Discover A Top Reason Your May Not Be Able To Stop Your Divorce.

How to Have a Successful Marriage: Characteristics to show you the RIGHT way to save your marriage and to stop your divorce, Pt 5: Developing a Secure Sense of Self, Pt.2 – Distress

Before I share with you the challenges for you to overcome in order to develop a strong and secure sense of self, and what you can do to accomplish that task, there’s one more aspect of a insecure sense of self I want you to be aware of: Distress.

When someone with a weakened sense of self experiences distress within their own life or watches their partner in distress they don’t know how to handle it. They feel completely powerless & at a loss as to what to do. Perhaps you even feel victimized by events or circumstances in which you’re experiencing distress. When distress is experienced, you are unable to defend against it; you don’t have any effective or healthy defense mechanisms.

What this means to you is when you or your partner is in distress your marital problems will not only significantly increase, their potency and intensity will significantly multiply as well. And if you are unable to learn how to defend yourself against distress, employ effective & healthy defense mechanisms, and/or allow your partner to experience distress without it causing intense anxiety within you, you will not be able to resolve or get past any of your problems. In fact, the opposite is true: One or both of you will feel more bitterness, resentment; "stonewall" more (basically shut down and be unwilling to talk); blame more often; and be more critical. And most likely if you’re fighting to save your marriage you’ve already experienced more than your fair share of distress – and have been unable to successfully navigate it as a couple.

What is "distress"? Distress is basically being in a position in life or your marriage where you feel stuck; you do not know how to move forward, you are losing hope rapidly and may already be hopeless; you feel less powerful; you are experiencing a much higher sense of stress than normal; nothing you do seems to work. Some examples of distress are: job loss, birth of a child, death of a loved one, moving, an affair (or even the belief or suspicion of an affair), retirement, a child moving away from home, losing your home, severe debt (spending more than your bringing in), abuse, trauma (car accident, assault, death of a pet, unresolved grief), medical emergency, or some other crisis, and so forth.

And when you or your spouse don’t have a strong and secure sense of self instead of turning "toward" each other in distress and being available for each other, you turn "away" and isolate. You avoid each other and attempt to ignore the distress and the event(s) or situation(s) stimulating the sense of distress. You seek false comfort (drinking, substance use, compliments from those other than your spouse, excessive working out or dieting, thrill-seeking, pornography, masturbation, fantasy life, and so forth). What this means to you is affair (emotional or physical) is significantly more likely, your problems will become much worse, you will argue and fight more and more intensely or you’ll become more and more distant from each other basically living separate lives. When you spend more time in avoidance and isolation, divorce seems like a natural move. After all, why be in a relationship with someone whom you no longer know and relate to?

Be encouraged: Everyone experiences distress in their life, and usually more than once, twice or three times. Any major life even has the ability to trigger a sense of distress; whether your moving, starting a new job, lost in the woods (literally and figuratively), a child is moving away, you purchase a home, and so forth. I’ve experienced distress multiple times and even though I handled it poorly for the first several times I still got through it; it didn’t kill me, it wasn’t the end of the world (as I thought would happen). I didn’t make great choices at first in response to distress & in some ways I’m still dealing with those consequences. Yes, I have regrets as to some of the decisions I made just to try and avoid my feelings of distress, just to feel better.

Yet as I was able to develop a more and more secure and strong sense of self (and so can you!) I responded better and better to distress. I made better decisions. It became easier to deal with distress, and the length of distress became shorter and shorter. I learned better defense mechanisms (meaning healthy and effective ones instead of the negative and useless ones I had learned growing up). Now, I feel confident I can deal with any distress when it comes my way (not if). It’s not fun (and never will be when you experience distress) but you CAN learn to master it. Think of distress this way: When you tried to ride a bike for the first time it was scary, wasn’t it? You fell down & probably cried. Maybe you felt embarrassed. Perhaps you thought you were letting your parents down. Maybe you got up and tried again…only to fall back down and get scraped up. It hurt. It wasn’t easy, it felt uncomfortable…until…you nailed it! And now, it ain’t no thing to jump on a bike and ride around if you want. You may not go out and win any bike races, but you can ride without falling down, without getting hurt. Well, distress is similar; it’ll kick your butt for the first few times until you learn the SKILLS I’ll teach you to handle and master distress so it’s something you simply experience and go through.

Even if your marriage has been characterized by an inability to respond well to distress – you and your partner turn away from each other & avoid each other – this does not mean you’re doomed. You can both learn to respond differently to distress, and to each other. You simply have to learn new, different, & the right skills. And if you can dress yourself, show up for work, use the toilet, or walk, than I know you can learn this skill too because those other things I mentioned were all skills you at one time did not know how to do – and learned to do.

In the fourth part of this section I’m going to tie everything together; explain WHY criticism, your partner’s mood, and distress have the affect they have on you; and some action steps you CAN take which will help you to resolve your marital problems & save your marriage by developing a secure sense of self. You will NOT want to miss out on this!

P.S.: Was this helpful to you? Did you learn something new or were you reminded of something you needed to be reminded of? I’d love to hear your comments or questions! Either leave a comment or email me at [email protected]. If there’s someone you care about & think this might be a benefit to them as well, do them a favor and "Pass it on!"

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