Personal relationships and affective bonds evolve over time. Many times this means reaching a greater degree of rapport and intimacy, but in other cases the passing of time only accentuates the intensity of the conflicts that have become entrenched.

Marital crisis is the consequence of many of these processes: a point at which the relationship becomes stagnant and one or both members of the couple feel that the marriage has lost its reason for being.

Understanding Marital Crises

Although everything that refers to marital crises seems to be related to emotions (and, in a way, is), in that emotional cyclone there is a logic. These 5 keys serve to better understand what lies behind these stages of stagnation.

1. When idealization fades

Our brain likes our thoughts to fit well with our emotions. That’s why, in the early stages of a relationship, delusion and emotional frenzy are matched by beliefs about the loved one in which he or she appears idealized. All those aspects of our partner that we don’t know are filled by our imagination with an unusually optimistic version of her personality and capabilities.

In short, during the first moments our vision of that person is very biased and affected by the neurochemical and hormonal imbalances produced by the love drug. However, with time the realistic account of the other person is imposed, as more and more facets of him are known. This process is very fast during the first months of the relationship, but it can also drag on for years and enter the stage of marriage.

The marital crisis can be understood as the moment when the veil of idealization falls.

2. Personal evolution

Marital relationships tend to last a long time, and in the time it takes people to change. That means that a marriage crisis does not have to show that the marriage was unfounded at any time. It can also mean, simply, that one or both members have changed into totally different persons, either by their biological maturation or by the way their experiences have changed them .

Moreover, this process of change need not always make the personalities of the two people fit together; in fact, they may become antagonistic.

3. Marital crisis does not equal arguments

The bad thing about marital crises is not essentially summarized in the appearance of constant arguments and disputes. What defines these stages is apathy and emotional stagnation, which may or may not be accompanied by arguments.

4. Inertia

A marriage is not maintained only by the mutual feeling of love that a couple feels. There are also many other more objective elements that maintain the union: the habitual living together with the children, the circle of friends in common, the fact of living in the same house…

In short, there are times when the marital crisis is only a symptom that a relationship in which love has ended is still “alive” when, in reality, it is dead, sustained only by the objective elements that surround it and which in theory are accessory.

5. The difficulty of finding a way out

In marriage crises it is very difficult to start looking for a satisfactory way out, for several factors.

On the one hand, doing so would imply facing a series of problems that would greatly disturb the day-to-day life : moving to another home, attending couples’ therapy, etc.

On the other hand, asking for help through couples’ therapy would mean facing up to one’s responsibilities in past disputes, something that not all people are willing to do, since that would mean showing vulnerability to the other person.

  • You might be interested in: “How do I know when to go to couples therapy?”