Questionnaire: Is Your Spouse Really the Problem?
All too often we take out our frustrations on the people closest to us, and the ones we really trust. Internalizing problems can mean that your spouse, partner or other family members – who don’t deserve it – bear the brunt of our problems. However you may find it difficult to pinpoint the reason for your marital problems, which could simply be manifesting as a general feeling of unhappiness or resentment. The following questionnaire is intended to help you try to pinpoint where things have gone wrong for you and whether the source of your problems is within your marriage, or is as a result of external factors.
When you and your spouse argue, what are you arguing about?Is it something that can be attributed to one person’s actions (an affair, spending too little time at home, a lack of money, loss of a job, etc) or is it that you are arguing about ‘mundane things?’ If there is a specific problem, this needs to be openly and honestly discussed. Both spouses should express how they feel with a view to trying to resolve it. If there is a more general sense of discontentment between you:
If there is something that has upset you...or is worrying you, have you told your spouse how you feel?
Often, sharing your worries, concerns and insecurities will give you a sense of relief. However, it may be that you aren’t sure what it is that is making you feel unhappy. In this case:
How do you feel about yourself at the moment?If you find it hard to answer this question, what would you like to change about yourself, if anything? This is an important topic because often if you are unhappy with yourself you can reflect this in your treatment of your spouse.
If your marriage is the problem, when did this start?If you are unhappy in your marriage and are considering divorce, what has changed? You didn’t walk down the aisle feeling this way. Think back to the last time that you were happy in your marriage, and consider what has changed since then. Have there been external factors that have hurt you or your spouse (to do with work, money, children, other family members or something else?) List the things that have happened since that time. What could you have done differently, if anything?
This exercise is designed to help you come to terms with your feelings and pinpoint the issues you are experiencing. It may help if you write down all that you feel you want to say, put that document away and then revisit it in a couple of days’ time. This could help you decide what the main issues are so that you are in a better position to talk to your spouse, rather than throwing a lot of issues at them.
Having Difficult ConversationsOnce you have ascertained what the issues are that you want to resolve, begin the discussion in a non-confrontational way. This means not starting the conversation with an accusation, criticism or sarcastic comment, but rather approaching it with an open-minded, and calm, tone of voice and manner.
Take responsibility for your own feelings and actions, be prepared to compromise, and keep tabs on your own emotions – if you feel that you are losing your temper, leave the room and return to the conversation later on.