How Do I Forgive And Forget My Husband’s Affair

It’s a fair question, isn’t it.  How do you go about forgiving and forgetting that your husband had an affair?

It turns out that forgiving and forgetting your husband’s affair is not something you can snap your fingers and make happen.  Forgiveness will come eventually.  To forget your husband cheated on you, well, that is a tall order.

Did You See This Affair Coming?

taken down by a marriage vow broken

My bet is you didn’t.  Most women don’t expect their husband to be unfaithful and when they are, it is shocking to learn that their man has cheated on them.  Even when you pick up some little clues, signs or hints of an affair, it will still feel like you have been clobbered over the head when the truth pours out.

After all, you married this man to spend your life being happy and not having to worry about what he is up to. You don’t want to have doubts about whether he is screwing around with other women.

Could He Be With Someone Else?

As his wife, you don’t want to spend your days wondering how to forgive your husband for hurting you in this way.

Why should you even consider forgiving and forgetting that he slept with another woman?

Maybe you shouldn’t.  He might not be worth it.  He screwed around one too many times.  Once is enough, right?

It’s not as simple as that is it?

We are going explore some of this.

What Possessed Your Husband To Betray You Like This?

why did he betray me

It turns out there are numerous reasons why your husband betrayed you and all of these things need to be considered before your think of forgiving and forgetting that he cheated on you.

Today, we are going to talk about how to get over the fact your husband cheated on you.   We are going to talk about the 5 Possible Reasons Why Your Husband Got Involved in His Affair.

You probably also want to know how long it normally takes to forgive infidelity.

We are also going to explore what might be happening with your feelings now that you know your husband is a cheater.

Finally, we will talk about why it is so hard on you to get over his cheating and what you can do if you believe you can’t get over his infidelity.

You Will Also Learn About Repeated Marriage Affairs

multiple affairs

In closing, we will tackle what you can do if your husband has cheated on you several times. Has you husband been involved with multiple women?  Did he commit repeated affairs?

You might ask yourself if you will ever get over the pain of repeated affairs.

You will learn that how you get over the hurt of repeated instances of infidelity is a two-fold challenge because you are also going to have to figure out if your husband is worth staying with.

Lastly, you will need to think about whether the marriage is still worth saving given all that has transpired.

How Do I Get Over the Hurt Of Infidelity?

getting away from pain

When you can’t forgive your spouse for betraying you then the marriage is likely stuck in reverse.  I know it’s hard. You married a man who you thought would be faithful to you.

But he was not.  He cheated.  He gave in to whatever desires or temptations were at work in his mind and heart.

So now you need to learn how you go about getting over the pain and hurt of being a victim of an affair.

Don’t tell yourself you can’t get over your husband cheating because we can all learn to forgive over time.

Should I Forgive What He Did?

Just know that you will be in a vulnerable place for quite some time.  So be careful of those inner demons that might speak to you.

The angry voices in your mind might try to convince you that your husband is not worth it. That you will never be able to forgive his infidelity.

You may be haunted by visions of his cheating causing you to experience an assortment of emotions as you reconcile why he could not be faithful to you.

So the first step in recovering from the confusing, angry, and depressing states of mind you will likely experience is to start with trying to understand why your husband did it.

Why did he get mixed up with the other woman?

What Are The Top 5 Reasons Why Your Husband Cheated and Hooked Up With Another Woman?

can't trust him

The reasons for why men choose to cheat on their spouse are never completely clear in the beginning.

There is a good possibility he won’t ever tell you the full reason. I know that sounds harsh and may be difficult to process.  But consider this.  You already caught your husband in a lie.  He has been with another woman behind your back.  What he may tell you now may strain credibility.

So don’t get too stuck on the why.  It is important, yes.  And we will talk about these reasons.  But know that it is not always a straightforward thing.

Your husband may fully know why he committed adultery.  But he may not fully understand why he did it and the consequences of his actions.

And knowing that he has lied about his faithfulness to you, you should also accept that he may be lying to himself about certain things.

So let’s explore some of the top reasons why your husband got involved in an affair.  None of these reasons are offered as a way to forgive men for their actions, but they might give you some insight into what got into your husband to cause him to commit the worst sin of marriage.

1. Men Cheat on Their Wives Because They Want Sex With Other Women

I know that sounds sorta hardcore and is a generalization, but is basically true.  Sex is a basic drive in all humans and men in particular tend to think of it more.

Knowing that he has you and can make love with you is important to him.  Knowing another woman and cheating with her in the “biblical way” satisfies certain core primal urges.

So sometimes a married man will cross the line of what he knows is wrong and go seek out sex for its own merits.  Not for love.  But for the experience of sexual satisfaction.

2. It Can Be Really Hard To Forgive Your Husband If He Was Tempted and Lured Away

It happens.  Another woman makes it her mission to catch his eye.  And given that “men want sex”, it doesn’t take for a guy to fall under another woman’s spell.

In most cases, a happily married man will resist because he loves you and is happy and satisfied with all you give him.

But even the most loving and caring of men can have a weak moment if all the right things fall in place and the other woman is determined to woo him and entice him to have sex with her.

3. Forgiving An Affair Is Made Harder When You Suspect Your Husband is Dissatisfied With Your Love Life

Talk about adding insult to injury.

What is interesting about this is that while your husband may feel like there is a lot of room for improvement in the area of your love life, when I talk with some women about this topic, they too will complain that their husband is not satisfying them sexually in the way they desire.

When it comes to sex, a couple can easily have a disconnect, with neither of them meeting the other’s needs.  The lack of communication is sometimes the problem, but of course this is a big topic and lots of things can influence a couple’s sexual compatibility.

But sometimes, when a husband feels he is neglected in the bedroom, he will go off seeking satisfaction elsewhere.  Again, it’s most often a physical thing and not because he doesn’t adore you.

4. He Says He Cheated Because He No Longer Loves You

It is a horrible thought to consider.

Is it possible that your husband has fallen out of love with you and worse, that he has fallen in love with this other women he is having an affair with.

Yep, if your husband utters those words, it can make it pretty tough to ever forgive him.

But let me tell you something important.

When men tell you that they are not sure if they still love you in the same way or that have found another woman who is their true soul mate, much of the time it turns out not to be true.

5. He Says He Has No Clue Why He Cheated On You?

Before you spit in his face and throw him out because you are so disgusted, just know that men do stupid things all the time.  We all commit foolish acts.  He sincerely may not truly be in touch with his feelings.   His struggle in explaining why he was unfaithful may be legitimate.

Or it is possible he knows exactly why he committed adultery and just doesn’t want to tell you.  Could it be that underlying deception again coming from him.   It is a slippery slope when we start analyzing the psychology of another’s actions.

You will be left with questions like:

  • Is He Telling Me the Truth?

The answer is he probably isn’t telling you the whole story. Consider that he is in survival mode and lying about some things.

  • Does He Even Know What He Wants?

The truth is your husband may be quite confused about what he wants and could be operating on automatic pilot without any thought of consequences.

  • Does He Have A Clue How His Betrayal Is Tearing Me Apart?

Your guy may be so into himself that he is clueless. He may be so caught up in this affair that he can’t see or think straight. He just keeps doing the naughty, hoping he won’t get caught.

  • Can He Ever Be Trusted Again To Not Enter Into Another Affair?

The answer is most likely that the chances of him cheating again are somewhat higher than just before he started his initial affair.  Don’t put it past him to rationalize his behavior in some bizarre way to make it feel right in his heart and mind.

  • Does It Even Matter So Much Why He Did It?

You bet it matters.  You should have zero tolerance for this kind of behavior and knowing why he did it can potentially help you and your husband to avoid future cheating episodes.

  • Should I Forgive My Husband If He Says It Was A Casual Thing?

Absolutely not, at least not for awhile.  If your husband insists that the affair meant nothing and it was just a casual fling, stop him in mid sentence.  Walk out of the room. He doesn’t deserve your time in that moment.  When men say that the other woman doesn’t mean anything to them, they are either lying or they are trying to play down the awful things they did.

  • Is My Husband Just a Sexual Beast – Skipping From One Affair To the Next?

There is no justification for any husband to skip from one affair to another, over and over again, like it is something they can’t stop.  If your husband has a clinical, psychological sexual disorder then he needs to get treatment.  Otherwise, something needs to change fast because it is entirely dysfunctional when a husband thinks he has a license to cheat.

How Long Will It Take You To Get Over Your Husband’s Affair?

time to get past pain

You might be asking yourself how long it will take you to forgive your husband for betraying you.   To forgive a cheating spouse it is going to take a lot of time and will power and the spirit of forgiveness won’t wash all over you until you are satisfied he is truly regretful and has taken actions to rebuild trust.

The forgiveness part won’t happen for a while.

And getting over all the bad memories and physical hurts from him cheating on you won’t happen overnight either.

It won’t necessarily take you exactly 6 months to get over his cheating ways.  Nor can I say that it will take you less than 6 months to heal all your wounds and get the marriage on a better track.

And I am not going to be fatalistic either and tell you that it will take you years and years to get over the pain and distrust of your spouse’s infidelity.

It doesn’t work that way.  Every situation is different.

But eventually forgiving him is important. You must do this not just to help the marriage work, but you need to do it for yourself.

