Healthy marriages provide security and stability for wives, husbands, children and the community. Ironically, that security and stability can be sabotaged if either spouse constantly questions whether the relationship is secure and stable enough.
Marriages suffer when either party feels so confident that they take their spouse and their relationship for granted. However, the opposite extreme is just as corrosive.
Expert Randi Gunther explains in “Relationship Saboteurs” that some spouses are overly insecure, living in constant fear of losing their relationship. The stronger the relationship grows, the more their anxiety about a possible loss intensifies, causing them to desperately cling to their spouse. But the more they cling, the more they end up pushing their mate away.
Living in constant fear of losing your spouse not only costs you the opportunity of growing more intimate, it also keeps you on your guard and trying so hard you can't really enjoy the intimacy you already have, expert M.P. Wylie says.
Overly-insecure individuals want love, but lack self-worth and can't understand why anyone would want to love them. Gunther explains that increased intimacy sets off an endless set of self-doubt questions: “Do you really love me?” “Will you stay in love with me?” “What if you meet someone more attractive?”
These feelings will undermine your relationship. It's simply not possible for someone to “prove” they love you. In fact, the more you demand objective proof, the less your spouse is able to provide it. They say the words, … but are they sincere? They help you, … but what's their “real” motive for “acting” nice?
Healing begins with identifying your self-destructive behavior, Gunther explains. Make an honest assessment: Are your insecurities based on facts or fears? If your spouse comes home at 3 a.m. reeking of alcohol, but insists it was because of a backlog at work, you have good reason to be concerned. But if your spouse says “I love you” and consistently acts lovingly, questioning his or her tone of voice or their motives is destructive.
Look for your “triggers,” the words or actions that immediately remind you of something that happened years ago that made you feel insecure. Does your spouse drinking beer remind you of events that led to your parents getting divorced? Does a phrase your spouse said remind you of when you felt frightened or rejected in the past?
If your spouse does something that triggers bad feelings, don't accuse him or her of being uncaring. Instead, explain what just happened brings back bad memories and what she or he can do to help.
People are most susceptible to triggers when they're under stress, tired or not feeling well. If you're feeling down, exhausted, overwhelmed or in need of a good, long hug tell your spouse. This lets him or her know you need extra support and also helps remind you you're at risk of interpreting the situation in a needlessly negative fashion.
Eliminating your sabotaging insecurities is a process that takes time, Gunther says. Talk to your spouse and a few trusted friends to get their support and promise yourself to live in the present, rather than letting old fears control your relationship.
But don't beat yourself up if you occasionally slip into your old pattern. Remember, it's likely to happen. You've lived with self-doubts all your life. It takes time to form new habits of thinking and behavior.
©2012, All Rights Reserved. James Sheridan’s website is www.marriagedoneright.com. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.