“I didn’t know that my bubbly, fun-loving, and larger-than-life wife would ever have an anxiety disorder. She was a positive person, in her old life, before the “incident” happened to her. She was mugged right outside our home one night almost two years ago, and the animal also stabbed her in the belly. My wife was carrying our 4-month-old baby inside her at that time and lost him. I was too selfish to believe that she’d be fine just because she told me not to worry about her.”…
Marriage isn’t a one-way express ticket to a happily ever after. It is a road that is continuously in construction. New paths are created, but there will always be bumps up ahead. Sometimes you’re left facing with a dead-end and with no way of knowing where to go or what to do.
In relationships, conflicts are inevitable. However, when not adequately dealt with, it can cause a lot of stress on the marriage, threatening its stability. Challenging and stressful issues will arise, and it is essential to know the causes behind it and how it affects a marriage.
Causes Of Stress In A Marriage
Most wives worry about financial support. Under difficult economic circumstances, couples can easily break down under pressure. Paying for bills, putting food on the table, childbearing and rearing, and even education; everything involves money. Issues like these can easily spark “bad blood” between partners.
Lack of communication
A relationship is built on trust and connection. Without communication, misunderstandings and arguments can arise. The way a couple sees each other may also change negatively and increase the chances of separation and divorce. It becomes more difficult for a couple to see problems clearly and they are blinded on how to resolve it.
Having children is a gift, but it can also add stress to the marriage. Having kids means changing lifestyles, routines, and even habits and behaviors. Miscarriage or death of a child is also a traumatic event. Moreover, if you have children, there is always the need to be sensitive, considerate, and understanding at all times, which can be very mentally taxing.
Work demands a lot, whether it’s part-time or full-time. Pressure may come from not being able to spend precious time with family or being irritable at the end of a hard day’s work. It takes a toll on one’s emotional and physical health.
There have been instances where one wakes up and realizes their partner beside them is too different. When you’re married, you understand things and learn more about who your partner is as a human. Being married comes with a lot of changes, which may seem like a whiplash of reality for some couples when they see that their partner isn’t who they thought they were.
Impact Of Stress On Your Marriage
First of all, conflicts will arise. Irritation that comes with stress is often taken out on other people. In relationships, arguments happen because of a slight change in tone or words said out of frustration. The intimacy between the couple can also weaken.
Couples may often grow sick of each other’s presence or adapt the mindset of “we’re only in the same space.” The worst effect of chronic stress in a marriage can be separation or divorce. The lack of communication increases conflict, and negativity can influence or push the couple to seek a divorce. It’s imperative for the couple to be able to see problems clearly and solve them together, but with stress plaguing both, it is a long shot.
Don’t Let it Wait
If you think that you and your partner are under stress or feeling the pressure, it’s essential to reach out to others. Marriage or relationship counseling is an excellent way to find alternative measures to deal with the stress. A couple is supposed to be a team, and it’s essential to go through hurdles together while they walk hand-in-hand every step of the way.…
Sex plays a huge role in an intimate relationship. It is a human’s way of expressing their intimate emotions to their respective partners. However, there comes a point in most couple’s lives wherein the intimacy spell fades out, leaving the relationship utterly sexless. This issue, of course, affects not just the physical contact between the couple but their relationship as well.
“Having a sexless marriage can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.” — Lisa Thomas LMFT
How Does Lack Of Intimacy Affect Both Partners?
For men, intimacy issue is a big problem. It can lead to heightened frustration, anxiety and even trigger insecurities. It can put considerable damage in their self-perception. Between a man and a woman, the man is more sexual. Thus, this is a big issue for them.
For women, intimacy problem is also a dilemma. But the impact is not as profound as that of men. Women can divert their sexual urges to simple emotional connections with their partners and be contented with it.
Can A Sexless Marriage Survive?
Every married couple is unique. There is a significant number of marriages that have overcome sexless relationships and remain married to each other. They are still together due to culture, duty, religion, and obligation. In some cultures, they believe that marriage is more than just sex and that is why they choose to be together than be overwhelmed with physical problems.
How Does One Cope In A Marriage Without Sex?
Intimacy drops and rises. There will come to a point in one’s life wherein sex life becomes a chore and later on becomes stagnant. But there’s always hope in every situation. People have different ways of coping with this type of situation.