Healing From Betrayal

You don’t want to carry that burden of resentment of his betrayal with you for the rest of your life.

Your husband will have to learn to forgive himself  too.  I know, you might be thinking, “why does my husband have to forgive himself?”

It turns out, that in most of these cases, the men who cheat on their wives carry a burden of guilt.  As they should because what they did was wrong.  But healing needs to come to them too.

Marriage affairs just muck up everything. There will be a lot of healing to go around.

Here are some things you can do to help yourself to get over the emotional struggles of being cheated on.

5 Things You Can Do To Get Past All the Hurts of Learning of His Affair

get some alone time

Consider doing each of these things if you want to move on from his adulterous ways.

It’s worth it if you think you want to be with your husband in the future.  And even if you plan on leaving him, you will still need to get your mind and emotions in better working order.

Remember, there is not surefire cure for putting it all behind you.  Honestly, it never completely will fade from your mind.

But there are Steps you can take to bring some peace into your life if he cheated on you.

Step 1: Take Some Time To Be With Yourself

You will need to spend some quality time by yourself.  Just figuring out what has happened and what it all means is going to be overwhelming.  So go some place for a few hours to be alone.

Step 2: It’s Important To Release Your Pain

Have a good cry.  It’s OK. It is an emotionally healthy thing for you to do.

What has happened to you hurts tremendously and you need to release it.  Later you may wish to take some extended time away from your husband to gather more of your thoughts and begin a fuller healing process.

That might not be the right approach for everyone who have been stung by the discovery that their husband has been unfaithful to them.  It may not even be practical, depending on your situation.  But instead of trying to immediately hash it all out with him, just get away and clear out your mind.

It could be hours or days.  It depends on your situation.

If you are not the crying type, then do something physical like a long walk or bike ride.  Running and working out in some way, particularly in the days following the revelation of your husband’s affair, can be very helpful with coping.

Step 3: Don’t Do Anything Rash As It Will ONLY Add To The Chaos Around Discovering He Had An Affair

  • Your emotions will fly high when you learn what he did.  Don’t compound things by doing or saying something rash. (e.g. “We are finished”, “I want you to pack and leave”, “I want a divorce”, etc.)
  • If you insist on knowing every detail about his affair, things will go downhill fast for you both. There is just some stuff you don’t need to hear.
  • You will be really upset and vulnerable when you learn of his betrayal, so don’t turn to drugs or alcohol to get relief.
  • Remember, you didn’t do anything wrong.  He did.
  • Do not succumb to any urges to withdrawal all the money from the bank and cash him out.  You would be creating financial Armageddon.
  • Do seek out an effort to get revenge by having your own affair.
  • Panic attacks can occur if you become hysterical so remove yourself from any environment that can blow up.
  • Don’t beg for him to stay or don’t insist he must leave this other woman immediately.  Of course that needs to happen, but it is important that he initiates this conversation and convinces you its over and means it.  There will be time later to work out the details (as a couple) on confirming and validating that the other relationship has truly ended.
  • Don’t act like a victim or play the victim role.  Yes, what your husband did by cheating on you was awful and wrong.  But if you get pulled into acting the victim, you open yourself to become one again in the future.

Step 4:  Don’t Immediately Commit To Forgiving Him

Part of you may think it would be best to just let your husband know you still love him and forgive him for taking up with this other woman.

I know you probably still love him.  But forgiveness for such an act should not come easily.

Don’t think that by blurting out that you still stand by him and forgive him and will just forget it happened, will make things better for you or him.

It won’t.  It won’t because it isn’t real.

Our minds and hearts don’t work that way.

First of all, you have your own processing and healing period you need to get through before you are even ready to offer forgiveness and that will take a while.

And forgiveness granted to a cheating spouse is not something freely given away.

It is something that your husband will have to earn through his actions and behaviors and commitment to prove to you that he will be faithful.

Step 5: Consider Getting Counseling From An Affair Expert

You might be able to work out things on your own.  Rebuilding trust and repairing the damage will always take some time, no matter how you go about it.

But this can be a difficult topic to talk about and work through, so sometimes it can help you get over your husband’s affair if you are working with someone who has experience in such matters.

Will The Pain of Infidelity Ever Go A Way?

future holds promise

You might be thinking that the pain of your husband’s infidelity will never go away.  That you will be forever stuck in a place where you can never learn to trust your husband.

Thinking of offering forgiveness to your husband after his infidelity may be the furthermost thing in your mind.

But know that the angry, bitter, unsettled, confusing, and depressing slate of emotions you are going to deal with will eventually subside.

Life keeps moving forward and we cannot allow ourselves to dwell in self-pity and the bad, dark places.

A Better Place To Go

Yes, the pain won’t just dissipate easily.  What he did may never be forgotten.  His affair may have permanently damaged your marriage.

But you will learn to move forward. Take whatever path you choose to take, with or without your husband.

You may find yourself asking, “what can I do If I can’t get over his infidelity?”

Just keep reminding yourself the pain from the past will subside and soon you will be facing new challenges.

Life marches on. Keep your focus on those things that fulfill you.  Soak up enjoyment.  It is a choice.

My Husband Cheated Twice – Should I Stay With Him?

should I keep him

How do you forgive a cheating husband who twice has taken up with women?

He has burned you once.  Now it has happened again.  It could be worse. Maybe your husband has cheated on you multiple times.

Is he worth fighting to keep?

I think the answer is probably No, for most people.  There may not be much to gain if you can’t believe in your husband when it comes to the most intimate aspects of your marriage.

Having to recover from a man’s cheating ways can seem unbearable.  Imagine having to deal with a man who breaks your heart knowingly, over and over again.

Is you husband worthy of forgiveness?

In some cases, it becomes futile to keep giving him another chance.  There may come a point where the measure of your own self-respect comes under fire.

Will he or can he ever stop having affairs?

If he has been carrying on with the ladies throughout the marriage, maybe you should you just end things.

What is left of the marriage when a husband has multiple flings and shows little remorse?

Probably not much.

To help you with working through this, consider these Points before you make a definitive decision on your next steps.

10 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Giving Up On Your Husband for Having Multiple Affairs

before giving up

  1. Does he see and meet up with women because he wants to hurt and shame me?
  2. Has my husband lost all self-respect and cares little for his marriage?
  3. Will forgiving him again for his affairs give him license to go out and do it again?
  4. Has he really learned his lesson this time or is he just telling me what he thinks I want to hear?
  5. Can I continue to live and remain married to a man who behaves in this way?
  6. Am I in denial about his actions because the reality is he will never change?
  7. Will I be happier if he was not in my life?
  8. Is the second time he cheated on me with the same woman he had an affair with the first time around?
  9. How is the rest of the marriage and can I live with the possibility that he will be unfaithful again?
  10. Will I be able to forgive myself for remaining in a marriage in which my husband knowingly commits adultery and continues to lie about it?

Obviously, the answers to all of these questions will be different for each person and given the highly personal nature of this problem and for what is at stake, I encourage you to take a good deal of time processing through your feelings to arrive at what is best for you and your family.

My Husband Doesn’t Respect Me and Is Selfish and Inconsiderate

Do you ever roll over in bed wondering how you ended up with a husband that is lazy and selfish?

The other day a woman named Leslie reached out to me.  Her story was about a marriage that was breaking apart at the most basic of levels.

It is more than reasonable to expect that the person you are married to will meet the minimum threshold of treating you with kindness and courtesy.

This is what we all come to expect before we even get married.  Treat me lovingly.  Talk to me like I am your equal.  Show me your respect and offer kindness at every opportunity.

love me tender

These are the pillars in which marriages are erected.  If those things are not happening with great frequency, why get married?

But what if after some years of being married you are left asking, “why is my husband so selfish and inconsiderate“?  What if you are left wondering if your husband’s insensitivity to your feelings is a reflection of more bad times to come?

If this is what is going down between you and your husband (or wife) then it is a bad place to be marriage wise.

Leslie share her story with me and it was heart breaking.

ARE YOU LOOKING TO GET PAST YOUR SADNESS?

I hate it when I hear these stories about spouses mistreating each other such that one or both of them revert to their uglier selves.

I know we are all capable of being “our ugly self”, but when it happens with great repetition in a relationship, it is almost always a harbinger of a looming breakup.

Leslie writes…

Chris, I am so glad you are out there to help us ladies who are stuck with men who show little interest in behaving themselves.  When things go wrong in my marriage, I am left fending off unfair accusations and other assertions meant to intimidate me.  My husband can revert to his worse instincts when troubles arise.  With very little provocation, my husband can be thoughtless and selfish, unwilling to show the respect and honor I deserve.

She listed out a number of things that she was unhappy about.

My husband does not respect my boundaries or my privacy.  It has only gotten worse through the years.  If he hates me that much, why stay around?   When he is wrong about something, he will get right into my face and try to shout me down.  It is a sickening display of my husband trying to be a brute.

Leslie is currently taking care of her small child.  Though she is a very capable woman, whose career has blossomed, she decided to take some time off to care for and raise up her child.

Her brute of a husband, as she described him, was OK with all of that in the beginning.  But he seems to have little appreciation for how hard it to do all of the things it takes to care for an infant.  In reality, we all know it can be exhausting on so many levels.

