Long Island Marriage Counseling Blog – What is Polarization in Marriage? How Can Marriage Counseling Help?

by Dr. Diane Kramer on June 6, 2010

LI Marriage Counseling Center, Huntington, NY

“Long Island Marriage Counseling – What is Polarization?

Long Island Marriage Counseling – Last week a couple came into the Long Island Marriage Counseling Center who were polarizing each other. This phenomenon happens often.

What is marriage polarization?

The best way to describe it is by thinking of “the more-the more”. An example is: the more he drinks, the more she nags. The more she nags, the more he drinks. Another is: The more she demands, the more he resists. The more he resists, the more she demands.

In marital polarization, each side is pushing the other to extremes. As one person’s need is activated, the other perceives that need as a threat to themself. They push back and the polarization begins. Here is a more detailed explanation from the couple who came into my office last week.

The wife expects the husband to be available as a playmate, father and provider. She demands that he go shopping with her, take care of the baby with her and provide all the money. As he hears her demands for his time and his money, he polarizes and thinks to himself – no, let her make more money and let her go shopping by herself. He tells her no and that causes her to put even more pressure on him. He gets more and more resistant and acts mean. She finally has a meltdown and he gives in and gives her what she wants. That makes him angrier and more resistant to her needs

And so they go around and around. Is there a way out of this polarization? What are the steps that will cause them to seize and desist?

1. They need to both realize that what they each are doing will not get them what they need. Rather doing the exact opposite of what they now are doing will be more likely to get each of them more of what they want.

2. It is not easy to reverse direction as descibed above. Each of them must know the triggers that pull them back into the polarization. Each of them must be able to detach from those triggers and not be pulled in to the polarization.

3. Once they are aware and can detach from the polarization, they then need to learn to do the exact opposite in order to get more of what they want. This takes practice and is often accomplished with the help of a therapist or coach. The wife needs to ask nicely for what she wants without any demands or expectations. She needs to empathize with how busy her husband is before she asks. He needs to tell her how important her needs are to him and then suggest that he will be able to meet one need but not all – or something like that, depending on circumstances.

Long Island Marriage Counseling Center – If you have similar circumstances, please send me an email using the form to the right or call me. I would love to discuss.

Warmly, Diane

Dr. Diane Kramer, Marrriage Counselor and Psychologist
Long Island Marriage Counseling Center at Huntington, NY
75 Prospect St., Suite 103
Huntington, NY 11743
631-630-0570

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