Psychologists Tell Us How to Pass Through 5 of the Most Dangerous Periods of Marriage and Not Break Up

Writer Robert Stevenson once said, “Marriage is one long conversation, checkered by disputes.” Sooner or later, every couple goes through a crisis, it’s absolutely inevitable. The good news is, when coping with the crisis, spouses reach a new level in their relationships and find new ways to be happy with each other.

The 1st year of marriage: Realization stage

Psychologists Tell Us How to Pass Through 5 of the Most Dangerous Periods of Marriage and Not Break Up

The bodacious singer Pink proposed to her boyfriend herself. However, the couple broke up one year later… Then they reunited again! The couple is now raising two children.

Rita DeMaria, a marriage and family therapist, calls this crisis a “realization stage.” It usually happens after 6-12 months of living together. The first charm of being in love disappears and you start seeing your partner the way he/she really is with all of their weaknesses and sometimes not very pleasant habits (that you gladly ignored before). “It’s the time to learn to work as a team,” DeMaria says.

What should you do? “If you haven’t discussed serious subjects like finance, children, relatives’ visits, free time, etc. before your marriage, it’s time to do it now,” Beverly Hayman, a psychologist, recommends. You need to speak honestly about your values and priorities. There is a probability that they will not entirely coincide with those of your partner, and it’s then you two will need to find a compromise. It’s very important to reach a firm agreement to the most “burning” questions during this period of time.

3-4 years of marriage: A dangerous “comfort zone”

The marriage of Madonna and Sean Penn lasted only 3 years, but these stars say in their interviews that they still love each other. Perhaps they rushed to get a divorce?

The research among 2,000 British married couples showed that in 3 and a half years spouses start taking each other for granted, preferring sleep to sex, and stop saying “I love you” to each other. A couple finds their own “comfort zone.” On one hand, this is a wonderful feeling of security and relaxation, but on the other rather unpleasant things become normal in their life, like keeping the door open when you pee and wearing shabby pajamas. Though 82% of participating couples said that they were happy with their marriage, 49% mentioned that they wanted their partner to be more romantic.

What should you do? You need to keep a certain degree of emotional intensity in your life. Compliment each other more often and praise each other’s achievements. It’s better to avoid saying everything that’s on your mind to your partner and sometimes it’s better to keep silent. If you see that there’s a problem, begin your conversation softly without accusations. First you need to look inside yourself, John Gottman, a family psychologist, recommends. Growth in marriage happens when each partner is capable of viewing oneself from the outside and understands how much he/she contributes (or doesn’t contribute) to the relationship.

5-7 years of marriage: “The seven-year itch”

Psychologists Tell Us How to Pass Through 5 of the Most Dangerous Periods of Marriage and Not Break Up

David Schwimmer from Friends and his wife Zoe Buckman announced that they wanted to take a break from their relationship after 7 years of marriage. Their fans hope that this is a temporary decision.

There is a certain term in western psychology called “the seven-year itch.” This is one of the most critical periods in every marriage. By this time, the couple has a fine-tuned life, settled relationship, and the spouses treat each other like they’re on auto-pilot which is a big mistake, Beverly Hayman reminds. Interest and sexual appeal towards each other decreases due to routine. It seems that the partners know everything about each other. Sometimes a couple makes a decision to have a first child (or a second one) in order to save their marriage, but it’s worth remembering that a child is a separate person, and not a rescue device.

What should you do? Robert Taibbi, a family therapist, suggests the following:

1. Keep your communication open. You should be less formal, like “How was you day?” “OK”, but more sincere and emotional.

2. Solve your problems immediately as they arise, don’t let them pile up.

3. Listen to yourself. Assess your state from time to time, refresh the list of your wants and your vision of the future. Share your thoughts with your partner.

4. Discuss the future of your relationship. Which plans do you have for the next year, or next 5 or 10? Again, the key is openness and honesty, not politeness and vagueness.