But according to her husband, she had it easy.

He would just throw it out there in the form of a cheap shot if he was unhappy with something, insisting her life was stress free.  He would pick arguments in order to debate his points.

“You just sit on your ass all day and meanwhile I am not seeing any progress with the kid.  When are they suppose to start walking.  Can’t you do more. What are you doing wrong all the time with his nap.  He never goes down.”

That is how she described the callous way her husband spoke to her.

Really cruel (and stupid) assertions about such things became a common complaint.

Such hurtful words, particularly when they are repeated over and over gain, can take a toll on one’s self-esteem.

Stop Picking on Me

I reassured her that it is just downright wrong and mean for anyone to disrespect a young wife who temporarily has sacrificed her career to focus on her child.

My husband does not respect me as a stay at home mom”, Leslie explained to me.  “And he is all too eager to talk down to me like what I do is so easy.  He has no clue and refuses to help when he gets home from work. All it get is complains.  Just a big mouth guy.  I call him Mr. Petty, because that is what he is.  A mean, petty guy.”

I don’t even know where to start.  I think he regrets having our child and has anger issues. It has changed our lifestyle for sure.  But I see my baby as a blessing.  He wasn’t this bad in the beginning.  I am really weary,” she said.

“He has me thinking I am not doing a good enough job or that what I say is hard and exhausting, shouldn’t really be that difficult.  One part of me understands that being a Mom at home is big time job.  But my husband’s tone can be so demeaning and his insistence that I am just awful at what I do really hurts and has me second guessing”.

Of course, since I have some experience with this as a father who works from home,  I know how incredibly taxing it is to care for a youngster.  It is a huge adjustment for any parent to make.

So I assured her that her husband was behaving in a very insensitive way.  I told her that if his selfish and inconsiderate behavior should persist, it did not bode well for the future.  But there were options.

Before we get into how to handle a self-absorbed and disrespectful husband, I want to discuss what a lack of respect might look like in different relationships.

What is amazing to me is that I often get questions from women who explain what is happening in their marriage.

Some of the stuff I hear is awful.  Sadly, these women are pushed around so much that their confidence and self-image suffers in a big way.

After hearing what they have to say – some of which are very sad tales – it would be fair to say this problem is not rare.

I have strong feelings about this topic because it one of the most destructive patterns that can take hold of a marriage.

I think of these patterns as Marriage Busters.

Let me give you some examples of how selfishness manifests itself in marriage.

What Does a Bad Marriage Look Like?

an unhappy wife

You are probably wondering what you should do when respect, courtesy, and plain old good manners has abandoned the marriage?

This is the question I posed to Leslie.

You might be wondering how to change your selfish husband, right?

It is not enough to tell me or your close friends that “my husband doesn’t show me respect anymore”.

It might feel good to get that out, I explained, but what is most important is how will you change his behavior, such that you are no longer being victimized by him being a bad boy?

We are not talking about him straightening up his act for a few days.  What is needed is an approach that jars your husband to a new reality.

You might say to yourself, “my husband seldom respects me or my feelings.

You might stay up nights fretting how to deal with being married to such an inconsiderate man.

But until he knows that he can’t keep behaving this way – that you are now adopting a zero tolerance policy –  he will just keep misbehaving, without any fear of consequence.

Disrespect and lack of consideration, these are the vices of selfish men.

If you are like Leslie, who came to me and explained how her husband made her feel small and insignificant, then I want you to know that you have options.

“My husband disrespect me in public and refuses to change”, she elaborated.

He gets his kicks out of belittling me“, she explained.

I told her what she had described was not just a marriage that was coming off its tracks, but even more concerning to me was that her man was exhibiting all the characteristics of a selfish, abusive husband.

There should be little room for selfishness in a marriage, particularly if you are rearing a little one.

Realizing that my outrage was coming across in a very visible way, she tried to defend her husband, explaining that he was under a lot of pressure and that perhaps she was exaggerating his outbursts to some degree.

He is not bad all the time.”

Of course, the cat was already out of the bag. She had spent a few hours telling me about her husband and his selfish and contentious ways.  So I led her down a little Q & A  marriage reality test.

Did he tell you that you were worthless, I asked?

She said yes.

Did your husband publicly humiliate you at a party because you were worried about the baby?

Again, she said yes.

Does your guy get his kicks by making fun of you?  How you look?  Your weight gain?   Your cooking?  You lack of experience in caring for your child?  Doesn’t he constantly pick at you?

In this case, I struck a nerve with Leslie.

It was the wake up call I was looking for because I have seen far too many times, some really lovely and amazing women feel ashamed and therefore downplay just how abusive their husbands can be.

She told me that the biggest negative fallout from her marriage was her husband’s insistence that he was always right and if you argued his points, he would resort to belittling you.  She explained that sometimes he would get right into your physical space.

I know the selfish husband signs when I see them, I explained to her.

And I also know that two of the top marriage busters are when men or women mistreat each other, expressing little kindness and showing little consideration of the other’s needs.

She asked me what was the other marriage buster.

I explained that it is when a couple is unable to honestly talk to each other about their problems in a spirit of truly fixing it.

To me, choosing not to respect your wife’s (or husband’s) perspective is the purest form of selfishness.

We are not born to be disrespectful.  We choose to be.

So how will a couple ever improve, if they can’t have a real conversation without it breaking down into intimidation tactics, shouting, and counter accusations?

I emphasized that if an honest communication bridge cannot be erected and crossed, then the two parties in the marriage become emotionally separated. In effect, they are trapped in a loveless marriage.

They become stuck in a relationship environment that leads them to more fights and more disappointment.

And it is that cycle that ends up busting the marriage wide open.

Tell Your Husband Your Story

a marriage story you must tell

So Leslie wanted to know what she could do to save her marriage.

I was honest with her and told her she first needed to focus on learning to love herself again.  I wanted her to cast away all those ugly assertions she remembers her husband making.  Throw them in the garbage as that is where they belong.

I explained to her a paradigm shift in her marriage needed to take place.

I told her she shouldn’t ask for respect and consideration, rather she should make it understood that mutual respect in the relationship should be a condition for the marriage to go forward.

She asked, “You mean I should threaten to walk out on him or kick him out if he doesn’t treat me right?

I told her that is not quite the approach I want you to take.

“But mind you“, I explained,  “if your husband continues to repeatedly turn to belittlement and sarcasm to knock you down, it will take something major to get his attention.”

Otherwise,  why stay together because by doing so you are enabling his behavior and making yourself miserable.

For Leslie, this was a hard ask.

She and her husband had long ago fallen into this routine where he too often disrespected her and  was getting away with it.  It seemed to happen in waves.  Not always, but if certain conditions were present, her husband retreated into his negative self.

I know he is selfish and I have told him to straighten up his act.  But after a few good days, something usually goes haywire and I end up having to deal with his outbursts.  I have almost just given up trying to change him and have resigned myself to this is the way he is.

I told her that it is not usually enough to ask someone to change, particularly selfish people, unless they realize it benefits them to do so.

None of us are perfect angels in how we conduct ourselves in our marriage life.

It is far too easy for any of us to succumb to our worse selves and allow our bad moods to just simmer over.

Not that this happens all the time.  It usually doesn’t.

But in some marriage couplings, this lack of being a good man to your wife (or a loving wife to your husband) can afflict the marriage far to often.

It can become a routine that a wife grudgingly just accepts as something they have to put up with, while hoping their husband’s mood will brighten in due time.

So I suggested that she write down, very clearly,  examples of when her husband shows disrespect and behaves in a manner that is inconsiderate.

Call it “My Zero Tolerance List“.

Write it down like a story of statements that you have about your husband’s undesirable and selfish behaviors. Pose them as questions.

You are going to read it to him.  You will also leave it with him to read on his own. Of course, this approach  may very well provoke a reaction.  And it’s not just words that you will be reciting.  Words, however powerful they may sound, can get swept away unless they can be enforced or unless there is something that stands behind their meaning.

So what leverage do you have to encourage your husband to open up his heart and recommit to better policing himself to behave better, treating you with the utmost respect and consideration you deserve?

It is simple.  But it could be hard.

And for some couples, it is the best choice.

Either your husband gets on aboard and commits wholeheartedly to the things you are asking him to do, are you will step out of the marriage for a few weeks to consider your options.

You can use those words – “step out of the marriage” – to underscore how serious and important this matter is to you.

Now this approach is not for everyone.

My recommended action is for a wife (or husband) who is suffering tremendously from the things we have been talking about.  If such is the case, then I do think a major intervention, such as this, could be beneficial.

Also, when you are writing all this down, I want you to talk about your husband in a past tense.

Think of it as having a conversation with yourself.  Psychologically, it will do you well to remove yourself from what you are saying as you are documenting it.  This will allow you to truly capture what has been going on.

Get it all down, however upsetting it may be to recount some of the examples.

Later when you read it out loud, you will have greater perspective as to where you and your husband stand right now.  It will give you greater pause to think about why this has been going on so long and why it is critical it comes to an end.

In effect, you are going to document the ugly words and actions that your husband sometimes undertakes and that you find upsetting, belittling, even revolting.

At the end of your story, you are going to make a simple and reasonable proposal.  You are looking for him to commit that he will cease behaving in this manner.