“Couples in sexless marriages offer the Anti-Magi gift; they figure out what the other most desires and withhold it.” — Laurie J Watson LMFT, LPC
Tips To Fix A Sexless Marriage
Just like any other issue, sexless marriage can be fixed. However, effort should be exerted in both parties. Below are some tips to rekindle back the fire into your sex life:
- Determine the factor that gets you and your partner into that situation.
- Have an open conversation with your partner.
- Don’t play the blame game. Instead, ascertain what you have contributed to the issue.
- Control your temper.
- Make a goal that you and your partner will fix the intimacy problem.
- Start with the primary physical contacts like holding of hands, etc.
- Tell your partner how you miss him whenever you are apart from each other.
- Do things together – talk, be in each other’s arms while watching a movie, etc.
- Make yourself attractive to your partner. Get fit and maintain a healthy physique.
- Do not complain too much, nag, or be too clingy.
- Share your fantasies with your partner, whether they are sexual or not.
- Leave old issues, bitterness, resentments, and unpleasant memories behind. Treat your partner with love, affection, and kindness.
- Forgive your partner for his shortcomings.
- Make an effort in serving your partner.
- Be adventurous, experiment some sex games.
- In every success, celebrate.
- Have time to get involved in marriage or couple retreats.
- Spend holidays and weekends with lots of memories and fun things to do.
- Recall the times when you both were so into each other. Bring that passion back to present times.
If you need more guidance or if you feel that nothing works, seek professional help. Intimacy problems can be resolved. However, it requires the two of you to be involved. Be optimistic and work hand-in-hand with your partner. These problems can be resolved if there is love.
“Physical intimacy cannot be resolved without emotional intimacy, so take the courageous step and voice your concerns either to your spouse or a trained professional.” — Sam Louie MA, LMHC
It’s the little things that you do which keeps me wondering – do you still love me?
He asked me if he can sleep in the guest room because the baby was keeping him up all night and he had to work early every morning. That was three years ago, but until now even if the baby is a toddler and doesn’t make a sound at night, he still sleeps in a different bed when he’s here.
I said “when he’s here” because as of two years ago, he went back to his hometown for work. As if the distance between us was not enough for him, he had to move 500 miles away from me. We only see each other every other weekend, and every day I had to text or call him first so that we can talk.
It was excruciating for me that he was there in the guest room. I know he wanted his rest, but I wanted to rest too. And I needed his presence while taking care of a newborn at 43 years old. Was it too much to ask? He even made a life decision without my say. My husband wanted to work in his hometown, and I was forced to accept that fact. I did it without raising my voice because that’s what he wanted – “I’m going back to New York. I have an offer there. We’ll just set up our schedule.” What else can I say but “okay?”
The pain of him “working far away” was unbearable. It was crushing my being, and I felt like he was leaving me for good. But what can I do? He wanted to work there and as his wife, I had to be supportive.
On the reverse, shouldn’t he be supportive of me too? Why is it that I always had to give and accept? What about me? What about what I want and need from him?
Am I overreacting? Is this a little bit dramatic? Am I a drama queen? Is it too bad to desire for your husband’s attention, care, and love? For so long, I didn’t feel that. I remember back then – I would cry during our intimate act because of how much I love him. My whole body trembled because of happiness and pure bliss. Now, after 5 minutes of quickened activity, he would rise after he kisses my forehead. Where is our intimacy these days, huh?
What is going on? Something is happening here that I don’t like. I don’t like it at all. It’s not what I expected, and this is not what I want. Do I even matter? My heart tells me to scream, shout, and get angry at this whole messed up situation. Isn’t it my right to tell him how I feel? What will he say about it? I guess it’s time to find out.
“You’ve been ignoring me lately, and I don’t get to see you as often as I want to, you know. Can we make an effort and do something about it?”
“What are you saying now? You’re not making any sense. What effort? Am I not feeding you and the kids? Are you saying I lack in the provision department? Don’t I give you what you need every day? Three meals and some?”
And so, I know now. I wished my husband would have reacted differently, but he saw me like that – a provision – his burden of 3 meals and some.
How do I proceed now? Tell me. I can’t think straight, and frankly, my numbness is sinking in.…
“Safety and trust in relationships go hand-in-hand: Safety lays the foundation for trust, and trust over time morphs into safety.” — Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W.