20-30 years of marriage: Mid-life crisis and “grey divorce”

Psychologists Tell Us How to Pass Through 5 of the Most Dangerous Periods of Marriage and Not Break Up

Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman broke up after 30 years of marriage which shocked their fans. However, a year later they understood that they had made a mistake and reunited.

The crisis of 20 years of marriage happens due to the personal mid-life crises of both spouses. The effect is increased by a so called empty-nest syndrome when children grow up and leave the family home while the spouses stay by themselves, like in the beginning of their relationship. The spouses may feel that their marriage is exhausted because its main mission is completed. American psychologists call this divorce “grey divorce” because some spouses have already become grey-haired by this time. In recent times, the number of these divorces has been growing.

What should you do? Don’t distance from each other. Look for other meanings of existence for you as a couple. If spouses ignored their marriage problems while raising children then, when it’s just the two of them, the conficts may become more intense. On the other hand, you have more time to solve them. It’s a great opportunity to rebuild your marriage. Steve Seabold, a relationship coach, recommends doing sports together and creating new common goals, like travel, new business, language courses, or something that will help you to create unforgettable experiences.

Non-standard recommendations to overcome a marriage crisis

Mort Fertel, a relationship expert, thinks that popular recommendations to marriage rescue like sharing feelings with a partner or visiting a family psychologist are not always effective because they don’t define what exactly needs to be done to overcome the crisis.

Here are some unusual recommendations by Mort Fertel on how to save your marriage:

1. Save your marriage even by yourself. It’s usually believed that a marriage can be saved only when both partners are ready to work on problems. “The efforts made by even one person can change the marriage dynamics and can motivate the more stubborn spouse to join the process of the marriage rescue,” Mort Fertel says.

2. Don’t ask yourself wrong questions. Don’t ask yourself, “Is this the right person I’ve chosen for a spouse?” The key to a successful marriage is not to find the right person but to learn to love the one that you found. Because love is not luck, it’s your choice.

3. Separation drives you apart, not closer. Separation, which allegedly can refresh your feelings, can distance you from each other even more, especially during a marriage crisis where your goal is to be closer again.

4. Talk less about problems. Conversations about marriage problems don’t solve them but make them deeper. They cause arguments and anger. Talking about a problem doesn’t mean you solved it. Talk less, do more. Find real ways to solve your difficulties.

5. Don’t think that a therapist will give you the exact answers. Therapy sessions help spouses talk to each other and understand each other’s point of view, but they don’t give answers regarding what needs to be done to save the marriage. As a result, couples remain very disappointed with their therapy.

6. Don’t tell your relatives and friends about your marriage crisis. “One of the most important values of marriage is confidentiality, that’s why talking to your relatives or friends about your marriage or your spouse is a big mistake. This is a violation of confidentiality for your spouse, and it’s wrong,” Mort Fertel says.

 

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Cherie – Chapter 36 – Four to Eight – Part One

So baby’s coming down on Sunday to see me. We both have crazy busy schedules. But we make it work and I like it. I like the distance between the pillars that support the temple of our relationship. I’ve never had that. It’s always been the traditional American bullshit progression that goes nowhere and ends in failure. This actually works really well for me. I love intense bursts of energy with my friends but then I like to be alone for a while. It’s inevitable right now based on where we both are in our lives and it’s working beautifully. I love it.

She says she’ll be down around 4:30pm on Sunday.

Cool.

I get done at the salon at 4. She says she has to be on an 8:30 train back to Pottstown. I’m thinking, perfect. Come down early Sunday, I’ll feed her and give her some dinner, and then tomorrow we’ll get up early, I’ll take her to breakfast and she’ll be on a train back home or to school, and I’ll be writing this blog getting the 1/2 off cheesteak by noon on Monday at my local haunt.

I finish up at the salon, and we meet up on the street after she gets off the train. I take her to Mix Pizza, because I know she loves that place from our early encounters.

