When you are experiencing discontent with a nagging problem that hasn’t been resolved, it can make you feel like you’re alone in a battle. It’s like your spouse doesn’t even get it, either. Or maybe more like they refuse to admit it.
Thinking about that one quality or thing about your spouse can even bother you to the point that you wonder if the only solution is to end the relationship. Before you get too far on that thought train, slow it down. There are things to consider if you want to get through the issue as an intact couple.
The first thing is to keep the commitment to the marriage in the forefront of your mind.
You are not alone even though you may feel like you are; you have a spouse that you want to stay committed to while working out the persistent problem. When you start brainstorming solutions, make your commitment the framework to operate within. That way, you will be able to keep your focus on creating solutions that honor your marriage. This keeps you out of the trap of thinking that if they don’t change, the only other option is to leave. Chances are good that your spouse is interested in moving forward with you in the pursuit of a happier life; they are just as confused as to how to achieve it in a way that feels good to them.
The second thing you can do is think of the problem as a challenge to the marriage, not to you personally.
Doing this helps you to reframe the problem so that you and your spouse can be on the same team, trying to make the marriage stronger. How does your reaction to the perceived problem impact the relationship? Always start with yourself and then expand the conversation from there. You can seek to be enlightened by your spouse’s point of view. From there, you can ask more questions. How do each of your actions affect the marriage, and how can you work with your spouse to choose better ones?
This leads to the third thing to consider- you can’t solve a problem until you fully understand what is causing it.
Getting the whole picture allows you to evaluate the problem accurately rather than relying on your assumptions. Let go of your side of the story and listen with an unbiased mind. When you ask questions or listen to the answers, find the truth in what your spouse is saying. This shifts the conversation to one of vulnerability and connection. Until then, your spouse can perceive any question as an attempt to gather evidence of how they are wrong. This shift may occur in one conversation, but it may take more time if trust has been lost. You can gain surprising insights from honest conversations when space is made for these types of interactions. You may find that your perspective changes and what was a problem isn’t a problem anymore. You may find that the degree to which you thought it was a problem decreases and becomes tolerable. You may find that what you thought was a solution isn’t the right solution after all.
Lastly, don’t be married to a specific solution- be married to your spouse.
When you are sold on a specific thing that your spouse must stop doing or start doing in order to preserve the marriage, you stop honoring your spouse. You start honoring your ideas instead and feel/ express conditional love. This brings a repelling energy to the marriage. Not being married to a specific solution means that you are willing to try whatever solutions your spouse also agrees to try.
It’s the process of finding solutions that makes the marriage stronger, not the solution.
When you focus on the process, you are creating a life together. If you solely focus on solutions, you are creating a transactional relationship. In a transactional relationship, a small change feels like it’s not enough or it’s not what you wanted.This often creates a winner or loser dynamic. In a process-focused relationship, even a small change feels like a step in the right direction. This sparks hope and creates love.
Hope and love are what makes solutions possible.