Ok, to begin, let me just clarify that I am NOT trying to put a damper on your holiday cheer and just like everything else I discuss here on AwakenYou in your marriage, I am creating awareness for you so that you can take deliberate steps towards that which you want. When I pose the question “Is divorce in your future?” I want you to listen to what I talk about today and decide whether this exemplifies your situation and if it does then listen with curiosity so you can build hope instead of despair.
The truth is that ALL of these predictors could be present in your relationship BUT if you become aware of them and choose to take steps to eliminate them you are well on your way to preventing divorce in your future.
Today what I want to do is talk about the six predictors of a relationship headed towards divorce and what else to look for if these indicators aren’t present in your marriage, then I want to share the key to reviving or divorce-proofing your marriage. Over the next several weeks I am going to do a deeper dive into each of these six divorce predictors so that you can have time every week to get a better understanding of the predictor and whether that element is present in your marriage.
To begin I want to talk about relationships in general. Most of us are taught relationship dynamics through our childhood relationship teachers and we carry those dynamics into our marriage, each of us has learned different ways to manage and interact within our relationships. With that said, conflict and the inability to resolve the conflict alone is not an indicator of divorce because most marital arguments cannot be resolved. Marital arguments are often rooted in fundamental differences in lifestyle, personality, or values. More importantly, as we will discover, it is about how the argument starts, how each partner treats each other during the conflict, and how they attempt to repair it before it runs out of control.
The six indicators that divorce is in your future
Dr. John Gottman of the Gottman Institute has dedicated his life to figuring out how to help couples create successful relationships. He realized early in his practice that the conventional way of counseling couples through conflict management wasn’t creating success over the long haul so he spent years studying indicators that the relationship wouldn’t last and analyzing what went right in happy marriages. These following indicators come from his research:
- Harsh Start-Up: when discussions start in a negatively where at least one is blaming the other
- The Four Horsemen: particular types of negative interactions within these discussions which are criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling
- Flooding: psychological and physical overwhelm created when one partner’s negativity is extremely intense and sudden, causing the other to shut down
- Body Language: visible changes on the outside but more importantly internal physical changes like increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Failed Repair Attempts: repair attempts are efforts made to prevent an increase in tension during a discussion
- Bad Memories: when a couple looks back at the history of their relationship and only remembers the negative
Gottman goes on to share that there are four final stages that signal the death bell of a relationship which are:
- The couple seeing their marital problems as severe
- The process of talking things over seems useless so each partner trys to solve problems on their own (independance)
- They lead parallel lives (independance)
- Lonliness sets in
In this we see that when the couple goes from the intial phase of dependance to this place of “independance” they discover how lonely it really is. The couple who is dedicated to figuring out their relationship has so much hope, more hope than when only one in the partnership is willing to share this dedication. Often when the couple gets to the lonely stage of independance one of the partners seek something different, it might be a different relationship outside of the marriage or it might be individual “soul-searching” and this is how we get started in AwakenYou. We focus on getting to know ourselves better as individuals, we learn how to accept ourselves and strengthening the relationship with ourselves and as we do this work our interactions with our partner starts to change. With this dynamic change you bring to the relationship, your partner will also start to soften into the relationship which takes the relationship to a certain level and then at this point the person doing the work on themselves is better able to express their desires, inviting the partner to join in the journey. It is at this point where the relationship can take off and grow or where one may choose to literally take off and separate from the marriage.
With all of this said there is one more indicator of an impending bad outcome. For many couples these above six indicators are absent in the relationship yet one, or both, of the individuals, have emotionally checked out of the marriage. What might be good to know is that when couples don’t seek help after discovering that they have these indicators present, a split comes during the first 5-6 years whereas couples without these indicators but are emotionally disconnected will split on average after 16 years. The other truth is that though many leave the marriage by seeking a divorce there are also others who leave the marriage by staying together but leading separate lives and this doesn’t need to be the fate of your marriage.
To wrap all of this up and to put a bow on it, over then next few episodes I am going to dig deeper into each of the indicators of divorce so that you can increase your awareness and start creating some change in how you show up with your partner. Beyond that I want to share that cleaning all of this up will help create a new dynamic between you and your partner which then can lead to further healing in your relationship. Once you learn how to successfully handle your disagreements, you can then start working on how you interact when you aren’t in disagreement.
Most of my clients are in the camp of still living together but leading lonely lives. They desperately want connection, don’t really want to leave the relationship but don’t know how to create something different and that is when they come to me. They are frustrated and desperately want to improve their relationship. They want to feel loved and have fun again and where we start is with doing that work within themselves while they work on becoming the partner they want their partner to be. Once they’ve worked through how they work through conflict they get to start working on the process of getting to know each other again and this is where they can start rebuilding a romantic and passion filled relationship we all dream that our marriage will provide.
I am a life coach who works with individuals to break down relationship barriers by awakening their true selves. My process isn’t about changing your partner; it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your marriage. If you’re ready to take your life and your love relationship to the next level, then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s decide together if this is your next step to creating the life you’ve been dreaming of.