Your story, about whatever abusive or mean-spirited behavior you have been subjected to by your husband, should be told by way of declarative statements.

Think of it as an open diary.

The idea is that as your story is read, he will visibly see the pain his words and behavior can cause.  In a way, it is an effort to help him empathize which is often a problem in these situations.

Use a tone that is objective and reinforces you love your husband very much, but don’t pull punches as to the negative behaviors he has exhibited in the past.

Remember, this document is something you want to be able to read to him and it is intended to make a big emotional splash such that your husband realizes you are deadly serious and keenly motivated to change the status quo in the marriage.

It  could start off something like this.  You can even give it a title for effect:

Return My Loving Husband To Me

I want my man back

1. What possesses my husband of all these years to shout obscenities at me when things are going wrong?  It injures me and our marriage. I love him so.  But I know his behavior must end.

2. Why does my sweet love speak to me with mean and accusatory tones?

3. What am I to do if my husband continues to question my suitability as his wife? I too often feel inadequate and underappreciated because of the way he talks to me.

4. What happened to the man who never took me for granted and spoke to me as his dearest, most respected companion?

5. What is my husband thinking inside when he makes so many belittling and negative comments about me and my capabilities?

I will stop there with my example.  But be sure to end it with a declaration that you want your marriage to be better.

You get the hang of it.

Your story could consist of 20 declarative statements or however many it takes to paint the picture of what is going on inside the marriage.

Consider this communication tactic only if all of your past efforts to get through to him has failed.  Perhaps this approach will be his wake up call, helping you both to move the marriage away from failure.

Why Can’t I Be Happy – Trapped in a Loveless Marriage

Do you ever find yourself wondering what the devil has happened in your marriage?

Are you trapped in a relationship where all the love has dissolved away?

If one was to try their hand on providing a loveless marriage definition, what might it be?

Is it when two married people who joined together to pursue a dream of living a life of happiness, raising a family, and doing those things that couples do –  discover that for any multitude of reasons that the special bond between them has been severed to such an extent that staying together seems futile?

trapped and out of love

I think that’s pretty close to capturing what happens in far too many marriages.

People who slowly fall out of love for complicated reasons (or sometimes simple, yet destructive reasons) will invariably grow apart as dissatisfaction takes root in their lives.  Why does this happen?

WAYS TO LIFT UP LOVE

Perhaps the two of you were really happy at one time, but events conspired such that neither of you are all that enthused any longer; such that you find yourself thinking way to often,”why can’t I be happy.”

I was talking to a lady the other day and she wanted to explore her feelings out loud.

“Chris, why can’t I be happy with my life again.  I feel trapped in a loveless marriage.  I think he feels the same, but neither of us are ever honest about what is really going down.”

Do You Feel Your Marriage Wasting Away?

wasting away with sadness

So what should one do when you are not happy in your marriage and you know your husband is unhappy with his life?  When two people are trapped in a marriage that seems headed nowhere, shouldn’t they do something about it?

I mean let’s say you are very dissatisfied with the state of the relationship.  Let’s assume all kinds of things are going wrong.

There is way too much fussing and fighting.  You find yourself too frequently gravitating to thoughts of separation or divorce or even having an affair with this guy that fawns all over you at work.

Perhaps it also clear to both parties that all the energy and love has been sapped out of their marriage.  Feeling trapped without love and with nowhere to turn to get relief – such a predicament can be extremely disheartening and disabling.

My client kept telling me, “my husband is miserable in our marriage and so am I, but neither of us really know how to get out of this unhappy state we find ourselves in.  It is much more than a terrible bad marriage rut.  We just really don’t even like each other anymore.”

She explained how the relationship just sort of  dissolved away.  They both knew things were not jelling quite right, even before the marriage.  But she figured her husband would be more loving and she would come to draw closer to him once they vowed to be together in marriage.  But day by day, month by month, things slowly soured and it seemed that whatever they tried, it didn’t matter so much.

Then the tears flowed as she continued to struggle with “why can’t I be happy in a relationship”.

It wasn’t the first time she had gotten close to a man, only to see the relationship unravel.

Now it was all happening again and she didn’t know whether to blame herself or her husband. “I try to be happy but I can’t. It is hard to keep faking it.  We sleep together, but we are hardly a couple.  He only shows affection, if you want to call it that, when we have sex.  Then it’s like he can’t wait to get up and away from me.”

Then she tells me about desperate feelings that sometimes grips and paralyzes her with indecision in the night. It comes about with her awareness that next to her lies her sleeping husband, who she doesn’t love, and all she can think of is getting away.  But when morning arrives, it is like those empty feelings are replaced with the necessity of getting ready to go to work and do and think about those other things.

IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP DISSOLVING AWAY?

No one really wants to be alone in life.

She explained that another thing she struggles with is the idea that moving out and away from him is scary.

She will ask herself, “Is it the right solution”?

Have I done enough on my end of this marriage?”   

She explained to me that she is not good at being by herself or without someone in her life that can make her feel safe and loved.  She knew that she wasn’t getting that from her current husband.  It was truly a loveless relationship and the walls were closing in on her.

But still, she feared striking out on her own.  Starting over was scary for her.

She kept saying, “why can’t I be happy single.  I don’t need these complications that marriage brings into my life.  What if  I leave to be on my own and then get depressed?  Where would I go?  Would he cooperate and move out?

What she was experiencing was a form of Break up Chaos.  That is what I call it.

breakup chaos

She explained that after running all these confusing breakup thoughts through her mind, she usually will become mentally exhausted and eventually just ends up caving in and going right back into the same loveless situation.

It’s not a do over.  Rather, what she is describing is akin to a negative relationship feedback loop.

She related a story of how she first knew it was all going south.

She was looking for information about relationships one day and came across a “why can’t i be happy quiz”.  She obviously was in the mood of searching for answers that might help her get a better grip on why she keeps meeting and marrying men that ultimately make her unhappy.

So by taking this loveless marriage quiz, she was hopeful it might lead her to a deeper understanding of why she couldn’t seem settle into a happy and satisfying relationship.

That is all she really wanted.

She wanted to be part of a man’s life and feel loved and cared for.  But she wanted him to respect her own needs.  She was a keenly intelligent woman who enjoyed her career and had opinions and interests in many areas.  So she wanted a man who understood her on a simple emotional level, yet also appreciated the complexity of who she was and what fulfilled her.

Well, she had not found that yet.  So by taking this marriage quiz on love and love lost, a part of her was hoping it would point to something that would spark an insight.  It wasn’t like she expected this little survey to be her savior and cause her to overhaul her view of marriage.

She knew what marriages could become and when it can be good and bad.  What she was looking for had more to do with confirmation of what she already knew deep inside.

You see, in her present marriage, just as in her previous relationship, the husband she settled down with was a poor match for her in couple of important areas.

She and her husband’s values did not align which is usually a predictor of marriage friction.

On top of that, they had vastly different interests.  He was super into sports and weightlifting.  Working out was his thing.  Her husband was a doer.  His thinking was more often one-dimensional and he didn’t have much patience or curiosity for what others were up to.  He was more into himself.

She on the other hand was very active in volunteer work in her community and engaged in the local political scene.  She enjoyed that work because it gave he purpose. Her family had encouraged her when she was younger to give back.

If those relationship mismatches weren’t enough to tax the marriage, the biggest hurdle for them both was their different views on displays of affection.

WHY WON’T HE PAY ATTENTION TO ME?

She loved to hug and kiss and he was often put off by any displays of such emotion in public and seldom (in her view) did he make her feel loved behind closed doors.

To put it mildly, their emotional connection was terribly strained which led to her view that she was stuck in a marriage without love.  There was little effort on her husband’s end to make her feel valued.

Confronting Your Reasons For Staying in a Loveless Marriage

hanging around too long in marriage

So why do people stay in such marriages if the wheels have fallen off?

Well, it is often for numerous reasons.

In a lot of these cases, the marriage fuse is short with both parties sometimes stuck in reverse.  The fear of the next incident unfolding such that it causes yet another marriage blow up lies close to the surface.

Some of the reasons why unhappily married couples don’t break up for sometimes the longest of times is the insecurity of  doing something big.

Most couples don’t want to rock the marriage if it is already wobbly.

They seek to patch things up, only to later rip off the bandages and fight it all out again.  Little fixes to solve big problems get your nowhere.

Sometimes it is the idea of being alone that is more frightening to some.  So they hold back on doing what part of their mind says they need to do.

Financial reasons also contributea to why men and women stay in loveless and sexless marriages.

By the way, how do you define a sexless marriage?

Is it one in which neither the husband or wife are making love with each other?

Is it the kind of relationship in which the very thought of having sex is completely ruled out because each party hates the other and have their own rooms?

Well, if that is what you are thinking, I think we largely agree.  But I also see a sexless marriage as one in which sex may happen on occasion, but it is rare and is followed immediately by regret.

Just the inertia of being married and being somewhat of a slave to your routines,  can cause couples to keep repeating the same mistakes, hoping that tomorrow will be a better day.

I know it sounds self-destructive that unhappy couples can so easily get locked into negative and hostile patterns.  It is as if they can’t bring themselves to end things, even when one or both feel there is little hope and the love between the pair has all but vanished. But this sort of thing happens every day.

