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No Romance?

A British news website did a short piece on Gwyneth Paltrow admitting to marriage struggles. The headline blared, Paltrow Admits to Marriage Struggles, as if she’d announced to the press that her marriage was doomed.  In actuality it was a simple blurb noting that even movie stars have to put effort into marriage.

Marriage isn’t a love affair. Love affairs are all about immediate personal satisfaction, the chase, the thrill, the passion. Marriage is a process. It’s a journey that requires courage and vulnerability, patience and empathy, strength and commitment.

Maybe you feel like you and your spouse have grown apart. Maybe you’ve been living more like roommates than lovers for too long to admit. Maybe your spouse doesn’t understand you or you don’t understand your spouse. Divorce doesn’t have to be the only choice left. Marriage counseling can do wonders. Reestablishing a weekly date night, even if it’s an hour at a free museum, can help remind you why you first became friends, lovers, life partners.

Some people marry the right person the first time. Other people aren’t so lucky. How do you know if you married the right partner for life? Ask yourself the following questions.  Your answers may surprise you.

  • Which qualities attracted you to your spouse in the first place? Does your spouse still have the character qualities you found so attractive when you first met?
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  • Is your spouse most often honest, trustworthy, faithful, supportive and kind?
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  • Is your spouse willing to change and grow to meet the dynamics of your relationship?
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  • Will divorce have a harmful effect on you or your family? Will staying married have a more harmful effect?
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  • How will the divorce affect your family, especially your children? How will staying married affect your family, especially your children?  Does that matter to you?  How much?
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  • Do you still love each other?

When a spouse cheats

Tiger and Elin are getting a divorce, Sandra Bullock’s filing for a divorce, and Larry King is thinking about divorce.  Each of these celebrities has something in common that led to their divorces – infidelity.  But do we have to suffer through a divorce if a spouse has been unfaithful?

Dr. Mark Goulston says that when you betray someone’s trust at such a deep level, you trigger four intense reactions in them: Hurt, Hate, Hesitation To Trust and Holding Onto A Grudge (the 4 H’s).

When your spouse finds out you’ve had an affair, feelings of intense and devastating pain are triggered.  Many people feel as if they’ve been made a fool of, they feel ashamed, embarrassed, they feel anger at themselves for failing to see.  They feel as if they’ve been living in a lie, as if they are not respected or loved by their spouse.  They may become physically ill, depressed, angry or volatile.  All of these reactions are reactions to hurt.

Realizing that you’ve been lied to by your spouse, that the very person who promised to love, honor and respect you has gone behind your back and broken the vows of your marriage and then lied about it, may trigger anger so strong it can only be called hate.

The spouse who ignores their gut feelings and convinces themselves they’re being crazy, or who confronts you and believes you when you swear there’s no one else, is going to experience an enormous Hesitation to Trust.  How can they possibly lower their guard and trust again, when surely they will only be re-traumatized?

A spouse who has been cheated on will want to protect themselves against future pain.  Even if your spouse wants to get back together, it is frightening and painful to learn to trust after such a huge betrayal.  It’s much easier to Hold Onto A Grudge.  Holding Onto A Grudge allows a spouse who’s been cheated on to keep their guard up and hold it up with fortified bursts of anger.

What can you do if you or your spouse has cheated?  How can you get past the 4 H’s and heal your marriage?   Check back tomorrow to find out.