“How do I turn my marriage around?”

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This post is an answer to a submitted question. It aims to provide help and solutions to overcome the issue.

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A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.

Submitted Question:

"My husband is constantly annoyed with me. We have a mortgage, cars, and two young kids. Since our son was born, my husband has become distant and irritated. He tunes me out, falls asleep when putting the kids to bed, and shows no interest in spending time together. Our sex life is non-existent and we feel like roommates. 

Lately I find myself wanting to withdraw from the relationship. I’ve started listening to my own podcasts, planning to be out of the house more often and generally keeping communication to a minimum. I’m not doing it out of spite, I just realize that it’s not serving me to have my feelings hurt on a daily basis, so I might as well expend energy in spaces that bring me joy etc. I also just wonder if this is a season for us.

I’m wondering if this is not the right way to go about things. I just feel like I’m feeling so much better but guilty at the same time. How do I turn my marriage around?

My Response if we were in a coaching setting. Although without being able to ask questions I may assume or use scenarios to fill in the gaps.

I apologize that you are experiencing this situation, as it can be challenging, isolating, and exhausting.

It sounds like Groundhog day (older movie). Where the same day repeats itself over and over and over again. 

The bank account of goodwill in your relationship is bankrupt.

There is a bank account of goodwill on every single relationship that you have from the girl the coffee stand to your family members and in this situation your partner in life. Every interaction there's either a withdrawal or a deposit. The unfortunate thing is withdrawals have a greater impact than the deposits. 

When the bank account gets really low, individuals start to separate and take a position, stance, division like you’re in a boxing ring on opposing sides. The energy in each individual shifts, and the good feelings towards one another dissolves, creating a tense and challenging atmosphere.  As the bank account dwindles, the sense of unity and togetherness that once existed begins to fade, replaced by a sense of individual survival. Each start to search for proof that they other is wrong, assumptions build, resentment rises and judgement is the lens through which you view each other. 

The four horsemen of the apocalypse Study done by researcher John Gottman collected 75 young couples in the Indiana area and they brought them to the lab and then they had them just engage in some conversations about what they did that day or what they’re struggling with in their relationship and then they followed those couples for a couple of decades to really track who stays together and who divorces. What they’ve documented is there are four specific behaviors that predict when these behaviors occur in combination there’s a 92% likelihood that the couple will divorce about a decade later.

These are all signs of a bankrupt bank account of goodwill. 

#1 Contempt, when you look down upon, your partner or you feel they’re not worthy or you don’t dignify them and you may roll your eyes or pthhh sort of do that sound when they’re speaking, bad news.

#2 Criticism and judgment, instead of kind of thinking about collaboratively, having a healthy

conversation or praise, it would be reacting in conversations with jabs, sarcasm, criticism, fault-finding or focusing on the problems. 

#3 Stonewalling, a pattern of behavior a little bit more common in the men in this study where the individual might put out their hand and say “you know we’ve already talked about that issue we don’t need to talk about that anymore” they just shut down conversation, stonewalling. Refusing to communicate with their partner, withdrawing from the conversation creating distance and positioning. 

#4 Defensiveness, this seems to show up the most in my coaching clients, when goodwill is low or nearly gone. Defensiveness often has excuses, justifications, reasoning, and a whole lot of thinking involved. Everything appears to need defending, it’s usually is “me” language, and hardly any “we” language.  Example, “I know he works hard all day but I need him to xyz for me” or “I don’t understand why she has to boss me around I will get to it when I get to it” In healthy happy relationships  there’s a lot of dialog that sounds like this “since he’s been so busy I an taking a half day off to help him finish some honeydew projects together around the house we can not only knock them out quicker together we will also have time to talk and catch up with each other” 

When the bank account starts to dwindle, it becomes crucial to foster openness, curiosity, empathy, healthy communication, understanding, and compassion within our relationships, as it is these qualities that can navigate the stormy waters.

Unfortunately low goodwill leads to thoughts feelings and behaviors that prevent the very thing that we crave the most. So for instance if spending time together, sharing about one another's day, creating moments and memories together, feeling heard and important in one another's lives, if these are things that you value and find important when the bank account of goodwill is low we often put up walls and barriers to make it difficult for the other person to provide these very things that we want to crave and desire. 

