How to Overcome Love Busters
Whenever you are inconsiderate of each other's feelings you destroy the love that you have for each other. The most common ways that you are likely to hurt each other with your thoughtlessness fall into five categories: Selfish Demands, Disrespectful Judgments, Angry Outbursts, Annoying Behavior and Dishonesty
The first three of these Love Busters are instinctive, yet thoughtless, ways to try to get what you want from each other. When a request doesn't work, a spouse will often revert to a demand ("I don't care how you feel -- do it or else!"). If that doesn't get the job done, a spouse will try disrespectful judgments ("If you had any sense, and were not so lazy and selfish, you would do it"). And then, when all of that fails, an angry outburst often represents the last ditch effort ("I'll see to it that you regret not having done it").
These three Love Busters fail to get what you need in your marriage -- and when you use them, you destroy the love your spouse has for you. All of these instincts, and the habits they help create, cause your spouse to be unhappy, and that causes massive Love Bank withdrawals.
Demands and Control
Spouses who use demands and control to try to get their way not only fail, but also create defenses that make further negotiations almost impossible. They also cause spouses to fall out of love with each other. I address this subject in What to Do with a Controlling Husband. The letters of this column make it easy to see the folly of negotiations without the Policy of Joint Agreement. Another closely related column, Resentment Over Issues of Control, Dependency and Identity, also stresses the importance of avoiding demands as a way to solve problems.
Disrespect is another Love Buster, and it also prevents successful negotiation. To illustrate how important respect is in negotiation, I posted two Q&A columns on the subject of conflicts about beliefs. If your spouse believes something different than you, can you, or should you, try to change those beliefs? The columns on that subject are, "You Believe What?" How to Resolve Conflicts of Faith (Part 1) and "You Believe What?" How to Resolve Conflicts of Faith (Part 2).
Abuse, Anger and Domestic Violence
Can you negotiate with a angry or violent spouse? Impossible! So I have posted two Q&A columns that stress the importance of overcoming anger in marriage, Angry Outbursts and Domestic Violence. In these columns, I not only explain why anger prevents any hope for negotiated agreements, but I also show how it is a Love Buster -- it prevents a husband and wife from loving each other.
Abusive behavior usually begins when a couple tries to resolve a conflict the wrong way. Instead of finding a solution that meets the conditions of the Policy of Joint Agreement (never do anything without an enthusiastic agreement between you and your spouse), an effort is made by one spouse to force a solution on the other. Resistance to the proposal is matched by increasing force until the spouse browbeats the other into submission. Every fight is an example of abuse because it uses the tactic of emotional or physical force to resolve a conflict instead of respect and thoughtfulness.
In "How to Overcome an Abusive Marriage" I post six letters and my answers to them which makes it my longest column. The reason I feel obligated to include so many letters is that each one addresses an important aspect of abuse that I want to discuss.
The first letter is from an abused wife who has not yet decided to separate from her husband to protect herself from his abuse. The second letter is from a husband whose wife has escaped to a shelter to avoid his abuse. He wants to know how to win her back. The third letter is from a wife who has run her husband out of the house with her abusive behavior. She wants to know how to get him to return to her. The fourth letter is is from a man who thinks my definition of abuse is too broad. It gives me an opportunity to explain the difference between abuse as an act of violence and abuse as a process. The fifth letter is about abuse and alcohol -- a dangerous and sometimes deadly mixture. Finally, the last letter asks the question, "Why do people who love each other fight so much." It's a good question, and I have a good answer.
Of course, demands, disrespect and anger don't really get the job done. You generally don't do things for your spouse because of these Love Busters -- in fact, you probably do the opposite of what your spouse wants if he or she is demanding, disrespectful or angry. When you do what your spouse needs and wants, you do it out of care and consideration. But if your spouse is demanding, disrespectful and angry, you tend to be less caring and considerate, leading you to do less for your spouse. I want you to have what you need in your marriage, but demands, disrespect and anger will not get it for you. They will prevent you from having what you want if you revert to these destructive instincts.
The fourth Love Buster, Annoying Behavior, is habits and activities that may make you happy, but drive your spouse nuts. Marriage is a partnership of incredibly close quarters, where just about anything you or your spouse does is almost sure to affect the other. If you want to stay in love with each other, your habits and activities should make Love Bank deposits, not withdrawals.
Annoying behavior may not seem like much when annoying it's in its early stages, but there are many examples of it growing into ugly monsters. How to Overcome Annoying Behavior describes the seriousness of the problem and offers the Policy of Joint Agreement as the only solution.
Finally, the fifth Love Buster, Dishonesty, causes massive Love Bank withdrawals whenever it's discovered. And spouses usually discover each other's dishonesty because of their emotional closeness to each other. If you or your spouse have a tendency to lie or distort the truth, you have little hope of maintaining your love for each other.
But dishonesty does more than ruin your love for each other -- it also prevents you from finding solutions to your problems. After all, how can you and your spouse solve a problem if your cards are not on the table. So I have posted two Q&A columns that encourage spouses to be completely honest with each other, Honesty and Openness (Part_1) and Honesty and Openness (Part 2). In these columns, I explain that honesty is essential in solving marital problems, meets a very important emotional need, and helps avoid one of the most destructive Love Busters.