Another somewhat irrational fear that keeps the madness of a troubled marriage moving forward is the couple may be afraid of what others might think of them.

“What will my parents think if I was to divorce him? 

“How will it look to my friends that we have been lying to them all these years about the real truth of our marriage?”

So how do you survive a loveless, sexless marriage?

When you know you are both unhappily married, what can you do to bring your misery to a close.

Should you rush out to the nearest bookstore and bury yourself into a bunch of loveless marriage quotes with the hope it will lift you up and move you to do something big?

I don’t think that is going to get you very close to the happiness you seek.

The way I see it, there are three tracks you can take.

3 Paths You Can Take To Break Out of  Your Damaging Relationship Cycle

3 ways out of relationship

1. You can say enough is enough and insist that something substantial occur which will  bring about meaningful change, such that you both can actively work on your marriage.  Taking a last stand not just for yourself, but for the very survival of the marriage is a worth endeavor.  In effect, with this approach you are drawing a line in the sand, saying if we can’t make  this work in x amount of time, then let’s agree we are only further damaging ourselves. And if that is the case, why wouldn’t you go your separate ways?  It is a touch question and an important one.  When do you finally call it quits?

2. Another relationship track you can take is to accept that you have done all the things you should have done to make it work.  And if that is true and yet the two of you are still carrying on as two loveless souls living together in the same house, then you should just face the music and accept the marriage is pointless.

3. A third path is to do little to nothing about your situation and remain in a pointless and loveless marriage, marking the days as they go by.  As I mentioned before, such an approach to a “screwed up marriage” is a sad and disturbing pattern taken by far too many women and men.  Obviously, I don’t want you taking this approach as it only leads to ruin.  But it is an easy “out” and I see couples go in this direction every day.

The 5 Signs That You Are Trapped in a Miserable and Loveless Marriage

trapped in marriage chaos

  1. Your husband (or wife) screams at you far too frequently and doesn’t seem to care how it affects you.  He resorts to such bullying tactics over and over again.
  2. You get up one day and realize years have gone by and your husband (or wife) has never told you he loves you and really meant it.  It is like you are brother and sister living together.  Connected by a bond, but love has long since disappeared from you lives.
  3. Your husband (or wife) constantly picks on you and tells you that you have no backbone and should leave the marriage.  He is practically encouraging you to end the relationship.  Why?  Because he is probably to cowardly to deal with the problems head on and wants to get out or keep the status quo.  Or maybe he is angry and wants to hurt you.  Unfortunately, some men take a perverse joy out of making their wife squirm.  Either way, such actions point to a highly dysfunctional relationship.
  4. Both of you are having affairs.  Your husband may flaunt his in the open as a way to hurt you as retribution for you own the affair (or likewise).   Cheating happens more often in marriages than you probably realize.  When both the husband and wife are involved in love affairs, it spells much more than big trouble for your marriage.  It suggests the very foundation of the relationship is broken.
  5. You both recognize that the marriage is bad for each of you and both of you talk frequently about it openly.  There is an admission that the passion is gone and so too is the love. While misery may not color each of your days, when a couple can honestly tell each other they just don’t feel the same way toward each other and conflict and unhappiness follows each of you around, it may be time to go down a different path.

5 Things You Can Do To Escape an Unhappy Relationship

moving away from broken vows

  1.  Once it is clear that your marriage is failing miserably, then it’s time to meet with your husband or wife and put all your cards on the table and come up with a separation plan.  Now the trick is knowing when it’s time, right?  You sure don’t want to quit the marriage just because you both feel trapped. There may be personal problems or illness or other issues that are contributing to your misery scale.  So make sure the two of you have made good faith efforts to resolve your problems before pulling the cord.
  2.  If the environment is hostile and toxic, just leave.  If there is physical violence of any kind, then leave.  If for example, your husband is abusing you verbally, telling you how worthless you are then walk.  If the marriage is in shambles from so many unresolved fights, then walk out and leave.  There is always an opportunity to later reconcile if that turns out to be something you want.  But there come a point in every marriage where enough is enough.  If your relationship is broken in half because of a hostile husband (or wife) then don’t stay.  Develop and execute your exit plan.
  3.  Sign up for marriage counseling with a plan and scheduled date to end the relationship if meaningful progress is not made.  Sometimes it is easy for you or your partner to agree to “work on things”.  Perhaps you are both committed to seeing a marital therapist. Maybe each of you agreed to a formal list of improvement actions.  And while both of you may be well-intentioned, the gravity and weight of past routines and patterns can cause you both to resume your old, unhealthy marriage behaviors. The way to break through this troubling pattern is by agreeing on a date in which you both have to concur with whether the marriage is back on a better track.  If not, then the action should be to separate.  This approach makes what the two of you are trying to achieve very real and you are more likely to hold yourselves and each other accountable for making progress.
  4. Tell your spouse that you are miserable and unhappy because the marriage is failing.  Explain you are not quite ready to give up, but you are on the edge and for your own sanity and whatever future the marriage has, you are going to take a long break.   Arrange with your best friend to go on a long, extended vacation.  Maybe you take a 10 day river boat cruise in Europe. Or you can go rent a cabin in Yellowstone and draw closer to nature and the beautiful wide open spaces.  Whatever it is, this is YOUR time to heal and get away from the misery that defines your marriage.  At the same time, your husband (or wife) will now have an opportunity to think about how important the marriage is to them as well. They may not like what you are doing, but will likely soon realize you are very serious and this decision of yours represents an important crossroads. They too can experience some healing.
  5. Don’t get into one in the first place.  I know, that sounds a bit arrogant.  But here is my point.  If your loveless marriage is falling all to pieces and misery follows you around, then chances are good that the relationship will end.  But now you will be on a new path.  And on this new path, you will have an opportunity to meet a new man or woman who can satisfy your needs – a partner that you are more compatible with on many levels.  So take your experience and make sure this time you choose better.  And you can do this because you will have gained so much wisdom from your prior experiences.  You will know your own needs better and the chances of having a very satisfying relationship with a special person best suited for you becomes real and achievable.

 

How To Avoid Fighting And Conflict In Your Marriage

Can you ever avoid conflict and fights from breaking out in your marriage?

Do you and your husband or wife have ground rules in place to minimize or eliminate the damage fighting can cause your relationship?

Why do fights happen and who is often to blame?

Once a fight has started, what can a couple do to turn a negative event into a positive one?

I plan on discussing all of these topics and more in the following guide about conflict in marriages.

You see, learning how to avoid fighting in your marriage is a big part of a fulfilling marriage, but what I also want you to walk away with after reading this article is what should you do when a fight breaks out.

Make no mistake, all couples will engage in some kind of argument during the course of their marriage.  Sometimes the question you might need to ask is what is needed to help you and your souse get the marriage back on track.  In the post below, I get into some advice for those couples looking to put an end to their conflict and jump start their marriage.

What Does My Relationship Need To Get Back on Track

Those who contend that fighting can be completely avoided are living in fantasy land.

I appreciate you visiting me here at My Marriage Helper to learn about how to successfully avoid fighting and conflict in your marriage.

So when this extensive Guide is completed, I hope you will check back to review often as it is probably one of the most comprehensive training modules on this topic.

Indeed, you will walk away with an awesome resource that my clients have raved about when I help them with the conflict they are experiencing in their relationships.

I call it the Conflict Resolution Skills List.  

I will get into all of the skills and competencies you need to have a bit later in this Guide, but first let’s go looking for the monsters!

Our Inner Monster

monster

All of us are subject to what I describe as the principle of the inner monster.

It is in our nature to engage in conflict at times.

I know, it sucks!

But it is what it is.

Where do we inherit this human condition?

Is it a survival mechanism?  Is it a deeply rooted flaw we all have?

Is it a natural product of our need to release jumbled up emotions?

Does conflict serve a constructive purpose?

Well, I suppose we could probe deeper into the fields of anthropology, psychology, evolution, and all the rest of the sciences that teach us about the human condition.

I could spend hours examining each of these questions.  But that is not what you are really here for.  This guide is not intended to be a tutorial on the history of human psychology or the underpinnings of conflict in the human species.

Wouldn’t that be boring??

OK – OK!…. so maybe we will touch on some of these things.  I do want you to know about how to avoid conflict.  I would like to teach you about the kind of adversarial situations that can crop up in your relationship.

For example, what if your husband seems to be always angry with you.  What can you do to turn that around.  I explore some ideas on that topic in the post below:

My Ex Husband is Angry at Me – What Should I Do?

Let’s just agree that throughout the course of human history, these exceptionally complex creatures that are “us” can and will engage in many forms of conflict ranging from flare-ups, skirmishes, fights, battles, and all out wars.

And yea…I am talking about our marriages!

Is a Fight Free Marriage Possible?

fighting

Yes, we can do something about it.

We can shape our emotions and our relationship such that the occurrences of fights are greatly reduced.

And we can learn to manage and tame the “monster” within us when fighting does break out.  But what I can’t teach you is how to totally eliminate conflict in your married life.

So if you come across some other relationship expert that is trying to convince you that can achieve a fight free marriage or adopt a zero fighting policy, don’t believe it.

Don’t buy into their flawed thinking.

