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You're Not The Man/Woman I Married - section two, "Communication in Marriage". Part 10:

By Norman & Ann Bales Of All About Families


Change strategies that usually backfire.

  1. Delay. According to an old Chinese proverb, "Of the 37 ways of dealing with a crisis, running away is the best." We tend to believe that if we ignore a problem, it will eventually resolve itself. Sometimes our problems do go away, but the feelings persist. They may well show up in the next crisis. "Couples who try to deny limitations and problems end up with a backlog of unresolved issues just waiting to burst out when a crisis comes along that refuses to be denied. The marriage can buckle under their weight." (Esau. p 126).

  2. Blaming; projection. Many people deal with their unhappiness by trying to lay their problems at someone else's doorstep. There are many handy candidates - marriage partners, interfering relatives, children, peers, the crowd, even the government. Someone else rained on our parade and caused us to act in a negative way. Choosing this strategy gets the monkey off your back, but it keeps us from looking inward and being honest with ourselves. The healthiest people are those who accept responsibility for their behavior (James 5:16).

  3. Absorbing the blame. Quite often the children of divorced parents believe they caused the divorce. Had they been willing to clean their rooms when told; if they had studied harder; if they had not talked back to their parents, the divorce wouldn't have taken place. Of course their assumption of guilt is irrational. Sometimes married partners do the same thing. They are so lacking in self-confidence that they automatically assume responsibility for conflicts that take place. Sometimes we do need to admit responsibility, but we don't arrive at a healthy resolution of problems when we assume that one partner is the cause of all marital difficulty. One can even offer scriptural support for assuming such a posture. Paul said, " . . . consider others better than yourselves" (Phil. 2:4). However, the person who sees justification for self-abasement in that passage misuses the intent of the apostle. His appeal is to the example of Jesus. Jesus never assumed blame for things he didn't do. "If a self-blamer is married to someone whose appetite for intimacy is not very great, that partner may be content to have the other constantly taking blame. Some husbands or wives will devote themselves to the weaker partner, trying desperately - and futilely - to nurture him or her out of such an apparently painful position. Others may be bewildered by this style of dealing with problems, feeling uncomfortable with it, but not knowing how to counteract it." (Esau. p. 129).

  4. Why these strategies usually backfire. We are attracted to such strategies because they usually seem to work in the short run. They are also less painful than meeting the problems head on. Perhaps they will be successful in overcoming an immediate crisis, but if the goal of marriage is to eventually achieve intimacy, it will be necessary to face the pain of facing problems honestly and objectively.

What it takes to successfully navigate marital changes.

In this article
- Introduction
- What it takes to successfully navigate marital changes.

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- You're Not The Man/Woman I Married - section one, "Communication in Marriage". Part 10
- The Procrustean Bed-Marriage Communication and Sexuality, "Communication in Marriage". Part 11
- Developing Trust in a Relationship - Section one, "Communication in Marriage". Part 12
- The Games People Play, "Communication in Marriage". Part 9

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