Is Divorce the Only Option?

Certified Imago Relationship Expert, Norene Gonsiewski, LCSW, explained that after the holidays each year there is a peak in couples filing for divorce. Is divorce the only option? If you are considering divorce you should get professional help. The ideas and suggestions below can help, but will not do the trick. Get the help from a certified marriage counselor who tells you that they are pro-marriage. Prepare to give a month per year of marriage to the effort of rebuilding your marriage!

Why does a couple divorce? What’s really going on when couples say that they have “irreconcilable differences?
There are two peaks in the divorce rate, between 5-7 years and between 10-15 years.  At the first peak couples report that they can no longer tolerate their style of conflict.
What couples argue about:
  • Money
  • Children/parenting
  • Sex
  • Household roles
  • Outside pursuits, distractions and influences
At the second peak the couples report that they have drifted apart and no longer feel an intimate connection.
 
Why couples drift apart:
  • Conflict
  • Ceasing to make their marriage THE PRIORITY, is happens because
    • They put kids first
    • They put careers and consumption first
    • They have an “it’s all about me” attitude
 
Conflict is Inevitable!
After the romantic phase of relationship that is always chemically driven, there is an inevitable phase of conflict. Most couples are ill equipped for conflict and don’t know how to navigate the new waters.
Learning to have conflict is the solution. Listen, take turns, validate what your partner says before you respond. 
First, calm down. Engage your brain before you engage your mouth. Take 5 minutes or even an hour and then agree to return to the discussion.
Listening: Take turns. No interruptions. Most conflicts are a misguided attempt to get our needs met. Listen without needing to be right. You are both right in your own regard. Do not roll your eyes or get huffy.
Speaking: Use “I” statements. Do not shame, blame, criticize, show contempt or bully.
Before you respond: Take a few minutes to tell your partner what makes sense to you about their viewpoint. Then ask if you can respond. Use the same rules as the first turn. People confuse validation with agreement.  Validation is letting your partner know that you understand their thoughts and feeling. Their point of view is as valid as your own. That you can stand in their shoes and see what it is like.

Caring Behaviors
When you were dating you did many caring things for one another. You can do it again. You may need help from a professional, but in the meantime, lay down the weapons and give a chance to treating one another kindly.
Do small things: a foot rub, a cup of coffee in the morning, spending a few minutes a day talking, a hug 3 times a day. All these small things can be reintroduced and make a difference.

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