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A couple of years after Elaine and Gary were married, they started having serious communication problems.
Elaine was extremely direct. Gary took a more roundabout route to make a point. The difference in communication styles took its toll. Conversations turned ugly over the smallest things, such as whose turn it was to walk their dogs. Moreover, they had major hassles over matters from finances to sex.
They saw a marriage counselor who told them that their different ways of communicating affected their overall relationship. They also sought advice from their parish priest, who reminded them of their spiritual bond and suggested that they try harder to practice the virtues of humility and charity.
Today, 13 years later, Elaine and Gary report they still work to keep their marriage fresh and vibrant, but their communication is better than ever.
This couple was fortunate. They soon realized that their marriage was in trouble and sought help. But thousands of couples every year don’t recognize serious difficulties until both parties simply want out – and end up with a broken marriage.
Dr. Gregory Popcak, a Christian counselor and author of books on marriage, believes there are four basic stages in most troubled marriages: criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. “Couples can recover from any of these stages, but the further down the path they go, the harder it is to turn back,” he writes. “Recognizing the signs early, and knowing that there is help, can help couples change their destructive patterns before it feels like it’s too late.”
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