The first is Dishonesty & Betrayal. This happens in a relationship when there is infidelity, abuse, lies, lack of support, broken promises or violation of privacy. The foundation of any relationship is trust. Cheating and lying breaks down the basis for a relationship, often resulting in its demise. Resolving such a problem must be a top priority if the relationship is to survive. However, of all the elements of betrayal, infidelity is the most lethal and difficult to deal with because it goes to the heart of trust and appreciation. Trust is immediately lost, and this is coupled with a sense of abject rejection, of being inadequate and unwanted, which is hard to face and to accept. In these situations, counselling is highly recommended to defuse tension and facilitate the changes required.
The interesting thing about sexual betrayal is that it has a different effect on the genders. Women, being more emotional, are much more frightened of their partners falling in love with someone else, especially someone younger, who might replace them totally; while men, being more physical, are more afraid of their spouses having sex with another person. Quite a big difference there. It could have something to do with the fact that women feel totally rejected in instances of betrayal – their looks, body, charm, skills, personality, their whole person. They fear being replaced entirely by someone else more attractive; they dread being insignificant and unwanted.
For men, not being desired is interpreted as a powerful rejection of their penis - in essence, their manhood - the core of their being. The thought of someone pleasuring their partners in ways which they have been deemed unfit to do (especially using penises imagined to be far bigger and better than their own!) immediately becomes a rejection of them as men. It throws them into competition with other men in ways they feel impotent to affect the situation and dramatically lowers their self-esteem. Men fear betrayal even worse than women. They often go on a lot about having been hurt but everyone gets hurt at some time. Life is not a bowl of cherries for some and hard knocks for others. It depends on how we deal with those crises which makes the real difference to our recovery.
Resist Being a Martyr
Other common problems include jealousy, being taken for granted, criticism and nagging, clinging dependency, bullying and loss of love, to name a few. There are many challenging barriers to having a good marriage/relationship, so the last thing one would expect any relationship to be is easy! That is why long relationships need to be encouraged, helped, applauded and used as role models for the sheer stickability of the partners in the face of continuous obstacles, rather than treated as the expected norm or taken for granted.
Please remember that what is wrong in a relationship can often be put right, especially if the negative aspects are used as lessons rather than beating sticks. We can choose to learn from them, and find a better way to live, or ignore them altogether and perish. Each of these major issues is related to one or more negative patterns of thinking and feeling that are outwardly expressed in selfish behaviours; patterns which are usually learned in childhood and then perpetuated during one's lifetime. They are not exclusive to certain people. Everyone has these patterns which are no longer appropriate or productive. Only self-awareness, self-help and improvement will help us to cope in conflict situations and point us in the direction of where we really want to be with the ones we love.
Relationships with people who cling are never enjoyable affairs for either party because they consist of some well known patterns of behaviour of which there are four.
First of all is a lack of self-love. People who cling to others do not like themselves very much. They are very insecure, tend to be victim-like and negative, and lacking self-belief. They expect their lovers and friends to compensate for their personal lack of self-love by loving what they themselves reject. They tend to find it difficult to attract partners and when one does come along, they are likely to feel they do not deserve the person or the love they get. That engenders a feeling of fear for a potential loss of that love. So they cling on to that person, in ways which make them feel secure, but which is often claustrophobic for that partner, because of the second pattern - possessiveness.
Clingy people tend to be very possessive. They are so pleased to have someone's love and attention they tend to believe no one else will want them and so they hang on for dear life, questioning every movement of their partner, wanting to know every detail about their actions, doubting their love and commitment to make them feel guilty. They fret when the person is not really there and seem incapable of doing anything by themself or on their own. Inadvertently, they can become controlling and dictatorial in order to feel more secure.
Third, there is always jealousy in clingy relationships. With the marked absence of trust between the couple, either one, or both parties, will never feel adequate enough in themselves and tend to resent any attention their partners get from anywhere else. They are often so afraid of losing that love, that being jealous and possessive is the only way they know how to control their situation and this can often go to excessive lengths in some relationships, even to violence and curtailing movements.
