An exhausting marriage is not just about inadequate communication, insufficient funds or imperfect sex. While these items tend to be a factor at some level in every marriage, the exhaustion a client maybe feeling could be a sign of a much deeper issue. In order to undercover these darker issues, married clients should be separated during some sessions to allow for more freedom of discussion.
Once alone, there are several issues that need to be properly evaluated. Each of these items can magnify exhaustion and intensify frustration in a marriage. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list; rather it is a suggestion of places to begin.
Past Trauma. Unresolved past trauma in either spouse can contribute to feelings of inadequacy, abandonment, or shame. Sometimes the trauma is prior to marriage and therefore should definitely be addressed alone. When the trauma happens during the marriage, it is important to gain perspective from each about the event.
Past Sexual Relationships. According to a 2010 report by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), nearly one in two woman and one in five men have experienced unwanted sexual violence during their lifetime. This includes molestation, coercion, and rape. More than half of all rape victims report their abuser was a current or former partner. Unhealthy sexual experiences not addressed properly frequently results in issues with intimacy at a variety of levels.
Past Marriage Modeling. What the client learned about marriage from their parents, grandparents, and friend’s parents impacts their understanding of marriage. Sometimes in an effort to avoid the mistakes made by others, a spouse can go to the extreme opposite direction. This can manifest in controlling or manipulative behaviors which only pushes their spouse away even more.
Past Red Flags. Even the most charming of people leave early signs of potential problems while dating. Reviewing the past red flags brings clarity to current issues and allows the spouse to begin the process of trusting their instincts once again.
Present Disorders. It is important to identify any and all potential psychological disorders, especially if the dysfunction is a personality disorder or an addiction. These two categories frequently result in abusive behavior. Abuse is not just physical; it can be mental, verbal, financial, sexual, emotional, or spiritual. All types of abuse need to be categorized quickly and boundaries erected before healing can begin.
Present Recurring Emotions. Chronic anger, anxiety, guilt, depression, or fear in one spouse can numb the other spouse to feelings in general. This emotional detachment is a survival mechanism to cope with the unstable emotional responses. The root cause of the initial emotion needs to be addressed before the other spouse is able to open up again.
Present Repetitive Thoughts. Obsessive thinking and the subsequent over communicating these thoughts provoke results in distancing from a spouse. Remember Charlie Brown’s response to his teacher? “Wha, wha, wha..” was all he heard after a while. This is precisely what a spouse hears after having the same conversation more than twice. The end outcome is numerous unresolved issues and years of pent up frustration.
Present Routines. Just like bad habits creep up over time, so do bad routines. Any and every repetitive behavior needs to be evaluated for current effectiveness and run through an anti-annoyance filter. Just because a routine worked in the past does not mean it will continue to work in the future. Even businesses know the truth of this statement.
All of these concepts can contribute to a spouse feeling exhausted, frustrated and lonely within a marriage. But this does not mean the marriage must end. A marriage can be restored to health through effective counseling, freedom to change, and forgiveness.
Christine Hammond is the award winning author of The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iBooks.