Updated: May 2, 2020
Where 80% of marital problems come from
Miscommunication, misunderstanding and missed expectations make up a bulk of Marital friction between two people. Have you ever said the wrong thing at the wrong time and caused a multi-day rift between you and your partner? Or what about that time your partner felt your honest critique of their work was overly critical and negative? Their last word, in that particular conversation, was “You never support my work!” And everyone has had that couple date night where your spouse wanted a trendy restaurant and wine bar but you opted for your local grunge bar instead. “Ouch, that’s gonna leave a mark”.
When miscommunication, misunderstanding and missed expectations happen, (and they will), it can be nearly impossible for an over stressed couple to emotionally reset from the gaffe. If this pattern is repeated often enough, both partners grow to believe that their relationship unity and romance has died. Or worse that they never had it.
If You’re Lucky You Won’t Be Able To Avoid Every Missed Expectation...
Because you will be married a long long time. Long enough in fact, to endure countless miscommunications and misunderstandings. The question then becomes, how do you navigate this common relationship problem? How do you have a long relationship without experiencing so much hurt and misunderstanding that your relationship becomes scarred?
So What’s The Key?
The key to navigating 80% of marital problems is to remember that you have the power of choice. You have the power to choose what you create at any given moment. Whether it is your mental or emotional state, your attitude, tone of voice or choice of words. And of course (and maybe most important) you have the ability to choose the best course of action within your skill set and experience.
With this key, the power of choice, you can shape your destiny and the future of your relationship.
You Chose To Be Here
You are using your power right now. You chose to be here reading this blog. You could be scrolling through a news feed. You are choosing to learn new skills instead of just consuming news. This is a simple choice. Maybe your choice was made out of fear or frustration, but that doesn’t matter. At some point you gave consent, you said “I choose to read and learn.” Congratulations, you just stretched your personality a bit.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Any Superhero fan will recognize the Spiderman quote above. It was delivered to Peter Parker (Spiderman) by his Uncle Ben (may he rest in peace). It's a comic book quote, and it is as profound as any Shakespeare quote. It’s also true for you. Your power to choose is a great power and as such it comes with great responsibility.
Whenever, wherever and whatever you choose, you become completely responsible for the choice… and the consequences.
I Never Said It Wouldn’t Hurt
The Key to eliminating 80% of your marital problems is taking full responsibility for your choices. All of your choices. Ouch! I can hear ego’s wailing all over the blogosphere. This might be Kryptonite to some of you (that’s a superman reference if you don’t know).
This means your partner is never really at fault for doing anything to you, unless they actually do something to you. Everything else that your partner says or does is from their own power of choice and whatever it is, they are fully responsible for it.
If you say something mean or insensitive, or you overactive in a negative way, then, you and only you are 100% percent responsible for it.
And “yes!” the same holds true for your partner. This means when your partner says something mean or insensitive, or they overreact in a negative way… you guessed it… it’s 100% percent their fault.
How does 100% responsibility eliminate 80% of marital problems?
I’m glad you asked. This works because if you are 100% responsible for whatever you think, say, and do and your partner is 100% responsible for whatever they think, say and do, then nobody is at fault And if no is at fault, then there is no one to blame.. This will eliminate 80% of martial problems which consist of miscommunication, misunderstanding, and missed expectations.
What about the other 20% of Marital problems?
These can’t be solved through the power of choice and responsibility. 10% of marital problems fall into the category of injury, emotional, physical and mental. Injury is lying, cheating, physical abuse, emotional abuse, etc. These cases fall outside of your ability to choose. For example if your partner cheats on you and you get a venereal disease, your power of choice is negated.
The last 10% of marital problems are the circumstances of life. Things like the incapacity of a parent, loss of a job,or changes in health. These things are all part of life and transitions that couples must go through and work hard to come out of together.
Here Is An Example Of The Power Of Choice In Action
Let’s say you came home from work early and wanted to make a nice meal (something you never get a chance to do). So you text your partner and ask them “What would you like to eat for dinner, I’m cooking! :)” They text back “Brussels sprouts and pork chops”. You say “OK”. But you don’t like Brussels sprouts, so you make potatoes instead. Your partner comes home, excited to see you because you are cooking their favorite food. Then they find out you nixed the Brussels sprouts. They are disappointed because you changed the menu instead of negotiating for a meal you both wanted to eat. Your partner pouts and now you feel disappointed that they don’t recognize the generosity of your intention. The evening is set to go badly. If there are any circumstantial tensions (job, life, etc), then this misunderstanding becomes an emotional tipping point. Now the meal will be eaten in silence and later you each will retreat to your laptops in silent anger.
But Then you slip on your Cape
When you choose to exercise your power of choice, you take full responsibility for not communicating the change and ignoring the requested answer your partner gave to you. You take responsibility for the evening, instead of hoping, wishing for something different or blaming your partner for their disappointment. Your partner feels their emotions are validated. They soften, they brighten… you soften and brighten and before long the mood is much better.
This can be your new normal. You have the skills and ability to make the above example your new way of life. You don’t need approval or consensus to do this. You alone can unleash this power upon your relationship. It only takes one person to dramatically change a relationship problem into a relationship strength. You have the power within you and now that you know about the power, you are free to choose it.
Even Superheroes Have Weakness
If you noticed, I left out taking responsibility for your emotions. Emotions happen. They are complex and operate within their own ecosystem. You can search my blog for individual articles on the emotions and you can listen to the Relationship Cleanse Podcast, episode 003 What To Do When You Feel Emotionally Unavailable To Your Partner.