Relationship ‘failure’, a matter that is close to heart for many of us.
I have an interesting though not shocking reflection yesterday when I learned about the four traps that contribute to a failed marriage or any relationship at work. Dr. John Gottman calls it the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Here are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and its definition as quoted from Dr. Gottman.
- Criticism = verbally attacking personality or character
- Contempt = attacking sense of self with an intent to insult or abuse
- Defensiveness = victimising yourself to ward off a perceived attack and reverse the blame
- Stonewalling = withdrawing to avoid conflict and convey disapproval, distance and separation.
Not surprisingly, my marriage has all four of it. And yes, it failed. I always believe the best way to learn is from our experience or someone else’s experience. Only when we learn from it, we prevent history from repeating itself.
I have many friends, and it is sad when I hear such comments:
“There is no more love between us…”
“We are like housemates…”
“We just live our separate life…”
“We’ve come to a point that we don’t talk anymore…”
I feel sad. Because that’s exactly what I went through for many years and I know exactly how it feels. Miserable was what I felt and hence I feel a strong desire to write something about this because I really wish I can make a difference to your relationship.
If I’ve known what I know today, I won’t make the mistakes I made yesterday.
Take a good look at the four killer attitudes. How often do you have Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling when you relate with your spouse? And what about your spouse?
Here’s a quick look back to my past experience:
1. Criticism = yes, we throw many verbal attacks, we made many judgments and criticism on each other.
2. Contempt = I am not sure if my ex-spouse verbally insulted or abused me intentionally. He could be oblivious or unconscious to the effect it has on me and how I felt. As for me, I fall into Contempt in-spite of anger.
3. Defensiveness = We definitely fell into this pattern a lot back then. It’s like falling into a never-ending spiral of a cause-and-effect. Attack, reverse blame, attack, reverse blame….
4. Stonewalling = When we stop criticising, insulting and defending, we enter into Stonewalling.
Every time he withdrew himself, I chased and the more I chased, the more he withdrew. Looking back now, it was probably easier to choose to withdraw oneself than to dive deep into emotional wounds, to experience the blame and the arguments that followed it.
After countless times of chasing and chasing and chasing, I finally stopped. I stopped chasing, we stopped talking. We begin to live in our separate ways. It went on for a few years. By the time I know HOW to relate to him, it was too late. The heart has turned cold. Eventually, it led to a breakup.
Now let’s talk about you.
Where are you and your spouse now?
The good news is, if you are still fighting with each other, it means you both still care. The bad news is, if you get into Stonewalling, it will take a much bigger effort to draw closer. But as long you have not signed the divorce paper, it is still not too late to change the relationship if that is what you wish.
Often I see it seems so much easier for people to just get ‘busy’ and live on separate ways, not attending to the real needs of the spouse and turning to external sources for satisfaction rather than work on the internal struggles. When they stop giving to each other, they are deprived of love and connection from one another and they begin to seek to meet these needs externally. Couples are most vulnerable in this state, which makes it easier for any 3rd party to enter the relationship. In other cases, the spouse may focus all of his or her attention at work or at their children.
Many of us went through this experience and some are still going through the experience. So why aren’t we make the change?
What I’ve noticed from my personal experience, the clients and friends that I’ve encountered is the lack of courage to make a stand and the lack of courage to make a change.
Few considerations in the way:
- Kids welfare
Little voice said, “Maybe the status quo is better for the kid’s welfare.”
- Fear of the unknown
Little voice said “If I make the change, what if life gets worst than what I am going through right now?”, “I’m scared to be alone”
So what can you do if you find yourself still in this status quo, living in separate ways with your spouse?
- Here are some questions you can ask in your personal discovery:
- What do I want truly?
- What’s stopping me?
- What would I lose when nothing changes?
- What would I gain when something changes?
- How can I overcome my obstacles?
- Who can help me?
- What is the 1st step I can take towards creating the change I want?
- You only live once my friends. Time is irreversible. My wish for you is that you cherish your time on this earth because tomorrow may not come.
3 options I would like to share with you for your consideration:
- If you choose to stay in a relationship, then make it work. Stop wasting your time in Stonewalling. Make it a joyful, fulfilling one, even if it means spending more energy, time and money to fix the broken heart because you deserve to be happy.
- If you choose to stay and accept the status quo with zero love and connection, zero trusts and appreciation in your relationship, then it loses the meaning of togetherness, isn’t it? By not making the change, you have Chosen to accept having a roommate and not a soul mate. There is nothing wrong with this choice, as long as this is what you want.
- If you choose to leave then leave with clarity, knowing that you have done your best, knowing that you are worthy of love and you deserve to be happy. Then move on peacefully and create the life you love.
When I accepted to let go of my marriage, I have a massive fear of the unknown. Some of my biggest fear was:
“Did I make the right decision?”
“How would my child cope with the breakup?”
“Would I be happier?”
It was absolutely scary for me to go through the process, even though I am trained in handling my mindset and emotion. The pain and fear felt real. It was a process that I had to go through.
Now, 2 years post the divorce, I look at where I am now and how I feel. I am definitely in a much better place and feel much happier than when I was living in a status quo. I don’t have to be dependent on others to make me feel happy. I have my dream work that fulfils all my criteria and values. I have my emotional peace and my child is happy.
Do I want a man who doesn’t love me and treat me like an invisible woman? Hell no!
Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t choose to have a failed marriage and I acknowledge that we’ve made stupid mistakes. But now that this is the outcome that I have, I choose to make the best out of it and therefore I can feel happy and enjoy my life now.
When you understand that life is short and it can be taken off you anytime, you will fight to create your happiness, knowing that you deserve to be happy in THIS lifetime. Not next time.
My wish for you is that you would have more courage to take a stand for what you are truly worth. Because you deserve more, because you are one magnificent, beautiful loving soul.
Knowing what you know now, are you ready to engage a personal coach?
To find out if you are ready to engage a personal coach, contact me at Rainy@growwithrainy.com for a 90 minutes complimentary Discovery session or find out more at https://growwithrainy.com/coaching-with-rainy/
In Authenticity & Courage,
Rainy the Rainmaker
P.S. This is my personal opinion, you do not have to agree.
P.P.S. What’s your thought? PM me, I would love to hear your perspective and if there is any way I can help you with, feel free to reach out to me.