In my article on Strong Marriages Build Strong Children, we are discussing the fact that the quality of our marriage has a huge impact on our kids’ happiness, emotional stability and future success…not to mention our own. This is true both for good marriages (where kids generally turn out happier, healthier, and more successful overall)[i] and bad marriages or messy divorces (and almost all divorces are messy)[ii] where the opposite is true.
In my last article I outlined three basic types of generally positive marriages:
- Optimistic but Uncertain;
- Dynamic and Growing; and
- Mature and Content.
It is important to understand what kind of marriage we have today, because then we can work effectively to improve it.
Today let’s outline three generally negative marriage types. Most marriages have good and bad elements, but in understanding where we are today we must be willing to admit our problems. In my coming articles, we will discuss how each of these six marriage types can be strengthened – and what a benefit that is for the children and for the couple themselves.
But now let’s now look at the three most common ‘negative’ types of marriage:
- Uncaring and/or Detached
This is when one or both spouses has lost hope or respect or interest in the other. This happens over time when the pressures of kids, aging parents, work commitments and other responsibilities take their toll on the marriage. Husband and wife spend less and less quality time with each other. Misunderstandings and hurts build up. Intimacy decreases. Eventually one or both are just “showing up” each day, doing what they have to do but not finding joy or fulfilment. There might not be open conflict, but the once warm and loving marriage relationship has devolved into a contractual obligation.
- Angry and/or Bitter
When one or both spouses feel consistently disappointed by the other, tensions can boil over into arguments and verbal abuse. Bitterness and anger are like a cancer: they eat away at the marriage until it is dead. We must identify them, cut them out and then apply the chemotherapy of true forgiveness if we are to heal the marriage. More on that coming in a near future blog.
- Stagnating and/or Trapped
As I wrote about last time, growth is the surest evidence of life. A marriage in which either or both spouses are not growing – or are feeling trapped in their role – is a marriage in trouble. It might be that one spouse doesn’t even see it (usually this will be the man). The wife might even have spoken to him directly about her concerns, but he’s too busy at work or focused on other things to really hear her. These are the guys who wake up and find their wives gone physically or emotionally…and they never saw it coming.
If you have friends who might need some help and encouragement with their marriage (and we all do!!!), please send them this article and encourage them to join us for the whole Building Stronger Marriages series. Strong marriages build a strong home resulting in a strong nation.
“The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home!”
In my next article, we will lay out how a couple can move together from a negative to a positive marriage type. It is not easy…but it is possible!
About the Author: The Honorable Gregory W. Slayton, former U.S. Ambassador, Ivy-League Professor, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist who invested during the early days of Google and Salesforce. Gregory has authored a global bestseller, “Be a Better Dad Today”, with over 250,000 copies in print. He also co-authored “Be the Best Mom You Can Be” along with his wife Marina and “Maximum Marriage” with his friend Steven Chan. Gregory is currently the Chairman of Fellowship of Fathers Foundation and Family First Global, a partnership of business and civic leaders which promotes and supports families across the all spectrums of society.
On the family front, Gregory has four beautiful children aged 16 to 27 who are actively involved in their academic and professional communities. In writing this blog, he aims to share 30 years of his parenting experience and extensive research on all family-related matters.
During his teenage years, Gregory was abandoned by his birth father. Thankfully, he found a home with the Changs, a Chinese-American family, who welcomed him with open arms. This blog is dedicated to families across the globe.
[i] For more information on “Happy Marriage Makes Happy Kids”, see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christine-carter-phd/happy-marriage-happy-kids_b_828370.html
[ii] For effects of marriage and divorce on children, see http://www.mdrc.org/publication/effects-marriage-and-divorce-families-and-children