Do our mindsets change once married or do couples continue to see themselves as integrally separate from one another?
Allison Cohen, who wrote the article The #1 Reason Marriage seems so darn hard states: writes
Make the Mental Shift From ‘I to We’ – To keep your relationship strong, you as a couple have to view yourselves as the most important people in your world. It doesn’t mean that you are the only ones in existence, but it does mean that barring life hiccups, responsibilities and emergencies, you always have to think about what’s best for you two as a couple. This is no simple question, but it is the most important thing to ask when determining whether your marriage is going to sink or swim. It all sounds easy in theory, doesn’t it? Just “do what’s best” and you won’t be lead astray. It becomes more cloudy and complicated when it becomes apparent that in this “I to We” shift, a little part of each of you vanishes, for good.
Every marriage faces some type of stress. Becky Sweat discusses triggers which can create marital stressors and what to do about them:
…marital stressor is any kind of external influence, circumstance or event that challenges or threatens a marriage. These can cause tension and discord between spouses, and even fuel bitterness that can destroy a relationship. There can also be more subtle effects. Some marital stressors cause husbands and wives to just gradually drift apart—with little or no conflict between them.
Common marital stressors include financial troubles, unemployment, intimacy problems, infidelity, differing views on parenting, chronically poor health of a dependent family member, the death of a child and clashes with in-laws. These issues have long been sources of friction for husbands and wives.
- Financial hardship and job loss
Even in good economic times money is a leading cause of marital strife. Couples argue about how to spend their money and who’s doing the most to keep the household budget in the black. But in a down economy like we’re in right now, with high unemployment rates, salary reductions, rising cost of living, mounting credit card debt, plummeting home values and shriveling retirement accounts, couples may be much more “on edge” about finances.
- Toxic business
Couples now work a combined average of 63 hours a week, up from just 52.5 in 1970, according to a 2009 report on workplace flexibility from the Georgetown University Law Center. With both parents working so many hours away from home, many feel they have no choice but to use weeknights and weekends to run errands and do housekeeping tasks that didn’t get done during the weekdays.
- Electronic distractions
“There’s a dearth of undivided attention for couples today, and that’s in big part because of all these electronic distractions,” observes Barbara Koppe, a licensed clinical social worker in St. Louis, Missouri, who specializes in marriage and family therapy. “People are plugged into their electronic gadgets practically every waking minute of the day.”
- Online infidelity
According to a report by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, between 20 and 33 percent of Internet users in the United States go online for sexual purposes—either to view pornographic images or to engage in an online sexual relationship of some kind. Most of these are married men. As many as 17 percent of users become addicted to online sexual activity. (Sad and yes disgusting)
- Ethical and moral decline
….these days there are a lot of outside pressures making it hard for couples to stay connected. People are probably the busiest and household finances are the tightest they’ve been since the Great Depression. But these types of issues are not ultimately the cause of marital breakdown. If they were, then every marriage would be only as secure as the societal trends and circumstances around it.
- Selfishness trumps commitment
“Today many people will stay in a relationship only as long as they’re getting more out of it than they have to put into it,” observes Craig. “People are more focused on making themselves happy, rather than in doing what is right. They’re not nearly as committed to their marital vows as people once were.”
For any marriage to survive it takes two working together with common goals to find solutions to these types of problems. When one spouse is always thinking “me” and not “we” that’s when divorce could very well be not just a possibility but to that person, a solution.
As I’ve often touted on my blog, love takes work, marriage takes even more. Out of all the people in this world we choose one (we hope) to have and to hold…working together through better and worse hoping against all odds this marriage will work and we can be that elderly couple everyone envies.