Most people find it weird and frightening to bring in someone who can mediate and give your marriage a fix. That was then. Now, the stigma has increasingly been lifted, and a lot of couples have experienced awesome results from their therapy. Even those who have great relationships go into counseling just to look for advice on how to strengthen their bonds. However, not all couples have found it easy to begin with therapy, just as not all have gotten positive outcomes after going to their therapist.
Before you and your partner decide to be mediated with a couple’s therapist, here are some question you can ask yourself to make sure that couples therapy will work for you.
“Maybe other issues of trust, safety, or security have come up that haven’t been thoroughly resolved. Couples who struggle with sex are often the least likely to talk about their struggles thinking it’s a no-win situation.” — Sam Louie MA, LMHC
When Is The Right Time To Seek Help?
Some couples ask for professional help when the pain has gone overboard, and the argument becomes too difficult to manage. Both parties are overwhelmed with what they might have said or done to each other that they decide to look for someone who can ‘fix’ them.
The wisest time to seek guidance and help from a therapist when you and your spouse can’t find concrete solutions to your marital problems, or if you have decided that your marriage goals are impossible to achieve. Do not wait for the whole misunderstanding to blow up, and violence comes in. When this happens, there might not be any chance for reconciliation at all.
What If My Partner Doesn’t Want To Go To Therapy?
It is typical for a husband to be less interested in therapy than the wife. So if you think that you need to see a therapist for your marriage problems, one way to involve your partner is to tell him that he must be there with you, which is true. But just a fair warning: If you are currently seeing your therapist, your partner might be intimidated that you’re all too familiar with the process. In this case, you can let your spouse choose a therapist for both of you, someone that you will see for the first time. Also, your partner will have a hard time arguing with you if you tell him that you want to know how to make good things become the best. Don’t focus on the negative things that you are about to divulge to the therapist!
How Do We Choose The Right Therapist For Us?
Don’t worry. You’re not obliged to sign up immediately. In fact, most of the therapists have free consultation via phone interview, so take advantage of it. Tell him a little about the problem and observe if it is something that he has extensive knowledge in. You can also listen to the voice – if it’s gentle and the talk is not very fast, the therapist may be a patient one. If he talks fast, maybe he’s more interested in getting to the end of the session! Find a sense of connection between you and your therapist.
If you’re lucky to get an initial face-to-face consultation, the better, you can determine if both you and your partner can get honest and unbiased explanations from your therapist. You’ve got to listen to your instincts.
How Do We Know The Therapy Is Working?
The first determinant of whether it’s working or is not if, after a few sessions, you begin to feel warmer and more comfortable with your partner. This means that your therapist has effectively broken into some barriers that you both have for each other, probably due to the constant arguments and misunderstandings.
“Trust requires a willingness to accept less than 100 percent certainty — otherwise it would be called verification.” — 0 PsyD, CST
Finally, if you are not comfortable with your therapist, it is wise to just look for someone that you share warmth with, someone that you and your partner can fully trust. Additionally, if your therapist is a professional one, then he must inform you if therapy is not working.
Many women – and men – have at one point in their lives been victims of infidelity. In fact, surveys say that more than 20% of married men and 15% of married women have had affairs. Does this validate the cliché ‘cheaters always cheat and liars always lie?’
Here are some collected opinions gathered from therapists and psychologists on whether or not a cheating spouse can turn around and never cheat again, or if it strengthens the notion that cheaters and liars never change.
“Research almost universally suggests that somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of people in committed relationships, both men and women, cheat on their partner.” — Robert Weiss Ph.D., MSW
The Cliché Is Biased. Once we expect that because he cheated once, he will always cheat, then we are belittling a person’s capacity to change for the better. Those who say this have perhaps never felt the guilt that comes after a one-night stand or a short-lived affair. The terrible feeling of having hurt your spouse and your kids has left me unable to sleep for weeks, and it’s the worst feeling ever,” said Tom, a husband who once was tempted to date her secretary while her wife was gone for a business trip. He claimed that it was the only time he was unfaithful and will never do it again.
