does the right thing, keenly aware of right and wrong.
- The Ego – The mediator between the Super Ego and Id – it helps you decide what is best between all of your options.
- The Id – Your instinctual self – your inner child. Very much into what feels good in the moment. Impulsive and self-oriented, lacks self-control.
Understand that in a marriage crisis the Id within your personality is on steroids and is steering most of your decisions and actions. How do I know? Because to turn away from the responsibility of your marriage and family requires the part of your personality that is looking out for yourself and that is the Id. That is not to say that your marriage wasn’t a mess and that separation or pulling away was a wrong and terrible thing to do, maybe it was something that was very much needed. But one thing is sure – it was voice of the Id in your head that was pushing you to take the action. Now our job is to make sure that your ID stays in balance and does not send you down a path of self-destruction – we are seeking balance within a situation that makes it difficult to achieve.
So, MCM understands that right now, you want to do what you want to do, but eventually that will change and you come back to a more reasonable version of yourself. That is why it is my job to help remind you that you will have to live later with any damage done now while under your ID’s influence, and this is something that your ID will not want you to hear. So be aware, and do your best to care as much as possible (and it’s hard!) about what you are doing and why you are doing it as you pull away from your partner.
I am keenly aware of how all of this typically plays out and see my job as helping you make the wisest and most well thought-out decision you possibly can so that no matter what happens you can say to yourself, “I know we have done all we could possibly do to make the best decision for our family.” I know if you choose to leave you will need the peace of mind of being able to say that very important sentence to yourself, your children, extended family and others who care about you and your well-being. If you choose to stay it will be because you have come to the realization that although you are frustrated and disappointed with the relationship as it currently stands, a divorce decision would be premature and there are still things you can still do to try and turn it around.
Standing in the sandstorm of uncertainty, emotional fatigue and confusion, it can be very difficult to imagine turning a dysfunctional relationship around. It may appear in your mind as the emotional equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest. After all, there is so much disappointment, frustration, failure to communicate, lack of understanding, unpleasant incidents, unkind words, and a bunch of other awful stuff and it’s all piled up. With all of this negative history, it IS extremely difficult for a couple to fathom that such a tangled up mess could be straightened out.
I understand all of this, and it is my passion to help you make sense of it. I have studied the phenomenon of marital madness and frustration that leads couples to a decision-making point. I understand how marriages get that way, how the divorce decision is made, and if the decision is made to work it out, how to bring a formerly dysfunctional marriage back to health.
Because there aren’t enough therapists informed about the intricacies of marriage crisis management, I created this site. The most important thing that people experiencing the strong desire to leave a marriage or for their spouse not to leave the marriage is to not make any permanent, irrevocable choices or decisions at the moment. Because your stress level is high, you are not capable of making extremely wise decisions at this time, so you must do what you can to relax yourself – see suggestions for how to do that on our personal growth page – and slow yourself down.
What you can do is gather as much information as you can on the subject so you can understand what is happening, and what will likely be happening in the weeks and months to come – this web site will have all the resources you need in that regard, and it’s adding helpful content every day.
Point # 3: Our goal here is to bring you peace of mind in a situation that is intensely stressful.
If you take the wise advice found on the MCM web site you will have the tools to make the wisest decisions and choices for you and your family. You will have to learn and study a few things that will benefit you in this process, and you will need to take of yourself. You will also be learning how to communicate openly and honestly. We’re here to help.
* ID, EGO, SUPEREGO information at two links: http://www.simplypsychology.org/psyche.html