Finally, in a clingy relationship there is always one person needing constant attention, to be looked after, always taking a lot and not giving much back, until it becomes almost a burden for the other party. There is a major imbalance in such relationships because there are rarely two givers in this kind of partnership. If one person is clinging on, they are likely to be stifling the other. The ultimate effect in such a situation is that either both will end up being dependent upon the other, to a large extent, or one person will come to resent being so closely tied that they have to leave the relationship to regain their independence.
Two people become attached. That is accepted. People change from infancy to adulthood. That is also accepted. When two people come together in marriage or a relationship they will change over time during that relationship and, depending on their perception and aspirations, the change could be dramatic. That fact is seldom acknowledged by society or the parties involved. Instead the couple are viewed, and also perceive themselves, as static robots who will remain almost the same in behaviour and outlook, from the day they move in together until they part or die. We do accept some change in partners but, to maintain our comfort levels, we expect them to be minuscule, to be in a vacuum and entirely unrelated to anything else!
But human beings do not remain fixed at any given point. As we mature in life, our attitudes, values and character change too. We actually evolve with every moment of our existence. With life being a journey, ongoing personal exploration and development is inevitable, even if it is resisted. It follows that if someone marries young, the maturing process will ensure that their view of the world, their expectations of life and their feelings about themselves (which are all shaped by personal experience and the presence of others) will be different a few years later than when they first started out on their adult journey. This means a natural change in desires over the years which will also include a change of perspectives regarding partners!
Thus making vows on our wedding day to live happily ever after, for better or for worse, to love each other no matter what, is sheer pie-in-the-sky, and wishful thinking, which ignores life's essential evolution! A fine pledge for that exciting and unreal moment in time, when hot love and the desire for perfection move us to make such promises, but it often becomes a meaningless, emotional straitjacket when applied to the rest of our lives. The two people making such rash commitment will be very different by the familiarisation stage of the relationship, especially if there has been significant personal development during that time, like acquiring new skills, or a higher qualification, which tends to significantly change our perception.
It follows that, when two people become an item, any unfolding relationship actually speeds up the evolutionary process. This is because we do not stop in our tracks once we pass our teens or we meet someone. Adulthood actually defines our development. Significant experiences, like accidents, illnesses and career progression, shape our existence. They build a unique life story that is different for each adult but, like DNA, is related to everyone else through generations.
When you set up home with someone, it is inevitable that the relationship itself will evolve, either positively or negatively, as the parties adjust to each other. The nature of that change is usually dependent upon how mutually validating and satisfying the union becomes. As we pass from one age to the next, often with some difficult periods of transition, we learn and mature in the process. If we acknowledge and work through the issues of each successive stage, we are likely to become more confident and effective individuals. If we find it difficult to cope, we then get stuck at one stage, especially when we fixate on only one point in our life, perhaps sunk in a mire of regret, and find that we are unable to move forward on our individual journey.
Given the fickleness of human nature, to expect no change in emotions, while everything else changes, is highly unrealistic. It is far more sensible to have reaffirmation vows regularly, with limited objectives throughout the partnership, ones that are easier to manage and execute, than idealistic promises which won't be kept and merely breed guilt and resentment. Otherwise there will follow a painful realisation that one cannot continue to have the same feelings for another when both parties have evolved into very different beings from the ones who took the vows!
The desire for security, stability and unchanging human emotions has been responsible for causing the most angst, disappointment and feelings of failure in many relationships because they always ignore inevitable changes caused by that silent but deadly destroyer – adult evolution.
I think I would find it difficult to understand why someone would stay in a relationship when they are completely unhappy. The first rule of any relationship is that it makes the persons involved very happy and enhances their lives. Otherwise, why get involved with someone when one could be much better off on one's own?
