Couples intent on rebuilding their marriage need to identify the REAL problem that often hides beneath the surface. Emotions are great—we’re human after all—but they can easily prevent us from figuring out what’s at the core of the relationship issues.
Ficticitous Case study:
For example, fictitious couple John and Suzy are on the brink of divorce after 25 years together. Suzy feels neglected and she suspects John has begun an online affair. For his part, John can’t understand why Suzy wants to check his phone or why she’s constantly refusing his sexual advances. Any attempt either one makes to get to the bottom of the issue normally explodes into a full-blown argument.
Let’s dig deeper:
John and Suzy don’t get far in their discussion because they’re focusing on how they are each feeling instead of the underlying problem. As frustration and mistrust increase, finding the core issue becomes more difficult.
Step back from your emotions as much as possible. Think of it like when you’re going to the doctor. The doctor takes your symptoms into consideration but his real focus is the diagnosis—not the symptoms. Once he identifies the disease, it becomes infinitely easier to prescribe an effective treatment.
Action steps you can take:
- By yourself, make a list of what you think your spouse is feeling.
- Ask yourself what you see as being the core problem(s) in your relationship and write that down.
- Have your spouse do the same thing.
- Swap notes and see if you both agree on the issue. If not, that’s where you want to start the conversation.
For example: John identified the core problem as “a lack of trust” whereas Suzy said the issue was “cheating.”
Ultimately they realized that Suzy was facing emotional insecurity because of hormonal/physical changes and John felt he wasn’t being respected. Remember, symptoms (how we feel) are often different from the core issue(s).
- Once you’ve got a starting point, commit to building positive change one step at a time. Together, discuss what both of you will do to rebuild your marriage.
You can do it!