Marriage Need a Referee? : Relationship Advice to
Restore Trust, Connection and Peace
By Susie and Otto Collins
Shouting, tension, glaring and maybe even
name-calling. None of these are preferable in a
marriage, but too often they rear their ugly heads--
sometimes occurring quite regularly.
Do you ever feel like you and your mate are almost
always in the
midst of some type of conflict?
The struggle between you two may either be overt and
in your face or suppressed yet very apparent.
It might seem that having a referee step in to
resolve the conflict
is the only way it's ever going to be settled.
One of the major television networks has announced a
new upcoming television series called "The Marriage
According to previews for this show, celebrity
guests will offer marriage advice to couples who are
Ostensibly, the situations and advice are supposed
to be comedic and outrageous.
One couple featured in previews argues incessantly
because the wife keeps her deceased first husband's
ashes on the mantle in their home and his artificial
leg in their clothes closet.
This show might provide plenty of laughs and perhaps
a few morsels of useful advice-- this remains to be
seen. But the truth is, conflict and tension in
marriage is never a laughing matter.
Of course, disagreements and arguments happen. When
you live together and love together,
misunderstandings and personal issues can lead to
points of disconnection from time to time.
If you feel like you and your spouse mostly live in
a state of
conflict and tension, however, you're probably not
laughing much, if at all, together.
This ongoing dynamic between you can erode trust and
take the two of you far apart.
In your desperation to get out from under all of the
turmoil, you might wish you truly did have a
We don't know your specific situation. But we can
relationship advice to help you begin to restore
and peace in your marriage....
Know your tendencies
You can actually learn how to be your own marriage
It is quite possible for you and your partner to
work as a team to
recognize the habits and tendencies that you both
have (and that you have as a couple) and then
consciously make a change.
In order to do this, it's vital that you start with
your own self.
It might seem easiest to identify all of those
things that your mate
does that drives you crazy, undermines trust and, in
causes the bulk of your marital problems.
For the moment, we recommend that you focus mainly
on the habits that you have.
What are your usual ways of communicating with your
partner? How do you tend to react when you feel
We're not suggesting this the disconnection is all
your fault. But
we are reminding you that the person whose behavior
you can change most quickly and thoroughly is your
When you talk with your spouse about refereeing
yourselves, take responsibility for your own habits
that might contribute to the
misunderstandings, tension and clashes.
If your mate seems unwilling to take ownership for
what he or she does to create and intensify
conflict, you can use "I feel"
statements to bring up a particular behavior or
For example, you might say to your spouse, "I felt
unimportant to you when I saw you flirting with that
group of women at the party Saturday night."
After that, you and your partner could talk about
means to each of you and then possibly create some
agreements around this issue.
Be willing to take a "time out"
Now that you have acknowledged that you have a
tendency to get defensive, yell, withdraw, lash out
or even throw things when
conflict arises with your mate, your job is to
recognize the signs
that you are about to react in this usual way.
Be aware of what you usually do that contributes to
the disconnection and mistrust and then be willing
to interrupt yourself.
Take a "time out" in order to regroup and clear your
You can do this by asking your partner for 5 or 10
Set a timer if you need to.
The important thing is that you stop before you
react in your usual ways AND that you agree to come
back together again to seek resolution at a
Again, if your spouse seems to be unaware that he or
launching into a habitual pattern that feels
disconnecting to you, you can use "I feel"
You might say, "I feel nervous and a little afraid
when you use
that tone of voice with me. I'd like us both to take
5 minutes in
separate rooms to calm down and then return to our
discussion of this topic. Are you willing to do
There may be times and situations that truly do
help. Don't hesitate to seek assistance from a
trained counselor or coach if you feel like you
could benefit from it.
A professional can provide an outsider's perspective
on the dynamics between you and your mate.
He or she can also teach you both strategies and
skills that can help you resolve the conflict and
begin to rebuild trust and connection.
There are also many quality courses and programs
couples that provide exercises and activities to
strategies and skills.
If you feel like you and your partner need a referee
marriage, sit up and take notice.
You don't have to live with a relationship that is
conflict, tension and mistrust.
With a willingness to look at your habits and then
make changes, you can bring about the improvements
that you desire.
Relationship coaches and authors Susie and Otto
developed a FREE mini-course to help couples who
want to rebuild trust after infidelity. Visit
http://www.relationshiptrust.com/ for more