The reasons why people stay in very unhappy relationships is that they are either controllers or they are passive people, lacking self-love, and believing that is the best they deserve. If they are controllers, they do not care what state the relationship is in so long as there is someone for them to dominate and control, to keep in line and under their thumb, in order for them to feel superior and to boost their ego. Without that partner to control, they would feel very insignificant. It won't matter too much to them how the other person feels because that would not be a relationship of give and take. It would be a situation where one person is dictating and the other is accepting, or where both persons are controlling and take it in turns to dominate each other. So long as the controllers feel on top of the situation and enjoy that power over their partner they will seek to continue the relationship as long as possible.
If they are passive people lacking in self love, they would feel a constant sense of intimidation, with continuing fear about their present and future, but more hesitant of taking action because they fear the consequences. They are likely to worry about what will happen when they leave the situation, or to minimise the hurt they are feeling, while they die slowly inside, and also to make excuses constantly for the way things are. Such people have a need for others to love them to compensate for the lack of personal love they feel for themselves. They are likely to feel grateful for how they are treated instead of accepting how unhappy they are and doing something positive about it. Eventually they become so dependent on the relationship that it becomes more painful to think of ending it rather than to improve the quality of their life by getting out of that situation and giving themselves the opportunity for more fulfilment.
For those tempted to remain in the relationship because of the children, that is a bad decision because the kids will merely pick up the negative vibes around them and become insecure in themselves too. It will not make them emotionally happy, though the physical situation might remain unhanged. Parents in such stressful situations tend to forget that children learn by their actions and all they are teaching their kids at that time is how to live desperate lives of unhappiness. It is always better to have two separate loving parents available for the children than two warring, resentful or unhappy ones on and on to infinity.
Unhappy relationships are the biggest causes of stress in our lives, and stress eventually kills. If one is unhappy and have tried to remedy the situation with no avail, they should get out of it as quickly as possible, if they truly value themselves and their existence. After all, the longer they stay in it, the more they are depriving themselves of finding another suitable partner, not to mention the deterioration in emotional and physical health they will suffer because continued stress lower our immunity and exposes us to more illnesses.
I was in a very long marriage which was increasingly unhappy. It took me a while to find the courage to leave it, but it was the best decision I made. I am now a different, more wholesome and extremely happy person for it. A wonderful feeling of contentment which would not have been possible by remaining stuck in fear.
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Some time after a relationship settles down - it can take weeks or months - disillusion tends to set in. The most noticeable thing at the start of this gloomy stage is that the old courting glasses have lost their rosy hue and are now crystal clear, with extra zoom lens added to focus on every tiny detail as the differences in each partner become magnified and appear far less attractive. With disillusion setting in, you suddenly see your partner as human. That romanticised notion, and the specialised vision you've had until now, crumbles away to reveal a real being, with real faults, real pain, real problems and real emotions.
But often that is not what you are quite ready for. That reminds you too much of the real world and brings new anxieties. At such a time it is very easy to get on each other's nerves, which is an essential part of the familiarisation process, nothing special or unusual, and no one is exempt from it either. But how we cope individually depends upon our expectations, our level of confidence and personal aspirations - the invisible forces we bring with us to a partnership. As someone once said, 'On the other side of disillusionment comes the real marriage'. This stage of remorse and regret builds the foundation upon which the couple can live out their chosen relationship, but first comes a lot of nit-picking and fault-finding as many expectations are dashed.
At times you seem to have so little in common, everything the other person does is wrong. Little irritations that were 'cute' during the dating period are suddenly 'yuck' now, and you wonder how you fancied her in the first place! You begin to notice that he is untidy while he notices that you're very stubborn. There is some pulling away from each other, a need for space, a chance to breathe, as life slowly returns to normal and your work, leisure activities or college commitments assume importance again.
That is when you might discover that you are behnd in your project, or in the book you are desperate to write! He could also find out that his finances are in trouble – due to wining and dining you so much, or that he has missed important sporting matches and the antics of his football heroes: things he suppressed in the 'besotment' stage that you didn't even know mattered to him. But that is only the beginning as his real personality emerges. Reality rapidly sets in, but a new kind which requires some understanding, acceptance and commitment from both parties. Your partner is now an extra person, perhaps with children in the picture. From where you're sitting, that means a whole new perspective, and perhaps a daunting one. How you cope with this new situation will dictate everything else in your life.
