It is good to have some healthy, loving and playful competition between husband and wife. This kind of completion can help maintain and strengthen the couple’s bond with one another, by increasing motivation, quality time, love, respect, and friendship, just to name a few. The problem comes when this healthy competition turns into a “winner take all” mentality.
One of the most common problems I see with my clients is that they are in constant competition with each other…..about everything!!! To hear some of them talk, is like listening to opposing politicians, where points are kept, and faults or misdeeds of the other are tossed out like candy at a parade. The general feeling of people in this type of relationship is, “No matter what I say or do, it is never going to be enough to “earn” or “win” the love and respect of my spouse.” The relationship has become a constant competition, where everything has a point value and keeping score has replaced, love and respect as the primary motivator. In this type of relationship, there will always be a “winner” and a “loser”. Does this sound familiar?
How on earth can a husband and wife have a successful marriage if there is NO partnership? Isn’t partnership a key point in the definition of marriage? Both spouses must learn to work together to solve problems, instead of going at it alone only to be disappointed in the results, and the “nagging” from their spouse. A common statement I hear is that “My husband/wife needs to change”. I disagree completely!!! It takes BOTH husband AND wife to fundamentally change, and begin to build a partnership built on friendship, love, respect!!
More often than not, the reason couples find themselves in “stuck” places, or feel like they are in a “loveless marriage”, is that both of them refuse to work together to solve the issues. Instead, they go at it alone, and can’t understand why their spouse feels angry, hurt, resentful, and unloved. All of this, while at the same time complaining about how bad each of them have it, and how their needs are not being met.
If you refuse to take the time needed to learn how to nurture and grow an emotional connection with your spouse, as well as to help one another understand how those needs are not being met, then how on earth do you expect your partner to know how those unmet needs are making you feel? What would it be like if both you and your spouse really sat down, and began to work together to solve issues? In order for that to happen, it would require BOTH of you to fundamentally change the way you look at yourselves, your relationship, your family, and let go of the pride, selfishness, hurt, and resentment that has allowed a wedge to grow between you. Honestly, until that fundamental change occurs, relationships usually will remain “stuck”. I hope this insight and challenge helps cultivate a new beginning and a new chapter on your road to a successful marriage partnership.
Written by: James Vastag, MA, LMFTA
James Vastag is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Associate with Groff & Associates Professional Counseling. His passion is to help couples and families navigate life’s rough waters by helping them learn how to meet their emotional, physical, and spiritual needs in a positive and healthy manner. James may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org