Dear Dr. Weiss-Wisdom,
I’m so discouraged with my marriage that I almost don’t care anymore. I stayed in my first marriage because of the kids and now I’m remarried and doing the same thing again. I have two teenagers from my first marriage and a five year old now with my second wife. It’s probably my fault because my second marriage is turning out exactly like my first. We have a cold war. We don’t see eye to eye on anything and we’ve become like roommates. Other than not wanting to disrupt the kids’ lives again, there’s nothing really keeping me here. I think that maybe I should just stay and raise the children because I’m just not lucky in love. How do I know if it is me that can’t keep a good relationship or if I’m with the wrong person again?
-Second time loser
Dear Second Time,
Marriage is a challenging endeavor especially if you want to have a happy one. Blended families make the journey even more precarious – with children and stepchildren in the mix. People usually stop caring when they feel so hurt, abandoned, and frustrated that they go into self protective mode. Maybe that’s where you and your wife both are.
Your question about whether it’s you or you keep mating with the ‘wrong’ person suggests that you are open minded and willing to take some responsibility for your part in things (always a requirement for improving a situation). Naturally, it takes two to tango, but there’s a variety of things that can throw the rhythm off.
Reciprocal listening to one another’s verbal and non-verbal cues and respecting your differences is essential to having good chemistry on the dance floor in all aspects of married life. Individual or couples counseling that focuses on the underlying fears and unmet needs in your relationship could help you identify the cause and cure of your frozen marriage. Happy marriages require a safe and loving connection; one in which you can trust that the other person has your back and that your heart is secure in their hands. If you can identify the underlying cause of what caused things to go south between you and your wife, you have a chance of turning things around. Once you are aware of the destructive dance steps that both of you are doing, you can work to stop doing those. And then you are in a position to learn a new dance that is more conducive to a close, caring, and playful relationship. If you and your wife are unable to do this alone, an experienced couples’ therapist can be of great assistance.
Recommended reading: Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson
The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships (Paperback) by John Gottman
Diana Weiss-Wisdom, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist psy #12476 in private practice in the Carmel Valley/Rancho Santa Fe area. (858) 259-0146 www.drdianaweiss-wisdom.cm