Faults, Problems and Raw Emotions
Sometimes it feels as if you are walking on eggshells because little molehills so easily turn into big mountains. Frequently, one or both of you will engage in blame, criticism, sarcasm and put-downs as anger and resentment build up. The key words here are "He used to..." or "She used to..." which indicates something of value is no longer there and is sorely missed. Moreover, even though you dream of intimacy and closeness in a relationship, once you actually have it, it can start to rub a little and small irritations add up to large ones. There is now a wonder at the loss of privacy and a yearning for it, but privacy is always the first thing to go once you move in together or formally tie the knot.
The simple answer is that you set up realistic expectations of the relationship.
But that is not so easy because, in order to do this, you have to first adjust your own expectations of BOTH the partnership and your partner. It means you have to stand back objectively and make changes in yourself to actually change what you expected that relationship to be, which is rather difficult.
Next, you have to rebuild the spark that united you in the first place. When you recognise that you are just disillusioned, that you don't really dislike your partner, you will also recognise that you need to rekindle the fire of attraction before it is all burned out between you. But rebuilding an acceptable relationship is not something you can do on your own, especially when the partner has ceased to be attractive or appealing in your eyes, or has rejected you emotionally and that valuable chemistry is missing.
The only way to start is to know what you both want and decide together to acknowledge mutual hurt and fears and then set realistic goals. That acknowledgement to potential hurt is crucial to moving on yet so many couples find it difficult to do. Obviously, communication skills are very important here. Talk, listen, ask questions, clarify responses: all are essential, but can be very difficult if the other person does not want to reciprocate or finds it hard to air their feelings. However, if the two people really want to continue with the relationship, talking and listening are keys to getting rid of the tension and acknowledging and accommodating each other's viewpoint.
Seven years average for marriages!
This is the point, the resolution phase, when a truly happy and successful marriage is possible based on a more realistic footing. What matters most now is time together; spending time doing things you both enjoy and which add quality to your life. Next is treating each other with equality and respect, especially the realisation and acceptance that both partners are important to the union.
No one is greater than the other, or anyone's job more superior. You complement each other in everything you do because that's the purpose of a partnership. Without both partners the relationship would not be there, so each partner deserves appropriate respect. But, if there is a problem with this aspect, it could be that you have to love and respect yourself first before you can actually reciprocate with someone else. Yet you may not have reached self-love because of low esteem caused by a lack of achievement, past unsuccessful relationships, personal fear and/or insecurity.
When couples move to this stage of a relationship (the alignment phase) they will have spent a significant time together (perhaps 12-20 years) and wish to spend their future in each other's company - a near-impossible feat when the average duration of any marriage currently is just 7 years!
Relationships go through five key stages and the second one, familiarisation, can often be rather brutal as the parties get used to each other's foibles, faults and focus, and gradually realise the real person they are with. The beginning of this familiarisation stage in any relationship is basically a war of wills. Each individual, being used to doing things his/her way, must now try their hardest to adjust to the ways of their partner. Each one will attempt to force the other to fit their expectations for the relationship, even though these may be unspoken and highly unrealistic.
Because of the conflict involved in this mutual independent stage, you are now likely to see your partner more negatively than others would, a complete reversal of the 'besotment' stage when you couldn't have enough of him/her! The reasons you were unconsciously attracted to them in the first place may become the very irritants you now moan about, like a woman complaining that her once carefree husband, who appeared so cute before in his laid back manner, is really irresponsible.
Conflict kept within proper boundaries usually leads to greater understanding between spouses and the problem being resolved. However, if couples allow their arguments to degenerate into endless criticisms of one another and character assassination, the arguments soon strike at the very core of the other person and are strongly resisted. Such arguments are most destructive and painful precisely because they destroy the sense of trust and intimacy that has been built up.