Cheaters Have A Chance To Work On His Issues. Couple’s therapists have witnessed divorces that happen because of illicit affairs. They’ve also seen couples that decide to stay despite infidelity problems because they want to work things out. A therapist told the Huffington Post that a simple method of determining if your spouse will easily cheat again is if he confesses to his fault and takes full responsibility for what he did. This may happen spontaneously or after a few sessions of counseling. If he does this, they probably won’t cheat again. But if he continues to deny what happened and even gets angry if he is confronted, there’s a very slim chance for change from him.
“As I have observed the fallout from infidelity from the discovery throughout the lengthy process of healing, I have noticed that, even when couples are devoted to rising above adversity, facing their demons, keeping their hearts open, working through pain, grief, anxiety and loss, the process is incredibly difficult.” — Michele Weiner-Davis LCSW
If There Is No Remorse, Change May Not Be Possible. Hats off to spouses who would willingly sit it out in therapy for weeks. Obviously, they want their marriage to work, and they do love their partner. There are still many couples out there that would give anything to rebuild their marriage, and they can do that as long as they feel the remorse and guilt of hurting their partners. However, some simply brush the issue off after a few weeks of committing the infidelity. They want their partners to forget it quickly and may sometimes even blame their partner because they probably needed attention that their partner couldn’t give. When you hear that, you’re in for a serial cheating game. Give it up.
The Cheating Spouse May Be Motivated By The Hurt He Has Caused. This is possible for someone who isn’t used to cheating. He can’t believe that he was able to do that to his partner and his family, and he is very willing to make up for what he’s done. Guilt is an effective motivator for positive change. Perhaps your spouse had to be unfaithful for him to realize that he might lose everything. It is likened to a person who is charged with a DUI. He won’t promise to drink again unless he is detained for a night in jail and is forced to sleep on the floor.
The Betrayed Spouse Needs To Forgive. The cheating spouse maybe 100% sure that he won’t cheat again, but if the betrayed partner can’t forgive, there is no peaceful reconciliation. The mantra that cheaters always cheat and liars always lie alters a person’s capacity to realize that their partner is human, forgivable, and most of all, imperfect. Once the hurt spouse accepts this and opens his or her mind that marriage is precious and needs a second chance, then there is no second chance. But if he or she can move past it, the couple can definitely recover, heal, and be happy again.
“Essentially, rather than trying to control or punish a partner away from infidelity, it is more effective to reward and encourage their faithfulness and love.” — Jeremy Nicholson M.S.W., Ph.D.
What is the concept of marriage? As far as I can remember, when I married my husband, the vow was to be united and become one with him, to be true and to be intimate only to him. However, it seems some couples want to make their vows AFTER their marriage because they think it will make things better. To stop the arguments and infidelity issues, they decide to go into an open marriage. But can it possibly resolve anything? Can it save a distressed marriage?
“A marriage is only as strong as the two individuals. A great marriage – not just a good one – is one where each man does his own inner work and supports his husband to do the same.” — Mark O’Connell LCSW-R
In actuality, the idea of an open marriage is not as new as we think it is. This type of relationship has been seen years back, although not as prevalent as now. The increasing number of couples who want to try an open marriage maybe because as infidelity heightens, couples want to justify their actions and would rather find a reason to save the marriage than resolve the matter. If the intimacy is gone between the couples, then perhaps an open relationship would solve it, as this is only a sex issue. But would it work?
The most deafening answer is NO. It won’t help strengthen a marriage, nor does it encourage honesty in the relationship. Here are a few reasons why.
- Rules Don’t Equal Real Emotions. When a spouse cheats and tells his partner that he loves her no matter what, they think that their love and trust for each other sill encompass anything, which is why some of them are willing to permit others to ‘join’ the union temporarily, just to fill in what’s lacking in the marriage. But we all know it’s easier said than done. Remember that emotions don’t mind the rules. If a spouse sees another to fill in the gaps, the rule here is, of course, to not get emotionally involved. Eventually, he gets attracted at a deeper level; the rules will be so much harder to follow. Instead of helping the marriage, the only thing it will do is to worsen it.
“Needs vs. wants—it’s not just semantics.” — Catherine Aponte Psy.D.
