Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What is a Marriage Crisis?


A marriage crisis occurs when one or both partner's commitment to the marriage becomes uncertain. A marriage crisis is different from marital problems, which confront two committed partners. With With one partner's commitment uncertain, the path to restoring the relationship is quite different than anything you'll find in most "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" type books. Responding as though your partner is still committed to the relationship can actually deepen the crisis, rather than alleviating it.

A crisis in a marriage is different from a marriage headed to divorce. A crisis in the relationship can be a point at which the marriage improves, depending on how the crisis is managed. Intense, overwhelming emotions are normal in a marriage crisis, but acting on these emotions can spell danger, often leading to decisions you'll later regret. Trying desperately to hold onto the marriage - or completely torching it in an impulsive "take that!" approach--via emotional outbursts, spending sprees or sexually destructive behavior, can lead to self-harm and harm to the marriage.

A marriage headed to divorce is motivated by hopelessness, the belief that the marriage cannot be satisfying. A marriage crisis is characterized by ambivalence, strongly competing emotions and desires. Ambivalence is different from confusion. Confusion can be resolved with additional information, but ambivalence is a tougher nut to crack. That's why the ambivalent spouse appears to be stuck on a fence, trying to decide on which side lies happiness and satisfaction. As one side starts to feel more attractive, there's a counterbalancing tug in the other direction as doubts dim what once was attractive. The fear of coming to regret whatever decision is made can be paralyzing. Stress builds as the fence becomes a more and more uncomfortable place to be, while a clear choice remains out of reach.

1 comment:

Unloved said...

I have to agree with you a marriage in crisis can test the strength of the commitment to the breaking point.