Rather, I would encourage you to master the principles that can help you with minimizing fights.

While we can’t stop conflict from occurring entirely, we sure as heck can learn how to prevent much of it.  And once it has arrived at the doorstep of your marriage, you can learn to slam the door on its face.

Like any good survivalist trainer, I want to teach you about the things you can do once you are in a fight with your husband or wife.  Because after all, survival is what we are really talking about.

The core of this discussion is helping you develop the competences to ensure your marriage will survive and prosper in an environment in which various forces, some which you may never fully understand, can lead to conflict and fights.  So let’s get to work!

Fights and Conflict – Are They the Same?

war

It funny to me when I get this question from clients or visitors of my websites.

Don’t get me wrong.  It is actually a very interesting question.

It actually makes me laugh, but not at the people asking the question, but rather the so called relationship experts that dispense advice.

People want to know if they can have a relationship that is free from fighting.  No one really wants to fight with their spouse.

It it exhausting.

It is painful.

And it is almost always hurtful and destructive to some degree.

So it makes sense that couples will seek out help books or training courses that can presumably rid them of this most terrible behavior

It’s as if the couple is possessed, so if the demon can be cast out, all will be well in marriage land.  So these books and workshops, I suppose, are designed to exercise the the “fighting devil”.

These authors conjure up the spirit of their infinite wisdom and call upon the monster in our marriages to be exercised.

I can hear them now……

“Let the devil in your marriage be gone! Rise up satan and leave this loving relationship.  Be scattered to the wind”.

Ok, so maybe I am exaggerating just bit!

But you get the idea.

There are many thousands of loving couples desperately seeking help to end the fighting that tears at the fabric of their relationship.

So these folks are very motivated.

And when they walk by the bookstore or search the internet and discover books or workshops with titles like:

“Discover Marital Bliss:  Be Rid of Fighting Forever”

or

“A 7 Step Method To Stop Fighting With Your Spouse”

or

“A Foolproof Plan to Eliminate the Conflict that Tears at Your Marriage”

or my personal favorite…

“A Proven 17 Module Marriage Workshop – Zero Fights”

So as these good hearted married couples come across such titles, they naturally are attracted to the prospect that they too could have a fight free marriage.

They become overwhelmed with the desire to shell out hundreds of dollars in the hope that their marriage can be saved, permanently.

What often happens it what I call the old bait and switch.

These books and workshops make very bold assertions, but upon closer examination after one peels back the layers of what is really being said, it is discovered we are dealing with word play.

You ask, “what is do you mean by word play”.

Well, this what I meant earlier when I pointed out that I often get questions about whether fighting and conflict are the same things.

So, are they?  Of course they are!

A fight is a form of conflict.

A conflict, for all practical purposes, is a type of fight.

Remember, words are inventions of man.

They are in reality “mental constructs” and can be turned and twisted to mean a lot of different things for different people.

Unfortunately, given the slippery nature of words, they can be turned into weapons of deception.

So please be careful about what you read and what is promised.

If you come across a relationship expert or some kind of book or workshop that promises you that your relationship can be fight free.

Don’t believe it.

They will argue on one hand that they can teach you how to never fight with your spouse, but what they are really doing is splitting hairs in their use of semantics (i.e. words).

When you peel back the layers, what they are really saying is that your “dreadful fighting ways”  can be cured….maybe….sort of…. but you will still have conflict at times.

Look, I understand.

None of us like fighting with our spouse.

But would you rather cling to a pipe dream or going forward, look at your relationship in a pragmatic and realistic way?

So why did I tell you all of this?

Because it is important that you come into this discussion understanding that if you and your spouse are fighting, you are not unlike millions of other couples.

What I want to do is first help you with understanding the causes and effects of marital discord.

Understanding the cause and effects of something is the first step in helping you deal with it better.

Then I want to show you how to best deal with conflict once you find yourself within its grip.

Be assured, once you soak up some of these learnings, you will come out the other side a much stronger and informed person.

The 5 States of Mind We all Experience

loses their minds

Do you ever feel you are losing your mind?

I hope so!  I certainly lost my mind ages ago!

But in a good way…..a normal way.

Science has shown us to be a species whose mind is frequently shifting from various states.  If you and your spouse were always of the same mind, then I suppose you would be like a drone.

And that would be terribly boring.

Thinking and doing the same thing is certainly a path to a boring existence.

Fortunately, we all experience different states of mind.

Depending on the state of mind we occupy at any given time, we may be open to welcoming new ideas and ways of looking at things.

Or, we may be very closed minded and disagreeable. Then there are occassions such that if both you and your spouse are occupying a certain similar state of mind, the fighting spirit can rise up and lo and behold, you guys are fussing at each other again.

So what are these states of mind?

How do they influence our ability to cooperate and find resolution versus becoming angry and disagreeable?

Well, the science of the mind tells us there are five of them.  I took the liberty of creating a fun little infographic for you to illustrate the five states,

5 states of mind

What I am going to do now is go down the five stages one by one so you can get a better idea of how this works.

Sound good?

Ok, lets hop to it!

STATE ONE: Beta

beta

The first one is referred to as Beta (15 to 40 hz brain wave cycles per second).

This mind state is our most predominant way at experiencing the world around us.  Our brain wave cycle is  percolating at around 15 to 40 hz per seconds throughout the day.

So we are pretty alert. It is in this state that our logical and critical reasoning takes hold.

At higher brain wave cycles (e.g. 35 to 40 hz wave cycles per second), that part inside you which we will call your “self”….well, that part can become your nagging voice and stress or anxiousness can rule the day.

So do you see how we can sort of lose our minds.

In one moment we are logically thinking through a problem, then in the next moment our brain wave cycle can speed up and suddenly we are overcome with anxiousness.

The cause of this could be external in that something happened.  It could be something we saw or heard or smelled that triggered a reaction.

Or the change in the brain wave cycle could have been triggered by the propensity of our mind to sometimes just switch gears.

It’s like when you suddenly or even slowly become aware you are in a bad mood.  Your are not sure why or how you quite got there, but it’s like something deep at the subconscious level has taken control of your mental steering wheel.

I know, it’s all pretty weird if you think about it for a spell.

Yep, I am pretty sure we all are losing our minds now and again.

Are you starting to see how this can impact relationships?  Y

es, maybe, or not sure?

Well, hang on, we will dive a bit deeper.

STATE TWO: Alpha

alpha

We also have another mind state referred to as Alpha (8 to 13 hz).  This is my favorite place to be.

You might be thinking, “well, you are a guy, so of course you enjoy going alpha male”.

But it’s not what you are thinking.

We are talking about something different here.

You are probably in an alpha state of mind right now, with some Beta mixed in!  Alpha is described as a restful and peaceful mind state.

You are fully wake, but quite relaxed.

You may be reading, fantasizing or daydreaming.

Maybe your are working in the garden or getting in a favorite yoga position.

This is a mind state where creativity reigns supreme and peacefulness remains at your side.

People are usually quite imaginative during this state and experience a  heightened ability for visualization and learning.

Now I don’t know about you, but I rarely ever feel like fighting, fussing, or anything like that when I get lost in my alpha state.

It’s a nice place to be and this is where you and your your marriage partner can make some great inroads within your relationship.

This is where calm, collaborative dialogue takes place.

It is this state of mind that your marriage bonds can grow tighter as both of your are primed to accept and love many things about each other.

STATE THREE: Theta

theta

Now as we drop down to lower brainwave activity, we find ourselves in what is described as the Theta state.

The brain waves are cycling at about 5 to 8 hz per second.  You have now entered the world of deep relaxation.

It’s a very restful period and is comparable to meditative activities and possibly a very light sleep.

If conflict with your hubby or wife has created undue stress, then by golly take a trip to the world of Theta and you will be most obliged by my advice!

It is a powerful, personal and relationship building place to reside.

I should point out  that sliding down the brain wave activity scale such that you arrive at this serene place is not an entirely easy thing to accomplish.

It takes practice and discipline.  Those with experiences with Yoga or meditation can achieve this state of mind more readily.

If there ever existed a conflict or fight buster, then a Theta state of mind is pretty darn close.  Not only is it useful as a conflict preventative measure, but even after a fight, it can be extremely therapeutic to visit your Theta self.

Like I said, we can all get lost in different states of mind.

Learning to recognize them and guide ourselves to more healthy and enriching emotional states is the perfect medicine for warding off those ugly and disagreeable feelings that sometimes overcome us.

Of course, it takes two to tango. You can have your act and mind state fully together, but your spouse may not be in the same place.  He or she could be wanting to get it on.

Despite your reasonable and calm demeanor, your spouse may just default to that “not so nice place” and be dying to pick a fight.

I will be offering you some really helpful skills training and other techniques you both can employ to dampen that fighting spirit.

But let’s finish this discussion about our many mind states.

STATE FOUR: Delta

delta

Delta is yet another state of consciousness.

It operates at the 1-4 hz brain wave cycles per second range.

This is where you enter into deep, dreamless sleep or an extremely deep, meditative trance.

There is an interesting theory out there about fighting and sleeping.

Some believe that the best cure for an unresolved fight is to just sleep on it.

That’s right, just go to bed…. so say some advocates.

I am neutral on this tactic as I really can’t point to any overwhelming evidence that supports the notion or argues against.

