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couple experiencing marital problems

What Happened To Our Marriage?

Do you remember the movie War of the Roses with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner? It was the story of a vicious divorce battle. Fortunately, most divorces are not that “vicious”. However, many divorces do become contentious.

Home is supposed to be peaceful, happy, secure where adults discuss their challenges and share their common values. They enjoy companionship, interests, and honest partnership. They respect each other, listen, trust and compromise. They pay attention to each other and relish common entertainment. They support each other and are in the foxholes together when times are tough. These values contribute to intimacy and longevity.

Why then do marriages break down?

There are many theories why marriages break down including commitment, incompatibility, infidelity and arguing.


There is a saying that “it takes two to tango”. Marital commitment requires both parties to willingly commit to each other. When one partner does not demonstrate allegiance, the dance is impossible. The other partner may try even harder, giving more than 100%. This imbalance is shocking to the partner who over invested when the marriage nonetheless fails. But I gave so much! Generally, this is at sacrifice of personal esteem.


Sometimes people simply marry too young and truly grow in different directions as they mature. This is no one’s fault, just a reality. These couples may be disappointed but their separation is more understandable and therefore may be less contentious with that understanding. Although opposites may attract, it is vital to also have shared interests. In my psychology practice, I encourage couples to have date nights, which contribute to communication, balance in life, closeness, affection and love. Date nights can range from romantic evenings to something as simple as going grocery shopping together.


You once vowed to be faithful and loving to each other. Then cheating becomes a bitter pill to swallow. You feel betrayed and wonder if you could ever trust your partner again. Is this the last straw for you or do you think your marriage can be salvaged? Understanding the psychology of what happened can be beneficial to create a new direction for your relationship. It may be not be the same but you may be able to learn to reconnect in healthy ways.


Incessant arguing, disagreements and going to bed angry are toxins in a marriage. Differences regarding finances, purchases, religion, politics, work commitments, parenting, extended family, division of chores, timeliness, and the list goes on, are ingredients for arguing. The key is to develop effective communication skills and the willingness to discuss, negotiate and compromise.

What now?

According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, “Marriages take work, commitment, and love, but they also need respect to be truly happy and successful. A marriage based on love and respect doesn’t just happen. Both spouses have to do their part.”                                                                         

If you are having marital problems, the next steps may be challenging. Decisions may be difficult to make. You may wonder if you will ever feel good. This sounds like the time to seek professional help from a psychologist or marriage therapist. Even if you do not reach your preferred resolution, you may be able to develop better coping skills, communication skills, and a support system. You do not have to go through this alone.

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land among the stars!

Les Brown