A few days ago, I saw a short video clip of Esther Perel standing on stage and she asked the crowd to raise their hand if they’ve ever thought about leaving their current partner. Many of the people in the crowd raised their hand. I was right there with them, I have had times where I have thought about not being married to my wife. To some, that may be shocking that a Marriage therapist has contemplated about not wanting to be with their significant other. To me, this is one of the most healthiest and honest statements a person can say who has been with the same person for 14 years. It is not about not loving my wife, it is about the fact that at times we get annoyed with one another and the thought has come around. Notice that I have not left my wife, nor has she left me. I would bet if she was asked if she has ever thought about leaving this marriage she too would agree the thought has come to her.
One of the best statements I have heard many times is that the people who are closest to us, those that know us best, know how to push our buttons. My wife and I have both said things to one another that have hurt. Again, not many people know me better than she does. It doesn’t make it right, but sometimes when we argue we don’t think, instead we focus on what we want and how we feel and this is typically when these thoughts of leaving the relationship tend to come about. When we are thinking clearly, these thoughts are not coming up. John Gottman calls this “summarizing yourself syndrome.” So as I sit here, writing this blog post, I am not thinking I want to leave my wife. But if you are calm, not arguing with your partner and yet you are thinking you want out of your current relationship, a few things should happen. First, John Kim would encourage you to ask yourself why you want out and assess your role. The reason being, when we want out of a relationship, we tend to focus on all the things the other person is or has done wrong and seldom do we take time to look at ourselves. I won’t go further as it isn’t the basis of this post but I felt it only fair that I mention important steps if you really in a calm state want out of your relationship what are some important steps to take before jumping ship.
To get back to situations when in an argument and not thinking clearly, which has some physiological reasons for not being able to think clearly. Here is what is important to do, first take some time for yourself to calm down, then come back together with your partner and work on repair, own your steps, whether you think you were right or wrong own your steps. Then depending on if things stay calm discuss what you and your partner can do the next time the difficult topic or situation that played into the argument comes about to change the dynamics of the situation. I hope this post is helpful if you have questions or thoughts email, Brian@themarriagedoc.com.