It seems that the idea revolves around the concept that instead of arguing into the night, it is better to just turn off the lights and get a great sleep.

There is indeed a restorative power to sleeping.

Also, by putting some “time” between when you last argued and when you decide to take up the discussion again….the idea is you will both be in a better place….more calm…perhaps with more perspective.

Then there is the other possible benefit that by going to bed, the two of you will transfer your unsettled feelings to a healthy sexual encounter, thereby diffusing much of the tension.

The old kiss and make-up strategy!

STATE Five: Gamma

gamma

Ok, so before we leave this discussion of “mind states”, let’s at least finish with the most recent discovery.

It is believed that there is a 5th state of mind and it is called “Gamma” (i.e. over 40 hz).

It was only recently discovered.

Very little is known about this mind state, except that it is thought to be associated with bursts of insights and periods of extremely high information processing.

If only we could all master this sublime state of mind!

So Where is Your Mind at Any Given Time?

thinking

I cannot emphasize enough how complicated people are in the ways  they think about things.

Sometimes there appears to be no rhyme or reason to why we feel they way we do or behave a certain way.

Usually, our actions are a function of our mindset.  A relatively happy couple that ends up in knock down, drag out fight, may have been victims of incompatible mindsets.

And there are a lot of mindsets we can adopt at any given time during the day.

The good news is that a mindset is not permanent.

A mindset changes frequently based a variety of factors, some which we control, others for which we have little or no control.

Thank goodness none of us can read our spouse’s minds. We would be confused, shocked, inspired, humored, freaked out, relieved, worried, and just about everything else.

Heck, it’s even difficult to know our own minds!

I think it’s important to note that unlike robots, that are specifically programmed to act a certain way, we have very complex and highly variable reactions to the environment around as well as the internal workings of our mind.

Conflicts emerge from these places in our minds as we process the world around us.

So let’s drill a little deeper into the Machinery of the Mind in search of root triggers and solutions for conflict.

Our different mindsets can result in all sorts of collisions, some of which we may not be able to anticipate. These mindsets include:

  • Giving:  This is where we feel compelled to offer, selflessly, something to another.  In this mindset, you may freely offer your spouse a backrub without any expectation of getting something in return….except perhaps the loving pleasure you gain from being close to your husband or wife.  When both spouses are “givers” then we are looking at magical moments.  I truly believe giving is much more powerful than receiving because it is a strong component of building a connection and bond between the couple.  If both you and your spouse were of the mindset to spend the majority of your waking hours in the “giving” frame of mind, then would have little need for this Guide.  Indeed, I would be interviewing the two of you to learn how you’re able to spend so much of your time with such a benevolent spirit.

 

  • Taking:  Then we have the other side of the coin, “Taking”.  A “taker” is one who just wants everything his or her way.  These individuals are often controllers or selfish, requiring that everything revolves around them.  A taker will usually take advantage of a “giver”, with little consideration of ever returning the favor. When we are in this frame of mind, we are acting upon primarily selfish or impulsive tendencies.  I hate to admit it, but I am a relationship “taker”.  But so are you and everyone else.  Of course, our degree of “taking” varies from person to person and situation to situation.  Imagine having a married couple whose primary mindset is to be “takers”.  Do you think they will fight?  You bet they they will!  Cooperation is usually at the bottom of their preferred behavior.

 

  • Analyzing:  Again, we all live in the mindset of analyzing things.  Some more than others.  And with most things in life, too much of one mindset can stifle the relationship.  A marriage partner that is overly anal about things, fussing over the smallest of details….well, that is not an optimal mindset, unless both spouses are highly analytical and enjoy the tedious dissection of facts.  Please don’t think though that an “Analyzer” is a bad thing.  It is not.  We all need our analytic skills to make sense of things.  You are using some of those now to decipher the meanings of the things I am talking about in this Guide.  It’s important to understand that analyzing is one of many “mindsets” we can employ at any given time.

 

  • Stressing:  This is where the higher beta brainwave cycles can get us all wound up.  Think of a time when you marital partner came home, already predisposed to be easily annoyed or quick to anger.  It may have been an unusually stressful day in the workplace, so his or her mindset may be filled with tension. Fights often get started when one or both of the spouses are filled with anger, tension, anxiousness or,restlessness.  The most fertile ground for an all out battle of the sexes is to put a stressed out husband together with a stressed out wife…behold, a battle royale is born.

 

  • Withdrawing: Have you ever noticed that your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, or husband….whatever the case may be…sometimes will just disappear on you.  I mean they pull away and become emotionally detached.  This mindset of withdrawal is far from a healthy place for a couple. Avoidance is almost always an unhealthy state, though there are situations where short term avoidance can be helpful.  In general, if both husband and wife or withdrawing, retiring into themselves…look out…things are going down a very bad path.  Even when one of the marital partners frequently withdraws, we are dealing with a dysfunction within the marriage.  A relationship where both parties experience emotional withdrawal is a lot like separation under the same roof.  It’s reflective of a couple ready to give up, throw in the towel.  This is state that is sometimes followed by depression.  I see this happening in couples or in an individual spouse that is bone weary of  marital conflict and lack of resolution.  When two people are frequently engaged in an adversarial relationship, they are in dire need for help.

 

  • Creating:  -This is an example of an alpha state and is among my favorites.  This is a state of mind where you and your better half want to spend a lot of time. It works at both the personal level as you seek to become the best version of yourself.  And it is also exceptionally effective in helping marriages become more fun and fulfilling.   What  we are talking about here is imaginative collaboration with your marriage partner.  Marriage couples that make use of their creative juices are thinking out of the box.  They learn the value of experimenting with new things or solve their problems using creative solutions.  Creating is about continuous renewal and learning. This is the mindset where couples can more easily experience transformative problem solving and win-win solutions.

 

  • The Subconscious:  Ok, I am going to talk a bit about the subconscious and its role in marital conflict.  The subconscious resides deep inside a place that is off the conscious mental state radar. Freud is probably best known for his ruminations about the subconscious.  There is still quite a debate about this mind state, if we can call it that.  But most experts agree that it is a powerful and influential part of our minds.  It controls and regulates much of our automatic systems, like breathing and blinking and plenty of other bodily functions.  It is sometimes referred to as our automatic pilot.  It is also said to shape and form our actions and mental state.   In my view, the subconscious bridges with the alpha and theta states of mind.  It is in these states of mind that the subconscious can be tapped into and re-programmed, at least that is what many believe.  Tap into your subconscious and create your reality.  Our reality is our thoughts, beliefs, and the mindset is thereby formed.

Putting Your Mind To Work

working dead

So what does it all mean?

Well let me tell ya!

First, I want you to learn to recognize your mindsets, both your own and your spouse’s.

It can be easy to get locked into certain negative or destructive ways of thinking about things.

It can slowly, over time become the norm.

After a while, each of you can retreat into your favored mindsets and that is not always a good thing.

Habits and routines can eventually take over your life.

That is not a problem, unless these habits and routines are unhealthy for the relationship.

So audit your mindsets.

Call them out.

Reward those which are healthy and benefit your marriage.

Do so by simply offering positive reinforcement such as, “I just love your positive and creative attitude.”  Change those that are leading you down the path of conflict.

A little later in this training guide, I will walk you through some skills development that will help you recognize the behaviors you should encourage and those that should stop.

I will provide you with a lot of tactical ideas and tips.

Adverse Effects from Fighting

nerds fighting

There really is not much good that come from fighting.

Now, there are some professed relationship experts out there that I am sure will try to convince you that fighting is a good way of getting things off your chest and releasing tension or whatever.

I just don’t buy into that reasoning.

Sure, some tensions can get released in the process of fighting with your mate, but not always.  Sometimes the tensions and resentments grow larger, particularly if there is no satisfactory resolution.

No, I think fighting is almost always a withdrawal from the relationship “bank”. People who advocate that fighting is a good thing are deluding themselves.

When I think of a healthy marriage, I imagine an emotional bank of goodwill as a measuring stick.  If your emotional balance sheet is healthy, then your marriage is strong.

What goes into your relationship account?

Every day you can deposit many little and large acts of love, trust, kindness, positivity, and appreciation.

When you fight, you are making a withdrawal.

When you fight, the trust between each other erodes.

When you fight, you end up perpetuating negative, unhealthy habits and routines.

The most powerful thing I could ever teach you is that Kindness rules.

Marriages that are filled with kindness are enormously successful.

Common sense reveals this principle to be true.

But it has proven to be validated through numerous studies of successful couples over the past decades.

Couples that fight injure the marriage.

The relationship is backpedaling when tempers rise and words and actions turn nasty and hurtful.  

For every serious fight, it takes 5 positive interactions with your husband or wife to make up the damage.

Bad Behavior Leads to the Worst of Fights

bad behavior

I have learned over the years that couples fight about many things.  But not all fights have the same weight in terms of impact.

Some are worse than others because of the topic.

Most fights stem from small issues that were triggered by someone’s emotional state.

The topic itself may hardly even rise to a level of importance in the scheme of things.

But the fight can grow out of control and still cause damage.

The worst fights are those that usually deal with very serious topics.  The fight itself can get very destructive and in these cases, the resolution may not be easy to come by.

