Posted by: rejuvenatembwc | March 10, 2010


There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what causes relationship problems and what leads to the end of a relationship. Many people will say that it is money problems, children, or the decline in intimacy that is the cause of the divorce. These are all misconceptions about relationships in general. Money problems do not necessarily cause divorce, neither do children, nor problems in intimacy. All relationships have problems in these areas to some degree or another.

No, the main contributing factor to the ending of your relationship is not what you argue about, but how you argue about these problems. Scott M. Stanley & Howard J. Markman at the University of Denver have been studying marital distress and success for the past 25 years. The results of their empirical research have found that different factors related to conflict in communication are the main contributors to marital dissatisfaction. Here is a list of some of the contributing factors Stanley and Markman have identified that will cause a relationship to end in divorce. 1) Negative styles of talking and fighting with each other, like arguments that rapidly become negative, put downs, and the silent treatment. 2) Difficulty communicating well, especially when you disagree. 3) Trouble handling disagreements as a team. 4) Unrealistic beliefs about marriage. 5) Having different attitudes about important things. 6) A low level of commitment to one another, reflected in such things as not protecting your relationship from others you are attracted to, or failing to view your marriage as a long-term investment.

If you plug any of the “issues” that cause marital distress into the above 6 points, you can see how badly things can go if you communicate about these important topics in this way. The style of communication used will determine whether a relationship will stand the test of time or if it will end in separation or divorce. Typically, marriages and relationships do not just “end” overnight, and more times than not there has been a slow decline in communication which has occurred for years. With the couples I counsel I use a pyramid to describe a solid, healthy relationship. The base of the pyramid is made of trust and respect, which are vital to a healthy relationship. Healthy communication fosters trust and respect, just as unhealthy communication erodes trust and respect. Eroding the base of your relationship causes it to be unstable and eventually fail.

There is hope, all of this destruction in your relationship can be avoided and even reversed. Understanding what is causing you and your partner to fight is a major part of the healing process. Too often couples get stuck in a manner of communication that leads them nowhere and they keep doing it because it is all they know. Through couples therapy you can identify triggers to fighting, understand the negative styles of interaction that lead to fighting, set some ground rules in your relationship for healthy communication, adopt a more positive attitude about your relationship, work together as a team, understand your expectations in your relationship, and develop a strong commitment to meeting each others needs. All of which leads to a long lasting and fulfilling life together.

I cannot express how important this is. Ask yourself the following questions: What is more important in my life than my relationship with my significant other? If my significant other and I are fighting and have frequent conflict, how is that affecting my perceptions of him/her and my children’s lives in a negative way? If I keep doing what I am doing what is going to happen in the next 5 years? It is just as important for a person to go to the doctor to get their health checked and go to a dentist to get their teeth checked, as it is to go to a psychologist to get their relationship checked. Take the step and get into therapy if you see your relationship in this article. I will be writing the next few articles about how to improve your relationship, so be on the lookout for specific ways to keep the love of your life, in your life.

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