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Thursday, May 20, 2010

When Relationships And Marriages Go Wrong in Mid Life – Steps To Bring It Back From The Brink

Guest post by Dana Flannery

The two most common times for a marriage to break down is after the birth of the first child, and as the last child leaves home.  Sex, infidelity, boredom, finances or even just the endless towels on the bathroom floor, marriages and relationships go wrong for so many reasons. The mid-life breakdown is often the most complicated and difficult as it corresponds with such a tumultuous time in your life.  No matter what the reason, once you start to see the signs, you need to take action to turn it around before it’s too late.

  1. Marriage Counselling.  It can be a hard task to get your partner to agree to marriage counselling but, if necessary, you can attend alone.  A good marriage counsellor is not so concerned with who did what to whom, but more interested in resolving your communication and emotional problems.  Marriage Counselling can be tough, you will be forced to examine your own behaviours (and your partner will be required to examine their behaviours, too) to make the changes necessary to get back on track.  Often the counsellor will see you together (if both parties are willing) and then individually before helping you to resolve your issues.

  1. Use the “I feel, I need” method of conflict resolution.  You may feel like you are constantly asking for help and constantly being ignored.  This is, more often than not, a communication problem rather than meanness or apathy on the part of your partner.  The “I feel, I need” method is a proven way to cut down on communication problems and is a favourite of cognitive psychologists.  All conflict resolutions should be structured as “I feel (emotion), I need (solution to problem).  For example, “I feel stagnated, I need more freedom to explore my interests” – not, “This marriage bores me”.  Once you commence using this structure you may learn that you have more trouble identifying your emotions than you once thought and this can be a particularly helpful way to manage excessive anger or frustration. 
  1. Listen.  Don’t just hear what your partner is saying; listen to how he/she is feeling.  Try to determine if he/she is really upset about a single incident or if it is a sign of an underlying frustration.  For example, your partner may say “I am sick of you working all weekend” may simply mean, “I feel sad because I miss you and love you and want to spend more quality time with you.” 
  1. Have a dirty weekend!  It may sound a bit ridiculous but revisiting the excitement and fun of your early sexual relationship will bring back happy memories and fond feelings.  Don’t be afraid to try something new in the bedroom and ask your partner what they would like.  Ensure plenty of give and take and spend time ensuring both you and your partner thoroughly enjoy the experience. 
  1. Find something new that you have in common.  Take time out to try new hobbies and interests that you can share.  This will go a long way to introducing new conversation and renewed enthusiasm for each other’s company. 
  1. Forgive.  Agree to wipe the slate clean for both parties and put in place strategies to avoid ending up in the same unhappy place again.  This is going to be tough but just keep telling yourself that if it’s worth saving, it’s worth a little sacrifice – for both of you. 
Even if you are currently happy, it never hurts to put some measures in place to save your relationship or marriage in the future.  Sex, Love, Relationships, Marriages – it’s all very complicated, sometimes it just takes a little extra work to bring back that spark.
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About the Author:  Dana Flannery is a happily married Marriage Celebrant who has helped many couples who have survived bad patches and gone on to lovingly renew their wedding vows.  Find out more about Dana at Brisbane Civil Celebrant
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