So as you can see, fighting with the person you love is a complicated web of things.

The severity and duration and damage of the fight can be a function of the mental state you or your spouse may possess at the time and it can be affected by the actual topic the two of you are fighting about.

If I had to wrap it up in a nice, tidy little package, I would say that the worst and most destructive of fighting triggers would be the Four A’s

  • Anger
  • Affairs
  • Addictions
  • Acting like an Ass

And what is ironic is that these top four triggers that lead to bad fights or also 4 outcomes from fighting.

Stay away from the 4 A’s.

Fighting Bad – Learn to avoid Love Busters

bad fights

We all get busted now and again.  Ok, now I am not talking about drug busts or things like that!  But sometimes we do or say things and if the Love Doctor was watching us, they would bust us.

Yes, I know, we are all human and so sometimes we say and do really stupid things.  But I think it’s important to call them out.

I mean really, out loud.  If we say and do something stupid, own up to it and tell your wife or husband what you did.

Trust me, they will appreciate your honest, self appraisal much more than they may ever let on.

So what are these love busters that can create conflict.  Well, let’s start with one of the jewels of the conflict crown…selfishness.

If you take a hard look at your marriage and see that selfish behaviors rule, then it should be no surprise that the relationship has turned adversarial.

What I tell my clients who are seeking help with getting their marriage back on track is to participate in the “selfLESS Game”.

For an entire day, do nothing for yourself, but everything you can think of for your spouse.

Then on the following day, it’s your spouse’s turn.

They are to put aside their own wants and desires and genuinely become the selfLESS person you dream for them to be.

It may sound a bit silly, but try it.

Afterwords, sit down with your spouse and each of you talk about your feelings. Discuss what you think you may have learned from the exercise.

You will be surprised at the power of selflessness, particularly as it applies to the person offering it.

Once the two of your are engaged in conflict, what you both need to get away from are the angry outbursts and disrespectful comments that can so easily creep into the fighting dialogue.

Fighting bad equates to love busting.

When you or your spouse succumb to insult rituals or condescending and accusatory tones, guess what….you are a love buster.

Research psychologist, John Gottman, has done some amazing work in what makes great marriages tick.

He is the individual who put a face on what I consider is the long pole in the tent when it comes to the most successful of marital behaviors.

In his research work he came upon a great wisdom…..specifically, kindness and positivity rules.

Relationships that perform very well and survive for the long haul, observe a ratio of good to bad interactions of 5 to 1.

Learn to Negotiate (avoid winner vs loser outcomes)

i won

Another important skill you need to sharpen is the art of negotiation.  What you want to avoid during the course of a fight is the typical winner versus loser outcome.

Trust me, if you are fighting, you both have already lost.  You are both responsible for the withdrawals being made from your “relationship trust bank”.  So follow this simple plan:

  • Call a timeout.  You both need some time to settle down.  When one is emotional, one is seldom logical or cooperative.
  • When you reconvene, look for win-win solution(s)
  • Recognize conflict for what it is….a losing proposition for both of you.
  • Seek to understand the other’s point of view
  • Brainstorm together for a solution. Learn to shift your paradigm to come to a joint agreement

If after the fight, both marriage partners remain upset, angry, bitter, or resentful, then you both are DOUBLE losers.  If you both choose to fight, then you have a responsibility to end the conflict with a clear and equitable resolution.

That does not mean you walk away after the fight, promising not to repeat your mistake.

Both of you need to articulate and understand why the fight occurred and resolve whatever the problem is.

Anything short of that, leaves the fuse in place.

And I bet you know how easy it is for a fuse to be set off again.

Let me let you in on a trick of truth.  You might be wondering, “Gee Chris, it all sounds good, but how do my spouse and I accomplish what you described above”.  Here is the trick.

There is no way you will accomplish what I described, unless you sit down with your husband or wife BEFORE a fight occurs and discuss proactively that these are the things you agree to say and do.

You should also agree on the things neither of you should say or do during a fight.

And remember, a fight can last a little as 15 seconds or as long as many, many minutes…hopefully never for hours.

Now, I have several more ideas for couples to include in this proactive discussion.  So hang on, more help is on its way.

Are Fights Learning Experiences?

no try

You bet they are!

The first thing I hope you learn is how terribly injurious it is when couples fight.  They end up robbing the love bank and those wonderful deposits go missing.

When all the dust settles, husband and wife have an opportunity to take their relationship lemon and turn it into lemonade.

Fights can teach you something about yourself.

It can help you with understanding your state of mind.

It can teach you about your spouse’s state of mind.  You can learn to be more empathetic to the needs of your spouse and vice versa.

As fights occur, you have an opportunity to apply conflict resolution skills to manage them.

As time goes by, you will get better at employing these skills if you are committed.

If the frequency, duration, and severity of fights worsen within a marriage, then both parties are in real need of a conflict skills training.

Learning to Fight Fair – 25 Skills on How to Keep the Peace

not fair

As with all things that require some expertise, you need to invest time to develop your skills.

A marriage couple must learn to be competent in many areas, include how to keep the peace.

This is probably the most complete Conflict Resolution Skills List you will come across.

Like I said earlier, as much as we don’t want it to, conflict will come knocking on the door.

Sometimes it will just bust right on through when you least expect.

So you best be prepared to deal with this unwelcomed intruder.

Here are several skills, ideas, or tactics you can make use of.  Most of them you can implement right away.

Others may require a bit of practice before the couple masters these competencies.

If you and your spouse are committed to doing something about your fussy and fighting ways, then let’s get your mindset right.

It’s time to do some analyzing and learning.

Are you ready?  Well, let’s get on with it!  Oh, by the way, the items on this list are in no particular order.

Oopps….one more thing!

If you want a much more comprehensive discussion of the following skills and tactics that make up this Checklist, then read my upcoming post here on My Marriage Helper, titled, “Couples Training: Conflict Resolution Game Plan”.

Given that this is such an important topic, I have turned this skills checklist into an Assessment Tool that helps couples with understanding where they stand and what they can do to improve.

You are getting a great tool here!

Typically, I charge my coaching clients $400 for a 1 hour session (phone/email).  I provide them with the Assessment tool, answer all of their questions and put together an individualized game plan.

They love it, because it really helps.

I am now making it available to my website visitors at no cost.

Ok, finally, here is the Tool in the checklist format, but I encourage you to also check out the post I referenced above for greater insight.

Remember, these skills are to be employed during the fight.  You don’t have to use all of them to resolve a fight.

Conflict Resolution Skills Checklist for Couples

  1. _____Take a break during the conflict.  It’s time for each of you to cool off.
  2. _____Admit when you are wrong.  It moves you closer to resolution.
  3. _____Show empathy and it better be real!  It shows you are really listening.
  4. _____Find the humor in the situation, without belittling or using sarcasm
  5. _____Just shut up and reach out and embrace your lover.  Touch gently.
  6. _____Outlaw the word “but”.  It’s a non-starter and sets back the conversation
  7. _____Utilize the 5 second Quiet Rule frequently and take a deep breath
  8. _____Keep your gestures slow moving. Slow down the cadence of your voice
  9. _____Dial down the volume of your voice. Make it more quiet than normal
  10. _____Keep things in perspective. Every second you fight, you are making withdrawals from the marriage trust bank.
  11. _____Be the strong, quiet one. Take it on the Chin. Let the person unwind to release anger and emotion. Then talk.
  12. _____Get in touch with your “real” feelings.  An imposter may have temporarily taken you over during the heated discussion.
  13. _____Create a clear moment – when the smoke has cleared, agree you are both losers in the fight. No one can be declared the winner. Even if your spouse is wrong, allow them to salvage self-respect in that moment.
  14. _____Move to another environment to change the vibe – After cooling off, agree on a time and place to discuss problem.  Choose a setting that is comfortable.
  15. _____One fight at a time. Stick to the topic at hand
  16. _____Don’t talk over each other. When it’s your turn to talk, describe the issue honestly and clearly. Generalizations and blanket statements create openings for divisiveness, so avoid them.
  17. _____Don’t speak in riddles or camouflage the real issue.  Your spouse is not a mind reader.
  18. _____No hitting below the belt or fouls. Don’t escalate things by yelling, using aggressive posturing, raising sensitive topics.  Don’t label or make personality based statements about your spouse (eg. “you are awful, depressing, boring, crazy, neurotic, etc)
  19. _____Strive for balance in your discussions. Ensure each person has equal time to make their points and share their feelings.  Don’t dominate the dialogue.
  20. _____Utilize communication feedback loops to slow down chaos, anger, and heated atmosphere.  Both of you should repeat what the other said and show empathy and understanding.
  21. _____Agree to a No Fight List.  After the fight, there must be a solution…a path forward.  Vow you won’t allow the topic that triggered the fight to be a subject of a future fight.  Put it on the No Fight List.  Post on the bedroom closet door and let it be your reminder not to damage the relationship
  22. _____Don’t talk about your fights with others
  23. _____Suspend fighting if alcohol is involved
  24. _____Never, ever succumb to physical violence. If you feel the urge or you are afraid, leave the area immediately.
  25. _____Allow for crying.  It’s an honest and healthy release of emotions and can diffuse conflict. But don’t fake crying.

Click Here To Download The Checklist In PDF Format