The Anatomy of Marriage Meltdowns

Nothing hurts like a disconnected marriage. We can find the disconnects, and heal them. We can develop a strategy that brings hope. Awareness of what’s going on brings immediate hope. I can choose to change what I can see.

Oh, that’s what we’re doing!”

So shall the knowledge of wisdom be to your soul; If you have found it, there is a prospect, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 24:14

Cause and Effect

Newton’s third law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Without doing the research, I think he must have been married.

Perhaps many of us have been victimized by Newton’s law unawares. Simply stated, how we treat others will affect how they treat us. Big time.

There is also a sowing and reaping principal that governs life. Seeds and growing what we plant and such.

The Control Meltdown

Control or manipulation begins a marriage meltdown that won’t stop until you forsake the behavior and focus on what you are bringing to bear upon the marriage. I may think it’s them when I’m the one causing it.

Control is the action, him or her withdrawing from the control is the reaction. I won’t move toward you if you are invalidating who I am by trying to control, pressure, or change me. I respond to acceptance and affirmation creating a willingness to negotiate almost anything.

Truth be Told

It’s a hopeless feeling when we’re stuck and don’t know the way out, or lack the tools to change any of our dynamics.

In our brokenness, unable to communicate with emotional honesty, we will manipulate and apply pressure instead of risking the vulnerability to get honest about what we need. We need to get in touch with those needs first.

We need honest words that are respected, then move us into the truth of where we are as a couple. With commitment, we can then strategize together and do something about it.

There’s hope in this because I can choose not to manipulate. I can learn to be a safe talker and listener. So can my partner. We can practice communication skills together, and learn to take emotional risks as we build security into our marriage. We can choose to not be victims, living with distance in our marriage.

We Build the House we Live in

Our actions cultivate the environment we live in, like the air we breathe. I miss the boat if I focus on her and start demanding change, which seems to be the normal relational default;

If I can only change the thing in her or him that’s bothering me, then I’ll feel relief, the discomfort will go away and things will be better.

This belief or thinking actually creates a distance dynamic affecting our intimacy. The controller always pushes the controlee away from them.

The meltdown will stop and my partner will move towards me when I embrace the new belief that says;

I will accept them and validate them for who they are instead of trying to change them.

I will leave the dark territory of manipulation, and start communicating and negotiating for how I can meet my needs.

Differences in needs

It’s business as usual after the honeymoon for the typical male. It seems like for him the adventure is over because he has her now.

For her, the adventure’s just beginning, but instead of pursuing her heart and drawing her into the adventure, unaware of what her heart needs, he clams up and leaves her at home. Living in the absence of a connection with his heart and feelings, she emotionally withers.

He gets most of his needs met out there, as she waits for him to come home and hopefully meet hers there. Instead of tuning into her at home, he plops down and turns on the tube or checks out some other way.

Two Lovers Losing

His inability or unwillingness to meet her needs in the way she wants him to,(her love language), creates a reluctance for her to give herself to him in the way he needs and wants. The cause and effect of this dynamic accumulates and creates conflict and negative emotion in the marriage.

As time goes on, her default is to nag him or apply pressure to change him in order to meet her needs. Her needs are legitimate, but lacking sensitivity he is unaware of them and doesn’t know how to meet them even if he sees them there.

It helps her to have compassion and warmth if she can see him in the light of not understanding her needs. Seeing him as needing her help, not knowing what to do, rather than stubborn or unwilling to meet her needs helps.

The Strategy She Needs; Understand Your Man

Her way out is to hook up with Newton’s Law and change the cause and effect. She needs to stop applying pressure and come up with some creative ways to get his attention, (one thing I know works pretty well).

He needs words of affirmation and meaningful touch. If his needs aren’t met, he will withdraw further. If you nag, complain, criticize, or cut him off, he will withdraw feeling inadequate, criticized, and devalued. He’ll check out, and just work harder out there keeping away from you to avoid pain. There are ways in, you have to find them.

If you change your strategy and reel him in, he’ll be more receptive to what you want and need. Remember your goal in accepting and loving him also includes connecting him to your heart that wants to know and be known. It takes time and persistence to change the old dynamics but very doable.

You then need to teach him about your needs being specific about what it looks like to have them met. You have to get in touch with them yourself to articulate them to him. Believe me, he doesn’t know how to do it, you have to show him. He needs a sensitivity education from you.

Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respect her husband Eph. 5:33

The Strategy He Needs; Understand Your Woman

The best thing a man can do for himself is to understand his wife’s needs are different than his. He then needs to do everything he can to learn about and meet them. (her love language.)

She needs validation, security, and reassurance. Ignore her and she gets none of that. Her emotions need your attention and understanding, she thrives on this, not your neglect. That’s the nourishing and cherishing part the man struggles with.

Men, the worst thing we can do is criticize or demean her sensitivity or emotions. This is where the tenderness we need comes from, and if we crush her there, she won’t give her heart or anything else to us. we can end up cooking our own goose and losing the promised land.

So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.

For no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. Ephesians 5:28,29

Let’s Make a Deal

I’m a reasonable businessman. My language is negotiation, honestly in the open without pressure or manipulation. Anything is negotiable if it’s done with respect and good communication. Both parties win and get what they need.

Marriage meltdowns occur when two people are trying to change each other without negotiation or respectful communication. I think we all do this at first until we learn a better way. The meltdown only stops when each takes responsibility for themselves and what they are doing.

Your assignment as a couple is to read this together and talk about where control might be present and decide what to do about it. Also, talk about your two biggest needs and whether they are met or not and what you can do about it. Take time and honor feelings.

Prayer; Lord, thank you for being the God of Hope who takes away our hopelessness and despair. Thank you for the grace to relax our white knuckles of control and to trust you with our spouses, and our needs. You are the God of transformation, help us put our trust in you. Give us courage to be honest with our needs and feelings and communicate them well to our spouses. Thank you for some fresh strategies. We love you, In Jesus name. Amen. XO