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Marriage Behavior Violations

Listed below are attitudes and behaviors that violate a marriage relationship:

Keeping friends of the opposite sex—Maintaining a relationship with a previous boyfriend or girlfriend jeopardizes the commitment to marriage. So does keeping a relationship, which is too friendly, with an ex-spouse. And so does any relationship with any member of the opposite sex, other than work related, so long as it does not seek emotional or sexual attention. Relationships with members of the opposite sex are non-jeopardizing when both spouses are friends with another married couple and they interact only as a group. Relationships with members of the opposite sex create insecurity about your singular dedication to your spouse. Whether that is the case or not, the problem is that it gives the appearance of being less than fully committed to your marriage.

Extra marital affair—Infidelity is proof positive that the marriage relationship is dysfunctional and in immediate need of reconciliation facilitated by professional helper.

Alcoholism and other drug addiction—both of these create problems that bring overwhelming stress to spouses and children alike. Alcoholism and other drug addiction are both medical issues because they are psychological disorders stemming from physiological problems due to the abuse of psychoactive chemicals. And as such necessitate immediate medical and psychological interventions. Failure to face up to this problem and seek help is a violation of a commitment to marriage.

Pornography and sex addiction—Like alcoholism and other drug addiction, abuse of pornography is a self-medicating behavior, and becomes a preoccupation that contributes to the development of a sex addiction. The sex addicted individual’s interest in prurient stimulation leads to unrealistic expectation that his or her spouse satisfy atypical sexual interests and fetishes. This creates in the mind of the spouse that sexual connections are perfunctory, mechanical, and lacking emotional intimacy. Additionally, interest in pornography leads to decreased intimacy connections. Sexual connections with a spouse are neglected when sexual releases are satisfied with masturbation facilitated by pornography. Over time this leaves the other spouse feeling unwanted and abandoned, and creates feelings of resentment. Like alcoholism, preoccupation with sex needs professional intervention.

Being Controlling—This is a type of emotional abuse. The single goal of a domestic abuser is to control one’s spouse. It is driven by intense underlying feelings of personal insecurity.  It is a disordered behavior that violates the other spouse’s right to be a free and autonomous individual. There are many types of controlling behaviors. The following are some of the more prominent ones:

Intimidates you with physical aggression

Tells you what clothes you can and cannot wear

Doesn’t allow you to have friends

Doesn’t allow you to get a job or education

Threatens to commit suicide if you leave

Takes away your car keys

Violates and removes your privacy

Controls your money and spending

Physical abuse—Hitting, punching, choking, pushing, restraint holding, smothering, harming pets, and intimidation are all grounds for divorce. Physical abuse is a violation not only of the commitment to marriage but also of the law.

Emotional abuse—Emotional abuse is an attempt to control one’s partner and is driven by the abuser’s personal insecurity. It involves denigrating and harming one’s spouse with verbal violence and intimidating behaviors. The following are some of the more prominent types of emotional abuse:

 Screams and yells at you

 Behaves with excessive anger

 Frequently criticizes you or your family

Calls you names

Suggests you are stupid or crazy

Humiliates you in front of others

Provokes a fight as you leave for work or school

Won’t leave you alone, follows you as you seek to withdraw

Passive-aggression/ withdrawal of attention and affection

Psychologizing—This is another type of emotional abuse. Making an interpretation about one’s spouse’s behavior or intentions is psychologizing (playing psychologist). Suggesting why your spouse feels or behaves a certain way can only be a guess at best. To your spouse it feels controlling and demeaning to receive that type of behavior. Additionally, you bringing up your spouse’s emotional issues when processing a problem should be off limits. And so should suggesting that he or she has a mental problem. Psychologizing is an attempt to find and create personal information about your spouse that you can use as evidence to support your point of view when processing a difference. It is a type of personal attack and it is disrespectful.

Preoccupation with career or recreational interests—People get married for companionship, they want to be both physically and psychologically present with someone loved. When it happens that one spouse is not physically and psychologically available during the week, and this occurs over and over again, the other experiences loneliness and rejection. The same is true if a spouse is preoccupied with a hobby or other leisure time interest. Lack of investment in attachment time with one’s spouse is a violation of the commitment to marriage.

Lack of responsibility—Failure of a spouse to keep promises is one type of a lack of responsibility. Another type is failure to take on and follow-through with everyday business. Living together requires taking care of physical and household needs. It requires earning an income in order to secure a comfortable and safe standard of living. Failure to assume these responsibilities is another violation of the commitment to marriage.

Unrealistic expectations—Because of their childhood experiences some adults enter into marriage with unrealistic expectations concerning their spouses. Some adults unknowingly are looking for their unmet emotional needs from childhood to be addressed by their spouses. In truth, meeting this need is not something the spouse can satisfy. Pursuing it results in pushing the other away. He or she feels overcome by a burden that is too big and insatiable. An adult romantic relationship is built on a different kind of love. It is a mature love that looks for companionship and yet feels comfortable and safe even when alone. It is a love that nurtures one another to be differentiated and also looks for attachment. It is a violation of the commitment to marriage when one spouse expects the other to be his or her shadow.

Triangulation with children and extended-family and friends—Triangulation occurs between three people. It means looking for someone else to take your side with you against your spouse. In families it occurs when one parent tries to get children to take his or her side against the other parent. In order to accomplish this, the parent involves the children in problems that do not belong to them. The parent complains to the children about their other parent. This is the essence of triangulation. Not only is this damaging to the marriage relationship, it is also emotional abuse of the children. Similarly triangulation can occur with extended family members, such as siblings, parents, and even with friends and co-workers. Triangulation is a controlling behavior and more serious type of emotional abuse.

Dysfunctional anger—Most people do not know what normal anger is, and too many people go about their business unaware that they have a dysfunctional anger habit. Dysfunctional anger is one or more of the following: (1) angering to easily, (2) angering too often, (3) angering too intensely, and (4) holding onto anger. Screaming, yelling, door slamming, fist pounding a table, punching a wall, profanity filled tirades, and name calling are all examples of aggressive behaviors motivated by hyper-reactive anger. Expressing anger is aggression. It is threatening and intimidating. It is another form of emotional abuse. Spouses who suffer aggression from an angry spouse develop symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is a serious behavioral disorder. They are not responsible for their PTSD, they developed it because they were the victims of their spouse’s dysfunctional anger.

Lack of equality— In a relationship both partners need to feel equal to the other. Regardless of their differences, each needs to communicate an attitude that although we are different, we are equal. One may have more education than the other. One may earn more money. One may have a special talent. One may have more muscle. But regardless of what each has, unless they consistently communicate to the other that, “I’m no better than you, you and I are equal,” the relationship will be imbalanced. When one partner attempts to be greater than the other, the other feels devalued. A lack of equality is a violation of the commitment to marriage.

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