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Marriage Advice: Maintaining Peace in your Marriage

When you bond with and commit to a long-term marriage relationship with another human being, you usually start from a place of peace. Both of you are accepted and loved and are interested in the interests, activities and passions of the other. There may be a lot going on, but your relationship is one of peace.

As the trials and tribulations of life intervene, there will be periodic conflict, at least if you are both alive. Conflicts can be dealt with however, and the hope is that any time there is a disagreement the two of you can resolve it and move on…

Turn the clock ahead, say 20 years. Are you enjoying each other’s company? Are you able to resolve your differences most of the time. When something bad happens like illness or loss, do you become closer and more supportive in working through the ordeal? In short, have you maintained your peace with each other? Or were you mostly unable to deal with your differences, and did your differences turn into hostile conflicts? Did sickness or loss push you further apart? Do you find yourself walking on egg shells? Are you holding back from each other to keep the peace? These are signs, not of peace, but of a truce, a cease-fire.

For the two in a marriage relationship, as with two warring nations, the truce is not a happy place. It may be temporarily practical, but seldom more than an uneasy peace.

If you find your marriage in the state of truce, the question of whether or not it can be fixed will come up. But underlying that question is a more fundamental one, “Do you both want it to be fixed?” Or is one or both of you just hoping the other will leave and end the marriage? Asking it another way, do you deeply wish you weren’t married to this person, but refuse to be the one to break your commitment.

If you find yourself in a long-term truce, I have some marriage advice for you in the form of two suggestions. The first is that you make a close examination of your values and belief systems. With reflection you may be able to root out some intrinsic beliefs that no longer serve you and get some clarity about what you really want.

My second suggestion is to bring it to a head. Bringing it to a head will leave you with two choices.

If you both want peace with each other and want the truce to be over, and you have never been completely successful with the rebuilding process on your own, you may well have to make a serious investment in professional help to coach you through the process.

Alternatively, if you have given up on peace with each other, you can make a serious investment in professional legal help to take you through the separation and divorce process.

For either alternative the goal is personal peace and freedom to be yourself.

There is no doubt that many couples get so used to the truce that they will never bring it to a head. Instead they just live out their lonely lives, waiting for the other to die first.

Sad, because chronic unhappiness is not a mandatory part of life.

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Dr. Neill Neill retired his psychology practice at the end of 2013. He maintains an active coaching practice via telephone or Skype with select clients dealing with alcoholic husbands or ex-husbands. Check out his book, Living with a Functioning Alcoholic: A Woman's Survival Guide. http://drneillneill.com

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