Guide to a Mostly Miserable Marriage

A paradoxical look at problem-communication in marriage.

Marriage is nature’s way of keeping us from fighting with strangers.”

                                                                                         -Alan King

Communication experts agree that communication is vital to a healthy marriage.  For a successful marriage, it is important to communicate caringly, honestly, openly, and frequently. On the other hand, if you can learn how to thwart communication, you will be sure to have marital problems for years to come. Sure love, commitment, respect, team-playing, mutual interests, and friendship all play a big part in a happy marriage; nonetheless, poor communication will be a sure-fire way to create problems in the most quick and dramatic of ways for years to come. Below are a few of the main tips that I encourage you to try (if you are not already).

A  Reading of the Minds

When it comes to your partner’s words, never take them at face value. Assume the worst, react to what you THINK they say (and don’t say).  Say things like, “I heard you, but I know what you are REALLY saying!” Basically, you need to tell them what they are thinking – nothing will upset them more at that moment. It doesn’t matter if you might be wrong – if you are, all the better. This will certainly get their goat. Moreover, never let them know what you want. They are your spouse: they SHOULDN’T THEY KNOW what you are thinking???- So refuse to believe you CAN tolerate it when they don’t and simply view the situation as HORRIBLE (the worst thing that could be occurring).

Use Dramatics

When tensions are starting to brew be sure to overreact.  Basically, take your normal reactions that you would typically have with a boss or a friend and throw those out the window. This will move understanding or simple problem solving to the side to allow room for a more dramatic approach like a temper tantrum (publically if at all possible). This will surely get a topic that may be able to be talked out to where you will need a break and all possible good times will be put on hold.

Defensitize

Make your mate feel condemned, shut-down, judged, criticized, and put them on guard. This is so simple to attain you do not have to be married for long in order to achieve this state in your partner. Simply shirk any responsibility for any misunderstanding or problem that occurred – refusing to try and see your partner’s side of events, or empathize with what they are experiencing. Basically, Never admit ANY wrong-doing regardless of whether you had a part in the problem or not. The following three simple words (regardless of the data at hand) will get your desired result, “It’s your fault!”

Arguing 101

Bring data with no relevance into the discussion (for example recall a different time when your partner was at fault regardless of the fact that this is a different situation). Also bring in other family members, friend’s opinions, or even former mates of your partner to blur the issue at hand. Throw in some irritating catch phrases such as, “You don’t get it!” or “That’s not the point!” or “You never-!” “You always___!”  If all else fails, you can go back to an old and faithful one that even my grandparents found useful, “I told you so!” I know some couples that have been successfully producing problems for over 75 years – Congratulations Grandpa Joe and Grandma Millie!

Passive vs. Silence

There are two great tools that you can try at home if you are not already: passive and silent communication. The great thing about passive communication, i.e., talking without action, works better with every passive conversation to the point where your partner is able to fully achieve blocking you out. All you have to do to achieve this is say things that you have no plans to follow through on, such as, “The next time you don’t pick up your things, I am going to throw them away” (modify statements like this to fit your own circumstances). If you continue this approach overtime, your partner will be able to even read this article while you are shouting obscenities at them. Now silent communication (known as “the silent treatment”) this of course is where you boycott the other person (can last often up to a few months until put into a social situation where you cannot keep it up). Where well adjusted couples work at talking openly, with practice you can learn to talk around each other, even at weddings, birthdays, and holiday alike.

Sexual Unhealing

Think of sex as a duty and you will surely start to enjoy it less. As a wife tell yourself that it is your responsibility and as a husband, tell yourself that it is your wife’s job to live up to her obligation. Remember, these myths do not have to be true to believe them. Also, think of sex as dirty. Even if you don’t think it is dirty or bad, you can still pretend for maximum effect. Anytime your partner wants to discuss sex or to improve the sexual relationship say something like, “That’s disgusting.” This will bread insecurity and distance in your partner. Do not tell your partner what you like because, “They SHOULD know.” Also use sex as a reward or punishment for behaving “properly” and NOT a display of love and intimacy. Depending on whether your spouse was following up on what they needed to or behaved as they should you (without directly talking about it) can either sleep in bed, the couch, or in the other room. Experts know that as long as you pick a fight at night and don’t resolve – you will certainly add to the skills you are already fine-tuning.

Problematic Problem Solving

Marital researchers are realizing that couples who learn problem-solving techniques can make great strides in maintaining a healthy marriage. If you can make a problem out of problem solving, you will surely have long-term conflict for years to come.

Timing

Finding an inconvenient time to derail any attempts from your partner to problem solve. If your spouse is leaving to work, at work, running late, or you are running out to an event together , these are usually good times for an unresolveable discussion.  Other ideas are catching them off-guard by waking them at 3 a.m. in the morning, when they just had woken up, or better yet, start a discussion and then storm out with a door slam! If he or she goes after you  to problem solve – don’t worry. You can overload and confuse the topic with so much random information, nothing will be able to be accomplished. Overloading can be very effective if you throw every problem into it.

Side-Tracking

When all else fails, sidetrack the conversation with curse words, picking at their soft-spots (newly weds: over time you will know what words will drive them over the edge). Criticize, nag, and bring up the past in a way that shows YOU in good light and THEM as lousy/worthless human beings. Most importantly BLAME. Blaming does not require evidence, logic, or need to be helpful. As a matter of fact – all of those concepts can freely be thrown out the window with a simple, “You started it!”

Whatever Happens Happens

In short: Avoid! Just don’t think about it, and maybe it will all work out. Consider this as being your new mantra. Avoid therapy, balance, doing additional reading on communication, and working on getting your mood to a place where you will be able to implement new communication skills. Unrealistic expectations can and SHOULD be applied to all areas of marriage. Your rules of how a marriage should be must remain RIGID, despite the fact that your spouse had a different set of parents and history. Overgeneralizations will be the super-glue that holds the marital conflict together.  Expect the impossible from marriage and conflict will grow overtime, not as beautiful as the complexity of an aged fine wine, but rather like moss or a tumor.

If you have any questions about the content in this article or anything else you can e-mail me at info@cbtiofsocal.com or contact me at 949.300.1952.

Thank you for giving it a read,

Paul DePompo