- Jealousy Is Inevitable. Envy is one of the things that an open relationship wants to avoid. If the couple says, they truly love each other, letting another person in the relationship will not cause any jealousy – or at least that’s the rule. But humans are innately possessive, especially when it comes to things and people we love. No matter how modern or open-minded you think you are, it won’t be easy to acknowledge that you are sharing your spouse to another – your lifetime partner and father of your kids. If you are not at all affected by it, though, you might want to assess your feelings towards your spouse. Perhaps they’ve gotten cold because of what you’ve been through.
- Self-esteem Will Absolutely Suffer. Having friends and significant others is an important part of one’s life simply because you can’t find everything in one person. But when your spouse talks you out of wanting to connect with another physically or intimately apparently to ‘save the marriage,’ and you reluctantly agree, it will slowly devour you and your self-esteem. You start to wonder why he asked for it in the first place, and then you think that you are not enough for your spouse. To solve this, you may seek attention from others and will push you to see others as well. The vicious cycle continues and will ultimately destroy the marriage.
If you and your partner are considering open marriage, perhaps you should think twice or thrice before doing so. It might look like a promising solution to your marriage problems, but then again, it may only be a temporary mask to the real issue at hand. It might even add more insult to the injury that your marriage has already gone through.
“Accepting concepts that have been considered blasphemous by some in our culture—like making it okay to marry for money, having term limits, or opening our minds to open marriage—would make marriage more practical and realistic.” — Susan Pease Gadoua L.C.S.W.
You may not have chosen to be in a long-distance marriage when you exchanged vows with your spouse, for others living apart but together is indeed a reality. It can be because of a family emergency, an inevitable move of your spouse’s company, or any valid reason. Whatever it is, you have got to try and make an effort to make your relationships thrive and survive.
Below are some tips that we have gathered from various marriage therapists on how to navigate a long-distance marriage and make it last.
“Weddings are not the end, but a stop on your train. A significant, theatrical, moment during which you receive recognition for who and what you are.” — Mark O’Connell LCSW-R
- Take Advantage Of Technology. There are times when you need to step back from social media and smartphones, especially when you’ve had too much of it for a day, but for long-distance couples, you can use it to your advantage. Skype and Face Time are free mobile apps that you can always use during your free time. Schedule your talks when you’re done with work, or when you’re at home cooking dinner so the kids can join in the conversation. When you miss each other while working, maybe you can slip your phone and send a sweet message with love emoticons that will assure your partner of your love for him. Stay connected, so you’ll never feel as though you’re miles away.
- Post Photos Of You And Your Spouse. If you’re living in a remote area for work reasons, clip some great photos of you and your spouse in the edge of your mirror, or put them in an album and display them by your bedside table. Don’t let the cliché ‘out of sight, out of mind’ beat you. Though it takes more than photos to strengthen your marriage, it does help in reminding you that someone’s waiting for you and trusting that you are keeping the love alive.
- Play The Role Of Couples Living Together. Talk about pretending that you lived together so that when you are in your corresponding places, it won’t seem like you’re very far from each other. The distance will create different lives for you, and if you allow it to destroy your marriage, it probably can. This task is simple, and if you are ready to do anything for the marriage, this you can do.
“The idea of partners having things they want or prefer in order to flourish as individuals and as a couple is a better way to promote a good marriage.” — Catherine Aponte Psy.D.
- Do Not Assume. Don’t make any assumptions just from your spouse’s tone of voice, emails, or text messages. A lot of these are easily mistaken, depending on the way you read them. For instance, you’re trying to call, but he’s not answering. He might be in a meeting, and suddenly you receive this automatic message that says, “I can’t talk right now.” Don’t overreact and think that he’s rejecting you or he’s not interested. Wait for him to call you or ask him when you do your usual video calls. You mustn’t get your insecurities in the way of your relationship. Agree that both of you will mend misunderstandings not through texts but through video conversations where things are clearer.
- Make A Commitment To End The Distance. Work and family are important, and partners must try their best to understand that as much as they can. But in the end, there must be an expiration date to the long-distance contract. Although you think you can do it, it isn’t right to be away from each other forever. Do what you can. Save up while you’re away for your future. Finally, live together as a family because you ought to.
“While I see these nuptial changes as positive evolution, I feel that we still have a one-size-fits-all model for partnering in a culture that increasingly celebrates our differences. These newer proposals are simply time-limited and toned-down versions of the same thing with the same expectations.” — Susan Pease Gadoua L.C.S.W.