If arguments regularly lead to personal attacks, over time a couple will consider the atmosphere unsafe for openly discussing their inner desires, fears and needs, which means less and less talk. The only antidote to this destructive kind of act is to take turns listening to each other, to refrain from personal attacks and unending blame and be willing to risk speaking directly about genuine concerns. This familiarisation stage in the relationship is necessary in order to relate to each other as individuals; to see the union as an opportunity to journey together; to learn how to serve each other's needs; to fight fairly and to allow win/win situations with dignity, while guarding individuality. It can be a scary time, but it is a normal one which everyone goes through and deal with in their own unique way.
Differing Perspectives of Progression
At this stage winning and being right becomes more important than working together and building the loving, fulfilling relationship you both want. Demonstrations of love, respect and appreciation decline and might even disappear, first from neglect and then from hurt feelings. If enough distress builds up, you may just avoid your partner as much as you can. Or you may turn to something else: to work, to children, or any possible thing to meet your needs and avoid the distress. For some couples this stage can get to the point of desperation where they've tried everything they know and it seems the only option is to get out of the relationship – temporarily or permanently.
But conflict can be a door to healing and personal growth because conflict is not the problem – it has a root cause. What you do with it can be the big problem and finding a new partner often does not solve the 'problem' either. If disagreements have not been addressed, you are likely to recreate the same 'problems' and climate because of the expectations you carry with you to each relationships and the type of person these are likely to attract. For example, if you tend to attract abusive types, specific problems relating to such a match are likely to repeat themselves in everyrelationship you have, especially if the roots of such problems are not addressed with honesty as early as possible. Hence it is better to try to gradually resolve the issues with your partner at this time, through mutual acknowledgement and respect than to throw in the towel at the first opportunity.
Negativity does not build, it only destroys, but what is really destructive about it is the debilitating way it eats into any relationship and saps that partnership of its vibrancy, positivity and purpose. There are three main reasons for negativity within a relationship.
First is a lack of self love. When we do not love ourselves we expect a partner to compensate for that by loving us instead. But no one can love what we reject. Any kind of love has to begin from within us. No matter how someone treats us, it will never be enough because we will never accept that we deserve their love and attention. Instead, what is likely to happen is that the more someone loves us when we don't love ourselves is the more we demand of them, the more we find fault with their actions and the more we believe they do not care about us, or that they are being insincere.
Second is individual fear and insecurity. People bring a lot of fears and anxieties to their relationships, especially when they have been in unfulfilling partnerships or have been hurt badly. They tend to live the rest of their lives in a victimlike state, expecting more of the same. They expect the hurt to repeat itself and even subconsciously engineer it through their own negative actions. It is difficult for them to trust others in such situations and so their own fears tend to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The more they expect the worst to happen, the more their actions become negative, the more frustrating it is to live with such an individual and the worse the relationship becomes. This state is very obvious between parties who have different levels of confidence. The more confident party is likely to have high hopes of a better relationship and act it, while the more fearful party will tend to behave much more negatively, lacking the self belief that they have the power to make the situation the way they genuinely wish it to be - a disparity that will become bigger as the relationship becomes more negative.
I am a very confident individual, a pioneer, in fact, who loves taking risks and finding new frontiers, while my ex was more reticent and introspective, desiring security in his life. It did not dawn on me until I left my marriage how insecure my ex must have felt watching me starting different projects, failing and succeeding in equal measure, achieving my dreams and trying to find my purpose, when all he wanted was a quiet life and a stable situation. Naturally, he came to regard everything I achieved as a negative action which was soul destroying especially when I was very supportive in what he did.
The third reason for negativity in a relationship is a lack of self-belief. When we have no self-belief we are inclined to have low self esteem, low confidence and low expectations. In order to feel significant and valued, we then put partners down and belittle them too by being highly critical, fault-finding and fearful in our approach. It is very difficult for others to please us and so negativity becomes the order of the day, which serves to justify the original low opinion we might have of ourselves. A relationship should enhance us and make our lives more rewarding. If negativity is the main element within it, that's no relationship at all. Just two unhappy people using each other to feed their fears, their insecurities and their egos.
