Yes, I fully admit I ruined my marriage. And mark my words: I promise every one of you reading this: You will ruin yours, too! This website will give reasons.
I know, I know, it’s one bold statement, but first read on so I can explain. See if by the end you don’t agree.
Justin and I had known each other for about 17 years when we decided to get married. By the time we got married we were best friends, head over heels in love with each other, and on Cloud 9. We knew each other inside and out. Our friends and family all commented on how happy we were together.
Justin was still in the Navy when we said our I Do’s with a year and a half to serve before he could come home. I’m a realist, so I knew when he came home it would take some time to get used to living together and being married. What I didn’t expect was my husband to return home injured with post-traumatic stress disorder, which is a separate story in and of itself. But still, I was confident we could overcome anything so long as we were together. And I was right; but yet so wrong, I even took Justin along with me for couples counseling orange county to save our marriage. Sometimes it becomes especially difficult to understand each other in relationship, but you can try to save your marriage with a weekend intensive. To learn more check out African American marriage retreats 2019.
The first five years of our marriage were absolute hell, or as close as you could get without it being out and out abuse. We argued all the time about everything: money, family, life, our values. Nothing was off-limits, and he wanted to control it all due to his PTSD. I didn’t feel like we were in sync for anything, not even how marriage is supposed to be. Desperate to save our relationship, I tried every tactic I could possibly think of keep our family from being ruined, or worse, being totally destroyed. I thought, “If I love him enough, he will love me back.” So I walked on eggshells trying to avoid any and all conflict. I tried setting boundaries and made rules. I even started living my life for my husband and his happiness.
Can you guess what happened? EPIC FAIL on all counts even though I had run the gamut for solutions. No matter what I said, I couldn’t get through to him. I couldn’t make him see what I was saying or my side of anything. Even if I pointed out, “You did,” or “You said,” he would get defensive and would counter it with how I was wrong, how I was trying to control or manipulate him, or how I always blamed him for everything. No matter how factual of a statement I was making, “You” was ruining my marriage. I thought about it and came to the conclusion: If we as a couple learn better communication skills, then the problem will be fixed, and then we will have a healthy relationship.
Not saying you, you, you, you, you, which insinuated blame, left a major hole in my communications. That led me to dig deep and look for another approach when speaking. I-statements are supposed to be an alternative to the seemingly more destructive you-statements that attack, blame, or criticize someone else. “This is perfect,” I thought. “Eureka baby, yeah!!!”
So, can you guess what happened this time? EPIC FAIL again! Even when using I-statements, Justin still felt blamed and got defensive. What? Are you kidding me? The I-statement had the exact same effect as you-statement did. I was at a loss; I didn’t know what to do. I had no voice, I had no say, and I felt like I was a doormat, which was completely unacceptable. And yet, these were the only tools I knew how to use. I had researched, and they were all I had found. I felt like our relationship had been invaded by two other people: *I* and *You*.
I had ruined my marriage just like You!
As months went by we finally got into counseling; it was not fixing us like I had longed for. Our marriage was in pieces, and I will never forget the day the counselor looked at me and said, “So, where do you want things to go from here? Do you want a divorce, do you just want to separate for a while, or do you want to try to fix this?” I wondered, “Why is this decision being left up to me? We both came into this marriage together, so why aren’t we deciding the future of our marriage together? And yet I deserve to be happy, right?” Maybe having a dispute resolution Perth where you can go through everything that is going on and maybe fix it. Looking at myself, I was a shell of the person I used to be, my heart was hardened, and resentment towards my husband was seeping in my soul, as well as keeping score of what I was doing vs. what he wasn’t doing.
And there was the answer: We came into this marriage together; we were a team; we could get through anything together. Our problem was: We were no longer finding solutions together, weren’t trying to understand each other, never stopped to care why the other person couldn’t or wouldn’t do things we wanted, and had stopped functioning as a we. *I* was a cancer that ate away at our marriage completely, eroding every piece of it. It ruined our marriage just as a gambling addiction or drug addiction ruins a person. But that is why there are rehab treatment so the person can get better.
It wasn’t just the communication like I had originally thought. *I* was a complete drift in mindset from *We* to *I* and *You*, creating an invisible barrier that kept us from ever overcoming it. I realized I had to make a choice if I truly wanted a healthy marriage. I had to depart from the *I* and *You* mindset, wiping the slate and starting from scratch. What was best for *We*–our marriage and our family–was the only possible way our marriage had any chance.
I tried switching to a *We* mindset, and life improved dramatically. Even if we disagreed on something,
Justin could now see that I was including him in my thoughts about us. At first, I had to work really hard at using we-statements to get the point across that my thinking had changed. But eventually, when he knew I was viewing us as a team, he knew he was still included, even if I used basic I and you pronouns. Life got better. The arguments got fewer and further between. PTSD is still a problem in our house, but because we are a *We* now, *We* can cope with it better together.
Successful couples don’t run a marriage with an *I* and *You* mindset. Marriage is about joining two separate people together as one family, and that’s the way it has to be thought of if it is to work. There has to be a shared mindset. It’s not so much the language of pronouns–I, you, and we–as it is how you think about everything you want for the marriage. If you are only thinking about what will make you happy, then you will completely miss what will make *We* happy. The best way to do this is to find the best parts of yourself and offer them up as a gift to, not the other person alone, but to the relationship so that *We* will be the happy ones in the end.
I want you to know, all of you, that *I* ruined my marriage and so will *You*….Shawn J. Gourley Co-Founder Military with PTSD
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