“I have come to believe that the real culprit in marriage isn’t the particular problems people bring to therapists, it’s when one or both spouses become hopeless. Hopelessness is the real cancer in marriage.” — Michele Weiner-Davis LCSW
I am fully aware that this site is all about saving your marriage. Don’t get me wrong here. I am all for that. If there is a person in this world that would keep her marriage over and over and over again, well, that’s me. I have tried to save what is left of my abusive marriage, and after 20 years, I think I have done enough saving. People who are abusive to their spouses cannot be saved. That’s what my therapist told me. I cannot save him, and with that, I also cannot save our marriage.…
“Though some may have a slightly different definition of what qualifies as infidelity, most people seem to believe that it involves sexual or physical betrayal.” — Seth Meyers Psy.D.
A cheating incident – or five – throughout the marriage is typically enough for an emotionally tired wife to turn to a psychologist and ask, “Why is this happening to me?”
From what we have heard, there are a few common reasons that can explain why there are a lot of married men who risk the fate of their family and start an illicit affair with someone else. One of them is that the guy may have been influenced by his friends to date another woman behind his wife’s back. Others start to cheat after a drinking incident that has led them to sleep with a female friend or stranger, and then they have somehow kept on doing it. In some cases, the man may be subconsciously addicted to sex; that’s why he cannot stop himself from jumping into someone else’s bed.
None of these reasons sound justifiable enough to forgive a cheater – that is true – especially if it has happened on more than one occasion. Nevertheless, considering you have never been in that situation – and you don’t ever want to be – here are some ideas that every wife should remember to prevent your husband from ever cheating on you.
1. Always Check If You Are Still On The Same Page
The first thing that you should be able to do is to confirm from time to time that your goals and beliefs in life are still similar to one another. If not, then you should at least know what has changed in theirs, and vice versa.
It matters to check such aspects regardless of how long you have been together because married couples tend to drift apart when they do not talk about their long-term objectives in front of each other. One may assume that the other has lost interest; that’s why the former might start looking for love elsewhere. If you don’t wish for that to occur, you should make a point of discussing everything that happens in your lives as often as possible.
2. Look After Yourself
As harsh as it may sound, your husband may lose his affection towards you if he notices that you no longer care for your appearance. For instance, you forget to shower your hair for days or sleep in a shirt that your kid has puked on in the morning. Or, after giving birth, you may have sworn off going to the gym to look after the children, but then you stop watching your diet too and end up being as heavy as a whale.
“Some marriages can only be saved with one hundred Zen things; others cannot be saved at all. With this said, a lot of marriages can be saved with a few, relatively minor changes.” — Andrea F. Polard Psy.D.
You may argue that love is blind and that you have promised to stick with one another forever, but the reality is quite different from that. Physical attraction is essential for any couple. In case you let go of yourself like that and presume that your spouse will always be faithful to you no matter how you look, you are practically giving him an excuse to find a more attractive woman. Thus, to avoid that, you should look after yourself all the time.
3. Make Your Husband Feel Special
A married friend came to our house one day because she did not know who else to turn to. Asking what the matter was, she said that her husband was having an affair with his coworker and planning to divorce her. The longer our conversation went on, though, the more I realized that the problem was her. She would act like a princess at home, order the guy to do all the chores, and stop him from even visiting his parents – everything that could suffocate any sane individual, practically speaking.
There’s no way to save that friend’s marriage, but you can prevent such an unfortunate situation by treating your spouse correctly. Instead of making him work alone in the house, split the load equally. When he returns after a hard day at work, make sure that there’s a hot meal waiting for him on the dining table. Do not deprive your husband of sex either and perhaps even initiate it sometimes. If you go out of your way to make him feel loved, he won’t exactly have time to think of other women.
“Even when the couples were monogamous the sharing of fantasies about other people or of escapades from before these two met could make for not only stimulating pillow talk but a sense of enhanced closeness: “See how much I love and trust you. I prove it by my complete honesty.”” — Isadora Alman MFT, CST
The only way to keep your husband from cheating is by giving him no reason to do that. Follow the tips mentioned above, and you will increase the likelihood of staying in a monogamous relationship until death makes you part.