Q. Let's say a friend of yours invites you to his/her wedding but your partner (boyfriend/ girlfriend, wife, husband) is unable to attend it, so you have to choose. Would you go alone to this wedding or would you politely decline the invite and say that you can't go?
A. Yes, I would certainly go for several important reasons, especially if we were close friends.
First of all, it's my friend's special day. They don't get much more special than a wedding. It would enhance it for her if my presence was there. She would get a quiet thrill at having the support of people who are really her friends in deed and not just in name. So I would have to be there to support her and help her celebrate this special moment, no matter what. That's what real friends do.
Second, when we marry someone else, we don't immediately become their clones and do just exactly what they do. The essence of a relationship is two strangers, two whole human beings, coming together to SHARE a life. Not to make each other over into caricatures of what they are. It means there will still be some things they can't always do together, perhaps because of personal preferences or simply lacking the time to meet up. That should be appreciated and understood; hat they are STILL two completely different individuals in how they see the world and what they choose to do. The best relationships operate on a 25% personal choice each, and a 50% shared life. In that way, each member of the couple has the space to develop in their own unique way without having to depend on their partner for everything, while being together whenever they can.
Third, giving space to each other in a relationship is extremely important. It means you never get tired of each other, you will both have something interesting to say to one another at the end of the day, something the other has not experienced, and you can both keep your personal interests going while sharing quality time together. It also carries an element of respect for what each person values.
Fourth, one is also never sure one partner is trying to control the other by not going, which would prevent that partner from going too if he/she didn't want to upset their spouse. It is better to accept that no couple can be everywhere together and go alone, if the situation calls for it. It prevents one partner seeming to dictate the activities. After all, if he/she doesn't acknowledge such an important day for your friend enough to help you celebrate it, what message is that giving too?
A relationship is a two-way thing, not just doing what one person desires. I would certainly go to the wedding because, if I miss it, I might have a feeling of regret later on at not sharing that magical moment, not to mention how it might be negatively perceived by my friend.
Q. I love my fiance and want to be with him forever. But the advice I need is to know if it's normal to think about some of the things I think about. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be single again, to have the excitement to just go and do what I please. The excitement to sleep with whom I want. I wonder if there is someone even better for me out there. These thoughts just crowd me sometimes.
A. If you wonder about being single, it means you need change, or a new challenge, in your life. You are bored with your life and are trying to convince yourself, by saying how much you love your boyfriend, that you are happy. But you clearly are not. When people get together they forget about natural evolution in their lives. We are forever growing, every day, week and month. So the person you were when you met your boyfriend is not the person you are now. You will always need new challenges and stimulation to be a whole person.
Stop resisting that change and seek it. If you are not married, then the whole world is there for you to explore on your terms, not someone else's. If you do nothing about those feelings, you will regret it. Further down the line, when you are older and things might be much worse, you will wish you had acted! Take note of those thoughts going round in your head. If you were truly happy and secure, they would not be there. It could be that you are simply missing your life with your friends, especially at such a young age, and that can make you wistful.
Perhaps the best thing to do is to start going out, say, once a week with your pals, to give you and your boyfriend some space and not make the relationship so claustrophobic. You probably won't feel so closed in and will begin to feel that you are not missing out on anything. Then you won't feel the need to leave your friend in order to feel better. Otherwise you will regret this time of your life as you watch other women having the freedom you are now yearning for.
Once a couple settles into a relationship it is easy to believe that they will both be seeing eye to eye on routine matters, or they hold similar perceptions on life. But this is what damages relationships in the end, the failure to acknowledge the key role perception plays for individuals, especially two strangers, of different genders, who are trying to appreciate one another in a new friendship in a confined space.
