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Which of the 4 kinds of marriage problems are we having?

by Susan Heitler Ph.D., clinical psychologist and author of The Power of Two: Secrets to a Strong & Loving Marriage.


All couples from time to time hit bumps in the road -- upsetting situations that can lead to more serious marriage problems. Here’s the thing though. Couples who have the skills to talk calmly about their issues are able to quickly return their relationships to happy loving partnerships. Those that don’t have the skills to talk through their relationship issues find that minor glitches develop into major gorges -- canyons of distrust or resentment.

What are the main kinds of marriage problems to look out for? They are symptoms of the 4 unhealthy ways people deal with conflict in their relationships.

1. Do you ever just give up when you disagree? Do you feel like getting what you want isn’t worth the fight? That’s yielding.

Yielding leads to symptoms like depression and resentment.

2. Do you ever delay difficult discussions or avoid touchy topics? That’s called freezing. When your communication freezes, you build icy walls of stress and tension.

Frozen communication leads to feelings of anxiety and emotional distance. When people have a concern that sits in their head and have no way to talk it through, they feel anxious.

3. Do you bicker, argue or even fight when you disagree? That’s the ‘fight till you win’ strategy.

Fighting leads to ill will and excessive anger. It can develop into controlling behaviors, and verbal or even physical abuse.

Fighting often results in one partner yielding. And, as noted above, yielding can lead to depression.

4. Do you find that because you feel unable to address the issues in your relationship you’re tempted to turn your time and energy elsewhere? That’s called flight.

The flight solution can lead to alienating behaviors like infidelity, addictions like alcohol abuse, or porn, compulsive spending or workaholic tendencies.

What’s the alternative?

Fear not. Millions of people live in happy marriages without painful marriage problems. That’s because there is a 5th, and better way!

5. Do you talk things through, respecting each other’s opinions, and make mutually satisfying win-win plans together? That’s what good communication in marriage should look like.

Believe it or not, good communication is a skill. If your parents weren’t a good model for a healthy marriage, you’re probably like millions of other people who just haven’t had someone to teach them techniques for how to communicate in a way that supports happy marriages. The good news is that you can learn those skills now.

Don’t get trapped in any of the 4 classic categories of communication breakdown. Power of Two Online was built with grant funding from the Federal Department of Health and Human Services to help you. It's an alternative to marriage counseling—online.

By joining the Power of Two Online, you can learn the communication skills you need to solve your marriage problems. Enjoy the loving, playful marriage of your dreams.

We’re here to help you build a strong & loving marriage. Get started today!

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I'm Dr. Abigail Hirsch. I lead the Power of Two coaching team. We are here to help you stop fighting and build trust, intimacy and love.

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Dr. Abigail Hirsch

marriage counseling online

Funding for this project was provided by the United States Department of Health Services, Administration for Children and Families, Grant 90-FE-0123. Any opinions, finding, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Department of Health and Human Servies, Administration for Children and Families.