We get there and instead of sitting in the back bar, we sit in the main dining room. We order a 12 inch pie that is just enough for the both of us. We’ll murder that tiny pie. She likes extra cheese, and I’m okay with that because she wants that but I know that dairy will fuck with my stomach. But I don’t care. I love her. If that’s what baby wants, that’s fine.

Our waitress is banged up. I don’t mean drunk, I mean it looks like she was in a car accident or is a victim of domestic violence.

We can’t say anything even though I want to so badly. Puffy eye, cuts and bruises on her. I’m feeling sad and concerned. I have three sisters a daughter and a girlfriend. If I know a man raised his hand to my waitress I’ll have a hit put out his worthless ass.

But Cherie tells me to behave. We’ll get our little brick oven fresh pizza and go home.

She brings out not a 12 inch pizza, not the next size up, but the biggest fucking pizza they make with extra cheese. The order is wrong, I’m tired from work and I know I’m going to spend some quality time in the bathroom. But I’m happy to be sitting across from my queen and I’m okay.

I make some jokes to her about why the order is wrong to Cherie and why our server got beat up.

“Because she doesn’t listen.” (Kidding. I feel bad for her. Maybe she just fell off her bicycle.)

“I will kick you so hard under the table your mom will feel it, if you don’t stop.”

I always make jokes when I’m sad or suffering for someone, to ease the tension in my heart, and Cherie knows this but she just wants me to stop.

(I did make a few more. Just to deal with it, and I love to watch her lovely dark almond eyes narrow and tell me to shut up.)

She knows I’m kidding. She knows me and knows I feel for this girl, and hates the fact that she is feeling what she’s feeling from my dark jest.

When I’m scared or sad I always joke to deal with my anxiety, sadness or depression. It’s a combative mechanism to help me deal with life.

We have a nice dinner and she’s happy. I love her braids. I hope they last all summer. Every time I see her, she seems more beautiful to me. She’s already gorgeous, but I am falling deeper in love with her soul. Her spirit. Her voice. Her mind. Her heart.

Cherie is a complex, beautiful human being that has come a long way at her ripe 27 years. I love her sweet calm with me. I love her wise maturity. I love that she is a parent like myself. She’s always struggling with what we all do with work, children and education, but she does it as a woman. My relationship with her has redefined me as an adult. I continue to evolve. She makes me grow as a man. I love that I continue to evolve. My life is changing.

I’m about to open a new business in Rittenhouse. If it’s successful, it will change my life dramatically. It will mean I can do more for my daughter Lorelei and change her life too. I’m beginning to think that sitting at Square 1682 getting cheap drinks and hanging with the same cast of characters is a waste of my talent.

I like these people but I think our time together is a bit of a waste of time. Nice people, but I’m carrying a lot of their water on my ship. I appreciate them.

I do. But I think I am growing out and away from them.

Just evolving as usual. It happens.

I was sitting at the bar the other night at Square and as usual I am loving the bartender Roman. He’s glorious. He is what I need him to be and he knows that. I take care of him. He’s amazing. He’s a husband and a dad and we have a history that is connected.

But I looked to the friend to the right of me and I started to see that I don’t need to do this anymore. The game is changing.

I’m changing.

There’s no value in this anymore. She has positioned herself with someone I no longer speak with and I know is nuts and has hurt my friend Alice.

I look to my left and here is my other friend. A lost confused damaged soul that can’t get out of his own fucking way to do go forward.

What am I doing here?

I was at City Hall today with my business partner getting our permit to open our fitness center.

That’s what I need to focus on. Going forward and building a business.

This happens throughout ones life if you continue to evolve. They come in and visit for a while and then they have to go because you grow beyond them. I think I need to faze them out. I may or may not do that, but I need to withdrawal from their stagnant drama.

I used to be in the public eye all of the time. Blowing up social media constantly. Many people and beautiful women basked in my light and I was just left with the hangover.

It’s okay. I had a great time but I’m getting older and I just can’t carry their weight anymore.

I want to build something.

 

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