Perception emerges as a result of our experiences and learning, a sort of fictional movie of our life, which is more commonly referred to as our 'reality','beliefs' or 'values'. These are influenced by the customs or culture of our particular environment so that someone from a Christian community who chooses to live with a Muslim, for example, would find that the perception of individual behaviour, and resulting expectations of each other, would differ until each learns about the other. Initially, while the two parties try to come to terms with each other, it would be almost automatic for each to expect complete conformity to one another's perception until a shared experience proves otherwise. Because our individual needs greatly determine the view we have of ourselves and the world, our views will always differ from one another.
Thus, if a person is hungry and poor, she is going to regard money in quite a different light from someone else who already has lots of it and uses it mainly for luxuries. The perception in each case regarding the value, usefulness and urgency of money would markedly differ. As the singer, Mick Jagger, once said, "A person who is hungry is not going to worry about the morality of war. They would be too busy trying to get food."
The capacity to define situations, to communicate, solve problems, make decisions and manage stress is thus affected by our perception. The power of such perception in any relationship, particularly where the partners know very little about each other, often make or break relationships. For example, men who have been wronged, especially those who caught their spouses in an act of betrayal, provide excellent examples of what personal perception is all about.
Men being betrayed
But to many women, homemaking, no matter how good and luxurious, is just one aspect of a relationship. The physical, emotional and intellectual sides are all important to keep that union intact. Often it is sheer boredom, neglect and a lack of love, attention and affection why any partner strays. As psychologist, Carl Jung, says, "To be appreciated is one of the strongest basic human needs." When a person is not valued, or perceives herself to be unappreciated, no matter how worthy the partner is, trouble is not far behind.
Men tend to see themselves in terms of career and material success, while women tend to judge their value on emotional, nurturing and physical attributes. So long as men believe that to be a good husband is to provide for material needs – to look after hearth, home and family – while women expect emotional and physical bonding, there will be a conflict of perception between the sexes, there will be hurt through differing perceptions and they will always be at loggerheads about valuing each other.
Madonna and Guy Ritchie announced their divorce after much denial. The Daily Mirror gleefully claimed to be ahead of the 'competition' in knowing that they were about to break up. But what is there to be smug about when any relationship breaks?
The pain is probably even more because everything is played out on the public stage, robbing them of the privacy other members of the public take for granted. So the couple are likely to focus, initially, on how they are a perceived than on the real issues they need to sort out. There will now follow a severe time of stress for them, especially where young children are involved - and there are three in this case.
Stress affects everyone to some degree, but severe stress is a feeling of being unable to cope and is a reaction to excessive demands and pressures made upon the individual. It is most likely to be maintained by a feeling of personal rejection, insignificance and worthlessness. If it was an amicable mutual split, then the stress won't be too much.However, if one of them wanted the split more than the other, that's where the main problem will lie: dealing with that sense of rejection, and that could be pretty stressful. Stress robs you of your good looks, your disposition, your health, your youthfulness, and can even take your life. It is particularly unpleasant and harmful when pressures build up or are prolonged indefinitely; when we are unable to control the demands placed upon us, when we are constantly anxious, and when support is not there when we need it.
Most of the focus has been on reducing stress in the workplace. However, what has escaped everyone's notice is the lethal level of stress caused by simply moving between relationships, especially where the desire for a break is not mutual, or where one is stuck in a relationship which makes one or both parties feel impotent, unhappy or simply miserable. These situations occur on a regular basis, often taken for granted as a necessary part of life, yet causing incalculable emotional damage in their wake.
When we feel rejected, controlled or unappreciated, everything else in our lives pales into insignificance because we lose our sense of belonging, joy and worth. This affects whatever we do until we feel better. Bereavement of any kind and moving house might come top of the list of any stress-inducing activities, but being stuck in an unwanted relationship, which affects at least 20 per cent of couples, or being momentarily rejected by a partner, should go right to the top of that list because of the ongoing consequences they have for everyone involved.
Madonna and Guy are going to need all the emotional support they can have over the next few months because being a celebrity does not make them immune from the effects of a break-up. In fact, that actually makes them more exposed to its consequences as they come under increasing scrutiny.