Many couples find it difficult to find and maintain success in their marriage. Marital issues are common enough that lawyers and therapists can make a living by specializing in this area alone.
However, we often want to turn to a confidant first before seeking professional help. And this is where problems can arise. Like using a bail bond service, you want someone who is confidential, compassionate, respectful, and understanding. But are they also qualified to offer sound marriage advice? And how actionable is that feedback?
Having a confidant can greatly ease the burden of marital problems, big or small. But before you use their advice to decide on major issues, such as seeking a divorce, here’s how you can get this support relationship right.
The need to confide
When you encounter a roadblock, do you stubbornly try to hurdle it, or do you find a workaround or alternate approach? The answer usually depends on the level of difficulty. And when the situation in question is your marriage, there are many complicating factors involved.
Communication is always a two-way street. You and your partner have different comfort levels when it comes to addressing certain topics. Each of you might be carrying a different load of emotional baggage. And you might also be speaking in different ‘love languages’.
Making the effort on your part is a step towards better communication. But your partner has to meet you halfway. And if your marriage is already in a rocky place, that’s a pretty big ask. Overcoming those problems will eventually be a necessary step if you want to save the marriage, but talking to someone else can relieve your stress and anxiety in the meantime.
Keeping it close isn’t all
Thus, it’s only natural to turn to a confidant for support when you’re experiencing difficulties in your marriage. And we typically draw upon our existing social networks in order to address that need.
Research shows that over half of marriage confidants are friends, most often female. Nearly a third are family members, usually siblings or adult children. And occasionally, co-workers can get involved.
Clearly, when it comes to discussing marital issues with others, we prefer to keep things close. Existing relationships with friends and family have an established level of trust, respect, and understanding. But do such things also imply that your chosen confidant will offer good relationship advice?
You need to look for a person who can also maintain a position of neutrality. They aren’t indifferent, but they can avoid taking sides or playing the blame game, labeling your spouse (or yourself) as good or bad, right or wrong.
An ideal confidant will listen to you and empathize without passing judgment. They offer advice, challenge you to improve, or suggest further help resources without crossing boundaries. Not everyone has these skills. Being deliberate and selective can go a long way towards an effective confidant relationship.
Your outlook matters
As with your marriage itself, your relationship with your chosen confidant works both ways. Not only do you need to choose your confidant with care; you also have to be mindful of the way you approach this interaction.
Are you subconsciously in search of validation or someone who’ll side with you against your spouse? This can influence your confidant’s perception and response to the information you share with them. It will certainly influence your receptiveness to any feedback or suggestions they offer. Even if you just want to let off some steam, constantly venting is unproductive in the long term.
Having the right outlook in your confidant relationship will improve its quality. You need to approach this as an opportunity to gain insight into your marriage from a valuable outside perspective. This will contribute to a better understanding of your overall marriage picture, and inform your decisions moving forward.
The most helpful confidants in marriage aren’t the ones who are most critical, offer plenty of advice, or share stories of their own marital struggles. And they shouldn’t be the ones to directly suggest the continuation or dissolution of your marriage.
Instead, talking to them helps you to understand your partner’s side. It offers balance, celebrating small successes and your personal contributions while acknowledging the flaws. And it gives you a sense of reassurance that someone whom you trust and who knows your marriage well will continue to be there to support you.
Moving forward, the decision to proceed with divorce should never stem from a confidant relationship. Use the feedback to seek growth. Renew your approach to open conversation with your spouse. And if that fails, clear out your stress and anxiety, find stable footing, and ask yourself some honest, hard questions before you decide to call time on the marriage.