Is Your Marriage without Hope?
Saving Marriage: Five Signs that You’ve Lost Hope and Are Headed for a Divorce
If you boil it all down, bad communication is at the heart of every divorce. So says Lauri Puhn, a family and divorce attorney-mediator in New York, N.Y., and author of “Instant Persuasion” (Penguin Books). While she agrees with what others in the field of matrimonial discord say about what signals a divorce, she has a different take on the causes and the solutions.
“The problems arise when you feel hopeless about your marriage,”said the 30-year-old. “When you feel like your marriage has no hope, you think the traditional rules of marriage don’t apply to you. You say to yourself, ‘I am not in a traditional marriage anymore. We barely speak to each other. She gives me orders. This is not in a good marriage.’ You don’t plan to cheat, but this type of thinking gives you leeway to reach out to find someone else. The hole is so big that it is waiting to be filled.”
According to Puhn, not letting yourself reach the point of hopelessness is the key to helping your marriage survive. In fact, her personal list of the five danger signs leading to divorce is centered around the concept of lost hope.
1. Unresolved arguments are on the rise.
You address the same problem over and over again, more and more frequently and you can’t hear each other anymore, since you already know every reason in the book for him saying what he is saying.” Knowing that the problem won’t change leads to hopelessness. When you get married, you are happy because of you hopes for the future,” she said. “When they start to run dry, you lose that hope. You become worse and worse at compromise. You just don’t care anymore. You throw up hands. You give up.”
2. Criticism in public.
“When you reach a point where you are saying critical, disrespectful things about your spouse in front of other people, it’s a sign you are in for a real problem,” she said. Humiliation is a destructive emotion.” The reason someone would do this, according to Puhn, is that he or she has pent up anger. It’s a release of anger, and you mean to humiliate your spouse. You want everyone to know how bad your spouse is.”
“These long periods of the cold shoulder come as a result from the unresolved argument issue. If you are doing it for two days or more, repeatedly, once or twice a month, then tou have very poor conflict resolution skills.”
Puhn says you stop talking because you can’t think of anything else to say, and you just don’t know else what to do. “You’re mad and disgusted, and since you are at a loss and you just can’t make them see things from your point of view, you clam up. Basically, what you really want, is for that person to come to you and say, ‘Tell me why you are angry, and I will listen,'” she said.
She added that the reason divorces happen in the first place is because of these poor conflict resolution skills, even if you believe that you have just simply fallen out of love. “Usually, if you have fallen out of love that means that over time you have stopped communicating your heart’s interests, needs and desires.”
4. Becoming focused on the relationship inequities.
“The reason this is a problem is that no marriage has tasks and responsibilities that are divided up 50-50, but what happens is when people are happy with each other, they don’t dwell on the inequity of it. They don’t mind it,” she said. “When you do for him, it’s for the marriage.”
But when the relationship sours, she says you don’t feel valued, then you dwell on the belief that you deserve better. “You focus on all ways you are giving out. The inequities wouldn’t matter if there were other ways of getting back what you are putting in,” she said.
5. Daydreaming about being single.
“Daydreaming often happens right before the divorce, and it may not be you that is daydreaming. It may be your spouse,” said Puhn. “If you are daydreaming of living life without your spouse, that is the key that you are very close to making that a reality.” Basically, you have given up all hope and have already begun to move on in your mind.