When the bank account of goodwill is low we often start to look for proof that the other person is of a certain way. For instance if we believe that our partner doesn't love us anymore we will start to look for proof of that. Conversely if we believe that our partner loves us we human beings start to look for proof of that. What would you prefer? 

Think back to when you we're in love all the silly little things that he did was cute silly funny and made him special and unique. The bank account of goodwill was high. 

When the bank account of goodwill is low all the silly things he does that now seem irritating annoying and frustrating.

The reason is there's division there's separation there's positioning and keeping score. 

In order to come together and fight the battle that we call life it will require being intentional and focusing on the bank account at goodwill. Making lots of small deposits doing the very things that facilitate the other person feeling important, herd, seeing, worthy, and good enough. The energy you put out is what you get in return in EVERY relationship. So the further you distance, ignore, avoid, shut down, that will be reciprocated. We can't change other people, what you can change is your own thoughts feelings and actions. 

How do you want to feel? There's nothing stated about how you want to feel, just what you are experiencing.  Your experience in life is what you create. If your thoughts are focused on the problem all you will see is the problem. So how do you want to feel? Answering it powerfully and positively will provide you with the HOW's and WHAT's to do. 

When the bank account of goodwill is low a relationship can erode away rather quickly because you're no longer on the same team there's great division and you're no longer fighting the battle together it's two separate individuals and the problem. 

When the bank account of goodwill is abundant having conversations about difficult topics becomes easy because it's no longer you, him, and the problem it's the two of you fighting to overcome the problem together. 

Our energy enters the room before we do. 

Ever been on an airplane and sat next to someone that you can sense they do not want to speak to you, get to know you at all? Have you ever sat next to someone that deeply wanted to share their entire life and problems with you? Different energies right? 

When the energy shifts from positive to negative, it can have a profound impact on a person's thoughts and feelings. This shift in energy can also greatly affect the dynamics of a relationship. For instance, when one individual in a relationship comes home to find a negative energy lingering in the house, it can create a sense of unease and discomfort. As a result, they may start dreading the idea of returning home because it no longer feels good or familiar.

In such situations, a couple of things can happen. Firstly, the individual may start coming home later and later, trying to avoid the negative energy altogether. This can lead to a disconnection between the partners, as they spend less time together and miss out on the opportunity to nurture their bond. Secondly, the individual may come home emotionally closed off and shut down. They may feel a lack of unconditional love and joy from their partner, which is something they experienced during the early stages of their relationship. This can further strain the relationship and create distance between the partners.

To illustrate the power of unconditional love and its impact on relationships, I often think of a dog. Dogs are known for their unwavering and unconditional love. It doesn't matter what the dog did in the morning, whether it made a mess or caused some trouble. When you come home in the evening, they are always excited to see you and learn about your day. This simple act of showing genuine interest and love is like a huge deposit in the bank account of goodwill. It strengthens the bond between the dog and its owner, creating a sense of trust and security.

Similarly, in human relationships, expressing unconditional love and joy towards our partners can have a profound effect. It can create an atmosphere of warmth, acceptance, and understanding. It can make our partners feel valued, appreciated, and loved unconditionally. This, in turn, strengthens the connection between partners and fosters a sense of security and happiness within the relationship. 

So, in order to make our relationships thrive, it is important to be mindful of the energy we put out. To the quote at the start, if you want to feel appreciated, you’ll have to put out appreciation. Model the behavior in your relationship you desire and watch and see it grow and get returned. 

Energy again is facilitated by two things you can shift, your thoughts, and feelings. Dig deep into HOW YOU WANT TO FEEL. By cultivating a positive and loving energy, we can create an environment where both partners feel safe, supported, and loved. Remember, just like a dog's unwavering love, our unconditional love and joy can make all the difference in the world.

I hope this helps. I wish you all the best. Please share this with anyone you believe would benefit from the insights. Post a comment, I read and reply to them all. Thank you in advance!

If you want to send a question, please send to hello@katherine-hood.com please include: 

  • A coachable question (something that addresses what's in your control, your thoughts, feelings or actions.)
  • And context, explain a situation in the past, currently going through, or worries/concerns of the future, giving me some details on your thoughts and feelings about it. 

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