Why is the Language we use so Important (in a Marriage)?
If you have read my books or some of these articles, you might remember Corollary Twenty Nine from the Law of reciprocity?
It states that:
Language determines the conversation.
The conversation determines the relationship.
And the relationship determines the outcome.
Why is language so important?
Often when we are frustrated with someone (spouse or colleague) we think that we need to give them an ultimatum.
Something like, “If you don’t stop XYZ, this marriage is over.”
Is your spouse having an affair, hooked on porn, addicted to drugs or alcohol, a workaholic, too emotionally close to an opposite sex friend, or obsessive about a hobby or activity?
Or are they just a very difficult person?
How Do You Get Your Spouse to Stop Behavior That’s Destroying Your Marriage?
An ultimatum is an interesting idea.
I bet a friend or family member even suggested it.
I’m sure it’s crossed your mind.
Maybe it was even advised by your counselor.
Ultimatums Do Not Work
But will it work?
If you want to restore your marriage, do not give your spouse an ultimatum.
It will not work.
Let me explain why.
And let me explain how you can get your spouse to end their affair or stop their addictive or obsessive behavior.
Ultimatums Feel Good But They Are Reptilian
In a sense, it’s empowering to think, and even say to your spouse, “Your behavior is unacceptable.
And if it doesn’t stop, I’m leaving you.”
An ultimatum offers the ultimate role reversal.
It puts you, the victim, in control.
Understandably, that’s appealing.
And there’s no doubt that in the short run, you’ll feel better.
But It Also feels good to eat Dessert after Every Meal
Just because something feels good does not mean it is good.
The Question you have to ask Yourself is will the Long Term Effect Be Good?
Will it lead to the renewal of my marriage?
The answer is no.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “What about tough love? Don’t I have to set borders and boundaries?”
If you give your spouse an ultimatum, you’ll establish clear rules for your marriage.
You’ll set borders and boundaries.
Where Will The Motivation Come From?
But, where will the motivation come from for your spouse to live by the rules?
In other words, the rules will be clear, but why would your spouse want to adhere to them?
If your spouse is a sex addict, a workaholic, an alcoholic, having an affair, into porn, or involved in any other type of obsessive or destructive behavior, the problem is not a lack of rules.
It’s a lack of Motivation to live by the Rules
Your spouse knows their behavior is wrong.
Even if they won’t admit it, even if they justify it, deep down they know that their behavior is immoral and that it’s destroying your marriage and soiling their soul.
The Problem is that They Don’t Care
The problem is that they lack an internal motivation to do the right thing.
Your spouse has to want to stop.
The key is their inner motivation, their will.
An ultimatum imposes rules from the outside; it does nothing to address the lack of motivation on the inside.
The bottom line is that although giving an ultimatum feels good, it misses your target.
Your target is your spouse’s inner motivation.
And how do you affect someone’s inner motivation?
The Secret is to Connect with Them
Let me explain.
Life begins as a connected experience in the womb of our mother.
When we’re born and that physical connection is severed, we yearn to connect again.
How we go about creating that connection and how well we succeed becomes the story of our life.
People who make healthy and meaningful connections with other people feel happy and fulfilled.
Research proves that the single most important factor that determines happiness in life is connectedness.
People who lack a real emotional connection with others will grasp at anything in an attempt to fill that void in their life.
That’s what leads people to sex, drugs, alcohol, hours of mindless TV, falling in love over and over again with new people, or an obsessive commitment to money, success, work, or a hobby.
These Trappings Offer a Momentary Filling
But the cause of the emptiness your spouse seeks to fill is a lack of a meaningful connection in their life.
When you create that connection with your spouse, you accomplish two profound things.
First, you eliminate your spouse’s desire for their destructive behavior.
You take the wind right out of its sail.
You cut it off at its source.
They don’t need it anymore.
There’s No More Hole to fill because you filled it
Second, you offer your spouse a permanent filling for a hole that’s been insatiable probably since their childhood.
(Your spouse’s destructive behaviors can probably be traced back to a disconnected relationship they had with their mother or father).
And their desire for your connection, a real and lasting filling of that hole, will trump any momentary interest in seductive pleasures.
So how do you get your spouse to stop their destructive behavior?
You create a connection with them.
Now Here’s the Kicker
The chances are very good that you have no clue how to deeply connect with your spouse.
You see disconnected people tend to marry disconnected people.
Why is that?
That is because we are all disconnected (in other words, whacked out) one way or the other.
We are all about certain things, in one way or another, defiant, stubborn and so forth.
Now we appear to be OK when we are in “Cruise Control”, everything is fine, no stress.
But when affliction visits itself upon or things go awry as they surely do, the large reptilian beast chained in the dungeon of our brain, get spooked and easily throws us hurtlingly and helplessly into the dumpster face down.
We Are All Reptilian
And the reptilian brain never loses.
We, all of us, are small riders on a large animal.
In other words, we are not biologically or neurologically designed for the rigours of marriage.
You picked your spouse because they’re disconnected, and that was safe and familiar for you.
Your spouse is probably like your mother or father.
You didn’t have to make a real connection to your spouse and that’s why you fell in love with them.
Your spouse didn’t need what you couldn’t offer.
Do you see how that worked?
It’s rather dysfunctional, but it’s true.
Now don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that your spouse’s inappropriate behavior is your fault.
But in a way Their Behaviour is your Responsibility.
This means that you can choose (if you want) to do something about it.
You can impact your spouse’s choices.
If you have the right mindset and know the right language to use, then you can put them back up on the large animal.
But you’ll need to learn to forge a real connection with your spouse, and you’ll need to learn to do that without your spouse’s cooperation by:
- The mindset you bring to the marriage (it is not love that makes your marriage but marriage that makes your love)
- And the (facilitative) language you use.
Most married people know that marriage is a tricky business; one out of every ten marriages is a happy one, so here are two great keys to a happy marriage.
Use them well and use them wisely.
For more on this topic, we recommend the following
How to Have a Great Marriage
The Art and Science of Marital Happiness
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